Archives For Woodworking

Back in April of this year, my friend Chris Schwarz wrote a post about a staked table he built. I’ll confess – my first reaction to the photo was “WTF?” – but there was something about the table’s aesthetics that intrigued me and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. It was as if the photo of the table begged me to stare at it longer, goading my brain to make sense of it. I should have responded with an anyeurism emoji.

I know from personal experience with some of the staked pieces in The Anarchist’s Design Book (and other similar forms) that photographs don’t express the (potential) spatial elegance of these forms very well, so I was willing to look past the picture. And as I did (I studied that photo three or four times the day I received it), the more I wanted to “riff” on Chris’ table. So I started sketching.

{"focusMode":1,"deviceTilt":0.03907515481114388,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}It became clear that I had to build the thing I kind of-sort of had in my head in order to move on with life. But even after sketching, it was more of a conceptual puzzle that needed working out rather than a design. Whatever it ended up being, it apparently had the following criteria:

  1. Three legs. I thought four would resolve “too well” or too easily.
  2. Round. I wanted something to place next to my “big chair” which has a Scandinavian aesthetic that lends itself to curves. Also I thought that the roundness would help alleviate some of the M. C. Escher problems that occur when your brain has corners against which it can “register” what it’s perceiving.
  3. Funky geometry – square or round, everyone knows what an end table with equally ordered legs looks like. I wanted the legs to look like they were wrapping around a column that wasn’t there.

I would normally spend a few hours in Sketchup trying to work this out into something that would then come together in the shop. But I’ve spent the last year doing home improvement projects in plywood, particleboard and veneer and wanted to get to work immediately. So after taking some measurements of my chair, I decided to make good on my commitment to clear out my lumber rack and go straight to prototyping, knowing that the best outcome would be a failure to learn from (followed by a funeral pyre for the prototype).

{"focusMode":0,"deviceTilt":-0.07968433300522371,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}As suggested in The Anarchist’s Design Book, I first made a quick model by turning a small disc and using coat hanger segments to play with angles. My goal was to get a very rough idea of the issues at play, not to faithfully represent the piece (because I had no real clue on where it was going yet). The model proved to me that the concept wasn’t completely bonkers, but also that it needed more careful consideration than banging a bunch of sticks into the bottom of a circle and calling it a day. It was clear that much of the overall design would be “derived” from a number of elements:

  • The radius between each leg and the center of the tabletop (I’ll call this the leg radius)
  • The angle between the legs and the bottom of the tabletop (I’ll call this the splay)
  • The angle of the legs from the center (I’ll call this the rotational angle)
  • The length of the legs, which would determine the proportional distance at which the legs would appear to intersect (I’ll call this the fleemkoopen stropfheimer)

Though I love incorporating curves into the things I build, I don’t work on round furniture very often, so while many of these design considerations are also present in rectangular furniture, it took my brain some time to reorient itself to working on radii off a circle’s center rather than more Cartesianally-oriented distances from edges.

I had 11” wide stock in the lumber rack so the table was going to be some multiple of that–I decided 22″. I decided to work first on a small square piece of 8/4 poplar. This would allow me several attempts at finding a good set of angles for the mortises and experiment with different ways of marking them out and drilling them. My plan was to drill the mortises and use dowels to evaluate the angles–basically a larger version of the disc-and-coat hanger model.

{"focusMode":0,"deviceTilt":-0.006697782780975103,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}I failed over and over, each failure more exciting than the last. Some failures were cognitive failures (e.g. forgetting which layout line was the rotational angle) and some were construction failures (sloppy brace-and-bit handling). But after a few attempts on a couple of boards I landed at something that was close enough from a design perspective. I had also streamlined techniques for markup and drilling with a brace and auger bit.

In the end, on an 11“ square piece of poplar, I landed on:

  • A leg radius of 3–7/8”
  • A splay of 124° or 56° depending on which way you splay. (I think in conventional terms this would be 34°, measured as the acute angle between the leg and a line perpendicular to the bottom of the tabletop, but my brain won’t accept that. In this case, I want to capture the angle to which I set my bevel gauge and to also reflect that the legs point into the table, not out)
  • A rotational angle of 17°
  • A fleemkoopen stropfheimer of 18–19“ for a total table height of 21–22”

Knowing that it was going to be way easier to work on an 11″ square piece than on a large round piece, I drilled the holes with a brace and auger bit (leaving the tapered mortise for later), laminated the block to the bottom of a 22” wide, 8/4 poplar panel. I marked and cut out a rough circle, affixed a face plate and went to the lathe. While at the lathe I realized that the curve I was shooting for needed more wood than I had laminated onto the bottom of the tabletop, so I made some design compromises. Turning the top was otherwise pretty straightforward (and lots of fun!), though by the time it was all said and done I would end up taking the tabletop back to the lathe three times to refine the shape.

