Saturday, March 31, 2012

A few more vanity shots...

Top detail
Morning light on the top
Morning light on the shelf
Morning light catches a glimpse of the first coffee mug...
As a coffee table should be.

The vanity shots...

Here's a collection of shots of the new coffee table the one morning I had it in my living room before delivering it to it's new owner -

Breadboard ends with walnut dowels
Detail of the end panels
Leg detail
A nice shelf underneath
Details under the lip of the top
One of the breadboard ends from below

Coffee Table build with the Domino XL

The Domino is really starting to shine as a "go-to" tool in my shop. I had a commission for an Arts & Crafts style coffee table that had been languishing in my shop for too long. To be honest I had been dreading all the joinery involved in putting it together.

So when I applied to be a test user for the new Domino XL I specifically mentioned the desire to have the XL for this project.

The time and frustration I saved over traditional mortise and tenons (which I'm not the practiced at) alone would make me want to buy one of these machines!!!

The first sub-assembly that I tackled was the ends.

The basic concept is a pair of square legs with two rails between them. Five vertical accents would be between the rails.

Aesthetically I wanted the rails to be 3/4" thick material and for them to be inset from the face of the legs a small amount. The vertical accents needed to be less than 3/4" so they could be inset from the rails. Here's the basic mockup -

The problem comes when I contemplate using the XL for the mortises.

If I mill the vertical bars down to 5/8" before I bore the mortises I have a problem. The fence on the XL has a minimum of 10mm offset from the bit's centerline. This will work, though not perfectly, with 3/4" (18mm) stock.

It would have been a stunning thought if Festool had designed the XL with a minimum of 9mm offset. That would give centered mortises in 3/4" sheet goods! A real plus for cabinet makers!!! (Hint, hint, hint)

Back to my current conundrum.

The simple solution was to leave the vertical bars at 3/4" thick. Mark for all the mortises. Bore them.

And then...

Mill the pieces down to 5/8"!

It was a bit touchy. But it gave me what I wanted in a fairly quick and easy manner.

To make things even more interesting I wanted to round over the bars edges.

I ended up with some very substantial mortises in a tight situation.

The photo below shows just how small a final piece can be even when you're using a tool as massive as the Domino XL!

On to assembly.

Here's another reason I wanted to use the XL on this project.

10 tenons - 20 mortises = 1 panel

Liquid hide glue gave me just enough open time to get all the surfaces properly coated and the unit into clamps.

Looking good.

Everything's tight and square.

I had already glued up the top before I got the XL but I instantly had a light bulb go off in my head when I first touched those BIG 14x140mm Dominos.

Instead of having to cut fixed tenons on the main portion of the table's top. I could use five Dominos to attach the bread board end.

Knowing I couldn't glue any of the Dominos but the center one. I dry fitted the ends and drilled for 1/4" walnut dowels.

When I assembled the top I glued only the center 4" and Domino. I then glued the walnut dowels as I drove them through the outer Dominos.

Clamping was a bit of a pain since the top is 78" and my longest clamp is only 50"!

After the glue dried and I trimmed and sanded everything down. I was quite happy with the fit and finish!

NOTE - The table was delivered was over a month ago and I'll be going to see it Friday night. So I'll be posting photos and a report on how it's doing early next week.

With the top done. I was left to assembling the base.

More fun with clamps. But at least assembly was straight forward and everything worked out square due to properly placed Dominos.

A few coats of finish and off to the clients living room this table goes!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On the Outside...

Something new for me...

We needed to replace the picket fence that was falling down in front of our house.

I researched buying pickets and decided that I wanted to make my own.

So off to A&A Lumber we went to buy cypress. 1x8's to mill down for the pickets. 2x4's to mill down for the cross bars. 4x4's for the posts.

The fence is only 134 feet long. Should be quick and simple. Hah!

My shop's kind of small. So I've been moving a LOT of cypress in and out of the shop the past couple of weeks as I run it through the planer and slowly mill the 16' 1x8's down to their final sizes.

Everything gets stickered to keep it as true and straight as possible. And every time the rains come it all gets moved back inside or covered by plastic to keep it dry...


I'm almost there...

Some of the pickets are taking shape...

I only need to make 527 +/- ...

Building the second (and third) Walnut/Cypress Tables

Right after I got the new Domino XL in to test I received a commission to build two more of my walnut and cypress tables.

