Router table – Drawer Bank (complete)

Construction is complete on the bank of drawers. The only things left to do is to do a light sanding and put some finish on, and replace the drawer slide on the top drawer. These things can be done as time allows, in between other projects.

When I left the shop last weekend, I had one drawer front left to put on, the one up top. I left it for last purposely, so I could properly size down the piece needed. That was my first thing I did in the shop today, using the table saw since the track saw didn’t leave me enough room to secure it properly. I didn’t even bother to change out the rip blade, and I bet that contributed to the bit of tearout I got on the back side. Not too much of a concern, though. A quick 120 grit sand with the ETS 150/3 got rid of the pencil markings.

Thankfully, I had plenty of poplar trim pieces cut and ready to go. I swapped out the bit for its partner, the one that puts the groove in the plywood. After a couple of test cuts I got the height sorted out just fine. The fence depth was super simple, as I took a picture of my marking on the Incra positioner last time. I just set it to the same line and locked it down. I love this thing so much, and I’ve just scratched the surface of the capability. Again I cut the 45s on the trim pieces and glued everything up. It went much better this time, and only had a small gap on one corner that the putty took care of. The front went on and it was time to put the drawer pulls on.

Since I didn’t bother buying longer screws, I did the following to get it to fit. I drilled a tiny hole where the screws needed to go through the front, then used a forstner bit on the back to reduce the depth required. Then I came back in through the front with a drill bit that would clear the screw shaft. After that, it was all about getting the screws lined up with the pulls and put on. I had to take advantage of a screw clamp to massage the fit on a couple of them, but it was better than bending the screws. The drawer pulls are more of the enormous stock of grey Ikea items I got years ago.

With this part of the project done, there are two more big things. One, I need to put a door on the router area. I think I’ll do fiberglass/plastic for the panel, because that seems like the thing most people do. I don’t know if I have another reason, because I could certainly do a rail and style plywood panel. The other thing to do is make a drawer for the Festool systainers directly below the router. After that, it’s all about upgrades to the top and plate, when I so choose. This project has turned out to be one of the best things I’ve done, all because I meticulously planned it, and mostly took my time in the execution. I’ll just have to remember these things as I go forward to other projects.

Bench Shavings – 05/28/16

It’s beginning to be a thing where I can only get out to the shop on the weekends. My boss is out for several weeks, so I get to shoulder a bigger load at work – even though I’m not supposed to. Perhaps I can get some early morning work in, because after about 80° I don’t care to be out there. That happened today around 2pm, and it wasn’t pleasant. I’m referring to inside the shop.

When I started on the drawer fronts last week, I envisioned them turning out extremely well. When they started not looking so great a little while later, thanks to gaps at the corners of the edging, I just about threw them away. I’m thankful I didn’t though, because I decided to step back and go about things in a slightly different way.

I have a hard time getting things lined up on 45° cuts. Particularly at the right length. So I decided to follow through to the conclusion with some wood putty. If it turned out like crap, I could always start over. So I picked some up this morning and assembled four of the five needed drawer fronts. I glued the edge banding on, filled the gaps, and did some sanding. It didn’t turn out so bad after all. The fifth will be done after, with the proper height calculated.

Once they were ready to go, I used double stick tape and mounted the bottom drawer front. I used it to line the rest up, and the end result is one I can be happy with. I’ll get the last front made sometime in the next few days, with any luck. I’ll have to decide if I want to cut out access holes for the drawer pull screws, or just buy longer ones. I attached them with the only screws I had that would be the right depth, pocket screws with a column head. I’ll replace them later.

Finishing this post up on Sunday, it’s entirely too hot and muggy to go out to the shop. Thus, if possible, I’ll head out there before work a little bit during the week. We’ll see how that goes, though.

Bench shavings – 05/21/16

Almost two months since my last one of these, but I think this one fits the bill perfectly. I had some time this morning and early afternoon to keep working on the drawer fronts. I cut the remaining piece of plywood to the rest of the drawer sizes, save for the top one. I’ll cut that one later on when I have a better idea if this is going to work, and what size I need. As for the cut pieces, I used the same router bit setup and height to put the edge groove in them all.

