Monday, September 29, 2008

The Lectern Initiative, part the last

I am done with the building process on Debra's lectern! I worked on it for nearly 5 hours today, and boy are my arms tired!

First thing this morning I routed a chamfer profile on the legs and upper supports. A chamfer is just a 45º angle cut 
along the edges. This softens the edge a bit and breaks up the squareness of the piece, adding visual appeal.

I followed up the legs and upper supports with a matching chamfer on all for edges of the column. This created huge clouds of coarse dust which could still be trying to settle some seven hours after I left my shop. Routers and plywood don't play well together as far as my lungs and eyes are concerned. I'm not sure that was grammatically correct, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I then drilled a hole on the bottom of each end of the legs, screwed a treaded brass insert into each hole, and screwed the height adjustable legs into place. I installed the upper supports with glue and lag screws and did the same with the legs. This gave me a rock solid platform on which to mount the work surface... which I had yet to build. And I was running out of birch plywood.

Rather than delay the building process I decided to use some other plywood I had lying around to finish the project. It's rock hard, easy to work and very durable. It's just like the birch plywood I used on the rest of this unit, but without the actual birch. I'm not exactly sure what it's made of. I know it looks like pine in some places but not in others. Regardless, it's perfectly good material for anything intended for use in a junior high school.

I cut the lower shelf, the one that's parallel with the floor. It's a bit smaller than 20" square. I attached the double thick back wall to it after taking a 12º angled wedge off the top. Then I measured from the front edge of the lower shelf to the back edge of the angled wall, cut another piece to that length and the same width as the lower shelf.

I drilled three holes in the upper end of the top. These holes are big enough to hold a pen or pencil each. I figured I should make this thing as useful as possible and that seems like a very useful addition. A storage shelf in the right side also seems useful, and is just a good use of otherwise wasted space. Karl Champly would be so proud.

Finally I just lined up my pencil marks, drilled a few pilot holes, spread some glue and screwed the top to to the base, then mounted top, supported by a long, pie shaped piece on one side and a very tiny one on the other, leaving a space in front of the tiny one for paper/folder storage, utilizing the afore mentioned otherwise wasted space. With the addition of a piece on the bottom end to keep books and/or pencils from rolling off, the building process was completed. 

Now the lectern is drying after being sanded up to 220 grit, then receiving a coat of satin polyurethane. Two more coats should do it. I'll move it to Debra's classroom tomorrow evening so I can use it Wednesday and Thursday when she's at an ESL conference and I'm subbing for her. And she can use it thereafter.

Update, September 30, 2008: Here's the lectern drying in the sun after a light sanding and a final coat of polyurethane.

And here it is in it's new home, room 506 of the Alvarado Junior High School.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Lectern Initiative, part the second

I'm finally declaring that I'm on part two of this project. I have glued up the column, cut the half-lap joinery for the upper and lower supports, and I did a dry fit of the parts this afternoon before I had to stop making sawdust and mow the lawn.

Everything fits like the parts were molded to work together. And, in effect, they were. They were milled to work together anyway.

Now I only have to do the following:
1. route an edge detail on all four sides of the column, the top edges of the lower supports and the bottom edges of the upper supports. I haven't made a decision on a round over detail or a chamfer for these edges, but they will all get the same treatment.
2. assemble all the parts I have already built into a solid unit, using glue and lag 
screws. I really want this lectern to be rock solid because the eight or ten lecterns that are in use at the junior high school SUUUUUUCK!!! I know of three which are incapable of standing up straight, one of which tilts so badly you can't assume a book will stay in place on it.
3. build the top portion. I have put this part off for last because I wanted to have the base finished and ready to receive the top. That's almost a reality at this point. I want to be able to test fit the top as I go. I have to build it in two sections so I can attach it to the upper supports on the base column and then add the slanted portion to that section. That way there will be no visible screws anywhere on the piece.
When this upper portion is done it will have storage underneath the topmost surface which will be accessed from the right side. I also plan to add a pen and pencil cup of sorts to the top. Originally I wanted to have a rectangular box attached to the side of the top, but now I'm leaning more toward drilling four or five holes in the surface farthest from the user and building a box underneath the surface where it will never be seen. Only the pens will be visible sticking up out of their holes.

