Woodshop Update #3

I finally got the bulk of the wood off the floor and inventoried. So far it's over 1,600 board feet (12" x 12" x 1") of boards. I've been there everyday that I didn't have work plus some weekdays. I'm in the process of moving the sheet goods, arranging the machines, figuring out how to run power, and finding storage for all the hand tools and clamps.

You can never have enough clamps...

Rockwell Delta 5HP, 3-Phase, 12" table saw. #1000

Rockwell-Delta 3HP, 3-Phase, 20" throat bandsaw

24" x 20" work table on the bandsaw.

Rockwell-Delta 6" jointer. This makes the faces of the board square to one another. I only use jointers for the edges and not the faces of boards so I haven't found a need for nice large one yet. Maybe when the opportunity presents itself. I'm thinking about having my machinist friend mill some attachments to make the infeed and outfeed tables larger. This is what really matters.

Jatoba and Aluminum Coffee Table

My machinist friend Brian and I collaborated on a coffee table for his new place. I ended up reusing the table top from a previous project - the

Lathe Table

.

The as built dimensions are roughly 24" wide by 48" long and 18" tall. The table top is 1-1/2" thick (8/4 repurposed wood planed to 1.540" thick) and the total weight is about 80 pounds; jatoba is ridiculously heavy. These are the process and final photos.

Initial drawings for the aluminum legs. The idea is for the pins to expand by driving  wooden wedges into the slots similar to how an axe or hammer handle is attached.

Orthographic drawings done in Rhino and Illustrator.

This is the shop drawing. The pins are drafted slightly at the top so they exert enough pressure to hold the leg in place. I need to acquire a photo of his notepad - Brian turned this drawing into what I assume is essentially a G-code equation for the EDM machine.

These next few images are the mock-up leg that Brian produced.

The wedge that gets pounded in is made of jatoba. It's about twice as hard as oak and 1/3 more dense.

Testing the ability of the wedge to expand the aluminum pins.

It worked but in the end the pins got longer, thinner, and drafted (thicker at the top) to provide more ability to expand outwards.

Repurposing the old table top.

Bye bye bad craft.

End grain doesn't glue up well so I added some simple splines. It also lines up the wood better so that you don't waste as much material in the planer.

I added a domino joint (mortise and tenon) just because.

The symbols on there indicate which way the wood bows towards. There wasn't much at all, but if you put opposing pieces next to one another they straighten each other out. The planar I use is 18" wide so I had to glue it up in portions...

... then join the whole thing. I messed up and made the domino joints prior to planing so the sides were off by 1/32" or so. That would require a lot of sanding so later I cut the whole thing in half and did it again.

Cutting the ends flush. The table saw blade has gunk on it from architecture students making models with odd material, lots of not entirely dry glue, and pushing material too quickly/slowly through the saw. More finishing work...

Dual end grain spline joint.

The router fitted with a follow bit; it's essentially a bearing at the tip of the bit that follows a template.

Cutting the ends flush. The shop is used by students so all the blades have gunk on them which leads to burns on harder woods, so - more finishing work.

This one turned out well. The first one was difficult though. 1-1/2" of extremely hard wood is a lot to take off at once.

The material I used for the template was too thin and poor quality so my router bit crushed it a bit and my mortises came out about 15-18 thousands too large - which actually turned out to be okay.

This is a Domino machine made by Festool. They're about $1,000 new... really want one. You can build anything with one of these.

These are the beechwood (similar to oak) tenons that along with glue join two pieces of wood.

This is the result of me cutting the table in half to line up the two halves more closely; it worked out really well.

Re-gluing...

Almost perfectly flush this time.

The corners had to be hand chiseled out to be made square.

I had to flip it over so that the final cuts wouldn't cause tear out on the bottom. This led to cutting 32 (4x4x2) corners square.

This is the EDM (electrical discharge machining) my friend Brian used to cut the tops of the legs... to within "roughly" 100,000th of an inch. (The next seven photos are Brian's).

End milling a taper to the legs. They start out as 2" by 1-1/8" by 18" tall and at the base they're 1-1/8" square.

Just under 0.251", not bad.

The pins are about 1-1/2" long and vary in thickness from 3/32" to 1/8".

I used epoxy on the tops of the legs just to make sure nothing would move then pounded the wedges in. I was very surprised by how well it all worked. They went in easily, flush, and when you grab the legs it's obvious that they're very sturdily attached.

Flush cutting the wedges. I did a first finish coat for some dumb reason... the saw and general mess screwed up the finish so I had to strip and start again.

