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Discussion in 'Worklogs' started by jamsomito, Oct 10, 2015.
Got the other side of the office clean. What a relief.
My office smells like a wood shop...
Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Personally I like the smell of fresh cut wood. Of course the smell would vary based on the type of wood that was cut, but I have yet to find a wood that stinks when cut.
Not good or bad, but it hit me when I walked in the last few times.
Looking great! I'd give some more serious thought to a small shelf for the monitors (or an arm for them) and speakers. Then you could either put the receiver or laptop dock under it, or have somewhere to shove your mouse/keyboard out of the way if you need/want a bit of space right in front of you. I've got one on my desk at work that's just a piece of scrap board with metal legs (I'm sure anything you do would be much prettier).
Thanks! I was planning on that actually. Though, I originally thought just to put my monitors on it. If I have enough wood I'll consider making it the whole width of the middle section so the speakers can go on it too. One thing at a time though...
This inside curve was never very smooth because of the spindle sander I used. It would dig in really easy and just wasn't the right tool for the job.
So I had an idea.
I'll let this rest up over night, then clip the trim piece to length and sand it down to the proper thickness to match the plywood. Then I'll have a nice smooth curve to trace with the router on the good wood.
I also sanded down the other sections to get rid of a few more waves. It's really close now. And now that I have the clamps, I'll be gluing up the maple this week too. Maybe taking it to a commercial sander next week, and tracing it out a few weeks from now.
Sooo much better. Used the jigsaw to cut the trim piece to rough width, then sanded it down with a belt sander to match the thickness of the template piece.
Also got all the curves sanded down and extra smooth. Don't mind the legs in the wrong place, just there as a saw horse for now.
Tonight, we straight-line the joints between the 3 sections (thanks to my dad for lending the track saw), then it's time to glue up the maple
Finished up the template. Straight-lined the joints and did the final pass with the belt sander to make sure all the curves, especially between pieces, matched up.
excuse the uneven ground making these two pieces at slightly different angles
And the other joint
Turned out great.
Glued up the first section! Started with the smallest one first to get the process down. We found these boards to really be prepared very nicely by the guy who sold it to me. He was an incredible find. Saved us a ton of time prepping the boards for the desk top, and we could just go straight to gluing up. Good thing I got that table saw blade sharpened... Oh well, have it for next time.
Matching up grains and making sure the template fits. We marked through each glue section with a big triangle so we could place them again after moving them around to glue the sides (this was split in 2 that we'll do another glue-up on once these are dry).
First section done. Way too much glue as you can see by the new line on my garage floor. Oh well, it will come up quick with a scraper once it's dry.
Second section done. You can see our marks in this one too that helped us make sure the boards went back to the same place after we picked them up to glue. We would have used more clamps than 3 per section, but this hard maple is so rigid, it didn't need it. Something like poplar may have, or maybe something that wasn't prepped as nicely either. You don't want to force them too much in the glue-up either because of the residual stresses in the boards. If you want it to last a long time, it's better to cut to fit than force a bend, or else it may bend over time, or even cause splitting more easily later down the road. Lastly, I was glad my expert dad was here (he's a carpenter for a living) because I found you don't need nearly as much pressure on the clamps as I was going to apply. Just snug, not wrenched down. If you squeeze too much, too much of the glue comes out and the joint isn't as strong.
We also used some wood clamps on the ends to make sure they don't bow while drying
And finally, we taped up the pipe clamps. They won't stain the wood on their own, but the glue is wet and can leech a rust-color into the wood. That would have been a bit disheartening on all this nice wood.
And now it dries. Tomorrow we can probably glue up the two of these sections in the morning if I have time, and then start one of the larger sections in the evening the same way. Till next time...
Really enjoying this project, and it's really making me feel ashamed of my Staples-bought economy desk.
Thanks^! But on the other hand, at least your computer isn't set up on a flimsy plastic folding table right now either.
...cant wait to get this done.