With the plywood ready to go, I turned my attention to the edge banding. I had a piece of 8/4 (or perhaps thicker) poplar that was gifted to me, and I had no particular use for it. I decided this would be a perfect use, and did a bit of experimenting with how wide I wanted the strips. I settled on a .75″ rip cut to give me stock that was then just over 2″ wide. With these pieces on their sides, I could then rout the edge banding mating profile.

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I adjusted the height so the edge pieces would be mostly flush with the back side, but raised at the front. Thought being I could put a roundover on it, but I kind of like the squared-off look. I ended the day by putting some 45° cuts on the edging and mocked up the bottom drawer. The plywood is in rough shape, the worst of the bunch, but after some sanding and filler, it should work.

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I’ll continue working on these probably once the week begins. Sunday will probably not work out.

 

Before I began all of this, when I was cutting the first piece of plywood to size on the table saw, I again noticed how much effort it needed to move through the riving knife. It was binding pretty bad, and I was worried at some point it would be a safety hazard. I decided before I cut anything else on the saw I would attempt to fix this.

I started out by making sure the knife was properly aligned with the blade, and after taking apart the knife mechanism and fiddling with it, I got it to align while the saw was in a partially disassembled state, but not when it was all buttoned back up. I tried a couple more times, before wondering if my homemade ZCI was contributing to the problem. Sure enough, it was. The part that was cut out by the blade wasn’t an issue, but using a jigsaw to extend it back for the knife went astray. So some work with the 40mm chisel gave it enough clearance to work properly, and the knife was finally aligned up like it should be. After that, I had no more issues. I just wish I would have looked at the insert first, as it would have saved about thirty minutes.

It was another good day in the shop today, even though the outside continues to look more at place in a war zone.

Router table – Drawers (continued)

It’s been two months since I installed the drawers, which was pretty much the last thing I did before the big school push. I used two proper length full extension slides, one shorter length, and two Euro slides. The result was one where I couldn’t open a couple of them easily, and the mounting was all over the place. So, I bit the bullet and bought three pair of drawer slides for install the other day.

Before I get to the install, I have to talk for a moment about shopping for these. I, without too much variation, buy all my drawer slides from WWHardware.com. Good service, pretty good prices. However, you do have to plan in advance for anything you want. There’s also the matter of paying for shipping. The costs I suppose are reasonable, but it does elevate the costs closer to what you would pay retail locally. I worked it out that with shipping, to buy two 22″ slides locally would only be about $5 more plus tax to get it locally. Might as well do that. Once you get past two though, it pays to order. For three slides, I paid nearly $50. That’s about $16 more than ordering. So what I’ll end up doing here is returning a slide to the store. The top drawer has the shorter slide installed, but doesn’t impact anything as far as getting the drawers set up and drawer fronts installed. I’ll order the right length when I order the undermount slides for the systainer drawer.

That was a long way of stating that I’m only replacing the two Euro slides. I installed the bottom one just above the carriage bolt heads that hold the casters on. From there, I replaced the slides on the second drawer, and then adjusted the rest all the way up to have a bit more even opening. Being exactly even isn’t important because the fronts will be installed. Now all the drawers open and close so much easier, even if I still have to grab the bottom or top of the drawer to open it.

I did notice the top drawer coming apart slightly. I’m not sure if I used too little glue or what, but four screws took care of the issue. With the drawer positions taken care of, I could start working on the fronts. I selected an old cabinet side that fit the dimensions, and cut so that one panel covered all the drawers. It has a couple of holes on the surface, but perhaps I can fill with putty and sand. I’ll be using my edge-banding bits this time, unlike with the cabinet.

