Sunday, November 22, 2015

Staked Desk - Part IV - Done

Just a few more finishing touches and this desk will be done.

Jeff Lefkowitz had a tip on Instagram a few days back that leather glued with hide glue made nice floor protectors for chairs if glued on with hide glue.  He punched out disks and glued them on, but I decided to just glue on scraps and trim them with a sharp chisel.
I used liquid hide glue, and let it dry for a few hours.
Gravity makes a nice clamp sometimes.  I bet no one has thought to use a Moxon vise like this before!
Once it was fast, I trimmed it to rough shape with a chisel and planed a chamfer on the leather and wood using a block plane.  I was surprised that the leather planed just fine!
If this stays put, I'll use it on my chairs, too.  I hate for a chair to scratch a wooden floor.
Here's proof!
I had a request to see how the drawer would hang.  Remember I put grooves on the inside of the drawer at the top to hang off of these rails:
Of course this is the desk upside down on my bench.  The battens are screwed in with elongated holes and no glue so wood movement shouldn't be an issue.
This is the bit that goes in the groove of the drawer.
Notice I didn't have brass washers to match the brass screws - I used stainless washers.  I'm pretty sure it will not be seen.

Now that the desk is almost ready, I can take a couple of final swipes on the top with my smoother.  Since it is all put together, there is a bit of a problem with workholding.  I braced it the best I could against my tool chest, and everything worked fine.
Tadaaaa!  The finished project.
I had a little tung oil/BLO mixture left over from my last project that I used on the top.  This top is gorgeous.  I really like that it is made from one wide board.
The ash parts got plain boiled linseed oil (BLO).  This was because I ran out of tung oil.  I used tung oil on the top in a hope that it will give a little bit more protection.  We do not plan on abusing this desk, though.  After a few coats of oil like this, I will top it off with wax applied with a pollissoir.

Here are a few more detail shots.
Here is a picture a bit out of order, it is the last photo before finish was applied.
Another photo of the drawer.

I have to say that I  am happy with how this desk turned out.  It might not wind up living where it is supposed to go for long, it might go to the other apartment and be paired with one of my Welsh stick chairs.

I would highly recommend this project if you need a nice looking, quick and dirty project.  It really is fast to make.  

Staked Desk - Part III

Having mulled this around in my head for a while, I decided it would be cool to make a drawer that hung from the underside with no external parts.  I realized in my scrap pile I had some nice pieces of quarter sawn oak that would do nicely. Since the entire drawer will be exposed, the entire drawer will need to be oak.  If it slid into a cabinet, I would probably use pine for the drawer with an oak face, but solid oak this one will be.

First up is to resaw a piece of scrap to make two sides to the drawer. 
Resawing a piece like this is getting easier for me.  Perhaps practicing on ripping 12/4 beech helps.
The more I resaw by hand, the quicker and better at it I get.
I'm happy with this.

A close up right off the saw.
I also decided to finish the inside of the drawer parts before assembly.  And by finish, I decided not to apply any finish to the inside, just to burnish it and leave it raw.

I started by using my pollissoir that I bought from Don Williams, and finished it off with what I have been calling an uzukuri.  I'm not sure if this is really the name of this tool, but it is essentially a Japanese polisher much like the straw pollissoir from Don, only it is made from horsehair and intended to leave a much finer finish.  I think it is normally used on softwoods, and in combination with courser burnishers gives a nice texture to softwoods.  Using it on this oak, I feel like it gives a final bit of polish to what Don's burnisher has done.  The wood is really smooth and silky to the touch after this treatment.
I like it!
Now, on to the dovetails of the drawer.  This is actually the first time I got to use this Moxon vise that was given to me by Alex on dovetails.  I use it all the time for other things, I guess I haven't made too many dovetails lately.  I can see all my future dovetails being cut on this vise.
I like it!
It also dawned on me that this is the first time I have ever cut half-blind dovetails.  I decided to use the method of overcutting on the inside of the drawer to facilitate removal of the waste.  Easy peasy.  I am not too worried about this marring my work, as it is difficult to see this part of the drawer when you open it.
Notice I have overcut my baseline on the inside of the drawer a bit.  I have done that on purpose.
Success!  There's a few gaps I'm not too terribly proud of, but I think it will work.
This picture looks cool and you can't see the gaps.
I used through dovetails on the back.  It looks funny because the back is shorter so there is room to slide the bottom in, and with the contraption for the drawer to hang from, it needs to be short of the top of the drawer, too.  You'll see what I mean in Part III.
Through dovetails and some tool porn.

First, a glue up of the carcass of the drawer.  Let it dry for a day before removing clamps.
Part I of glue up.
Then, I decided to use slips for the bottom.  The top I grooved to hang from the desk top.  Another first for me, I haven't built a drawer using slips before.  One thing I noticed when gluing this up is the thin walls of the drawer sides had both bowed inward a bit, and the slips reinforced them straightening them out. This is good for proper operation of the drawer.
Part II of glue up.
Next, I worked on the bottom panel for the drawer.  It turns out I had just enough quarter sawn oak (about 3/8" or so) to make the whole drawer.  I measured one last time, and came up with needing another inch and a half width, which made me have to use another board, this one rift sawn, and lighter in color.  After crosscutting the QS oak, I realized my second measuring was between grooves on the top of the drawer, and I could have got it all out of one board after all.  Too late now!