As for the legs, I wanted something round-ish. I’ve had an 8′ long piece of oak stair rail sitting on my back porch for over a year, and by using my Jedi powers to check off the “mount new stair rail” item in my household to do list (i.e. I convinced myself I didn’t want a new stair rail), I decided to use that for prototyping.\

{"focusMode":1,"deviceTilt":0.6824432015419006,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}It was convenient in that it was mostly round and made from wood, but was a piece of crap in all other respects (namely that it was laminated in both thickness and in length). But it got used and is no longer sitting on my back porch. In any case, I started with a pretty chunky ovular design by using offset turning, but unhappy with that I put them back on the lathe and turned them to be more svelte. I then planed two sides into each leg and did some rough shaping with some spokeshaves to get them to communicate “not round, not flat”, which is what I was going for.

I dry-fit the legs into the table and decided that the crappy grain from the stair rail was drawing too much attention to the legs, making it hard to evaluate the overall form. So I charred them and that helped immensely, as did reducing the contrast of the top by giving it a quick coat of stain.

{"focusMode":1,"deviceTilt":0.2292278250071664,"whiteBalanceProgram":0,"macroEnabled":false,"qualityMode":3}After staining the top and leveling the legs, I called this first prototype done. I almost tossed it right after inserting the legs, but I’m glad I took it through a rough “coloring” process because that changed my impression of the piece significantly.




It’s very much built as a prototype–I concentrated on stuff that I wanted to resolve in the design rather than fit-and-finish or engineering. I will probably give this to a friend or burn it, but I’ll keep it around a bit and ponder my next moves.

I’ll leave my more specific opinions on the piece itself this out of this post except to say that as a prototype, it was successful. It came together quickly (maybe 5–6 hours actual build time across a few days) and allowed me to experiment and refine both form and process. Most importantly: through the process of repeatedly failing, it’s very clear to me what I want to change as I go forward.

And that is what the second prototype is for …

Watershop Down

October 4, 2014 — 4 Comments

As most of you probably know (some of you firsthand)–last winter was a hard one in the middle of the US. In our town, school was canceled on more than one occasion due to cold–not due to snow–and in Chicago, we had more snow this year than any year on record except one.

Cue dramatic woodshop music. It’s time for a montage.

On January 8, 2014, a $1 piece of copper looked like this when it burst in the ceiling above my woodshop:

Burst Pipe Elbow

And so it rained inside my woodshop, which in turn made my tools look like this:

Rusty Plane

But later that evening, a good friend, some bourbon, those fabulous Klingspor rust erasers, and some serious elbow grease made my tools look like this:


The next day, my shop looked like this:

The Day After

And in fits and spurts over the next few months, the shop looked liked this:

Bare Walls
New Insulation
New Drywall

And by early summer the shop looked like this (Click these images to view larger versions)

Details to follow in upcoming posts, but here’s the summary:

  • Removed built-in cabinet and counter
  • New lighting fixtures and relocated / centralized lightswitches
  • New electrical and network connections
  • Better mounting job for air cleaner
  • Chalkboard wall
  • Antique library card catalog for hardware and tools
  • New sink
  • Cork flooring

It was a good thing the new woodshop was ready to go by early summer, because that was just in time to not have any time to work on projects. Work, family, and farm claimed my summer months, and those plus a new back injury, a couple of new puppies, and a side project are claiming my fall. But I’m itching to build and have a backlog of projects drawn up in Sketchup.

This year, I wanted to make good on a long-standing promise to set the family up with a garden. I’ve looked at raised bed gardening because I don’t know too much about the quality of soil in our rather urban suburb. But like many people with bad backs, when I see people gardening (raised bed or not), my first thought is, “Aren’t farmer’s markets great?”

We visited some good friends in Sonoma a few years back and they had built some raised garden beds unlike any we had seen before. These were roughly 3.5–4 feet high and seemed like a brilliant way to improve the ergonomics of gardening. But I have some big ideas for the backyard over the next few years and I don’t want to commit to large, immovable containers of soil. I looked into commercially available elevated garden beds but I find them ugly, find them expensive, and like all woodworkers, I immediately resent the very notion of purchasing something I know I can make.

gb planters

Spoiler alert! The result, already sprouting some tomatoes.