I'll figure out the remaining details as I go along. That's pretty much how most of my projects are handled, how most of my designs get established. Eventually I develop a routine method of building a particular item. This lectern, however, will either be one-of-a-kind or will be the first of a fairly limited run, and that only if another teacher just has to have one.

There's probably some money to be made here, considering what the teachers at the junior high have had to work with for the past several hundred decades -- seriously, you should see the building because portions of it are just a few thousand termites holding hands. Maybe I should take some time, add up my hours and material costs and figure out how much to charge for one of these things. I'll have to completely finish this one and deliver it to the Debra's classroom before I do that, though, so the other teachers can get a good look at it and I can judge their responses.  I should be able to finish this project by the middle of the week so I can deliver it on the very day I'm subbing for Debra.  That'll work!


If you buy anything priced at $15.00 or higher from
my Etsy shop by October 1 I will give you those Style 2 bookends that are on sale right now for $5.00 each.  There are two of them, so that's $10 worth of exciting bookend joy just for you!

Just convo me at Etsy when you make your purchase and I'll include the bookends with your package, no charge for the products, no charge for shipping.

I'm doing this because I want to move these bookends out of my inventory.  These are great bookends that will serve you well for decades.  They are the last two of this design and I will not be making any more of them because I changed the design slightly and I'm only making the other version now, not that there's anything at all wrong with this design.

Just buy something and let me know you want the bookends and they are yours.  First come, first served.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Lectern Initiative, part still-not-quite-the-second

I've been substitute teaching recently. Actually I've been substitute teaching for almost seven years, but that's not what I meant. What I meant was I subbed five days-in-a-row, ending yesterday, September 23, when I spent the entire day in our in-school suspension unit... with no air conditioning. It was 85 degrees and very humid. And they don't give the "guard" of this unit a break during the day except for 32 minutes for lunch. And I didn't get enough sleep the night before.

It whipped me.

I slept in today, finally arising at 11:50 AM. Aaaaaah, was that nice!

I got up, got dressed, took care of some business at Etsy which turned into a sale a few minutes later, then went to my shop and began cutting those strips of wood to length. I now have the glue-up on the column mostly finished, having built up two sides of the unit this afternoon. They're clamped to my bench right now. Tomorrow I only have to glue the two sides together with two large and two very small pieces in between and the column will be done. After that I'll begin working on the upper and lower supports.

I ordered brass threaded inserts and leveling legs from Rockler Wookworking earlier today. Those items should be here by Friday or Saturday. I'll install a threaded insert at the end of each "leg" and run a leveler up into each of them.

I could actually finish this project within a very few days assuming there are no major interruptions. Of course I have to take into account the fact that I'm going to a friends house Saturday to give him an estimate on a workshop he wants me to build/remodel for him, and my in-laws will be here Saturday night or Sunday and I'm showing my mother-in-law how to tie-dye a t-shirt. But this should all work out just fine.

Addendum: Thursday, September 25, 2008
I have the center column glued up and in clamps now.  I'll let the glue cook for several hours before taking it out of the clamps.  At that point I can start fitting the legs and upper supports in place.  I'd do it tonight but I have to go buy a new DirecTV receiver/DVR, and we're upgrading to HD in the process.  Yay!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Lectern Initiative, part not-quite-the-second

This will be a relatively short step in the blogging process as it was an equally short step in the building process.  And it's not actually a full step according to the criteria I established in the first entry concerning the epic saga of the Holy Lectern, but here it is nonetheless.

I got wood.  And I ripped it into several thin slices.  Yep.  That's just what I did.

