Friday, December 28, 2012

Foyer storage - part 1

Sorry for the long delay, folks. As you might have guessed (or known), we were traveling for the Christmas holiday and I decided to keep the laptop at home. This worked out fine as I really didn't have any time to blog anyway. However, we received a couple of gifts this Christmas that are blog-worthy, so I will be working through those. One of them has yet to be installed, so keep posted for updates. The big gift from my folks this year was a compound miter saw! This was particularly exciting for me as I have been avoiding woodwork because I didn't have the right set of tools to make good precision cuts. My dad and I now have an agreement that he can borrow the miter saw and I can borrow his table saw. I think this will work out rather well. We weren't able to fit the saw in the car this trip, which is rather unfortunate. I miss her already (yes, my miter saw is a girl). My dad and I did get the opportunity to start on a project the day after Christmas. We have been talking and planning on this for about 2 months, so it was pretty exciting to make some progress.

I am working on building a tree hutch (that is apparently what it is called) for the foyer in our house. I started with plans here and here from My space is 27.5" x 24", so the plans (as is) wouldn't fit. We modified them to fit our space, making the largest dimension 27" (click the following images to zoom).

The only modification is that in the second diagram, the 1 x 6 is actually 19" in length (not 20).

We started with cuts for the base first. I will go through our process in case you want to follow at home. First, it is important to read through safety information for any of the power tools you are using. Never move power tools with them plugged in. And always wear safety equipment. You don't want to lose a finger because you were careless. The first thing we did was to cut scrap pieces of wood. This is important in order to get a feel for the saw. We also practiced measuring and cutting with scraps before moving on to the real deal. I opted for higher quality wood pieces (still pine, but no knots), which meant that the pieces were more expensive. Therefore, doing some practice runs on scrap can really save money.

My miter saw has a 10" blade, which means that the widest piece I can do is a 1 x 6. Wider pieces had to be done on other equipment.

Steps for cutting.

1. The wood you buy from Home Depot is factory cut. It is cut using large equipment, and the ends are not at a 90 degree angle. Therefore, the first step is to cut off a piece on the end in order to make the board straight. Mark (in pencil) using a square edge and then cut off the end (I'll go into cutting later).

 2. You know the saying, "measure twice, cut once"? This is actually pretty imperative. I caught a few measuring errors this way. The first step is to measure and mark the length with a pencil.

Use a square to mark a line on the small mark you made.

Re-measure for any errors and re-do your line as necessary. Pencil will erase off of wood.

As a sanity check, if you are making more than 1 piece the same length, you can check that the pieces line up.

3. Cutting. The biggest thing in this step is to understand how the kerf (blade width) will impact your wood. The easiest way for me to work was having the product on my left and the waste side on my right. It is harder to see under the motor on the right side. In this scenario, I made sure that the left edge of the blade lined up perfectly with my pencil mark. Make this alignment with the blade OFF. I made sure my hand was no where near the trigger when doing this.

I used my left hand to hold the wood securely to the guard. The saw will have markings for where your hand should be for safety reasons. I suggest following these. This is where practice makes perfect. You want to move the blade seamlessly into the wood. If you go too slow, you will make a friction burn into the wood. As soon as the wood is cut through, release the trigger and let the blade come to a stop before lifting it back up. Do not move the wood or your hands while the blade is in motion. If your wood piece is long, I suggest making a prop for it to rest on. It makes holding the piece in place a lot easier.

You can see how the miter saw allows the lengths to be very precise. This is why measuring is so important. 

We had an excel chart in order to keep track of which boards to cut. This made tracking our progress much easier. This was also used to determine how many boards to buy. Unless you have a plan which includes what to buy, you will need to plan out what you can cut from the boards and how much will be scrap.

In some cases we did really well with our left over piece (see top).

4. Double check any miter cuts. We did the straight-edges first before the trim piece which requires a 45 degree angle. If you do this, you can make a mock up and check your measurement for the trim piece.

Miter cuts are similar to the straight-edge ones, except that they require a little more planning. You really have to be careful about which side is the product and scrap, and pay close attention to which side the kerf is on. Also, allow for more scrap in these boards because you will have more waste since you are cutting on an angle.

Here is the end of our day of work. You may be wondering how we cut the larger boards (1 x 8 and 1 x 12). The 1 x 8 was done on a table saw. The table saw was a bit trickier than the miter saw, but essentially the same steps (measuring, checking the kerf, and cutting). The 1 x 12 required the use of a circular saw. I didn't take any pictures because we both had to be pretty active during the whole process. We only cut the pieces for the bottom bench part. I will go up again this winter to finish the cuts and take the boards home for assembly. So for now the project is still in its early stages, but more carpentry goodness to come. Stay tuned.

Besides all the sawing, we had a lovely Christmas visiting with friends and family. This is me and my bff.

J and I and bff and her mom.

More Christmas updates soon!

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