Diving deeper - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 11-23-2018, 06:31 PM Thread Starter
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Diving deeper

Hey everyone, first post. From New England, and been slowly expanding my capabilities and tool collection over the past 3-4 years. Basically I choose a new project each year as we slowly refresh each room in our house. Started with adding a store bought butcher block to our kitchen island with an extension and legs for a eating, progressed to ladder shelf for the living room which was soon replaced by floating shelves for an entertainment center, and finished up last year with built in cabinets behind barn doors in our basement. All paint quality so far.

This year we are looking at an office renovation, and I am thinking I will build a corner desk as my wood working piece. The plan right now is off white painted plywood base cabinets, and Iíd love to tackle the table top with a solid wood panel. My hope is to find a solid wood thatís easy to work with, and reasonably priced, as I know Iíll screw up a few times before I get it right.

I called up a local sawmill, cried ignorance, and they were really helpful. They steered me towards African mahogany at $6/bf for 6/4 S2S, or ash at $5/bf for 6/4 S2S. After calling them I came across a strategy here to make ďfaux thickĒ so now Iím thinking Iíll try 4/4. Iíve got a table saw, router and table, so I should be able to joint S2S.

I ran by my local lumber yard for something else today and asked what kind of hard woods they had. They had 1x4 mahogany/ipe decking and some oak in various widths. The mahogany was $1.79 a lf. That seems a lot cheaper than the stuff the sawmill has. I must be missing something, but canít figure it out?

Anyways, any tips, tricks, pitfalls to watch for as I embark would be helpful. Iím particularly concerned about getting a level glue up, as I donít have a planer, so any variations would be a real PITA to correct.

Rob

Desk plan, panel build up plan was done separately.
Cabinet plan



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post #2 of 13 Old 11-26-2018, 04:59 PM
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Hi Rob,

No feedback yet, so I'll chime in.

Nice plans. Biggest hurdle I see is the desk top and grain orientation. Ideally, grain should run the same throughout, but with corner units many find that objectionable. Most would have grain perpendicular to the sitter and to each cabinet leg. If you choose to go that route, then you'll essentially have a 3 piece top with the center piece cut on a 45 angle so grain is perpendicular to the sitter. Not real easy, but doable. You'll need good seams and tight fits when you glue them together, perhaps you could hide some of each seam below a vertical shelf above. If pieces are thick enough, you could draw them together with countertop bolts that commercial shops use. Scribe that corner piece first as there's always joint compound buildup in the corners. Alternative is to do it in plywood and then add hardwood edging, but you'd need to ensure that total width be under 4'

As for wood choice, why not use a regionally sourced wood? Lots cheaper than mahogany from afar. I buy my wood in Vermont and they have lots of local stuff you might like. White oak is one of my favorites, but red is available as is ash, butternut, maple,walnut, local cherry (not as nice as the PA stuf but cheap). Buy local. I'd think that anywhere in New England, you can find a wood provider within a few hours drive that is not a commercial lumber yard and it makes for a fun day. I buy it rough, but most places will do s2s for you. If you like doing this kind of stuff it might be worthwhile to find a place you can rely on.

Hope I didn't blather too much and good luck.
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post #3 of 13 Old 11-26-2018, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Hey Frost, thanks for the reply! I really appreciate the tips, especially from a fellow new englander.

I hadnít really considered the aesthetics of the orientation of the grain, and was more thinking about which orientation would be the easiest to glue up, and provide the easiest structural support. My original plan had been to keep them all going parallel with the long edge of the desk (8ft), making the glue up thickest at the short end, where Iíd have 8-10 boards wide, ~24 inches long. Iíd support the 8í length on each of the 2 cabinets, and then on the back wall. Iíd support the short end along the back wall and the single cabinet on that end.

Now that I think more about it, I do like the idea of the grain wrapping around the desk perpendicular to each work station. I like the idea of the cabinet bolts, but I have to plead ignorance on your comment about scribing the corner piece first due to joint compound buildup. Can you help me understand that?

As for wood selections, Iíd love (prefer, actually) to buy local, but am woefully inexperienced on what hardwood should cost around me. Are you saying I should be able to find a mill that can do a local wood for less than $5/bf? Despite my desire to buy local, at close to 70 bf for this project (probably biting off my more than I can chew) my real motivator is an economical choice. Iím in central MA, so a trip to Vermont wouldnít be bad for me.

