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ShopCam HiLites for 11/7/00
The Hole Edge

Everytime I get sidetracked by other activities which drain my attention away from a project, it takes a while to get re-oriented. The first hour of this day was mostly occupied by easing back into the shop flow and deciding what needed doing next.

With the drawer cabinet still on the bench, I decided to work on the drawers. Scattered about the shop were many offcuts, thins and extras just aching to get into this project. It was time to oblige.

To make the four file drawers, I needed eight 23" long fronts and backs, and eight 16" long sides - all 10" wide. Without cutting into a full-length board, this meant edge-gluing most of the parts.

During the preliminary sorting, numerous trips were made to the tablesaw to rip out a defective section of a part or just get a strip to fill out a side or front. I like this kind of work.

Once all the decisions are made, I take all the parts over to the tablesaw and rip those parts to parallel which need it. I don't bother straightening an edge on the jointer since such short pieces are generally left pretty straight right off the tablesaw.

Another thing, I don't bother to mark the parts to indicate their mates for assembly. Instead, I make sure to keep them together in the stack, not mixing them with the parts for any other drawer sides, fronts or backs.

From here, it's off to the jointer to smooth the edges for the glue-ups. It's here that the other rough edge is straightened for burying in a glue-line.

I also examine the grain and sort the parts for each assembly so face-planing won't give me two pieces glued together with their grain going in contrary directions. Although I'm making one extra piece, we don't want to use it because of excessive tearout at the planer. We would much rather save it for mistakes more likely made at the dovetailer. Don't ask me why I think this way...;)

I'm shooting for 5/8" thickness. With many parts already planed down to 11/16", clamping has to be done carefully. In such instances, I almost always opt for edge-glueing down on the workbench. Using the engineer's square and referencing off the bench surface, I can tweak the clamps to remove any twist in each different assembly.

With all the bench space used up, I move onto the tablesaw outfeed table. I keep clamping until I run out of clamps or the first pieces assembled have been in the clamps for at least an hour. Then I finish the cycle and start back there again to work my around the bench for the second time.

By lunchtime, all the drawer parts are edge-glued and I can take a break for something to eat.

After lunch, everything comes out of the clamps, the excess glue is sliced off with a chisel and the parts are lined up on the cart where air can get to each of the pieces and finish drying out and stabilizing the joints. Let's find something else to do.
You might remember that I had already roughed out the parts for the two upper shelf units. In the photo, I have the verticals standing on edge on the tablesaw in their relative position in the project. Previously, I ripped them to size so the only thing I needed to do was crosscut the ends. It's off to the Glider.

For heavier parts at the Glider, I use an outrigger support (roller turned sideways) and a piece of laminate to keep any panels from grabbing the sawbench edge.

Three of the verticals are only seen from one side so I don't agonize over the appearance of the bottom edge of the crosscut. The other three are seen from both sides so the bottom edge needs some special attention. For the extreme left vertical, which is scribed to the wall, I score the bottom edge first with the blade set very low. Then I pull back the sliding table, raise the blade and finish the cut.

The other two verticals - the middle dividers in each shelf unit - are rough crosscut oversized. Then using the left vertical as a template, the center verticals are trimmed to exact size with a top-bearing router bit. The result - all the parts are the same and the routed edge is much cleaner than you can get from the saw.

With the verticals sized to length, the natural next step is to drill the shelf holes. Unlike the base cabinet, with it's divider which didn't go all the way to the floor, leaving it without an easily defined shelf plane, the upper units all have the same length parts. The bottom of each vertical rests on the lower cabinet tops and the top of each vertical butts against the shelf unit tops - all at the same height off the floor. When faced with boring 600 shelf pin holes and having a uniform reference height, the best tool for the job is the WWA Shelf Pin Jig.

I'm not going to go into it's application, design or the process by which it bores extremely clean holes very fast - it has it's own web page and you can find the details here.

Another exciting photo of the jig in action! :)
Veneer-core plywood is easily the most difficult material to bore a clean shelf hole into. Little voids under the surface will try the patience of the most exacting craftspersons. A popular solution for ragged holes are hole liners you can insert which have a flange which covers any ragged grain. I had a few holes which might need some special attention - a dab of putty here - a dab of putty there. For about 99%, the holes are clean and square.
 After drilling the upper unit's shelf holes, there was a little time left so I started on the box under the hearth. Without getting a better picture than what you see at right, let's pick up on this part of the project later and call it a day. Stay tuned!

If you have any questions or comments about Mr. D's Walnut Wall Unit, please post them at the Info Exchange.

Jim Mattson

 Onward to the Next Installment

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