Crib – Finishing and Assembly

Finish, then Assemble design

This design is based on the technique of: finish, then assemble. This will sound backwards to most people, but is a very logical and efficient way to do certain kinds of projects – especially those with lots of small parts.  It works well with many Craftsman designs or adaptations of them.

The primary key to making this succeed is to have joints where every surface has a reveal or offset.  This begs for mortise and tenon joinery as well as flat recessed or raised panels. This project was designed for reveals and recessed flat panels.

When designing a piece for this technique it is easy to go overboard with large reveals. This has 1/16″ to 1/8″ reveals. The key point is to not have any adjacent surfaces that when assembled must be flush (and then require sanding, planing or scraping).

The beauty of this technique is that the surface preparation is easy.  I really hate sanding and scraping into corners and to do this between spindles is a special kind of hell. It is so easy to create a divot while attempting to clean up that last little bit of “something”.  With the  all flat surfaces and you can spray the finish on all horizontal pieces ( no runs).  This works well if you don’t spray finish on a daily weekly or even monthly basis.

Sanding and scraping

I sand all of the pieces to 120 grit and definitely hand sand or scrape again after the drum sander to avoid nasty longitudinal scratches.   With well figured wood I will then hand scrape as well to better “pop” the figure once finish is employed.    Note that scraping after sanding requires more sharpening but this is a small price to pay.  For any large flat surface, scraping really is a must. It is not only faster than a good sanding job but also gives a better more transparent finish in the end (more chatoyance).  The random orbit sander no longer has a place here, as I am tired of cleaning up swirliques that show up once the stain is applied.

Spraying

Once the parts are sanded I lay them out on left over strips of wood for efficient spraying. The goal is to have them close enough to minimize wasted finish but far enough apart to get good edge coverage.  When gang spraying pieces like this  I spray at approximately a 30 degree angle so that the edges get good coverage. The rack of pieces gets 2 passes so that I can hit both sides. This means that as you walk down the row the first pass will not have full coverage on the face, but as you reverse direction for the second pass it will.  The edges achieve full coverage as the get hit when each face is sprayed.

When I first started doing spindles like this, I placed them close together and sprayed per normal directions and still had uneven sides. Using the current technique the sides turn out great and it only takes half the time as I only flip once per coat instead of four times .

Mortises and dadoes when finishing

For proper glue adhesion, you really do not want to have the finish layers inside of the joints.  Having finish inside of the joints is a recipe for glue bond failure.  The tenons are easy – tape them.

However the mortises and dadoes are more difficult. There are two major types: those that meet with a shoulder and those that do not. The top and bottom rails are good examples of those that meet with a shoulder. The mortise is hidden well within the end of the stock with the tenon that fits into it. These well hidden mortises can be covered with masking tape. The mortises and dadoes that will not have broad shoulders covering their edges are more difficult as masking tape will easily protrude on to what will be exposed areas.  Rolled up paper towels , newspaper and even wooden scraps can work, but the easiest by far is using foam “backer rod” that is used for weatherstripping and to fill the big gaps in your house that you can then caulk over.   Here we have 1/2″ backer rod filling some of the mortises.  The pieces can easily be re-used for future projects.

 

Finish schedule – all sprayed except for the gel stain:

Behlen solarlux dye – Golden fruitwood

2 light coats 1 lb cut garnet shellac

General FInishes gel stain – mix of 2 parts Georgian Cherry, 1 part Candle lite   – rub on, rub off and let dry 5-7 days. The long dry time is due to it  (oil based stain) being followed up with a water based finish

1 coat General Finishes Endurovar gloss precat water based urethane

2 coats General Finishes Endurovar Satin precat water based urethane . The precatelyzed polyurethane is exceptionally durable and UV resistant.  It is very brushable as well . I also enjoy the opportunity to promote a local business which really does have a superior product.  Their factory is <20 miles from my home.

If you are wondering; “Why gloss then satin?”. The reason is that the first coat of finish is often much heavier than the later ones,  and each coat of satin will drop the clarity of the finish. So the rationale is to build up the finish coats with gloss for depth and  sandability. Then switch to satin for the last 2 coats to provide the desired lustre.  While I would prefer to have just one coat of satin for best clarity, my technique is imperfect and I need 2 coats of satin to make sure there are not glossy patches showing through in the final finish.   I do the same with most other finishes where I want a non-gloss lustre.  The exception is Sherwin Williams pre cat rubbed effect lacquer.  This stuff is glorious, but must be used outside due to toxicity and not wanting to risk the house going BOOM.