Continue Reading…

Japanese Box Build

April 14, 2013 — 5 Comments

A few weeks ago Wilbur Pan wrote a post about a Japanese toolbox he built. This project caught my eye for a number of reasons—its simplicity more than anything. One board, some nails, and a few tools. The perfect project for Ray.

I figured a box like this would serve Ray well. He needed a way to transport his “contraption parts” and toys from one place to another, and he’s wanted a place to sister-proof toys he considers special. So he was excited when I proposed this project to him.

I showed him the box on Wilbur’s site as well as a Japanese toolbox that Chris found when he was in Australia. That box features some very simple finger joints that I find aesthetically pleasing. Ray, however, chose the simpler box, saying, “I don’t like those fancy sticky-out things”. So simple it was.

We were all set to go out to the home center to pick up some pine but I thought I’d first check the garage attic, where some miscellaneous boards leftover from my house’s construction remain. Bingo. A pine board more than long enough, totally dry, and only slightly twisted. Ray helped me bring it into the shop.

box board

I had him size the box using his arms, then count and mark out the pieces on the board. I then crosscut the pieces with a handsaw while Ray held them and stacked them.


As I didn’t want the box to be too heavy for Ray, I dimensioned the lumber to a little over 1/2”, then asked him to pick up the stack of wood, telling him that the box with toys in it would be at least that heavy. He decided to make the box shorter, and I made the box a little less tall than wide. I then showed him how all the pieces would go together.


Unlike the wooden jet project, Ray found putting the box together very challenging. With the jets, fitting the pieces together was not unlike putting together a puzzle—it was easy to tell which parts went where. When you pressed most of them into place they would stay together. Not so with loose boards. I quickly planed a very shallow rabbet (maybe 2 passes) on the bottom piece—he then had a very slight edge which helped him know where the box sides should go.

But clamps, even the quick-set ones, weren’t easy for Ray to manipulate, and in truth, I think it was in this initial assembly stage that Ray kind of gave up on the project. He made it through some glue and a few nails but started getting too restless and fidgety to keep him in the shop safely. I need to do a better job of realizing that it’s the instant gratification of snapping together LEGOs that I’m competing against. The trick isn’t keeping his attention span; he has an enormous attention span and boundless curiosity for things he enjoys; the trick is keeping the steps challenging enough to engage him but not so challenging that they become frustrating. In retrospect, I think setting the box up for him to drill and nail would have been a better approach.

After Ray went to bed that evening, I finished the box. I used box nails on the bottom, setting them deep so they wouldn’t scratch whatever Ray set the box on. And in addition to hide glue (unnecessary, but made assembly a little easier) I used wrought head cut nails for the sides and top handles. And for the pieces which go across the top of the lid, I used some cut brad nails, but only because I didn’t have any other cut nails that would work with the thinner stock.


After milling the lumber (an unnecessary step if you buy appropriately dimensioned lumber to begin with), and not accounting for time spent helping Ray, the whole project probably went together in about 45 min or less. It really is a great project; if only everything I did in the shop could come together so quickly!

Japanese Box

I placed the finished box on the kitchen counter and Ray was thrilled to find it in the morning. He loves it—enough that he asked me to help him make a few more. A few things I’ll try differently as we make these boxes:

  • I’m going to pursue the finger-jointed version next time. I’ve already made a prototype, and by gang-cutting the joints, the whole thing comes together very fast. I think the finger joints will actually help Ray manage the assembly more easily by making more apparent what pieces go where and make the whole box easier to handle. The only clamp that will really be necessary is the vise in the joinery bench, which is easy for him to use.
  • Since we’ll be making a few boxes, the first one be an assembly-only project, with all parts prefabricated and holes pre-drilled. It’ll have the finger joints cut and small rabbets to help register pieces against each other. He’ll just glue and nail. He loves the hammer and cut nails.
  • For the second box he’ll drill at least some of the holes; he loves the eggbeater drill and the brace and already knows about pre-drilling from the jet project.
  • If we make a third one, maybe I’ll let him use a saw for one of the final cuts—maybe a flush-cutting saw to trim off one of the top pieces.

My wife and I are thrilled that the box is a place that Ray actually likes to keep toys that would otherwise lay all over the kitchen and family room, and of course, Ray is thrilled that his sister can’t get at them.


