1.27.2015

Woodshop Hutch Desk (Part 2)

Part 1 of this series was my first semester working on my desk.  Now that I've completed my second semester - here's Part 2!

I really had not clue about how long it would take to build my custom desk out of raw wood.  I can tell you my expectations where higher than they should have been!  This last semester in the woodshop kept me busy but just by looking at my project, you wouldn't be able to tell all that I actually did with the time I had!

When the semester started all I had was the bottom carcass glued up, the top-working surface glued as well as my top-side panels.

 I started with getting the carcass ready to have the top glued on.  Originally, I didn't consider how the cross rails on the side panels have the wood grain running horizontal and how the grain on the top piece would be running parallel to that.  Not having your wood grain match up is a big 'no no' when wood working.  Because of that, I had to consider how much the top would shrink/expand  with the seasons compared to the side panels.  I definitely didn't want cracks!  I knew I couldn't glue the whole top surface to the carcass and decided to glue the front 1/3 of the top to the front of the carcass and add wood pieces in the back with slots where I could screw the back down.  Because of the slotted screw holes, the top would be able to fluctuate more than 1/2" without stressing.  It was my first time using the domino machine for the slots and it worked perfectly!

 Here's a close-up of the wood inserts.

 I decided to personalize my desk even more with a portrait of my family!

 Here I've glued the biscuits in the slots and in a minute the whole front rail will be covered with glue ready for the top!

 Here's the top all clamped up!  Because the clamps wouldn't reach far enough onto the top to press down well enough, I used two large "cauls" to run down the center panels of the carcass.  The cauls have a slight curve to the bottom edge to allow the clamps to press down more than just using a straight board.

  After many more classes I made the center panels for the top hutch, customized the 3 cross rails and made custom doweled joints and slots in the panels to accept the cross rails.  It was a LOT of work!  Here, the top is just clamped so I can make sure everything is fitting properly.  I'm playing around with the long piano hinge I bought for the big drop-down front to figure out the best way to attach it to the desk and the door (still haven't figured it out yet).

I didn't feel ready to glue up my top section because I still needed to make more shelf divider pieces and figure out how I wanted the drop-down door to attach and function.  In the meantime, I decided to work on my 2 large file drawers.  I took my time selecting the right-sized boards to give me the correct height of panels in the end (with just a bit to spare).  I don't have much wood to spare so I take extra precautions to ensure I'm doing everything right the first time without much to cutoff in the process.  Once I got my boards squared I glued them up into panels, put them through the planer until they were my desired thickness, cut them down to the exact dimensions, made the dovetailed joints, rabbited the bottom edge for the bottom and cut the bottom to the precise size.  After many small adjustments, the dry fitting was finally easy enough to do the glue up!

Gluing up is one of the most stressful things for me!  I tense up and stop breathing because of the stress.  What makes it worse is when your pieces don't fit like they're supposed to!  It's never a good thing to have wet glue all over your pieces that took MANY hours to make and them to not fit.  Thinking of the glue drying up on me when I'm not ready is the worst!  I had a few problems with some of my drawer sides not going together very well so I basically hit them with the mallet until they could have died - a few of the dovetails split in the process but I was just relieved to have everything together and square!  It was funny because there was a guy working next to me on the table and I was really frustrated during the process and must have gotten a little rough with the clamps.. he had to say, "easy now!"  Haha!


After the glue dried I was a bit horrified at how bad the joints looked...

...thank heavens for belt sanders!  I also made the sides just a smidgen too wide so I could sand them down to the exact size I needed for the opening in the carcass.

After sanding, test fitting, sanding and some more test fitting the drawers were finally looking good!  Afterwards, I finished up all the other sides and corners with an orbital sander to have perfect, baby-smooth drawers.

Next I glued up some boards for the doors that go in the center-bottom section of the desk.  I got them sized and sanded to fit into the opening just right.  I used a long piano hinge which I cut in-half for each of the doors and got them screwed on just before the semester ended.

