Monday, April 20, 2009

Does Anybody Else Miss The Furniture Guys?

Back in the nineties, it seems like eons ago, the little bride and I would watch a home improvement show called Furniture To Go with a couple of wacky but likable guys who would show you how to repair, refinish, reupholster and refurbish furniture. Even years later we'll still exclaim to each other, though admittedly in private, "Horse Hair!" Or, "spit coat!" And it amazes me how much of an effect the guys had on us without us realizing it.

When we replaced all the doors in our house a couple of years ago, I used shellac to finish them. Had my only TV influence in life been Norm, we'd of likely gone with some stupid spar varnish or other plastic finish. But the warm, natural hand rubbed and waxed finish on our doors just keeps getting better every day. And I probably wouldn't have even noticed this influence if it hadn't been for our latest project.

Somewhere in the era we were watching the Furniture Guys on TV we found an empire style sofa covered in the most awful 1970's da-glo stripey fabric. Someone really loved that sofa in between hits from the hookah. But the price was right and we always said that we could re-cover it and make it look nice. We watched all the Furniture Guys shows and knew all about horse hair and muslin and dust covers. They showed us how easy it is to tack the material down in the center, stretch it across to the other side and tack it down and then work your way around the piece. Voila! Brand new upholstery for the cost of materials. We always wanted to try it on that couch.

We carried the sofa around with us from house to house when we moved. Last I saw it, it was piled up with stuff in a corner out of the way. Then, last weekend the little bride proclaimed that now is the time. She bought black fabric similar to what may have been on it originally and we carried the sofa out to the garage and set it up on a table and proceeded to rip off all the old stripey fabric.

(remember, clicky the picky to make them bigger...)

Luckily everything came apart in a fairly straightforward way with no major surprises.

There was a wee bit of repair work that had to be done, thank goodness the Furniture Guys showed us how to do that!

And we started putting the new cotton batting and fabric on...

When we removed the old fabric from the back, we found a series of holes spaced suspiciously in a pattern. Looks like the original had button tufting! So we bought buttons and covered them with matching fabric (thanks again Furniture Guys) and started applying them to the back. Since the original actually had hay and real horse hair for stuffing, we tossed that and replaced it with a piece of foam (which we cut with our electric turkey carving knife) cotton batting and covering.

Replacing the pieces, one by one, we found an inscription inside one of the arms that was most likely the original maker. I couldn't make out the last name, but it was Fred something, Columbus Ohio, May 26, 1860. We tossed in our own little note and a swatch of the awful fabric we had removed and closed it back up.

The bride couldn't wait to install the piece in the living room. I think we're both pretty happy with the way it turned out. And to think, we learned everything we know about upholstery on television a decade ago. Thanks Furniture Guys!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Router Table

So many One of you has been clamoring to see pictures of the new shop built router table insert. So as not to disappoint all of you, here goes...

I found the hardware and stuff at a place called router table depot dot com.

some of the shots show my home-made feather board in place...

I hook my shop vac up to the fitting at the back and it sucks up all the sawdust and shavings.

Doors at Last

I know my doors are just a wee bit whoppy-jawed, but I think that's something I can work out over time with strategically placed magnets and wishful thinking. Either that or I can live with it. I still like 'em...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Things that go crack in the night

All the Universe has conspired against me not being able to build the doors for this cabinet.

First, my router that I've only had for about five years froze up on me. It had been getting harder and harder to adjust it over the past year or so and finally refused to adjust at all. And I had already spent nearly $100 on those nifty cope and stick router bits.

So, we went and bought a new router. I determined that I'm not going to buy any more Ryobi tools based on past experience, and having had nothing but good experiences with Porter Cable, we bought the 2.25 horsepower fixed base P/C router at the local Home Depot. (they honored Lowe's $25 coupon so that helped)

It was when I got it home, anxious to try it out, that I found that my low-end, somewhat ancient, Sears router table wouldn't fit my new router without modification. My little bride is beginning to expand her vocabulary by osmosis, and not necessarily in a good way. But the old barn is good for containing such outbursts and I'm sure the neighbors have scarcely lost any sleep.

Yanno? If you're going to go to all the trouble of making your router table fit your new router, you may as well have the router table you want. And I've been lusting after a router station that I can use on my work table and put away when not in use. (Shameless plug) Google, as you know, is our friend. And Google introduced me to Router Table Depot Dot Com. I got the large router table build kit, and I have to recommend this place. It was fast, accurate, easy and reasonable. I'll post pics of my new router station next time I go to my secret offsite location where the pictures post.

So, I mount up my new router and take it for a spin, making a little raised panel door for one of the cabinets in my shop. As a prototype, it fit the opening and confirmed all of my measuring theories. But as a door, it's not a keeper. As a learning experience it was priceless.

Then the new router broke. And Home Depot only had the display left. And I wanted it now. So I talked them into letting me swap out the motors which was all I needed anyway.

Okay, back in business. I made the first two doors, stuck them in the opening and threw my shoulder out of joint slapping myself on the back. It was a gleeful meeting of the self-congratulatory committee of the self-admiration society. What an astonishing cabinet maker I am with so little training!

I quickly whipped up the next two doors and started gluing them together without a dry fit. I'm that good, you know. And they didn't go together real snug, but that's why God invented clamps, right? I squeezed those bad boys together making for a beautiful fit. Left them in the clamps and went in the house for a celebratory beer.

When I loosened the clamps I heard a sickening cracking noise and learned a really valuable lesson: Wood is the size it wants to be, not the size you wish it to be. And when you take the pressure off of it it shows you who is boss. And you feel a little sheepish about how cocky you were. And you realize that this stuff is harder than it looks. And you buy eleven dollars worth of boards and start over.

And you give it a dry fit before you put any glue in the joints.