I laminated the plywood together to form the 1 1/2" sheet I discussed before, and now I have sliced it into nine strips which are 1 1/2" square by 48" long, and two strips which are 1 1/2" by 2" by 48".  The nine strips will form the column and the two slightly larger strips will form the upper and lower supports, essentially two big "X's", half-lapped in the center, one on the bottom to serve as feet to hold the lectern upright and the other on the top to support the writing surface, the part of the lectern which Debra will actually rest her book/papers/elbows on during class.

The small amount of plywood you see in these photos will become all of the lectern except for the topmost portion.

Here endeth part not-quite-the-second... unless I have some comments later... or maybe you will have a comment or two...

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Lectern Initiative, part the first

I have embarked upon a woodworking task I have never undertaken before. I'm building a lectern for my wife to use at school. I am sizing it to match the perfectly sized piece of crap she has been using, but will be adding a few extra features such as a pen and pencil holder mounted to the side and, possibly, a shelf on which she can stow a few papers or a folder.

Since this lectern will be used at school -- at a junior high school -- I have decided to build it out of birch plywood. This will make it very durable, and I won't get too pissed if some kid writes on it. If I had gone with my original plan of building it out of quartersawn oak...

Anyway, I will be building this over the next couple of months. It's a project I can revert to between other projects or when I'm waiting for glue-ups to dry, though right now I'm waiting for the first glue-up on the lectern to dry.

Here's the plan for part one of this project:
1. laminate two sheets of 3/4 birch ply together to form a 1 1/2" thick sheet
2. cut the laminated stock into eleven 1 1/2" wide strips
3. form nine of these strips into a 4 1/2" square column with notches at the top and bottom
4. form two of these strips into the crossed support for the bottom, the "legs" if you will...
5. glue these two parts together and reinforce the joint with lag screws

And then I'll get onto part two.  I'll post photos when I have some.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In-Box Update

I delivered the in-boxes to my wife's classroom and took a photo of one of them.  I had to leave before the other one was in it's proper location in the room.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Assistant Principals and In-Boxes

The Assistant Principal at my wife's school went on a power trip at the beginning of the school year and decided teachers would still only have six class periods each day with two periods off, one for conferencing with students/parents and one for department meetings. He did this 
knowing the enrollment was rising dramatically and now it's come back to bite him

After this week all the schedules are changing and there will be no more department meeting period for any teachers. This is because some teachers had over 30 kids in a single classroom. This became a major headache when they discovered there weren't enough desks in the district to cover the class sizes.

Anyway, it's a huge hassle, the kids will be lost in the hallways again, just like at the beginning of the year, and the Assistant Principal is in some serious hot water for overstepping his bounds and, essentially, trying to do the Principal's job.

My wife uses a stack of in-boxes for her students to turn in their assignments. There's one box for each period. She had six boxes and, as of this next Monday, she'll have seven class periods. Rather than trying to find the matching plastic in-box to stack on the existing ones we decided I would simply build a new one. Two, actually, since she needs the same thing near her desk to keep track of graded papers.

I used birch plywood to build the boxes.  It's very durable and that's a good thing since my wife teaches 7th Grade Reading.  I never even considered using hardwood of any kind.

The real crime in all of this isn't that I had to delay another project in order to build these boxes, but that the A.P. has disrupted the entire school, preventing any learning from taking place in the process.  And he's a tyrant.  He told the teachers they couldn't take personal days this year.  They have personal days in their contracts. On the other hand, he's already been gone four days and we just finished the third week of school today.

Regardless, here are the in-boxes.  I think they turned out great. The double-thick left side of the box was added so my wife can attach the color-coded labels she likes to use to differentiate one class from another.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Of Wine Rests and Candle Holders

The other day I was inspired to get in my shop and build as many Wine Rests as I could carve out of one piece of pine. Well, that turned out to be 15, but I decided to add another pine candle holder to the inventory whilst I had the table saw set up anyway, so I ended up with 11 new Wine Rests and one new candle holder. That is to say I will have that many as soon as I'm done shaping, gluing (candle holder only), staining and finishing them, which should be sometime around Friday afternoon.

That was a lot of fun. I had to vacuum the sawdust three times!!!