Tag Archives: wood working

How to build a small table (part 2)

After eight week of wood working class, I have built my first table. After going through all the steps and trouble from raw lumber to a finished furniture, I appreciate all different kinds of furniture made available by modern manufacturing process. I can’t imagine how much time it will take if I have to build all my furniture myself. The cost of the wood and tools I bought plus my time, cost a lot more than the price I pay at a furniture store for a similar table.

Due to the lack of cost efficiency, I probably won’t take up wood working as a hobby, but I must confess that seeing the finishing product gives me a sense of satisfaction. I think wood working is a must-have skill for the man of the house, it the basic of home maintenance. My wood working skill also gives me better eyes in telling the quality of furniture. If I need a piece of unique special purpose furniture that is ridiculously expensive, I know I can always build it myself.

Here is the second half of my table building experience. Please see part 1 for steps 1 to 11.

12. Sand the table top to make it a really smooth surface

13. Glue the legs, sides and back pieces. Hold the shape with bar cramps.

14. Drill packet hole for mounting the top and bottom

15. Screw in the bottom piece

16. The table frame is finish

17. Cut the groove for the drawer bottom.

18. Assemble the draw with counter sink screws

19. Counter sink screws sinks into the wood to leave a flush surface

20. Cut wood plugs to cover the counter sink holes

21. Glue the plug, saw off the top and sand it flat.

22. Fasten the drawer rail with counter sink screw

23. Fasten the drawer front with bubble screw and washer

24. Slide in the drawer and the table is done!

Here is some lessons I learn what not to do in wood working

1. Don’t put much force onto the power screw driver, otherwise the wood will crack

2. Don’t drill too close to the edge or using a too large drill head, otherwise the wood will crack

3. Don’t twist the drill, otherwise the drill bit will snap.

How to build a small table (part 1)

I am half way into my wood working class. My small table slowly comes into shape. I finally caught up with my mistakes and rebuild the two pieces that are too short. I am the fastest student in the class with everything ready to go. Since I am leading the class, the instructor usually uses my pieces and me for demonstration. He inspected all my pieces and I have got one on one teaching time. I bought my camera the class tonight and here is a step by step photo guide on how to a small table.

1. Here is a piece of raw lumber bought from wood suppliers. All the edges are rough and unfinished.

2. Use the radiant saw cut the lumber to rough length plus 1/2″ margin.

3. Use the jointer and joint two flat surface width a 90 degree edge.

4. Use the table saw to cut the piece to rough width plus 1/2″ margin

5. Use the planner to plan the piece to the exact width and height

6. Use the miter saw to cut the piece to the exact length

7. Drill dowel holes

8. Dry fit the pieces

9. Glue the table top together and hold it tight with cramps

10. Sand the pieces to remove burn marks, pencil marks and smooth the surface

11. Before and after sanding

I have done 5 classes and there are 3 more to go. I am not too worry about my progress. I have confidence I can finish my table in class. The remaining tasks are assemble the legs with the table top, build the drawers, more sanding and paint the table to give it a finishing touch.

Measure twice, cut once

I wish wood working is like writing software, there is a undo button to undo my mistakes. I make a very silly mistake today in my wood working class. I cut two pieces of wood one inch too short. Here is how it happened. The end of the tape measure, the metal piece, is not accurate, so we are told to make the measure starting from the 1″ mark. The problem is that I forgot to add an extra inch when I am reading the number. After I made the cut, I wonder how come my wood seems short, but it’s already too late. If I didn’t cut enough, it is very easy to trim off a little bit more. However if I cut too much, I have to throw away the wood and start from scratch. Luckily I bought some extra wood, so I can make a spare. I just have to work faster next class to catch up.

The instructor already told us the rule of thumb in wood working in the first class, “measure twice, cut once.” I didn’t read the measure again after I mark the cut line, and I had learned my lesson. I think I can turn this lesson into a chicken soup story if I spicy it up a little bit. Working with wood is like life, there is no undo button to fix a mistake. The moral of the story is always “measure twice, cut once” or “think twice, act once”.

Cutting wood

Today is the second class of my wood working class. I bought three pieces of birch wood last Sunday to make a small table. I learn how to cut the a rough wood into the required shape in today’s class. The cutting steps are pretty simple.

1. Use a miter saw cut 2-3″ from the edge to get rid of cracks or defects.
2. Cut the wood into rough length (the real length plus 1″)
3. Take the wood to the jointer and trim one edge straight. It is easier to trim the edge curving outward.
4. Take the wood to table saw and cut it into rough width. (real width plus 1/4″)
5. Take the wood back to the jointer and trim one face flat. Now the wood has a right angle edge.
6. Take the wood to planner and plane it to the final width and thickness.

I am kinda slow today, so I didn’t get to step 6 today. Now I have all the pieces of my small table cut in rough size. After cutting 20 over pieces, I am quite good at using the jointer. The key is to apply pressure on the front, not on the back when the wood pass through the blade. I can feel when the blade is trimming a layer off the wood. I made many cuts using the table saw too, but it is still quite scary. It is the only piece of tool in the workshop have an uncovered rotating blade. Keep your fingers away from moving blades and always use a push stick.

We spent the first hour listening to instruction and watching demonstration. That left me two hours to work on my own. The clock seems running much faster when I concentrate in cutting the wood. The class is over sooner before I finish cutting all my pieces. At the end of the class, I have saw dust all over my clothes. I guess I have to wash my clothes after each class. Too bad that I forgot to bring my camera. However, it seems kinda silly taking pictures in the workshop. No one is taking any pictures.