Cherry Entry Table

A little over a year ago some good friends of mine got married. I promised them a wedding present, but seeing as how we had just moved, I told them it was going to be a bit late. A bit late turns out to be a year and a few months. I did finally deliver though!

It is a cherry entry table that sits in their foyer. I made it somewhat tall because you would be standing next to it when you put things down, and narrow so it didn’t obstruct their entrance. I spent a lot of time at the drawing book coming up with ratios and ideas. I mostly stuck with them as well, only adjusting the width of the frame slightly.

It all started with a large 8/4 piece of cherry. I wanted this thickness for a bookmatched table top, thicker legs, and wrap around apron that all matched. I had some sapwood to deal with, but was able to mill most of it away and hide what was left on the inside of the aprons. Below are the three hunks that made up the entire table.

I cut the legs out first and milled them all square. I put down painter’s tape and marked out the location of the mortises. The tape is a copy of Mike Pekovich’s blue tape trick for dovetails. I still haven’t cut dovetails that way, but it sure does make mortises obvious. I mark everything with knives, then peel away the center section that will get cut.

Next I went around with a paring chisel and undercut the edges to help the chisel register on the sides and not cut any wider than is needed. Then it is just a matter if slowly chopping from one side to the other and back until you start to reach the proper depth.

The mortises all went pretty well. I made the legs extra long so I could cut some test ones and chop off the excess. After I had all the mortises cut I did the tenons. I used a similar tape technique to help visually guide the cuts. I cut a number of test ones and was happy with my progress. When I finally got to the last round I was going to shoot pictures of the process. Everything fell apart. Despite all the practice I couldn’t cut straight to save my life. I ended up cutting the whole frame down a little from the original plans because of the screwed up tenons. These two pics are all that remain of the process.

Once I finally decided they were good enough, or just gave up on trying to cut more, I dry fit everything together. Some of the fits are looser than I wanted, but It ought to hold together. Baby baby hold together.

With the legs cut to length I could go about tapering them. Probably a quick job on the bandsaw, but I went for the scrub plane. It made a huge mess, but was a good workout.

The outside two faces of the legs are straight, the inside two faces taper in almost up to the mortise at a ratio of 2:1. This gives the tape a really slim light appearance and guides the eye to the top.

Speaking of the top, I glued it together early in the project. The top side is bookmatched and has a lovely pattern that looks like angel wings. To further lighten the design I did an underside chamfer. The ratio was 2:3 with the thickness of the table top being subdivided into 3. Two units were removed from the edge leaving a thinner profile, and the slope went back 3 units. The layout is done with dividers and a marking gauge, so I don’t know the actual dimensions, just the ratios.

This chamfering was tested with the table top left extra long so I could get the hang of it with a few extra practice cuts. With a bevel up plane it was really easy. I made super thin (around 0.01″ or just a few sheets of paper) edge grain shavings. I have focused a lot on learning to sharpen in the past, and it is paying off now.

With the lines drawn I was able to accurately plane away the material and hit both marks just by eye. No special jigs needed! I did the end grain sections and proceeded to the long grain portions.

The last thing I had to do before finishing and assembling was put in some hardware to hold the table top down. A big flat sawn piece like the table top will want to move with the seasons. Trying to stop it is folly. Using the figure 8 brackets with oversized holes, I can attach the top to the apron and allow it to shift slightly with moisture movement. I started by drilling the first one on the outside face… DOH! Probably my only permanent mistake of the project aside from some slight dimension changes.

With everything setup I could glue the parts together now, then apply finish as I have often done in the past. Instead I finished everything in pieces. It made finishing easier because the small parts are all simple and don’t have hidden corners. As long as you keep it off the glue surfaces, everything will be fine. As a bonus, if you get glue squeeze out it comes off the finish easily. Waterlox’s wipe on varnish is a joy to work with.

After that all that was left was to screw the top on, buff with some wax, and deliver to the still happily married couple.

Surprise Bandsaw Repair

There are few events in life quite as thrilling as having your bandsaw throw a tire. And by thrilling, I mean terrifying! I flipped on my trusty porter cable 14″ saw and instead of a steady hum it had a terrible screech and roar. The top tire (rubber band that goes around the wheel and contacts the cutting band) split and set the blade loose. After 8 years of service, I guess it was time. The bottom tire was still in good shape, and that is where the motor is, so it still managed to drag the blade around inside the tool.

I feel like I switched it off pretty quickly, but I may have been in shock for a few seconds. The time that it did take me was enough for the wild blade to lurch forward and start cutting into the guard just above the top guide bearings. It cut through the metal guard and left a gash a few inches tall. Metal shavings were all over the tape top. The teeth are a heavy set tungsten carbide for ripping, so they are quite capable in soft metals. I did manage to chip a few teeth in the process.