Final assembly

Once the pieces have been finished, it is time for assembly.  This is where the epoxy comes in. This is not just the fast hardening hardware store syringes but rather the slower setting high strength epoxies from: Gougeon Brothers / West System, System 3 and Glen-L Marine Designs.  Beware of those selling “penetrating epoxies” which are basically the same base components with thinners / diluants but then lack in mechanical strength.

For the final assembly we do one last dry fit-up.  This verifies that we have all of the right pieces in place and there are no finish issues (blobs) impeding assembly.

The epoxy is thickened with silica. The colloidal silica keeps it from running or sagging during assembly. The high strength silica adds bulk. Think of adding sand and stone aggregate to concrete as the logical equivalents.   This mix is then tinted to match the darker colors in the wood.  The dark colors blend in well to the grain and look natural in the crevices of the joints if your clean up is imperfect. However if it is lighter than the background wood color it will stick out like a sore thumb.

We are also careful to clean up any squeeze out or fingerprints with plenty of paper towels and denatured alcohol. The epoxy will discolor in sunlight due to the UV rays and what may not be noticeable now may very well be in 5-10 years.

Crib – Rails and slats

Rails and Slats

Today we were mortising the crib side rails and slats. The lower rail mortises were done on the CNC  router.  Overall, there are 50 mortises to cut for the slats.

The front rails are 5″ tall and the end rails are and 6″ tall. So these had to be clamped upright to the  left pf the main work area on the router top. A new fence was made on the left edge of the work area to support the rails in the vertical position.  The fence was made from some 2×2 scrap stock. Once drilled and bolted in place, the router was used to cut the left face so that it was perfectly aligned with the router Y axis and exactly plumb.

As you can see clamping the ends is quite easy.  This is adequate for the crib end rails but not enough for the long front rail.

The front rail is about 53″ long and needs some support in the middle.  There is no good way to add a conventional clamp  as  are used on the ends.  At this time, the router does not have enough vertical travel to clear clamps placed over the top of the boards and there is always the fear of a crash with a misplaced clamp. So this was solved by taking a scrap of 3/4″ plywood and sawing it into a pair of wedges. These are placed between the stock and the side rail. A few taps with a hammer, and the wood is secured.

Here you can see the front rail clamped in place ready for the cuts.

Top end rail mortises

The top end rails need to be done conventionally with a plunge router and fence. However the start and stop points for each mortise need to be transferred to the parts.  However they are curved and there is a 6.5″ rise from the front edge to the back. Armed with a dimensioned drawing and a cutting mat, the parts were aligned to the grid of the cutting mat and a 1-2-3 block was then used as the vertical guide. A block of wood would work as well, but the mass of the metal block made things easier.  Here the leading edges of each mortise are being transferred.

The mortises now need the trailing edge marked. This is easily done by aligning one of the slats with the leading edge mark and then bringing the 1-2-3 block up to it and then making the mark.

The slats are 0.5×1.75″ and the corners are rounded over with a 3/16″ radius. This is done at the router table, which is an extension of my table saw.  Feather boards are placed to guide the cut (fewer ripples) and protect Teal’s fingers. After the photo Teal tucked the ties of her sweatshirt in.

Top Rails

The front and back top rails are curved as can be seen in the end view below. The rails start as a rectangular piece of stock 1.5×3″. 

The first task is to cut the tenons on each end. This is done at the radial arm saw with a dado blade.  An end stop is set for the length of the tenon and they are cut in 2 passes as you can see below where I am cutting the second pass.   Having the digital readout on the height adjustment greatly  speeds  up the setup.  The next step is cutting the bottom bevel which is at 38.5 degrees.

The bottom piece of the rail is 3/8 x 1 1/4″ and the mortises are again cut on the CNC router. However at that point the stock was left thick for added stability and rigidity and then after they were cut the stock was ripped to the 3/8″ final thickness.

Here the bottom piece is being glued to the rail. Note the off cut form the angle is being used to provide a grip for the clamps. It is lightly tacked in place with super glue (and some slipped).    This is another case where using many clamps with light to medium pressure works better than a few clamps with high pressure.

 

 

Crib design – final

Completed renderings

Today was Jessie’s baby shower. So I had a lot of opportunities to show off the design and gain some consensus on undecided points by 3 generations of mothers.

This image hides the front of the crib, so you can have a clear view of the back panels. 

The are 2 back panels each 1/2 ” thick. They are simple flat panel and frame construction.  The stiles are 3/4 ” thick.  The flat back panels were a hit especially by those such as Kelly who have had to clean up after the ejection of “processed formula”.

