Where have you been? Oh wait... that's us. Where have we been? You've probably been there, waiting for us to get it together enough to update you on our shop happenings. Oops!
Well, to answer your question, we've been busy. Busy with the JD Lohr School of Woodworking. Busy with furniture-making. Busy with show room construction. Busy with brainstorming for 2018. Busy, busy. Being busy is the luckiest and most wonderful situation for a team of woodworkers to find themselves in. In the spirit of the holiday this week, we are constantly grateful to be busy doing what we love every day and managing to survive by doing so.
So, I'll use this blog entry to highlight our most recently [nearly] completed project: The Kayal Stereo Cabinet.
This project was born from the detailed plans of the customer fused with some design contributions from Rob and me. The scale model above was made as both a chance to bring his plans to life and an opportunity to show off a few base designs to choose from (he chose the one in front, in case you wondered).
The project called for mitered corners. Miters are an operation we have frequently avoided around here because, let's face it, they can be a real pain in the... well, everything. It's a joint that requires a lot of measurements to be very straight and accurate. All that said, it was a chance for me to whip up a brand new crosscut sled! We have a few different sled around the shop but we decided that having one specifically designated for 45 degree cuts would be the best option. Because we were cutting wide panels (often plagued with a slight and unavoidable cup across the width), I mounted a board between the sled's fences to provide a means to wedge the panels flat down to ensure an even cut. It works like a dream. Phew.
Then, I had my first go with a Festool Domino Joiner (we had to borrow it, calm down). What a machine, holy cow. It was fairly easy to set up and use because it's so similar to a biscuit joiner. It's similar to a biscuit joiner BUT, the adjustments you can dial in are infinitely more versatile and the joint in the end is much tighter, stronger, and properly aligned. It truly was the ideal way to join these miters. I don't think we'll be abandoning our mortise-and-tenons to sub in dominos any time soon but, I can definitely understand the hype. I'm sure we'll be borrowing it again.
We then routed some slots into the inside faces of the cabinet to accept the shelves and some rabbets for the back panels. Next was the glue up, and what a glue up it was. We had six hands on deck and lucky for us, the dominos did most of the work. We did need to fashion some custom clamping cauls made from some ripped 45-degree walnut strips screwed to plywood. We were then able to clamp between the angled cauls to pull the corners together nice and tight. For a large glue up, it did go rather smoothly. (See our Instagram @jdlohrwoodworking for a timelapse of the glue up.)
Rob whipped together a base in what seemed like no time at all. We had the approved design (inspired by George Nakashima) from our scale model to work with, and with some fun angled table saw cuts, it all suddenly became life-size. I wish I could provide more detail for you but, I turned around for a minute and it was done so I missed a lot of the action. Notched trestle connecting the bottom of the wide angled end bits, two notched strips connecting the top of the wide angled end bits, top strips serve as mounting pieces for cabinet carcase itself... you get the idea.
Rob then threw together this rad spline-cutting sled. I suggested using a router and router jig but Rob was confident in his ability to support this entire cabinet suspended above the table saw at just the right place (over and over again for 12 cuts) to saw three nice straight 1/8" relief cuts through each mitered corner of the cabinet. I shouldn't be surprised that it worked perfectly. I then milled up some walnut strips to fit and then glued them in to each spline slot to make a nice end-grain walnut accent. This spline adds a little more strength to the miter joint as well as adding a subtle and interesting detail to the piece.
We made some solid wood shelving for the inside and a plywood panel for the front that will house the speakers. This part was made incredibly easy by the specs provided by Brad. Turns out, a proper speaker/sub system requires some accurate cubic footage of space. Who knew? Mm, probably a lot of people but certainly not me.
When all the shelves were fit, everything was sanded, and the plywood speaker panel was routed, it was time for oilin'. We love when boiled linseed oil day falls on the Friday before a class week because we get the fun of seeing the whole piece come alive with color while also knowing that it can sit and dry for 5-7 days while we are busy teaching.
Right now, it sits in the rough mill right now getting it's first coat of film finish so, it's nearly done. We will ship her to San Fransisco where Brad will have a natural colored fabric screen fitted to sit in front of the speakers. I can't wait to see it all together! Thanks for trusting us with such a fun project, Brad. It was an adventure outside of our normal furniture style and the second journey in a developing love between me and mitered cabinet construction.