It was hard to believe I was going to need to take a third semester class to finish, but that's okay!  I love taking the class and it's good for me to have some "me" time away from home.  I loaded up my desk and took it home for a few weeks to wait for the next class.

While at home I was able to put the drawer slides on, attach the drawers and screw on the file hanging hardware.

It looks so good with the bun feet!

Next semester is going to be stressful trying to finish everything, including the stain and finish!  Wish me luck!!

1.09.2015

Tutorial for Sewing Curved Welt Pocket Design

If you've ever attempted to make a welt pocket they can be quite challenging.  When I decided to change it up a bit and do something that looked more girlie for my bags I was surprised how easy it actually was!

With this tutorial you will be guided step-by-step to sew a pocket of your own!

Project Time:
30 minutes to 1 hour

Shopping Lists:
*scraps of medium to heavy-weight fabric for outside (non-stretch)
*scraps of light to medium-weight fabric for pocket lining (non-stretch)
scrap of fusible interfacing
matching thread
black writing pen
fabric marker/chalk

*Feel free to mix & match different colors of fabrics depending on what you want your pocket to look like.  In the tutorial I used different colors of fabric so you can better see what pieces are which.  If you have a big bold pattern like the chevron purse you may want to do a solid color for the welts because it would be nearly impossible to match the patterns for all the pieces.

Download & Print Pattern:
SMALL pocket, HERE (approximately 5"-wide)
LARGE pocket, HERE (approximately 9"-wide) <--used in tutorial

-CUTTING INSTRUCTIONS-

Out of heavy to medium-weight fabric cut:
-pocket back (1 piece)
-pocket welts (4 pieces)
-large piece for the exterior (about 3" bigger on all sides of 'pocket bag' piece)

Out of medium to light-weight fabric cut:
-pocket bag (2 pieces)

Out of fusible interfacing cut:
-rectangle 2" bigger on all sides of 'pocket opening' piece (1 pieces)


-SEWING INSTRUCTIONS-
Pin fusible interfacing to RIGHT side of large exterior piece (with fusible side UP) about 1" from top edge.  Trace 'pocket opening' over fusible interfacing.

 Stitch over pen markings with a 2.5 length stitch.

 Cut down the center of stitching and into each of the corners (be sure not to clip your stitching!)

 Cut out the bulk from the center so you have about 1/4" left, and clip into the seam every 1/2-1" for ease of turning.

 Turn the edges of your interfacing through the opening and to the back side.  Carefully iron interfacing down so that the stitched opening is crisp and holds the correct shape.

 Turn your piece back over and this is what it should look like from the front side.

 With right sides together, sew both pairs of pocket welts together along longest edge with a 1/4" seam.  Clip seam for ease of turning.

 Turn welts right side out and press flat with iron.

 Place welts under pocket opening and arrange until they look good.

 Gently pin the welts together without moving (don't pin the top layer of the top welt).

 With the top layer free of the top welt, you can open and sew just inside the seam allowance where your welts overlap.

 This is what it looks like from the back side.

 Use your 'pocket back' piece and trace the bottom edge along the bottom edge of your welts (on back sides) using a fabric marker or chalk.

Pin the right side of a 'pocket bag' piece along the marked edge of your welts.  To do this, first clip 1/4" into the dip in the center of the pocket bag and match and pin that to the dip marking of your welts.  Manipulate (without stretching/pulling) the rest of the pocket bag piece to follow the marked line and pin as you go.

Sew the pieces together by following along the marked edge/edge of pocket bag with a 1/4" seam.  Make sure you back stitch when you get to the center on each side of the clipped area.

 This is what it should look like when you're done.

 Flip pocket bag down and iron flat.

 With wrong sides together, pin welts + pocket bag on the backside of your opening.

 Top-stitch 1/8" from opening's edge across bottom edge, making sure to backstitch on both ends.

 Sew the other 'pocket bag' to 'pocket back' with right sides together, matching centers and edges with a 1/4" seam.  Flip down and iron just as before.

 Center pocket back with the welts so the "dips" match.

 Pin the back on from the top side.

Top-stitch around the rest of the opening 1/8" just as before, making sure to backstitch.

