The Woodshop at Joe's Basement

This is the current page, posts from 10/12/22 through today.
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April 17th, 2024

Posted by Paul


Turning is complete and we are working on the joinery.

March 8th, 2024

Posted by Paul


The next project is started - a joint stool from Kettel, plate 60. The top, aprons and stretchers have been rough-cut from pine, and the oak legs are at the lathe.

March 8th, 2024

Posted by Paul


To quote from Wallace Nutting, in his "Furniture of the Pilgrim Century", "The box, otherwise called Bible box or desk box, is a small article designed to rest on a table. Undoubtedly it was sometimes used for a great Bible. But in general it was a receptacle for valuable papers or other articles too small or too important to place in a chest." Since we make so many different forms of boxes, we generally refer to this type of large, hinged-lid box that in many ways is similar to a small chest as a desk box.

Ours is approximately 16x20x8 inches. We have built some slide-top boxes this large, but most of our production is smaller. Anything larger is truly getting into the province of a small chest.

We built this box from the bottom up, with a shallow rabbet all around to locate the sides and keep everything square. I very much like the tapered battens, clenched to the lid, and wooden dowel pin hinges.

The wood is whatever we could find that was close to the right dimensions - a section of old pine board for the back, glued up panels of dimensional construction lumber for the front and sides, a large glued-up panel of poplar from a salvaged piece of furniture for the top, and a non-descript board for the bottom. With the disparate colors and grains, we stained the front, sides and top to bring the colors more in line with the old pine back and dull out the green of the poplar top. We left the inside and reverse of the top unstained. Then we applied a coat of polyurethane, as pictured. We will put another coat or two on as we have time and then probably donate it to a charity auction.

March 6th, 2024

Posted by Paul


Lars and Lex now have their shelves and have started populating them. I think they came out very well, with good proportions and beautiful grain and coloration. We were able to build three of them in one day out of salvage wood, so that adds up to quick, easy and cheap. Practically every house could fit in one or more of these and they would almost certainly be good auction sellers. I'm game for making more, adding them to our repertoire of step-stools and boxes that we build regularly.

February 15th, 2024

Posted by Paul


We stained the outside of our desk box to try to unify the disparate woods used in construction - pine, douglas fir, and poplar.

The sides and ends are set into a shallow locating rabbet all around the bottom, and the ends are rabbeted into the sides. Battens are nailed and clenched to the top. The top assembly hinges on wooden pins.

February 15th, 2024

Posted by Paul


The desk box is one of the earliest forms, dating back to Colonial days and long since superceded. It served the function of the household office, or frequently to store the family bible. In later years it was built on a stand, and eventually someone had the idea to slant the top and hinge it at the front, producing the slant-top desk. Next the area within the stand could be filled in with cabinets, and then shelves built above the desk box, soon to be enclosed by beaded-glass doors, creating the imposing high pieces seen in the offices of lawyers and accountants.

February 12th, 2024

Posted by Paul


The shelves look even better with a second coat of poly.

February 5th, 2024

Posted by Paul


A little sanding and the miniature shelf sets were ready for a first coat of finish. The grain came out nicely under the polyurethane. In the background is a large desk box in the clamps.

January 26th, 2024

Posted by Paul


In May 2022, when we built the set of hanging shelves based on Plate 128 from Kettel's "The Pine Furniture of Colonial New England", I said I hoped we would get a chance to build it again. Today we constructed three copies in miniature, with all dimensions reduced by half. Joe came up with a couple of techniques to make the work go quicker - keying and taping the two sides of each unit together so that work could be done on both at once, and using a hole saw to cut the major indentations of the scallops, which greatly simplified the jigsaw work. Another time-saver was finding pre-dimensioned salvage wood in inventory. Finally, cutting all the parts for three units at once saved on setting up the tools. I plan on giving Lars and Lex one each, and I am sure Joe can find someone who wants the other. For that matter, they might be good sellers at charity auctions, and as quick as they are to build, we could make more.

December 7th, 2023

Posted by Paul


There is just enough room between my refrigerator and stove that I can hang my potholders and not worry about setting them on fire. This was a quick and easy project using a scrap of cherry, some purchased pegs, and two strong magnets.

December 2nd, 2023

Posted by Paul


Payday at the shop. In the front, a table leg and a poplar table top destined for the boat. At right, two butternut open-top boxes which Joe will give as New Years Day presents (Joe and I are both foot soldiers in the War on Christmas), and to the left and behind, crates that will be donated for a burn survivors sale.

November 21st, 2023

Posted by Paul


The bench is one of Joe's side projects. He found it in decrepit condition, with rotted and deteriorated wood, and rebuilt it to like-new condition. All it needs is upholstered cushions, which I think would be a great next project for Joe now that he has discovered the joys of sewing. Also pictured are a few crates that he is getting together for an upcoming burn survivors auction.

