Closeups of Rip and Crosscut Sawdust

I’m not terribly interested in photographing sawdust and shavings as an art form, but I was interested in doing it because I wanted to see if my saws were really doing things the way they were supposed to. Being in the ever-so-fun milling stage of the nightstand 2 projects, I’ve made a lot of sawdust so far.

First, from the big 4.5TPI ripsaw:

You can see that these are like little chunks taken out with a chisel. This is good, because a ripsaw’s teeth are supposed to act like chisels.

Here is a more distant shot of a bunch these things next to a 2.25″ plane shaving for a size comparison (the wood is black cherry, incidentally):

Okay, yee-haw, now what about crosscut sawdust? There’s a result of the same board cut with my 7TPI Winchester crosscut saw:

These things are a lot smaller and look like slivers, which is also about right.

Just for fun (and to see the difference in size), here are a few pieces of the rip sawdust sprinkled on top of the crosscut stuff:

Okay, that concludes this episode of dorking around with the macro lens. There’s a lot of sawing ahead of me.

Nightstands v2: Wood Acquisition

Normally I wouldn’t write about the mundane process of purchasing and transporting some wood for a project, but after some thought, I noticed that I really haven’t talked much about how I’ve gone about that process. Then, I realized that I actually hadn’t done any halfway serious wood shopping in a few years. I’d gotten the beech for the stool and first nightstand projects through a group purchase off of craigslist, and a fellow BAG dropped it off at my house (thanks again, Kirk!), and the rest of it was either really cheap home center softwood or some stuff I’d gotten long ago in this initial purchase (wow, is that ever a blast from the past–I was still living in my Inner Sunset apartment then!).

I’d also gotten another piece of beech somewhere between those two, which marked the first time that I’d used my roof rack for that purpose. We’ll get back to that rack in a second–it goes along with this post. I’ve seen a few posts from other folks regarding wood transport (including some crazy(?) stuff like bicycles), but not many, which probably indicates that a lot of people have trucks. And for those of you wondering, yes, I may do all of my work by hand, but when I need to move some wood around, you can believe that I’m not going to do it by wheelbarrow or drag it on the sidewalk. [Edit: Turns out that was wrong about that last method, but that’s another story.]

Let’s go back and start with the wood selection. My design was for cherry and called for 1.25″ thick legs and 1″ frame pieces, meaning that I’d some 6/4 or bigger stock . Then each nightstand will have drawers, panels, a top, and a shelf, which calls for the usual 4/4 stuff. I had the amount of board-feet and linear feet necessary for 6″ wide stock computed before I went.

But when you go to the lumberyard, you really don’t know what they’ll have. That especially holds true for cherry, where the stock on hand has all sorts of variations in in color, grain straightness, and especially defects. So you have to have a basic plan at what stock you’ll need for your cutting list, but you need to be able come up with a plan B.

And plan B it was. I really didn’t like any of the 6/4 cherry boards that I saw today. However, the 8/4 stock was only 16 cents more expensive per board-foot, and far better-looking. So even though it will mean a bit of exhausting resawing, I bagged a decent-sized one of those for the legs and the frames, and a 4/4 piece for panels and drawer fronts. I may get another piece for the top later, if necessary.

I also got a piece of 4/4 birch for my secondary wood. I don’t know if that was a great idea or not, but I like birch, and it doesn’t cost much.

Now we get to transporting the wood, and it’s where we get back to the story about the rack. Here’s the load of three boards back at my place:

The rack is a Yakima system that I’d gotten off ebay when I had my CRX. Now, if you know anything about these rack systems, you can switch them from one kind of car to another, as long as you’re willing to pay the king’s ransom that Yakima wants for the little clips that will fit your car (essentially, very expensive powdercoated pieces of pressed steel). As a special surprise, I also had to get new crossbars, because the new Civic’s roof is much wider than the old one. Thankfully, I was able to dodge Yakima’s cash vacuum on that one by just getting some 3/4″ galvanized pipe from the hardware store.

Now here’s how the choice of car gets a little tricky. I like my 2-door, mostly to annoy any passengers that may end up in the back seat, but this is one instance where having the 4-door is better. You see, on the 2-door, you place the bars only 18″ apart (unless you pay another arm and a leg for Yakima’s extender kit), but on the 4-door, you put them 32″ apart. A longer spread helps keep the load from rotation forces and keeps boards from springing around so much. To avoid that altogether, you can tie the load down in the front and the back. Because this was a short trip (and wood has a much smaller aerodynamic profile than, say, a canoe), I didn’t need to do that.

