"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Saturday, November 7, 2015

the five-year anniversary gift is wood

At the same time Zach was asking for his triangle table, he made another movie room carpentry request as well. Since we had our anniversary coming up, and the five-year gift is wood, I thought, 'hey, perfect!'

This second request was for a sort of shelf box to sit in front of the window to get the collectable figures off the floor. All these action hero collectable people come with multiple heads (often mask on/mask off situation, but sometimes more lame like calm hair/wind-blown crazy hair), so the underneath shelf area will provide some bonus head-storage area. As Zach and I talked about it, I said, "And, hey, wouldn't it be awesome if there were doors, so you couldn't just see all the heads lying about in there?" Of course, yeah, he thought that was a pretty good idea. Good job, making more work for myself.

We measure the theoretical shelf box to be 7" tall, 8" deep, and 42" long. I decided to use the same sort of pine board I had used for the triangle table, mainly because I still had a good amount leftover that I could use for the smaller sides. I also planned to put two supports on the inside to divide the box into three sections. Then I would have two sliding doors that would cover two sections at a time, leaving one section open.

I went to Home Depot and got another 48" long pine board that I cut into two 8" wide pieces. I decided I wouldn't have time to make the doors in time for our anniversary, but I did need to make the top and bottom pieces in preparation for adding the doors later, which meant making grooves to enable the sliding action. I found this Remodelaholic post where they made a pegboard cupboard with sliding doors, which helped me figure out how to do it. I made my grooves slightly wider than the width of the pine board, which less than 3/4". I made the groove for the bottom of the shelf about 1/8" deep and the groove for the top about 1/4" deep. Both grooves start 1/2" in from the edge of the board. I created the grooves using my friend's table saw. I set up two fences that would allow me to move the board back and forth to make that wide groove without making it too wide and set the blade at exactly the right height. I did a little test with a scrap piece of wood.

After I had my grooves cut, I cut my side pieces. Then I decided it would be easier to paint the insides before assembly since the inside would be pretty small and tight after assembly. So I primed with Kilz Latex, then did two coats of the same black paint as the triangle table. I was starting to run low, so I got another sample size at Home Depot. Then I did a few coats of spray polyurethane. After all that was dry, it was assembly time. 

I again used my cool new corner clamps, wood glue, and 1.5" brad nails. First, I attached each of the sides to the bottom, then I put on the top. As you can see from the photo, I actually attached the sides to the bottom before painting. But then I painted before putting th top on. I'm still a pretty big fan of my new corner clamps. :-)

Next, I measured and cut the inside support walls. They have to come not quite all the way up to the groove so the doors can slide past them. Again, I wanted to paint them before putting them in since in would be tight to get a paintbrush in the box. To make the process go a bit faster, after priming with the same Kilz Latex, I spray-painted them with Rustoleum in black. Instead of taking two coats with four hours to dry between coats, I could do two coats in less than an hour. The paint covered really well too, such that I debated whether I really even needed two coats. I still did, just to be safe. The paint was really shiny though, so I wouldn't want to use it on the outside. But for inside walls that you won't really see, it was just fine. I did a couple of coats of the polyurethane too.

I did some math to figure out the placement of the inside walls, which turned out a very nice, even 13" for each of the three sections. I cut some scrap wood into 13" strips to help me get my walls placed properly. Due to the small size of the wall, I could only fit one of the corner clamps on a side, and because the wall doesn't come all the way up to the front due to the groove, the clamp couldn't reach on the front. Therefore, I could only use one clamp for each wall. Still, it was better than nothing. I got things lined up with that one clamp, then put on some glue and slid the wall in place. I used my scrap wood to make sure all part of the wall were lined up and square and even, then cranked down my clamp. Then I shot some nails in and did the whole thing again for the other wall.

Then it was time to fill in all those nail holes and cracks where my boards didn't quite line up properly. Wait for the wood filler to dry and sand. I really hate sanding. Sanding is a lot of work. But I'm learning how worth it sanding is. Of course, then there's all the clean-up from sanding. I wiped everything down with a damp paper towel. Then I wiped everything down again with a tack cloth. Tack cloths are great. Paper towels tend to leave little bits of themselves behind, so even if they clean up all the sawdust, things still aren't 100% clean. But the tack cloths are sticky and don't leave bits of themselves behind, leaving everything ready for painting. 

Which is exactly what came next. Priming, to be exact. Then lots of black paint. With lots of waiting between coats. And then a few coats of spray polyurethane. 

Then I had to attach the back. I had found some sort of 1/4" thick board at Home Depot that looked like the backings of Ikea shelves. I cut it to size on my friend's table saw and spray painted that black. Then nailed it on with 5/8" nails, the smallest size my brad nailer will take. I wanted to use shorter nails because there were some spots where I was afraid I might run into other nails if I used longer nails, and the back was thin enough I didn't need to use long ones there.

And that was it. Zach liked it, though he seemed less impressed than with the triangle table. Maybe he's starting to have higher expectations. I didn't get any good pictures of the shelf by itself finished, but here it is starting to perform its duties. Zach didn't want to load it up too much since I'll probably have to move things around a bit when I make the doors.