Friday, March 30, 2012

Making Something to Make Something

I've been working on an idea for my next project, a cabinet with a drawer and a couple of shelves.  It will be mostly functional, a project because I want the end product, more than a project of craftsmanship.  Of course anything worth doing is worth doing well.  So while I'll be using leftover plywood and using as much of what I have laying around as I can I do hope it will be something that I can be proud of.  Anyway all that is for the next blog.  Today's blog is about making something to make something.

Dad was a master of this.  His shop was full of shop made jigs and templates.  I was always amazed by how cool some of the stuff he made was whose only purpose was to allow him to make the cut or hold the thing that he was actually trying to make.  So tonight I was following in his footsteps.  I will have to make dados and rabbits in the cabinet I want to make and I don't have a dado blade insert for my table saw.  The solution, make one.

Dado in the middle, rabbits on each end.

But what is a dado anyway?  As seen in the picture above it is really nothing more than a groove across a board.  This picture also shows two rabbits, no not the cotton tail variety, the grooves shown on the ends of the board.  So a dado is an enclosed groove and a rabbit is an exposed one.  The dado blade will let me stack a group of special blades together on the arbor of the saw (the shaft thing that holds the saw blades) and make a single pass with the boards.  This will cut the dado which I will then set a mating board into.  

So getting on with it.  To make the insert I chose to glue up a layer of hardboard, a layer of plywood and a finally two hardboard feet.  I traced the outline of the standard insert and cut them out on the band saw.  With all the pieces cut I glued them up and placed a piece scrap over the two.  This created a gap so I just set another piece of hardboard scrap in the middle and clamped them down.  

Taping insert to blank as a pattern.
Shaping at the router.
After the glue dried I used some double faced carpet tape to hold my metal standard insert to the insert I am making.  This tape is strong.  You can see the two white strips and when put together I have to use a putty knife to separate them.   

Then it is off to the router table.  I took the fence off and put the feed pin in.  You can see the feed pin in the picture.  It's that black post sticking out of the table at about 4 O'Clock of the pattern bit.  To keep control of the work as you bring it into the moving bit you rest it up against the pin and rotate into the bit.  Once the bit is cutting you can move it right along and it's OK to lose contact with pin.  You need to be careful as you change direction and move up on the end grain.  Remember the end gain blowout in Emma's Picture Frame Part II?  Anyway I just followed the taped insert all the way around using it as a pattern.  When I got done I separated two pieces and there you have it a new insert.  

Cutting the insert opening.  

Of course at this point the face is solid so the next step is to put the dado set on the saw and place the insert over the dropped blades.  I used a scrap board clamped to the end of the saw to hold it in place and turned the saw on.  Then slowly I raised the blades up and cut right through the new insert.  

The next step will be to place drops of silicone rubber on the feet and level the insert to the table.  Once the silicone is dry I should be able to set it in place and have it be at just the right height.  I actually did this once already, however the silicone was old and didn't cure.  So after wiping and a little be of scraping I'm ready to try it again.  Of course that will mean another trip to the big box store.  

So I'm hoping Dad would be proud.  I used a bunch of material laying around and made a tool that I would have otherwise had to pay 50 or so dollars for.  I have to admit this was kind of fun.  Another night in the shop, thanks Dad.  

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