Gilles' Outlet

April 23, 2007

Building a mouting collard for BOSCH RA1181 Router Table

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 4:05 am

Half lap joints are used to build a rectangular frame.

 

Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About One Hour

When I mounted my BOSH RA1181 Bench Top Router Table on a base cabinet, I wanted to provide about 1” of additional clearance under the table to facilitate access to the router and to provide a shelf for storing frequently used items.

I decided to build a rectangular frame out of 2x4s. The frame will be installed on top of the base cabinet and the router table will sit on the top of the frame, creating the additional clearance.

Left: I the four pieces of the frame out of a Kiln Dried C& BTR 2×4.

I measured the carcass of the cabinet and decided that the frame would be proud of the cabinet by approximately 1/2” on each side. I verified that the router table would have enough space to rest on the frame.

 

Right: I used a Japanese Pull Saw to cut the half lap joints. A Japanese pull saw cuts on the pull stroke.

There are many ways to cut half lap joints: using a table saw, a router, a chop saw and finished with a chisel…

Left: detail of a half lap joint. Half of the material has been removed on both end pieces so that pieces can be interlocked.

 

Right: the same joint being dry fitted. One end piece goes above the other and fits in the notch created on the other piece.

Half lap joints are simple to create and form a very strong bond because of the large glueing suface they offer.

However, they are not as visually attractive as finger joints or dovetails.

Left: a view of the frame with all half lap joints cuts before appliying glue and clamping. 

Right: I applied glue on all joints, assembled the frame, checked for square and clamped all pieces in place. The glue was left to dry overnight.

Tools Used:

  • Power Miter Saw  
  • Japanese Pull Saw 
  • Clamps
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • 2×4 "STUD"
  • Yellow Wood Glue
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April 16, 2007

Cabinetry 101: Face Frame

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 3:59 am

A face frame for custom cabinet is built and assembled using pocket screws. The frame is attached to the carcass.

 

Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About One Hour

There are many ways to build face frame for cabinets. One of the most popular technique uses pocket screws jointery. This technique is described below.

Left: After carefully measuring the carcass of the cabinet, I cut all pieces to length using a power miter saw. It took only a few minutes.

I built the frame out of poplar 3/4” x 1-1/2”.

 

Right: I dry fitted all pieces on a flat surface and double checked all measurements one last time.

Left: I drilled these two pocket holes in a piece of scrap lumber to illustrate the concept of pocket screw jointery.

A pocket hole is essentially a hole which guides screws at a low angle.

Right: this is the side of the joint. Notice how screws appear to be straight and centered on the workpiece.

Pocket screws can very quickly create surprisingly strong joints. In fact, most pre-built face frame kitchen cabinets in North America use pocket screw jointery.

Left: I used Kreg’s Rocket Pocket Hole System. This tool is indispensable.

The workpiece is first clamped onto the workbench and the jig (blue, rightmost end of the picture) is clamped on one end. Kreg’s special drill bit is installed on a cordless drill.

Right: I inserted the bit into the first hole of the jig and drilled until the collar prevented the bit from drilling further. I then drilled the second hole.

Notice the stop collar: it needs to be adjusted properly before drilling. I set it up for 3/4” thick stock according to Kreg’s instructions a while back and I have never moved it since.

I drilled pocket holes at the end of the two horizontal elements of the frame. I did not drill all pieces.

Left: I applied yellow wood glue at the ends which were drilled for pocket holes.

 

Right: I assembled the first joint and clamped it on a workbench to prevent pieces to move as I drove screws. I use Kreg’s bit to drive the screws.

I removed the clamp: the piece held strongly.

I assembled the whole frame. When using pocket screws jointery, pieces are held in place so tight that the frame can be manipulated almost immediately, without having to wait for the glue to dry. I actually did wait for the glue to dry overnight but this was not required.

I applied yellow wood glue on edges of the cabinet (aka the "carcass") and positionned the frame on it. I checked for alignment and clamped the frame in place.

This for me the best way to produce and attach a face frame to a cabinet. However, There are many ways to attach face frames to cabinets:

  1. Glued to the cabinet. This is the simplest way. It produces a very joint strong – no mecanical fasterners are required. This technique is very popular, 
  2. Glued to the cabinet and face (or back) nailed with brad nails or micro pins. Brad nails or pins leave visible holes. This technique is common for mass produced, inexpensive cabinets,
  3. Using pocket screws. Pocket holes are drilled in the carcass. The frame is positioned and pocket screws are driven from the carcass into the frame. This leaves those low angle holes visible but woodworking suppliers sell plastic pieces which will fill them. It is also possible to cover the carcass with solid wood panels hidding pocket screws nicely.

