Friday, November 13, 2009

Spraying Sealer on Gun Cabinet.

Finally the weather is beginning to break and I'm going to do some spraying. It's been raining for the past few days, so I don't do any spraying in weather like that. Too much moisture in the air. We took a few pictures while I was spraying the sealer coats. As you can see in the pictures, I left the doors, backs, drawers, shelves and all the hardware off the cabinets.

If you click on the pictures, you will see the doors and shelves in the back ground (they already have two coats of sealer sprayed on them). I have the base turned upside down so I can spray sealer on the bottom so everything will be sealed equally.

If you look closely on the second picture, you can see where I'm spraying how the color changes when the sealer is applied. I will spray two coats of sealer on the bottom, then when dry, I will flip the cabinet right side up and spray all the rest of it with two coats of sealer.

The sealer begins to bring out the warm golden brown color the fuming did to the white oak and it gets richer with each coat.

I have an installation in Raleigh, NC. tomorrow so will leave early in the morning and I'm sure it will be quite late by the time I get home tomorrow night. No chance of working on the gun cabinet tomorrow........but that's a good thing. This will give the sealer a long time to dry and will be ready to sand. I will sand everything (inside, outside, top and bottom). Once everything is sanded with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped down real good, I'll be ready to start spraying the clear top coat. I will be using ML Campbell pre-catalyzed lacquer (15 sheen) for the final finish. Again, two coats on everything.

OK, that's enough for tonight, I've got to get the Van loaded for tomorrow so I can hit the road early.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Fuming" the gun cabinet

I haven't posted in a week or so, but that's not because I haven't been working on the gun cabinet.

I finished all the building process this past week and now it's time to start the finishing process. I'm doing a little different process then is normally done when finishing. Usually we would pick out a color of stain to use and stain the entire cabinet before applying the actual finish, but I will be "fuming" the gun cabinet instead of staining.

Note of interest: Ammonia fuming is a traditional process for darkening and richening the color of Oak. Supposedly it was discovered by observing the way that oak beams in stables were darkened on exposure to the fumes from horse urine. Thanks to Haber and Bosch, we can now do this with convenient ammonia, and I don't need to keep a horse in the shop! modern times, ammonia fuming is best known through the work of Gustav Stickley ( Stickley Furniture).

And you ask.....How do I do it? The first thing I have to do is build a "tent" or "box" big enough for the cabinet to fit in and be able to seal it off pretty tight. This I did on our back porch pad using some of my scrape plywood along both sides and one end. I did a double layer of plastic across the top and down the other end ( this I will use for the door to be able to put the cabinet in.

If you look closely, you can see I already have the cabinet in the "box". You don't want the box any bigger then it needs to be so you can get the best concentration of fumes from the ammonia

You're not able to see in the picture, but I removed the doors, drawers, drawer fronts and all the hinges and drawer slides. Ammonia could be corrosive to the slides and hinges. I also didn't want any of the doors or drawer fronts to be covering part of the cabinet (this would leave a tan line when fumed.) I will have to do the doors, drawer fronts and shelves in the next batch.

Now it's time to put the ammonia in the box. I used 4 plastic open containers and filled each about a 1/3 of the way.

You'd think I was working with nuclear waste or something the way I'm dressed, but just following directions. I placed one container on each side of the cabinet and one in front and one behind the cabinet. Once they where in place, I closed the box up and sealed if off the best I could.

How long do I leave it in there? I read anywhere from 12 to 48 hours, but once it gets to a certain point, it will not get any darker. I did a little experiment before I did the cabinet. I took 3 pieces of oak and put them in a small sealed container with some ammonia so I could see the reaction from different times. I took the first piece out after just 6 hours and was surprised how much it had changed. It had such a warm brown look to it. I took the second piece out after 12 hours and could see a difference from the first piece. I left the 3rd piece in for 24 hours and when I took that one out that was quite a bit darker then the first two. I sprayed all three with the Lacquer I will be using for the finish to see what the final result was. Wow! there is no way you can achieve that look with stain. I was impressed!

After comparing the three samples, I liked the second one the best.(12 hours). Not too light.....and not too dark...... But just right! So here I go with the big piece. Boy was I nervous! If I screw this up after all the work I've put in it, I'm not sure what I'll do.

It's 8:30AM and it's in the "box". I'll come back at 8:30 tonight and see what I've got! Not really, I checked on it a couple times during the day and when I pulled it out at 8:30 PM ,I compared it to the samples I made and realized that the tone was about the same as my sample @ 6 hours, so I figured the size of the box compared to the small container I had the samples in and the amount of ammonia compared to the size, it would just take longer to achieve the same tone........So back in the box and sealed it up again. This time I pulled it out after a total of 24 hours of fuming and Wham! there it was. The look I wanted.