I'mma let you finish, but... this is the most artfully crafted vaguely phallic desk of all time. Of all time. You are clearly very skilled at working with [H]ard wood.
That's what she said.
More gluing. Got the left hand section done, started on the center section.
2nd panel all glued up. This is for the center portion.
Nice and straight. The left hand section has a little bow in it, so hopefully I don't lose too much thickness getting that out. When I take it to a commercial sander, I'll make sure they all end up the same thickness though. Not too worried about it if I can keep them at 3/4 thickness or more because this hard maple is hard as a rock and heavy - should have some nice strength still even at that thickness. Remember though, I purchased 5/4 maple, so that would mean 1/2 inch of loss - ouch. So like I said, hopefully we can avoid taking too much off. It's at about 1" right now after the milling process.
And now I have all of them glued up. Don't mind the bend in the wood - it's actually very straight. I just had to take a panoramic photo to get them all in one shot and it kind of fish eyed.
I'll have to call around for a sander in the area, but that's the next step. Then we can start cutting this guy out and talking finishes
Till next time.
Whelp, called up the place I knew of, and their sander is 36" wide, but they can only accept "a hair under 36 inches" - when I asked what that meant, he said maybe 35-1/2". Well crap. My glue-ups are 36-1/16 right now, so I can either find a wider sander, or run these through a table saw to get rid of a bit of excess width. Problem is, I kinda need the width to work with my template. I'll keep looking.
The good news is they only charge for the time - $30/half hour, so that's a good price.
Found another guy with a 36" planer that would do everything for $20. Problem is, they only want things 34" or less. Still looking...
Called up 6 other places and they're all 24-36" units. Left a few messages though, so we'll see if/when they call me back. A couple of them recommended I talked to the first guy that I tried buying lumber from, but I think he recommended 18" wide sections, so my guess is he only has a 24" (ish) sander as well - plus he was kind of a jerk so I'd like to use someone else if possible. I may end up needing to cut these narrower and re-glue. Ugh.
Found a local guy with a 36" sander that something larger will actually fit through, but the belt is only 36" wide so it might leave a raised edge. Also, they charge $125/hr for 1 person, and an extra $50/hr if another person is needed. They would need 2 people for these. And I'm not paying them $175 to pass these through a machine - that's more than half what I paid for the wood. So, on to other options.
Ok, found a guy about 45 mins away who said he'd work with me to get them smooth (not just one pass through). Charges $70 for both sides of all 3 sections. (really charges by the hour, but figured we could do them all in an hour, so $70/hr). He only has a 36" drum, but it's oscillating, so he can really take something up to 37" wide. Got lucky on that one.
Set up an appointment for 1pm on Wednesday. Sweet.
EDIT: Just kidding, it's only about 30 mins away. Great.
EDIT 2: So the moral here is, I didn't design this around the capabilities of the machinery that's generally available. They make 44" drum sanders, but they aren't common. If I had made these sections an inch smaller, or kept them each in 2 sections and made a final glue-up after the fact (and sanded that last joint down myself) I could have saved $50. Oh well, that's part of the point of this project is to figure this all out. So, if you're doing your own projects - I know it's a ton of information to figure out, but the more planning and research you can do up-front, the better. I should have figured this plan out a few steps in advance instead of waiting until I was ready for the sander to start looking for sanders. Glad I found someone who can do it that won't charge an arm and two legs - just one leg.
EDIT 3: Forgot to mention, I also found another guy who had a 22" open-ended drum sander, meaning the piece could be as wide as you want and you could spin it 180 degrees and run it through a 2nd time to sand the other half (unless it's over 44" wide in which case it couldn't reach the middle anymore). The problem with this is it isn't perfect, and it might not meet up in the middle - there could be a dip where the edge of the belt met on each pass or something. Plus, it would take a lot more time and end up costing almost as much as the expensive guy with a 36" sander. So I passed on that.
