put up a photo to Instagram the other day which lead to a private comment from a woodworker saying how prolific my woodworking is. Like I crank out the projects. I just had to shake my head. You see, I feel the opposite is true; I am a slow woodworker. Which is understandable I think. I travel for work each week, when I get home, I am not really in a mood to go down in my hot workshop. My old job had me home almost every night which meant I could do woodworking most evenings and occasionally some mornings before work. So, the reality is that I’m a slow woodworker and I’m OK with that.
BUT, I challenged myself this past weekend. I set a goal of completing the construction of four new drawers; drawers 5 – 8. If I could do this, only the three small drawers at the top of my tool cabinet would remain to be built. Four drawers in two days – that would be an accomplishment.
I am still following the construction process outlined in this blog post. I can gain some speed due to the fact that I have already made four drawers using the same technique, so I have gotten faster at building them. But my tool cabinet design calls for graduated drawers. This design idea means that drawers become slightly smaller in height as they progress from bottom to top. I like this look and use graduated drawers in almost all of my designs. For the middle, side-by-side drawers, I can only make two in a production type process. I would love to be able to cut all the sides, fronts and backs in one set-up at the table saw, but at the most, only two are alike and five of them are unique.
A few photos of what has been happening…
It has been soooo hot in my workshop this summer. Fortunately we have not had any days over 100 degrees, but the humidity has been thick. I have been able to work in my basement shop, but not without my shop fan blowing directly on me (this causes saw dust to migrate to some unusual places).
Four drawer boxes completed in two days. That feels good. I am careful to call what you see above “drawer boxes”. I have completed the drawer boxes you see in the pics but the drawers are not completed – there are two more components for each drawer. I need to add the curly maple drawer fronts or what I sometimes call a drawer “face”. Curly maple will be a nice contrast to the cherry face frame. And, I have not yet settled on what I want for drawer knobs. I have considered craftsman style hammered knobs like this one or this one. I’ve also considered a label holder and pull like these. But, I may simply add cherry knobs.
Next, I’ll work on the remaining three drawers for the top, then add the curly maple drawer faces and knobs. I have some fine tuning to complete on three of the drawers as well (one is too loose, one is too tight and the second drawer from the bottom needs to be pushed back on its slides a little).
ON A VERY SERIOUS NOTE: Upon arriving at our recent Alabama Woodworkers Guild meeting, I spoke to a guild member who had a cast on his arm. The cast covered his fingers and went all the way to his elbow. We had a casual conversation, I wished him well with whatever injury he had sustained, grabbed a donut and went into the meeting.
This same man spoke at the meeting about his injury; a table saw injury. He was making a cut at his table saw which was going well. He began to reach for the cut off, but before he could grab it, the cut off made contact with the still spinning blade. It kicked back with such force, the cut off collided with the man’s hand and instantly broke two fingers and a third finger was injured, but less critically.
After the guild meeting ended, I spoke to him telling him how sorry I was not realizing the extent of his injury and how it happened. He quickly pulled out his cell phone and showed me and a friend some photos of his hand. It was such a bloody mess that I had to turn my eyes away from the photos. During the cut, he stood to the right of the blade, out of the path of a potential kick back. But, he did not maintain this position before the saw blade could come to a complete stop. I have done the same thing many, many times.
I was fortunate to take a woodworking shop class at the University of Alabama during my senior year there. I was taught shop safety. But, since then, I have become more casual about such things. The accident I just described was a wake-up call and I now am implementing the following steps…
- Stay clear of kick-back areas until the saw blade has stopped spinning.
- Remove my wedding ring while operating power tools (things making contact with a ring can increase the chance of severe injury).
- No longer wear a long sleeve shirt or hoodie when it is cold (shirt material making contact with a spinning blade can pull your arm/hand towards the blade causing serious injury).
- No longer wear gloves while operating power tools (I don’t do this, but I see others do it – gloves can be gripped by a spinning blade causing injury).
- Maintain firm control of lumber while it is being cut, using push sticks when needed.
- When I become tired, end the woodworking session. Fatigue can lead to carelessness which can lead to an accident.
I’m sure there is more I can do to improve shop safety, but this is a good starting point. Remember that power tools can cause serious injury. Treat your power tools with the respect they deserve.
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