Shoe Rack: Finished

Remember the shoe rack I’d been working on for a while? The one I haven’t written about for a while? Well, it’s been in the finishing stage for the last month. I did a tung oil/varnish blend first, and after waiting the requisite million years for that cure, I put on three more coats of varnish.

I started today by rubbing out the finish. That’s always pretty hard work. I used 320, 600, and 1500 grit sandpaper dry at first. In retrospect, the 1500 was not necessary, because I hit it with #000 and #0000 steel wool lubricated with mineral oil afterwards. Why do I always forget what an amazing difference that makes? I did not use rottenstone as a final step this time, because this is a shoe rack and does not need a super-fine glassy finish.

Then I set out drilling holes for the assembly hardware. The sides were relatively easy–just pop them under the holdfasts, mark out, and go crazy with the brace and bit:

(Yeah, Dan, that’s one of my Millers Falls #2 eggbeaters on the right. It’s got a countersink chucked in. Just sayin’, ‘cuz it seems to be eggbeater season.)

The shelves were a lot trickier. I had to bore parallel into the stretchers for a place to insert the screw-in nuts. That’s difficult to do without splitting the wood, so here’s my solution. With scraps protecting each side, one end goes in the vise, the other is held tight with a handscrew:

So what hardware am I using, you ask?

It’s the same kind I used for my saw handles–those furniture connector bolts with the really wide heads that are screwed in with hex drivers. (I like these things, obviously. Very 20th century, I realize.)

Then it was time to see if everything went together okay. It did:

Oddly, it looks just like I wanted it to. Not so oddly, it’s already full. The SO had a job to do here, you see.

Shoe rack: Components completed

I finished cutting all of the joints for the shoe rack today. It didn’t take very long to finish the remaining mortise-and-tenon joints. So now I’m left with some glued-up frames and a stack of pieces, ready for glue-up:

Because there are so many pieces, the shelves are trickier to glue up than the sides. But it wasn’t that bad of a job. I used the same technique as the sides. That is, put the pieces on one side mostly in place, put on the other side, bang on it a little to bring the joints closer together, then throw it in the Workmate and clamp tight.

Good to see that the Workmate is finally getting some real action.

Shoe Rack: Shelf components and side glue-up

Although I didn’t have much time to work this weekend, I did make a little progress on the shoe rack. The shelves are coming along; in the following image, the mortises for the small stretchers are all complete, as are half of the tenons. The other half of the tenons are marked out and ready for the saw.

There are 18 of these small stretchers, which means 36 more mortise-and-tenon joints, but they go pretty quickly at this size (about 1/2″ square face size for the tenons).

I also picked up some liquid hide glue and glued up one of the side frames:

The Workmate doesn’t seem too bad for this operation. With some fooling around with the bench’s panels, I was able to clamp it between the jaws. Using the liquid hide glue (Titebond in this case) was about as easy as you’d expect–squeeze it out, spread it on the joint, and clamp. This is good, because without a heat lamp or something, I don’t think I’d be able to use hot hide glue in the shop because it’s just too cool down there to have any sort of reasonable open time for glue-up operations that involve more than a handful of joints.

There isn’t much left to do on this project. I need to cut the rest of those small joints (24 left), glue everything up, and then apply some sort of finish.

Shoe rack: Side frame

At this point, most of the significant work on the shoe rack’s joints are done. the side frames are complete, with both consisting of six mortise and tenon joints like this:

In addition to this, there are three shelf frames that are on their way to completion. They’ll take just a little more time to complete, but all of the boards have been cut and now it’s just a matter of making 36 more joints. This sounds worse than it actually is, because the mortises and tenons on the remaining joints are quite small.

I have made a few decisions on this project. The first is that I’ll use some sort of bottled hide glue for the joints to see how it works. The second is that this will be a knockdown project and I will use some fastening hardware to attach the sides to the shelves. These decisions reflect a desire to experiment a little more, while at the same time saving some time, because this thing really needs to get done so that I can move on the the next project.

I also figure that since this is not meant to be the finest piece of furniture in the land, it doesn’t matter too much if some flaws show up a couple of years down the road. This became even more so when, a few weeks ago, I saw a design I liked a lot better than my current one.

Shoe rack: Side frame pieces

I’m in the process of making a shoe rack. It will basically be two side frames with three shelves, all done with mortise-and-tenon joints. I have most of the wood dimensioned, and have the boards for one of the sides cut to length now:

There are going to be quite a lot of mortise-and-tenon joints in this project. I’ve been practicing, and am getting much better. The fun part is that I’m no longer using the “drill and chop out” method of making the mortise. Now that I have no more downstairs neighbors, I’ve just been chopping the whole thing out with a chisel. It’s noisy and destructive and a lot faster than fooling around with the drills.

This wood is some rather cheap mystery softwood. These boards have a lot of knots in them; in fact, they’re downright tragic if you look at them whole. However, if you buy 10- and 12-inch widths, you get a lot of sections that have clear wood, and you can get cuts that are quartersawn in this way. This is a pretty common trick with softwoods.

The growth rings are very closely packed in some of these boards, but it’s still a rather soft wood, somewhere around the toughness of yellow-poplar (tuliptree). It’s always kind of tricky to make joints in wood like this, but I must admit that there’s a bit of a charge when you succeed.