So what I'm hearing here is, if I dropped $4k on a 36inch drum sander, it would take me about 60-80 hours to pay it off. You'll have to tell me if the guy does anything miraculous, like keeping you at more than 3/4 thickness despite the bow. I'm not suggesting I would spend that much, but I did find a used 24" close ended drum sander for $1200. I spent more than that on my last computer, before I even put it in a case.
So I looked at the sections yesterday, and I didn't know this, but my dad sanded that left hand section down with a belt sander to get rid of the bow while I was away at work. It was only 15/16 thick while the untouched ones were 1". So it wasn't that bad. I think we should be able to keep these all at around 15/16 or worst case 7/8, depending on how finely he can control his machine. My understanding is most can control by 32nds of an inch.
Last night I lined everything up, and I'm glad I did, because I forgot to add a scrap piece for trim on the long section. I'll need to add another one for the back side of the curved middle section, but it's already too wide, so I'll have to do that one after sanding everything down, then sand the last board myself with the belt sander.
So last night I glued up the scrap piece for the long section. I had to move everything inside because it's getting too cold here again for the glue to dry in the garage overnight. So down to the spare bedroom in the basement it all went. This wood is crazy heavy.
I'll have to sand down all the glue globs tonight because the guy wanted it all off for his drum sander so it doesn't gum up his sandpaper. Understandable. I've probably got my work cut out for me though...
And this section all glued up
After this was done, I hauled everything back up to the garage. These sheets of maple are seriously heavy. I could move the biggest one a foot or so to reposition it, but it's a 2-man job getting it somewhere else.
The goal tonight was to get the glue off of the surface of the boards so I didn't upset the guy I'm renting the machine from. I was in there for a full 3.5 hours sanding away. Generally the strategy was to chisel the big chunks away with a putty knife and hammer, then sand the rest down. I used 80 grit because it's what I had on-hand, but it could have used something even more coarse.
Eventually I got them all done, after (yet again) spending way more time than I thought at the task.
The sander gunked up several times. I went through about 3 pads on these two larger sections. This is what the guy with the drum sander was afraid of. Better to use up two of these little ones than one big roll on the machine.
But in the end it turned out amazing.
Find the joint.
You can just barely see the joint in this one. Props to the dude who surfaced and straight lined these for me. Fantastic job. Straight as an arrow and smooth.
Only problem is it coated everything in the garage with a thick coat of maple / glue powder.
My poor car...
It's supposed to rain though, maybe I'll just park it outside for a couple days.
And after that I loaded them all up in the Jeep to take to the drum sander tomorrow. I focused on the joints because that's where the glue was that I needed to get off, so these pieces are a little wavy right now, but the drum sander will take that out and get them really flat. I'll do finish sanding on my own (yay, more sanding! - not).
I'll try to get some pics of the machine tomorrow, but no guarantees. I might need to help the guy feed and catch. We'll see.
How much time did you spend lining up grains? Or did it just kind of work out for you? Maybe it was just a good choice on which pictures to post, but a lot those joints look like they were meant to be together. No eye-jarring shift in the grain pattern. Nice work.
Yeah, I focused on the best sections for the pics, mostly because I was shocked at how good they were. I'd say 30% lines up perfectly like that, 50% is close, 30% average, and only a small amount like 20% is different colored wood at the joints. You can kind of tell from the shot of the whole section.
We spent maybe 15 minutes lining up grains per section. It was pretty easy.
^those percentages totally add up to 100.
All loaded up
Here's the machine. I couldn't take any working photos because I was manning one side of it the whole time. There wasn't much to see anyway; it just went in one side and out the other. The machine was sweet though. It actually had really big sheets of paper that were stretched between 2 drums, so there was actually 2 inches of flat contact with the boards instead of just a line like a typical sander would have. It was a 36 inch "drum", but oscillated by another inch, so he could accept up to 37 inch pieces with it. It was dang close though if it wasn't lined up perfectly straight. Also, it struggled a little bit at times because of the huge width of these panels and the hardness of the wood. We couldn't take too much off at once - luckily it could be controlled down to the thousandth of an inch (0.001). Each section took about 7 or 8 passes.
