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I Get Featured at SketchUp’s Blog

Want to see something cool? I was contacted to write a blog post at SketchUp’s website. 🙂 🙂 🙂 The subject? How I find realistic wood images for my SketchUp models. Seems that since I am just a hobbyist woodworker, SketchUp was impressed my models look so realistic. I guess this level of detail is something normally associated with professionals using SketchUp.

See the steps I take to find wood materials by clicking here.


Workbench Update: The Slabs Are Finished

A here is something I need to tell you guys; something I have reluctantly realized. I have become a very casual woodworker. There, I said it; put it out there. I outed myself. I can almost hear some of you gasping – “No Jeff, say it’s not true.” It used to be that I lived and breathed woodworking. You could find me in my workshop during the week, early in the morning before work. I called it “Pre-Work Woodworking.” I used to post photos of these early morning sessions on Facebook as sort of a badge of honor, letting my friends know how serious I was about woodworking.

Then in the evenings, more woodworking; and on the weekends. Even during my day job I would think about woodworking. I could be in a meeting; there could be some important conversation going about growing sales. Me? It’s entirely possible that I’d be thinking about the best way to straighten an unruly board or what to do about a joint that didn’t come together just so.

I used to listen to three different woodworking podcasts. Now I barely keep up with one. And just look at the date of my last update on my workbench: December 3rd for crying out loud. In 2017!!!

To be fair to myself, my wife and I have gone through some highly unusual situations in our personal lives. Things that just zap the emotional energy from a body. Some of these situations still continue. And, I had to fly to two different sales meetings – one of which was on the west coast; Newport Beach, California (I don’t know much about Newport Beach except I saw an Aston Martin and Ferrari car dealer, so I concluded it is a wealthy area). I should mention I don’t like flying.

Things have settled down a little, but not much. Which means I have become more determined to finish my workbench; upgrading my status to “A Little More Than Casual Woodworker.”

The Bench Top – Sooo Challenging

Another reason for the slow down is that this bench top has been kicking my butt at every turn. Flattening the slabs with my lunchbox planer presented two significant problems to work through. The front slab had a bow along its length and the back slab had some twist. I took the slabs to the Alabama Woodworkers Guild workshop where their jointer was not working right. They concluded that someone before me had run some reclaimed lumber across it; the gunk and debris the boards contained messed up the helical cutter – not good. Etc., etc. I have the hand planes necessary for flattening, so with the slabs back in my shop, I got to work – a process that went on for several evenings over a two (or three) week period, usually about 30 minutes per evening.

Getting a flat surface.

My attempt at a sexy Instagram woodworking photo.

After much sweating from hand plane work, I got the bench top in suitable shape – not perfect mind you, but good enough. Then it was on to cutting the slabs to final size and mounting the front vise. I did some flattening to the bottom, but not much. I recall Chris Schwarz saying (I’m paraphrasing here, and I think Chris said this) the bottom can be left in a somewhat rough state as long as it does not present a problem for the top.

Trimming the ends.

The vise is attached to some red oak with ginormous lag bolts.

Let me just say that this vise is almost too big if that is even possible. There is just enough space at the left of the legs to make it fit. But I’m not complaining about having a big honkin’ vise. By the way, that is a corded drill you see above. When I need to do some heavy drilling, I’ll pull out my hammer drill.

With the front vise mounted, it was time to add one last board which will help bury the vise in the workbench itself as described here. I needed the vise in place so I could fit the board around it.

The cut-out to make way for the vise.

The last board being added to the front slab.

In the photo above there are 23 clamps. I have added a number of new clamps to my shop for this project. Then, for some of my long pipe clamps, I bought two feet long 3/4″ pipe and took the clamp hardware temporarily off the long clamps making several two foot versions. This provided clamp flexibility (note the black pole in the left of the photo – I have named this “The Pole From Hell” because it is always in the way).


Note how the first board on the front wraps around the vise.

Still a lot left to do. And yes, I Photoshopped out all the junk in the background.

