Friday, January 16, 2015

A little victory in the shop... now get back to work!

When I undertook a recent commission of building two matching teak boxes, I didn't think much about what I'd promised the buyer I'd do. 

She wanted the box to hold a ceremonial scroll inside, so I'd told her I would cut a long shallow cove in the wood, where the scroll could sit.  Sure, no problem. 

Only - it kind of was a problem!

The groove had to be shallow and maybe an inch or so wide - and of course, I didn''t have a router bit that matched that profile. Then I remembered a demo I'd seen at a Sin City Woodworker meeting - one in  which local woodcarving guru Dennis Patchett showed us how to cut coves on the tablesaw.

 He made it look pretty simple, but it had been a while since I'd seen it, so I went back and watched the video. Dennis always gives a great presentation, throwing in little tidbits of information that are so helpful, it's ridiculous.  

I'd never cut a cove before, or if I have - I sure don't remember it! Sometimes I'll look at something I built years ago and have NO memory of making it. That's a little scary and I don't know if that says more about my memory, or the fact that I just build a lot of stuff. 

I set up a test fence, and made a sample cut on scrap, to see how close I was the the profile I wanted to achieve. 

A few lines on the end of the board let me do the set-up really easily. The test was a little off center, but the width was nearly perfect.  

Time to cut the teak! Working with teak presents a myriad of problems - it's oily, so  gluing it requires some extra steps, like wiping the wood with acetone right before lamination. 

 It's also a very abrasive wood - I don't know where I heard this, but it's been said that teak has a high silica content, thus wearing down your blades much more quickly than other woods. 

Luckily, I was just about ready to put new (sharp!) blades on all the table saws, as well as the jointer and planer. So I wasn't that concerned about what the teak was doing to all the cutters in the shop. Everything is headed to the sharpener this week. 

The cove cut was perfect, although it was pretty rough, requiring some heavy duty sanding. It was pure happenstance that the radius matched this dowel scrap I had in the shop - the perfect sanding block! 

With a little hand sanding, the cove was smooth and perfect, ready to be cut to its final length and installed in the boxes. Trust me, things don't always go this smoothly in the shop. So when I manage to pull something off something like this pretty easily, it feels like a victory to me. 


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