Those blades are expensive enough that I was worried I would have to trash it. Luckily a few missing teeth out of 100 doesn’t appear to make that big of a deal. I opened everything up, pulled the blade out and ordered new parts. The top tire obviously needed replacing, and the new ones were a shiny blue! The bottom one looked worn and yellowed, so I replaced it too.

Last but not least I found the part number for the blade guard and ordered extras just in case. With the guards and throat plate replaced all was right with the world. The horrible screech was returned to its usual purr.

Pallet Wood Florida

I am not really into the shabby chic movement as a whole. I guess it is good to repurpose things, but it isn’t really my style. That said, I have seen some cool pallet art that is of different states made out of random bits of wood. I liked this idea and decided to go with it. My rock project came in on 10 pallets, so there was no shortage in available materials.

I started by using my mini projector to project a silhouette of Florida onto a sheet of butcher paper. It is such a weirdly shaped state that I had to add a little panhandle extension to the paper. I traced the shape while making simplifications for all the waterways, and cut it out.

With a serviceable template in hand I headed to the shop and set about tracing it onto a sheet of 1/2″ plywood. I wanted this to serve as the backbone of the sign. I didn’t want it to show up around the edges, so after tracing it I offset the line inwards to hide it behind the pallet parts.

With that cut I assembled pieces of pallet from my collection in the rough shape of Florida. I used the template to make sure I had enough coverage. I clamped them together and again traced the outline.

Now I can go through and trim up each individual piece to shape. It took a lot of time with a jigsaw and my spindle sander, but I got the shapes I wanted. A heavy smear of glue and a lot of pin nails holds all the pallet pieces down to the plywood I cut earlier. The plywood is recessed enough that you can’t even tell it is there from the front.

I gave everything a super thick coating of Boiled Linseed Oil and let it dry. A wire across the back acts as hanging gear where I put it up on the porch. It makes a really nice addition in the corner where I have my grill and smoker sitting.

Overcome Sign

Now that I have my wooden wall up, it is time to do some decoration. You might notice this broken pipe fragment from a previous engagement with our house. That is the pipe that broke off in the wall when I was trying to change out the supply valve. It was a deep low point in the renovation, but just a few days later I got the pluming and wall repaired and a new vanity installed.

I found a nice looking plaque at the hardware store, but wanted the scale to be a little different. I measured and copied the dimensions and 3d printed a template so I could replicate it at any length I wanted. I could also scale it up and down. The template goes on with double sticky tape, and a router template transfer bit copies the shape over.

With that made I routed the edges using a roman ogee bit and made a little mounting block to hold the pipe section on.

To hang this I was going to run a wire across the back, but the pipe valve’s weight would have the plaque leaning heavily from a center hang point. I needed some way to make two solid mounting points. I came up with this keyhole print. You drill a 1″ forstner hole about 1/4″ deep, and screw on the attachment. Now, a screw or nail head sticking out of the wall will register in the key hole. They make router bits for doing this, but my print is a lot easier to install. I mounted two in the back and hung up the plaque.

Last but not least this sign needs a word. I have always liked the unofficial motto of the Marine Corps. Improvise Adapt Overcome. This felt like an Overcome moment for me, so that is what I will use. I printed a two layer font white on black so that it looks like the IMPACT font with its usual white text and black outline. This is where a multicolor printer would come in a lot of handy. Instead I had to do it all with Z-height differences in color. Hopefully my next printer with come with some multi material options.

Now if I am ever in the shop working on a project that seems to have gone really belly up, I can look up and remember a worse situation I was able to overcome.

Garage Wooden Wall

The wall in our garage next to the house entrance has some issues. Multiple things had been attached and removed, and there was once a dart board. The result is a serious amount of holes. There are a lot of things I want to attach to this wall. They are often too small to use french cleats and I don’t want a million wall anchors. Why not use wood?

I picked up a pile of tongue and groove pine and covered the outward face in boiled linseed oil (BLO) to offer a little color and basic protection.

Everything got pulled away from the wall and I put in the first slat. I made really sure the first one was tight up against the wall and level. After that, things went pretty smoothly. I worked my way up the wall and got to some outlets that were disused. The house had a number of intercoms that were removed, phone jacks, and some switches I don’t need any more. I went through and measured everything’s position and saved it so I can reopen those boxes again if I want them in the future.

I put a corner mold on the outside edge and used a little scribe piece of pine to help smooth the transition between the door mold and the wood wall.

With everything up I could accessorize a bit. I bought wooden switch plates so the light switches and outlet would look nicer and blend in better.


