Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pallet Headboard

My daughter recently moved in with me and we realized that her room needed some upgrades. The first being getting her a full sized mattress. Then Sterling Davis over at Sterling's Woodcrafts posted a video to announce the Pallet Up Cycle Challenge 2014. Since I've never made anything with pallet wood I thought this would be a great opportunity. A few short minutes on Pinterest and we had found a couple ideas for headboards made from pallets. I just on my trusty PC and started drawing up a SketchUp model to fit her bed size.
The construction of this headboard is fairly simple. The wider boards that act as joists on a pallet would be used for both the main frame and also as an external decorative frame to finish it off. The frame for this bed would be 48 inches tall and 54 inches wide. Again, this is for a full sized mattress but you could easily adjust the dimensions to fit any size of mattress. 
Before we get ahead of ourselves we have to break apart some pallets. I found some really nice pallets that had longer joists and slats that were in pretty good shape. Now keep in mind this was my first attempt at a pallet project so there was a little learning curve to take them apart without making a complete mess and destroying the wood. 
My wife had suggested I cut off the ends of the slats to ease taking the pallets apart since most of the ends were already so tore up I wouldn't be able to use them. This worked out perfectly and really sped things up.When I got them all done I had a good amount of usable wood (and a little firewood).
Now it was time to start building. I used the long wide pieces to build the frame. The vertical styles were cut to 45 inches. Once both were cut I measured them laying together so I could subtract that measurement from 54 inches so I would have the exact width I needed without having to rip the boards down. I did this for a couple reasons but the main one was so that I didn't have to run a board that might still have nails in it through my table saw and risk damaging the blade.
The joinery I used was simple butt joints secured by pocket screws using Kregs K5 Pocket Hole Jig. These pocket holes won't be visible once the headboard is all together. I drill two pocket holes at either ends of the three horizontal rails.
Then it I just attached the frame pieces together making sure to check for square and I attached each joint. Having a flat work surface that you can clamp your work pieces really helps for projects like this. 
The next step was to cut a 27 x 54 inch piece of half inch plywood to act as a backing so I could glue and nail the slats to. My table saw only has a 26 inch rip capacity so I had to rip it into a 25 inch and then a 2 inch piece. This isn't an issue since the slats will be hiding these pieces here shortly.
Once the plywood was cut to dimension I just glued and then nailed it to the frame. I used 18 gauge brad nails but you could using nails or screw since this will be covered by the slats.
Now its time to start ripping the slats. The chevron pattern I made will need five inch and 3 inch slats. I rip one clean side to the slat and then flip it and rip it to its final width to have both edges clean and parallel. 
 With all the slats cut to width I took them over to the miter saw to cut them to length. I tried to cut them all to 24 inches since this was going to be the longest part used to make the chevron. Because some of the ends were a little tore up and others had other messed up sections I had to cut them shorter. This isn't an issue since some of the pieces will end up getting cut down later.
To begin laying out the pattern I find and then mark the center of the headboard and also mark a 90 degree V. This will be the starting point to starting laying out the pieces. The slats get glued and then nailed to the plywood. 
From there its just alternating rows between the 5 inch and 3 inch slats to make the pattern. The pattern possibilities are really just about endless. I altered the widths just to add to the visual design of the headboard.
 I used my bandsaw to cut the slats down to rough size before I glued and nailed them. Once all the slats were down I used a belt sander and then a orbital sander to clean up the slats and even them off a little. I think if I was going to do this again I would have ran the slats through my thickness planer. Once it was sanded to my liking I took a flush trim bit in my router and then cleaned up the edges.
The final steps of the build is to measure two 45 inch boards for the sides to frame out the headboard. Then after gluing and nailing them to the sides I took a measurement of the overall width and then cut another board to be the top section of the frame. I used my finishing nail gun for these pieces since they were thicker than the slats. 
To finish off the headboard I used two coats of a water based polyurethane and sanded it lightly between each coats. I chose the water based poly because I wanted a little protection but didn't want the yellowing that you get with normal polyurethane. I would have preferred to spray on the finish but because of the weather I chose to go with a brush on application.
Here it is with both coats of poly. I really like how it maintained some of it's rustic look without looking to "rustic". 
Once the poly was dry I carried it up to my daughters room. To attach the headboard to the metal frame I used 8 small bolts with washers and nuts.  
My daughter really likes how her headboard came out. She has now also requested a matching nightstand. I guess that will be an upcoming project. Here is the video I made of the build. I hope you enjoy it and if you want a free copy of the SketchUp you can find it at

