Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

Category: Woodworking (Page 1 of 2)

My Current Shop

If you’re going to build things, you have to have a place to do it.  Over the years and many houses, I’ve had shops in all kinds of spaces – small storerooms in the basement mainly.  At our last house, I had the biggest shop I’ve ever had, a two-car garage with very large bays.

In our current house, I’ve downsized to only one bay of a two-car garage. 

My current shop.

One makes due.  Unlike our last house, the garage bays in this house have drains to take out the melted snow off the cars, which is great if you store cars in here, but bad for a shop. The floor is essentially a cone with a 4º slope down to the drain the middle (covered with a piece of gray fabric cloth in the above picture).  But again, you make it work.

See, it really is a garage.

This shop is also now well lit because I just finished replacing all the original light fixtures with 4′ LED fixtures.  It’s amazing what a little light will do.

Now, back to building something. The stack of oak on the workbench are the legs to a desk I just started.


A Couple Of Side Tables

I just finished a couple of side tables.  The one on the left has a birds-eye maple top, and the one on the right has a curly maple top.

These are presents I made this week.  I’ve made a few of these tables now, and I like them very much. I can knock one out in a weekend, and people seem to really like them when I give them as presents.  I hope these two are well-received when we give them.

Kenyon Side Tables Two cherry and maple-topped side tables I made as presents in 2018.

More Chairs!

The Boss wants a new set of kitchen chairs to go with the kitchen table I made last winter. I started the prototype today.

Finished chairs with table

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The finished kitchen table and chairs.

The legs and seat rails are made of cherry, and the back rails are maple. The seat will also be maple. I’ll update this as this prototype is finished and more come into existence.

23 April 2017: legs tapered. Everything on the chair sanded and assembled. All mortise-&-tenon joints pinned with walnut dowels. Finally, two braces installed on the insides of each leg joint – one high and one low on the joint. Only one of these inner braces is installed right now; the second set will be installed after the seat is attached. Hopefully, this is enough stabilization of these joints to allow me to get away with no lower struts on the legs.

23 August 2017: Finally, all the chairs are finished, so the kitchen table and chair set is complete!


A New Kitchen Table

Last April, we moved into a new house.  Before we moved, I ripped out all the carpet on the main floor of the new house and then installed hard maple flooring throughout.  It only took me 5 days to do 6 rooms.  

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HMS Beagle

If you’re an evolutionary biologist and you’re going to build a ship model, what ship should you build?  That’s an easy question – the HMS Beagle. That’s the ship that took Charles Darwin around the world on his voyage of discovery as a young man.  His adventures and discoveries on this voyage are chronicled in his first book The Voyage of the Beagle.

It took about 3 months of weekends, scattered over 6-8 years (I’ve lost track), to finish it. UPDATE: 22 March 2015, I finished the glass case to cover the model.  That came out well as well.  


Kitchen table and chairs

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Kitchen table and chairs made from cherry and maple in 2017. The table top is made from tongue&groove maple flooring left over from out house renovations.


A New Table

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Cherry boards sized for the base of the trestle table.
Cut boards for base
Cherry Base finished.
Finished base
Gluing curly maple table top.
Gluing up table top
Curly maple figure in table top.
Figure in table top
Finished table.
Table finished.

I started a new project today – a dining room table for Mary Poulson’s new house. My plan is for this to be a trestle table, with a cherry base and a maple top. This evening I got started by planing and cutting the cherry boards to size for the trestle base.  I’ll update this post as I make progress. UPDATE: 13 April 2014, Turned the cut pieces into the finished cherry base today.  See the second picture in the gallery above. UPDATE: 19 April 2014, Went to Sharp’s Lumber on Little Squam Lake this morning and got some beautiful curly maple boards for the table top.  When I got home, I planed them, squared and biscuited the butt joints, and glued up the main surface.  The top has beautiful figure in it! UPDATE: 19 July 2014, Gave table to Mary at her retirement party yesterday.


Public Library Bookcase

I just finished a bookcase for the Etna Library.  Here’s a picture of it in it’s new home, but before it’s loaded with books.  The Town Librarian told me that this would be the new home for all their young adult literature.  A gallery of other pieces I’ve built is here.

Library Bookcase


Experimental Table

I tried a little experiment with furniture design. I made a little side table with trestle legs instead of straight legs. The case for the drawers is also suspended from the table top.

Trestle Side Table

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Dining Set

This week, I finished the trestle dining table that I designed to match the dining chairs I made last year.  The table curves are meant to match the chairs. The table top has breadboards at the ends.Dining Set

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Another rocker in the works.

I started building a new rocker for Gail.  This one is also to be a Maloof-style rocker.  It’ll be made of cherry, with walnut accents.  I started it just after Christmas (2012) when I finished the dining chairs.  Here’s a gallery of the process.

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The seat is carved, the legs are cut to rough shape, and the joints are fashioned.
Seat and legs in rough outlines
Here is the chair with all four legs when it was first put together.
The first rough assembly
Legs look nice after a day of spokeshaving and rasping.
Shaped legs
Legs and armrests glued up and ready to be shaped together.
Legs and armrests on
Spindles finished and inserted into crest rail.
Spindles and back on
Crest Rail shaped to be a owl's head for the ornithologist who will sit in it.
Crest rail shaped
Gluing up cherry and walnut laminates to make one of two rockers.
Gluing cherry and walnut rocker
Bent and laminated rockers are glued onto the chair legs. It's now a rocking chair.
Rockers glued on
The legs are carved into the rockers. All that's left is the finish sanding and finishing.
Rocker shaping finished
It's done!! A side view of the rocker. Note the walnut inserts in the rockers, and the walnut plugs.
Gail's Owl Rocker
A front shot of the finished rocker to highlight the owl silhouette of the crest rail, a design touch for
Gail's Owl Rocker

I’ll update this post and add to the gallery as the chair progresses.

UPDATE 1 January 2013 – I spent much of New Year’s Day shaping the legs (see the third picture in the gallery).  Work is great when the radio is good.  Summer weekends are always good because there’s baseball on the radio.  Today one of our local stations was playing the Beatles A-Z – the entire Beatles catalog in alphabetical order.  Spokeshaving to the Beatles is a good thing.

UPDATE 20 January 2013 – Legs and armrests attached to the seat.  It’s starting to look like a chair.

UPDATE 11 March 2013 – Spindles finished and inserted into seat and crest rail.

UPDATE 17 March 2013 – Crest rail shaped to resemble the outline of an owl’s head. Gail is an ornithologist, so I thought it was fitting.

UPDATE 24 March 2013 – Glued up first laminated rocker. These are made by milling 3/8″ x 2″ x 53″ strips of cherry. I added one 1/8″ strip of walnut for an accent in the stack. From top to bottom the stack is 2 cherry, 1 walnut, 4 cherry.

UPDATE 12 April 2013 – Shaped rockers are now attached to the chair.  It’s now officially a rocking chair.  Handmade with one or two imperfections, but that proves it’s handmade.  Can you find them?

UPDATE 14 April 2013 – The legs are now carved into the rockers.  All that’s left is final sanding and then finishing.

UPDATE 26 April 2013 – IT’S DONE.  Gail’s new owl rocker.

Gail's Owl Rocker

Gail’s owl rocker made of cherry with walnut accents.

Gail's Owl Rocker

It’s Done!!


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