Tools Used:

  • Power Miter Saw
  • Cordless Impact Driver
  • Cordless Drill
  • Kreg’s Rocket Pocket Hole
  • Clamps
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Poplar 3×4” x 1-1/2”
  • Yellow Wood Glue
  • Pocket Screws 1”

April 15, 2007

Replacing soffit vents

Filed under: House Remodelling — Gilles @ 11:39 pm

A soffit vent is rebuilt from scratch. An inactive bird nest is discovered and removed from the attic.

 

Skill Level: 2 (Basic)

Time Taken: About One Hour

Attic ventilation is important. Good ventillation in the attic prevents mold growth, moisture and helps prevent rot.

In this article, we demolish a poorly repaired soffit vent, discover an inactive bird nest and remove it. We build a custom frame out of cedar lumber, staple soffit mesh and install it on the house.

Left: the soffit vent to rebuild.

Clearly, someone did a sloppy job: the vent is half obstructed by what appears to be a ripped piece of 2×4. The mesh is covered with paint restraining most of the airflow.

Right: a lader with wing was used. Working on a ladder is very dangerous. Use common sense and follow the instructions of your ladder’s manufacturer.

And by the way, I cannot be held responsible for anything which may happen to you as a result of reading this blog. Always consult a professional.

Left: I used a flat pry bar to remove the toenailed piece of wood and peeled the mesh.

It was held in place with various fasteners, none of them galvanized. Most were pretty badly rusted. The whole assembly hid an inactive bird nest.

Right: as I peeled more mesh, I noticed a duct discharging close to the vent. That duct was traced back to a bathroom fan.

This is a major problem. This is an intake vent. All moisture extracted by the bathroom fan is immediately carried in the attic by the air entering through the vent. Moisture accumulates in the attic. This is bad. 

This will not be addressed today but it will in a future article.

The mess seen from the attic. I took this picture before removing the soffit block so I knew about the nest and the duct.

The black flexible duct comes from a bathroom fan. It will need to be vented through the roof but this is another story. When this is done, all remaining traces of bird’s nest will be removed.

The vertical pipe on the right is a plumbing vent. It is actually the main stack’s vent.

Back on the soffit side. I removed all unused nails and staples I could using a pair of pliers.

I carefully measured the opening and removed 1/32” on each side to facilitate installation and give the wood some expansion room. It ended up being 22-1/8 x 3-1/2. None of the building supply stores I know about carry such a soffit vent cover so I decided to make my own from scratch.

Left: I cut all pieces to dimension using a power miter saw.

I used 1×2 rough sawn cedar (actual dimensions: 5/8 x 1-1/2). Insects and other rodents dislike cedar oils. It is critical to make the attic very unappealing to birds, insects and other rodents.

Right: I dry fitted all pieces on a flat surface and measured one last time to make sure the box would fit.

Left: I applied a generous bead of waterproof wood glue (rated for exterior applications) to both ends of the longest pieces.

 

Right: I assembled the frame and clamped it to hold pieces in place as the glue dries.

Left: I drove one hot dipped galvanized common 4d nail in every side of the box. It was easy because the clamp maintained pieces together tightly.

 

Right: a roll of "kwikmesh" utility screen. It is a 1/8” galvanized mesh specifically designed for soffit vents or foundation vents. It comes in 4” x 25′ rolls.

Left: a piece of mesh was cut to length using a pair of tin snips. I also had to rip about 1/2” of the mesh.

Right: the mesh was stapled to the frame using 18 gauge galvanized narrow crown staples. I used a pneumatic stapler and drove a staple about every inch.

That’s a lot of staples but I really wanted the mesh to stay well attached to the frame. Loose mesh will let insects in and tear more easily under wind pressure.

In general, galvanized fasteners should be used for all exterior applications. Moreover, cedar’s natural preserving oils are highly corrosive and galvanized fasteners (or better stainless steel) must always be used in cedar.

Regular (aka "bright") fasteners will rust very quickly.

The finished frame seen as it will be when installed. The mesh stands at the back of the frame so it is slightly more protected from the weather (not much more).

