Sunday, September 13, 2015

Keepsake Box

I had a piece of 4/4 mahogany lying around, so I decided to make a keepsake box. I plan on using in my shop to store my block plane and some other small measuring tools. The box measures 13.25" X 7.5" X 4.5". The lid is constructed of 3/8" plywood with quilted maple veneer on the top as well as the inside. I added some maple miter splines to re-enforce the corners. I also notched a handle in the lid for ease of opening. It was a fun project.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Segment 2 - Completing the Beer Caddy

In this segment of the tutorial, I will tell you about how I assemble, stain and finish the Beer Caddy. After cutting all of my pieces (as explained in Segment 1), I sanded everything to 220 grit and made sure to round the corners a bit. Since everything was freshly sanded, it was now time to start assembling. I chose to use my nail gun with 18 gauge nails in both 1-1/2" and 3/4" sizes. If you don't own a nail gun, you can use trim nails. Just about any home supply store should have a variety of trim nails available. I made sure to glue all of my piece as well as shoot them with nails to ensure the caddy would hold up over time (Picture 1).
I used the 1-1/2" nails to attach both sides to the bottom as well as the handle. The 3/4" nails were used for the side rails. In order to have the rails on both sides of the caddy line up, I made a spacer block out of scrap wood. By putting the spacer in between the rails, I knew both sides would match. It is completely up to you to decide the space that you want between the rails. I chose to make the rails a bit wider so the beer label would show between them. Here is a picture of the caddy fully assembled (Picture 2).
I let the glue dry over night and then mixed up some stain. For this project, I used two different stains made by Minwax. I wanted something dark, but not too dark so I mixed two parts Dark Walnut (2716) and one part Early American (230). This gave me exactly what I was looking for (Picture 3).
Staining the piece was quite simple since it is small. I chose to use a foam brush which helped me get into the corners of the caddy. Simply apply the stain liberally and then wipe it off. I recommend having some mineral spirits on hand to make the clean up process much easier. I wanted the rustic look with this caddy, so I didn't apply a wood conditioner before staining. Depending on the species of wood you are using, a wood conditioner is essential prior to staining. Since this is pine, a wood conditioner would help with blotchiness and make the stain appear more even throughout the piece. You can find out more about wood conditioners online. Once the stain is applied and the excess is wiped off, you have to wait a good 24 hours prior to applying any top coat (Picture 4).
After a 24 hour dry time, the next step is protecting the piece. There are many different products that can be used to help protect the finish. I have found that when finishing small pieces, an aerosol can finish is quick and sufficient. I chose to first apply three coats of Zinsser's Bulls Eye Shellac followed by two coats of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane. I followed the instructions on the can to ensure adequate dry time. After each coat of finish, whether shellac or polyurethane, I used #0000 steel wool to knock down any dust nibs that were in the finish. Make sure to wipe the piece down after using the steel wool. Any broken off pieces or dust left on the wood will get trapped in the next layer of finish (Picture 5).
After applying the last coat of polyurethane, I let the piece dry for 48 hours undisturbed. It was now time to install the bottle opener. I acquired the opener from a seller on Ebay. They range from $2-$3 each. The screws were purchased at Home Depot. I really like the screws because the screw heads are painted brown and match the opener quite well. The screws come in a pack of 25 and are #8 X 1/2" (Picture 6).
When attaching the opener to the side of the caddy, I just used my best guess as far as placement. I marked where the screws will go and drilled two pilot holes for the screws. Once again, placement of the opener is entirely up to you (Picture 7).
I chose to put felt pads on the bottom of this caddy. I think it softens the sound up when setting a full caddy on a countertop helps with any wobble in the caddy (Picture 8).
All you have left is to put the inserts in and you have yourself a beer caddy. These make great gifts and are relatively easy to make once you have a system down. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Be on the lookout for more builds in the future (Picture 9).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

New Random Orbit Sander (ROS)

For the past few years I have been using a cheap 5" orbit sander and I finally decided it was time to upgrade. I settled on the Ridgid R26111 from my local Home Depot. Some people may say that purchasing a Ridgid isn't much of an upgrade, but I have several Ridgid tools and I love how they perform. Not only did I want a better brand of tool, but I also wanted a 6" model opposed to the 5" that I was currently using. Right out of the box I could tell this thing was a beast. The sander comes with an allen wrench, three 80 grit sanding disks, dust collector bag, and a handle that attaches to the front of the sander for added comfort while using it. Two things that I really like with this model are the soft start and variable speed options. I feel that I have more control over the amount of sanding that I am doing on a work piece and I can slow the rotation down if I am working close to a corner or edge. The feel of the sander is nice. It sits well in my hands and the trigger, trigger lock and speed adjustments are easy to get to. Since this model weighs just over 7lbs, I don't foresee myself doing much detail sanding with it. However, the weight helps out tremendously when sanding large flat surfaces. The 80 grit paper that comes with the sander is pretty cheap. It is a hook & loop system so finding sandpaper will be relatively easy. Home Depot sells the brand Diablo, which is good, but there are only a few grits available in a 6" disk size. I believe the best sandpaper for the cost is available at Klingspor. Investing in good sandpaper will not only get the job done faster, but it also save you money in the long run. The dust collection bag that comes with the sander is small and may fill up quickly, but you have the option of removing the bag and hooking up directly to a vacuum system. Overall, I am happy with this sander. It performs much better than my last ROS and gets the job done in much less time. Happy sanding. Link to the Ridgid R26111 - click here. Link to Klinspor's Website - click here

