The Real Work Started This Weekend

Saturday I took all the aspen (type of wood) boards for the headboard shelves to the WoodShop to have them prepped and ready for Sunday, when the real work on my dining room table would begin.  I am going to work the table and headboard at the same time as when one project is drying from a glue up or epoxy fill I can work on the other.  The board prep was simple; drill my pilot holes and shelve holes.  Drilling the pilot holes was the priority as I knew the WoodShop drill press had a table with fence that would allow me to measure once, set the fence,  and then drill all my boards.  I’m using #6 screws, so needed to drill a 3/32 pilot hole.  From Amazon I ordered a shelf pin drilling jig, so that I can make my side shelves adjustable.  I took it with me and got those holes drilled too.  I intended to stain at least the insides, but didn’t get to it.

I met Kendall at the Manufactory Sunday.  Based on our discussions from last week the goal for the day was to begin the milling process of the boards  and start filling the cracks, holes, divots, with epoxy.  I’m going to love learning from him.  He brought a large piece of cardboard, which he cut at 7 7/8″, the maximum width of the Manufactory joiner.  My desire is to eliminate all the sap edges (white part of slabs), so that the table is all dark brown walnut.  This cardboard template would allow me to mark the boards appropriately and see how much waste I’d have.

While the boards are beautiful they aren’t completely flat and as I’m quickly learning you loose a lot of the thickness in your boards in creating flat surfaces.  The three boards with worst bow or cup or twist we decided it would be best to cut in half and then join them back together after their surfaces were flat.  For cutting we used the band saw.  I was introduced to this piece of equipment in the class I took at the Wood Shop, but haven’t used it much.  I used the cardboard to strike a line in the center of each board.  Kendall gave me tips on safety and for working alone.  He held the cardboard when I struck the first line, but showed me the weights to hold the cardboard if I were working by myself.  Now it was time to cut.  He didn’t cut the first one as an example; he lined me up and said go at it.  I was so nervous.

From our very first meeting Kendall has talked about letting the wood acclimate.  Once cut the boards would move and I did not get what he was saying until I made these first cuts.  He was able to show me how the center of a board I had just cut had already moved/retreated.  The ends touched, but a gap had formed in the center.  This is to be expected and shows the importance of not rushing through your projects.  I’ll be able to fix that later, but it was the perfect example to clarify what he had been stating about wood movement.  I was able to stay on the line fairly well on all three boards, except when I hit a knot in the wood.  I should have taken these areas slower.  I could feel the board fighting me and the saw band made a funny noise when I hit those areas.

I’ve got 6 total boards. The one most severely cupped we had already decided would be used for the skirt.  After splitting the three in half I became concerned that after removing the sap (white) wood I may not have enough to reach my target 42″ width.  The two boards we left whole were 10″ wide and had the least amount of sap, but I would loose 3″ to make them fit the joiner, so Kendall stated it’s a shame they didn’t have a wider joiner.  With that statement I called my former neighbor, Dusty (the person that got me started in woodworking) and asked if he knew anyone.  He connected me to Adam Jacobs, owner of Urban Edge Woodworks, who happened to be working in his shop on a Sunday.  We spoke and he allowed me to bring the two boards to him so he could make a flat surface on one side.  Adam is a graduate of the School for Creative and Performing Arts.  He started building sets and woodworking at age 13 and he’s turned his passion into a 20+ year career.  His shop is a woodworkers dream.  His next commissioned piece will be his largest table to date.  The wood alone to build it cost over $20K.  He showed us (Kendall joined me) the design and OMG!  He said he’d have it complete in less than a month.  I can’t wait to see it posted on his website.

As soon as he examined one of the boards, he was able to determine I would loose too much in thickness because it was more severely cupped than we thought.  He asked if I was married to those boards.  Well, yes and no.  Yes, because the story of making my own dining room table out of trees that came from my back yard is so cool.  No, if it meant I’d have to sacrifice size.  He showed me a slab of walnut he thought would work great with mine.  He said he thought it would be perfect as the center of a table; I agreed and bought it.  He ran the second board through his joiner to create the flat surface I needed and then ran it through his sander just so I could see a somewhat clean surface of my board next to the one I bought.  The character in his board is stunning and after seeing the design of his next project I’m rethinking not using the sap wood.

We headed back to the Manufactory where we had approximately two hours left before they closed.  We knew we wouldn’t get to epoxy, but we got the six split boards in the joiner to create a flat surface on one side.  Kendall did the first run through to set the example.  He is awesome at not taking over the project.  This is a real student/teacher learning environment.  I haven’t felt my brain pistons firing like this in years. Old dogs can learn new tricks.

With flat surfaces created we headed to the planer.  I fed in and Kendall handled the out take to help me minimize snipping (weight of board causes end still in machine to rub too log in one spot causing a rut) the ends of the boards.

We’ll start filling with epoxy later this week, but in the meantime Kendall provided me with some great articles to read to help be get ready for future steps in the process.  I haven’t had a magazine subscription in years, but I think I’ll be getting this one.