Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back in the Workshop

    After a nice vacation in the Florida Keys and a couple days in Chicago for the David Gray show I am back in the workshop. Yesterday I spent some time cleaning up the workshop in the barn, sweeping up and putting away tools. It's hard for me to feel focused on a project unless I have some semblance of order in my space. I'm no clean freak by any means but I do find it easier and safer if I don't have to worry about stepping over piles of scrap lumber and cut-offs and searching for clear bench space. When you have to squeeze-in time for woodworking I work until the last minute which leaves clean up for another day.
    After things were tidy I made some sawdust milling up parts for the dresser sides. I met my goal of gluing-up both sides leaving the top and bottom for today. After all sides are done I'll probably have to re-flatten them a bit and cut them to length. Then the real fun begins: dovetails. Through dovetails, half-blinds, and sliding. I'm definitely planning on hand cutting the through and half-blind dovetails, but I'm leaning toward using a router for the sliding dovetails with the drawer supports. I'm sure I could make it happen by hand, but I've got a busy schedule and I'd like to get this done sooner than later.
    I've finished some plans in SketchUp to show what I'm planning. I wanted to make a Shaker-inspired dresser with six drawers to fit in Ryan's room which has a wall which angles in about four feet up. I wanted to design it so it was obviously made by hand so the joinery includes visible dovetails in the top as well as the drawers. I'm thinking about turning the drawer handles from walnut and then staining them black.

    The part of the design I'm most concerned about is the base and how it connects to the case while at the same time allowing the case to expand and contract throughout the seasons. After researching other designs I decided to construct the base moulding around a frame and then attach it to the bottom of the base by glue along the front only, and then screws in oversized holes toward the middle and back.

    The moulding for the top will be attached using Christian Becksvoort's method shown in an article I read. He suggests using a sliding dovetail in the moulding which slides on to dovetailed keys screwed to the top 's end-grain. It's glued only to the front inch or so allowing the top to expand and retract without being held by the moulding. This will definitely be done with a router. If this sounds confusing I'll go into more detail when I get to that point.
    This may be my most involved project to date so I'm both excited and intimidated by it all. This could be either a big encouragement for me or could prove to be very discouraging. I know, one step at a time right?


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