After stripping and sanding I use a scraper as the final finishing tool. At this angle you can see what it does to the grain. It sort of compresses the grain and leaves it smoother than any sandpaper can.

Since the table will see daily use I opted for a polyurethane finish. Not my favorite but it does protect well. The first three coats were glossy (to bring out the depth of the grain) and the final coat was semi-gloss so that it doesn't look like plastic. I rub it on with a rag, wait 24 hours between coats, lightly sand with 320 grit between coats, and the final finish gets a #0000 steel wooling.

Detail shot of the top of the leg.

Finishing the legs took forever.

Glue and grim...

I ended up putting a coat of poly on the legs so they wouldn't soak in oil from peoples hands.

All the final shots were taken in Crown Hall.

This is a rendering to show how the legs work.

Mahogany Table

I buy most of my wood from a place in Chicago called Wood World. Anyways, my wife began accompanying me on trips there and every time there was this huge slab of Honduras mahogany that I'd always come up with a new use for every time I saw it. Huge, 10' long, 3" thick (12/4), 28" wide.

For our first wedding anniversary my wife bought me said slab... I ride a bicycle and the IIT wood shop is only open when I'm at work. Plus, huge chunks of wood are like diamonds. If they're huge you do not cut them. The basic concept is to use the slab as a table but without cutting, drilling, or otherwise mechanically altering it.

This is the photo I received in a card for my wife and my's one year wedding anniversary. I removed the price from the sign, but it's roughly 72 board feet worth of wood. 
These are just some initial sketches. I initially wanted to use channel iron but it was pretty expensive. In my experience it tends to be higher quality steel.
I borrowed the idea of the electrical outlets hidden in the steel structure from the tables in Crown Hall's Graham Resource Center library.
3D screen grab in Rhino. The table consists of three basic piece: the cast iron legs, the mahogany table top and the armature that ties it all together; which is also the part I have to make. It's essentially two custom bar clamps that are tied together with angle iron.
Orthographic projection. We actually used this drawing on an ipad while I was in the shop.
Actual fabrication was hectic, which I'm not used to. There's a translation from drawing to reality, "field fit," that needs to take place - especially since I'm not a veteran designer. We were rushing around the shop kind of fast because I made my friend Brian and his father, who show up at 6:45 AM every morning, stay until 8:00 PM, and it was really hot in the shop. Their shop is called Special Tool Engineering Company on the southwest side of Chicago. Brian is the third generation of his family to work there. I have to take photos of that place. You could build anything there.

This is a Bridgeport milling machine. It is to a machinist what a table saw is to a woodworker.
I'd never seen one of these before, it's drill bit that's essentially used for zeroing a measurement. It has a separate metal piece for the tip that's connected with a spring. It's exactly 0.2000 inches so that you subtract 0.1. As soon as the tip begins to wobble you know you're up against the piece that you're measuring off of.
This is the digital readout that gives X and Y coordinates. It does more than that but this was the first time I'd ever seen a digital readout on a Bridgeport.
Drilling the actual holes to a five 10,000 of an inch. Totally unnecessary and really cool.
Countersinking the holes to remove burrs.
This is essentially an automated swivel head bandsaw. You put in a piece of flat stock (bars of steel)...
... and it advances the steel and cuts it perfectly.
These are the holes being drilled for the bolts that clamp the table top. They got threaded after this but I didn't grab a photo of their threading setup. It was basically an arm that swiveled with the tap perpendicular at the tip. Much nicer than the typical hand tools I use because everything is square and flush when you're done.
Ugh... I fancy myself a good welder (at least when the work is somewhat level or on a pipe), but I was unfamiliar with their MIG and it was running way too hot.
Quenching the steel so I could get it home without lighting my car on fire.
I ran some simple electrical on the back. Typical 14 gauge stuff, three duplexes total.
Before I put the electrical on I steel wooled all the angle iron and rubbed boiled linseed oil  into it. You have to wipe off the excess after about ten minutes or else it will be sticky for the rest of its existence. The linseed oil darkens the steel and gives it a waxy finish that protects it somewhat from rust. On the left you can see the swagged cord that connects the outlets. I have a grommet on the other side too so I can switch it if need be.
Getting the slab in the room...
This is the connection to the legs. Two 5/8" lag bolts on each end. I should have welded a plate horizontally next to the angle, drilled another hole, and maybe put diagonal stiffeners in. It's essentially a point connection and isn't as rigid as it should be. I'll add it another time.

