Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making a Condiment Tote from Scratch - part 3

This is part 3 you can see part 1 here and part 2 here

Now that the sides, ends and bottom are cut I stain them, on the insides only, before putting the box of the tote together.  It's much easier to stain before glueing because trying to reach your hand inside a box and stain it is very difficult.

With pine, I use flecto Varathane's Gel Stain.  It does not require any undercoating and always give me a streak-proof finish.  Not all stains work well on pine but I have had great success with this.  I rub it on with a piece of old t-shirt material.


The stain is left on for a few minutes (it can look smeared and uneven as below) and then the excess is rubbed off, moving in the direction of the grain.


I put a coat of stain and three coats of polyurethane on all the sides, ends and bottom pieces.


What I should have done is taped off the inside of the end pieces where they will be glued to the sides so as not to stain nor put polyurethane on them.  Instead I had to sand off the stain and clear coat where the glue will go as you can see below.



The pieces are glued and clamped and after drying I remove the clamps and put two finishing nails in each joint.

Because there is a continuous groove made on the tablesaw for the plywood to fit in, the groove runs out the side and can be seen as a small open square of wood.  I make a small square dowel that will fit the opening exactly and put it in with a dab of glue.



When the glue dries I cut the dowel with a flush cutting knife.


The boxes are sanded on the outside and measured on the inside for the exact width of the handle that fits inside.  The handle was not cut until this point in order to have a perfect fit.



I make a cardboard template (from the back of a cereal box) to get the correct sizes.  The width is the width inside the box as stated above, the spot at where the handle begins to angle upwards is the height of the inside of the box.  I felt I needed about a 3" wide handle opening and marked that on the template in order to figure out a proper slope on the handle to the top.  The total height of the handle piece had to allow someone to hold the tote without their hand hitting a ketchup bottle that is placed inside it.



..to be continued...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Making a Condiment Tote from Scratch - part 2


In the previous post (part 1) I showed how to prepare the wood for the four totes I am making.

After the wood was resawn and cut apart with the handsaw it will have a slight ridge down the middle (and often a few scratches from the saw).

You can remove the ridges, if you like, with a hand plane, but it's not necessary.  The wood is put through the planer until it reaches the desired thickness, which in my case, is 1/2"


6 pieces are needed for each tote, two sides, two ends, a bottom and a handle.  The handle is wider than the wood I have so I have to glue two pieces together to make the width I need.  This is done with clamps and wood glue, I don't use biscuits or anything else to align the wood, just glue.



The end pieces and side pieces are the same width, so they are cut to width on the table saw.  I use my rabbit push stick which I blogged about previously here


The tote is designed with a plywood bottom that sits in a groove in the sides and ends.  I leave the pieces I prepared for the sides and ends uncut so that I can put a groove in the whole length of wood and then cut it apart after.  The groove height is approximately half the thickness of the wood, so about 1/4" deep.  I just sit the wood beside the saw blade and eyeball the height I need.  The bottoms are not cut yet, until I know exactly what size I need for them to be after the grooves are cut.


I use my table saw blade and keep the groove around 1/2" from the bottom by running the wood against the fence set at the proper measurement for that.



The plywood I have is just slightly thicker than the width of my blade so I move the fence just a little and re-run the groove to widen it.  I always practise first on a piece of scrap to get the measurements precise.



I then cut the side and end pieces to length on my sliding compound mitre saw.


Since I'm making four totes, I end up with 8 sides and 8 ends.

I then cut the plywood to size to fit the box that the sides and ends will make.


...to be continued...


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Friday, November 25, 2011

Making a Condiment Tote from Scratch - part 1

This series of posts will show how I made four condiment totes for a local restaurant.  I'm going to show most steps from rough wood to finished product as many of my readers are beginners and haven't made projects this way.

The restaurant wanted holders for ketchup, mustard, relish and vinegar that the waitresses or waiters could take to the table with them. (In Canada, some of us like white vinegar on our fries.  On my trips to the U. S.,  I have had strange looks in restaurants when I've asked for vinegar, so I've given up doing that).

I first made a prototype to see if it would be appropriate.

Upon returning to the restaurant, my sample was a little bit too long, so it was decided to shorten it, so it would hold the condiments but not have much extra space. This way it would also take up less space on the tables.

The next step was to make out a Project "parts" sheet:

On this sheet I list how many are needed of each part, and the sizes needed.  This way when I go to my stack of wood I can figure out how much to prepare.

This is my stock of rough pine.  It's about 6" wide and 1 1/4" thick and rough on all sides, meaning no smooth sides.  I prefer working with wood like this.  I can make it whatever size I need and find a satisfaction in taking the wood from rough boards to a finished product.
You can read how I made my lumber rack here

When looking at my parts list I see, for example, I need 8 sides at 6 3/4" long.  Each board is checked over to see how the different pieces I need might fit best on it. I always allow a bit extra for knots or splits, so might allow 8" for those 8 pieces and therefore I'd need a piece 8x8"= 64" long for the sides. I find that length long to manoeuvre so I prefer two pieces at 32" for the sides.