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Woodworking and Our Global Economy

I'm not sure if it's everywhere, but you hear the debate going on here in America from time to time about things being manufactured locally. Automobiles and motorcycles seem to be the big items everyone wants to  chime in about. But then the other 90% of their money goes to other countries. Now, I'm not saying anything against a global trade, as long as it is equitable, but let's be even across the board. So what's this have to do with woodworking you ask...well, I think it has a lot to do with it. Why does a company outsource labor and manufacturing to another country? I would argue that taxes and cheaper labor and material prices were right up there at the top of the list. Everyone is always in an uproar about jobs moving overseas but then their spending habits support these actions. This continued behavior I think has programmed people to accept lower quality products for a lower price point. Now, in this great modern world of manufacturing, these companies are able to produce products that look like the real thing...that is, until you have to replace it a couple years later. I am mainly talking about furniture made of glued together sawdust that you have to assemble out of the box, but also about other handcrafted items.
I read a post online the other day that really got me thinking about this. A friend of mine posted on social media about people expecting basically to get something for close to nothing because it was a handmade item. When did we start to devalue an item's worth because it was made in someone's home or garage? Of course no one wants to pay more than they have to for something. I love a deal just as much as the next guy or gal; but at some point we have to put our money where our mouth is.

So I think there are two sides to this issue. The first is from the standpoint of the maker. This can be the small family operated cabinet shop, the stay at home mom who sells items she sews, or someone like me that, when time permits, takes on small commission jobs. It doesn't take a large neon sign or a fancy piece of paper in a ornate frame to make someone a professional. I have seen plenty of highly skilled artisans that fall into the above-mentioned categories. Unfortunately, I've also seen people who title themselves as professionals who provided shoddy--at best--products or services. So if you're a maker or someone who provides a service then don't undervalue what you provide. You owe it not only to yourself but the other people that provide similar products or services to price your work appropriately.

Now the other side is that of the consumer. If you are looking for an item and you want a quality handmade item then be prepared to pay the appropriate price for that item or service. If you love IKEA than please feel free to continue to purchase your wares there. But don't get upset when you inquire about a hand made item and the price is considerably higher than what is sitting in a box at Walmart.

One thing I try to do with clients is working with them to see if there are options to get them the product they are looking for, within their budget. Sometimes there is a way to still make a quality piece of furniture but use different species of woods and then stain or dye them get the look they are going for. But there will also be times when there is no way for both the producer and the consumer to meet on common ground and that is perfectly okay also. So where do you stand either as a maker or a consumer? Or as both? I try to buy local when possible, but I also believe in paying for quality work or services but not for substandard quality based purely on them being the "little guy" in this big global economy.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is it that time of year again already?

It's crazy how it just seemed like yesterday I was dragging out the Christmas Tree to dispose of it. Now all of a sudden I'm starting to see stores starting to put up their Christmas and Holiday wares. I even heard rumor that a few households had already put up their Christmas Tree. I'm with Charlie Brown on this one that we have completely commercialized a perfectly good Holiday. Now I'm not here to debate which if any "Holiday" you celebrate or don't celebrate... or even how you celebrate said holiday. But if you do, then this might be the time to start preparing. I think there is something we all can do to still get our Holiday fix and maybe, just maybe make it a little less about the commercialization (unless you own a foreign manufacturing plant that exploits underpaid workers). Now the entire Internet is full of ideas, but here is a couple things I've done or found that other people have done to create decorations either for your house or as gifts for the Holidays.