3D Printed Enhancements

As I stated earlier, part of the reason for doing this is to support mounting options. I have a remote for my new AC system, an indoor/outdoor thermometer and a remote for the ceiling dust filter. The AC remote already had a mounting bracket, the others had to be designed and printed

While taking the garage door wall controls off the wall, the plastic started coming apart. The clips were breaking off and screw holes splitting. I printed a cradle that the housing would fit in and offer new mounting screw holes. The bodies were bonded into the cradle and allowed to cure overnight. The only place I had access to screw holes was under the main button. The base is thick enough to keep it from flapping under use.


I continued to add the signs and other accessories to my wall as I put the desk back and cleaned up. I was able to mount my shiny red metal first aid kit down low in easy reach. I also screwed a sealed CAT tourniquet to the wall. Hopefully that never comes in handy. Having the wall here has been nice. The space feels a lot warmer, and I have already added more items since taking this picture. I might pick continue this theme elsewhere in the shop, but not any time soon.

Phenolic Miter Saw Zero Clearance Insert

My 3D printed zero clearance inserts for the miter saw have not held up well. They don’t react well to heat and I only get a few dozen cuts out of them before cut tears start to appear. The plate has to be 1/4″ thick which makes it difficult to design for. I have used plywood in the past, but that is tough to make work right. I finally broke down and picked up some phenolic sheet. Phenolic is paper impregnated with a hard resin. The result is really stiff and slick.

I started by copying the insert that came with the saw and expanding it a little so it fits tighter in the opening. I made a test piece and when everything turned out ok I wrote the instructions on the master. First cut a piece of phenolic to rough size, attach the master, and trim it down on the router.

Once the shape is cut right I peel the master off and stick down the original saw plate. I use it to transfer the hole locations with a 3/16″ transfer punch. Transfer punches come in handy for just this sort of thing. Next I do a counterbore to give the screw head some place to live, then finally drill through the rest of the way.

The new plate is screwed into place, then I just make the first cut and voila, the zero clearance insert is complete. My first one had seen dozens of cuts without any issues. Hard to say how long these will last, but as hard as the plastic seems, it should be quite a while.

Swiveling Dust Collection Fitting

My dust deputy cart is doing a reasonably good job of helping me keep clean. One place that falls short is the hose that attaches to the inlet of the dust cyclone. The inlet part is tapered and the plastic is quite slick. A picture from my original post shows that I originally held it in place with zip ties. I moved on to a hose clamp, but that didn’t work either. It always gets twisted up during use, and it falls off constantly. I need a connection that can swivel and stay attached.

My solution to this issue is to 3D print a tapered ring with threads (red below). A loose tube butts up against that (yellow), and is held down by a nut (green). I did a cross cut shot to show what it looks like when assembled (lower right). My CAD software introduced a few new colors to confuse the issue.

I had a lot of blue filament lying around so I made everything out of that. The tapered base goes on and screws into place to keep it from falling off. I then screwed on the big nut to capture the 2″ hose adapter. The nut threads interfere heavily, so it won’t move without a lot of effort.

I tightened the nut down enough to form a reasonable seal, but loose enough to let it swivel. To connect the hose to the swivel section I again used a hose clamp. This time I printed and glued on a little handle so you don’t need a tool to loosen or tighten the clamp. Ask me in 3 months if I like it or not.

Rolling Sink Carts

Now that my summer slog rock project is done, things have cooled down enough to get back into the shop. I am still refining the organization of my shop and turned my attention to the area around my sink. There was a pile of spray bottles and gallon jugs of cleaners scattered all over the place. I wanted to make a little set of carts that slide out to hold the junk.

The two carts sit low on either side of the sink and roll out to expose all their contents. These are already mostly full which means I either made them too small or I need to pair down the stuff I keep around.


I designed this project back in the spring based on a gallon jug of headlight fluid and two scraps of plywood I had. Thankfully 6 months later the jug was still the same size and the plywood was still there. The design is like a two shelf book case, only with no back. I made runners to go on either side of the shelf to prevent sag and keep everything from racking.

The assembly was mostly glue and brad nails, and once dry felt quite stiff. I gave everything a single heavy coat of polyurethane. I would typically use boiled linseed oil for shop furniture, but had some old urethane around and figured these would get splashed around the sink quite often.

I found really small wheels to put on the bottom. They don’t swivel, but I don’t need them to. The carts just roll in and out. Plus their compact size means I waste as little space as possible. Lastly I printed a beefy handle on top to help me grab and roll the loaded carts.

Straight Edge Clamp Saw Guide

Track saws are one of the hot new things in woodworking. I guess they have been around for a while, but it seems like every power tool company has jumped on the bandwagon. They look handy and appear perform nice clean cuts with the way the track backs the saw blade. They are all really expensive though.

