You Can’t Replicate It, So Save It

My featured image is the undeniable proof as to why you salvage old wood.  The top piece is a side view of a piece I cut from a shelf that was in the original upstairs closet; I’m using it for the headboard shelves.  Look at how tight those rings are.  The tree that produced that was probably 75+ years old.  That’s quality slow growth pine.  Conversely the piece at the bottom is a modern pine 2 x 6 that was probably injected with steroids to speed its growth and cut before hitting the legal age of 21.  Kendall took another piece of scrap from my shelve and used a bookend cut it to create this awesome cool pattern.  He’s making heirloom quality wood boxes and can incorporate it into the lid.  More proof for salvaging old lumber.  Look at the natural chevron pattern the rings created.


I turned my focus onto my headboard this week.  I think having the table and headboard completed by Valentine’s Day is a pipe dream given I can’t work on it full-time. The table alone would be ambitious.  The headboard, given the back is already complete is doable, so I started building the boxes this week with Kendall’s assistance at the Manufactory.  Boxes are simple and in my mind I had all the steps laid out, but Kendall had me slow my roll, which was a good thing.  He’s a numbers to paper guy, I’m a image in my mind gal.  Images waste wood and that is something I can’t afford to do when it comes to the reclaimed wood I’m using on this project.  It can’t be replicated if I run out or mess it up.

Scotti from Headboard Sketchthe Wood Shop gave me the idea to add the side boxes when I told him how I wanted to modify the design I had purchased from Jen Woodhouse.  I don’t like a lot of furniture, so I wanted to add a shelf above the headboard.  Since that shelf would push the bed from the wall, creating dead space, he suggested filling it with side shelves also.  Here is a sketch he did to help me visualize what he was talking about.  Love it, but it meant buying more wood.

I could have purchased birch plywood sheet for the shelve boxes, but I didn’t have a way to haul a full sheet.  Instead I went to Menards and bought, pre-cut Aspen boards in 4′ and 6′ lengths and 12″ and 16″ widths to reduce cuts.  Slightly more expensive, but time savings was worth it.  I took the four pine floor joist I had been given to the Manufactory to get them planed down because I decided I wanted my headboard to be primarily reclaimed wood.  If you remember from my post “From Toilet Surround to Headboard” I had bought oak boards for this project.  The look of the pine aligned with the vision I had for the project, unlike the oak.  I wish my blog had smellavision, so you could enjoy the aroma of pine I smelled as we ran the boards through the planer.

At the end of  that same post I made this statement “So what to do.  Use the oak I purchased or create a fully salvaged headboard and use the pine.  You’ll have to keep checking my blog to see how this project is going to end.  Anyone want to lay bets?”  Betting window is now closed.  It’s going to be the Paxton oak.  Those pine boards are too beautiful to waste on my headboard.  They are true 2x12s and I would need to plane almost half the board to get it to the width I need.  It would break my heart to waste such beauty, so they will sit until I think of another project for them.

Kendall worked with me to build the first box and left me on my own accord to build the second.  I tweaked Scotti’s idea a bit further by adding a pull-out shelf at a height equivalent to a night stand.  There was half of a dutch door that separated the kitchen from the hall in my house when I bought it.  I held onto not knowing what it could be used for.  Now I know, the pull out shelves.  The boxes are just screwed together, my dry run, to make sure everything functions.  I’ll take them home, take them apart, and stain them.  I’m feeling like the headboard will be complete by next weekend.



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.


The Manufactory – Where My Ideas Will Take Shape

I need projects.  My house is too quiet, too still, too empty without projects to keep my mind from going negative, so I’ve joined The Manufactory, a 17,000 sq. ft. membership makerspace located on Mosteller Road in the northern burbs of Cincinnati.  This place is the Camp Washington WoodShop on steroids that I stumbled across on the Internet when I was searching for a larger planer to use for my headboard project.  I’ve joined for a month, so I’m on the clock to complete my headboard, make my dining room table, office desk, and master suite beverage station.

I spent a few hours there on MLK Day with the goal of just planing all my oak boards for the headboard shelve and trim.  My plan was to use the Manufactory’s larger Kendall Glovercapacity planer, but build it at the WoodShop.  I got the planing done and was comtemplating over using their joiner or waiting to do that at the WoodShop when another member, Kendall Glover asked if I needed any help.  He may regret ever asking.  Kendall has been a woodworker for 20 years and his woodworking business name is Conjure Craft Woodworkers, but woodworking is not his day job.  This picture is a beautiful dresser he made.  Looks like he could go full-time to me.

After about an hour of conversation my whole plan of building at the Woodshop had been nixed.  What I love about the “creative community” is they are willing to share their knowledge when they come across people that are sincerely interested in learning.  He convinced me to leave my oak slabs for the headboard there vs. lugging them back home.  We discussed at length my dining room table, so before they closed I decided to retrieve my walnut slabs from my storage locker.  He agreed to help me prep my walnut for the dining room table, so he suggested that I allow the wood to acclimate to their space.  So, now on top of my membership I am renting two cubbies to store my wood.  Sista Girl w/ Skills is getting ready to elevate to a whole new level.

The beauty of the Manufactory is they are open 7-days a week.  I would be very hard pressed to get my projects done in a timely manner at the WoodShop when their open shop hours are limited to Wed 3-9p and Sat 12-5p.  I often have work conflicts on Wednesday.  The other thing I love is the community atmosphere.  I met Kendall on Thursday night and he introduced me to other avid woodworkers.  All welcomed me and offered assistance if needed.

I brought with me more wood; the wood I needed for the headboard shelf boxes and before he left, Kendall helped me lay out a revised plan (he gave me some great feedback that I will incorporate) for building them out.  We also discussed the game plan for the dining table, which we’ll start working on Sunday afternoon.  I didn’t have much time to work, Serena was playing at 9p, but I got the top, bottom, and side pieces for the two side shelf units cut.  I did bring them home as I want to stain the insides and drill the holes for the adjustable shelves.

If all goes well I should be gifting myself for Valentine’s Day (give to yourself if you have no other sources) a dining table and headboard.