The first is a recent video released by Sterling Davis who is a fellow North Carolina resident. I was able to meet Sterling at Woodworking in America this year. He builds a replica Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer of one he built for his Mother when he was in High School (a few years ago).
The next is a Christmas Wreath idea that my wife asked me to make the frame for. I used some some pine 1x2 stock and then cut 22 1/2 degree miters to make an octagon and then glued and screwed with pocket holes. 
Then Kelly stapled some of the clipping off of our Christmas Tree to make a fresh Christmas Wreath. This made a beautiful wreath that could be reused and customized each and every year (or each season for that matter).
Christmas ornaments are another decoration that can easily be made and also past down from generation to generation. We have become a society where everything is bought new and then discarded to make room for the next new hotness. Alan Stratton at As Wood Turns and Carl Jacobson at the Woodshop TV put on a Christmas Ornament Woodturning Challenge every year. This is not only a great way to make a family heirloom but also put a personal touch to the holidays. Here is this years Challenge video which also contains the link to this years playlist. There is still plenty of time to join in on the fun!
This is the first year that I participated in the challenge and hopefully over time I can add some of my own creations to our Christmas Tree.
Here is a video of a Christmas Tree decoration that Steve Carmichael made last year. Steve is an amazing woodworker that has a bunch of great project ideas. I was also able to meet Steve this year at WIA (Woodworking in America). This is a fun looking project that I would also like to make sometime. 
I could go on for days about different online resources and ideas available. They don't all have to be woodworking related either (even if I kind of gravitate that way). I guess what I'm trying to say is that in a global world of manufacturing and commercialization (if this is even a word), go out and make something to decorate your house or to give as a gift for someone special to you this year. Even if it is just one small thing you will be surprised what a difference it makes. Hey and if your totally against the idea of making something yourself... go buy something hand made from someone in your local area. Not only does this help out small businesses but still gives you a meaningful item that wasn't formed of plastic by mindless robots or assembled in a country that still uses child labor. Most communities have holiday fairs or craft shows which is a great place to find or sell gifts and decorations. I hope this gives you some ideas or incentive to go be creative. I'd love to hear what are your plans for Christmas decorations and gifts this year? 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The live addition to the shop tour

A few months ago I made a short video from photos I had taken of my shop. I had been asked by a couple people to do a shop tour video and I thought at the time that it would fit the bill... well I was wrong. So I actually recorded a short video showing off some of the different aspects of my shop. I've posted both of them here just in case you want to watch and compare them both. I hope you enjoy!

Shop Tour Live

Original Shop Tour Video 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Just a couple updates and the Scrap Bin Challenge 2014

So lately I haven't had the free time to take on any big projects. I was able to get a great deal on lathe so I had to move a couple things around to make room for that. With that I needed a storage idea for the tools. I also need to move my WorkSharp 3000 to prepare a space for my next shop upgrade. Now what I should have been doing was filming these projects because just as all this was going on a good number of other woodworkers came together to do the Scrap Bin Challenge. Steve Carmichael has put together a playlist of all the submitted videos so far.

Its really cool to see some of the projects these people have put together with nothing more than some scraps laying around the shop. Now even though I didn't make a video I still wanted to share a little about what I try to do with my scraps. I think we can all agree that it is easy to let our scrap bin collection get a little out of hand. I also have a touch of OCD... so I try and let them work together. Whenever something needs a home I go straight to my scrap bin(s) and see what I can come up with. So here is a couple pictures of some of my recent shop projects built completely with scraps.
Sharpening Station
Drill Charging Station
Lathe Chisel/Gouge Rack
Drill Press Shelf and Forstner Bit Holder
Lathe Accessory Rack

I'm sure you get the picture... get it... picture. Anyways, pretty much everything from my clamp racks to my TV wall mount was made out of scrap wood. So I hope you go and check out some of those videos and then get out there and build something. I'd love to hear about your method of dealing with this ever growing issue of scraps. Please don't let some poor piece of scrap wood go to waste. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Upper kitchen cabinet build

