Monday, March 21, 2011

New Mailbox Post, part 2

So the half-lap joinery is cut. Now it's time to put these two parts together using a weather proof glue and three inch decking screws.

When I cut the joint I made certain to stay just slightly inside the layout lines so the fit would be too tight. Then I nibbled away a tiny amount of material using my crosscut sled at the table saw until the fit was perfect.

I applied a waterproof glue to all the mating surfaces, put the two pieces together, predrilled and countersunk the holes for screws, and sunk two three inch coated deck screws into each side of the joint, for a total of four screws.

Here is the blank I glued up to form the base to secure the mailbox to the post. It's made from some reclaimed pressure treated 2 x 6 material, edge glued with the same waterproof glue I used on the joint for the crosspiece.

After clamping it in place on my assembly table, I drove three screws through the narrow piece into the wide piece. After that the clamps weren't needed and I could continue without waiting for the glue to dry.

I then cut the blank to length (staying well away from the screws), and cut it to width to fit inside the bottom of the mailbox my neighbor purchased for this project.

And here's the angled brace I used for this mailbox post. When I built my own mailbox post I used a pair of pressure treated 2 x 4 braces, one on each side of the post, and I used templates to rout my street number into each of them. My neighbor, however, wants to put some brass numbers she purchased on her mailbox post. These numbers are 3.5 inches tall, so 2 x 4 material would be too narrow. In order to leave room for these brass numbers I chose to use one piece of 2 x 6 material, mitered on each end and screwed into place, centered on the post. This leaves plenty of room for the numbers and gives the whole unit a different look than mine has. And since these two posts will be across the street from each other for several years, it seems like a good idea to have a slightly different style for each.

Next time, I'll finish this project and install it in my neighbor's front yard.

Be sure to check out my Etsy shop to purchase your own mailbox post, or for unique items to enhance your home décor.

Monday, March 7, 2011

New Mailbox Post

Recently I decided I was fed up with the mailbox post I bought from the Home Depot when we moved into this house in 2004. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but I wanted something just as rugged but with a bit more style.

The post we had was made out of 4x4 material, and I suppose it was pressure treated, but it weathered fast and it was always subject to twisting in the heavy winds we get here in North Texas. Violent twisting at times. My version was likewise constructed of 4x4 pressure treated lumber, with the addition of some 2x pressure treated stock for bracing.

Of course, as soon as I was done with my new mailbox post my neighbor saw it and asked me to build one for her as well. Since her house is almost directly across the street from mine I elected to change the design slightly just so they didn't look exactly alike. And in this post (and a couple to follow) I'll explain how I built them both.

Starting with an 8 foot section of pressure treated 4x4 inch lumber, I then cut off a 31" section for the crosspiece. This is a bit oversized from the final dimensions, and it also leaves the upright portion oversized.

I'm not too terribly concerned with minor defects in the wood I'm using because our neighborhood lends itself to a rustic look. Also, the interior of our home has a slightly rustic look to it, and will become more rustic as we begin redoing all the rooms, one-at-a-time.

Step two is to simply run both pieces through the table saw with the blade tilted at 45º to bevel the edges. I set the fence at 3 1/8" so the blade takes off a thin strip from each corner of the 4x4 material, which actually measures 3 1/2" on each side. I do this now instead of before step one because it's easier to handle the shorter pieces of wood in my small shop, but you could do this first if you have room. It really makes no difference.

The next step is to create the joinery for the crosspiece to mount on the upright. In this case I'm creating a half-lap joint by removing half of the material on each piece where they will meet the other piece. If I were building fine furniture I would use a different technique for this joint, but this will be sitting outside and, as I said earlier, rustic is fine.

So, my procedure is to simply define the shoulders of the joint, then make spaced cuts between the shoulders leaving about 1/8" to 3/16" between each cut. Afterward I can simply break the waste pieces out of the joint by hand and then clean it up with a sharp chisel.

This method saves a lot of time and results in a perfectly fine joint.

The original post I'm replacing with this new one had a similar joint, but the dados were more than an inch wider than the post, so the only strength in the joint came from two 1/4" lag screws. That's not the best configuration. I'm making sure the joint I'm cutting is just tight enough to stay put after sliding it together.

Following are the photos depicting this procedure. In my next entry I'll bevel the ends of each piece and join the pieces together.

Be sure to check out my Etsy shop, where I have lots of items available to accent your décor. And I have just listed (you guessed it) a Mailbox Post you can buy and put together yourself in a matter of minutes.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

jn3 Hand Crafted Woodworks, Spring, 2010: The Video

Check out all of my handmade wooden art at Design Style Guide and Etsy.

Participating in the I Made It Blog Party today, Thursday, June 10, 2010.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You, Too, Can Be Self-Employed, version 2010

Another year has passed by, so it's time for my annual pilgrimage to the local 7th grade Reading classroom for another "You, Too, Can Be Self-Employed" talk.