I pulled the cabinet out and decided it was time to do the doors, drawer fronts and shelves. This was a little tricky because you can't just lay them down, because it won't fume if it doesn't get air circulation around it, but I hung the upper doors and used some special painters pyramids to support the drawer fronts, shelves and lower doors. Back to the box, added a little fresh ammonia and sealed it up again. This time I left them for a straight 24 hours and then checked them. Perfect! This is so cool.

Sorry, I'm not posting any more pictures until it's delivered to Pennsylvania! The rest has to be a surprise for everyone. BTW.....It's been raining for the past 2 days and I haven't been able to do any spraying, but it is suppose to clear up by this week end and the clear finishing is easy. I've ordered the hardware and as soon as I get the upper doors finished, I'll take them to the glass Co. and let them install the glass.

It won't be long now!!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#8 Gun Cabinet, top section assembly

It's time to put the top section together. This is quite large, so will be fun to accomplish this in my small work space. The first thing I did was rip the front and back edge of the bottom shelf @ 4 degrees. I want the bottom shelf to set at a 4 degree angle so this will automatically tip the weapons to the back of the cabinet. This will make more sense when I make the bottom divider for the gun stocks.

I pre-drilled the top and bottom shelves for the pocket screws like I did on the base unit. Once the shelves where mounted to the side panels I mounted the face frame. Glued, screws along the top and bottom and clamped along the side.

I left everything on clamps overnight. Once the clamps came off, I sanded the face frame to the side panels. I cut the crown molding and it was mounted with screws from inside the cabinet. Again, NO NAILS. If you haven't noticed by now..........I really don't like nails. The crown molding is mounted flush with the top of the cabinet and since it's made with 3 solid pieces of OAK, there is no void or open area between the top of the crown and the cabinet.(makes a solid flat top all the way to the front edge of the crown.

I measured, cut, sanded and mounted the backs for both the base and upper section.(the backs are also mounted with screws). I mounted the hinges on the doors and hung the doors. The next step will be to make the top for the base unit, between the base and upper unit and then it will be time to do the inside of the upper section. Making the upper strip for the barrels of the guns and make the base strip for the stocks. I have a unique idea about how I want to do the upper strip so this will take a little time working out the details.

I just put the two sections together, so lets scroll down and take a look.

Keep going!

Keep going!

Almost there.........

There it is.......... Whatcha think? Is it beginning to look like a gun cabinet?

The counter top on the base section will finish off the overall look and tie the two section together and the hardware will give it the finished look.

Friday, October 23, 2009

#7 Gun Cabinet assembly

For the past couple weeks I've been building components for the gun cabinet. I know this is taking a long time, but I'm also trying to stay on schedule with a few other projects, so I've had to divide my time.

I think it's time to start putting this bad boy together!

I'm going to start with the base unit. I cut the bottom shelf to exact size using 3/4" Quarter Sawn White Oak Plywood. I built a frame for the top of the base unit, since there will be a top between the base and the upper unit. Once they were sanded, I drilled the pocket holes with my Kreg pneumatic pocket hole machine on the bottom side of the bottom shelf and the frame.

If you click on the pictures, you can see how I drilled the ends of the shelf and frame and also along the front edge.

The holes on the ends will be used to fasten the shelf and frame to the end panels. The holes along the front edge of the shelf and frame will be used to attach the face frame once the sides are mounted.

Here I'm attaching the sides to the shelf and frame.

Now I can mount the face frame. Glue and screws will hold it all together. NO NAILS! While the face frame is on clamps, I went ahead and mounted the base board molding (again, done with screws from the back side, so no fastening is visible) Again NO NAILS. I've used over 50 screws so far just assembling the base.

Glue is dry, clamps come off and the base board molding is mounted. I then mounted the center divider, drilled for adjustable shelves and made two shelves. I mounted the doors, made the mounting stringers for the drawer slides and mounted the drawer slides. Installed the drawer boxes and mounted the drawer fronts.

The only thing left to do for the base is cut the back, mount hardware and locks. The base is about ready for the final sanding.

I'll start the assembly of the top unit next.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

#6 Gun Cabinet Moldings

Wow, here it is Thursday evening already. This week has gotten away from me. Monday I finished up a cedar chest I was refinishing for a customer. (that's a whole story in itself, but I'm not going there!). Delivered it Wednesday and the customer loved it. Tuesday I went to Gibsonville, NC to pick up the last of the lumber I needed for the gun cabinet and lumber for the next two projects I'll be starting next week. Almost 5 hours each direction and a couple hours at the lumber store makes for a long day.

I've run all the stock for the moldings. The crown molding will be a 3 piece molding, which is my signature molding I use on a lot of my pieces. It has a traditional look, but definitely has a different profile than a regular store bought molding.

