þe Olde Bandsaw Box

I finally got a new tight-cutting bandsaw blade (1/4″ 14 TPI raker blade). The 1/8″ blade I had previously had trouble staying on the saw. After popping off a few times I gave up on it. Now that I have a new blade, I really wanted to try some sharper curves. I’ve always wanted to make a bandsaw box since I first got my bandsaw.

I glued together four boards: one dark walnut, two red oak, and one poplar. Then cut out the basic shape using a plywood template I drew out. I then cut off the back then cut out the inner drawer. I then cut off the drawer front and back before gutting out the draw middle. Then glued on the front and back to the drawer and then the back to the carcass. It’s a very easy project and a lot of fun. The worst part is the sanding, which requires quite a bit to get a nice smooth touch.

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Vanity and Jewelry Drawers

My wife desperately needed some organization for her vanity in her room. She had been using an old desk from her childhood, which provided a few nice drawers for storage. A large mirror hung on the wall over the desk to help her get ready. But she had the habit of covering the desk’s surface with various day-to-day clutter, cosmetics, and jewelry. I proposed to solve this problem with a new set of drawers.

I mapped out the size of the desk and created a basic design with two large drawer sets on the sits that stick out farther than a middle section with small jewelry drawers just under the large mirror on the wall.

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Basic Frames

I cut out the basic boxes (utilizing some old wood when I could). I also created nice drawers with slides.

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Beautification

Next, I started adding sections of red oak to the frame to give it some beauty to the piece. My homemade router table really helped make some cool shapes for the edges.

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Staining

I cut out all the drawer fronts and fit them, but I wanted to stain them before applying them to the rest of the drawers. I eventually settled on a Red Mahogany stain, it looked great with the Amber Shellac finish.

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Assembly

Next I had to assemble all the components and get those drawer fronts on. I ran into one snag, where one of the drawer fronts must have shifted after glue up (see fourth picture below). I ended up taking that drawer to the bandsaw, slicing off the front and re-gluing it.

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Jewelry Drawers

Next, I wanted to put some dividers in the center drawers. I cut little dividers from 1/4″ plywood. I then began to felt the drawers to make the jewelry not bang against the wood and to hold the little pieces in place. A little white glue held the felt perfectly in place.

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Final Topcoat

Next, I applied the final topcoat, the amber shellac. It combined beautifully with the red mahogany stain, for a perfect, classic-looking style with that red oak.

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Add the Hardware

Next, I added the hardware components that my wife had picked out. She chose a nice selection of button knobs and handles. Unfortunately, the hardware only came with 1″ and 1.5″ bolts, but I needed more like 1.25″. So, I had to cut the longer bolts down so that they’d fit. I built a little setup for my hack-saw and went to work on all the bolts. I really need to get a metal-working vise.

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Finished

The end result was a classic-looking collection of drawers, perfect for my wife’s vanity set.

Garage Octagon Window

My garage workshop has been fantastic. It’s great to have a separate building to go into and do some woodworking, away from the screens and other distractions of the house. However, there is one flaw in the garage shop, there is no natural light. Sure, during the summer I can leave the door open and let some light and breeze in. But in the transition months, I want to hold on to the heat, so I leave the door down often. Even in the heat of summer, the insulated garage can maintain much of the coolness if I leave the door closed. In these times, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the outside world. In the winter, I often forget the time of day as I work under the immense brightness of the LED lights.

Therefore, I decided to add a window to my workshop. Just a small window to add light and a nice view on occasion. Since it would be facing towards the yard (east side), it’d get nice morning light. But this also means it had to look nice from our back patio. I decided I’d make a nice octagon frame, which would add a nice distinctive touch to the backyard view while also testing my woodworking skills.

I cut the frame from poplar boards, ensuring the width was just right from the outer wall of the garage to the inner wall.

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Next, I added a decorative frame for the inner outside part of the window, this part would hold the glass.

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The second decorative frame was for the outside, to hide the crack and gaps between the window and the wall. This was more difficult, as I had to ensure the size was perfect before gluing it to the rest of the frame.