 This is what your pocket now looks like from the back side... all you have to do now is sew the pocket bag pieces together on the sides and bottom!  Do this by first marking where to sew with a fabric marker/chalk and a ruler.  Pin pocket bag layers together.

 Sew over your marks, overlapping with the top-stitching from the front by 1/4".  To sew this you'll need to fold over the top layer (where the opening is) back so you don't sew it.

 Finish off by trimming the pocket back to reduce any extra bulk.

FINISHED!!

11.15.2014

Safety Razors are for Girls, Too!

This isn't my normal kind of post but I have to tell everyone what they're missing out on!  Plus, I'm constantly reminded of how things in our grandparents days were made better and to last.  Shaving is no exception!

I lost my cartridge razor so I went online to search
 "deals on razors" and came across a sale on slickdeals.net for a double-edged safety razor.  I read about them a few years before and debated whether to get my husband one for a gift but this time I looked into if girls were using them.  I became excited after reading about them, especially how cheap the blades were!  I did hours and hours of research, reading reviews, looking at different companies, looking at YouTube videos, etc. and knew I was going to get one for ME!  There are videos of women on YouTube showing how they shave their legs with a safety razor and that gave me confidence.  After all, shaving isn't just for men!

I'll let you do your own research on double-edged safety razors/wet-shaving (or whatever you want to call it), but I found a good article on today.com that pretty much sums up everything you need to know.  Here's just a little bit of that article:


"{...proper shaving has become a lost art. Shaving is one of those glorious male [female] traditions that used to be passed down from father [mother] to son [daughter], but somewhere along the line, when shaving became more about cheap, disposable razors than a nice, precision-made metal tool in your hand, it became a brainless routine to rush through in the morning without even thinking about it. A dull disposable razor dragged across a layer of foam or gel on your cheeks [legs and/or armpits] is a step backward from the past, not an improvement. Now that men [women] of all ages are paying more attention to their appearance, it’s no wonder that the hottest trend right now in male [female] grooming is a return to the traditional wet shave – and millions of men [women] have been shocked to discover that the “old fashioned” method of shaving they thought went out with the Hula Hoop is actually the best quality shave you can get.


CAUTION: if you’ve been shaving with a disposable razor or one of the modern multi-blade cartridge systems like the Mach3, be aware that switching to a single-blade DE (double-edge) will require that you un-learn all the bad habits that modern razors are designed to let sleepy, lazy guys get away with. Mainly, that means slower, more careful strokes, and guiding the razor’s head over your skin WITHOUT PRESSING DOWN.}"


I first looked for shaving kits on Amazon and eBay.  I wasn't impressed with what you got for the price.  I didn't want a brush/razor stand where the finish would peel off, or a teeny-tiny chrome soap bowl, or a fancy-pants $50+ razor or a cheap badger brush.  For a razor, brush, bowl & stand the cheapest set was around $70 and that didn't include any soap or blades.  The sets that looked appealing to me (which still didn't include soaps/blades) were $150+.  I decided I was going to buy everything separate to make sure I was getting what I wanted, that it had good reviews and was a good price.


I wanted to share with you what I ended up buying and give you a few different options incase you're like me and want quality without spending too much.



What I ended up getting:

SAFETY RAZORS
 There are SO many razors out there!  New vs. old, short vs. long handle, 3-piece vs. butterfly, $5 vs. $99+ and the list goes on!  I spent most of my time trying to find the perfect razor for me but I really had NO clue what I wanted or what features I'd prefer.

I ended up going with a vintage 1965 Gillette "starburst" razor off eBay (top left) and a new Utopia brand from Amazon (bottom right).

I got the vintage Gillette because I saw a lot of them and they seemed popular amongst the ladies, they look feminine and you can get them for under $15... I paid $20 including shipping and mine looks practically new.

I got the Utopia because it was $14.99 shipped, it was gold which I LOVED and it has awesome reviews!  People loved how heavy-weight it is and well made.  The only complaint was that the blade doesn't sit perfectly parallel to the top of the razor unless you pay a lot of attention when putting it in before you tighten (not a deal-breaker for me).