I of course was quite excited to have a more substantial way of building these tables!

The sides of these tables are glue ups of various thicknesses of cypress with slightly thicker tapered cypress legs.

The center panels had already been glued when the XL arrived in my shop.

But I was able to use the Domino to aide in alignment and to be able to add some structural strength.

Because the area of the panel I was going to mortise was only 3/4" thick I went with 8mm Dominos. The smallest size the XL can mortise for.

Three per leg seemed plenty though.

You can see here that 8mm Dominos work perfectly fine with 3/4" thick material.

I think it would be nice to have the smaller sizes available with the Domino 500. But knowing that 8mm Dominos work in this thickness material will fulfill 90% of my needs.

The Dominos certainly eased my glue up and makes me more comfortable with the strength of the legs.

Then I moved on the the cross stretchers.

Before I had two pair. One at the top of the legs and one at the bottom. Not having a better system. I had used pocket screws to attach them to the leg assemblies.

It was very hard to align them just where I wanted. And of course they won't take as much abuse as I would like.

These new tables only have two thin cross stretchers at the top.

I added a full shelf at the bottom to give more strength to the table.

The new Domino XL is really more tool than you want to be trying to align at the end of a thin stretcher like this.

Once again I'm using the 8mm bit size here.

I centered mortises in each end with surprising ease considering the XL weighs in at over 10 pounds!

As long as you are slow and steady with you plunge and put a lot of downward pressure on the big front handle. You'll be fine.

The alignment window is much more useful than the trim stop.

As big and weighty as the XL is. I'm finding the trim stop to be too small and just not that useful with this tool.

Next I wanted to add some Dominos to the bottom shelf.

This was complicated by the design of the shelf.

I put the mortises where they needed to go purely by eye.

Then I transferred the locations to the leg units.

To do this I marked a horizontal where I wanted the shelf to end up. I then carefully balanced the shelf on the line and transferred my mortise centerline tick marks. I also marked an offset for the center mortise that's lower then the other two.

I then balanced the XL on end.

Managing the dust extractor hose was the most difficult part of this operation. The Domino itself has such a nice big fence and the smooth operation made the plunge fairly easy.

(Note to self - Buy a boom arm for my CT 26 to solve the hose issue!)

I merely aligned the Domino's base mark with my pencil mark and plunged.

Six mortises. Six perfect alignments!

Assembly went like a charm.

Here the table base is dry fitted with Dominos. Even without glue it was nice and stable.

I decided I wanted the tops of these tables to float above the base.

To accomplish this I bought a length of mild steel tubing at Lowe's.

I liked the natural industrial patina as an accent to my wood.

So I simply cut the tube in 1" lengths and attached the top to the base with screws from the stretchers through the shell tubing into the walnut top.


Now to deliver...

The new table was a snooze to the family dog. But the new owners were ecstatic!!!

I'm always happy when a client's happy.

The BOSS...

Here's the problem with being a one man shop.

You wear all the jackets.

You start the day with a "staff" meeting.

You discuss the current projects in the shop. You contemplate how you could make getting those projects done in the most efficient and profitable manner.

You move on to long-term goals. Shop improvements and expansion. Marketing strategy. You make a list of clients and potential clients to call.

You think about your internet presence. You sketch out some blog post ideas.

Then you delve into the days' work...

You run the machines. You stack the work. You problem solve the design that's not working exactly to spec. You run to Woodcraft for more sandpaper when you run out.

At the end of the day you clean up...

But let me just say this -


In the end. I am the boss.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Details of my setup block...

I thought I would elaborate on my setup blocks...

The first set of mortises on my setup blocks correspond to the fence heights that you can set with the stair step gauge.

Pictured is the setup block for the 12mm cutter.

The stair step gauge has settings for - 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40mm. The fence raised to its maximum height registers at 52mm.

I would advise against using the 14mm cutter and the 10mm fence height position. It leaves less than 1/8" of sidewall to the mortise!

The other set of mortises correspond to the use of the three equidistant pair of pins.

The manual states that the pins are 20, 37 and 50mm from the cutter centerline to the inside edge of the "pinned" mortise.

Being able to quantify the center-to-center or outside edge-to-outside edge distances seems much more useful to me.

This is easily done with the setup block.