Friday, December 4, 2015

Future project: chair modification

The "loggia" has quickly become our favorite room in the apartment. The kitchen sofa with proper cushions is very comfortable, and we have equipped the room with cozy lighting. My wife's folks recently brought down the round birch table, a very nice piece. But the room lacks seating opposite the sofa, unless one perches on the marble window sill.

We've had the idea of adding seating here by modifying a chair with extended front legs, and back legs removed behind the seat, so that it may rest on the window sill. The idea of buying a perfectly fine chair with the purpose of chopping up isn't very appealing, though, and with my current skill set it would be difficult (and expensive) to pull off a custom number.

I spied a pair of square section, tapered  birch table legs in a dumpster the other day, and thought that they may work for chair legs (the legs will need to be extended off a standard chair length by about 11 cm). Lacking a chair for the project, though, I left them where they were. The next day, however, I found a perfect candidate chair left out for garbage pickup in our neighborhood.

I first thought the chair to be birch, but on closer inspection I realize it's beech. Whatever it is, it's not in great shape, which makes butchering it for this project easier on my conscience.

The front legs are almost square section, about 40x40mm. The chair's been abused, as this busted mortise can attest.

Even this part of the back is cracking.

The plan is to:

  • Make new, longer tapered section front legs and mortise them to accept the existing tenons.
  • Cut off the back legs below the seat's apron, and level the side and back aprons.
  • Refinish the entire chair with wax.
  • Make a new seat, probably from plywood, foam sheeting, and a scrap of fabric.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Small bookcase pt. 8

For lateral strength, this project has until now relied almost entirely upon the strength of the joints. Given the thickness of the timbers and the cabinet's projected use, this isn't much of an issue, but it is something to consider in furniture design. Since the upper cubby now features a door, it only follows that the cubby should also be provided with a back, securing its contents and simultaneously adding a bit of rigidity to the structure.

I had an offcut of some 3.5mm birch plywood that fit the bill, and used a cutting gauge and my router plane to get the job done.

I marked off the thickness of the recess into which I would insert the plywood on the back.

And extended the cuts to the edge with a knife and square.

Setting the router plane at just over the depth of the plywood, I then used it to mark the depth of the recess.

And just pared down with a chisel.

And then cut everything to a uniform depth with the router plane.

I set the corner of the plywood in the recess to mark the size.

And laid out my cuts with a drafting square, because that's what I had in the apartment. Drat! opportunity missed to use the Schwarzian layout square.

Again, just using the dozuki here to cut to the line.

I set the panel in backwards to mark approximately where the nails should go.

I predrilled with a little 1mm bit in a removable chuck in my screwdriver.

And nailed it in place. I didn't have a nailset handy, so that will have to wait.

Back in place, with the door, still awaiting a hinge.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Small bookcase pt. 7

With the door assembled and mostly flattened, it was time to fit it to the case.

I needed to take about a millimeter off each side, and still lacking any kind of vise on my temporary workbench rigged up a couple of clamps for workholding purposes.

I needed to run upstairs to check the fit a couple of times, and then hit all the edges with the block plane a couple of swipes.

And smoothed the faces with a cabinet scraper.

And gave my new purchase a workout: a much-needed small dustpan!

In situ. Time for a hinge, and to do some final smoothing of the whole case.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Small bookcase pt. 6

So the whole bookcase was designed around the space for which it was destined, the material I had at hand, and a single decorative element: this plastic bead panel of a rose I planned on using in a door in the upper-right cubby. My daughter made the panel using a set of 30 different plastic beads and software converting a digital image to the constraints of the kit. It's about 15cm square, and gets sealed with a household iron. I like this modern decorative element, and see it as a sort of 21st century version of a pie safe tin door, or much-simplified decorative marquetry.

Until now, this project has been accomplished with a bare minimum of tools: a single chisel and saw, a mallet, and a no 4 plane. For the door, an optional addition to the project, I've moved into my basement workspace (now lit with a rechargeable worklight) and will use some more elaborate tools.

For example: the small plow plane. I used this to groove the stock I had for the door to accept the panel. The stock had nice straight grain and was just long enough (about 90 cm) to make four sides. If I screwed one up, there wasn't any extra to play with.

Once the groove was finished, I used my homemade miterbox to cut 45 degree angles to length.

And then the shooting board to trim to length and perfect the angles.

I thought I got the corners just about perfect.

But the glue up complicated things, and in the end a couple of the miters are a little gappy.

Also, I need to flatten the face and the back, as the corners were a little off. Miters are notoriously difficult to get right, and I suppose I got a little cocky after the relative success of my first attempt, and didn't have anything to specifically clamp the corners down. I think it will be fine in the end, but it's a skill I still need to hone.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A new Closet

A new apartment in Stockholm, and a new closet to work in.