And this was on the way home. In pictures, they look the same as before I sanded, but they're way flatter now. We managed to keep them all at 15/16ths thickness. There are a few very small dips here and there from where we took off a hair too much with the belt / orbital sander, but I'm also a bit of a perfectionist so considering that, I'm really happy with it.
I was gearing up for the next step to be a jigsaw to rough shape, then the template bit on the router, but alas, I have more gluing. Frickin' gluing. I need to add the extra piece to the back side of the center section yet. So, I might be able to do that this weekend, but it will also require sanding down 1/16th of an inch which is going to take forever, even with a belt sander. Then I can get to cutting it all out next week. But for now, I need a break. A week straight of glue-ups and sanding on top of family and a day job is a bit draining. So, till next time...
I didn't notice, but did you use biscuits to join the maple, or is it all Butt Joined?
I've been doing biscuits with my Router and it's worked pretty well thusfar.
I actually have a biscuit cutter tool, but they are just butt jointed.
From what I understand of it, it doesn't add strength (might actually decrease it based on some comments I've read) but it helps tremendously in lining up the joins and keeping the surface flat.
Yeah, I considered doing it, but these boards were so well prepared ahead of time that it was pretty easy to line everything up. Except for the slight bow in the short section, which might have happened anyway even with biscuits, they only took off 1/16th on the drum sander to get them perfectly flat (on a 3ft x 6ft surface), so that's pretty good in my book.
When I make the cabinets I might consider it though because some pieces may not be exactly edge to edge (a board butting up to a thicker leg or something). They'll help there keeping things centered for sure.
Small update today.
Here's a good shot where you can see the texture left behind from the drum sander. You can't feel it at all when you move your hand over the surface, it's just kind of a slightly different finish level from variations in the sandpaper on the machine. He did say it was old paper (which was around 180grit if you're curious - kind of surprised, thought it would be more coarse). But, it will sand out with some 220grit for a finish sanding anyway, so I'm not worried about it. Just thought it was cool that you could see how the machine oscillated.
Also, there's a few small gouges from where the glue took some wood with it when I chipped off the globs from the top (bummer). But I saved some saw dust from the sander that I'll mix with some super glue to fill the gaps, then sand down with a fine grit so it's smooth. You'll never see them in the final product.
Then I glued up the last piece that needed to be glued (woot!). The template JUST fit inside this scrap piece... I mean, it's probably 1/8" clearance. But it worked, and it saved me another whole board that I can use for something else. So now I have 4x 6' long strips of scrap, and 2 whole full boards, plus whatever I cut off with the template. That will for sure make a nice shelf for my monitors, if not a start on the cabinets underneath. That's great news.
While that sat, I hauled out some more sections and started cutting. First I traced out the template where I wanted it to go:
Then I rough cut to size with the jigsaw. I put on my sharpest, coarsest blade and it still took a while - this maple is hard stuff. It also splintered a little - I'm really not worried about it because I'm going to be running the router over the whole thing.
And then my kiddo woke up so that's it for today. Here's the flush trim (template) bit I'll be using. I also couldn't get this stupid thing out of the box without slicing my fingers off
I still need to buy a ~1/2" round bit for the edge of the desk I'll be sitting at, and I haven't decided yet what I want to do about the edges against the back and the wall. I might just sand them round with the orbital sander, but going off of how hard this wood is, I might buy a 1/8" round bit or something. We'll see.
I would highly suggest a spiral flush trim bit, or even a compression spiral bit, ex. Whiteside RFT5125 or UDFT5152, the shortest you can find that will work with your material. They are easier for the router to spin, quieter, reduce sanding by giving a far smoother cut and less chance of burning.
As you are traveling around the template making the cut, at some point you'll be cutting into the grain, where the straight bit will almost always cause chipping and tear out.