I have the first two profiles for the crown molding on clamps. Once they dry, I'll pull all the clamps and glue up the third section of the crown

I wanted to get the last of the crown molding on clamps before I called it a day. I did the drawer fronts earlier today, so this is pretty much the last of the components.

I'll start assembly now that all the components are done. I'll be cutting the 3/4" plywood for the bottoms and tops.

It's going to start looking like a gun cabinet before long, instead of a bunch of pieces. STAY TUNED!

Friday, October 16, 2009

#5 Making the drawers for the gun cabinet.

I'm making the drawer boxes out of Maple. I ripped two boards (6 ft length) to 3 1/2" width and planed to 5/8" thickness. I ran a 1/4" daddo for the bottoms. (They're shown below, leaning against the faceframe).

Once that was done, I cut the pieces to the proper length for the sides, fronts and backs. I then laid the drawers out so I could mark them for dovetailing. Each piece is placed up side down and inside out and marked, so when I dovetail each corner it turns out right. I know that's confusing, but for me that comes natural (another words, it's easy for me to think backwards.) LOL.

See how I marked each corner. I do that so I can keep track of proper alignment for each corner when putting them in the dovetail jig.

I use the Porter Cable Omni Jig to do my dovetails. I leave one of my routers set up with the proper bit all the time to save on set up time. It's very critical to have the bit set exactly perfect to get a good dovetail. (that's why it's worth designating a router just for this function.) This router is left set up for dovetailing and never used for anything else.

Once all the pieces are dovetailed they are ready for assembly. Measure and cut the bottoms and glue the drawers together. I cleaned all the joints with a damp rag to remove any excess glue. I don't have to clamp the drawers, but I do check to make sure they are square and will leave them over night to dry. Tomorrow I will do the final sanding and notch the bottom back for the blum undermount slides I plan on using.

I didn't take any pictures, but when I took the doors off the clamps, I sanded them one more time to make sure all joints are flush. I rabbited the back of the top doors to allow for the glass.
I also ran the profile around the doors and cut the notches for the hinges. I'm using the Youngsdale #6 knife hinge.
Everything will be sanded one more time after the cabinet is assembled. ( actually it will be assembled, then taken apart again to be sanded before finishing).
It won't be long now before I start assembly and that's when all these pieces begin to make more sense. I probably build a little differently then most, but I like to take my time and build all the components before I actually assemble it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

#4 Making the doors for the Gun Cabinet

Yesterday I glued up the panels for the bottom doors. As you can see in the picture, I glued up one large panel and I'll cut the two panels from the one board so they match.

While my panel was on clamps, I took the end panels off their clamps and sanded them (they will be sanded again when the cabinet is assembled. The Face Frames are sanded, but again, they will be sanded again when everything is assembled.

Once all the stock was sized for the door frames, I ran them thru the door machine and sanded each piece. I took the panel off the clamps and cut the two panels to size and ran them thru the door machine. Sanded the panels and assembled the doors. The doors are on clamps now, so will leave them overnight.

It's about time to think about dovetailing a couple drawer boxes, but that's on tomorrows agenda.
While I'm working on the gun cabinet, I'm also building some shelves for one of my customers, refinishing a cedar chest for another customer and finishing up two bandsaw boxes for another. I have a couple kitchen cabinets to build, but I won't start them until the end of the week.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

#3 Time to make the end panels (Gun Cabinet)

First things first, I always do a cut list for each phase of a project. Dimensions for the stiles, rails and panels. This helps me keep things straight because most of the parts are either a different width or length.

Once I did the cut list, I sized all the stock to the exact dimension (except for the panels, they are oversized by 1/4"). Now I'll run the stock on my door machine. This is a unique machine I purchased 15 years ago to do raised panel doors. This is usually done either by a stationary mounted router or a shaper. The only problem with those methods is all the set up time involved with each step. The door machine I use has all the cutters set up on seperate heads, driven by one motor. There is no set up time when doing a standard square raised panel.

I run the stiles on one cutter head, the rails on the second cutter and run the raised panel on the third cutter. Same machine with no set up......sweet!

After I run all the pieces, I'll sand each one before assembly. The panels will be sanded again when they come off the clamps.

Since I sized all the stock for the face frames when I was sizing for the panels, I decided to make the face frames before I glue up the side panels.

Now that I have the side panels on clamps, it's time to do the cut list and size the stock for the doors. I'll post those next time.

I have to deliver the Manhatten Project to my customer so it can be shipped to New York.

She loved her tables and chest and ready for me to design a couple of pieces of furniture for her home in Pawleys Island, SC.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

#2 Sizing stock for the gun cabinet.

Now that I have the lumber selected and layed out, I'll go ahead and size all the stock for the paneled ends and face frames.

I've picked out the lumber I want to use for the panels, so since they are not wide enough, I'll have to glue up the panels to get the width I want. Wow! love the grain in those panels.