Part of my kitchen remodel is replacing the upper cabinets. I had previously made the cabinet that was part of the fridge surround and these three upper cabinets would be attached to that. Here are the steps I took to make that cabinets and some pictures of the process. At the end of this blog I have posted the video I made detailing the construction of these cabinets.
To start off the project I drew up the three kitchen cabinets in SketchUp so I could figure out how much material I was going to need and to get a good visualization for the project. SketchUp is a great FREE resource that really helps me with my projects something small to an entire kitchen remodel. There are plenty of free online resources to help you learn the program also. I learned to use the program from watching Jay's Custom Creations videos on SketchUP.
Now when we were looking at the design of the cabinets it was to make the most use of available space in the kitchen. Our kitchen has an open floor plan and because of that there is a shortage of storage. The cabinets that were put in the house when it was built had 12 inches of wasted space above them. That is 7 cubic feet of storage space that wasn't being taken advantage. I also made the cabinets about an inch deeper so that our microwave didn't stick out so much and looked more like it was designed for that space. The greatest thing about designing and building for your own house or finding someone to custom build them for you is that it actually can fulfill a need or a want. You don't have to settle for a box made of particle board.
There is plenty of different options to build with and if particle board is your thing that by all means go with it. I am building these cabinets in a kind of country kitchen style so we had already decided to paint them white. I am building these cabinets out of 3/4 inch pine plywood with a pine face frame. So now that I had picked out my material I needed to figure out how much to by. I use the Sketch up drawing to figure out how much lumber I need to purchase. I do use a program to help me figure out my layouts for my sheet goods. I don't mind having extra because I know I will find a good use for it but I'm always concerned about not get enough.
For the construction of the cabinets I start off by building the face frames. I find that it is easier to build the face frame to the exact measurement to fit the space and then build the box of the cabinet to fit the face frame. Now even though I am building three cabinets I will construct them separately and then attach them together when I install them on the wall.
The first thing to do was to start ripping down the stock for the face frame. The stiles and bottom rail are going to be made from 1 1/2 inch wide pieces and the top rail and center stile is going to be made from 3 inch material.
It's important to keep track of how many of each width and length you need so you don't end up short a part or two when it comes to assembly. Once all the cuts are made I take them over to my multipurpose table to start drilling pocket holes in the parts.
This is another step in the process that it is good to separate the parts that don't get pocket holes so they don't accidentally end up with some. There is multiple methods of joinery to put face frames together and very passionate supporters of each. But I personally aren't emotionally attached to any of them. If it works for that application then so be it. I will admit that I am a fan of the pocket hole.
I then go into assembling the frames. It is important to make sure that they are square since this will be the most visible part of the cabinet and the doors that will eventually get made from the door will reference from the openings made by the face frame. I have 3/4 inch dog holes in the top of my multipurpose bench that allows me to clamp things directly to the work surface.
Once all the face frames are built it is time to start cutting down the parts for the boxes of the cabinets. The sides, top, bottom, and back are all going to be 3/4 inch plywood but I am going to wait to cut the back pieces till the boxes are assembled. This is just to make sure that they have a good tight fit.
Now even though I have a table saw in my shop I set up a work surface in my driveway for cutting down full sheets of plywood. I just find that this is not only safer but in the end I get more accurate cuts. For some reason every time I would try and wrestle a full sheet of plywood onto my tablesaw I would mess up the cut. I set a couple saw horses down and put a spare sheet of 3/4 inch plywood down and then set a 2 inch piece of insulation foam on top. This way I can set the depth of my blade to barely cut through the work piece and the foam fully supports it.
Once all the sheet goods are cut down into manageable sizes it is back to the shop to cut them to final dimension on the tablesaw.
To cut the panels down to length I use a crosscut sled on my tablesaw. This is the safest and most accurate way I have found to cut wide panels.
To fit the back panels in the cabinets I am using a Dado stack in my tablesaw and cutting a 3/4 inch dade that will be a 1/2 deep.
Then it's back to the Kreg pocket hole jig to make some more pocket holes. Again there is plenty of different methods of joining panels together but since the sides, top, and bottoms won't be visible I think this is a great option of joinery for cabinets.
Again it is important to organize your work pieces by which parts get what holes. The tops and bottoms get holes along the sides to attach the box together and holes along the front to attach the face frames. The side panels only get hopes along the front.
To assemble the boxes I clamp the two pieces together using Rocklers Clamp-It Jig. This just makes aligning the parts easy and gives me another surface to clamp to and a good 90 degree reference. Once all four sides are attached I give everything a good sanding and then measure the backs so I can cut and install them.
Once all the backs are cut and installed its time to attach the face frames. Since I am using pocket holes to attache the face frames I just have to center the frame on the box allowing for a 1/4 overhang on the bottom and both sides.
With the face frames attached all I had to do was to mount them on the wall, drill some holes for the shelf pins and paint them. I also put some crown molding up along the ceiling to dress them up a little. Here is the finished product.
Hopefully I will have time in the next week or so to build the doors for the cabinets. But until then I have added the video of the build for your viewing pleasure. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and I hope to hear from  you soon.
Don't be shy either... like, leave a comment, and subscribe!!!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Time to draw up some kitchen cabinets