Edit: Also research double or mirror cutting the seams between your three main pieces. It's a fairly easy method of getting an absolutely perfect match, though you may want to practice on some scrap. Afterwards a few "Tite Joint Fasteners" will keep the finished pieces clamped together nicely for use but still allow for easy disassembly.
This is very much appreciated, thank you. So, about the bits. I'm seriously considering a spiral trim bit after your comments (I had heard this before too), but my straight trim bit was $30, and these are 2x or 3x the cost for essentially a high tolerance drill bit. Though - I'd have it for future projects. They say the skill of a woodworker is not determined by the number of mistakes he makes, but by the way he fixes them. The less fixing I have to do the better though
As for tear out, I'm not as concerned about it with the trim bit as I am with the round bit I'll be using at the sitting edge, and the smaller one at the back / bottom edges. The latter are removing more material and will likely tear-out just as bad, but be closer to the final shape, so it will be a bigger deal. If these are going to just cut everything away that the trim bit tore out, then there's not much point in spending the extra money on the trim bit now. But I hate fixing things...
As for the joints between the 3 sections, I used a track saw to get them straight, then lined them up and sanded the edges to match the angles while they were all put together. If I'm using the template bit, around my template, I think it will be pretty close as is. I'll take a look at your double/mirror cut suggestion for my own education though. As for the tite joint fasteners, they look like a great idea if I wanted them all joined, but I actually want 3 standalone sections so I can make the center section height adjustable (sit/stand).
Ahh, I forgot you had already written about the center section being adjustable. I was thinking one big piece.
There are a couple of techniques that will help stop tear out with the round-over (you probably already know of these but just in case). Work towards your final profile in several lighter passes. If you get to a spot that wants to tear during one of the earlier passes you can machine that area with a "climb cut" which is simply carefully moving the router in the opposite direction from normal. Removing the very last tiny bit of material as a climb cut will also give a nice smooth result. Just be careful to take a small bite so the tool doesn't take off on you. You also might be able to shift your template over just a hair and make a final pass, in either direction, with the trim bit to remove any burns or chatter marks.
Good luck! I've enjoyed this thread.
I decided to stay with the straight edge template bit because I picked up the 1/2" round and 1/8" round and each of those was $30, so I'm already at $90 of bits, which was getting pretty heavy on the costs for this project. And other than one flub that I chalk up to a learning experience, it performed admirably. It helped that it was a brand new bit and very sharp for sure. I'll show you what I mean, but first, some other stuff.
First, I had to de-glue and sand the added piece down to the thickness of the rest of the panel. Glad all that's over with. I'll still have to finish sand everything, but it won't be for material removal so that might be a bit more enjoyable. Maybe enjoyable isn't the right word...
I also kept a bunch of dust from sanding so I can fill any tear-outs with a matching color. I'll just mix this with super glue and stuff it in the hole, then sand it down. I wasn't intending on saving this much, but my poor sander's collection bag was full from getting rid of all the glue before I took everything to the drum sander. So I figured I'd keep it all just in case. Better to have too much than too little.
Next I cut everything out to rough shape with the jigsaw. I tried to keep it around 1/8inch from the template line I traced in pencil, but definitely less than 1/4 inch. I had a pretty big template bit so I had the luxury of not spending too much time getting it close.
Then it was time for the router. I'll be honest, I was more afraid of this tool than any other I've used up to this point, but only because I haven't used it before (spoiler, I'm not actually a woodworking craftsman , and something about a sharp piece of metal spinning at 30,000 freaking rpm at only inches from my fingers didn't sit well). But as I found, it was pretty easy to work with.
Got the bit installed and set the depth. It was a little tricky, because the collet was bigger than the bit (which is usual), but the total thickness of my wood (nearly 1") and template (3/4") was longer than the bit and bearing, so I couldn't insert it all the way (even though usually you leave a coin's width of space for expansion). It was sticking out a good half inch or so, but there was still an inch to an inch and a half in the tool, so I wasn't worried about it (or so I told myself). You can see in this picture that there's really not much room on either side of the work piece. I was a little worried because my templates got warped a bit over time and it didn't all sit flush with the work piece. But I found that it cut like butter regardless of if it took a whole pass or not. It left little hairs that it couldn't quite reach in some places, but they were seriously very thin and the round bits will take care of it without issue.