As I sit here on Sunday, I got as far as cutting the groove in the bottom drawer panel. I had to make some adjustments to the fence depth to get the bit to cut the groove without cutting the edges of the plywood. If you don’t, it changes how it contacts the fence, and then you get a divot at the very end. It’s okay, because I do have a good bit of wiggle room to get things right. The hardwood edging will add back the kerf cuts and then some, so I do have to cut by height down a bit.

The edging will be worked on at some point this week. I’m thinking of using this S4S poplar I got gifted, and perhaps do some sort of bead profile. To be determined. For now though, it was good to be back out there.

New router table base – drawer boxes

A whirlwind day: from supply purchase to a near-finished product. The drawer boxes for the router table are done after several hours of work.

I took a trip to Lowe’s first thing this morning in the van to grab a sheet of 1/2″ plywood, the same kind as I built the base with. A 4×8 sheet of plywood does fit fairly well in the van, but it does require folding up all the rear seats. A pain if the van hasn’t been cleaned in awhile. But I got it home no problem and set it up on the Centipede Sawhorse to do the initial crosscuts.

I used Cutlist to tell me where I needed to cut, and after cutting out two sections for drawer bottoms, I was able to cut the remaining sections on the new table saw. It’s super easy to dial in where I need it to go, and I get a nice clean cut. My only issue with the saw thus far is the dust. With the entire sheet cut up into sections, it was time to take a break and collect my thoughts.

A little bit later, it was time to cut the sections into their respective pieces. I thought about using the table saw or miter saw for this, but the MFT and TS55 were the right choice. I was able to set the stop for 23.25″ for the drawer bottoms and cut all those to length. Then it was 23.75 for the drawer sides. Finally, it was 16″ for the front and backs. No problem.

Since I had a bit of 3″ width stock left over (smallest drawer height), I set out to check my measurements there. I used the Domino at 4mm to make the mortises. A dry fit with a short drawer slide confirmed I was good. Then I used the router table to cut the dado needed for the drawer bottom. I did a full dado on the shorter pieces, a stopped one on the longer sides. The first drawer was now installed, albeit on the shorter slide.

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With the settings confirmed, it was time to batch out the remaining drawers, three 5″ tall and one 6″ tall. I found that when I used the actual depth drawer slides, it was pretty tight. But, they work fine. One 5″ and the 6″ drawer are on 3/4 vinyl slides temporarily. Because it changes where they line up, overlay fronts can’t happen until I order the full extension slides. Here I show how to use some systainers as stock support to more quickly secure the piece. Also note the stopped dados.

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I now have fully operational drawers in the router table, and I have an absolute ton of storage room. So much so that a drawer or two might be completely empty at first. Although I did talk about putting some of the Festool router accessories in a drawer versus the systainers. It just gets too crowded in there. I’ll be out in the shop this morning seeing just what will fit where. I might add some temporary drawer pulls as well.

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New router table base – Day 8

(Tenth and final day elapsed)

For intents of this project blog, the project is now complete. Follow-up posts on it will be of their own accord, or included elsewhere.

With the base half finished with ARS, Sunday started by going ahead and putting casters on. As I (think I) noted previously, the casters I had left over were two swivel, two fixed. No matter, I’ll just mark the holes and install the carriage bolts preemptively for when I take apart the miter saw cart. Well, it turns out I used smaller casters there. Whoops. Anyway, I marked for all four corners, used a combination of drill bits, and installed what I had to the best of my ability. Then I put the base up on it’s wheels on the MFT and set about covering the remaining panels with a coat of ARS.

Once a coat of finish was all over everything (including some spatter on the MFT), it was time to think about getting it down. I rolled out the table saw – yes, these are the situations where that really comes in handy – and moved the router table over near the door. The new base came off the MFT just fine, and it was time to put the cover back on the switch and make some mounting points for the top.

