Archive for June, 2012

Building Bookshelves for Beginners

Building shelves and other furniture for you house can be a great way to get into woodworking. Many people choose to start with something simple, like a bookcase for their home. However, it may not be as simple as it looks. Creating something that is “perfectly square” can be a challenge for some beginner woodworkers. Creating things that are sturdy enough to withstand years of use and that also look good enough for you to put into your home may take some instruction. Use these tips for learning how to make sure your bookcase is sturdy, square, and attractive.

1) First, measure the space and decide on dimensions for your bookshelves. Determine how many shelves you would like to have in your bookcase and go shopping for your wood. Hardwoods will generally be more durable, but many soft woods are perfectly suited as well. Choose the one that you like best and buy pieces that give you enough to fit your dimensions and plan. Lay all of the pieces flat together to make sure that they are not warped before you purchase them.

2) Cut some quality, stain grade plywood using a miter saw or a table saw to the dimensions that you have set. You will need to cut the side panels and the top and bottom pieces, making sure that they all measure exactly right. Then, cut your shelves and make sure that everything will fit together perfectly.

3) Mark the side panel piecess for router joint grooves. Lay the two side panels side by side, line up the top and bottom perfectly, and then nail them together using a small scrap piece of wood. Use finishing nails or screws to affix the scrap wood to the bottom and top of the side panels. Place a T-square on the side so that it crosses the center line of the two panels butted against each other. Draw two lines, 3/4” apart to mark a path for your router. Most shelves are around 16” apart, but you can make your shelves however far apart that you want.

4) Put the pieces together making sure that the router grooves are facing inward. Nail the top and bottom pieces to the side panels. You’re essentially creating a box, so lay it down flat and check for exact 90 degree angles before you attach. You can use slender nails, a nail gun, or drill pilot holes to insert screws. Don’t skip drilling pilot holes for screws or you’ll risk splitting the wood.

5) When you have a perfectly square box, you should put a small amount of wood glue into each of your router slots. Slide your shelves into place and then nail them from the outside of the bookcase to secure them.

6) Cut a 2”x1″ board to fit inside of the rear top of your bookcase. This will be the cleat that holds the back panel in place if you choose to add one and it also secures your bookcase to studs in the wall. Glue and nail the cleat into the top rear portion of the case, flush with the top and side panels. Nail it from the sides and the top to make sure that it offers the proper support for the finished product.

7) Cover up the raw edges of the bookcase by attaching small 1-2 inch wide boards to the facing, or give it a good sanding. A fluted moulding or a split wood dowel rod works great for giving the front edge of each shelf a clean finish. Use a hardwood dowel for durability. Fill in nail holes, sand and you’re ready for finishing.

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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Ideas for Beginner Woodworking Projects

Hanging Organizer-You can build, essentially, a wood sign and affix interesting handles, knobs or hooks for hanging keys. You can make one with a magnetic strip for hanging knives in the kitchen. Heavy duty hooks can be used to create a great place to hang bags, purses, coats and backpacks. Simple products like this are great for practicing using a router to make edges and for practicing different staining and finishing techniques.

Birdhouse-A birdhouse is a great place to start practicing creating joints. You can use a router to make slats for creating joints, practice mortise and tenon joints, or practice making peg joints with wooden dowels. You can even leave the back side off of the birdhouse, attach a few suction cups, and display the birdhouse on the outside of your kitchen window. You’ll love watching the nest from inside of the house.

Step Stool-A step stool is a great way to practice making sturdier items that need to bear some weight. Make several sizes to work your way up to building chairs and benches.

Folding Table-Small folding tables are great to have around the house. You can use them to eat on while watching television, or use them as a place to set your drink while you’re working. Some people use these little portable tables all over the house.

Bench-Make a bench for your foyer or yard. Experiment with creating benches that have backs and also ones that do not. Benches are not very hard, but they do require learning about creating braces and cutting at an angle.

Wine Glass Slider-You can use dowel rods or thin pieces of wood mounted underneath your cabinets to make a slide to store wine glasses. This is an easy project, but it will give you the opportunity to learn how to match the stain and finish of your kitchen cabinets. Once you discover the right combination of stain and lacquer, you may wish to build other kitchen items, like a bread box, letter organizer, or pull down recipe book holder.

Wine Bottle Holder-This can be a small structure that sits on top of your counter, or one that hangs from the kitchen cabinets. Larger ones can sit on the floor. Simple projects like this make great gifts and can be painted to give the room personality.

Dog House-Creating a shelter for your pets is fun and gives you a chance to work on projects that will need to be finished for outdoor use.

Tool Box-Make a tool box for yourself to store or transport your woodworking tools. Use a sturdy hardwood dowel as a handle or for hanging things inside the box. You’ll not only find this project fun, but you’ll have a useful keepsake 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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Danish Oil vs. Sprayed Lacquer

Danish oil is a hard drying oil used in wood finishing. It is made of either Tung oil or Polymerized Linseed oil. It gives a hard, water-resistant finish to wood products by soaking into the wood and hardening. It is used as a finishing product, but can also be used to seal wood or prime it before painting or varnishing.

Spray lacquer is another type of protective finish for wood. It is made with a combination of hardening oil mixed with resin and also a solvent. The solvent evaporates hardening and curing the lacquer to the wood. The ratio of oil to resin will determine drying times and the hardness of the finish.

Spray lacquer can be used as a sealant for wood, much like Danish oil. If you’re only using spray lacquer, the first layer will act as the sealant and primer. There are not a lot of solid components to spray lacquer, so several coats are often needed. Spray lacquer often gives a glossy finish that is desired for some projects. However, it is not as scratch resistant as a Danish oil finish.

Danish oil penetrates into wood, so there is no need to sand your project with a high-grit sandpaper. A little roughness makes it easier for the oil to penetrate. Oil finishes take a little more work to apply than a spray finish. Apply the oil so that it looks very wet and let it soak in for about half an hour. Rubbing it in will also help to keep it even and penetrate more deeply. You’ll have to keep applying to dry looking areas as you go for about half an hour. When the oil starts to feel sticky, you’ll wipe off any excess.

Danish oil finishes are very smooth and give a nice, nearly matte finish. However, you can’t apply Danish oils over stains or lacquers because they need to soak in to work. Tinted versions are available if you don’t want the natural color of the wood to be your finished product.

Wood will push oil out of itself for a few hours after application, so you’ll need to check it and wipe away excess oils every fifteen to twenty minutes over several hours until it stops. Drying your woodworking project in a cool area will help control leaking. Heat makes it worse, so rubbing vigorously will make it bleed more, too.

Spray lacquer finishes are done when they are dry, making them a little less labor intensive than Danish oil finishes. Danish oil finishes are sealed with lemon oil or a type of solvent wax as the last finish. This helps to protect the oil from drying out and also gives it a nice sheen. Oils and wax finishes can be reapplied every couple of years to restore the shine to your project.

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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