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Steve Maskery

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My bedroom is a mess. I have far too many old clothes, a bit of shelf space, a couple of garment rails (one of which is collapsed) and a lot of untidiness.

A wardrobe has been on the tuit list ever since I moved in, 5½ years ago, but now that the rest of the house decorating is complete, I don't have any excuse.

I've made a number of wardrobes in the past using pocket hole joinery, and have always been pleased with the result. This is one from 2006:

06 Finished Wardrobe small.JPG


and a curved breakfront one from 2004:

60finished small.JPG


But what with Life an' all, I've not made another one since.

I have a good-sized alcove in my bedroom where this can stand. I can make the wardrobe 1.9m wide and still have plenty of clearance for the light switch and power point, and by keeping the doors to a modest 475mm in width, I ensure that they do not swing out too far into the room when open.

I've not finalised the style of the doors yet, but the general structure will look something like this:

Wardrobe no doors.png


I'm already having second thoughts about the drawers, but the general layout is:
1. Single for long hanging
2. Double with double-decker rails for shirts
3. Single with shelves

Each cabinet will be pocket-screwed together. This enables me to build it in the workshop, but transport it upstairs one panel at a time, as with any suppository furniture*. It doesn't help that I have a 180º return half way up the stairs and on that landing the ceiling is only 2m above the floor. Don't ask, before my time.

The material of choice is, of course, oak-flavoured MDF. Now don't turn your nose up like that, it is good stuff in many ways. It is uniform, it is reasonably flat, it is readily available and it is affordable. The downside is that the edges are as ugly as sin.

To be continued.
*You put it up yourself.
 

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memzey

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Watching with interest. Are you going free standing as opposed to built in?
 

Steve Maskery

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The first job is to make a load of lipping. I bought a board of what I thought was white oak, but now it is planed up it looks very red to me and it is very coarse. The board started out at 190mm wide and I've managed to get all 70m or so out of the same board.

I do have a very good rip blade

P1050639.JPG


250mm dia, 24T. Nice big gullets. But this blade is designed for cutting thick material, 2" and above. Such cutting produces a lot of waste and those big gullets are great at carrying it all away.

But those teeth are a long way apart, and as my stock is 22mm thick, it means that as the blade rotates there are only two teeth and maybe even only one tooth in the thickness of the board at any one time. It's not enough. Each tooth hits the surface of the board with a bang and it is a very rough process. We aim for at least 3 for a smooth cut. I need more teeth.

Now I used to have a nice 36T blade which was ideal for ripping thinner stock like this. Not as coarse as my rip blade, but not as fine as a crosscut blade. Smaller gullets than the rip, but as I'm not producing as much sawdust, they are still big enough. I don't have that blade any more. If you've got it, I'd like it back please.

But I do have a combination blade

P1050641.JPG


It has a rip tooth, FTG, followed by 4 crosscut teeth, ATB. It rips and crosscuts fairly well. The ripping is not as fast as a proper rip blade, and the crosscut is not quite as smooth as a proper CC blade, but it does both adequately and it lives on my saw most of the time.

This lipping is going to end up only about 5mm thick - 2mm visible plus a 3mm tongue on the back, so it is quite fragile. I want it to have as much support as possible whilst it is being attacked by the blade, so I fit a brand new Zero Clearance Insert.

P1050642.JPG


I don't want the wood to pinch on the blade so the Riving Knife stops the two halves of the cut closing up, and a short rip fence, stopping just short of TDC, gives the strip somewhere to go to if it decides to go off on its own.

P1050643.JPG


Finally an overhead guard keeps me and the blade as strangers.

P1050644.JPG


The actual machining is a two-stage process. The first is milling the tongue on my Router Table. I've bought a new matched pair of cutters for this project, but when I tried them out, the tongue was so loose that it just fell out. Fortunately, the cutter came with a little packet of shims, and two did the trick.

P1050645.JPG


I want the tongue to go in easily by hand, but not be loose. If it is tight, however, it will be very tight when it has glue on it, and it is the easiest thing in the world to split an MDF board edge.

So, 1: Mill the tongue

P1050652.JPG


Then, 2: Rip the lipping

P1050648.JPG


When the board gets a bit too narrow to hold safely, I hot-glue it to a carrier board

P1050650.JPG


The result is a strip of lipping that fits perfectly with just a mm or so to trim off.

P1050649.JPG
 

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Steve Maskery

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memzey":fqdead9q said:
Watching with interest. Are you going free standing as opposed to built in?
Free-standing. This is an old house and the floors are not level. So I shall put a board on the carpet and sit the base of the wardrobe on that. There will be 8 adjustable feet, accessible from inside the wardrobe, to keep the whole thing level and properly upright, otherwise I won't stand a cat in hell's chance of getting the doors to hang properly.
 

sammy.se

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Great WIP Steve. Following.
You didn't fancy making a video series for YouTube? Not too late to start...