The last mounting points I made for the old one were pure afterthoughts, corners that screwed into the sides. These were planned a bit better. There’s one that spans the router cubby hole and provides rigidity to that side, and two that span the opening for the drawer cabinet, both front and back. I cut the parts to size on the MFT using the TS55, and went with pocket holes to install. The pocket holes are oriented to face the top, so you’ll never know they were there. No ugly through screws this time – a screw not driven is a screw not needed to be hidden. I drilled a 1-3/8″ hole through the back of the router cubby and through the side of the drawer box for the end of the switch cord to go through. I always seem to forget the option of removing the cord, drilling a smaller hole, and routing it through. Oh well. The irony of it is, I’ll need a longer cord to reach a plug, so I have to rewire it anyway. Such is life.

Now it was time for the replacement ceremony, if you will. I removed all the drawers from the old cabinet and undid the Spax screws holding the top in place. Moving the top over was pretty easy, I didn’t even bother taking the router out. I tried to get the top lined up with measuring, but something seemed off. Instead, I just used my fingers and felt where it was even on all four sides. I used my new Robertson drive screws to attach the top. I like square drive much more than Spax, there’s almost no chance of rounding the center if you take even the least amount of time. There were two on each stretcher. I hooked in the router to the short lead on the switch, and put the excess through the access hole. I’ll need to tie these off and attach to the cabinet later on.

Now it came time for the most important test: if my measurements were correct and my two systainers fit where I needed them to. As you can see, I’m fine there.

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I wheeled the old base outside and it promptly fell apart, so that tells you something. This one is better built, even with the old one having to be modified once. The old drawers are now sitting in a stack where the new ones will go. That will be a task I’ll have to conquer shortly, and it will best be done after I determine just where I want what, the LR32 components included. I also have to determine what I want them made from – I don’t think the other 3/4″ panel is enough, but I don’t have any 1/2″ available to do the task. It turns out I have quite a few 3/4″ drawer slides that would do the trick, but do I want full extension instead? There’s also usually a slight width difference between the two. Here is what I absolutely have to store thus far. It’s a lot less than I thought, giving me plenty of room to add or store other things:

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Now, to the part I wasn’t fully expecting. Except for messing myself up on the width of the base, all my measurements have been pretty on point. Really on point. So on point, when I estimated 36″ for the overall height of the unit I expected to be off a fraction of an inch or so and that would take care of it being shorter than the table saw. Except, it’s exactly 36″. As in, if I were doing this down to the 1/128″ I couldn’t have gotten any closer to 36″. So that presents a problem of not currently being able to safely cut anything on the table saw. The saw might have to temporarily sit on some 3/4″ plywood to raise it up. I can swap the casters out for the ones on the miter saw, but those are on order of at least an inch shorter, and that might be too short. I’m sure though I can put a hardboard spacer or something on. That would solve the issue of not having four swivel casters. The old ones I had from Harbor Freight are probably going in the trash. They squeak terribly.

So, after ten calendar days I built and swapped out my router table base. There are a few things left to take care of, but for the most part the structure itself is done. I do need to sort out the caster situation, which will be very soon. I need to mark and cut a hole in the cubby for dust collection, but I’m deciding exactly what I want to do there first. The power switch needs a longer lead, and I’ll probably inset it a bit further into the side. The rest of it is more dressing than anything else. A door for the router compartment, drawers for everything. I didn’t have a door, dust port or all functional drawers before, so yes, I consider the project pretty much done. I’ll blog the drawers, door and other things at other times.

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New router table base – Day 7

(Ninth day elapsed)

More errors today, and I can’t understand why. I know what happened, I just don’t know how it happened.

With all the parts corrected, I took everything apart and got the LR32 system out to make the drawer slide holes. What happened here was that for some reason the rail slipped on a couple of runs, even though everything was snugged up and clamped down. So my holes look seriously nasty in a few spots. Sigh. If that’s the worst that happens, I’ll be happy. I also only put rows of holes to the front of the cabinet, because I don’t have the longer slides at this time. Putting them in will still be pretty easy, having the front hole location done, and chances are I’ll have the next hole on the slide located. Worst case, I use the square to locate the back hole.

