Monday, May 20, 2019


I have a map of the USA that I've owned since the summer of 1999, and sine then its been hung on the wall in more houses than I care to remember. In around 2005 I bought a cheap frame for the map and when the frame collapsed a few years later, I glued it back together. Over the years I added my state quarters collection to the plexi-glass with first putty and later epoxy. The map had character in spades, but really it was too tatty to go on the wall in our new office.

I started off with some of the same black walnut we used for the desk tops, and I cut a rebate on the router.

The rebated pieces were mitered to make the basic frame and the cross-members were made by cutting rebates on both sides of the material and rabbiting both ends.

The frame was assembled with clamps....

....and the corners and joints were v-nailed with a manual underpinner.

The assembled frame was finished with the same flat varnish as the desk tops and left to cure for a mind numbing twenty-one (21) days.

I made some cork boards to go on either side of the map. I used some cork tiles I found on the interwebs and mounted them onto some scrap pieces of ¼ inch plywood with contact adhesive.

Here's how the map came out after assembly:

It looks better on the office wall than it does in this photograph.

At the same time, I also knocked o frame for my World Map. This map is actually a 4000 piece jigsaw puzzle which we put together about six months before we moved house - after the puzzle was completed it was carefully divided into quadrants and large pieces of sticky paper were applied to the back. Two years later and it needed a frame, which I wanted to make out of oak. This time the molding was a bit more intricate and required three passes through the router table.

The frame was assembled in the same way, and then stained with, ironically, dark walnut, to achieve a tone similar to the dresser it will hang above. The stained frame was also finished with the same flat varnish an left alone for twenty-one (21) days.

Cam out pretty nice:

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Dining Table Re-finish

It's been a busy few months - lots of different projects going on which either haven't been finished enough to write about, or in most cases, I haven't had time to write about. Our dining table is one of the former. It had an irritating V-grove around the perimeter, and there were a number of places were the veneer was loose or damaged. One Sunday morning over breakfast I started picking at the loose veneer with a craft knife.

I had to stop because it was all loose.

Late on I filled the grooves with automotive bondo and sanded the table flat. I think I forget to photograph that step. The footrest has always been loose while we've owned the table, so I took the time to re-glue it as best I could. I had to get creative with some of the clamps.

We bought a full 8' x 4' sheet of good quality oak veneer and applied it with contact cement and then I had my assistant flatten it all down with a special tool.

After suitable curing time, we trimmed round the edge with the router and the table was heaved out on to the deck and sanded down to 400 grit with my new favorite tool, by my always favorite tool operator.

We applied gel stain and wiped it down pretty quickly afterwards. Credit to the folks at MacBeath Hardwood for picking out the perfect veneer/stain combination.

We finished the table in the same way as the Walnut Desktops - three coats of flat varnish, which had a cure time of twenty-one (21) days.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Walnut Desktops

Just to recap, this was the scene before we started the refurb. After getting rid of the sliding door, we needed some new furniture to replace the crap we've been mekin' do wit' for.....well, for donkeys years actually. We figured we could make much better custom desk tops ourselves than we could buy.

We started with two 4' x 8' sheets of walnut veneered ¾" plywood which we cut to size with the jigsaw and squared-up with the router.

Perimeter trim pieces were cut from solid black walnut and mitered at the corners.

The trim was attached with a mixture of biscuits and wood glue.

Multi-stage glue-up. Like Jerry Rosa says, you can never have too many clamps.

The excess walnut trim was removed with a combination of my new Bench Dog smoothing plane and the Dewalt random orbital sander, and the bench tops were sanded to 360 grit.

The underside of each desk top was sectioned with narrow strips of walnut. This will help located the desk tops above the file cabinets. 

We cut cable access openings in both desk tops - fortunately, my first (and favorite) woodwork instructor was on hand to explain how to sharpen a chisel "ba'ht stone."

It's easy with a sharp chisel.

Plugs were fashioned from walnut scraps.

Plug supports were glued in.

The finish was three coats of flat varnish, which had a cure time of twenty-one (21) days.

All cured and installed:

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Office Remodel Part Three

After the skim coat was dry I applied another coat of plaster over the new bits and the surrounding areas and used a mixture of a thick nap roller and my trowel to match the texture with the remaining original sections (and the rest of the house...). I'm getting pretty good at textured drywall these days.

It took several go-arounds, but eventually I was happy with the texture, and at this point the walls were painted with primer followed by two coats of Benjamin Moore white dove flat emulsion. The two new windows stools were also painted the same color. After that all the new outlets were installed and connected to a new 20 AMP circuit breaker at the sub-panel.

I called in my back-up crew to help me finish up the exterior painting.

All done!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Office Remodel Part Two

Last time around I was just finishing up the wiring for the outlets I'll be installing below the new window. The back boxes and some of the cable was actually installed when we had both sides of the wall open.

We also needed additional outlets below the existing window and at the third office wall. I will be adding an entirely new, and grounded, 20 AMP circuit for all the new outlets. I marked out a channel on the drywall below the existing window at the height where I wanted to put the new outlets. I used a spirit level to draw the two lines which helps keep them parallel as well as straight.

I cut out the channel with the my modern oscillating tool - back in the day it would have been a Stanley knife and a drywall saw. The drywall was cut vertically at every other stud and the pieces were numbered and saved for later.

This is later. All the electrical cable has all been installed, which was made much easier by the Dewalt right angle attachment and a new set of spade bits. Most of the drywall pieces have been popped back into place and secured.

While I had the access, I took the opportunity to move the internet cable inside the wall. The PO's shortcut was a ¾ inch hole in the hardwood floor. I have a number of these to deal with someday...

All buttoned up - in total, the internet was disconnected for almost forty-five (45) minutes! Ee by gum! Wars have started over less.

Moved back to the new wall and installed some insulation material

Installed a new piece of drywall below the new window.

Next for the install was our custom ¾ inch solid oak window sill....or window stool to use the most accurate terminology. I also ripped out the original stool at the other window and replaced that with a similar piece of oak.

Strips of drywall were installed at the perimeter of the window and at the left side where we reduced the size of the opening by a couple of inches. All joints were covered with mesh tape.

Skim coated the new drywall below and around the window...

...under the other window....

...and at the third wall.

While the first coat of plaster was drying, both new window stools were sanded with 240 grit and painted with primer.

Moved back outside and installed trim at the top and bottom of the new siding and at the junction of the siding with the original stucco. The latter piece of trim was stuck on with construction adhesive, so we fashioned a few wedges to hold it in place while the glue cured.

to be continued...