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk
 

Steve Maskery

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I forgot to mention. There is another reason for using the combination blade. That rip blade has a kerf of 3.2mm, whereas the combi is 2.7mm. It may not seem like a lot, but those 0.5mms all add up, and by using the combi I actually get a whole extra piece out of the same board, as well as making less sawdust.
Actually I don't mind the sawdust, I have two large sacks of it now, enough to keep my smoker happy for the whole season. Perhaps I should start flogging it on ebay, £5 a bag. I could probably recoup the cost of the board...
 

Steve Maskery

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There are a couple of challenges in the breaking down of the veneered MDF. The first is setting my tracksaw perfectly parallel to the edge for ripping, and the second is how to ensure that all the panels that should be the same size are identical.

I use a couple of shop-made jigs for that.

1. Track-setting gauge.

One of the first things I ever filmed for my DVD series was my track-setting gauge. Trying to set a track accurately to two pencil marks is not easy, especially when the track rubber is black, like the pencil mark. It is much easier to reference off the firm, solid substantial back edge of the track. So I have a setting gauge that consists of a moveable head, like a marking gauge, with a cursor on it. The long stock has a scale on it, but it does not start at 0, it starts at about 175mm, which is the width of my track. So I can set it to read 551, use it to set both ends of the track, and I know that the cut will be parallel to the edge and my panels will be exactly 551mm deep. Actually, as I am using a rod here, rather than measuring, I don't need to know the 551 dimension, I can simply make a pencil mark from my rod and set to that.
45945-56983011.JPG


I set both ends of the track and that way I know it is perfectly parallel to the edge to make the rip cut.

65145-74967014.JPG


2. The length stop.

Having ripped off two lengths, I now use my MFT to cross-cut them. I took a few millimeters off the end first, to give me a clean end (the factory cut was a bit coarse) and marked where I wanted to cut directly from the rod. That mark was set to the edge of the track.

I want to get three smaller panels (for the tops and bottoms of the cabinets) and one from the other. The I shall cut the two larger panels (for the top and bottom of the centre cabinet) from what is left.

So I install my adjustable MFT length stop into my MFT and set it up to the end of the panel. After cutting the first panel I move the board up to the stop and cut again. I can cut all four panels this way knowing that they are identical.

There is another thread on here if you want more details of the length stop.

92729-113346023.JPG


(I have a problem with my camera at the moment. I don't know whether it is the camera itself or the card. I'm losing lots of photos. I did re-format the card and it seemed to fix things for a while. I used Easus to recover nearly all the lost shots, but as it's happened twice now I've bought another card and am ditching my existing one. I hope it is the card and not the camera...

Some of the recovered files are out of focus. I don't know if that is a data error or just my lousy photography, but I am not happy with the shots. My stuff gets published in Italy and I need better shots that the above for print. Fortunately I have some more sheets of MDF arriving this week and shall have to do all the above again for the side panels and doors, so I shall get another chance of getting them done properly. If I do, I'll substitute them for the wonky ones above.)

The next stage is to lip the panels and I've made a router stabilising foot to help me fight gravity with that one, so I think this week it will be More Of The Same. I'll post again when I get to gluing the lipping and trimming it flush.
 

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stuartpaul

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Steve,

Do you not use your jig that references off the front of the rail anymore or is this just a back of the rail option (which I shall be copying again!)?
 

Steve Maskery

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Hi Stuart
I use both.
This one is for panels wider than the track. I have another that references of the channel, but is calibrated to what is cut off, rather than what is left behind.
So if I want to cut of a 75mm strip, I use the latter.
The difference is where the thickness of the kerf is.
In both cases it is in the waste, of course.
 

MikeG.

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I use an adjustable square for precisely the same thing, albeit for locating a piece of aluminium channel rather than a purpose-made track. Naturally, this is limited to about 275mm, and involves a calculation, rather than just reading off a scale as with Steve's neat thingamejig.
 

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Steve, with regards to the lost photos, are you filling the card each time? Some cameras have a setting where when they run out of space they will overwrite the oldest content. Potential culprit?
 

Steve Maskery

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Sorry Rick, I've just realise I never answered you. No, It's not card capacity that is the problem. But new card has resolved it all, so all good now.
 

Steve Maskery

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Having cut the boards down somewhat (they are still a tad over-width, but I'll deal with that later), it is time to attach the first lippings. The top and bottom panels will have just the front edges lipped, the side will have both front and back lipped.

To cut the groove, I use the other matched cutter, but I want to cut just about 3 or 4mm deep, not the whole 12mm that the bearing would give me. That means using my parallel fence, and that in turn means that there is very little surface area of the router base left to ride on the workpiece, especially at the start and ends of the cut. It becomes all to easy to tilt the router, so I made a router stabilser foot to prevent that. It works very well indeed, I'm glad I went to the trouble of making it.