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With the frame completed, I had to cut a whole in my garage wall. I first put the frame up against the wall on the inside and traced its location between two studs. I then started with a few holes using a 1/4″ drill bit at each of the corners. I then used a combination of my jigsaw and Japenese pull saws to cut the perfect octagon hole. It took some careful edge trimming to get it to fit the frame perfectly.

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The (now painted) frame fit snugly in the hole.

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I filled the insulation back in and cut out a similar octagon from the OSB wall panel. Then that fit over the hole, creating a near-seamless window.

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Next, I added some crossbars to ensure birds wouldn’t try to fly into the glass and to add to the decorative beauty of the piece. These were held in with simply screws, in case the glass every needs replaced.

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The overall result turned out great!

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A nice addition to our backyard experience.

Backyard Pergola

Five ago, my wife and I had talked about putting a pergola upon on our back patio. Mostly because that western sun-set can be quite brutal in the summer. Especially since we often sit out there for dinner just as the sun is setting back there. A pergola would give is a a scaffold to attach cloth tapestries to block out that bright, deadly menace.

Back then, I had zero wood-working experience and didn’t feel like it was something I could build myself. So, due to cost and other priorities, the pergola was put aside as an idea that never saw fruition. But now… I’m a wood-worker! A pergola is an easy project compared to the bookcase I built last year. Precision is on the order of inches, not 1/16th inches. Therefore, after wood prices went down enough for us to stomach the costs, we begun our pergola adventure.

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I started by digging out the holes for the posts. They were going to be 6×6 12′ posts, so I had to go pretty deep.

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I found the massive posts actually pretty easy top maneuver. Cedar is not very dense, so I was able to manage moving those massive things around by myself. I soon had them deep in the ground.

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A little bit of concrete and covered with dirt, and voila!

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Next, I added the crossbars, carefully measuring their placement and ensuring they were level as they went across. I then had to drill through two boards and the post (9 inches) to fit a carriage bolt through the assembly.

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With all the bolted crossbars in place, it was time to cut off the excess tops of the posts. I cut through them quite quickly with the cross-cut side of my large ryoba (japanese saw). Soon, I had four stumps for another project.

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Next, it was time to add the second layer, the scaffolding for the thin slats. These pieces were a bit tricky, because I had to cut out a notch in them so that they were ‘fit’ into the crossbars. I oversized the notches to make it easier, but perhaps a bit too much, as now I see some gaps. I few screws ensured they will stay put.

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It was a perfect Saturday to be working on this. Blue skies and a comfortable 75 degree (F) temperature. I just love the Minnesota summers.

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Next, I cut the slats for the top layer. I ripped a number of 2×4’s in half and added a special curve to the ends to match the curves I did for the crossbars. The curve was made using a template.

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With all the slats on with a few screws, the pergola was finished, perfect time for a summer afternoon hang-out.

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Front-yard Patio

The eastern sunrise climbs over the houses across the street and beams upon our the front of our house. The living things to enjoy this are the ugly bushes and giant bed of weeds under our front windows. I had always planned on redoing that garden bed and this spring seemed like the perfect time.

My wife and I found ourselves often sitting in the sun on a few yard chairs in front of the weeds. It was the perfect place to start a morning in the spring, when the sun is a welcome visitor to morning tea-time. After some discussion, we decided to put a permanent patio in the front to enjoy that sunshine a bit more.

First, I cleared all the weeds and pulled up the massive roots of the bushes.

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Then, the digging and flattening began. I set out markers for the patio itself.

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I then dug out the area slightly to accommodate the paver sand, and conveniently placed this dirt in the surrounding areas that would become the garden beds.

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Then the pavers arrived, and I started laying them out it a somewhat random pattern.

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A little finishing polymeric sand, and everything was coming together nicely.

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We added some rocking aiderondack chairs and soon we had the perfect morning hangout spot.

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I set out the garden bed and did my usual layers of newspaper to kill the weeds, then covered in mulch. A few baby perennials where put into place and it became quite the cute little spot.