This is the fixed end of the armature on the back edge of the table. I may rotate the armature at some point too. You can see the slab isn't quite flat - I couldn't find a  30" planar (ha).
The electrical is hidden in the back so the cords can be concealed to some degree.
The 3" angle iron is slightly off center so that your legs won't hit the cross member if you cross your legs. The legs on this are from my lathe table except that this time they're turned the way they're supposed to sit. I chose 3" angle for two reasons: structurally it's spanning 6' 2" (74") and the rule of thumb is L/20 so 3.7" - which makes it undersized, but it's really only carrying a lateral load. Also, the table top really shouldn't be over 29" or 30" tall, the legs are 24" high, and the table top is 2-3/4" thick so anything bigger than 3" angle is going to make the table either too high or not leave enough room for your legs. If it's weak in any way it's torsion, but I don't perceive that as being a problem.
I did a time lapse of all the sanding just to show how ridiculously laborious it is. At some point I may actually put all the stills together into a time lapse video. As my woodworking/architecture professor (Frank Flury) once told me "finishing is 50% of the work." It seems like way too much but it's dead on. Finishing takes forever and there's very little joy in it. I hooked up my orbital sander to the smallest cheapest wet-dry-vac I could find. Win, literally zero dust. Tropical hardwood dust is oddly scary - especially panga, jatoba, and the like. Plus I got to collect some of the dust in case I wanted to fill in the grain at some point. In my world instead of getting buttons in little packages with shirts you'd get sawdust with your handcrafted furniture in case you wanted to change the finish and make your own filler (using dust from the wood makes the color match).
After sanding I raised the grain. That is, wiped the wood with a damp cloth to remove dust and  make the grain stand up.  After you sand wood and wet it the grain will feel different even when it's dry. If you sand it again it won't do this anymore. Even though I'm using an oil finish and it shouldn't be necessary. If the wood somehow gets wet later on it will no longer feel smooth.
I started with 100 grit, did a quick pass of 120 (I'm weird), then 150, 220, and finished with 320. The finishes will later get 320 up to 600 grit and a 0000 steel wool. Kind of unnecessary.
The finish for this ended up being about six coats of Watco Teak Oil wiped on, dried for one to two days between coats. It's not a protective finish and it takes forever to fully dry. First time I've ever used gloves, I recommend them.
The finish isn't done yet so this is kind of a base coat. The teak oil has an "in-the-grain" look and feel so you can still feel the grain.
This is after the second application of teak oil. it's still a little oily in this photo, but the grains starting to  show much better.
This is after it's a bit more dry.
The flange at the end is 1/4" flat stock butt welded to the end of the 3" angle. You can see where it's welded from the bluing. It's tapped to accept the 3/4" bolt which holds a 1/2" piece of steel that is milled to hold the end of the bolt.
 The wood edge is the rough-sawn side, if I rotate it 180 there's a much cleaner side and no protruding clamp.
Mostly finished. It's 10'2" (3100 mm) long, 28.5" (725 mm) wide, and the table top is at 29-1/2" (750 mm). The actual slab itself is 12/4. That is, 2-3/4" (70 mm). The legs are 76 lbs (35 kg) apiece, the armature is about 45 lbs (20 kg), and the table top is 220 lbs (100 kg) for a grand total of roughly 440 lbs (200 kg). Bucky wouldn't be impressed but the Vikings would probably approve.
The finish is oddly hard to photograph. It looks glossy but it has a satin look and feel up close.

Battlestation. My firm was selling their Aeron chairs so I picked two up for $40 apiece. I guess that's the upside to mass layoffs in the architecture field.

Custom USB Flash Drive

I'm waiting for Autodesk Navisworks to download so I can complete an assignment... so I thought I'd kill some time by documenting what I did on my "day off."

I have all these really small pieces of scrap from all my wood working projects so I took a roughly 3" x 3" piece of 4/4 black walnut (that's roughly 3/4" thick) and made a USB flash drive enclosure out of it. I milled it out on the Bridgeport, band sawed the block in half (in retrospect I should have done this first so the grain fit together, next time), sanded for a tight fit, glued and clamped the wood pieces together, sanded, applied tung oil, wait, sand, repeat, steel wooled, and done.

This is the initial fit on the Bridgeport milling machine. This is one of my favorite machines in the shop. You could make a rocket almost exclusively with this machine if you were skilled enough.
Completed drive made of scrap black walnut, and just so this looks dumb in 2 years, the flash drive is USB 3.0 with 16 GB of memory.

DIY Christmas

My wife came home with a Christmas tree, somewhat unannounced, about two weeks ago. After she set it down she said she was off to go get a stand... hmm. The ubiquitous Christmas tree stand in the US is stamped sheet metal painted red and green; I'm not a huge fan, so I offered to make one. She expressed her skepticism, but a few days after finals I built it.