The yellow mark on the left side is a trace of chalk I have not yet removed.

Left: the frame was positionned in the opening. It fit snuggly.

Right: I fastened the frame to the rafters using one hot dipped galvanized common 4d nail on each side.

Once the vent was installed, I could feel the air getting sucked into the attic through the mesh.

Tools Used:

  • Power Miter Saw 
  • Pneumatic Stapler
  • Clamp
  • Flat Pry Bar
  • Tin Snips
  • Ladder With Wing
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Cedar 1 X 2 (actual 5/8” x 1-1/2”)
  • Galvanized Soffit Mesh
  • Galvanized Hot Dipped 4d common nails
  • Galvanized 5/8, 18 gauge narrow crown staple
  • Waterproof Wood Glue

April 13, 2007

Cabinetry 101: Carcass

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 11:35 pm

The carcass of a cabinet is machined and assembled.

 

Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic – Intermediate)

Time Taken: About Two Hours

There are two main techniques to build cabinets: Face Frame and Frameless (also called "European"):

      • Face Framed: the sides, top and bottom of the cabinet are assembled together to form the "carcass". The front facing part of the carcass is covered by a strip of solid wood called the "Face Frame". The frace frame gives strength to the assembly and offers a place to attach door hinges. Face frame cabinets are considered "traditional" in North America. They are a little more labor intensive to produce that frameless cabinets.
      •  Frameless: the sides, top and bottom of the cabinet are assembled together ("carcass"). Doors are specifically designed to attach to the carcass directly and conceal the visible ends of the carcass. This style of cabinetry is  very popular in Europe. A frameless cabinet can be built with less material and less hand labor than face framed cabinets but calls for precise cuts and therefore expensive equipment.

I already did frameless cabinets when I was in Europe a long time ago so I decided to learn techniques involved in bulding face framed cabinets.

Left: I cut the parts to length out of a sheet of 1/2 birch plywood, routed two rabets (top and back) and a dado (drawer divider). I used a straight 1/2” bit.

Actually, plywood is not guaranteed to have an uniform thickness – 1/2” is an average. This means that my 1/2” wide dadoes / rabbets will most likely be slightly too large for the 1/2” plywood board they will receive. There are router bits specifically designed to rout dadoes in plywood and produce a more snug fit. I do not own such a bit so I used a 1/2” straight bit.

Right: I used a piece of scrap plywood to push the workpiece and to act as a sacrificial backer piece. A backer piece greatly reduces the splintering at the end of the work piece.

Experienced carpenters may find it a little odd to use 1/2” plywood for the sides, drawer divider and back of the carcass. Usually, sides and drawer dividers are made out of 3/4” plywood while the back is made out of 1/4 plywood.

When I designed the carcass, I knew the cabinet would be used as a base for a router table. A router table does not take as much abuse as a workbench so I decided for 1/2” plywood and made the back a structural piece of the cabinet.

Left: the left side of the carcass. The drawer divider dado is easily visible and the right of the picture. The dado for the bottom can be seen at the left of the picture.

The rabbet at the far right of the board will receive the top while the rabbet at the bottom will receive the back.

Right: the right side of the carcass. Dadoes and rabets were machined to be the mere image of the right side. 

Left: I used a cordless drill to drill a few equally spaced holes from within the dadoes. It is easier to aim the drill when the carcass is not assembled.

 

Right: On the other side of the board, I coutnersunk the holes.

Left: I applied yellow wood glue on all rabbets and dadoes. I sat the carcass on its back and assembled sides, drawer divider and top.

 

Right: I measured both diagonals to ensure the carcass was square and made the necessary adjustments.

Left: I used a pneumatic brad nailer to secure the top with 1” brad nails. I drove approximatively 4 nails on each side.

 

Right: Using a cordless impact driver, I drove 1” drywall screws into the previously drilled and countersunk holes. This secured the bottom and drawer dividers to the sides.

I used a wet rag to remove excess glue which oozed outside of the joints.

It was not necessary to clamp the pieces as the glue dried because fasteners maintained the pieces in tight contact.

A coutnersunk screw. The screw head is flush with the side. I used approximately 4 screws per side and per board.

It is also possible to use a table saw to cut dadoes and rabbets. In fact this is the preferred way for many cabinet makers.

