Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Shaker Style Kitchen Table

Our old kitchen table wasn't too exciting. It was round with drop leaves and a pedestal base and was a mass produced item. It served us well but needed to be refinished after too many hot dishes had been placed on it and several poorly supervised art projects had taken place without any thing to protect it. It was solid wood so refinishing was an option however this was a good opportunity to build something new.
Although we have a dining room, most of the eating takes place in the kitchen even when we have a couple of guests over. The 30 inch round table was a tight squeeze so this time we were looking for something a bit bigger. I've always liked the trestle table for it's ease of construction and it's timeless style. I didn't want something too contemporary that would look out of place in a decade. I also wanted to use good materials and proper construction so it would last a lifetime.
I can't really take any credit for the design of course since it's been around for a few hundred years. I took the base from a Fine Woodworking article and the finish technique from a table by Doucette and Wolfe. The top is solid cherry with bread board ends and the base is solid maple with pinned mortise and tenons. I had the most fun with the distressed finish on the base. A coat of red dye, followed by red milk paint, then black milk paint. The black milk paint was then sanded through enough to see the red before getting a few coats of a wipe on poly. I probably could have distressed the black a bit more but that will happen with time. So far I'm amazed at how stable this design is. There is enough play in the base that all legs sit on the floor without any wobble. So far the top has stayed nice and flat although I do have some concerns with how far apart I made the legs. At 62 inches for the top and a full four feet between centres on the legs it's a pretty long span and I'm concerned it may sag in the middle. If it does I'll just add a support immediately underneath. Even if it looks like an add on it will just be part of the tables history. Maybe it won't even be me that needs to do it.

A Pair of Gun Cabinets

In 1973 the Royal Canadian Mounted Police released a 100 anniversary gun to it's members. They were available to purchase and the first set sold out so quickly there was a second run. My father-in-law was a member at the time and purchase two of them from the first run. He moved a lot in the early years and the guns always came with him. He eventually had twin boys and decided he would give the guns to them. The only thing left to do was to get them mounted in a secure cabinet and that's where I came in.
The rules on gun storage aren't very strict other than that they have to be secured by a lock. The design is mostly my own and consists of a five inch deep dovetailed box with a spline reinforced door panel. Butt hinges and an older style lock with the two toothed key finish up the wood working. The interior panel is a red felt on 1/8 inch backer board and the mounts are simply two blocks of wood custom fit to each gun covered in felt. They keep the gun in position without being too invasive. It was a fun project.

Tool Cabinet (Almost Done)

Drawers, drawers, drawers. Why is it always the drawers that hold up completion? My hand tools were starting to add up and I had several layers of them in a drawer in lower cabinets. With the purchase of another Lee valley plane it seemed like it was time to build a better place to store them. I'm not entirely sure what I need in a wall cabinet so in some ways this is a prototype though I will likely use it for several years. I kept materials simple using poplar and baltic birch plywood. The joinery was through dovetails on the case and finger joints for the doors. The first major mistake came with the finger joints and will be the reason that I keep the doors open most of the time. I flipped one of the doors when cutting the grooves for the plywood panels and as a result the finger joints run top to bottom on one door and left to right on another. Not a huge mistake especially when the doors are open but noticeable when the doors are closed. Rather than trying to create too many fitted locations for little bits and pieces I opted for drawers. My rough sketch plans showed four columns of three but a second mistake resulted in the drawer section being split into three instead of four. We'll call this one a design modification. The only real impact was that I find that drawers that are longer than they are wide slide better in their opening. These are almost square so it shouldn't be too bad. Everything you see here has been finished, and the only thing outstanding is the drawers. I'm hoping to get to those in the next couple weeks. I'm finding even the little shelves are handy though. The only issue is that things get pushed to the back and are hard to retrieve. Drawers should help that.