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Record-Console Refinishing

Some time ago, my wife had pulled an old record-console from the alley. It was completely wobbly and falling apart, and the finish was a bright obnoxious orange color. We tolerated it for quite some time as it some-what matched our bright-orange suite-case style record player. However, we have since acquired a new record-player and wanted to refinish the console to better match the player and the room.

So, I stripped down the pieces and sanded each one. I had to repair some of the parts as they had cracked and torn. I re-stained the pieces as well and after the stain dried, I covered them with amber shellac to give it a nice glow. The finish took better to the inner surfaces. The outer surfaces still clung to some of the old orange-ish color. I was trying not to over-sand the show-sides, and perhaps I didn’t sand enough. In the end, it still looks better, and the re-building of the console will ensure it stands straight and last another 50 years or so.

Winter Projects 2022

Another cold winter in Minnesota and my workshop is unfortunately in an external garage with little heating capability. So, much like the previous year, I was unable to do much woodworking over the freezing months of winter. However, I did manage to finish a couple small projects during the few days where it was tolerable to be in the workshop.

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Holdfast Clamps

The first project was finishing a set of holdfast clamps. I got the design from Paoson’s Woodworking YouTube channel and website. I highly recommend checking it out, he has some great well-designed projects. These set of holdfast clamps work perfect in my custom dog-holes on my homemade workbench. They hold boards tightly to the bench for cutting and planing.

The clamps are made with a 3/4″ solid steel rod that I painstakingly cut with a hacksaw and smoothed with sandpaper. The top is red-oak with a gently curve and the bottom fastener is also red oak. The mechanism is a bit complex and I’ll refer you to Paoson’s website to check out the details.

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Phone Holder

As a quick side project, I created a phone holder for a friend of mine. He often uses his phone for video during our gaming sessions and has been propping it up on various objects on his desk over the past year, never getting the angle quite right, or it’d fall out of place with a slight bump. I made this simple holder for him out of spare poplar scraps and special strips of black walnut for that added detail. The mechanism is simple and the finish is amber shellac, left a bit tacky to help grip his phone on the holder.

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Wall Emblem

I also threw together a beautiful emblem for my wall. It show-cases the natural beauty of three woods: walnut, poplar, and red oak. I love how the natural wavy lines in the red oak creates a hazy sun, and the straight walnut bestows a mountain’s sturdiness.

Simple Storage

As the cold weather looms and access to my workshop becomes more limited, there were a few more projects I needed to finish. My wife and I had been working on organizing and cleaning out basement. Since we moved into our home four years ago, various amounts of junk and empty cardboard boxes had begun to accumulate in the forgotten corners of our basement. We went in and cleaned everything out and wanted to make a more intuitive storage space. Part of that solution included some simple storage racks, a pantry, and shelf.

Storage Racks

A built a new storage rack to hold plastic totes. The joinery provides strong support. The wood was mostly old 2×4 construction lumber and various other extra pieces I had lying around, like cedar planks from my fence, long strips of OSB, and long pine boards.

If you compare the construction of the new storage rack to the one I built in Nov 2018, it’s quite different.

While the old rack still holds things, its a bit wobbly and doesn’t handle shearing forces well. It was one of the first things I built before I started my woodworking journey. It was after that project I knew there was a lot more I needed to learn about woodworking, and over that winter I started watching lots of videos and reading lots of articles about woodworking, so that by Spring 2019, I was ready to start my journey.

It’s amazing to see how far I have come.

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Electronic Racks

I made two small holding caddies for our home router and fiber-optics routing box. It’s nice to have these up and out of the way, and all their cable neatly together.

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Pantry and Shelf

On the other side of our basement, in our “laundry” room / pantry. We had a large wire rack for storing our pantry overflow items. It was a poor solution, as small glass bottles had trouble staying on the rack and it was an ugly sight seeing all the items haphazardly on the shelves. To solve this, I built a large pantry with doors to hide the food items and shelves below for larger items.

Additionally, I added a mini-shelf to make cans and smaller items easier to see.

The final piece was a large basic shelf-cabinet for storing sodas, beers, and other treats.

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Lightning

I also updated the lightning in the storage room with the same LED lights I put in my workshop. Now I have a bright workspace if I ever want to take a project inside. Perfect for the winter!