Tools Used:

  • Circular Saw
  • Cordless Impact Driver
  • Cordless Drill
  • Pneumatic Brad Nailer
  • Router
  • Straight Bit 1/2”
  • Countersinking drill bit
  • Router Table (optional)
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Birch Plywood 1/2”
  • Wood Glue
  • Drywall Screws 1”
  • Brad Nails 1”

April 9, 2007

Gluing Panels

Filed under: Woodworking — Gilles @ 5:42 am

The edges of two 3/4” x 6 poplar boards are machined on a router table with a glue joint bit. The boards are fitted and glued together to create a 3/4” x 12 panel. After drying, the panel is sanded smooth. 

 

Skill Level: 2-3 (Basic – Intermediate)

Time Taken: About Two Hours

In furniture making, it is common to need solid wood panels wider than available stock. Doors, table tops or wooden cutting boards are canonical examples.

There are various techniques to construct a wider panel out of stock. One can plane boards first and then use a a jointer to ensure edges are flat, square and true. Boards can then be glued butted one to another and held with clamps as glue dries. This creates strong joints. Biscuit jointery produces even stronger joints.

Schematically, the strength of a glued joint increases with the glued surface of the joint. In this article, a glue joint router bit is used to produce a very strong glued panel.

Left: the two poplar boards which will be glued together. I selected boards with similar grain pattern and marked the best looking face "UP".

To select boards for a glued panel, I usually put them side by side on a flat surface and pair the ones which have flush (or mostly flush) edges. Selecting straight boards with square, true edges is critical to final visual aspect of the glued panel.

In this case, my boards matched almost perfectly.

Right: the glue joint router bit. It came as part of a six piece raised panel and drawer set I purchased from MLCS Woodworking.

It creates an edge which offers as much as 50% more glue surface than a simple butt joint.

MLCS Woodworking’s web site offers a free 33 pages documents which explained that:

"The height of the bit is adjusted so that the center of the joint on the cutter is centered on the thickness of the wood".

I centered what I thought was the center of the bit on the stock and cut a few joints with very little success. Once jointed, boards were off by as much as 1/8”. In addition to that, you need a flat edge for every test cut. A previously cut edge cannot be reused. 

Obviously, setup instructions were not helping me much. I guess glue joint bits are not popular because few seem to be able to set them up quickly and accurately.

Eventually, I figured out the right way to set up the bit.

This picture shows a magnified view of the the cuting edge (red outline on the left). The tooth-shaped portion of the cutting edge (marked by the green arrow) is not centered on the bit vertically.

The actual center of the bit is at the middle of the upper angled edge of that tooth-like projection (marked by the burgundy line labelled "center line").

So the center of the stock must be aligned with the center of the angled edge (aka "center line" on the diagram). In practice, this is not as easy as it sounds because this angled area is tiny. Clearly, the setup of the bit depends on the thickness of the stock

When adjusting the height, remember that if the bit is off center, by x”, the joint will not be flush on both sides by x / 2 ” so you want to lower or raise the bit by small increments. 

It takes a fair amount of time and patience to adjust this bit properly the first time. When I reached a satisfactory setup, I cut a template in 3/4” stock and saved it for future use.

I can now use the template to quickly adjust the bit’s height. I simply lay the template on the table and raise or lower the bit so the template fits exactly in the profile of the bit.

Left: a piece of scrap wood of the same thickness of the stock (3/4”) was clamped at the end of the board. This helps preventing wood chipping at the end of the board.

It also provides additional support when routing at the end of the workpiece. The glue joint bit I am using is not equipped with a bearing. Without this support, the end of the workpiece would sink in the bit, creating an uneven joint.

Right (re-enactment): boards were routed using the clamp as a push handle. The featherboard (blue piece of plastic left of my hand) should be in contact with the workpiece.

In order for the tongue on one board to fit in the groove on the other board, one of the workpiece must be flipped over. I routed one board with the "UP" sign down (on the table) and the other with the "UP" sign facing up so when assembled both faces marked "UP" would end up on the same side.

Joints were lightly sanded with 400 grit sand paper to eliminate all wood fibers which could prevent the joint from fitting perfectly.

Any wood dust was removed with compressed air.

Left: glue was applied on one side of the joint. The glue was spread evenly on the joint using a clean plumber’s flux brush. Boards were assembled and clamped in place.

A wet rag was used to remove as much excess gue as possible. Glue oozing out of a joint is a good sign: it indicates the glue filled the joint. 