The slats are 1.75″ x 1/2″ wide with 3/16″ radiused corners. I need to remember to order some new router bits for the roundovers and the mortises…

The front and back lower rail bottom edges were lowered 1″ to allow for greater overlap with the mattress sides when it is in the bottom position (on the floor.

The inside of side rails will now be flush with the inside of the legs. This will mean there will be one screw per leg visible in the end. I am still not sure if they will be inserted from the top or sides. That will have to wait until I have the parts in hand.

Inside dimensions were double checked against the standards. I want the mattress to fit properly and not have too much of a gap.

Having the riser under the top horizontal rails will also allow it to have the mortises cut accurately without having to worry about how to jig up the curved front and back top rails.

The idea of doing some inlay work was rejected.  So much for Isla’s palm trees.

Assembly preview

As you can see above, all of the joints have a reveal. So this can be a “finish first and glue up later” process for the finishing and assembly as I have done on the craftsman style beds. This saves a LOT of time sanding, cleaning up glue squeeze out and removes worries about glue blotches. I use pigmented and thickened epoxy for the glue up. Additionally the longer set up time with a slow curing hardener allows for the alignment of the many parts that are in each assembly.

Below is a preview of this finish and assembly technique from prior projects.

Over one hundred spindles laid out and ready for finish coats. Racked out and ready for the spray, turn, spray, turn, repeat routine.Spraying on the final coats on an unseasonably  warm March day for Teal’s and my bed.Dry fit assembly and masking the joints on Elyse’s bed.

Glued up and inserting the tenons. Note the chocolate color of the epoxy.

Glue squeeze out prior to clean up with a plastic scraper and denatured alcohol.

Cleaned up after final paring of the last of the squeeze out 8 hours later. Most is wiped up early but there are some areas that it is better to wait and pare off later.  At this stage the epoxy is sort of the consistency of cheddar cheese and cleans up nicely. It is not yet rock hard as it will be at about 24-36 hours. Final joint appearance.

Staining the dressers

Finishing for “pop”

With the quarter sawn oak, I want to enhance the grain figure while also making the mix of white and red oak piece blend together.  Additionally the finish requests were for 2 different colors.  David and Elyse wanted a traditional Mission Oak style color and Jessie wanted a “Cherry” finish. This matches the colors of the beds and dressers I had made for them previously.   The technique borrows from one that I had learned from Jeff Jewitt of Homesteadfinishing.com at a Wisconsin Woodworking Guild class a number of  years ago.

Technique

The finishing schedule uses a base coat of dye, a barrier coat that locks in and protects the dye which is then sanded, a gel stain and top coats. I prefer to spray the finishes as the dyes can be tricky to do by hand  and it goes a whole lot quicker.  However if you are heavy handed with the coats they will tend to mottle. Go lightly and build gently – more coats is better than 1 heavy one.  RESIST the urge to touch up the dye. It WILL appear to be uneven when initially drying but trust that you have laid it on evenly ant it will turn out in the end.

For David and Eyse’s:

  • Transtint medium brown dye in alcohol (1 oz to 1 qt)  – 2 light coats
  • Blond shellac 1.5 lb cut – Zinsner seal coat dewaxed  diluted by 50% with alcohol.  Apply 2 light coats.
  • Sand 320 grit  – full scratch – no glossy spots
  • Minwax Bolivian Rosewood Gel stain. Wipe on, let sit 10 min and wipe off (hard)

After the shellac  (this was a bit heavy, leading to some splotching prior to sanding)

 

After Sanding . 320 grit full scratch.

After gel stain

For Jessie’s

  • Behlen Solarlux dye – Golden Fruitwood – 2 light coats
  • Garnet shellac (hock or shellac.com) 1.5 lb cut – 2 light coats.  Garnet shellacs vary in color a lot.  I use a “red” garnet vs a “brown” garnet
  • Sand 320 grit  – full scratch – no glossy spots
  • General Finishes gel stain – custom mix – 2 parts CandleLight to 1 part Georgian Cherry

For all

Apply finish coats  – typically 4 coats sanded after 2 coats and then final 2  – all sprayed

If spraying indoors in the winter I use General Finishes Endurovar Pre cat Urethane.  With 2 coats gloss and 2 coats satin. If you do all satin it will appear cloudy. All gloss and it is too shiny and I have not had great success rubbing this one out to satin.

If spraying outdoors I use Sherwin Williams Pre-cat Lacquer  Hand rubbed satin finish.   This stuff is wonderful.