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Segment 1: Cutting the Caddy's Pieces

In this segment of the tutorial, I will show you the steps taken to get all of your pieces cut for the caddy. I chose to use pine for this tutorial, but you can use any species of wood that you would like. All of the pieces were cut from a 1" X 6" X 6' board. The first thing I did was layout my measurements for each piece needed. I cut all of my pieces to a rough dimension prior to cutting everything to it's final dimension (Picture 1).
Now it was time to cut the pieces to their final dimensions. I used my table saw sled for these cuts because it made things much easier. I attached a stop board to the sled and made repetitive cuts. First, I cut the sides and then the bottom, handle and rails (Pictures 2 & 3).
Next, I decided to focus on the side boards for the caddy. To get the angle needed on both side of the board, measure 5/8" each way from the center of the board along the top side and then measure 6-3/8" up from the bottom of the board and make a mark. Simply connect your 5/8" mark to your 6-3/8" mark and you will have your angle. The angle is completely up to you, but this is the original angle that I came up with and I like the end result (Picture 4).
There are many techniques that you can use to cut the angles on your board. Since I was going to be making a bunch of caddies, I decided to make a jig to give me repetitive cuts without having to layout every board. I found out that if I set my miter gauge to 24 degrees, I would get the proper angle needed for my side pieces. I added a fence with a support board at 90 degrees to hold the side board in place while cutting. All you have to do is slide your fence along the face of the miter gauge (while set at 24 degrees) until the blade lines up with the marks on your side board. Once the blade and marks line up, add two screws to your gauge to hold the fence in place (Picture 5 & 6).
After cutting the angles on both side boards, I took the board labeled "Rails" and cut two pieces off at 1-1/8". I then took those two 1-1/8" pieces and ripped them in half vertically in order to get my 4 (1-1/8" X 5/16") rail pieces (Picture 7).
Now it was time to work on the handle. I decided to create a template for the handle to make my life easier since I would need so many of them for the batch of caddies that I was building. I used my bandsaw to cut the handle out and cleaned it up on my router table using a 1/2" template router bit. You can create your own template just by printing out the drawing at the beginning of the post. Simply apply the drawing to some scrap wood with adhesive spray and cut it out using a band, scroll or even hand saw. You just want to make sure that your template is perfect or else your flaw will show up on every piece you use the template on. Once again, you can come up with any design you like for the handle. Just be sure that it ends up being 8-5/8" in length in order to properly fit in between the two sides of the caddy (Picture 8).
Next, I will show you how to go about making the dividers for the inside. I cut a 4" strip from a piece of 1/4" plywood. From that strip I cut three pieces. One piece at 8-5/8" and two at 5-1/2". We will need to mark the center of the 5-1/2" pieces and extended the line at least 2" down on the board. For the 8-5/8" pieces, you have to separate the board into 3 segments. Each segment is 2-7/8" in length. Mark these lines down 2" as well (Picture9).
You are going to rout a 1/4" slot into each of the three pieces making sure to stop at the 2" mark. I set up my fence for the depth of the cut (2") as well as fence on the side for the piece to ride along on (Picture 10).
Here is what the pieces will look like once the slots are cut in and the pieces are locked together (Picture 11).
Now that we have all of the pieces cut, it is time to start the sanding process. (Picture 12).
In the next segment of the tutorial, I will go through sanding, assembly, staining, applying a topcoat and installing the bottle opener. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Beer Caddy Build

I am currently working on creating a tutorial for the beer caddy design I was building a few months back. This tutorial will include step-by-step instructions on how to build a beer caddy from start to finish. A cut sheet, dimensional drawing and SketchUp model will be included in the upcoming post. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

GluBot Purchase

Yesterday I picked up a Fastcap - GluBot for a mere $6. I have read several woodworkers claim this product is a must-have for any shop. The kit comes with a 16oz. bottle, two tips, a guide and a tethered cap. Their "Blade Tip" allows you to choose your desired thickness of bead by how far back you cut the tip. The "Yorker Tip" is great for applying a thin glue line. This alleviates me from having to use my injector glue bottle that is a pain to clean. Also included, is a guide which attaches to the tip and hugs the side of your board ensuring the bead of glue will stay centered on the board's edge. The one thing that I really like about this product is that the glue retracts back into the bottle after you stop squeezing it. This tends to free the tip from potentially clogging. The tethered cap is a nice touch as well. I would recommend this product and for the price, you can't beat it.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Woodworking has always been a sense of stress relief for me. Seeing a project take form after weeks of designing/planning, testing out methods and selecting wood is really gratifying. I decided to create a blog which I hope you will use as a resource when building your future projects. In the coming months you will find project plans, product reviews, company/product promotions, techniques and links to other helpful resources. Stay tuned.