October 29th, 2023

Posted by Paul


Here is a diaper shelf unit we built for Audrey. I drew it using dimensions from the unit advertised on Amazon that she wanted, but it seems far too big and heavy to hang on the wall. So we built a table for it to sit on.

October 25th, 2023

Posted by Paul


By the time I left the shop yesterday, the thread cone rack had dried enough for me to gingerly carry it out to the truck and on home, and by late in the evening it was dry enough to lightly sand and rub on a second coat of finish. This morning I repeated the process, and by the afternoon it was dry enough to install the pins and screw eyes. So now it is complete and in service on my sewing table. I expect if any quilters or sailmakers, both people who use a lot of thread, see this post, we may get some requests for duplicates.

October 24th, 2023

Posted by Paul

Marie's friend Audrey recently had a baby and so we built this shelf unit to hold diapers and other infant paraphernalia. We used dimensions from one that Marie pointed out at Amazon. It ended up ridiculously big for something meant to hang on the wall, so we built a table to hold it.

In front is a partially-completed rack for thread cones. It should be done in a few days.

October 20th, 2023

Posted by Paul


This staked table went together quickly and it looks good, but it has some defects that only Joe and I would ever notice.

September 9th, 2023

Posted by Paul


We're still making boxes. This one is salvage wood, hinges that our friends Rich and Sue provided, and a purchased magnetic catch.

August 23rd, 2023

Posted by Paul


Lars and Lex took their wooden battleships to the creek the other day. Joe and I built them winter 2021/2022.

August 20th, 2023

Posted by Paul


A wooden mallet is a good tool to have. We made this one a while back and gave it to our friend Mark, who has bestowed so much furniture-building wood on us over the years. Yesterday it got used tapping a length of rubrail in place on his Sunfish sailboat.

August 14th, 2023

Posted by Paul


In 2017 we built a hard maple board to fit into the top of the bureau in the forepeak of my sailboat Terry Ann. It's gotten a lot of use over the last six years as I have reconditioned the 1964 vintage Alberg 35, and there is plenty of work still to be done. The board has held up fine. Maybe I'll clean it up with a sander, not that it would improve the functionality. The forepeak is the utility section of the interior of the boat, though my crew Taylor likes to sleep on the starboard settee up there.

August 13th, 2023

Posted by Paul


A box we made using a technique that Paul Sellers uses to make picture frames - stacking end-grain sections of wood for visual interest.

July 12th, 2023

Posted by Paul


There are a couple of routers in the shop, but they don't get much use. I never had much success with them, and Joe doesn't enjoy them, even though he usually can get decent results. But today, after spending a fair amount of time wrestling with seemingly intractable issues cutting dadoes in a set of wide boards, we turned to the router and managed to get the job done. Maybe this means we will start using the routers more. With practice, I might be able to make some simple cuts with one, and Joe could learn to like the things.

July 6th, 2023

Posted by Paul


The chisel roll wore through in a corner. Joe had some thin leather available, so I took it home and patched the roll on my Sailrite machine.

July 5th, 2023

Posted by Paul


Paul Sellers demonstrated using end-grain cutoffs sandwiched between contrasting wood to make nice picture-frame stock. We adapted the technique to make the front to a box.

June 18th, 2023

Posted by Paul


The yellow pine stationery box we made for Marie in 2018 has picked up a few marks, but is still as solid as the day we built it.

May 30th, 2023

Posted by Paul


Marie asked me to repair a chest of drawers for her and help her move it into another room. The repair was simple, the bottom was coming out of one drawer and I slid it back in place and added a few brads. On moving it, I found an inscription showing Joe and I did repairs on this chest in 2016. Hope must have been in the shop that day because she signed it too. Lars would have been two years old when we repaired it, Hope would have been nine.

May 19th, 2023

Posted by Paul


The treasure box is done. It ought to help keep the boys occupied when they come for a visit. It holds marbles, shells, stones, badges, dice, coins, and other interesting things.

May 3rd, 2023

Posted by Paul


I took this little treasure box we built for Lars and Lex home for finishing and will put a couple more coats of poly on it. Then it will go back to the shop for hinges and a latch.

May 2nd, 2023

Posted by Paul


The woodshop is packed with masses of salvage wood, since it is bulky item pickup season in Winston-Salem, and Joe has scored truckloads of items from the curbside. Recently we have been experimenting with leaving remnant paint on salvage wood to get an antique look, and it worked out pretty good on a set of shelves we made for Marie in February. Last time we worked, while I planed and beveled a couple of boards for a boat project, Joe cut out some shelving boards with at least three coats of paint on them and started building a couple of his patented moving crate/bookshelves, shown here with one of the earlier ones that is still hanging around the shop. I think they are going to come out just fine.

