Time has marched on, air relieved the stain of its solvent and now we are ready to continue forth and start assembling.
But first, a segue. A coworker, whose opinion does matter to me, has just started the exciting hobby of woodworking / being directed by his management to work on various projects around the house. He asked is pre-stain really worth the extra effort?
The best way to answer would be to compare two pieces.
Since we are working with a heavier stain, blotching is less likely to occur. Less likely is not a guarantee that it won’t. You can notice that the stain doesn’t do as good of a job in getting into the grain of the wood and we can see where the grain lines are still lighter. For this piece not using the wood conditioner is not that detrimental, which leads to the question are there other ways to do this that require fewer steps? Yes, but like most things there’s a tradeoff. You can use a higher quality gel based stain which provides even coverage and penetration which helps eliminate blotchiness and is more resilient. The tradeoff is it cost a more; 8-floz cans at my local paint store are $4.08 for oil based and $6.97 for gel. That’s a difference of 42% but at such a small scale its really only a ~$3 delta.
These are the same situations we run into daily in the IT industry. When you’re looking at an infrastructure investment, there are ways you can scale back cost. You can easily go with a solution that cost less from the capital budget; the flip side is how much extra time is this going to add to any task that needs to be done. You might save 10% on the capital expense but now it might take 20% longer to do a task. The problem we are seeing is that few people are asking the question on how can an investment help speed up and streamline operations. The best place to start is asking the people with experience.
Back to the project at hand. We have the pieces, now it’s time for assemble. During the downtime I was giving some thought into how I wanted to go about assembling the bench. The easiest solution would be to just run screws through the sides and fasten the whole thing that way. However that would be ugly, when was the last time you looked at a piece of decent furniture and saw any screws out in the open. Another option I considered was pocket hole screws. These are done out of sight and let you place a screw in at an angle to secure two pieces together. I have used them in the past to great success.
Instead of using a pocket hole though I have opted to work with wooden dowel pins. How this will work is we will drill holes that line up on both pieces to be fastened. Then we will layer on wood glue, insert a wooden dowel, and then apply pressure so that the glue adheres the parts together and the pins help bear the weight. I opted to go with this method as I don’t use it very often so it gives me a chance to learn and hone that skill set. This is something that IT organizations as a whole seem to be forgetting. When we go out to hire a new resource we have an expectation that you will know how to do the basic job at hand and I 100% agree that people should be hired based on if they can do a job. This gets the job at hand covered but IT is an ever evolving world. If techs aren’t given the chance to grown and evolve with the market they tend to leave. If you don’t believe me take a look at the Bureau of Labor posting on the number of jobs the average person holds these days or better yet why people are moving between jobs so often. 36% due to lack of challenge is not a small number, its 1/3rd of the potential workforce.
To properly use wooden dowels to fasten and support two pieces we will need to drill holes that are the same size as the pins and that are roughly half as deep on both sides. There are dowel jig kits that you can purchase that help line up the holes and the drill depths. I actually happen to own one, however in this case since we are going to be conjoining two pieces that are not next to an edge I won’t be able to use the kit. First we will need to figure out how deep we need the pilot holes. I could pull out a tape measure and trying to mathematically figure out half of the pegs length or I could simply line up the bit with the peg.
The kit comes with a drill stop that is secured with an allen key. The lock is slightly smaller than the drill threads so that you can secure the stop without damaging the drill bit. We no longer need to worry if we’re going to accidentally make a hole to deep. Time to drill the pilot holes.
I find when working without the jig the easiest way to line up the holes is to draw guidelines on the flat board so I know how thick the joining piece will be. From there it’s a matter of always drilling in the center of those lines and even distances. I did 4” spacing on these.
Joining board with the pins. The holes were deep enough to float ½ of the pins length so we will have even distribution between the two boards. I went around and did the other side along with the top and bottom toe plate. For the next phase we use another one of my favorite liquid tools. This one is not edible, please refrain from trying.
Glue up both sides that are being joined and flood the peg hole with glue as well. Its ok if glue runs out as that can be cleaned up. If you don’t use enough glue what your joining could fall apart which is much harder to fix then a little glue spillage.
Once we have it all glued up its time to start clamping. Air gaps are the enemy of glued surfaces. Air doesn’t support weight very well. Air gaps between the wood means the glue isn’t doing much.
If we just left this as is, when it dried that side would just fall off, and a bench that collapses when you sit on it is a lawsuit looking for a home. To secure this I have two 4’ cabinet clamps which will be long enough to clamp both the top and bottom so we have nice even pressure which will be even cohesion.
Ok… so I only have one working long clamp now… I guess I can either go put in a capital request for replacement equipment, which will stall out the project and pretty much ruin the work to date… or we can apply some cross platform experience for a solution. One of the many things I make with wood are bows which require a tremendous amount of pressure when laminating pieces of wood. I have a rig I made that uses truck bed tie down straps to create pressure. Since that’s what were after (constant pressure) the same concept can be used here.
If you look now the bench no longer has any air gaps where the wood is joined. A wipe of the finger smooths down the glue over run which will help create a nice seam once the glue dries.
And now it’s back to the waiting game once more.
Like any project there should be a balance between getting the project completed in a timely and budget effective manner. With each project though you should be encouraged to look at different ways to accomplish the task at hand. If you never get the chance to learn you can never grow. The basis of building solid infrastructures of all sorts are the materials and the people behind them. If corners are cut in on one then the difference should be made up from the other. If you cut quality materials and the personal were never given a chance to learn you will likely have a disaster on hand in short order.
Where’s My Backer?