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Garden Projects

I took some time off from woodworking after building the large bookcase. I need to step away and not have a massive project lingering over my head for a few months. It was nice to spend my weekends working on music again.

However, as the weather begins to cool again, I’ve gravitated back to the shop and put together a few garden projects.

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Side-Garden Trellis

I loved the first garden trellis so much, I decided to add another, smaller one at the entrance to our side garden. What my wife refers to as the “secret garden”. The support and arches were built the same as the larger garden trellis. However, I added a more decorative crosshatch for the sides.

I also built a new door mechanism using a steel rod and chunks of spare cedar. It is far easier to open and close than the metallic ones.

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Garden Fence

I also through together a quick garden fence with spare wood. It’s mostly just to define the space and keep the dog out. If I start seeing rabbits in there, I’ll probably put back the chicken-wire and attach it to the back of the wooden fence.

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Garden Obelisk

The final easy project was a garden obelisk. It was thrown together with spare lumber. The top is a piece that intended for our kitchen redesign that we decide not to use. Its the perfect spot for a globe-shaped finial.

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Hardwood Bookshelf

I currently have a massive bookshelf in my room. It is from IKEA and it is grossly overloaded. The particleboard structure is buckling and the makeshift plywood back only serves as a stop-gap measure from the entire piece from falling apart, and scattering my collection of reference books.

I knew I’d want to build my own bookshelf to replace it. I spent a great deal of time scanning the internet for varying designs to try and find the right style for my room. I opened up Sketchup and began designing the structure and style of the new bookshelf.

I liked the idea of having a few drawers to hide clutter and nick-knacks and cabinet doors to hide my less appealing textbooks and larger reference books. It would be a two-piece structure. The top bookcase has most of the shelves reinforced by dado’d shelves, likely reinforced with small finish nails.

I decided I was going to paint the piece in the end, to go with the white furniture in the room already. That simplified my wood choice to using poplar, which is great for paint and considerably cheaper than other hardwoods.

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The Lower Cabinet

I first set up the aprons for the lower cabinet with some poplar scrap. These would be hidden from view anyway, but need to serve a strong support for the whole structure.

The next portion of the project was making an large number of wide boards. I had purchased 1×6 boards and 1×4 boards to edge-join together for the 12-14″ boards I needed for the project. I only have so many good clamps, so this process took a couple weeks before each board I needed was put together.

Eventually, I have a growing stack of wide boards for the bookcase.

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After some trial and error, I created a large cross-cut sled for my tablesaw to cut the wide boards with perfect 90-degree ends.

The sled was also perfect for helping me cut the dados required to fit all the pieces together.

Drawers and Doors

With the frame of the lower cabinet assembled, I attached the tabletop and started fitting the drawers.

The drawer fronts were a but trickier. I had to add some cock-beading to the edges to give it a fancier look. I used my 3/16″ cove bit on a piece of scrap poplar. I’d run it through the router to form the edge, then cut it off with the bandsaw. After doing that about 12 times, I had enough cock-beading for the edges of all the drawers. I made a small miter-box jig for the tiny pieces and cut them with my Japanese handsaw with perfect 45-degree miters. A little glue held them on.

In the end, the cock-beading looks great on the edges of the drawer fronts.

The bottom portion was starting to look good when all put together.

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Top Shelves

The top of the bookshelf was pretty straight forward, as it was just a large box with some dados to hold some center shelves for extra stability. It came together easily. I added the decorative top face, which was cut easily with my bandsaw. The arcs were traces from an old paint can, giving me nice circular shapes.

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Painting

The painting for this project was pure chaos and frustration. This was because my HVLP pressure sprayer I had bought last year was not working properly. It could not get enough material out and seemed like it would just take forever. I ended up using a mini paint roller on the whole thing combined with a standard paint brush for the tricky parts. I did two coats on most parts, sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between coats, then ending with a 1000 grit steel wool pad to get a smooth finished surface.

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Assembly

It was a bit tricky getting both pieces into the final space and stacking the top to the bottom. But in the end, it came out looking beautiful and elegant.