But Anya’s strong enough now that she’ll just end up taking the whole box with her if Ray isn’t sitting on it. This is all part of the plan. Someday Anya will want to make a box for herself. And maybe by then Ray can teach her how.

On To Two O One O

December 31, 2009 — 5 Comments

Most of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances found 2009 a harder year than years past. The global economic downturn and its residual effects of course weighed heavily on all of us—some more directly than others. For me, 2009 really wasn’t bad, and I’m going into 2010 with some good momentum.

The Could’ve-Been-Better

2009 was a bad year for the Nayar dogs. Both Sadie and Lakshmi passed away, and their absence is palpable. I can say without hesitation that Lakshmi’s death was the low point of the year for me.


Other than at work and in regards to PS3 game trophies, I was spectacularly unproductive this year. In woodworking, I tried a lot of new things (like turning) and have honed some essential skills over the last year, but in service of nothing productive (sans more shop furniture). I’ll endeavor for more tangible results in 2010 and already have a list of pieces I hope to build in the first half of the year (and yes, dear, your side tables are on it smile). I’m also empty-handed when it comes to etherfarm developments–I had grand plans for this site this year, but at the end of a day staring at screens and talking with people who stare at screens, after Ray goes to bed I find I’d much rather be at my lathe or at my bench in the woodshop than in front of HTML, CSS and PHP.


Sadly, though, I more often ended up with a videogame controller or mouse in my hands rather than a tool. This I lament, even though there were some amazing games in 2009, some of which I even found inspiring.

The Good

My work travel was less than 50% of my 2008 corporate globetrotting. That didn’t necessarily translate to more time at home; I spent almost all of my vacation days in Illinois. Which, for a variety of reasons, is a splendid place to be.


I might be one of the few people I know who likes their job. I took on a new role at work this year, and it’s full of new and interesting challenges. For the first time in a long, long time, I feel that when I’m engaged with what I’m doing, I can end just about every day having learned or done something new or having found new ways to apply the one or two things I actually do know.

I spent a lot of time with friends this year–old and new, near and far. Last year, my tolerance for West Coast Flakiness achieved a critical mass and I more or less went into seclusion. This year, a few of my friendships in the Bay Area seemed to take root and it somehow worked out that I had more quality time with friends in other locales. It perhaps goes without saying that I ate a lot of good food with some of these good people in 2009.

And to counter all that good food, I managed to swim at least 3 times a week all year this year (with just a few exceptions due to travel). This wasn’t really a goal (it’s an unintended accomplishment) but I’m ending 2009 feeling much more healthy than I have in years past. Which is nice, because despite my relatively low number of years on this planet, I’ve felt physically old and decrepit since my back surgery in 2003.

We transformed the front and back yards from worthless patches of horrible, clumpy grass to wonderful outdoor rooms. I admire them every time I leave and arrive home and probably will until we leave this place.

Before: Front Yard
From Garage Door
Back Porch

And of course, there’s Ray. I go on and on about him, and I’ve found that those who meet him tend to go on and on about him as well. It’ll suffice to say that in the last 365 days, he’s gone from toddler to little boy, and I find joy and poetry in almost everything he says and does.

Obviously, in balance, I really can’t complain about 2009—to do so would be absurd. It has left me exhausted in a good way, like being “just full enough” after a great meal. And I’m optimistic about 2010 for a variety of reasons, but Nara has the biggest one in development:

If all goes well, Ray’s little sister will arrive in early June. And if that’s not a reason to look forward to 2010, I don’t know what is.

Backyard Bowling

May 24, 2009 — Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I had two medium-sized trees taken down in my backyard. Though shade trees, they weren’t providing shade in any meaningful place. In fact, they were fairly useless, dropped these crazy, spikey balls in my neighbor’s lawn, and sat in a corner of the yard where I want to build Ray a fort or clubhouse later this summer. So I decided to have them taken down.

I called an excellent arborist, Chris Regan, who told me the trees were water gums (Tristaniopsis Laurina, formerly Tristania Laurina), and who did an excellent job of sectioning the tree trunks and crotches into manageable chunks, discarding the rest, and grinding the stumps level. If you’re in the Bay Area and are looking to get some tree work done, I highly recommended him.

Tree To Bowl

I’ve just started woodturning (those of you watching my Flickr photostream probably saw the photos of my lathe bench coming together) and this is the first time I’ve turned “green” wood. This is the first bowl to come from those trees, and in these photographs it’s just a rough turning. When you turn green wood, you turn bowls thicker than they’ll end up; while they dry, they warp, then once dry you turn them on the lathe again to finished shape. This bowl will probably take a few months to dry. I’ve got a small stash of 8-10” diameter trunk and crotch pieces which I’ll be cutting into “bowl blanks” over the weekend.

