Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ahhhhh Done!

Not gonna belabor the point by showing a whole photo gallery. This is it, three photos.

Still trying to wrap my head around the fact it's finally done! What a trip it's been!

Learned a few things, got frustrated with some things, started all over with some things even right up until the very end.

I'm totally stoked with the results!

Next up - our own TV stand. Been putting that one off for quite awhile now. Gotta get going on it again.

Monday, April 21, 2014

That elusive finish line just got owned!

Well......sort of. Not really owned quite yet. But getting closer. That counts for something, right? Right?

Ok, I figured in order to make a base, I needed a template - the more rigid the better. That's what that white thingy is on top (or bottom depending on which way you're looking at it) is supposed to be.

Scissors didn't work well, so had to use a drywall knife to score it and then it was ready to seek out that all elusive base up in the barn.

Once a viable piece of cottonwood made itself available, it was a simple matter to grind it down to rough thickness using the angle grinder with chainsaw wheel.

Getting there, but am very concerned about the "punkiness" of certain portions of this piece. It looks ok setting on the pedestal, but am thinking it'll just fall apart when it comes time to fasten it.

So, Katherine came up with the idea that I should make "feet" for the pedestal and incorporate them into some of the nooks and crannies.

Finish line just moved a little farther away again - not so far that I can no longer see it, but far enough that I know it'll take a couple more days to finish this project up.

Oh, well.

After hours and hours and hours (not really) of searching, these two pieces (the ones on the outside) jumped out at me as possibilities. The idea was to incorporate them as best as possible into the pedestal to make them look sort of like branches or roots - again depending on how one is looking at it.

Set up the first one, drew some scribe lines, and hoped the scribe lines would be fairly easy to follow (not).

Set up the second piece, eyeballed it some, drew some scribe lines, and thought I was ready.

This is going to be more challenging that originally thought. The irregular shapes of the feet made them almost impossible to grip in the vise, so a clamping system along with a scrap 2x6 screwed into  the bottom held it tight enough to work on.

Not too bad a fit.

One coat of stain to see how the two pieces meld into each other. Not bad, but not good either.

Looks kind of like a lava flow from a volcano, eh? Not as symmetrical as I'd like. Will probably need to grind off some of the toes on this foot.

Second piece fits pretty well, actually. Not nearly as difficult as the first piece.

All fastened up and ready for balancing test. Still pretty tippy to one corner of the table. Need another foot. This one kind of looks like a little boot that fits very well into the crevice.

I'm really glad Bobby has muscles I don't. Without his help, this table would have remained upside down forever.

Now with the carpet glides installed on the bottom, the last step is to cross over that elusive finish line by giving the feet their three coats of water based poly.

It's really satisfying to see this one come together. All through the process there were doubts, lessons learned, and trials and tribulations. I'll definitely be taking all of those along with me on my next project.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thought I saw the finish line.....for a second

Today was supposed to be a big day. It started out that way, but the best laid plans.......well, you know how that goes.

Ran to the hardware store and picked up some timber fasteners. I've found these modified lag screws hold so well nothing really compares. All that was needed was four 6" screws drilled down into the pedestal top to hold the runners/supports for the tabletop. Man, are they tight!

Next step is to attach the pedestal to the underside of the tabletop. With Bobby's help, we got it set up and measured.

Once the measurements were accurate and equal on all sides, lines got traced as guides for the slots to come.

I hate using a plunge router! Probably because I haven't had call to use them enough in the past to familiarize myself with how they work. So, chicken that I am, I used the good old fashion drill with a spade bit to drill 4 pilot holes to accommodate the router bit once it was set to the proper depth.

Next step was to set up the guide for the router. Easy enough. Just measure the distance from the router bit to the first line (2 7/8"), set the guide bar, and screw it into the tabletop to hold it in place. No worries because this is the underside of the table. A little sanding along with a good coat of varnish should hide the holes pretty well.

One side done.

Using a 3/4" straight bit means two passes for each slot need to be made. Took awhile, but the results were really good.

The proof in the pudding....slots accommodate the runners/supports and the depth was perfect.

Next step is to secure the runners to the underside of the tabletop. Maybe it's just overkill, but the more screws the better in my experience. The tabletop is two inches thick. The screws used were 1 1/2" long. Just wanted to make sure when screwed down they didn't pop through the top.