I am entering the final stages of the construction process. Next, I need to add an ash filler to the vise cut out seen above. The two ash slabs which make up the bench top are not attached. Then I need to make the gap stop; the strip that goes between the two slabs. Mount the end vise, drill dog holes and holes for hold fasts. Take it all apart for one last sanding and then the bench itself will be finished.

Then I’ll need to build the tool cabinet which will rest on the front/rear stretchers. I’ll have more soon. I promise.

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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).

Old World Table Woodworking Plan in the Works

I have begun work on my 15th free woodworking plan; a plan which may very well be my last free one (see all my woodworking plans here). A 2018 goal of mine is to return to trying to make money from the plans I create and to that end, I hope to make a series of more simple plans to be sold on Ebay. I have sold my plans in the past, but the income has been pitiful. Maybe this time I’ll at least be able to recover the cost of the software used to make them.

I have been trying to come up with a normal size dining table design. I have one dining table plan, my apartment sized table which is perfect for a small dining room or an eat-in kitchen area. But my wife and I are still using a hand-me-down dining table and it would be nice to have a hand crafted table for the more festive times of the year we actually use our dining room.

I had originally come up with a farmhouse table design which was totally without any amount of originality. It looked like a lot of tables I have seen online. This design therefore went nowhere. My wife, daughter and I are all Harry Potter fans and I like old world architecture (my wife and I once had the good fortune to tour the Cathedral of Cologne). So the idea of researching Harry Potter set design struck me as a good idea. I paid close attention to any table shown in photos via a Google image search…

Note the twin legs per side on these desks as well as the bold feet.

Based on this photo, I came up with an early design which emphasized a gigantic foot (known as the Bigfoot design)…

The dining table with the enhanced foot.

Note how the foot is mostly devoid of curves.

In order to make this pronounced foot design more like the Hogwarts classroom desk, I would need to enlarge the foot to allow for a larger radius curve along the top edges and I felt a larger foot would be out of proportion with the overall table size. I kept looking at more set design photos…

You can barely see the leg and foot design in these dining tables.

In the photo above, the Hogwarts Great Hall dining tables feature extra heavy timbers for legs and the foot design is equally huge. I worked on integrating something along these lines for the table and then I recalled the cover of an old Fine Woodworking Tools and Shops issue which had a killer shop photo…

An amazing assortment of molding planes, but look at the foot of the workbench. The workshop of the late Eugene Landon.

After looking at Eugene Landon’s workbench, I felt the foot profile which is almost like an ogee shape was too ornate. But I also remembered the foot design of Kelly Dunton’s combination outfeed table and workbench…

Then there is this workbench by Kelly Dunton.

This design I like. I added it to my dining table which I had originally called “A Wizard’s Dining Table” but decided to remove the connection to Harry Potter and simply went with “Old World Dining Table.”

New foot design.

Note the beefy legs with chamfered edges. At one point, I had two panels in the leg assembly and even a gothic arch, but all of this seemed to add a lot of mass to the design. Plus with chairs in place, nobody will see these things so they came out. In the end, I kept the center stile which adds a see-through feature and a slender upright rectangular shape which I like. The heavy rail at the bottom is necessary so I can add the through tenon for the stretcher. The table top has a significant undercarriage which can be seen in the image below…

The undercarriage has a nice profile to their ends.

I just love this quarter-sawn oak material on for the SketchUp model.

The table top has some larger than normal (for me at least) pegged bread board ends and I added the super cool dark quarter-sawn oak material to the SketchUp model.

A view of two pages as they look now; its possible they will change a little as the woodworking plan develops…

Woodworking plan cover page.

Exploded view showing main joinery detail.

So, I am well underway on the new woodworking plan. The cut list is relatively short which is good because I hate making the cut list and I am working on page 6 which begins the explanation for constructing the leg assembly.

By the way, I did finally pull the trigger and upgrade to SketchUp Pro 2018. I now have access to their Style Builder program which gives me a multitude of options for applying line styles among other things. This feature will give me more control over adding hand drawn effects to my SketchUp models.

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Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).