The boards are cut to a manageable length on my sliding compound mitre saw:


The next step is to joint all the boards.  Jointing makes one face flat and is done on the jointer:


Once one face is flat and smooth, the board is turned up on it's edge to get a smooth edge that is perpendicular to the smooth face:


Now, normally I would go to the planer to get the other face of the wood smooth, but I only need my pine to be 1/2" thick.  To plane from 1 1/4" down to 1/2" is not only a lot of work, but also a waste of wood, so...

I make my wood thinner.  Unfortunately I don't have a bandsaw, which is the proper tool for the job, so I use my table saw.  First I cut the second edge parallel to the first, as wide as I can get the board, in most cases around 5 1/2". Now there is one smooth face and two smooth perpendicular edges.

To narrow the wood, which is called "resawing," I put the fence at over 1/2", probably about 9/16" (just under 5/8") and start with a cut about 1" high.


I flip the board and do the other edge, always leaving the smooth face against the fence.

*NOTE: This is not for the faint-of-heart since the blade is fully exposed.  Before performing this type of operation you must know exactly how the wood can react and what to do and not to do.  (Not for beginners)*



 Progressively I raise the blade so that my saw is not cutting through too much at once:


I keep going until there is just a small band of wood left in the middle:


I use a handsaw to cut that small strip of wood out of the middle of each board:


...to be continued...   PART 2


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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why not to use pallet wood outside... fixing the bridge


Once upon a time I had a beautiful bridge that I made myself out of reclaimed pallet wood and logs. It looked like this:

Unfortunately, pallet wood doesn't like to be outdoors and because of Mother Nature and her rain, snow, sun and cold... untreated wood and logs decay.


I even had woodpeckers hammering into the logs that were used as posts, creating big holes in them. Two of the log posts even fell right off.



Some of the pallet boards caved in.  A sorry site for a once beautiful rustic creation.


I decided to leave the base underneath and replace the boards with pressure treated decking.

First step was to dismantle the thing, starting with the remaining posts, which had lag screws holding them to the bridge base. A socket wrench makes easy work of taking out the screws.


Then, using an electric drill I removed all the screws that held the pallet boards onto the base.


I bought 1" thick, 6" wide (actually 5 1/2") boards at Home Depot.  I needed them 3' long and didn't want to take 12' boards home in my van, so the nice man at HD offered to cut them for me to 36".  That saved me a step.

I spaced them out across my bridge base leaving a gap between each board for water run off, just as you would for a deck. I found 1/8" thick poplar boards in my shop that would leave the perfect spacing to fit seven boards on each half of the bridge... 14 boards in total.  Spacers make the job go easier, you just fit them between the last board you attached and the next one and you get an even spacing for your whole project. This is just a lay out to see how things will fit.


I then started in the middle of the bridge and worked down one side. This way the middle of the bridge had the 1/8" gap centered on it. I used two 2" screws and attached through to the base on each side, leaving a 1 1/2" overhang.

(Always be sure to use the correct screws or nails for pressure treated wood.  If you don't, the screw could be eaten by the concoction that is in the wood to keep it from decaying.)



After the first board is in place, I put the spacers in place and pushed the next board up tight and attached it, working my way down to the bottom where the bridge meets the ground.


For this project I had a great helper who didn't complain, just enjoyed the November sunshine with me. Here in Northern Ontario one is not normally working in the garden during the first half of November!


When I got to the last board, I saw that the base 2" x 12"s had decayed where they meet the earth.  Instead of replacing the whole thing, I added some pressure treated scraps to the inner base to attach the last board to.


Of course I was left with the old boards and logs and almost kept some of them... I did keep the handrails, but all the rest was cut up to go into my woodstove.


Now, I suppose next spring I will add posts and handrails, but for now it's just the boards.
Definitely not as nice as the previous bridge, it has no character and isn't rustic, but it will hold up in the weather and no one will put a foot, or a paw, through it.


Now to rake the leaves before the snow falls...



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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Assorted Signs

I make a lot of signs and often forget to post them.  Gina of The Shabby Creek Cottage is having a Coffee related party, so that reminded me of a sign I made for a special person who loves her Starbucks. It's made out of pine and hand painted:


The next three signs are made from pallet wood, the first one for a local store that carries some of my products for sale:


 This sign is self explanatory, we have a lot of visitors around because of the beautiful scenery, lakes and forests and fishing opportunities:




This is my attempt at trying something different by painting everything in the background and letting the woodgrain show where the letters are:






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