Nailer Cabinet

Air nailers are a pretty wonderful invention.  They can provide low visibility fastening in a lot of different applications.  I have had a brad nailer for ages, and picked up a good pin nailer when I redid the kitchen.  The cordless electric nailers are a lot heavier than their air counterparts, but for just a few quick hits, they are awesome.  I recently built up a full inventory of air and electric brad and pin nailers.  Time to put those nailers to work building a little home for all these gadgets.

I planned out a cavity to hold all the nailers up top, and a set of drawers below to keep the nails and other accessories.  1/2″ maple made up all the components except the drawer bottoms.

Once assembled I cut more plywood with a 45 degree angle on it to act as a french cleat across the back.  The electric nailers sit nicely on their own, but the air ones will need hangers.  Plus, this lets me rearrange things, or add dividers if I feel the need later down the line.

I played with the arrangements, and there are lots of spacing options that work.  Big enough to be flexible, but not so big as to waste space.

DSC_1298

This is a decent looking cabinet on its own, and is about where I would stop in my previous builds.  I wanted to add a little something, so I made my own maple edge banding.

The pin nailer came in handy for securing it all, and hand planing really lets you sneak those parts into a good fit.  With the body of the cabinet in shape I turned to the drawers.  I thought drawer fronts with chamfers might be a neat flare, and I had a new router bit to try out.  I cut all the end grain chamfer while it was still a solid long block, then cut the two fronts out and routed the long grain.  It completely mitigated any tear-out issues.  I finally feel like all those minor screw ups of the past are congealing into wisdom.

Everything got multiple coats of danish oil.  Not a bad finish, I like the wipe on aspect and how it looks.  Honestly though, it is just some kind of thinned linseed oil.  At probably 4x the price of basic linseed oil, I might just figure out how to thin that stuff myself.

I 3D printed organizers to keep each set of nails contained and labeled.  The drawer I had these in was a mess with different nail lengths all mixed up.  Mishaps have occurred from pulling the wrong length nail ream.  If I ditched the manuals I could have probably combined everything in one drawer.  Oh well, this provides ample expansion for new nail lengths, or other jigs/accessories I might acquire.

The final design looks pretty nice.  I will see how much dust it collects and consider adding doors later, but for now it is perfect.

DSC_1311

Father’s Day Flippers

These are called pigtail flippers, bbq turners, or I have also heard Texas toothpicks.  Whatever you call them, they are cool tools for the grill.  Here is me demonstrating their use on a set of serious pork chops for my father in law.

20180616_120333I wanted to try one of these tools, and my localish woodcraft had these new kits on sale.  Why not make one for myself and the dads in my life?  I picked up some thick maple dowel to make these handles.  I was building the handles for my mom’s bookbinding press at the same time, so it all worked out.


The first step is to drill out a hole for the threaded insert, and carefully thread it in.  I had an issue.  Most kits use 1/4-20 or 5/16-18 threaded inserts.  This one had an M6 insert for the metal turner rod.  I don’t have an M6 mandrel, and I couldn’t find one online.  Time to make one!  I played around, but ultimately a nut and bolt with the head cut off did the trick.

DSC_1251

That let me thread the brass insert into the handle, but I would normally flip the part around and chuck the mandrel up so I could spin with no tail stock.  No such luck here, the bolt is too small for all of my chuck jaws (right picture).  I could try to chuck up the nut, but it has 6 sides and the jaws all have 4.  If I did a lot of these, I would have to figure out how to make my own mandrel.


Instead of holding it by the threaded insert I turned down a shoulder to accept a brass bushing, then chucked up that shouldered section.  It marred the surface, but that will get covered anyways.

With 4 different variations turned I remembered I was supposed to drill a hole in them for their hanging cable.  This would have been a lot easier when they were simple cylinders still.  Order of operations on the lathe is super critical.  I put the whole lot of them on little sticks and went to town with the spray polyurethane.

I pressed on the brass bushing with epoxy and threaded on the turner.  The wire cable as a hanging strap adds a nice touch.  I hadn’t broken out the lathe in quite a while, so this was quite satisfying to get these done with minimal screw ups.

DSC_1284

DSC_1285


One other minor experiment that happened when I had my lathe out was to try and smooth out my 3D printed can koozie.  It turns out that you can really shine that stuff up if you go through the grits.  There are minor voids that show through upon close inspection.  Still, that is a nice shiny looking part.  You could polish up most of a chess set this way!

Bookbinding Press

During a visit to my crafty mother, I came across a good build to support her habits.  She showed me a series of bookbinding finishing presses.  I am not super familiar with how they work, but they looked a lot like a moxon vise.  I am planning out a moxon vise build of my own, so this would be a good learning experience and make a great gift.

DSC_1280

DSC_1281

Traditional books have a lot of layers of material that need gluing together.  This helps keep it all clamped for various operations.  The side wings let you clamp it to a table, and with it hanging over the edge, any length book can be held.  The jaws will open to accept a 3″ thick book, and there are 13 inches between the screws, allowing for a very tall book.  5/16″-18 hand screws should provide plenty of clamping force.  The hand screws come out, so it can be disassembled and packed into a smaller space.