Turning the table upright was a bit of a concern as we didn't know for sure the screws would hold what with weight of the pedestal maybe tearing them out. All went well. The overkill was worth it.

And this is where things kind of went south a little bit. The concern over balance was well founded.

Once Bobby and I set the table up the way it's supposed to be, I put some weight on the short ends - nice and solid! Now the long sides - it didn't take much to tip it forward. Damn! Was looking at the finish line and now I have to find a piece I can make into a base to stabilize the whole thing.

Not only that, but at least 1 1/2" to 2" had to be taken off the bottom of the pedestal in order for the finished product to maintain that all too important 29" to 30" height I'm seeking.

Set up the router planer, adjust the height, begin planing. This is going faster and better than I'd anticipated. Wait a minute....router really slowing down. Time to change the brushes. Really don't want to take the time to do this, but will ruin the router if I don't.

Ok, brushes changed. Turn on the router, goes ok for the first pass. Second pass it slows down even more. Can see some blue "flame" inside the router housing. Maybe it's just at the end of its rope. This thing has served me well and done some things it probably wasn't actually designed to do. I won't give it a burial just yet, but will have to switch to something else for sure.

Time to get out the big daddy plunge router from Harbor Freight. Get it all set up and go to town. This router is HEAVY! It actually bows the angle iron of the sled a little bit if any pressure at all is placed downward on it.

Well, the pedestal is now planed down to the right height. Next in line? Figuring out which piece will become the base. Dang, where the heck is it?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Finish line still not in sight.......but closer

Getting there. Patience is a virtue - at least that's what I've heard.

Joining the two pedestals together actually went better than I though it would. Those really long lag screws hold the two pieces together very solidly, if I do say so myself. And, the good news is you have to look really hard to see them in between in the gaps. Yep, I missed where I really wanted the screws to go, but it turned out ok in the end because, like I said, you really have to look hard to even see them.

Drilling out a plug to accommodate a dowel was also pretty easy to do. Luckily, those 3/4" dowels I bought a long time ago work wonderfully when cut off short and tapped into the hole. Now all that's necessary is to grind down the nubs still sticking out after the glue dries. All in all, a very good morning.

After lunch setup: because the two pedestals didn't join together quite perfectly, one was a little higher than the other. Back to the router planer.

In order to keep the piece (no longer two pieces, eh) completely solid while passing over it with the router, I attached a 3/4" thick shelf scrap to the bottom using 4 deck screws.

Once they were in place, the shelf was attached to the planer table with another 4 deck screws. Very solid! No movement at all! Just what I was looking for.

Next step is to adjust the height of the runners to match the height of the pedestal, make the necessary passes with the router in the sled, and voila....straight and level!

Better check the height, though, because if it goes under 27 inches, the tabletop won't make up for the difference. I've measured the height of quite a few tables, and they invariably wind up at between 29 and 30 inches high.

Well, THAT's a relief. Still have some wiggle room to now do the bottom.

Turned the whole thing upside down, unfastened and refastened in reverse, made the necessary passes with the router again, and voila.....perfectly level. And that's how I get parallel tops and bottoms on all the pedestals I do for tables. Did I mention how much I like this router planer?

Even after leveling the top and bottom, the height is still at 27 1/2". Perfect!

This is why I like the router planer so much. Using pipes, I can adjust the height to just about anything I want to. The only limitation is from the length of the pipes, themselves. For this process, you can see the maximum height of the bottom of the sled is 29 inches. If you look at the corner of the apparatus in the left of the photo below, you can see there's still about 3 to 4 inches I could have raised the sled if necessary. Nice!

Just a couple of photos of the leveled pedestal top and bottom.

Before applying the first coat of stain, there was still some significant sanding that had to be done. Also the dowel plugs had to be ground down and made flush with the contour of the opening they went into.

All that being done, it was time to apply the first coat of Watco Danish Oil "Natural" stain/varnish combination.

All 4 sides with one coat:

I think one coat of stain is all that will be necessary. The topcoats from here on in will be spray varnish as I can't get into all the nooks and crannies even with an artist's brush. So, tomorrow it's off to the hardware store to get some spray varnish.

I think it's coming together nicely. What do you think?