A safety-bespectacled Ray was watching me make the bowl and as the long, stringy pieces of wet wood flew off the lathe, into the air, and landed on the floor, he asked if it was a pasta tree.

For any turners who stumble across this entry, I haven’t found much information on the web on turning this wood. I read somewhere that it was used for miscellaneous items such as golf clubs and riding whip handles. As you can see, it’s very light-colored–an almost creamy color not unlike English boxwood, though who knows what it’ll look like when dry and finished. What you don’t see is the resin which forms on your bowl gouges. If you stop turning for 30 seconds or so, the resin hardens on the bowl gouge tip, so you either have to pry it off quickly or you have to grind it off. Maybe I’ll try burning it off with a lighter or something so I can save some metal.

Table Play

January 4, 2009 — 8 Comments

I kicked off the new year by finishing up a project I started last year. This is a play table I just finished today for Ray.


Most of the in-house projects I’ve taken on in my current woodshop have been either for the shop or for Ray. Given the way the last few years have been for me at work, I can’t see it having turned out differently. Adult-scale furniture takes me a long time to construct and finish, and as my shop is not very large it’s difficult to store large boards and panels while a piece is under construction. Also, an unfortunate busy spell at work can keep me out of the shop for months at a time, and the larger pieces tend to require a kind of continuity and focus not made possible by such a staccato schedule. So on a variety of fronts, these small-scale pieces are great.

I’ve made three pieces for Ray so far:

A desk and chairs made mostly with handtools, fabricated out of 2x4s:

Ray's Desk

A stepping stool made with the boards of a thrown away futon:

Step Stool Installed

And this latest piece, a play table.

In Use

With all pieces I make for Ray I try to experiment with skills and processes I haven’t yet tried. The last two pieces used curves and sprayed finishes. The desk and chairs were my first legitimate (i.e. non-woodshop furniture) foray into handtools. And this play table was also the first show-in-the-house piece for which I used a spokeshave and which features exposed handcut dovetails.

A lot of people who see these projects while they’re being constructed wonder why I don’t just run down to Ikea to pick up a step stool for $10 or a desk and chairs for $25. They wonder why I handplane children’s furniture or throw pieces away that aren’t turning out well. Why all this effort for something so…ephemeral? And on some level, I understand where they’re coming from. It’s highly unlikely Ray will remember these pieces when he gets older. I certainly have no recollection whatsoever of even using a step stool, much less what it may have looked like or where it may have come from.

Perhaps I don’t really have an answer which would make sense to anyone who would go to Ikea or Target. Why I make these things goes beyond the fact that I just like spending time in the woodshop or that I want to make stuff for my kid. This might sound a little over-the-top, but through these projects I very much believe that in some small way I’m shaping the way Ray sees the world. I want him to know that it’s still possible to make stuff and to know the people who make your stuff. That not everything we use is disposable. That with just a little bit of effort and practice you can still have something to do with the very artifacts around which your life happens–something other than breaking out a credit card, lugging a box home, and cursing at Swedish assembly diagrams.

434 days and 20 hours

November 19, 2008 — 7 Comments

There’s a very simple explanation for my year-plus absence from etherfarm. This simple explanation has fifty-seven parts, the first three of which are described briefly below:

  • Work: In either of the last two years I’ve traveled more by air than the combined miles from my life prior. I work on a project which spans four countries and I manage a team with designers in three of them: California, Israel, and India. That’s a lot of time on the road (the wife likes to remind me it’s a little over 2 months of the year), so when I’m home, I really prefer spending time doing things other than being on the computer.
  • Ray: I can’t begin to describe how much I enjoy being a dad, and no small part of that is due to Ray himself. He’s at a pretty amazing age right now: his language synapses are on auto-fire and he has a curiosity about the world which I so wish I could bottle and consume as an anti-curmudgeon elixir. The kid has excess charm and can extract a smile from just about anything, including inanimate objects (e.g. myself after a work week from hell). Or semi-animate objects, such as this Dalek:
  • Everything Else: I gravitate towards people who immerse themselves in the rigor of being good at something which requires practice. In a “plug and play” world, the whole notion of practice seems quaint, outdated, and irrelevant. But not to me. I obsess. I strive for manual competence, a term whose origins and meaning I will describe in a future post.


