A Lesson in Wood Movement

A few months ago I made a backer for my desk. Turns out I made a huge mistake by gluing pieces of hardboard (not shown in any of the original build pictures) to the back of the oak, hoping to add strength. When the weather started to turn here in Michigan and humidity levels changed, the different materials shrunk at different rates and it caused major problems.

When I removed the screws a lot of stress was released. Yikes!

When set on my work table you can really see how much bend there was.

I’d spent so much time building these desk backers. I felt sick and hoped I could save it all. It was very easy to separate the hardboard from the oak on half; not so easy with the other half. Below is the first half I worked on.

I used a chisel to scrape off the bulk of what you see in the above picture and sanded the rest. After that, I purposely broke the worst joint separations so I could sand the edges and glue them back together stronger. The hardboard didn’t come off the second half in large pieces and I actually got out the electric hand plane to help with the job. What you see below is this second half after cleaning it up and breaking the weakened joints.

Here’s a comparison between the first half (near me) after I fixed it and the second half with the hardboard still attached.

Far from perfect, but good enough. I’m so glad I was able to save the pieces. It was probably 4-5 hours of work though.

Since the oak panels are screwed to the desk, without anything allowing for movement, I could still run in to issues with expansion and contraction. Hopefully it’ll be minor and not cause any other epic failures though.

Mini Convertible Picnic Table and Benches

My nieces have a bunch of American Girl dolls and play with them a lot. I thought it would be cool to make a picnic table for them as a Christmas gift. Then I remembered some convertible benches which joined to make a picnic table I’d seen a few years ago. I found a set of plans and made everything at 1/3 scale since the dolls are 18 inches tall. I asked each girl what color they wanted, not telling them what I was making. Sophie (7 on the 30th) picked purple and Kennedy (10) picked pink. I really love how these turned out and as a bonus they also work as desks. It was definitely one of the funnest projects I’ve done.

Bath Tub Tray/Caddy

My friend Casey asked if I could make his vision come to lift as a gift for his wife Maggie. Here’s his sketch.

He picked up a nice piece of maple, which I cut and glued up. I’d never made recessed cuts in wood before, so that was a fun challenge to tackle. I bought a piece of acrylic and made a large base for my palm router.

Then I made a 4″ circle template in some scrap plywood by cutting a large hole with a forstner bit, getting close to the line with the router, and finishing up on the oscillating spindle sander.

I attaching the template to the maple by using blue tape on each surface and then some CA glue with activator in between the taped surfaces. I used a flush trim bit with a top bearing in the router to copy the template. It was much easier than I expected.

To cut a slot for an iPad I clamped down some scrap wood to create a border for the palm router and it’s original base. I didn’t have the iPad so I cut thin plywood to a similar size for testing, while also making sure the slot would work for future iPad sizes.

I cut and attached runners, rounded all of the corners and edges, and gave everything a thorough sanding.

My work was done at this point, since Casey was taking care of the finish to match their bathroom cabinets. It turned out great and we had a happy recipient!

New Air Tools and More Storage

Yesterday I picked up a used 23 gauge pin nailer. I also used a mini die grinder for the first time, which had been sitting on a shelf in the package. Both tools needed places to live, so I made spots on my air tool wall.

I stopped at Harbor Freight and bought 3 sizes of pins for the new nailer. I also had some unopened boxes of various brad nails sitting around. I took the opportunity to reorganize my bins and more than doubled capacity. Seemed like a good place to move all of the regular nails too.

I love when everything in the workshop has a home.

2020 Home Screen – iPhone 12 Pro

Here’s the yearly share of my iPhone home screen.

The big change this year was moving Facebook and Twitter in to the Social group, creating an extra step, which has helped limit my usage. I think it’s time for a new wallpaper.

Check out previous screenshots from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2010.