Swiss Army Table, part three

Yesterday brought some nice work on the UTS. I figured out my problem with the torsion box, namely that my dadoes weren’t wide enough. Once I redid all of those, I got to work putting it together. Unfortunately, MDF isn’t that strong and I broke a couple of the cross pieces. No matter, we soldier on. I glued up the pieces and made the best of it. The most important thing is making the structure solid and flat.

Not having a ton of screws left from the previous projects, I used what I had to secure the top and bottom layers of the torsion box. From what I can tell, it appears flat. The two ends are still open because I need to add structure to where the casters will attach, and where the levelers will go, if I feel I need them. Up next will be a trip to the store to get the two pieces of MDF I need to enclose the box and make the vertical pieces, and to get the appropriate screws. Screws will be used copiously.

I did get a chance to finally play with one of my new toys, the Kreg jig. I sprung for the K3 Master System, which is normally $40 more than the K4 unit. The K3MS has a few advantages – the clamp is up front, great for doing large panels. Which, on this project, I certainly will be utilizing. It also comes with a short bit, a face clamp, a portable jig, and a fence stop. I say normally, because I took advantage of either a sale or a pricing error and got the K3MS for $5 cheaper than the K4. At that price, I couldn’t say no. This picture gives a good indication of the clamp:

(Picture no longer available – 5/9/12)

If you aren’t familiar with the Kreg Jig, in short it allows you to drill easy and consistent pocket holes for screws. Pocket screws allow very easy joinery, instead of having to use exposed screws through butt joints or more complicated methods like tenons, rabbets or dovetails. With planning, the holes are hidden and the joint is exceptionally strong. In fact, I may default to using this method of joinery unless I’m looking to expand my skill set or the design calls for something a bit more ornate. Pocket screws are the weapon of choice for face frames on cabinets. The screw enters in one piece at an angle, a precise angle that allows the screw to exit in the middle of the edge of the piece and connect with the adjacent piece. This angle is set by the jig, and the proper depth is done that way as well. I had a Kreg jig previously that only allowed for one hole to be done at a time and did not have any automatic settings. A huge PITA and I wondered what anyone saw in this method. No more.

As a temporary measure, I mounted it to the front of my drill press cart, and it actually seems like a good place for it. I’ll have to evaluate its location long-term, but as long as it doesn’t interfere with the drill or the cart, it may just stay there. Or on the side or as a part of my new tool stand. But it’s in a great spot now. I used the Kreg jig to put some holes in the torsion box and I got to make one of the upper stand boxes, most likely the downdraft box. I learned two things – one, that I could really use the right angle clamp. I will have to get that in short order. The reason being is that when the screw digs in to the opposing piece, it tends to walk it off of where you need it. And is why a couple of my pieces aren’t perfectly lined up. The second thing I learned is that it’s pointless to try and attach a 3” piece of MDF on both ends with pocket screws, as while you can attach one side fine, when the top goes on you realize that there’s no way to get your drill in to tighten the joint. Oh well, screws through the joint on the bottom side worked well enough.

I will say that trying to put pocket screws into MDF makes a massive mess. Trying to do anything to MDF makes a massive mess. But with the vacuum hooked up to the port on the jig, mess was minimal. I think this is a great purchase, and having the portable jig included with the Master System will be fantastic for using it other places – the main jig will stay in one place. And since I have a spare drill bit from my previous purchase, I won’t need to take that with me either. I do see a stocking up on the Kreg screws, though. Need to find a cheap supplier. And their Deck Jig looks intriguing as well.

I had to splurge a little bit ($15) and buy a glue kit. Part of why my previous project failed was that I didn’t have adequate glue on the entire surface. This kit will solve that problem. It comes with a bottle, and numerous tops – biscuit, roller, fine tip, brush, dowel tip and covers. As long as I keep it cleaned up with water, it should last me awhile. Not so great reviews on the brush bit, but that seems to be universal with all the brushes I’ve found. Might have to invest in a nice painting brush at some point. And I forgot to clean the fine tip top from yesterday. Crap.

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