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I started sanding all the pieces to 120 grit, and after I did the power switch panel I stopped. I decided I’d tackle the installation of the power switch right then and there. I used the OF1400 and a 1/2″ diameter mortise bit to take care of the opening.  I started to do it freehand, but remembered I had the edge guide. Taking it in passes along the outline I made of the switch, I slowly was able to cut out the right shape. I cut it a bit undersize, so the rasps came out to massage it a little bit bigger. It isn’t perfect, but it’s dang close. The only way I would have done better is if I had a pattern and used a pattern bit. Perhaps next time.

I finished sanding all the panels front, back, and some sides to 120 grit, then proceeded to put the entire table together. This was a bit stressful because of all the tenons going in different directions. Yet, it did indeed go all together after some fiddling, some massaging with the clamps, and some downright beating from the mallet. I had to cut one Domino because it wasn’t lining up for some reason. Otherwise, the joints are pretty good. One in the back corner has a bit of a gap toward the bottom for some reason, but not enough to worry about.

I then started putting a coat of ARS on, bottom first. I got quite a few parts of it done before I decided to retire for the evening. I neglected to take pictures toward the end of the day because I was in and out a bit, and at the end my hands were covered in ARS. Tomorrow (time permitting), I will steal two swivel casters from the miter saw. I have four casters available, but two are straight. I’ll put those on the miter saw just to keep it up until I make other plans for it. I’ll install those after I make a run to the hardware store for carriage bolts. Once it’s mobile, it will come down off the MFT and the old router table will be wheeled outside. I’ll quickly finish putting a coat of ARS on, install some top supports, and it will be ready for use. I’ll then have to really get on making drawers and getting any drawer slides I need.

New router table base – Day 6

(Eighth day elapsed)

There was work done on the seventh day, but only just a minor thing. I marked where the new mortises needed to go in the base, plugged the old mortises and flush trimmed them. Not really enough to do a whole post over.

This evening I got back to it. I double-checked that the amount I needed to trim off the bottom and left back panels was 3/8″, and marked them both. Because the panels were way too wide to use with the MFT cross rail, I cleared off the table saw. However, the table saw wasn’t wide enough to cut it without trapping the cutoff against the fence. Dern. So I set up the panels on the MFT and used the bigger rail the other way. The cut was going to hang off the table, so I used the clamps and secured a backing piece to prevent tear out.

Once both panels were trimmed, it was time to put the edge banding back on. I had been worried about the cut, because it was going directly through the tenons. It didn’t turn out to be an issue. The edge was ironed on both panels and I broke the OF1010 back out to trim it up. This time, I used a bit with a a bearing, and it was a totally different experience. Much, much nicer. I adjusted it down to where the bearing just barely touched the plywood and it gave a very nice cut. I just touched it up with the block sander to finish it off and round the edge.

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Panels back in one piece, I just had to plunge four (I thought earlier five) mortises in the bottom panel for the power switch panel, and this is the result after everything went back together for the dry fit:

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Next time I’m out in the shop the whole thing comes apart and the LR32 system comes out. Then I make the top support pieces and install them, sand the whole thing down, glue and finish. Oh, I do need to cut the hole for the power switch before I put it back together.

Until the next day…

New router table base – Day 5

(Sixth day elapsed)

The mistakes have arrived.

After four days of really good progress and feeling good, the first hiccups arrived today. I still contend the overall mood of the day was good, but it does mean that I have some work to do to get things back on the right track.

So I left off yesterday with having to put the mortises in to secure the middle divider panel. I used the power switch panel to mark where the back panel mortises needed to go. Before I set it down on the back panel at just the right spot, I put tenons back in so that I could get another visual. I put tenons in each of the shelf mortises on the power switch panel, and put them together again. Except, I wasn’t paying good enough attention, and one of the tenons didn’t line up with the mortise. As a result, I ended up blowing out the mortise on the face of the panel. Dang. I took the tenon out and used one of my glue injectors to put the veneer back to how it should be. A couple of squeeze clamps and I set that panel aside for now.IMG_20160224_165810099

That was an easy enough fix, if it works, so moving on to what the task was. Since I had already marked the middle divider on both sides, I just had to make all the mortises where I needed to. Long story short, everything lined up just peachy.