19 Foot in main position.JPG


I want to keep these boards as clean as possible, I certainly don't want glue dribbling down ruining my veneer or the finish, so to make clean-up easier I've given the boards a coat of hardwax oil. I also need to be mean with the amount of glue that I apply – enough but no more. I want to be Canny Kenny not Juicy Lucy. Just enough to get squeeze-out but not enough to run.

So after routing the shallow groove, it's time to glue the lippings in place. The first thing I found was that not all the lippngs were as perfect as I thought they were. Most were fine, but a few had either a wonky tongue (I'd obviously not been quite as diligent at keeping the board down on the router table as I had thought). That is easy enough to remedy with a shoulder plane. Another couple had tablesaw marks from the board not being held in as tightly as it should have been. One was shallow enough to plane out, the other was toast.

There is a difficulty with clamping such thin lippings, in that clamps exert pressure points unless a caul is used. The thicker the caul the fewer clamps are needed to get even pressure. For the smaller boards I used a length of 2x4, for the longer boards I used one of the off-rips from the boards themselves.

It's helpful to stagger the clamps, half on one side half in the other, to ensure that I get glue squeeze-out on both sides.

P1050809.JPG


P1050820.JPG


If you can't see both sides at once, glue up with the show face where you can see it and hope for the best on the other side. After 20 minutes or so, remove the clamps and turn the board over. If there are any gaps, work in some glue and re-clamp, it's not too late.

P1050814.JPG


Once cured, the lippings are trimmed with a small router fitted with a trimming base, given a fine sanding and beveled with a block plane (or with a route fitted with a chamfer bit – I prefer the quietness and rhythm of a block plane).

P1050816.JPG


P1050815.JPG


The face of the lipping (new edge of the board) is still a sawn surface, so that needs a couple of swipes with a sharp plane, too.

As I write this, I have all my main boards (not the shelves, but they can wait) with one lip and one coat of hardwax oil on every show-face.

P1050817.JPG


Tomorrow I shall rip them to final width, trim to length and apply the second lipping.

Or at least, I'll make a start on that...
 

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Steve Maskery

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All my carcase panels are now lipped and square - eventually. I had one panel that was not as square as it should have been, I must not have had it hard against the dogs. Not far out, but needed rectifying, as well as its mate.

So I put together a sort of proxy assembly - the single-double-single panels, with a few scraps to represent the cabinet sides, and saw how it all sat together.

I am nearly 2mm short on width. Now that might sound quite sloppy, but remember that that is the cumulative error of 9 components - side-bottom-side, side-bottom-side, side-bottom-side and this is a wardrobe it's not the International Space Station, so I'm simply going to modify my rod to take into account reality.

It's only important because the plinth base needs to be the same size as the cabinets. OK a mm or two isn't going to be the end of the world, but I want it to be as right as possible, and once I start deviating, who knows what calamity might befall me later on? Internal consistency is more important than absolute dimensions.

But before I cut my plinth components to (the new) length, I need to mill a groove in them, to take the adjustable feet which are going to keep this thing level in a very un-level world.

I fit a standard 1/8" rip blade into my TS and also fit my rebate/grooving fence that I documented on here a while ago. I don't use it very often, but when I need it, it does the job perfectly. The 1/8" kerf accommodates the flange on the adjustable foot just right.

P1050839.JPG


I thought long and hard about how I am going to join these corners together. I can't use a basic butt joint as the groove will show. I did think of using a mitre lock joint on my router table,

P1050835.JPG


but it is a difficult cutter to set up and these are long and quite heavy lengths to manipulate. So I've settled on a standard mitre joint, reinforced with a biscuit. I did consider a spline, but again I have the size/weight/ manipulation problem.

So I cut the mitres on my SCMS. Now this is a good saw, it is well set-up and the blade is sharp. So why is the cut less than a perfect mitre? Well the blade is quite large at 300m and is also thin-kerf. So it wobbles a bit in use, we call it flutter, and that is enough to give me a rounded, very slightly rounded but rounded nonetheless, surface. It's really only noticeable when I put two surfaces together, but it does need sorting out. Enter my mitre shooting board (there was a thread on here recently about this very same, indispensable for a job like this).

P1050838.JPG


P1050830.JPG


P1050831.JPG


P1050834.JPG


A couple of swipes with a sharp plane and I have a perfectly flat, straight mitre. Of course, it is necessary, but not sufficient, for all the corners to be shot at 45 degrees. Opposite sides must also be exactly the same length, otherwise I just end up with a wonky 4-sided shape.

There are also a couple of cross-braces to cut, equal in length to the inside dimension of the ends.
 

