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ShopCam HiLites for 11/17/00

With the two flanking cabinets mostly done, it's time to focus on the center section of the wall unit. It consists of two main pieces. The lower assembly is supports a narrow slab of slate to form a raised hearth. Atop the slate is the fireplace surround that is flanked by two columns which support a mantle, and above all that - the large panel we assembled a couple weeks ago.

The lower hearth support is faced with a frame and panel. The blob of hotmelt is for keeping the panel centered in the frame.

The stone needs a solid foundation or it could be broken by any sudden impact. For instance, a log could slip out of your hands and crack the hearth. Seriously, I know this can happen and this is the last thing I'm going to say about it...;)

With the frame and panel on the bench, we'll build a stud wall onto it's back side. With all the walnut plywood scraps laying about, let's use them for the pieces.

The top plate (near piece) is the only part actually glued and biscuited to the walnut frame. The rest are screwed just in case they need disassembly or further modification in the field. Another thing I don't like to talk about!

To screw the bottom plate to the floor, there needs to be a couple access holes in the top plate. Nothing fancy is needed here - the slate will cover the holes.
After gluing the top plate in place, the ribbing (studs) are cut and screwed between the plates.
While the glue is setting, there are just a few other parts which need milling to size. Here, I'm straightening the 4x4 for the turned columns which flank the fireplace and support the mantle.
Here's the hearth support out of the clamps. let's move onto the fireplace surround.

The large panel over the fireplace is pretty heavy and will eventually sag in it's groove. If it shrinks enough, being off-center might expose the upper tongue. To keep it centered, like the drawer and hearth support panels, it needs to be secured too.

For such a heavy panel over a fireplace, hotmelt glue doesn't inspire much confidence. Instead, three screws pin the panel in the center of the frame.

If you picture the whole wall unit from the end, the hearth support sits back a bit behind the front plane of the base cabinets. The fireplace surround is assembled forward of the two upper shelf cabinets. By moving the center section out of plane with the two end sections, the whole wall unit becomes more interesting to look at, gaining a visual third dimension. You'll see what I mean when it's assembled - hang in there!

After securing the panel, two walnut flanges are glued to each side of the surround. These flanges let us move the surround forward of the shelf units and give us something to screw to during assembly.

While the glue is setting, here's the column chunk getting planed. We're also milling out the pieces for the shoe molding and some filler strips for building out the thickness of the surround.

The filler strips are glued around the inside opening and are designed to butt up against the brick of the fireplace.

Notice the glue bottle laying on it's side - a sure sign it's almost empty. Thank goodness this is the last time I'll need glue for this job. I might attach the baseboard to the base cabinets before delivery; the miters would look better. I haven't made up my mind on that one and it might depend on when I completely run out of glue. :)

While the glue is setting on the filler strips, the Glider comes in handy for trimming the columns to length. It has the unique capability of letting you raise the sawblade 3/4 of the way above the table. The saw isn't held by an arbor nut, as is common with most saws. The blade is screwed to a hub, giving me about a 6" crosscut capacity. You can only trim ends this large since the offcut would run into the hub. In use, I cut the column about 1/8" long taking half cuts from opposite sides. Then I raise the blade to take a 1/16" off each end.

And if you think this picture is scary, imagine standing where I am! Yikes!!!

I have to cut out early to go pick up lumber for the next project. Here's the mantle atop the unturned columns. Tomorrow I'll set up the router table to shape the mantle, shoe molding and baseboard. Sunday will probably be spent turning the columns at my neighbor's house - he has a lathe. If we start watching football, turning the columns might have to wait 'til Monday. That's the plan, anyway. See you then.

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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