Archive for August, 2010

How to Build a Bench

Building a bench is a good way to get your feet wet with furniture making. It is a relatively simple project that uses several basic woodworking techniques and tools. Bench building is a project that can reward you with not only a great seat that could be in your family for generations, but also with a sense of accomplishment that only comes with doing something productive, creative and worthwhile.

The frame needs to be strong enough to hold three adults. 2”x4” boards make a sturdy frame and are relatively inexpensive to purchase. You’ll need three to four 6’ boards to start. Determine the length and width of your bench. Use a miter saw, table saw, or a handsaw to cut four pieces that will make up the front, back and sides of your frame. A standard size for a sitting bench is about 4’ long and 18” wide. Secure the four boards together using screws, framing spikes, or nails long enough to penetrate the receiving board by 1.5”.

Now you basically have a rectangle. You can use plywood or an 18” wide board for the seat. I like to use a thicker stain-ready board so that the seat lasts longer and looks beautiful. Cut the board so that it has about a 1” overhang when placed on top of your frame.

You can practice your joinery skills to attach the board to the frame. The type of joint that you’ll use is called a “stub mortise”. This is a shallow mortise that does not go all the way through the wood. Start by drilling holes into your base at the same diameter as the selected wood dowel. A hardwood dowel will be stronger than a softwood dowel, in general. Inset the dowel pegs and secure them with wood glue. The height of the dowel pegs should all be equal. Mark each one with chalk and center the bench seat over them. Follow the chalk marks on the bench seat and drill your stub mortise holes on the marks. Use more wood glue in the holes and around the top edge of the frame to secure the seat. Use clamps and let the seat dry for a few hours.

For the legs of the bench, you’ll want to use cabinet grade plywood. I generally use the same wood that I used for the seat so that everything matches. Use a nail gun or drill out holes for screws to avoid splitting the wood when you attach it to the base. You can make your bench whatever height you wish. Standards are around 18” high. The side panels should fit underneath the lip of the bench seat. Brace the two panels on each end together by attaching a 2”x4” board underneath. It should brace the legs so that they cannot splay out or bend inward.

When you’re done, sand and stain the bench. Use tung oil, varnish or lacquer to protect the finish and give it the desired look that you want. Don’t forget to sign and date your work in an inconspicuous area when you’re done!

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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How to Stock your Wood Shop

So woodworking crafts have brought you to the point of creating your own wood shop? Great! A wood shop is a safe haven for many, offering a peaceful space for creating many things. There’s nothing like working with your hands. However, there is something to be said for working with power tools, too! When you’re ready to stock your wood shop with tools of the trade, take a look at this list to make sure that you’ve got everything that you may need.

You’ll want to start by buying or building a workbench. Most people prefer a workbench or table that is up high enough to work at while standing or sitting on a stool. This will give you storage room underneath, too. You can install a shop vacuum above your workbench if you’d like. It may come in handy for cleaning up sawdust. You’ll also need some shelves and cabinets for storing your tools. Covers for saws and drills are great to have so that your equipment can stay clean while you work on other projects.

There are many cutting tools to choose from. Most can be classified as hand saws or power saws. The ones that you need depend on what you plan on doing. For instance, you will need a chain saw if you plan to fall your own trees. Backsaws are hand saws that have a stiff ridge opposite the cutting side (e.g. dovetail saw, tenon saw, sash saw, and the gent’s saw. These are used for hand cutting precise lines. Power saws are good for cutting large pieces and rough cuts. There are circular saws, radial arm saws, table saws, band saws, and miter saws.

You will need tools to hold your work. Most woodworkers use horses, a vice, and a bench hook regularly. You can mount your vice to your workbench so that it’s always easy to access and is securely fastened. A bench hook can be easily built. It’s basically a place where you can press boards up against a straight edge while using hand saws. It has a lip underneath to “hook” it to the workbench so that you can put pressure on the wood that you’re working on.

There are many other tools that help to shape or hold wood. There are many clamps that work well with different types of saws. Hammers, mallets, drills and screwdrivers are commonly used. Chisels, planers, a lathe, and many types of sanders are used in shaping and finishing.

Once you have your work surfaces, support items, and tools, you can begin stocking your woodshop with wood. A cedar wood cabinet is useful for storing wood that is easily affected by the humidity. Remember that you can store large pieces overhead on ceiling racks to save space in your woodshop. Stock up on other wood parts and hardware that you may need. You may need long nails down to finishing nails, screws, bolts, nuts, and washers. Cabinet handles and drawer pulls are also nice to have. Different species of wood in varying sizes and shapes can be useful in many projects. Keep a “scrap” pile of pieces that you may be able to use again. A wood dowel, especially a hardwood dowel, can be used to fashion joint pegs and many other useful items. Keep some around for future projects.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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Woodworking with Dowel Rods

All woodworkers should be familiar with dowels. They are easy to work with and can make a lot of woodworking endeavors less complicated. They can add beauty and strength to many different types of projects. Just imagine all of the things that you can do and create. Dowels should be staples in your wood shop or garage. Learn about the different types of dowels and their uses.

1) Dowels can be used to create hanging rods, flag poles, toy parts, and many other wood crafts. They aid in joining wood together in bigger projects, like chair building and making shelves.

2) Choose the type of dowel that matches the rest of your project. Pine, birch, and cherry wood dowels are very light in color. Birch and cherry also come in darker varieties. Some darker types include maple, oak and walnut. Any hardwood dowel can be stained or painted to match your project.

3) Over time, you may see that you need a variety of diameters as you practice your trade. Some manufacturers can carve specific diameters for you. They can even use your materials to make your dowels if you have something that is hard to match.

4) Dowels are great for turning spindles or decorative poles on a lathe. They are essentially a blank for starting projects that require poles for decoration or functionality. They are great for getting in lots of practice on the lathe without investing a lot of money or time. People most often need spindles for doll house decoration, chair backs, stair railings, candlesticks, or on deck rails. You can use spindles to create decorative easement accents, table legs, drawer pull hardware, and more.

5) Dowels are commonly used in making toys or toy parts. You can use them to make axles in toy cars, jump rope handles, monkey bars, game pieces, and more. Many woodworkers like to advance their skills by taking on small projects. Creating toys is a fun and easy way to test your limits and learn new skills, without investing the type of money that it would take to say, build an armoire. Toys are generally quick and simple. You can practice your carving skills, create decorative accents, and create an heirloom quality piece that could be treasured for generations.

The more you work with wood, the more you’ll start to appreciate the things that make your projects more predictable and less time consuming. A wood dowel is handy, inexpensive, and can be useful in a multitude of applications. You can choose softwood or a hardwood dowel, paint or stain, hand carve or use the lathe. Woodworking provides you with a variety of ways to accomplish a task based on your skills and personal tastes. Dowel rods can help you to keep that flexibility without starting from scratch when it’s not necessary.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.

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