I started with the backbone and dovetails.  If something was going to get screwed up, it was the dovetails.  I need to cut a lot for an upcoming project and I am beyond rusty.  Mark, saw edges, fret away waste and pare the rest.

My dovetail transfer jig has already come in handy.  The pins look pretty rotten, but they should be very structurally sound.  Sorry mom!


With that taken care of I glued up two pieces for the front, and added another to the backbone.  One piece was taller than the other which eventually got planed to an angle.  That gives your fingers easier access to the book spine.

DSC_1236

DSC_1237

DSC_1238

I assembled the dovetails and put on side wings that let you clamp this jig to any table or workbench.

DSC_1240

DSC_1242

When all the glue was well cured I put on a few coats of polyurethane in the hopes that bookbinding glue wouldn’t stick to it.  Felt pads on the bottom should keep it from scuffing any tables.  I pounded in some threaded inserts meant for wood.  They should hold just fine, but to be sure I sank a few screws beside them.


To run the threaded rods in and out you are going to need a stout handle.  I chopped some maple dowels down to size, drilled out for a 5/16 threaded insert, reduced the entry shoulder for a brass sleeve, then flipped it around, threaded it onto a 5/16 mandril, and smoothed out the back side.

The bare wood got multiple coats of spray polyurethane, then when cured, I epoxied the brass sleeve on the handles, and the threaded rod in place.  DSC_1276.JPG

Bed Project Phase 2

I started my storage bed project a short while ago.  Ok, it was nearly 2 years ago.  Still, I got another bit done.  The mattress sits on a plywood platform.  Wood strips form a lip around the edges and keep the box springs in place.  Those had been a set of short pine parts, but would now be full maple pieces.  The bottom face of the bed frame was plywood and an open hole.  That got covered with an easily removable maple cover.

I started this phase right after I finished the frame, but got side tracked.  I lost a lot of the photos.  The earliest thing I have is of the bottom cover getting ripped down to rough width.  I did that by hand.  No small amount of work!  Table saws are real time savers these days.

After that I went about flattening the massive board with a scrub plane which, according to my heart rate monitor, easily qualifies as cardio.  Scrubbed on the left half, untouched on the right in the picture below.

DSC_1008

After a bit of time with my jack plane it was becoming flatter.  The maple always gives me tear out grain issues though.  A smoothing plane and card scraper fix most of up.

The bottom cover was the largest board I had ever worked by hand.  It was daunting, but starting to look good.

dsc_1009.jpg

With the dimensions and finish all about right I could move on to adding a hand cutout feature.  I roughed with my chisel, then used a rasp and spoke shave to smooth it all out.

DSC_1032

DSC_1033

Glued washers to the back of the board held it firmly against magnets in the bed frame.  The issue is that this kind of board doesn’t like to be flat.  That gap is a little unsightly.

DSC_1034

No need to panic, I can fix this and make it even better.  A piece of molding attached with pocket holes will stabilize the board a bit, cover up that gap, add a feature to keep the covered centered on the frame, and add some nice flair.  Below is that molding cut to size and fit checked on the bottom cover.  It would ultimately get some rounding on the router, but I forgot to capture that process.

DSC_1089

Similarly, I didn’t get anything of my work on the side rails.  They got a groove to help alignment with the bed platform and some rounding on the router to ease contact with shins and knees.  I used the same waterlox varnish finish technique as on the rest of the bed.  I am really liking how that finish works!

DSC_1090

I assembled the bottom cover once all the finish work was done.  It takes and ugly hole and makes it look like a great maple masterpiece.

DSC_1100

DSC_1101

The old pine temporary rails were removed and new maple ones installed.  I clipped the bottom two corners of the bed platform before installing the rails.  No real load is held there at the very edge, and my shins catch that.  Now the railing and platform are all more leg friendly.

DSC_1102

Phase 3 is going to be making all the drawers that go underneath the bed.  I want them to be largely hand worked as well.  For this project I used a miter saw to cut things to length and a router to perform round overs.  Otherwise everything was done with hand tools.  Not necessary, but something I want to spend more time on.

Maple Trim and Half Wall

There is a half wall in the foyer that was topped with a dark stained bit of pine.  I sanded it and panted it white to match the rest of the trim when I renovated that part of the house.  It sees enough use that interior house paint didn’t last long before scratches and stains got to it.  I wanted to install counter top material when the kitchen got re-done, but there was not enough quartz left over.

After nearly a year of the kitchen being finished I decided to tackle this project.  Instead of quartz countertop I went with maple.  I started by removing the old top and trim and cleaning up any issues around with the wall paint.

This job called for a 7.5 inch wide board that was 6 feet long.  The length wasn’t an issue but that width left me with few options at the yard.  This one is gorgeous with a lot of cathedral, some tiger striping and other character.  That makes planing it really tough.  After getting a lot of tear out in places I fell back to sanding.  It took forever, but I got the top very smooth.