Rob


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post #4 of 13 Old 11-27-2018, 04:22 PM
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Rob,
I just did a quick google search for hardwood suppliers in MA and came up with a bunch. One in Greenfield that looks good , another being Highland in southern NH. If you can find one close enough for a Saturday drive, then go window shop or call before and make sure you can get surfaced boards. You'll need flat boards with no cup or twist.

Yours is an ambitious project without a planer and edge glueing will be the biggest hurdle. Some people use biscuits to help align boards, but you need a biscuit joiner that is spot on. Some use a slot cutter in a router, cut a 1/4" slot ( a simple groove) in each board and then saw a 1/4" "spline to fit the mating slots. Do a few boards at a time whichever way you go. There are tricks to keeping the glue ups "flat", but this is a hard place to detail those. Do a search and you'll likely find some thing helpful, possibly even youtube.

Should you choose to do this, you'll need a good smoothing plane to do final flattening, or at least a good touch with a belt sander. I sometimes visit a friend who has a wide belt sander if I'm lazy. They charge for this, but it can be quick and is often just the minimal 1/2 hour charge of $50 or so which saves me 3-4 hours of work.

70 bf sounds like a lot , must be for 8/4. Maybe you can use 5/4 and finish at an inch or a bit more.

Best of luck.
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post #5 of 13 Old 11-27-2018, 06:04 PM
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Scribing the corners ...

The corners in rooms are not 90 degrees or square, typically because the drywall guy adds more mud in the corners and feathers them out each way. So, to make for a tight fit with no gap, you place your counter top into the corner up tight as possible, the using a pencil compass or a small wood scrap 3/16" thick, run it around the wall intersection with a pencil tracing the shape of the wall right on the counter top. If you don't want a separate trim piece, this is what you'll need to do.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 11-27-2018 at 06:10 PM.
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post #6 of 13 Old 11-27-2018, 06:33 PM
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Years back, I ran across a place called the "Door Store." Nothing but doors, new and used, plain and fancy.
Those are your desk tops.

I bought a massive paneled cedar front door, A+ condition, used = the hardware cost me more than the door (finished, too!)
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post #7 of 13 Old 11-28-2018, 08:11 AM
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$5.00 a board foot is cheaper than $1.79 a LF. A LF would be S5.37 a BF. This is if the lumber is all one inch thick (3/4 dressed).

Don in Murfreesboro, TN.
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post #8 of 13 Old 11-28-2018, 09:51 AM
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Good advice here. Haven't built furniture but have two cabinet door units that cry out to be made into a portable kitchen island. If and when you go to a lumber yard, take two things- a credit card with a decent limit and a pickup truck to haul what you buy. I tend to buy more than I need. Ask the folks at the local Woodcraft store. When I leave the store, they close and throw a big party!
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post #9 of 13 Old 11-28-2018, 11:16 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hawkeye10 View Post
$5.00 a board foot is cheaper than $1.79 a LF. A LF would be S5.37 a BF. This is if the lumber is all one inch thick (3/4 dressed).


Thanks Hawkeye, I just realized I was calculated my bf incorrectly.


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post #10 of 13 Old 11-28-2018, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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Appreciate all the replies everyone. Iíll be less deer in the headlights when I first walk into the hardwood shops.
@Frost, Highlands was a great recommendation, and looks good for budgeting as they list all their prices. Seems reasonable to get a good local wood for 3.50-4.50 a bf. My big fear is getting taken for a ride being a newbie.

@pineknot - Iíll be sure to bring cash and leave the cc at home. Iíll fall in love with all of it and my wife will kill me.


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post #11 of 13 Old 11-28-2018, 03:45 PM
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After 3 desks 32" x 72" and several work benches 32" x 96" with 2x6 tops,

I am convinced that the best way to fasten the tops is with gravity.
Lots of tools and toys keep the tops from drifting away.
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post #12 of 13 Old 11-29-2018, 07:56 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks @Brian T any photos of your finished products? Iíd love to see what you did with the doors.


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post #13 of 13 Old 11-29-2018, 06:04 PM
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Make a ladder frame with 4 thick legs ( one bench had to regularly hold 1,000lbs of full wine tanks).
The tops got waterproofed. Two with bright yellow paint. Two with MinWax Tung Oil Protective finish.
Some with whatever polyurethane was on the shelf! The 96" bench in the darkroom was bound to get chemicals slopped on it
so in more than a decade of use, I have done nothing at all to the cheap SPF plywood top.



As I am both selfish and a lazy sod, I wanted all the benches to be platforms for projects which were my real interests.
My island bench for the chop saw/band saw/drill press/scroll saw and the main bench are tops of raw 2x6.
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