    My current obsessions are photography and woodworking. In both, particularly in the last 2-3 years, I’ve eschewed automation wherever possible, instead developing hand skills and material knowledge which make me feel like I’m still relevant to the process. I’m not—or at least feel like I’m not—just holding up a photo-taking machine or shoving a board through a power tool. The results aren’t always spectacular, but with practice they improve. And with that improvement I very much feel a deeper, less mediated connection to the endeavor as a whole. But maybe I’ve just been in California too long.

There are other things, of course, which have resulted in a farm less tended. No shortage of people or obligations which claim time. No shortage of emergencies and non-emergencies at work and at home. No shortage of distractions and time-wasters. And of course there’s the perennial contemplation of whether or not whatever noise I contribute to this whole web thing has ever been worth it anyway.

For whatever reason, the last month or so has brought a small wave of “you haven’t updated your site in a long time…are you OK?” emails. So all this to say; don’t worry, I’m fine. In many respects, I’ve never been better, actually, and there’d be some sound logic in believing that fact and my absence from this site are not unrelated. That said, a certain etherfarm v5, baked from scratch, should be making an appearance in January.

Until then, catch up with me on the following packaged sites:

  • Flickr: Still find the UI incredibly frustrating, but I haven’t found a better or easier way to share and socialize photos.
  • <a href="”Facebook: Recent experiment. Liking it so far. Need to tweak the signal-to-noise ratio though.
  • LinkedIn: You know, the uber-pimp site.


November 1, 2005 — 15 Comments

Whenever the time between posts to this site exceeds a month, I start receiving “Is everything alright?” emails. Things are alright–quite alright actually–and thanks to everyone who asked. Really, I’ve just been enjoying something which resembles a life–a concept which rather tragically became foreign to me for too long a while. I always wonder if bloggers overwhelmingly more prolific than myself spend any time whatsoever off the computer.

So let me break this long hiatus with an exciting announcement: sometime next March the wife and I will be having a son.  I won’t wax philosophical (publicly, anyway) about the kinds of existential realizations which surface when thinking about having children, so let’s just say that it’s obvious that some aspects of my life have to change, not the least of which is my woodworking equipment. Knowing that I’ll be having a son has made me realize that I’ve spent too much time cleaning up messy cuts on a poorly calibrated and underpowered tablesaw, and that my router fence is not only inadequate but unsafe. When my wife showed me the pregnancy test, the first thing that came to mind was that I’ve totally outgrown my Black & Decker Workmate™ Workbench and that I need a proper bench with a proper vise and a massive benchtop so I can pound things “real hard”. It’s now clear to me that the answer to the daycare situation for parents who both work is twofold. One, a centralized dust collection system with a 1-micron filter bag, a metal canister, and a beefy impeller. Two, nothing beats a good set of sharp chisels. Nothing. Lastly, as I watch my wife undergo the magical transformation from, say, kayak to houseboat, I can’t help but think that the garage really needs a 100 amp subpanel.

In case you’re wondering, I’m planning on making all the baby furniture. The kind of stuff which gets handed down from generation to generation. Yes, I’ve found the Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines for things like cribs.

I should mention that after my wife’s first ultrasound, I did have one realization entirely unrelated to woodworking. We haven’t seen any major advancements in pre-natal science since 1986, where ultrasound technology was used in James Cameron’s Aliens. Observe:


Finding aliens


Alien in profile

son of a beech

November 10, 2003 — 4 Comments

Well, the dresser is done. It measures 63” wide x 33” tall x 23” deep. The carcass and drawer fronts are made of a cherry-stained beech; the drawers are all dovetail-joined poplar with aromatic cedar bottoms. Each drawer uses an accuride ball-bearing drawer slide. There’s also a matching 36” x 24” mirror which will hang on the wall above the dresser.

There are flaws. I don’t think I’ll attempt another joined hardwood panel piece without first purchasing a jointer. I did my best to make sure my table saw was square when making the long cuts, but it didn’t quite work out so well. The drawer faces all had slight bends in them, and while I was able to straighten them out while affixing them to the drawers, I’d much prefer they were straight out of the clamps. The problem isn’t that I’m clamping too tightly, either.

Also, I’ll make it a point to keep unfinished pieces out of the sun. After spending significant time and money joining up and sanding down the top, I left it in the sun on a very hot day and the boards separated. It wasn’t that big a deal to clamp back togeher, but the top isn’t as perfect as it was before and that’s always going to bother me.

I didn’t plan this piece very rigorously. Here’s how it turned out, though.