Not so much a closet really, but a storage area in the building's basement. A shelving unit on the left houses our Christmas ornaments, camping gear and other sundries, leaving the right side as a workspace. There is no available power down here, so I will need to do something about lighting. Hand tools make sense in a space like this!

The workbench is made of material salvaged from the previous workspace sort of haphazardly thrown together during the moving preparation. I've got some work left to do on it, and need to organize my tools better. The toolchest is resting on my sawbench in the back there, and is somewhat accessible. Lumber storage will have to go to the left of it a bit there. I think this space can work.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Small bookcase pt. 5

The little bookcase is coming along now. The joinery could be a tad tighter, but it is already getting put to use.

I started smoothing all the outside surfaces, again using the threshold as a planing stop.

I also needed to make the bottom skirt, so started by shooting a smooth end on the board I'd marked off the bottom shelf with.

I marked the length with a knife, and then sawed it to length and fine tuned it with the shooting board.

then I glued it into place, and planed it flat with the sides.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Small bookcase pt. 4

Chopping all the dadoes took time! In all, there are 12 in this little cabinet, and all needed to be fitted and get matching shoulders cut.

The main dilemma in laying out the dadoes was what to do where the interior vertical element and the top shelf cross. I didn't want to compromise the integrity of the top shelf too much, so decided to make the dadoes (or mortises?) short, each one only using half the breadth of the shelf. That's kind of visible above.

Before assembly, I lightly smoothed all the inside panels. I worked on the floor, and used the threshold as a planing stop.

Lots of glue for this project! This is some sort of normal hardware store PVA.

Lacking any long bar or pipe clamps, I decided to try using these lightweight nylon webbing come-alongs for assembly. They do a pretty admirable job of holding everything together while the glue cures, though they damage the sharp corners of the cabinet by crushing the wood fibers. Not to worry, I will hit the entire outside of the cabinet with the smoothing plane once the glue is dry. These come-alongs seem like a natural resource for a space-limited woodworker, and I'll try to develop better clamping methods using them in the future. Before the glue cures, I checked it by measuring corner-to-corner and encouraged it into a close approximation of square

Friday, September 18, 2015

Small bookcase pt. 3

With the simple casework completed, it is now time to start chopping stopped dadoes for my shelves.

I matched the case sides and marked them together so that the shelves are guaranteed to line up.

I stopped the dado 15mm from the edge of the case. I don't plan to put a face frame on this piece, and wanted the shelves to appear to be floating.

After marking the edge with the knife, I relieved a wedge shape of waste on the inside with the knife.

I marked the depth of the cut with my router plane, and then sawed down to that depth with the dozuki.

After getting one edge of the cut started, I used the shelf itself to mark the opposing side.

The other side got the same treatment, and the dado's end is defined with the chisel.

First I hog out most of the waste with a chisel.

And then clean up the bottom of the cut with a little router plane.

The shelves need a small relief to fit into the dado. I define the shoulders with a chisel, and relieve the edges a tad with a plane.

Bukowski's Market

Lately I've been watching the auctions at Bukowski's Market for inspiration. Furniture here is a notch or two above Craigslist, but not deemed worthy enough for Bukowski's upscale real auction-auctions. What's nice is the variety of furniture exhibited: midcentury Scandinavian, Art Nouveau (jugend), and traditional Scandinavian (allmoge, dare I say "Furniture of Necessity"?) are all well-represented. And the pieces are professionally photographed from all interesting angles with nice, even lighting.

I've been pasting scores of images from these auctions in a folder labelled "Inspiration" to keep for future reference.

Small bookcase pt. 2

After getting all my stock to width, I had to cut the legs and top to length. I used a regular old utility knife to prepare a knife wall for the saw to run in. Despite the width of the cut, I did it with my dozuki. I wanted to use as few and as simple tools as possible for this project.

I even decided to forgo a bevel gauge, and instead drew my 1:6 dovetail on the CAD drawing made on my Android phone (using the awsome Inard CAD app). I then printed the drawing and glued it on some scrap card.

The dovetails were laid out in pencil.

Sawing the tails with the dozuki saw.

I tried drilling out the waste, to reduce time and noise spent chopping. There was some blowout, so I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you deeply score your waste lines with the knife first.

Whoops! But this was easily fixed, I just made the tail smaller. 

To mark the pins, I set it up like this and used the knife.

When it wouldn't reach I took the blade out and used it by iteself.

Chopping out dovetails is a loud, concussive endeavor for doing in an apartment. Maybe a coping saw would be better here... 

I bevel the backside of the tails to make mating the tails and pins easier.

In situ.