Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Disparate Passions

Check out this amazing project completed by a 16yr old. He managed to combine two passions of mine into a single masterpiece - a functional wooden bicycle with no metal parts. Just wood and glue, including the chain and freewheel! Now I wouldn't want to take it up Mt Washington, but imagine the value as a conversation piece. I think this could also help with university admissions or jobs down the road. Truly creative, what he has done.

My own woodworking had been on a long furlough until late this fall. We bought a new 42" plasma display and I did not like any of the junk stands available at retail outlets. I still have a bunk of rough sawn red oak I moved here from Michigan over 10 years ago. I drew up plans in Powerpoint, then dusted off the planer, jointer, table saw, radial arm saw, miter saw, router table, and bought a new biscuit jointer.
Top being clamped
I converted one stall of our garage to wood shop. Here the rough oak was planed down to a silky smooth finish. Planks were ripped on the tablesaw in the basement, then trued on the jointer in lower part of this first image. The top was the first piece I worked on. It took just two wide pieces. In theory, more less wide planks should be used, alternating grain curvatures, to reduce tendency of wood to warp, bow, and twist. My new biscuit jointer was used to cut mortise slots in the edge of each piece. Then biscuits were inserted with glue, aligning the pieces and preventing the top from splitting apart for a long time.

Next up, each of the leg and apron pieces had to be selected from the pile of planks I planed. These had to be planed all to the right thickness, cut to width, cut to length, bevels cut at feet, Dry fit of major piecescorners routed, decorative grooves routed, and finally all the biscuit slots cut. No metal fasteners were used in the table, except to fasten the top as a completing step. Biscuit joints held everything together. I have used dowels extensively in the past, and I found biscuits are so much easier to work with.

The left and right sides were clamped first, then the front and back sides. I couldn't find cheap (free) 3x3 or 4x4 material for the legs, so they are right-angle posts with 1" thick material. After the four sides set up, I clamped them together for a dry fit.

Next up was to glue the entire base together. This required a lot of biscuit joints to be glued and clamped simultaneously. The glue I used set up fairly quickly, so there was little time margin. While that set up, I worked the top, putting radii on the corners, then routing a Roman ogee Finished table in family roomaround the perimeter. Corner blocks were set in at top of base legs for securing the top. After securing the top, lots of sanding ensued. Mostly of it had to be completed by hand. Then stain, urethane, sand, urethane. I was quite pleased with the finished result, not having build a fine piece in many years. It complements the entertainment cabinet I built a long time ago. Should we not need a plazma TV stand 10 or 20 years from now, this project will double as a fine coffee table.

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