It's made from leftover 1 1/4" angle iron (about 5' of it) from my previous coffee table project. I chose a triangular base because it would never wobble and would most easily hold the tree. The three pieces are identical which made fabrication quick and simple. More so in this project, because of its utilitarian nature, I let the material and fabrication process guide the design. For example, aesthetically, the angle iron should be rotated to show the flat side on the outside, but this would require some fairly difficult cutting and welding to make the connection between the three pieces. Instead I chose to keep the top flange hanging to the outside so that the angle iron could be simply butt-welded to one another.

The three pieces just prior to butt-welding them together then bending the legs up and welding them in place.
I tapped the angle iron to receive 5/16"-18 screws.
The finish is the same boiled linseed oil  that I usually use. I use steel wool beforehand to remove most of the mill slag.
Next I had a problem with the Christmas tree ornaments... so I designed some a laser cut them. Bonus: I found all the plywood in the garbage bins around the M&M building.This was a quick job from start to finish. For next year I'm going to come up with some more interesting designs and use  the 1/8" Baltic birch ply (it cut much faster and was burned less).

This photo was taken before I sanded them to remove the burn marks.
The cut-outs left on the laser bed.

 Here's a video of the laser cutter cutting the ornaments out. It's kind of like watching a waterfall or fire; even though it's not that exciting it's oddly mesmerizing and hard to avert your eyes.

I made some frames from Peruvian (tropical really) walnut for a few in-laws and myself. I also grabbed some panga lumber for the first time; beautiful wood but it explodes when you machine work it. I kind of liked it.
The finished stand. Still need to get some black bolts... Home Depot lacks aesthetic options.
The finished product.
The staves (soon to be molding) of Peruvian walnut being routed to form a rabbet.
This was my Christmas gift to my sister-in law. The frame is 11" x 14" (inside) and made of Peruvian walnut with maple splines.
The photos is a silver gelatin print I enlarged from a B&W negative I took of her in Napa. It's mounted on museum board .

Craftsmanship

Just two quick examples of extremely high quality work done by hand that caught my attention.

This guy makes all mahogany bicycles by hand. If you search around his site you can see the plys before they're worked and finished (hat tip: Steve U.)


Solid marble, carved by hand, 2.5 tons... original article here (hat tip Dan M.).


Walnut and Steel Coffee Table

I just finished making this walnut and steel coffee table for a friend. It cost $250 in material and measures 45" square and 18" high. This is my first attempt at building something with high-end materials that's more affordable and light weight. 

I didn't document the production process as well as I usually do, and many of these photos are from my camera phone. It's really hard to stop what you're doing and pick up a camera at every step but as a learning tool it's almost always worth it.

These are some quick sections trying to figure out the edge detail.
This is how the details were actually made using 4/4 walnut and 1 1/4" x 1/8" thick angle iron.
The boards are joined on the short edge with dominos with beech and glue then they're clamped. Those strips on top are the end grain glue-ups/solid strips that make up the underside edge.
Prior to oil.
After the first coat of oil.
Marking the bent corners with a scribe prior to cutting them on the bandsaw. I left thickness on the backside for the opposite flange.
The legs are bent, then welded on the backside of the miter.
This was my first time using a MIG - I learned on a stick / arc welder.
The frame uses 36' of 1 1/4" angle iron (it comes in lengths slightly longer than 20'). The legs and frame are four of the exact same pieces butt welded to one another near the corner. The cross member is needed as the walnut would be too thin to support a substantial load.
More walnut furniture in Crown Hall. Teak oil finish - about 6 coats taken to 320 grit and buffed out with #0000 steel wool. The top is 4/4 (3/4" walnut) with strips of 1 3/8" wide walnut on the underside with grain set perpendicular to the top boards to give the appearance that the table is actually made of boards going opposite directions. Not sure how I feel about that - it's kind of dishonest (in the Dieter Rams sense).
The typical rule for coffee tables is to make them 2/3's the length of the largest couch and the same height as the top of the seat cushion. In this case that makes the table 45" square and 18" high.
Corner detail.
I took some steel wool to the metal frame before rubbing some boiled linseed oil onto it. After about 15 minutes you wipe off the excess. This both protects the steel and makes it darker and leaves a sort of waxy feel to it. This is what farmers used to use to protect their tools from rust.
Here's a short video I made about how I made the one-piece leg-table top supports. It's sped up a bit in the middle of the clip to make it less boring. The 90 degree triangle is removed from the angle iron, then it is bent to 90 degrees, and welded on the backside. I've used the same process to make hundreds of pipe brackets in factories.