Right: the clamped panel. While clamps need to maintain pieces tigthly, too much pressure is not recommended. 

I let the glue dry overnight. The next day, I removed all clamps and used a power finish sander to smooth the glued edges with 120 grit sand paper. I also sanded off all traces of dried glue on the panel. Dried glue prevents finish to stick on the wood and this creates pretty ugly stains on the wood.

In my experience, even the most perfectly adjusted joint requires some (minimal) sanding.

I then used 400 grit sand paper to give the panel a mirror like finish.

Tools Used:

  • Table Mounted Router
  • Glue Joint Bit
  • Speed Square
  • Power Sander
  • Clamps
  • Plumber’s Flux Brush 
  • Basic Carpentry Tools

Materials Used:

  • Poplar 3/4 X 6 – Two boards of 17”  long
  • Carpenter’s Yellow Glue
  • Sand Paper: 120 and 400 grit

Installing a compressed air filter on Porter Cable pancake air compressors

Filed under: Shop Projects — Gilles @ 12:50 am

A general purpose air filter is installed on an air compressor. Two quick connectors are installed.

 

Skill Level: 1 (Very Basic)

Time Taken: About 20 Minutes

Air compressors are a versatile source of power for various tools: nailers, impact wrenches, paint sprayers… Most tools will require clean and dry air, yet few air compressors come equipped with filters. Using dirty and / or wet air will greatly reduce the lifetime of air tools.

Air is a sponge and can hold a considerable amount of water. When compressed, air looses some of its ability to hold water vapor. All the water which cannot be held by air condenses and accumulates at the bottom of the compressor tank. If let alone, this water will rust the tank to the point where it can explode under pressure. To prevent this, it is recommended to drain tanks every day. Some water will also condense within air tools, rusting them.

There are many different kind of filters. It really boils down to how dry and particule free you want compressed air to be. The pharmaceutical industry needs to remove all water an all traces of any particles but for air tools, it is acceptable to filter out particules larger than 5 microns and to get most of the moisture out. General purpose air filters are specifically designed for this.

Left: parts which will be used in this project. From left to right: 1/4” NPT x 2-1/2” Brass Nipple, Husky General Purpose Mini Air Filter (Home Depot $12), 1/4” NPT Brass Tee and Two 1/4 NPT Quick Connectors.

Right: I unpluged the compressor and emptied the tank. Using a crescent wrench, I removed one of the factory installed quick connectors.

Left: I wrapped the male part of the Tee with teflon tape. Since the pipe is 1/4”, I made sure to do at least two full turns.

Right: I threaded the Tee on the air filter. All filters have an arrow engraved on the body which indicates the air flow. I made sure to install the Tee on the output side of the air filter.

Holding the filter in one hand, I used a crescent wrench to tighten the Tee. It is important connections are tight but not too tight.

This Tee has an hexagonal shank which facilitates installation.

Left: I wraped the male part of the quick coupler with two full turns of teflon tape.I threaded it on the Tee and used two cresent wrenches to tighten the connection.

 

Right: I wrapped two turns of teflon tape on one end of the brass nipple and threaded it onto the air compressor’s output. Using a pipe wrench, I tightened the connection.

I wrapped teflon tape on the other end of the nipple, removed the bowl from the air filter and threaded the whole filter / quick connector assembly onto the brass nipple. I hand tightened it.

There was very little clearance between the tank and the bowl so I found it easier and safer to remove the bowl when installing the filter.

I re-installed the bowl, making sure the gasket between the filter body and the bowl was properly installed (not pinched).

Note that after installation, the bowl must be vertical. This is required for water to condense and accumulate at the bottom of the bowl where it can be drained.

I then turned the compressor on, hooked up a hose and with a tool. I pressured the gun and tried it. It worked fine.

I put a little bit of soapy water on all connections to check for leaks. Any air leak will cause the soapy water to bubble, making it very easy to locate any leak. It is important to ensure there are no leaks when fitting an air hose.

Tools Used:

  • Two Crescent Wrenches
  • Pipe Wrench

Materials Used:

  • Brass Nipple NPT 1/4” x 2-1/2” 
  • Tee NPT 1/4”
  • Universal Quick Connector Coupler 1/4” NPT (2)
  • General Purpose Ai Filter 
  • Teflon Tape
  • Dish soap and Water

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