April 27th, 2023

Posted by Paul


In a recent post, Paul Sellers showed some picture frames with end-grain blocks sandwiched between strips of contrasting wood. We decided we could do that, and it might make a nice front to a box. Ours has outer strips of light wood, probably Douglas Fir, then narrow strips of walnut, and end-grain cutoffs of oak.

April 22nd, 2023

Posted by Paul


An under-bed storage tray for Marie. The ones Joe built for Marcia and himself are already pressed into use. It's almost a shame to push this nicely-figured yellow pine tray, built from salvage wood, under a bed, but on the other hand, there's plenty more where it came from. People aren't going to quit throwing out furniture, and Joe is not going to quit picking it up. We have plenty more to build things that will be on display.

April 7th, 2023

Posted by Paul


Something new, under-bed storage boxes. Marie asked for one, and Joe liked the idea so decided to make a couple for Marcia and himself. We worked out the dimensions and designs ourselves. If you see something like this at Lost Art Press, remember, we did it first. Eat your heart out, Chris Schwarz!

March 22nd, 2023

Posted by Paul


Here's something we built for Lars and Lex. Shelving board case, cherry top and facings, painted plywood back. This uses up all but a few scraps of the 200 board feet of cherry we bought to build the kitchen hutch for Levi and Marie in 2020.

February 23rd, 2023

Posted by Paul


Here is a bookshelf we made for Marie.

February 10th, 2023

Posted by Paul


Making simple things out of wood has gotten so routine that it has changed the way I go about all kinds of projects. I am working on rebuilding the battery bank on my sailboat, and am realizing just how much bigger the deep cycle GC2 case 6 volt batteries I want to use are than the Group 24 batteries that I am replacing. Measurements are good, but this wooden model built to the actual cube of a Trojan T105, including the terminals, will be the best way of verifying that the planned batteries will fit. Joe and I made it in less than an hour.

February 8th, 2023

Posted by Paul


When we built the first of these trays, designed to hold three half gallon bottles of rum and vodka, Joe christened it "the liquor cabinet". I found enough room in front of it to fit in a second, slightly smaller tray which could be called "son of liquor cabinet", currently holding kitchen sundries, though fifths would fit nicely. When I took this picture, the liquor cabinet was woefully short of liquor, but I do have a handle of Gosling Black Seal earmarked for the boat which will help a lot.

February 4th, 2023

Posted by Paul


I found some fixtures on Amazon and drew up plans for this lamp. We cut out parts for two and each built one. Joe's turned out better, so this picture is of his.

January 20th, 2023

Posted by Paul


A small step-stool out of some oak scraps that were laying around the shop.

January 13, 2023

Posted by Paul


Another small box. I took it home to hold sewing supplies. It replaces a blue plastic mushroom carton. Part of my campaign to rid the house of plastic.

January 13th, 2023

Posted by Paul


This one is from salvage wood that has laid around the shop for too long to remember where it came from. We decided to leave the remnant paint on, to give it an antique look.

January 3rd, 2023

Posted by Paul


Last work session we applied finish to a massive table full of projects. In the back, a moving crate/bookshelf. We built this out of salvage wood, and just to see how it came out, left the existing whitewash on, rather than planing or sanding it clean. In front, three big DVD cases that Joe built over the preceding week - each will hold, I believe, 57 DVDs. Some member of the household suggested they could be hung vertically on the wall, a great idea that would save space in a small apartment. Also, a large tool tote that Joe built for himself - despite us building who knows, maybe 50 of these things, he found that he didn't have one himself, and needing to be able to take a selection of tools to wherever work was to be done, made his own. There is also a small box hidden behind the in-process work, that I will use to hold sewing clips and weights.

December 20th, 2022

Posted by Paul


I spotted this toolbox at Marie and Bobby's apartment recently. We made it for them back in June and stocked it with tools. Since then it has acquired a vital roll of duct tape.

December 19th, 2022

Posted by Paul


Last March we built a bookcase for Marie's DVDs. She has put it to good use.

To build it, we bought shelving boards from Home Depot. Lumber prices were high at the time, but shelving boards are about the cheapest thing you can get, outside of salvage. I doubt if this piece has more than $50 worth of materials in it, and as far as I am concerned, its quality and appearance are superior to anything Marie could have bought at retail even for twice that price. So this goes back to one of our initial premises of having the woodshop, to make solid, attractive furniture for young people who otherwise would have to settle for pressboard or worse, plastic.

December 18th, 2022

Posted by Paul


We kitted tool totes for Lars and Lex, figuring Lars would enjoy the gluing and screwing and driving pins home, and if it was too hard for Lex, Lars could do his. That turned out completely backwards, as Lars had no interest in putting together a tote, but Lex eagerly spread glue, drove screws and pounded pins. Finishing the first screw gave him a real sense of accomplishment.

