Monday, May 16, 2011

The Nervous Breakdown Shelf

A colleague at work asked if I could build them a shelf. It was to be made out of maple, be 12" x 57" x 1 1/2" and have 3 matching shelf brackets. They also wanted some lettering routed into the top of it. Sounds pretty straight forward right? Not in MY world!!!

The widest piece of maple I could find was 7 inches wide and 2 inches thick. No big deal, I could just laminate two 6" pieces together. Well I could have if the wood wasn't already twisted and bowed and didn't twist and bow even further the more I milled it. Okay, easy fix, I'll just make four 3 inch pieces and laminate them together. By the time I got the twists and bows out I am down to 1 1/4" thick MAYBE, and 4 pieces, none of which are the same width. I haven't even laminated them yet and I am ready to either start over or throw in the towel. I can't imagine what fun I will have when I try to router the lettering into this.

My jointer seemed to be the biggest problem. Initially it was making things more curved then straight. I did a little bit of fine tuning and managed to solve that problem just as a nick in one or 2 of the blades reared their ugly heads.

I have read that if you try to run a bowed board through a planer you will just continue to make the bow worse. I can now attest this is absolutely TRUE. You MUST have a rock solid sled and have the piece wedged perfectly or you are wasting your time at the planer. Unless you are trying to make arches, in which case go for it!

Somehow between the planer and the jointer and a whole lot of extremely fine cuts I managed to flatten the boards. The shelf will now be 1" thick because I will still have to plane the shelf once more after it is laminated. Of course I couldn't edge joint the wood because of the nicks in the jointer blades so I had to joint them on the table saw with Freud Combination 50 tooth blade. I did get some very nice smooth edges, but not without a lot of trials and tribulation and a little sanding and hence the different width boards.

Somehow I will finish this shelf. I don't think I will be charging any fee for it. I may even have to bite the bullet and pay for the wood out of my own pocket. If my colleague takes it home and burns it, I won't bat an eye.