It is finally time in the kitchen remodel to build and install the upper kitchen cabinets. These cabinets will be taller than the cabinets that we removed to take up the unused space that was between the cabinets and the ceiling. But before we start making sawdust we need to figure out where we are in the master plan. So I'm sure everyone has been at the edge of their seats keeping up with this project as it's progressed or at the very least going back to catch up on the road this build is taking. But here is a snap shot of where we are in the Kitchen.
The tile flooring, laminate flooring and fridge surround are finished and the lower cabinets have been panted. I have decided to wait on the countertops till all the cabinets are finished. I will be building three upper cabinets. The first one will be a single width cabinet to the left of where the microwave will be above the stove. The second cabinet will be a shorter double cabinet that will sit right above the microwave. The third and final cabinet will also be a double width one and be the same height as the first.
Other than making the cabinets taller than the original one that were in the kitchen there won't really be any other differences, The carcasses will be made out of 3/4 inch plywood with hardwood face frames. Now since we are painting the cabinets I will be using pine plywood and pine for the face frames. 
I will be using my Kreg K5 pocket hole jig for both the face frames and cabinet carcasses. Once they are built, painted, and hung we can actually put most of our kitchen stuff away. Our kitchen has been in a disarray for 6 months now and I think both me and  my wife (probably more her than me) are ready for things to start getting back to normal. I will make a detailed drawing up of the cabinets and write up a post, take some pictures, and hopefully get some video of the build. In the mean time if you have some time please go over to my YouTube channel and subscribe. I would hate for anyone to miss the excitement. Thanks for taking the time to stop in and check up on me and I look forward till next time. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Woodshop Confessions and then some

So since I figured out that I really have way to much spare time on my hand (not really) I am going to try to add another thing to my plate. I posted a video on YouTube the other day under the title of Woodshop Confessions. This was the first of hopefully many upcoming videos. Please watch, give a big ol' thumbs up, and subscribe. 

As I mentioned in the video I'm not sure how often I will be able to post videos but I will try to get one out as often as I can. I am not even going to try and attempt a weekly build video or even a weekly anything video. As I have time and something to share I will get it out. Now as far as the content of the videos I am going to try and provide a wide spectrum of things from builds, projects, tool reviews, stories, successes, failures, laughs, tears ... well I think you get the point. 
Now as far as why I chose the name "Woodshop Confessions" was because I want this channel to just share whats going on in my shop. Not content created for YouTube but just me my thoughts  and whatever else is going or  not going on in the shop. Hopefully with that I can get feedback from you guys/gals on whats going on in your shops. I will never profess to be an "expert" or to know all the answers but I hope that I can pass on some of the methods I use and a couples lessons I have learned over time. Because of that point I try not to take myself to seriously and I hope you don't either. I will share both the "try" and "don't try" moments with you. With that I hope you find what I provide to be a little entertaining. But the most important thing I hope to accomplish with this channel is to in some small way to inspire you get out there and build or create something. It doesn't have to be even have to be woodworking either. I think that we as humans have something within us that drives us to work with our hands and be productive. In today's job market a lot of people don't get that feedback received from taking a chunk of wood and turning it into something that has some type of form or function. 
With that I have also added a page to  my website where I am posting the SketchUp files I create for my builds. Now these are not full woodworking plans but just the SketchUp file. These will be free of charge. I will be more than happy to answer any questions about them if you send me a message.