Safety

All of these have some level of toxicity or at least particulate damage to your lungs. Spraying indoors is hazardous.  Any flammables (including alcohol) in the finish pose a fire and explosion hazard and lacquer certainly is a good way to make your house go “BOOM” which is why I only use it outdoors.     Relying on open windows or doors is not enough and in our wisconsin winters it is a serious problem (low temps and high winds on my west facing shop door).    For this project I was finishing while it was -5 to +8 F outside.

Wear a respirator and make sure the filter cartridges are fresh.  I sometimes forget with shellac and end up with a headache and decreasing finish quality during the session  – typically getting too heavy as the alcohol takes hold.  Not recommended. Water based finishes still have solvents in them and the particles are nasty lung irritants.   I also run a ceiling mounted air cleaner when finishing (box with a furnace blower and filters) which helps a lot.

Drawer ends

With the dovetail ends, the question arises of: “Where do you end the stain?”   Stopping at the edge of the top leaves light lines in what should be the shadows of the drawer edges and ruins the separation effect. Just swiping down the sides is ugly. Trying to stain all the individual dovetails is madness. So I mask off at the top of the dovetails and stop staining there. It makes for a nice transition.

 

All of the photos are without the final finish coats which will add yet more depth. However, I need to let the stain cure for at least 3 days and a few above zero days to apply the finish (to allow for reasonable ventilation).

Asian Inspired Sous Vide Mixed Ribs

Asian inspired mixed Ribs

I wanted to make some asian style beef short ribs. However the local store did not have any . However they had both boneless beef short ribs and baby back pork ribs on special. Since I wanted to try to do both sous vide,  I decided to do both mixed. I did not have scallions, but remembered seeing some red cipollini onions sprouting in the garden from some I missed last fall.

Marinade / cooking sauce

4oz orange juice concentrate

2 TB shaved fresh ginger (we keep ours in the freezer – easy to slice)

3-4 TB chopped green onion tops or scallions

1/3 c Soy sauce

1/4 c Rice wine vinegar

3 TB Hoisin sauce

1 tsp Chinese 5 spice blend (Penzey’s)

1/2 c brown sugar

2 TB sesame seeds

1TB sesame oil

1 scant pinch red pepper flakes.

Mix the sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer for 5 min.

Cook

Slice the baby back ribs 3/4 of the way through for more surface area

Place the meat in 2 vac bags with the sauce. Carefully remove the air and seal without pulling out the marinade

Seal and  place in the water bath

155 degrees F. for 7 hours

The pan for the sauce holds the ribs down and reduces evaporation

Bake the ribs in an open pan at 375 convect with 1/2 of the juice for 15 min . Flip the ribs over.

Boil down the rest of the juice to a thick sauce consistency and brus on the ribs after they have been flipped

Bake another 15 min and then serve.

Conclusion

The pork ribs were perfectly done. The beef ribs needed quite a bit more time. Both were delicious, but I would like the beef ribs to be more tender. Other recipes had the beef ribs at 20-48 hours at 135-170 degrees. So more experimentation is required for them. Teal (miss picky) loved the flavor and the pork. .

 

Rebuild in progress

I am in the process of overhauling my website and postings. In the meantime you can find my old boatbuilding website here: Riviera Construction Project.

In the last few years I have been letting my projects, comments and photos get scattered. This has resulted in a mix of items on Facebook, columns I have written and   various forums with the unfortunate consequence of not having a single place to go and find my prior posts which are located at:

  • Glen-l boatbuilding forum  – I was active while building and did a column for the monthly newsletter for a few years
  • Wisconsin Woodworkers Guild – I wrote a monthly column while I was president.
  • Facebook – Lots of posts , notes and photo albums including the majority of my dive photos, but not very accessible to the general public
  • Youtube – I have a Youtube Channel that will be gaining more content. Currently mostly dive videos.
  • Southbend lathe yahoo groups – Superb resource for those interested in South Bend Lathes . Huge help when I rebuilt my SBL 13
  • HID Dive Lights yahoo group   – This is where I documented much of my dive light builds
  • Hobby Machinist – Another great resource and most helpful while I rebuilt my Bridgeport Mill
  • CNC Zone – Current CNC router project resource

and more – you get the idea. Lots of scatter.

So now I will be consolidating everything back here. It will take some time to gather the various pieces back as well as get the new content posted.

The impetus for all of this is my newest project. It is a CNC router. This is another scratch built project.   I want to document the build and resources as I did with the boat and not just have it in another web site’s forum.