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.