Saturday, October 29, 2022

Basement Support Post

During the basement expansion project we had to replace the support pillar towards the front of this area because the original post foundation was not deep enough. At the time I couldn't get (or make) an appropriately sized pillar, so I had to use a 4" x 4", and I was never happy with how it came out: 

I always intended to replace the post once I had my cabinet saw up and running. The new post was made by ripping a piece of 2" x 12" doug fir into two (2) strips which are 4.75 wide. A piece of 0.5 inch thick plywood was then sandwiched between the fir and the whole thing nailed off. This gives a laminated post with dimensions 4.75 x 3.5.

I installed a couple of temporary supports which were shimmed such that a very tight fit was achieved:

Removed the old post...

And installed the new one!

Since the new post is laminated I could not re-use the steel T-brackets - the bolts would have bitten into the pillar's soft center. Instead I'm using a pair of smaller L-brackets which I can bolt into the "meat" of the pillar and the crossbeam.

To add strength I attached 3/4 inch thick plywood skirts to both sides of the junction with more nails than you can shake a stick at:  

The new column is connected to the concrete support with the same steel bracket as before:

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Cal State East Bay Homecoming

The past weekend was Homecoming, and this year the Alumni Association at Cal State Easy Bay celebrated with a huge event that included a car show, live band and a myriad of stalls and booths. Naturally BAMA showed up with a full posse and the '68 made its second appearance of the Summer!

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Under-bench Drawers

I've got BIG plans for my new cabinet saw, but I wanted to start with a non-critical project, something that needs to be well-made, but can cope with the odd small error. In other words, shop furniture. Pretty much all of the drawers and cabinets in my workshop have been commandeered from elsewhere rather than custom built, and as a result some are less than ideal. 

As usual I don't have a great "before" photo because I was too keen to get going, but I do have a picture from a few years ago which shows the drawers under my main workbench: a set of light wood drawers which came from the kitchen in a house I lived in between 2007 and 2011, and a really awful set of dark wood drawers that came from Ashby flea market. Time for a change!

This is a much more recent photo, after the old drawers have been removed, which also shows the woodworking vise I have to build around.

I'm building two (2) identical independent cabinets which will go side by side below the bench. The cabinet on the right will have a shelf at the top instead of drawers; this way none of the drawers will be obscured by the vice handle. 

Cutting plywood sheets into parts isn't very interesting, even if you do have a fantastic new cabinet saw to use. However, one feature which is worth mentioning is the dados/rabbits I cut for the base panels to mount into. The typical way to do this is with a dado blade - my saw takes an eight inch dado set, which I do have, but I don't have the right inset/throat plate. In any case, there is an argument that its not worth the effort of setting up the dado blade just to make four cuts.  An alternative method is to cut a series of slots with the regular blade and just move the fence across in 1/8 inch increments. It's worth noting that dado blades are illegal in the European Union for some reason, so this method if worth considering if you have the misfortune to live there.

Getting the cabinet saw was like letting a cork out of a bottle: I (used to) have a list a mile long of tools I wanted, but didn't really need until I had a cabinet saw. One of these is the Kreg™ pocket hole jig. If you're not familiar, pocket holes are basically screw holes which are drilled at an angle and allow two boards to be securely joined at 90 degrees with appropriate screws. (You can find out more here).

This is how the front and rear stretchers look after the pocket holes have been drilled:

The first step of the cabinet assembly is gluing the base panel into the rabbit in the side panel.  You can never have too many clamps!

I used my new 18 gauge air-powered brad nailer to secure the front and rear stretches in exactly the right position. I would have preferred to buy a decent quality cordless brad gun, but there is no such thing, so I invested in a new compressor instead. I already have a bunch of other air-powered tools which I used for the bodywork on the Mustang.

The brad nails are just used to hold everything in place until the pocket screws have been driven home. This makes for a very strong joint.

The second side panel is then attached to the stretcher in the same way and glued (and clamped) at the base panel:

One down, one to go:

Moved on to cutting parts for the drawers. I'm making everything out of 3/4 inch Baltic birch plywood, except the drawer bottoms which are cut from similar 1/4 inch plywood. You can't really see it in the photo below, but the drawer parts have a 1/4 inch wide and deep dado to accept the bottom panel. 

The pocket holes which will be used to construct the drawers are drilled in the opposite side to the dado, so that they will not be visible inside the drawers. There is no glue used in the drawer assembly

Constructed my first drawer and tested the fit in the cabinet.

Moved into mass production mode...there will be nine (9) drawers in total.

Installing the drawer slides is most easily accomplished by using spacers - the precise measurement of the spacer is somewhat arbitrary, but it is very important that the slides are level and at the same height on both sides of the cabinet:

I also used similar spacers to locate the drawers into the ideal position before attaching the slides to the drawers - there is a 3/4 inch gap between each pair of drawers.

All drawers installed! The top section of the right cabinet consists of a shelf since I don't want to have drawers which are obscured by the vise handle. 

It is difficult to see in the photo below, but this is after oak trim, which I cut to exactly 1/8 x 3/4 inch on my new saw, has been added to the front-facing edge of the cabinet. This will give the effect of real wood instead of plywood once the cabinets are installed below the bench.

Time to make the false fronts. Some years ago, I built some cabinets out of oak plywood which I stained red. I made a bunch of extra shelves, which have been taking up space in various garages and attics ever since. They look like this:

One of them was made into a "temporary" router table about a decade ago:

I also used either shelves or some other leftover material for the drawers I built for my garage work bench... 

I think by now you probably know what's starts with ripping some old pieces of red oak into 1/4 inch strips.

The shelves were then trimmed to the correct width on the cabinet saw and oak trim was attached with a mixture of glue and 23 gauge brad nails.

These panels were then cut into strips and similar oak trim was glued on to the sides. The excess was cut off by hand with a flush trim saw, and the outer edge was chamfered on the router table.

Installing the false fronts was easier on some drawers than others: 

First cabinet done!

This is later, after final finishing and installation below the bench:

The floor in my workshop is not level, and the opening below the bench is not perfectly square either, so I installed the second cabinet by clamping it to the first one and then making some shims.

All done! After transferring the contents from the old drawers, I now have three (3) large empty drawers and the shelf to fill with other stuff, most of which I probably don't own yet.

Coming soon: Many other projects and a full-on audio-visual shop tour!