So, yeah, had I thought about this when deciding between the coupe and sedan, it would have been a consideration. However, the 4-door had a big problem that I don’t think I could have overcome: You can’t get it in the color you see above. [Edit: Also, new for the 2012 Civic 4-door, you can’t get the EX trim with a manual transmission. This is far worse than the wrong color. But you can still get it with the EX coupe.]

[Note: The Schwarz also has a what is essentially a Civic, and but he’s basically gone the infill route by getting the old Acura version. I have to admit that I miss the hatch of the CRX.]

Okay, back to the load. Let’s see how I fasten the boards to the roof. Here is the driver’s side, which has the 8/4 cherry:

I put pieces of foam pipe insulator around the bars, then put the wood on top, and fastened things together tightly with a ratchet tie-down–which is essentially a band clamp. The ratcheting ones let you get the grip good and tight, compressing and locking the board into the foam. This not only takes a lot of slop out of the fastening, but also adds some friction to the surfaces; everything is always in contact with something else, even if you hit a bump in the road (and California roads have plenty of those). The boards were shorter than the length of the car, so I did not need to put a red flag on the end to indicate an overhang (as you would need to do if you let your boards hang out the back of a pickup or van).

These tie-down clamps have really long cords, so you have to do something with the excess. On the driver side, I’ve wrapped them around the board several times, then tied the loose end to the bar. It doesn’t need to be a strong knot because the ratchet mechanism is doing all of the hard work.

On the passenger side, I put the two thinner boards together, but this time, I got lazy and put the loose end of the straps into the car. I wouldn’t do this on a long trip because it makes too much noise:

Once I was finished fastening everything, I gave them a bunch of pretty hard shoves to make sure that they wouldn’t budge.

As far as the capacity of the rack goes, I’m pretty comfortable with these two boards on top of each other, but I don’t know about three. In any case, there isn’t room for much more. The weight limit on the rack and the roof itself is 125 pounds, which translates to around 35 board-feet of this density of wood. There were 23 board-feet on there today. This is just fine for a small-time woodworker like me; it’s just very unlikely that I’d ever need to buy much more wood than this at once, given what I currently do.

But what if I did need to haul more? Would I get a truck? A significantly cheaper option would be to get a trailer. My car’s towing capacity is 1000 pounds.

Replacing a Cheap Drawer Front

Shortly after moving into our new place, a combination of old age and hamfistedness conspired to snap off the edge of one of the kitchen drawers.

Clearly, the drawer is nothing special and lacks in the aesthetics department, but when the landlord came over and we talked about what to do about it, we decided that it would probably be easiest just to repair this thing rather than to replace all of the kitchen cabinets (which would be nice, but would require lots of planning and disruption in our lives). So I said that I could make a new front, but he’d have to paint it. He said that would be great and he’d pay me for my work.

It was straightforward. The front consists of a board with rabbets on both ends and a groove (dado-y-like thing on the original). When I knocked out the old front, I found one possible contribution for its deteriorated state: There were a total of 17 nails holding the sides in. Looking at the other drawers in the kitchen, there were only two per side.

After milling the board (yellow-poplar sapwood–I’m being really extravagant here) to size, I marked out the rabbets and decided just to saw them instead of using a rabbet plane, since these were relatively large and cross-grain:

Then I plowed the groove for the bottom panel. This was perhaps the most time-consuming part of the process because I had to fit the longer arms of the #45 to get the fence at the right distance:

The next step was to mark the holes for the handle. This was a straightforward process of lining up the original on top of the replacement and poking an awl through the original holes:

Now if I’d been paying attention to what I was doing, I would have also drilled the holes at this point. But for whatever reason, I made it hard on myself and forgot to do this until I had the front attached.

I figured that I’d attach the front with two nails per side, and predrill small holes to reduce splitting and stress. It was a nice application for a Millers Falls #5 (hiding behind the F-clamp in this photo):

After putting the nails in and (awkwardly) drilling the holes for the handle, I test-fit, shaved a little bit off here and there with my block plane, and it was done:

Now it awaits the landlord’s paintbrush. (Hmm, might be time to clean off that area above the cutting board, eh.)

This was a very quick and cheap fix for a silly little problem. I expect that it will hold for as long as it needs to. Now I can get back to work on more “serious” projects.