I joined the Alabama Woodworkers Guild about a year and a half ago. I quickly began thinking of the guild’s Woodworking Education Center (WEC) as my backup workshop. The WEC is a former schoolhouse now converted into a killer shop and is about a 20 minute drive from my home (photo above). It’s where the guild’s monthly meetings occur and then the various guild woodworking classes use the WEC to build projects. In the photo above, you can see a table being built for an upcoming Habitat for Humanity home. A key benefit of being a member of the Alabama Woodworkers Guild is my ability to use all these professional grade power tools as I build my project. Since my last blog post on the tool cabinet, I have been to the WEC twice; but these two visits have been the first time I’ve used the guild’s tools, specifically their big, honkin’ jointer and then the equally honkin’ thickness planer. Take a look at the these two tools…
I decided to use the WEC’s professional tools due to their board capacity (my 6″ jointer was too small to process some of the drawer fronts) and because these tools get regular maintenance, meaning that my own tools don’t. My logic was that better maintained tools (sharp blades) would be a better choice to bring the figured curly maple drawer fronts down to final size with minimal tear out.
I used the jointer and planer to get a flat face on my stock and then to reduce their thickness to 3/4 inch.
Back at my basement workshop, I started the process of cutting the drawer fronts to final size. This is a tedious task since my tool cabinet design calls for inset drawers. Being inset, the drawer fronts have to match the shape of the drawer openings with each drawer front having a consistent gap on all four sides.
At some point in the future, I’ll use a shooting plane to get the perfect fit I need for inset drawers, but for now, I am still using my table saw. I can rotate the saw’s miter gauge as needed and sneak up on the perfect fit.
I made the decision to scrap two of the drawer fronts due to the wavy gain seen (above). These are drawers 7 and 8 and will be very visible. The lower drawers being closer to the floor and behind my workbench will not be as visible which lead me to think that the upper drawers should have received the best grain possible; something I did not think of earlier.
New drawer fronts meant a new piece of curly maple. I decided to thickness this board in my shop (vs. at the WEC). There was significant twist in the new board. I looked for a video at Fine Woodworking.com to help me determine the best way to remove the twist and I settled on the process shown in this video.
I had never used hot melt glue before and was surprised how well it worked. I should have adopted this process long ago. This sled along with the hot melt glue keeps the board stable as the planer creates a flat face. I then removed the sled and got an equally flat face on the opposite side of the board.
In the photos above, the drawer fronts are loose fitted in their openings – not attached to anything. That F-clamp is there holding the cabinet square. Somehow it has become out of square since I last had it in position. I’ll have to come up with a solution to make it square.
So, I am getting close to completion. But before I can say real close, I have the following items on my punch list…
- Do some final trimming on the drawer fronts (I’m thinking they need more space to expand due to humidity).
- Add a slight chamfer to the edge of the drawer fronts; attach them to their drawer boxes.
- Add a molding piece to visually separate the three upper drawers from the symmetrical look of the lower drawers.
- Sand everything up to 180 grit.
- Apply finish
- Add green painted trim around the tool cabinet to tie it into the surrounding false wall.
Still a lot to do. Yesterday, the hardware arrived, so that will also be added to the punch list.
The other day, a friend on Instagram mentioned how he is only getting 10-20 hours of weekly shop time. I’m lucky to get five hours per week. I need to stay organized and focused to bring this project to a close before Christmas.
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