Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Stinky Tale

This has nothing to do with woodworking. I have this big roll-off dumpster in my yard, and tonight I walked by and my two cats were staring wide-eyed into it. So I hang out for a bit to see what's going on and realize that something's moving around inside. A few minutes later a skunk pops out. Rewind a couple weeks - one morning I threw open the door of the barn and there's a skunk, right there. So I have enough time to think 'ohh fu..' and the skunk spins around and fires off a round into my leg. Fack! So anyways, I'm about 15' away from this little bastard who's sitting in the dumpster, calmly chewing on a Dairy Queen burger wrapper, giving me a look like 'go ahead fucker, we both know how it turned out last time'. And then skunk #2 pops out! It's an infestation!

Dairy queen wrappers aren't very healthy. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they were to meet an untimely demise due to their unhealthy diet.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oil and lasers!

I buggered around tonight getting things ready for installation. I established a level line on my wall that represents the bottom of my wall cabinets. Unfortunately my house is sitting on an unlevel foundation, so the whole house slopes a couple inches in 30 feet. I can't really build the cabinets out of level though, cause I don't want the eggs rolling off the counter.

The whole un-level thing has been an issue during this entire project, so when I was building the stairs in the house I bought a self-leveling laser to establish a reference line. The thing is worth its weight in gold! I started at the high point in the floor, made a tick at the appropriate height, then set the laser level at the same height. To avoid a bunch of pencil ticks on the fresh paint I used blue tape to draw the line on the wall.

My lovely assistant Mandy gave me a hand with finishing, although I had to bribe her with beer. She was good help, and made the process go much quicker, although she giggled madly whenever I said 'tung oil'.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Carrying on then.

It seems that my initial burst of energy in regards to cabinetmaking has died off, and my attention has wandered to other, smaller projects in my house. Like hanging light fixtures. I got back on the wagon this weekend however, and pretty much have my wall cabinets completed. One of the reasons I haven't been full of piss and vinegar to keep building cabinets is the weather. Here in frosty Alberta we've been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather the last few weeks which has made working in my garage more bearable. The past week has been back into the -25 range though, so the warmth of the house looks mighty inviting.

So anyways, I'm just going to post a few pics of the various steps to complete a wall cabinet. I'll forgo the biscuit cutting, it's pretty simple.

Once each cabinet came out of the clamps the first thing I did was cut the rabbet for the back panel. In all the case work I've done I've always been tempted to cut the rabbet post glue-up, but never had the nerve to do it. It's infinitely simpler than cutting the rabbet before glueing, but it adds the risk of having to scrap an entire cabinet rather than a single piece if something goes wrong. I did a few tests before hand, to make sure that my rabbet bit would hack it, and all seemed well. To reduce the chance of tearing out a chunk of the topsheet I scribed a line first. Incidentally, I'm amazed at veneer cutting technololgies. The topsheet on this plywood is almost undetectable when you look at a cross section. It can't be more the one 128th of an inch. Unreal. Anyways, rabbet cutting went smoothly.

Once the rabbet was cut I glued on the hangers. These are just 4" strips of 3/4" plywood that lie flat on the back of the cabinet, top and bottom. It's something beefy to sink the screw through whilst hanging the cabinets. Simple.

...then I used an air stapler to attach the back panel. I heart my air stapler. It kicks ass for building jigs and fixtures.

Rather than square off the rabbet I just used my sander to round the corners of the back panel.

I was hoping I wouldn't have to do any sanding, but it didn't work out that way. After wiggling things around during the glue ups, the sides weren't exactly flush with the top and bottom. I decided early on that I would have to sand the finish off the top and bottom, flush everything up, and refinish it. It was really difficult to not sand through the ultra-thin top veneer, and if you were to look really close you might find the odd spot where I went through. Oops. The epoxy finish on the plywood was ultra-hard, and took some serious time to clean off. I ended up having to go to 60 grit, then 80, and finally 120.

I started out softening all the edges with a file but eventually I traded it for 150 grit paper on a sanding block. I don't like sanding, but I've always kinda enjoyed doing edge treatments. It makes a piece go from sharp and rough to finished, just like that. It's very satisfying.

I've got the wall cabinets completed, except for finishing. Hopefully I can get some finish on them and hang them this week.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


I really have to get some more friggin' clamps...

Things this weekend progressed very... very... slowly. I started gluing the edges on saturday morning and spent most of the day sitting around waiting. Unfortunately I only have a handful of bar clamps so I could only glue up a few panels at a time, meaning one cabinet worth of parts would take about 3 hours before I could get the edges flushed up and trim everything to size. Frustrating!! This is exactly the reason I wanted to use a nailer to fasten the edges on.

In the meantime though I developed a way to mount the little xenon lights under the cabinets. I had to drill a 2-1/8" hole and was thinking that a router would do the best job. I was using a hole saw to cut a template in a piece of scrap and was amazed to find that it actually cuts a really clean hole, so I just used it on the finished panel. The lights only fit into a max 1/4" lip though so I had to make a larger router template to house the back side of the panel.

I routed a small chamfer on the hole so it would be easier to push the light in, which is mounted with a friction fit.

The back side, housed.

These little xenon pucks are nice because they take up almost no room and don't heat up like halogens do. The downside is they're low voltage so you have to find a place to hide a transformer. My cupboards have a blind corner rather than a corner cabinet though, so it'll fit inside there.

So while I cut all my cabinet parts at once, I've put aside the parts for the base cabinets so I can get the wall cabinets finished and out of the way. There's not nearly enough room in my little garage to try and wrestle all the parts around at once. I'm going to buy a half dozen more clamps this week and try to sneak away from work at least one day to try and catch up. As of this evening I only have one of six wall cabinets complete, and edges glued to three cabinets worth of panels. I'm way behind!

This is my first glue-up, which almost turned into a fiasco. Sweet cauls hey? I just grab whatever's lying around. My original intention was to move the cabinets into the house to glue-up but it doesn't really work out. After it's out of the clamps I still have some sanding to do, the back rabbett to cut, the back panel to mount, so I took this one back out to the garage after I was done gluing it. I suspect I'll just leave them out in the garage until they're ready to hang.