With the middle divider all done, I needed to put mortises in the left back panel to connect up with the back. That also went fine and lined up properly. It was time to put all the panels together in a dry fit mockup. This is where my mistake was revealed. Everything lined up beautifully, all the tenons I did (selectively) went into the mating mortises.

However, something I did on purpose when the project began was forgotten until this very moment. I increased the size of the bottom panel and made it oversize, with the thought of trimming it up to fit the rest of the panels just right. Unfortunately I almost immediately forgot that plan when I cut the mortises for the bottom panel first. Of course, I registered off the edges of the panel. Only when the whole thing came together did I realize the error, which is about 1/4″ between the middle divider and power switch panel where they meet the bottom panel.

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You can see the difference between the top and bottom in the pics. This can be fixed. What I’ll need to do is to plug the mortises and flush trim them. Then I can trim up the bottom panel and left back panel down to what they need to be. Then I can put the edge banding back on, cut new mortises that match for the bottom panel (only), and it all goes together like it should. Should be a 45-minute delay, tops. The track saw will do the heavy lifting.

So, a setback, but a manageable one. I was simply amazed how otherwise the entire thing came together with no drama, just as I planned. My new approaches to taking my time and being completely sure paid off in a big way. I don’t mind making mistakes as long as I can fix them easily. It is going to be a really nice addition to the shop.

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Tomorrow is a midterm and some good work progress to be made, so I can’t guarantee I’ll get any shop time. If I do though, I probably won’t get to making shelf/drawer holes because of the error.

New router table base – day 4

(Fifth day elapsed)

I didn’t think I’d get out to the shop for a second day in a row, but I made room for an hour between work and basketball practice. Again, surprisingly, it was a good effort.

I left off at a critical time – the mortises located in the field, not the edge. I had never taken this on before, so naturally I was nervous. I decided that I would start by trying to get the shelf located properly, as it was less crucial to hit a mark than the middle divider. I struck a line 12″ down from the top of the power switch panel, and set my mortises about 3″ apart. Having marked the panel, I put the shelf edge up against the line. Only issue was, with the panel up against the line I couldn’t locate the tick marks. So I struck the same marks on the straight edge, and that worked well. The bottom of the Domino has markings to locate the placement.

The Domino was still set on right at 10mm from the other day, so even though I did the field upside down in relation to the shelf, it went right on the line with zero issue.

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Awesome!

Flush with success, I did the opposite side of the shelf that met the back panel with the same success. In fact, there were only two issues that made the experience less than perfect – for some reason, the shelf is 1mm proud of the side panels. I have no idea how. The other thing was I incorrectly thought the 5mm Domino tenons were 40mm deep. Nope, 30mm. So they do sink a bit into the edge mortises. I’ll just have to glue them in first to the surface mortises. No big deal.

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I mocked up the middle divider and I think this thing might just meet my expectations. I think that millimeter (or perhaps another) might catch me up where the shelf meets the middle divider, but I’ll never interact with that part. Some caulk and a screw or two will keep it tidy. Screws, because I won’t see them either, and it’s just easier.

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The middle divider needs to get mortises, and then the LR32 gets broken out. Then it’s marking for the casters, fitting the braces/top attachment points, and then glue and finish. What an uplifting project to this point. Gives me confidence.

Now, there is the issue of drawers and drawer hardware. I’d really like to do full extension drawers, because they are so much nicer. I’ll have to look at what my budget is, though, because most likely I’ll have to buy at least some 1/2″ ply to make them all. I’m also hoping one of the leftover plywood scraps from the cuts will be big enough to be the drawer face for the systainers. I think I’ll cut one piece off of the other big piece of scrap and use it to make the faces for the drawer bank. The router door is TBD.