Cramps On!

All glued up!

Before lunchtime yesterday, I successfully managed to assemble my bookshelf for the very last time and left it for several hours in the cramps. I don’t think I should ‘have‘ to those extra clamps in the middle, pulling the shoulders of the shelves in tightly… Perhaps those dovetail housings could have been a little bit tighter after all?

I decided to play it safe and went with ordinary PVA (Evo-Stick), rather than Titebond I, which would have gone off far too quick on this time-consuming assembly. I started by applying glue to each of the corner joints and setting those up in the cramps, first of all – also note that I’ve made special MDF cauls, with dovetail cut-outs specific to each joint (see my article previous issue of British Woodworking magazine). By the time I go around to adding the shelves, in the current climate, I found that the adhesive on the dovetails was already beginning to turn ‘rubbery‘ – if I was doing this in the moisture-free atmosphere of the college workshop, I’d have probably used Titebond’s Extend wood glue, just to play it safe!!

That acrylic-based lacquer I was grumbling about in the previous post actually came out rather well. I only applied the one coat and de-nibbed it afterwards with 400g paper (I wasn’t after a gloss finish, inside) but it is very smooth to the touch and, as you can see below, it’s done well to highlight the medullary rays on this shelf. Almost like an oil finish yet, without darkening the wood.

Note the sheen!

As the shelves will barely be seen (even when the unit is empty), I don’t think it matters that the shelves are made up of narrower widths, like this. It’s more economical and should also provide each shelf with increased stability (…not that any of this is likely to move with the dovetail joints and all that glue!).

Until I’ve bought some ash home from college at the end of the forth-coming week, this is it for now, as far as progress on the bookshelf is concerned. I’ll also leave sanding and finishing the outer faces of the carcase until the drawer is also ready (which should mean I only have to clean the spray gun once). After lunch, I bought a load of oak in from my “centrally-heated wood store” (!!!) that I’ll be using to build a small cabinet for the Furnish exhibition in July. This will be made of brown oak and regular ‘white’ English oak, which should provide an interesting contrast. I also have at least one other piece where I’d like to try this experimentation but, as yet, I haven’t decided on the most appropriate finish and so, will be producing a couple of samples, shortly. Do I want to darken the timbers with an oil finish, or not?

Will the dovetailing ever end?!?

Progress on this one is really moving at some pace. After the first day, I’ve hand-cut all the dovetail joints, cut the sliding dovetails for the shelf and, after a good sanding on all interior faces, the main cabinet is almost ready for assembly – I just need to finalise the shape of the curve on the front and get that cut. I’m also pleased to add that these dovetails are looking many times better than the ones on the cherry bookshelf [not that you’ve seen those, yet…]. What’s more, the new dovetail saw cut through this oak like breeze; particularly the brown oak, which was kiln-dried when I bought it in late 2008.

I’m not prepared to give too much away, this time, as I reckon this is one piece that could interest a certain magazine editor, with a curved drawer front and other ‘challenges‘ to come! I would like to do a short video when it comes to cutting the <200mm wide veneers for the curved door panel – that should be a good test for my Startrite bandsaw and one of the ‘Supertuff‘ blades from Tuff Saws! 😉

Thanks for reading.

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