Saturday, March 29, 2014

Pieces and Parts

Well, as stated in an earlier post, the walnut didn't work, but I'd still like to see some contrast. The only thing available right now is juniper - need lots of juniper.

Going on down that juniper road, though, isn't gonna be easy. These trees grow in some of the weirdest ways imaginable. Most taper from larger at the base to very skinny at the top making it very hard to find a consistent width that can be used.

A few years ago, a local fella said I could harvest some of his juniper that had died in a forest fire. Another friend in Bailey said the same thing. The result was a pile of stuff that may or may not be usable for this project. As with any kind of wood, the proof will be in the pudding once the chainsaw is used to discover what's inside, especially since this wood was charred badly in some cases (won't know how deep the charring is until it's gotten into).

Rough stuff that might work:

Need four "rails" for the outside of the table top (on the right side in the photo below). Looks like they're solid. The two on the left are going to be the pedestals.

Did I mention previously that my chainsaw skills pretty much suck when it comes to slabbing (still waiting for someone out there to buy me a sawmill).

Okay, these slabs vary from 4" to 7" thick in spots. That's why I say my chainsaw slabbing skills suck. Don't worry - I don't plan on EVER taking up chainsaw carving anyway!

The pedestals were a whole lot easier to cut to heights of 30". Eventually, they'll be at 27" to 28" high, and the table top will come in at somewhere between 29" and 30" high when mounted to the pedestals.

Time to set up the router planer and get to work shaving down the rails to a thickness of 2 1/2" to match the cottonwood slabs.

Lesson learned - the really long rails I've been using for planing these rails (and other sundry stuff) have way too much drag and cause way too many backaches. Luckily, I have a few spare doors that can be used as a sled of sorts (see photo above). The lengths of the rails are more than four feet. The router planer rails I decided to use are only four feet long. With the sled idea - problem solved! All I need do is secure the piece to the sled (door) using scrap blocks screwed into the door itself to prevent slippage in any direction, adjust the height of the rails, and BAM! Ready to go. When the router sled can't move any further, all that's needed is to slide the door (sled) down a ways, and continue planing to the end of the slab. Once the end is reached, start over from the other end by sliding the door (sled) back in the other direction. MUCH easier on the back, and MUCH easier to control!

After what seemed like an inordinately LONG time, all the slabs are milled down to matching thickness - well almost matching. There's still going to need to be some fine-tuning once glue-up is done, but pretty close is pretty good as far as I'm concerned at this point.

Now each slab has to have one straight edge in order to joint them and make sure there's one live edge for that good old "rustic" look.

This is one of those times I'm not sure I want to even try to do a straight edge on the tablesaw. So, the brand new circular saw will have to do. A straight edge guide will hopefully give me enough stability to be able to not mess this up too much as I cut.

The first time through I didn't adjust the depth - thought the circular saw could handle this depth of cut, but it couldn't. I went sidewise three cuts in before I realized I was going to have to make multiple cuts in order to get an almost perfect straight edge.

All told, I'd guess it took about 15 hours from looking for the right pieces to get to this stage.

Next up - fitting the pieces and parts together so it kind of sort of looks like a tabletop of sorts.