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Steve Maskery

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Mitres are difficult joints. They are difficult to cut, difficult to align and difficult to clamp. And they are not even very strong, as we are dealing with 50% end-grain. However, I can counter at least two of those weaknesses with a biscuit. It will add enormous strength and also stop things from moving when gluing up.

The biscuit needs to be positioned carefully. I want it to be as close to the tip as I can get without breaking out through the front face of the plinth.

My biscuit jointer has a preset indent for 45 degrees, so that makes it easy to set up. But the machine itself is heavy and it is the easiest thing in the world to let it tip, so I make sure that the workpiece is securely clamped so that I need only worry about holding the machine securely.

P1050849.JPG


P1050850.JPG


For the cross-braces, I'm also using biscuits (I did consider sliding dovetails – they would have been better but life is too short). I know that the faces of the biscuits will be against end-grain, but there is absolutely no force to push them apart, all the weight is downwards here, and given that I will also have steel brackets in the corners, I think this will be plenty strong enough.

So to cut these joints I mark the position of them directly from the proxy-assenbly, then fold the cross-brace down as if it were hinged. Two plunges with the BJ, one horizontally and the other vertically, give me just what I want.

P1050843.JPG


P1050844.JPG


P1050845.JPG


P1050846.JPG


I'm gluing this up in sections. First I'm gluing the front ends of the cross-braces (those nearest to me in the photograph) with just dry biscuits in the other two ends. This way I don't have to worry about getting everything together at once, but I still get enough structure to ensure that everything stays square.

P1050851.JPG
 

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powertools

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Nice to see that you still understand that there is still a good use for a biscuit jointer and that square you showed us and I made for myself has now become a go to tool in my workshop.
Many thanks for sharing.
 

Steve Maskery

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I've been doing the glue-up in stages over the last couple of days, as it is too much to manage 4 mitres and 4 M&Ts simultaneously single-handedly.

So the first step was to glue the front ends of the two cross-braces - the front ends (nearest to me in the photo) ends are being glued, the back ends just have dry biscuits in them.

P1050851.JPG


Then it was the turn of the front RH mitre:

P1050853.JPG


and the rear LH mitre:

P1050852.JPG


The advantage of doing it this way is that I only have to worry about getting one ,or at the most, two, joints right at a time.

Today, though I have to glue those two sub-assemblies together - a bit trickier, but manageable.

I remembered to check for square and wind - the front left corner (right in this photo) is a bit low. It always is in assemblies, I think I must have a problem with my table.

P1050855.JPG


But a bit of packing sorts that out.

P1050857.JPG


Hmm a bit too much, I think.

P1050859.JPG


That's better.

The next stage will be the flat frame.
 

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Steve Maskery

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Steve Maskery":bts3wt7z said:
The next stage will be the flat frame.
I lied.

The plinth is now fully glued up and I am feeling smug. The diagonals are the same to the millimetre and all the joints are clean and tight.

P1050860.JPG


There is a bit of glue squeeze-out to deal with and the arrises need a swipe, but that is it. Very happy.

I have got a little bit of black staining. I think I must have been a bit careless with the glue and the steel clamps, but fortunately none of it is anywhere where it will be seen. I must be more careful though.

The foot plates are now screwed in. They came Bright Zinc Plated, but nevertheless I thought they would benefit from a couple of coats of paint to keep the steel and the tanin in the oak as far apart as possible. I'm using stainless steel screws, too.

P1050861.JPG


Now I can lay out my three cabinet floors with proxy sides in place and lay my base on top. The back of the floors are flush with the inside of the back of the base, and the cross-braces sit directly over the proxy cabinet sides. I can then mark through the holes in the plates and drill accordingly.

marking access holes.jpg


drilling access hole.jpg


Just a heads up for that little bendy light you see in the picture above. Tenner from IKE - IEA -IKA, sorry my keyboard obviously has an aversion to typing the word. It's perfect for use on the drill press, it comes with a spring clip and fits onto my DP table. Brilliant.

I did want to run a small chamfer round the edge of the hole, but when came to install the cutter in my new little GMC trimmer, I found it would not fit. I'm pretty certain it has come with a 6mm collet instead of a 1/4" one. Not the same, is it? I've emailed the seller and we'll see what happens. Pity as it came with both the fixed base and a plunge base for not very much money.

I do have other routers I can use, but the small ones are set up for other tasks at the moment.

The next stage will be the flat frame....

Edit: Reply from the router seller within a couple of hours, along the lines of, "Terribly sorry and all that, there will be a collet in the post to you today". Excellent.
They did say they check everything before it goes out (the box was damaged and had been opened). But I think this must be a grey import, as it came with an adaptor rather than a proper UK plug. So if it was originally intended for mainland Europe, then that would explain the 6mm collet (even though the manual said 1/4") and I don't think that a warehouse checker would notice that it was a 6mm collet rather than a 1/4" one. I can't say that I think that I would. So a happy bunny.
 

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