I figured if I put that weird one in the back of the drawer it won't be so noticeable.  Besides, it is the drawer bottom, and The Frau says the drawer will be full of crap and you won't see it anyway.
Smoothing the panel with my Sargent smoother.
After smoothing it and polishing the show face in the same manner as discussed earlier, I cut it to size, and shot the ends on my shooting board.
This is the widest board I have ever shot this way.  It took a little finesse.
Then I used my shoulder plane to make some rabbets on three sides so the panel would fit in the grooves.
I used the shoulder plane because it is a bit lower angle than my rabbet plane, important for this cross grain work.
All that is left is to slide it in.  I think the slips actually made this a bit easier and more stable.
Sliding it in.
Another view showing how the slips work.

Even closer view.
I trimmed off the part of the panel that stuck out and drove a finishing nail in that spot to hold it together.  Again, no glue as contraction and expansion would tear it apart otherwise.
Finished drawer.
It is true that this drawer took more effort and longer to build than the desk itself.

I made some more battens out of oak that will hold the drawer from the inside in grooves that I plowed in the top of the drawer.  Again, no glue for these.  I will screw them in.  Here I am drilling clearance holes in the drawer battens for the screws.  The center one is round, and the holes on the ends I elongated to allow for cross grain movement.
Next, a bit of finishing touches on the desk itself.  I cut the battens to length with a bevel, bevelled the underside of the desktop a bit to match. Thanks to Aymeric for sending me a vintage spokeshave, it turned out to be the perfect tool for this job.
Dick saw on the battens.
All that is left is to mount the drawer.  Some pilot holes for the brass screws, and a bit of wax to help drive these screws.
Parafin wax on these brass screws because I had it handy.
And here it is:
Glamour shot I

Glamour shot II

Glamour shot III
Now you are caught up to where I am with this project.  I hope to get finish on it in the next day or so, and you'll see the final project in Part IV.

If you missed the first two parts, see them here:
  Part I
  Part II

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Staked Desk - Part II

I forgot to take pictures of reaming the mortises in the cross battens, perhaps a couple words to explain it will work.

I used a brace and a 7/8" bit at the angle I wanted, then used my reamer made by Elia Bizzarri to ream the hole. That's pretty much it! With a reamer like that you can micro adjust your leg angles to dial them in perfectly. 

Now I'm ready to install the cross battens. This was the funnest part of the whole project!

Yes, I said funnest.  Sue me, I grew up in Montana.

Let me back up and explain why I've done this in the order I have. With a wide panel, there is always a danger of it warping a bit after planing. The freshly exposed wood will now release moisture and need to acclimate.

I like to stabilize the panel as soon as I can after planing to ensure it stays flat. A sliding dovetail should do the trick.

Since in this case the cross batten also holds the legs, everything has to be ready to go by the time the big panel is done.

Back to the angles I used on these battens - it doesn't really matter what they are because I am using the batten itself as a guide for my crosscut saw, matching the angle perfectly.
This is my setup for cutting the sliding dovetail.
Christopher Schwarz had a timely tip on his blog for how to cut this. I used a block of wood to help hold the saw in place against the batten. It worked like magic.
Bracing the saw for the angled cut.
I have to say, I am glad that I have learned to saw left handed.  A bit of ambidextrousness here makes for a lot less turning this big panel and reclamping.  I can just go from one side to the other.

Here are a few more shots of the process that will hopefully explain things better than my writing.
Detail of the finished cut.

The scrap wood I used happened to have a chamfer on it.
With the walls of the joint defined, it is just a matter of hogging out the waste and smoothing the bottom to depth. For this I used a chisel with mallet for rough removal, a rabbet plane for medium work, and final smoothing to depth with my router plane.



Quick work.
From here it is just a matter of seating the legs and driving everything together. I used elm wedges, because they were handy, cut the excess off with a flush cut saw and planed it smooth. It might not be a bad idea to leave this tenon a little recessed, if at all possible. If the batten ever shrinks leaving the tenon proud, it will create a gap between the batten and the desk top panel. Too late now!
I wedged the tenon and called it good.

Driving it home.  The batten is actually tapered a tiny bit from front to back.
Next it is just a matter of driving everything home. Make sure everything is lined up correctly, as you don't want your legs leaning the wrong way. I think I should also mention that it is vital that this sliding dovetail gets NO glue. The top needs to be free to slide when it expands and contracts, which it will certainly do. Optionally you may put one peg in each batten to hold the batten in place. I would put it toward the front or in the middle, but only one.
I left my cross battens a bit over length, intending to trim them once it is all knocked together.  This did create a challenge in how far to drive the battens, as the legs need to be lined up.  I solved this by marking a center line on the desk top panel, and a centerline between the two legs on the batten.  Tap it home until the lines match up and you're done.
Center lines matching up.
I have tried to do sliding dovetail joints before, and never have I wound up with something that looked good and I could call a success.  The trick for me was using the batten itself as a guide and bracing the saw with the scrap wood.
I think it is a nice looking joint.
Now I have something that looks more or less like a desk.  On to the drawer in Part III.

If you missed Part I of this Staked Desk, read it here.