A cheap substitute is to use a clamped straight edge to run your saw or router up against. It works, but doesn’t prevent you from wondering away from the guide and doesn’t back the cut. I have a few clamping straight edges from a company called E Emerson. They sell a saw plate to attach your own circular saw to their track, but it has abysmal reviews and doesn’t back up any of the cuts.

Instead I am going to 3D print an adapter to hold a sheet of 1/2″ plywood to act as a moving saw plate base. I took a pile of measurements and after a few iterations came up with the right design that would hug the tracks available on the clamp.

I had some phenolic faced plywood left over from making my own table saw inserts. I cut the plywood to the rough size of my circular saw base, and attached two long guides.

To attach the saw, I tried printing some different bracket styles, but was never happy with how they held. Instead I found a 1/4″-20 threaded hole in the base near the front to take advantage of (I think it was for some kind of moveable crosscut guide you could buy), and just drilled a hole in the back. It worked out though, the ribbing in the saw plate holds a nut perfectly. I counterbored holes in the bottom to keep the screw heads from interfering with the plate’s movement.

The saw is well fixed now and ready for me to plunge the blade through. With this setup I cut a slot that is perfectly sized for the blade. Now any cutting I do will be well supported and have little to no tear out. It is like a moving zero clearance insert.

It just so happens that I had a full sized sheet of plywood that required crosscutting down to reasonable sized for a project. Here is the setup ready for its first cut.

Everything went smoothly until I got to the end. The guides got hung up on the folding clamp lever (blue and pointing downward in this picture). It left me with a few extra inches of plywood still left un-sawed. Kind of a bummer.

I regrouped and decided to move the front guide back until it touched the rear one, this would buy me a little. It still wasn’t quite enough, and some heavy sanding was required. Once I shaved it down at an angle I was able to make a complete cut across the plywood.


Once I got the cutting part figured out I wanted a set of guides. Setting up one of these straight edges always involves a bit of math. You need to know the distance from the blade to the edge of the saw plate, and are you concerned about the inside or outside edge of the saw kerf? I made a set of plywood blanks that show exactly where your cut will land. Now you can make a mark. line the blanks up, and voila. Just line it up and that is where the cut will happen.

I made a number of different length guides all designed for 1/2″ plywood and uploaded them to thingiverse.

Cutting Board Wedding Gift

I am about 6 months late on this wedding gift, but better late than never! I wouldn’t normally add yet another post to the internet about making a butcher block cutting board, but this one had a few noteworthy mistakes I thought I would share along with a juice groove, which is a novel endeavor for me. Isn’t it funny how cutting boards call for half the clamps in your shop?

Lesson 1: Melamine Does Not Resist Glue

I had some spare plywood with melamine face that I thought would make a good glue up surface. It is flat and strong and the wood glue will not stick to it. Imagine my surprise when the board wouldn’t come off. I employed numerous wedges and was eventually able to break it free. I don’t know what they use to hold the face down, but my glue is better. I guess you need to wax it to prevent adhesion. I will go back to using wax paper like I did before.

Lesson 2: Helical Cutters Work Wonders

On a more positive note after scraping off the glue ridges I tried to send the board through the planer. Normally using a planer on end grain like this yields poor results. I had it shoot the board out of my last planer in pieces. My new helical cutter works wonders, the top looks gorgeous now.

Lesson 3: Watch Your Glue Up

I thought I was being really careful with this build. I measured and planned everything out so there was a 1:2:3 pattern to the size of the blocks in the board. That worked out, but I failed to flip the last piece properly when gluing. The pattern repeats on that last row.

Lesson 4: Juice Groove

I cut the last row off and re-sanded the end. Despite some minor road bumps this was going well. Time to press my luck even further and add a whole new feature! There are a lot of ways of doing a juice groove. Setting up stop blocks on the router table seemed to be quick, safe, and reliable.

I used that row that was cut off to experiment. You have to use a lot of pressure up against the fence or else the bit will wonder. Ok, now on to the real thing.

It was quick, it was safe, and it is certainly a groove. Not 100% reliable though. It looks straight everywhere, but overshoot exists at some corners. I don’t know if the stops shifted, or if my measurements were just off. Maybe I won’t be using this technique any more.

The Finish

Over all I would call the board a success. It came out slightly smaller than intended and the juice groove has a little wonder to it. Otherwise the oiling process made me very happy I with my efforts.

I kept pooling mineral oil on the top surface and let it soak in. That juice groove kept the oil from spilling over the edges. Eventually it saturated through all the way to the bottom side.