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Latest Weblog Entries

Magic Lamp
Entered: 2012-10-13
Edited: 2012-10-13
Type: woodworking

In my ongoing effort to combine all of my hobbies and interests into one gigantic megahobby I built this little lamp successfully fusing woodworking, electronics and microcontoller programming.

Since I'm still very new to the microcontroller thing I built and programmed the guts of the lamp following the Luminch One project on the Make:Projects site. The idea behind this little lamp is that you can adjust the brightness by waving your hand over the top and raising or lowering it. It uses a superbright white LED and an IR range finder to which all feed into an Arduino microcontroller that is programmed to adjust the power going to the LED based on input from the sensor.

After getting the circuit setup and the arduino programmed and working I opted to build a wooden framed lamp and shade to house it. The shade is a series of frames made from thin strips of walnut built with half-lap joints, with sheets of ordinary wax paper stapled in place to diffuse the light. The frames are glued to four 1/2" square pillars. The shade structure fits onto four stubby dowels coming out of the base, just to help align it.

Enough talk, onto pictures:




And a nifty video showing it in action:



The whole circuit is built on a tiny breadboard instead of soldered in place. I stuck with this idea mainly because there's about $40 in hardware inside this little accent lamp. Once the novelty wears off in a few months I'd like to recycle the expensive stuff and build a cheaper manual circuit to control the lamp.
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Cherry Lamp Stand - complete
Entered: 2012-07-11
Edited: 2012-07-11
Type: woodworking

Yikes! I forgot to update the blog (again) when I finished this table last summer. Shame on me.

Here are some nice photos of the finished table:









A nice shot with it's older brother:



A pretentious arty shot of the table in the living room:





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Library Table
Entered: 2012-07-11
Edited: 2012-07-11
Type: woodworking

Some pictures of my most recent woodworking project, a Victorian styled library table with an integrated book rack. This project was inspired by a a similar table from Popular Woodworking that was designed to be a beginners project, from their "I Can Do That" series. I modified the original design to move away from using screws and instead have everything secured with mortise and tenon joinery. The legs attached to the 'shoes' with drawbored double tenons, the shelves for the book rack and the top are secured with wedged through tenons. It's way overbuilt but I really enjoyed building it this way.

I'll try to post some construction pics in a week or three that explain better how it's put together. Like all my work this was a mostly hand tool only project. The finish is boiled linseed oil and amber shellac.









A couple of shots showing the table in use. It's a versatile little design. Here it is setup for use as a comfortable reading table:



But quickly swap out some key accessories and it's a great writing table:



;-)

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Cherry Lamp Stand Jr. part 2
Entered: 2011-08-04
Edited: 2011-08-04
Type: woodworking

In this update I add the taper to the table legs and glue the table together

Tapering table legs by hand is very easy. First I mark out the bottom of the leg 1/4" in on all four sides, giving me a 1" square the final thickness for the bottom of the legs:



Then I just mark a pair of lines from that square up to a point just below where the bottom of the apron will fit against the leg and I have my taper



Then I simply use coarsely set planes to hog off most of the wood above the lines. Then I mark the other faces and repeat. Once I've got all four tapers cut in roughly I use a finely set smoothing plane to pretty them up



Tapered leg next to an untapered one, the difference seems small on paper - 1 1/2" square at the top to 1" square at the foot - is quite dramatic when seen side by side



A couple of shots of the table with the tapered legs, this was the final dry fit before gluing it up:





The table before tapering the legs - much chunkier!






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Cherry Lamp Stand Jr.
Entered: 2011-07-27
Edited: 2011-07-27
Type: woodworking

A few weeks ago I re-arranged some furniture and moved the little cherry table I made back in '08 from the "library" to the living room. After a couple of weeks I decided I liked the change but realized it would look better if the little table had a mate so over the July 4 holiday I started a new one.

This is an interesting project because it's a copy of something I've built before and documented my progress pretty well at the time. What that means is that I get to directly compare my progress week for week between the two builds. As to be expected I'm running several weeks ahead of 2008 me and am generally doing a higher quality of work, three years of experience and tool acquisition will certainly speed things up!

This is a pretty simple table - four legs, a top, three sides and a drawer - but it has some subtle design elements that give it a very elegant and sophisticated look, in the classic American Federal Period style. The legs taper on all four sides from 1 1/2 inches square at the top to 1 inch at the bottom, the aprons are flush with the legs and the veneered drawer front is banded with thin cock beading that stands proud of the face, adding subtle shadow lines and depth.



To get the aprons flush with such thin legs it's necessary to use single shouldered tenons, otherwise you risk weakening the legs. The above photo shows two of the sides with their mitered tenons. They are mitered like that so when they meet inside the leg they don't get in each other's way. Cutting them this way, instead of leaving them short enough so their mortises don't intersect, gives you an extra 1/4" of tenon length or so which makes the joint much stronger. This is very common in table construction.





How the parts come together, not glued yet. There are a number of imperfections visible in these photos, all of which I'll be able to easily correct right before or after glue up. Some 'errors' are actually there on purpose, the not-flush areas are left that like on purpose to be planed flush after gluing the table up. This allows a little margin for error for planing away other scratches. Also - and this is one of the things I love about using hand tools so much - it's actually easier and faster to 'fix' the not flush areas after assembly than it is to try to get them perfect beforehand. Just a few swipes with a smoothing plane and it'll all be perfect.



Here's the whole thing dry fit



and with it's top on (not attached yet, that comes last)



The top. This top is actually three boards and I'm quite proud of it since it's virtually impossible to tell where the glue lines are. Compared to the first table this is a major improvement. In fact this is probably the biggest improvement in the process, I've really gotten much better at panel glue ups since I built the first table. I'm not talking about the technical ability to glue the boards together but the skill in finding just the right way to line them up so the top looks seamless. It's a tricky thing to do well and I'm proud of the results I can get now.

I'm about three weeks of on and off working into the table now. Three weeks into the first table I had only just gotten all the parts and pieces ready to start the joinery. So I guess that means I'm, uh, winning :)

Full list of all posts on both tables



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