DSC_0996

I needed trim for under this part and under a window between the dining room and kitchen.  I got a nice beading bit and went to town.  Thankfully before doing everything I experimented.  Having the bit start with just a little nick, then going for full depth on a second pass produced a lot less tear outs at the sharp corner.  Notice how crisp the line is in the top example, while the bottom one is jagged.

DSC_0997

With all the stock prepared I moved on to finishing.  I wanted to use a water based urethane from General Finishes.  It has sprayed well in the past and doesn’t yellow the maple, so it should match the kitchen cabinets.  The trick is we were due for days of cold, wind, and rain.  I moved everything inside and tried to pad the finish on.

DSC_0999

Having finished many pieces with oil based wipe on polyurethane, I can say that this stuff is no substitute.  It isn’t thin enough, but then dries too quickly and leave streaks.  I eventually switched to applying it with a foam brush.  That worked out the best overall, but still left a lot to be desired.

The two trim parts that go under the kitchen window had interference issues.  They used a lot of calking to hold down the quartz, and left a fillet underneath.  Instead of trying to cut it all out, I rather relived the back hidden edge with a chamfer bit.  The finish was indeed a good match with the cabinets.

DSC_1003

DSC_1002

After that success I installed the half wall and its trim.  Once again drywall’s tendency to be out of square made the miter joints a little off.  I fall for that every time.  They still look really good unless you get up close.  I used a combination of loctite power grab (fantastic stuff for installing molding), and my pin nailer to fix everything.  Pin nailers are perfect for these kinds of installations.

Wooden Gift Tags

I was getting ready for a birthday party for this 1 year old I know.  Our conversations are one sided, he is a little short, and fails to reciprocate on high fives.  Still, he has more hair than I do, and a pretty cool set of parents.  So we got him a gift.  I was bagging up said gift when I thought of a cool way to add a little personal touch to the tag.

I dug around my scrap bin and came up with some thin maple I had from a resaw project.  Some quick hand hand planing and I had a really thin sheet of wood to make a tag out of.  I think it was about 1/16″ to start with and was a pretty consistent 1/32″ when I was done.  Still heavier than card stock, but a pretty impressive thickness

DSC_0984

I cut it out and gave it those beveled tag edges along with a whole in the center.  I wrote out the message in sharpie and gave it a quick spray lacquer coat.  That was an error in order of operations.  The solvent in the spray lacquer lifted the sharpie and let it bleed out.  It isn’t horrible, but is noticeable.  Next time, spray first, let dry, then write the message.

My miserable handwriting is probably the worst offense.  Do they teach handwriting classes for adults?  I might have to plan out some resawing and make a stack of these tags.  Buying a small section of veneer would yield a lot of cards for a little cost, but I would rather start with some 3/4″ stock and do the milling myself.  Yet another project for the woodworking pile.  I need to craft more time so I can get out in the shop regularly.  I have been terrible this year.

iPad Stand

I recently bought an iPad for use during travel and for things around the house.  One such thing is for use as a recipe holder while I cook.  I have slowly been collecting my various scraps of paper and bookmarks into an organized google drive collection.  Most fit nicely on a single page in portrait mode.  I needed a way to prop it upright and started with a nice swoopy 3D printed part.  I liked the shape, but it was a little too light and the color clashed with my kitchen.

20171013_113039

Unusual for me, I built a test piece first.  Typically I just launch into this sort of thing head first and start making mistakes.  The pine shape was made using the green 3D print as a tracing template.  I liked how it came out and proceeded with maple.

As I was cutting the groove on my router I made a huge mistake.  I wanted to rout the groove a little wider, and moved the fence closer to the bit to make a second pass.  CHOMP!

20171013_120158

I forgot, when I moved the fence closer I used the wrong side of the bit.  When pinched between the fence and bit, the bit bites in and drags everything forward.  I made a little graphic below to show the issue.  The bit rotates counter-clockwise.  Keep out of the red zone and use the green side.

I recovered by starting over and moving on to a new piece of wood.  This time without any issues.  20171013_121914

Once I got the groove completed I tapered the back a little.  It doesn’t need to be 3/4″ thick all the way across, so I thinned the back end down.  I like the effect a lot, but in retrospect I could have gotten a lot more aggressive.

20171013_123053

With the tapering done I used the green printed part as a template to lay out the two curved cutouts of this part.  I made the center cut wide enough to help lighten the look, and provide a cutout around the speaker ports at the bottom edge of the iPad.  I was able to orient the front to show off some lovely rays (little speckles in right hand picture) in the maple.

I am really happy with this, a past version of me would have cut the groove and called it good.  The block would have been functional, but chunky and brutal.  This is lighter and more elegant.  Truth be told I could have done more lightening and still had a functional part, but as always it is a learning-by-doing experience.  A spray coat of lacquer sealed the deal.