Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Well here it is the last day of the year and we're on to a new one already!  I feel as if I'm off to a blessed start because I have deposits for two more pistol cases.  They will be the same general design as before but for different pistols and an added feature of having a spare cylinder in the case as well.  I'll keep doing my blog to keep you informed.  I've also been commissioned to make a Walnut picture frame in the Mission style.  I selected a really nice piece of 5/4 Walnut from Peterman this morning.  The frame will feature through tenons with an ebony peg in each corner.
But best of all, the torsion boxes are done and the shop seems larger already!  This picture shows them set up and ready to be used as an out feed table for the saw.  At this level it can also be used to place sheet goods on right out of the van or an assembly table. Anxious to use it and see if all the articles I've seen about them are true.  I did give them a coat of amber shellac that was just about at its expiration date.  The top surfaces have sacrificial pieces of 1/4" masonite screwed on.

 When they are not being used I can store them like this.  It really opens up the shop so maybe I won't feel like I'm tripping over things as I work.  The two pieces of wood on top of the B&D Workmates are used to set the boxes even with the top of the table saw.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Building Torsion Boxes

For the last 20+ years or so I have had this huge assembly table I seem to always be running in to!  It's been good but since size is limited in my shop I had to revise my lay-out.  I used to be able to leave it down and park my truck on top of it but garages and vehicles have changed.  It's supported by 2 of the old style, Black & Decker Workmates.  Recently Fine Woodworking magazine had a feature about using 2 sawhorses and two narrow torsion boxes for your assembly table and even your work bench.  Another thing is that Larry Yule from A.G. Yule and Sons Woodworking here in Las Vegas gave a demonstration at  our Sin City Woodworkers meeting and showed how to make torsion boxes.  These things prompted me to make some changes in my shop.

Here is a shot of the grid before the top and bottom pieces were attached.  I covered the table saw to protect it from the glue but some went through anyway -- time to wax it again!

I decided to make the torsion boxes out of 1/2" Ultra-light MDF.  The first step was cutting all of the pieces to make the grid.  The overall size of the box will be 4" x 16" x 86".  I tend to overbuild and over plan all of my work so I took the time to lay out all of the lines to help locate the nails.  Even though I'm a die hard, hand tool kind of guy I sure was glad I had a nail gun to drive all of the brads.  Each box has 4 long pieces (86") and then all of the cross pieces.  I basically made two "ladders" for the outside grid sections and then toe nailed the center pieces to tie it all together.  Once that was completed the top and bottom pieces were glued/nailed together.  Usually I curse hot weather but with all of the glue I had to spread I was glad to have a 50 degree or so shop.  I used Titebond III and a roller to slather all of the glue on.  I chose it because it advertised the longest open time which I knew I'd need.

So, here's the completed box.  I knew it was important that it be assembled on a flat surface and the table saw is the longest, flat surface I had.  All that's left to do now is screw on a sacrificial piece of masonite (easy to clean off glue) and make pieces to rest it on so that it will also function as an outfield table for the saw.  The other thing I'll do is trim the top even with the sides, left it slightly oversize so I could do this.  I may get crazy and give it a coat of shellac too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shed Shelving

I've been asked to show the inside of the shelf, this is the best shot I could get of how I staggered the shelving.  The cleats that are screwed to the wall are spaced at 16", I knew I wasn't going to spend a ton of money for the brackets so by running the shelves the full length of the wall they weren't needed.  You may be able to see the cleats that I used to support the back of the shelf as well.  I even have a light mounted inside now, I needed a place to put my work lamp other than hanging from the garage door hardware so I could always bump my head on it.  I hung it on the ceiling rafter and let the plug out of the ventilation space at the back of the shed.  You can't see it but should I need light all I have to do is run an extension cord.
On another, positive note I spoke with the man who commissioned me to make the first pistol cases.  The first one was given to his son as he returned from Afghanistan.  There was also a promotion ceremony so many of the 101st. Airborne were present.  From what I was told, the pistol case was very well received and admired and many wanted to have a similar case for their own pistols.  Could definitely create that niche market that we, as woodworkers, are looking for.  I'll keep you posted, I meet with him tomorrow to deliver the two I just completed and hopefully get a commission for another!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

As promised - Finished Shed

Well, here it is the final work is done and the shed has been complete.  I must admit that I'm quite pleased with it.  Although the footprint is only 4'x8' and the 3 1/2" thickness of the walls reduced that it will be very functional.  Our biggest concern is that we didn't want it to look like an out building on a ramshackle farm!  I won't bore you with any interior pictures but there are 4 sets of 12" wire shelving on the back wall, ditto that on the wall closest to the door and the opposite wall has 16" wide shelves. They're staggered in the corners so they run the full length and width of the shed. Plenty of room for "stuff" as well as jigs I use for my woodworking.  Diane is helping me design a new business card to showcase the pistol cases.  There is a gun show this weekend at Cashman Field  and the plan is to go there, strike up a conversation or two, and try to drum up some business.  The pistol cases may be a good item, even in this economy ---- wish me luck!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Staying warm by Planing !

  This is one of the pieces for the door I'm making for the shed.  It's been pretty rainy and cold, at least for Las Vegas standards, so jointing the edge with my No. 7 corrugated Stanley Plane not only gave me a smooth edge, it also kept me warm!  The door was made using the textured piece of OSB that covers the shed and some 6/4 Poplar.  Decided to make it with 1 1/2" long, 3/8" tenons.  One of the pieces has a bit of a crook to it but it looks as if it'll hold okay since that's the side I put the hinges on.  Used Gorilla glue to help withstand the elements.  At this point, the rain has kept me from doing too much outside but the roof doesn't leak.  Early this morning I managed to paint the door frame and molding around it by making a makeshift roof out of a plastic tarp.  I wanted to get the first coat of paint on it before the predicted rains for this afternoon.  According to the latest weather report the rain should taper off during the day Sunday so hopefully I'll be able to get everything done.  I've completed the other two pistol cases and now I'm waiting for a break in the weather so I can photograph them.  I'll definitely put them on the blog when that's done.  I keep thinking that they may be a good niche market for me.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Need a fancy name for "Shed"

The shed has taken quite a long while to do.  Although it's fairly small (4' x8') working alone takes extra steps.  I got some help from Richard to bring the foundation and floor out of the garage and then in position.  Used a textured, pre-primed siding with 8" o.c. resawn board effect.  Boy, that textured material is a chore to paint!  Painted everything prior to installation then gave it all a second coat after setting the nails.  As luck would have it, I needed about one and a half bundles of shingles.  Sometimes I think a small project like this takes more time, seems as if I'm always either bumping into things or moving them to make room.  It's going to be worth the effort though if I can get things out of my shop area and into it.  Doing all of the shelves inside from the metal type  used in closets that I found on Craig's list, used a combination of 12" and 16" and it makes it seem as if there's more room inside.  Last thing for next week is to make the door from 6/4 poplar.  It'll be panel and frame with deep mortises to withstand the weather.  We know it's a shed but to call it that makes it sound like %$*(#,  how about storage cabiniste, you know, give it that sophisticated sound like Target.  Maybe I'll post a picture when the door is done, supposed to have a chance of rain/snow flurries Monday so glad the roof is up.