Each year I go to the Alvarado Junior High School in Alvarado, Texas, to the Reading classroom of my beautiful wife, Debra. I first gave this little talk in 2004, when I told the kids all about being a graphic artist and how important reading is in that job. Since I began doing this I have stopped being a graphic artist and started being a woodworker. So, a couple of years ago, I changed the talk, splitting the time between one job and the other. And this year I spent far more time talking about woodworking than graphic design. Obviously it's important to be able to read as a woodworker, right? If I can't read the operating instructions for my power tools I could do something wrong and lose a finger. Or a hand. As a drummer for the past 41 years I have to say I'm not in love with that idea. And I'm not a Def Leppard fan, either.

There were lots of intelligent, thoughtful questions during the day, and the usual goofy 7th grade questions as well. It was fun, and I may have inspired one or two kids to think about woodworking, at least as a hobby and possibly as a career. Only time will tell.

I brought props, some candle holders I've built, along with some unfinished wood so they could see the difference. Finished wood looks and feels so different than unfinished wood, so I felt it was important to see both so the finished product could be appreciated.

It was interesting to see how many kids had no idea what my tools were called or what they were used for. Several kids told my the router was a sander. That would make for some interesting sanding jobs.

Some kids knew the tools and understood their uses. Some had relatives who worked with similar tools. My goal with this presentation is to get all the kids talking about what I show them and then the cross-pollenization begins; Questions are asked of me, or of each other or of their teachers; Curiosity breeds learning. This is a great way to teach. It's a great way to learn.

Just like last year, I finished off the talk with a look at a Design Style Guide slide show. I'm an administrator of this group of artisans and I put this little tour together to promote what other members are creating. I wanted to show them that there are lots of other things they can do at home besides woodworking, lots of other Arts and Crafts self-employment opportunities out there. I think this little video makes the point in a hurry.

If more professionals in our communities took the time to go into our schools and pass on a little knowledge, or at least a little inspiration and wander, our children would be in better shape to make career choices and be encouraged to get better grades. If this opportunity is available in your community I urge you to take it. These kids will be taking care of us some day. I think it's pretty good idea to help them along the path, don't you?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blog Party Thursday, May 6, 2010

Alrighty! I've missed a few blog parties lately because of a bout of the flu which ran through my whole family. But I'm back now with some new items for you to look through.

Also, a big "Thank you!!!" to Kim over at Everything Etsy for hosting this event every Thursday. You're a doll!

• • • • •

This is a pair of Curly Maple with Purple Heart candle holders, the first pair in a new style. All of the candle holders you'll see here today are in this style, with rounded edges, made of two or three contrasting woods and sold in pairs.

Here is a beautiful pair, made of Spalted Pecan and Black Walnut.

This style was in my head for a couple of months whilst I was planning and building my router table. As soon as it was up and running there was no reason to wait any longer, so I started putting different types of wood together to see what cool combinations I could come up, and here are the early results. Very soon I'll be driving out to see my sawyer so I can add more variety to the mix.

Keep in mind that all of these candle holders and lots more are for sale, folks. And if you mention the I Made It Blog Party I'll refund the shipping cost.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April, 2010: jn3 Current Projects, part 4

Here is my mother's small television stand for her small television. I installed it Saturday afternoon. The space on the left side of the stand is reserved for her cat, Lucy, so she can look out the window.

This is a very simple design. The wood is red oak. The joinery was easy to cut on my router table -- just a rabbet on each side piece, and then I reinforced the joint with two dowels on each side.

The finish is three coats of tung oil, followed by three coats of satin polyurethane.

The back is two pieces of 1/4" plywood. the short piece is at the bottom, recessed into the box 3/4" and is overlapped 1/4" by the larger piece, which is mounted on the back. This provides a way to snake the wires out the back without seeing anything behind the unit. And I don't care for big round holes in the back if they can be seen easily.

And that's pretty much all there was to it. So far, however, Lucy has remained uninterested. When she shows some interest I'll see about getting a photo.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April, 2010: jn3 Current Projects, part 3

So, the television stand will be installed this weekend. In the meantime I've been working on those candle holders. I'd be done with them by now (and the television stand would already be installed) but my wife's doctor found a blood clot in her left leg and she spent the last three days at Arlington Memorial Hospital in Arlington, Texas. Never fear... all is well now, or as close as can be expected. She is taking blood thinners and is expecting to go back to work Tuesday, April 26.

Here's the progress I have made on the candle holders, including two which are nearing completion:

Every woodworker you ever meet will agree that you can never have too many clamps. If I had more small and medium sized clamps like these I could glue up more candle holders at the same time. That would be spiffy!!!

These will be finished in a couple of days. This summer I will be building several bookcases for my wife's classroom. That project, among others, will occupy much of my time in the shop over the next few months. I just can't wait to get started.