 Bottom view.  The Utopia is almost 2 times heavier than the Gillette which is kind of nice because you can let the razor do the work for you.

The vintage Gillette is a butterfly open-type and is really easy to load/unload a blade by simply turning the 'knot' at the end of the handle.  The new Utopia is a 3-piece and slightly more awkward to change the blade, especially because of the blade alignment issue.. but it really does take just 30 seconds longer to change the blade (about every 1-2 weeks).

BRUSHES
There's so many types of brushes you can buy!  Badger, boar, synthetic... then there's what size and quality!  I read most everywhere that Badger hair is the best.  I ordered mine from aceshaving on eBay and got a small brush with mixed badger hair for $6.99 and a stand for $1.99 and a larger silvertip badger brush with a 25mm knot for $29 - plus about $10 shipping for all from China.  The silvertip is nicer than the mixed badger hair and I like the larger size for my legs.  I can't imagine someone using the cheaper-mixed badger hair on their face.. it's so coarse!

Before I spent money on a brush I wanted to know if it was REALLY necessary or if it was just part of the tradition.  Turns out the brush exfoliates your skin and removes dry skin so you get a closer shave, pulls your hair up so it's not laying down and creates a nice lather.

SHAVING SOAP/GEL
There are countless options for soaps & gels!  I ended up getting a well-known brand, Proraso, that had good reviews and was under $10 shipped on Amazon.  I also got the Arko shaving soap stick for under $3 shipped on Amazon.  Then there's you're typical shaving gel you can buy anywhere.  The Proraso has the best lather of all of these.  I first lather it in the container it comes in with my brush then do the bowl-lather method which gets it a lot fluffier and it will go further.  The Arko stick you can rub right onto your wet skin then use the brush to go over it a bunch of times to create your lather.  The gel can be applied right to the center of your wet brush and you can use your hand to do the hand-lather technique, however, I couldn't get much of a lather with the gel.  People say the Proraso and Arko will last easily  up to 6 months even with frequent use (we shall see)!

PRE-SHAVE
I got Proraso pre-shave because it was well-known and also had good reviews.  It cost about $11 on Amazon.  A pre-shave is recommended because it adds an extra layer of protection between the blade and your skin and helps the razor glide more easily.  I'm actually not too impressed with this pre-shave and will make my own when I run out (easy recipes online).

BLADES
I read that people said different blades are better for different hair/skin types.  People with coarse hair will like a different blade than someone who has fine hair.  Someone who has sensitive skin will prefer something different than someone with tough skin.  The blades are machined with different angles of sharpness and made with different metals.  I got a sample pack to find my blade of choice before I order a pack of 100 blades.  This sample pack of 30 blades was on Amazon for around $15 but you can buy 100 of the same blade for around $13!

Putting it together:

Here's a few "kits" you could put together, depending on how much you want to spend.  I believe all these products are just as good (if not better) as the kits you'd spend $70-$150 on.  You might have to wait up to 2 weeks for everything to be shipped (like the brushes from China). 

Utopia safety razor (comes with 10 blades) $15
Total =$35 with shipping

With $35 you can test out wet shaving and see if you like it!  If you want to go even cheaper you could just buy the razor and use regular shaving creme from the can (but you won't get as good of results).



Gillette "starburst" razor $20 (about)
Large badger brush $35
Proraso soap $10
Proraso pre-shave $11
Bowl (thrift store find) $1
Total =$77 with shipping

 With $77 (+cost of blades of choice) you can have everything you need to have a very nice shave with very nice products.  A brush/razor stand is something you could add later if you feel it's necessary for another $20.


What is my opinion of this style of shaving you might ask?


It takes a bit longer to shave and there's a few more products to juggle, BUT my legs don't have red spots around every hair follicle anymore (something I've been annoyed with as long as I can remember and thought it was normal!) AND it will be cheaper in the long run! ...no more spending $1-$2 per cartridge blade (DE blades go for about 10 to 20 cents each)!

I totally recommend wet shaving... even for busy moms like me!