So then a breath of fresh air and away I went.
And it went perfectly. Very, very happy with how this turned out.
If you have a queasy stomach, it's time to look away. I did the left hand section next, but up till this point I was worried about burning the wood, so I'd push it through a little quicker than I should have. It tore out this section on the face of the left-hand edge, towards the back of the desk. Unfortunately it's in a visible place, but at least it's on the bottom, and I'll be going over both edges with round bits later too, so it's not a huge deal. I will definitely need to fill it and sand it down first though.
So then I looked closer at it and noticed there was a little chatter along the curved edge from the first pass, so, per my research, I tried a climb cut to smooth everything out (this was recommended on end grain cuts prone to tear-out; basically running the router in the opposite direction). Well, again, I went too fast, and caused ANOTHER gnarly section
If we take a step back for a second, this is a good time to explain something. I watch a lot of YouTube, and one guy I subscribe to is the Wood Whisperer. Fantastic tutorials and a wealth of info on woodworking. Anyway, he ran a series on things to know for beginners, and he suggested picking a project that would introduce new techniques and help you grow, but also where the stakes are high so you have to do your research and take it to heart. Well, this is exactly that for me, and you bet I did a ton of research. And when something like this goes wrong, you're really on the hook to fix it. So, not only did I learn a new skill (routing), I'll be learning a derivative skill as well (filling tear-out). Yes, I'm upset that it happened, but I really mean it when I say this is a total learning experience, and it's giving me a chance to try something else new. It also gives me a chance to prove myself based on the quote I had above - about the quality of fixes over the quality of work (even though the latter is preferred, stuff happens). So yeah, it sucks, but I'm over it.
So I went on to do the center section, which I knew would give me the most trouble because of the long curves that hit the boards at pretty much every angle to the grain. And it went flawlessly.
Since I realized on my other sections that the maple wasn't even warm to the touch right after a cut, burning was not a concern at all. I took this section much slower, especially on the "uphill" cuts into the grain. I could see the bit through my safety glasses and it was trying to chip out and tear, but going slower helped a ton. So I just took my time, and it came out perfect. And I'm really, really happy with this. This is the section I'll be sitting at and looking at all day long, so any imperfections would be all I see.
There's a little issue right in the nook of the inside corner on the notch cut out for the wall - the bit is round and couldn't get in there all the way. There are still some jigsaw marks in there that I'll have to sand out or something, but not a big deal and definitely something I can figure out later.
I was going to do the rounds tonight as well, but it was getting late, and the sanding, jigsaw, and router made a huge mess in the shop. By shop, I mean garage, and unfortunately it needs to function as a garage as well. We're supposed to get some rain, so I had to get the car in for my wife tonight, so it was clean up time.
Is there a use for all these schnibbles?
Here are the other two bits I got. Both 1/4" shank - a 1/8" and 1/2" round.
But, I can only use these on 2 sections for now with the tear-out on the left hand section. Changing router bits is a little bit of a pain, so I think I'll wait until I can do them all at once. That means the next step is fill-city. Stay tuned. We're getting close!
That's basically what I've found in my research as well, so thanks for confirming. I'll add - go slow. You can read about my mishap going too fast above^.
I've been thinking about the filler I want to use. I think I'm going to use the cyanoacrylate glue (superglue) and sawdust for the small gouges on the top of the surface. For the router tear-out, I think I'm just going to use some solvent-based plastic wood filler in natural color. I've heard a couple recommendations for that as a good-enough color match for the maple. It's a bit more voluminous so it'll be easier to stuff in the areas that need it.
Any thoughts on these? I'd like to hit at least the edge sections tonight so I can finish shaping the edges with the router.