I hate for anyone to see my shop a mess, but then again, if I'm not making sawdust, I wouldn't be building anything!. lol. I can sure make a mess in a couple hours.

The only reason I'm showing the mess is because I have to clean up and work on the other project I've been working on. I'm in the finishing process, so I have to have the shop totally clean for that.

Same shop..........different project.............different process, I'll have to get back to the gun cabinet tomorow. The following picture is of my Manhatten Project. (Contemporary end table, coffee table, chest and mirror).

I'll post more pictures of this project later, but right now I have to do some spraying on the Manhatten Project. That's it for today for the gun cabinet, but will try to get the end panels and face frames built tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Very Special Gun Cabinet

I have the privilege to build a Custom Gun Cabinet for a very special couple I know in Pennsylvania. We won't get into a lot of details of how or why I'm building it, but only that I'm excited about having the chance to design and build it.......and of course deliver it to Pennsylvania when finished.

This blog is more dedicated to Joann, but hope everyone will follow along as I keep you posted on my progress during the building and finishing. First off, let's talk about the design. This is going to be a large cabinet (designed to hold 12 weapons). The base will have two drawers and two doors, the upper section will have glass doors and will hold 12 rifles/shotguns. All the doors and drawers will have locks and I plan on installing lights in the top section.

Quarter Sawn White Oak will be the wood used. All the end panels and doors will be done with Traditional Raised Panels. The drawers will be Solid Maple, Dovetailed, using the Blumotion Soft Close Full Extension Slides.

I made a trip to Gibsonville, NC last week to my favorite lumber store (The Hardwood Store)

to pick up my lumber for this project and lumber for a couple other projects I have on the books.

The great guys @ The Hardwood Store unbanded a brand new bundle of Quarter Sawn White Oak and allowed me to hand pick my order. I found some awesome Oak! (You'll see as I post some pictures).

The first thing I did when I got back was to plane the lumber to 3/4" thickness because I bought it in rough 4/4. I then layed out each piece for the end panels and face frames, selecting each board for the grain selection and color I wanted for each piece.

Now that I have all the pieces layed out, I will cut and glue up the panels for the ends. That's on tomorrows agenda. I'm also working on some Contemporary furniture made in Wenge and Cury Maple, that's headed to Manhatten, NY., so have to divide my time.
I will post some pictures of the Manhatten Project (little play on words) when I finish the Gun Cabinet.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Here we go again!

Here we go again, this is my 3rd economic down turn I've seen in the 20 odd years I've been a Custom Woodworker. Usually when the housing market takes a down turn so does the contractors, which has a direct effect on the cabinet shops since they usually rely on contractors for most of their business. I've never worked directly with contractors, so I'm not affected as far as that goes. In fact, when the housing market slows, the more individuals tend to spend on improving what they already have. That's usually good for me.

I was pretty new in this business when I went through my first economic down turn, so I didn't know any better and ran the business as normal. I worked very hard on building a reputation of building high quality and not being cheap! I held my standards and while a lot of cabinet shops started cutting their prices just to stay busy, which in turn they started cutting corners and cheapening their work just to stay in business, eventually a lot of them went under.

I learned a lot from that experience and was glad I never compromised my quality or price. After 9/11/2001 when the economy took another downward spin, I had a better understanding of what was happening and what to expect. By this time I had 15 years building my reputation and I made a quick decision not to allow myself to fall into the cut throat pricing I was seeing happening all over again. The end result was the same and again a lot of woodworkers went out of business, Simply because they cut their own throats.

So here we go again, this is probably the worst I've seen as far as housing taking a hit and taking contractors down with it. This is a little different scenario, because I moved my business to Myrtle Beach, SC about 3 1/2 years ago, so I don't have the customer base built up like I did when in Raleigh, NC. I'm still holding my guns and not selling out my quality, which means I'm not giving away my work. Lets hope this will turn around in the near future, but I'm already seeing the same things happening over again with the same results.

I hope any Cabinet Shop or Woodworker that is experiencing this for the first time will not get caught up in the cut throat pricing and start compromising their quality and work ethics with the hopes of staying afloat. To put it bluntly, it's hard to rebuild your reputation when you become a wood whore.

Don't compromise your quality, keep your business ethics strong and honest and have faith that your customers will appreciate that over a cheap price for junk.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tools of the Trade

Table saws, sanders, drills, clamps (all tools of the trade). So is blogging considered another tool of the trade? Some would say yes, but either way, blogging is another part of our business in today's world. My chance to share my passion of woodworking! In the days and months to come, I hope to to share some of my thoughts on Quality, Craftsmanship, Business Ethics and the general direction woodworking has been taking in the past twenty years. I'm sure I'll offend some, but hope to inspire many.