December 13th, 2022

Posted by Paul


Making kitchen tongs, Joe said he wanted to make a really long set, but he couldn't think of a use. I suggested that young fathers might find one useful when learning to change diapers, but we decided to pass on it for the time.

The next week, aboard my Alberg 35 Terry Ann, while draped over the engine, head down, trying to reach the transmission case oil drain plug, I dropped a puck light, which slide down under the motor mounts and into the bilge. I could see it shining down there. but the boat has a deep bilge and there was no way to reach it. At the hardware store, I found a "reacher grabber tool", but they wanted $25 for it, far more than the puck light was worth. The other hardware store had the same tool, but they wanted $27 for it. The clerk did have an idea, though. He said I should flood the bilge with a hose until the puck light floated into reaching distance. That sounded like more trouble than it was worth.

I figured I could get a "reacher grabber tool" from Amazon for a lot less than $25, and filed that idea for when I got home and put together my next order. On second thought, I realized this was the perfect use for a really long set of tongs, and that the puck light probably wouldn't be the last non-ferrous thing to slide into the bilge. (I have a strong magnet on a lanyard for retrieving tools and such.)

Our custom extra-long tong set may prove to be an essential tool for deep-drafted boats like Terry Ann.

December 10th, 2022

Posted by Paul


Not having a project going on means we have plenty of time for small utility jobs like the tongs we worked on last month or more slide-top boxes. Yesterday we made a fixture for an SAE connector that I can install in the galley on my boat so I can plug in a fan or a light. I prefer this type of connector over cigarette-lighter sockets.

November 20th, 2022

Posted by Paul


Back in 2017 when we built this box to hold my rope and canvas-working tools and supplies, Joe was interested in why I would want such a long, narrow one. The reasons were, the length would accommodate my Swedish fids, used in splicing double-braided rope, and the narrowness would allow it to fit on a shelf over the starboard settee on my boat.

I went into the box earlier today to get needle and twine to whip the ends of a dockline.

November 7th, 2022

Posted by Paul


Marcia and Joe were driving on the Parkway when they passed a store selling crafts, and saw some wooden tongs at an exorbitant price. Joe decided we could make these things in the shop and that they might be good items for the Firefighters' auctions, if they ever start having them again. He explained to me that they were used for extracting bent toast that had gotten jammed inside the toaster, without burning your fingers. I was a little sceptical, sounded like the solution to a kind of middle-class American type problem, but I don't have a toaster. For all I know this is a pressing issue in many households. Then Joe mentioned that they could be used to remove toast from under the oven broiler. OK, well I could see that, so I joined him in making three of these devices - one for his kitchen, one for mine, and one for a shop sample. They were easy and quick, made from cherry scrap.

I took mine home and tested it out. Yes, it worked! It plucked the toast right out of the oven, no need to scorch my fingers. I'm waiting to hear how it works in the toaster.

November 7th, 2022

Posted by Paul


Two more slide-top boxes with clear lids - one is polycarbonate, the other acrylic.

November 2nd, 2022

Posted by Paul


There was already a drilled boss on the flywheel of my Sailrite, so it was a simple job to cut a length of dowel, drill a hole in the end and thread it onto a bolt run through the hole from the back. 15 minutes, max. Sailrite will sell you a plastic one for $9.95.

The handle makes precise needle placement easier.

November 1st, 2022

Posted by Paul


A glue joint in a plywood edge is weak, so mechanical fasteners to supplement or replace the glue are called for. Simply nailing or screwing into the edge of a plywood sheet is not much better than glue. One alternative is a metal corner bracket, but they're not pretty and they can be pricey. A better alternative is to drill a hole close to the plywood edge and then fill it with a dowel plug. Then the screw run in through the face board seats into the plug, which will hold it better than the joints, voids and glue of the plywood edge. This technique also works well on end grain of solid boards.

We considered attaching the sides of this Little Free Library with brackets, but decided that the method described above would leave a cleaner interior for books, and be just as strong if not stronger. In other words, a more elegant solution.

We used this method before in a shoe rack that we built for Levi and Marie (posts March 15th, March 17th and April 24th, 2017, April 23rd, 2022). It's still in use.

October 15th, 2022

Posted by Paul


This little box keeps sewing bobbins organized and protected from dust. I drew up a plan, but we ended up running into difficulties hinging the top so for the next one we will try something different. Since the top won't swing all the way down, I had to add 9 ounces of lead wheel weights underneath to keep the whole box from tipping over backwards when it was opened. So, a redesign is in order, but if we can come up with something workable then we could make several to give away and donate to auctions.

October 12th, 2022

Posted by Paul


Nothing pressing in the woodshop today, so we took the opportunity to cut out parts for three slide-top boxes. We used all our bar clamps to glue up two cases, so next time we can glue up the third and make the lids.

This is the current page, posts from 10/12/22 through today.
Older posts -