You’ve Gotta Get An Album Out, You Owe It To The People

HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO WRITE anything lately. Not blocked. Not sure I’ve ever been blocked. Just… Oh… ::sigh:: Wishy-washy. Like Charlie Brown. Bleah. Not depressed or unhappy or anything, just… no there there.

Last weekend was probably the last I’ll be able to work outside for awhile.

Somewhere in the northern plains, I thought I heard mention of blizzards. But here in Happy Valley, it was seventy daytimes and forties nights.

I sat out on the front walk with my router and my workmates and grooved the shelf standards for the backs. And I cut holes in between bays two and three for the wire pass. Made a dog’s breakfast of it, but it won’t show once the desk is built over it, so it doesn’t matter that much. Bugs me but nowhere else.

Since Loki is able to tell when I’m about to take his picture with a flash and knows to close his eyes (and I have a bunch of pictures of him with his eyes closed), I have to try to catch him in natural light.

(My instructor at the Nikon school made fun of the then-courant term available light. He said, “If I have a flash in my pocket, that’s available, isn’t it?” I’ve been sensitive to the term ever since. Natural light. Existing light. Daylight. Ambient light. Call it anything but “available.” Heh.)

Some of the best light comes in mid-morning, after the sun has cleared the mountain to our immediate east and blasts down on our little patch of Eden like an arc spotlight. I can open the front door, leaving the storm door shut, and get a nice flood of clean light across the office floor. Here’s Loki playing on a piece of kitteh-playground equipment.

This weekend was a grocery weekend, so Saturday was shot. Dunno why it should be, but grocery shopping just takes it out of me. Maybe I should go every week, so it’s not such a production.


But I am making three-day weekends from now until New Year’s, so I still have two days to goof off work on The Great Study Project. Yay me.

The goal this weekend was to get the shelves for the East Wall to a state where I could put coatings on (urethane on the wood, paint on the Masonite) in the evenings during the week. Truth be told, that’s been my goal for about a month and a half, now.

I saw an article somewhere that 90% of projects these days are done on WorkMates. Implying, I guess, that most people don’t have a formal workshop — like me. You poor bastards. Any time I want to do any work, I have to haul all the tools and materials out of storage, set it all up, shuffle it around as I work, and put it all away when I’m done. Out of four hours notionally spent working, I probably actually only work for two.

::sigh:: Good grief.

But, nevertheless, I did get quite a bit done. I got all of the main-case boards for the three bays of shelves on the East Wall to the same state — cut clean, square, and to-size, with dadoes for the back panels cut. I have most of the boards edge-banded and I have two of the three stock boards for shelves cut to width and banded. The third one needs to have its edge cleaned up, be ripped to final width, and be banded. That will probably be my first task on Saturday next.

I’m sure somebody will come along and tell me this is an old carpenter’s trick, but I invented it independently, so I’m pretty proud of it.

The task here is to ensure that the edge of the board being worked on is as close to perfect as I can get it, both straight and true as well as perfectly perpendicular to the board’s face. All of the other final cuts on the board will be oriented to this face — either square to it (crosscuts) or dead parallel to it (the opposite rip). This is also the front edge of the board and will have wood veneer edge tape hot-glued to it, so the surface needs to be as clean and smooth as I can get it, so the glue will adhere properly.

I’m going to run a router along the edge of it with an edge trim bit (1/2″ diameter, 1″ flute) to shave off approximately a sixteenth of an inch of the edge grain.

The widget with the white ruler running along its edge is a combination clamp/guide. It has thingies on the bottom that grab onto the board and a cam inside that will lock it down. You can line it up on anything — a scribe line, a pencil line, a hairy eyeball — whatever. I want it to line up as close to perfect as I can make it.

So I take an adjustable square, set it for the exact distance from the edge of the board to the guide (which is, in turn, offset from the exact line of the cut by the radius of the baseplate of the router, minus one half of the bit diameter). Then I lay the blade of another adustable square along the blade of the first one, so the end of the blade butts up against the square edge of the head and the reciprocal happens at the other end. This makes both squares set to exactly the same distance from the adjustable head to the end of their rulers.

Then I clamp the board down to the WorkMate, then clamp the two adjustable squares to the board. I lay the guide down so it butts up against the ends of the rulers, and clamp IT down. And there you have it — dead parallel to the cut edge.

In this case, I also had just trimmed the top board to the same width as the bottom board using the piloted cutoff bit and was about to cut a dado. But the principle holds.

Neat, huh?

I also had to get boards in-line with each other that were cut using hand-held power tools — with guides, granted, but — without stops or other bench devices that aid with repeatability. That’s what this is all about…

The boards have to be forced flat (as they will be once built into a cabinet), and mated up with a standard. Then I run the router — with the piloted cutoff bit — along the edge to be matched (in this case, the bottom end), then sand it smooth.

I’ll put a coat of sanding sealer on and probably one coat of urethane, but that’s just to protect the grain during handling. Once it’s glued and screwed, won’t matter.

If I get good and lucky, I might even have these three bays of shelves finished in time for the next blogmoot. Whoop-ee!

Do I know how to have fun, or what?

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