WHC: Week 16

Guess what? I made a door!

The stiles (the vertical pieces) are slightly too long, but I’m going to trim them next time. I also need to sand everything flat; this door is far from perfect, but it’s not bad for the first one I ever made!

I went into the shop on Tuesday and had a bit of a panic because, since the course is technically over, neither of the usual instructors were there. I needed help with the router table. Whoever’s running the club usually knows how to use all of the tools, so I asked for help and we found the bits. There are three bits: one to make the grooves around the edges of the rails (the horizontal pieces) and stiles that the panel fits into, one to make the grooves on the ends of the rails that the stiles fit into, and one big one to do the edges of the panel. I wasn’t sure if it mattered which of the first two I started with, so I picked the one that the panel fits into. My stiles were quite dry and had started to crack a little, so I wanted to make sure those wouldn’t crack when I routered them. I did one of them, and while it didn’t crack, I decided I should really just make new ones rather than have my door crack later. I ended up making all new rails and stiles. Advice (from experience): make sure all the wood you’re working with is the same thickness! Planing a big board through the machine one more time isn’t difficult, but sanding down an eighth of an inch or more does not sound fun to me. That’s why I made new rails, because the ones I had were considerably thicker than my new stiles.

I sanded my new pieces, then I routered all the edges to fit the panel into. It was really easy! Then I remembered that with the router table, you’re supposed to do your ends first so if they chip, when you do the length of them it will get rid of any chipping. But my rails were already done lengthwise so it was too late. With help, I set up the next bit to do the ends of my rails. I did a test piece with a jig (the jig was a piece of metal that fit into the table parallel to the fence, with a perpendicular stopper to hold my piece against. The stopper could be adjusted to different angles). I had no problems and it fit into my stiles. Then, my next piece was crooked and fit into the stile at an angle. That wouldn’t do. I realized that my two rails were from the end of a board and I hadn’t noticed, so the end wasn’t exactly straight. I trimmed both rails slightly and tried again. It came out even more crooked! Turns out the jig I was using to keep my fingers away from the router bit was moving slightly with each piece. I tried the other jig with a test piece and it moved a ton, ruining the piece. At that point I was getting pretty frustrated. With help, I made the first jig as tight and straight as possible and finished off my pieces. Two out of four ends chipped a bit, so hopefully they can be sanded so you don’t notice them.

I fit all my pieces together and they made a lovely (although slightly not flat) frame! Again with help, I set up the table with the router bit for my panel. The router table is the most annoying tool I’ve used so far. The crank that moves the bit up and down requires dozens of turns every time you need to change the bit because you also use it to slightly adjust the bit for your wood, so it has to make small movements. I suck at using wrenches apparently, making loosening or tightening the bit almost impossible for me. The fence is actually two different pieces that need to be lined up separately, and the mechanisms to move them are so far from intuitive I still don’t know how to use them; I needed help every time. The person helping me did a small test piece with the panel bit, and it turned out well. Then when I started using the bit with my bigger panel, I noticed that the fences weren’t quite lined up, making a curve in the design on my panel. After getting help to line up the fences, the panel was so easy. You router the panel incrementally so you don’t take off too much, so it’s repetitive: end, end, side, side, raise the bit, repeat. When I got close to the thickness I needed, I kept checking it with one of my pieces and continued until it was thin enough.

Then when I tried to put all five pieces together, they wouldn’t fit! Somehow, both my rails were a little thick on one end, stopping my stiles from being able to slide in. I still have no idea how that happened because I swear I held them down evenly on the router table. The person helping me set up the router table with the right bit at a slightly different level, and we trimmed off the extra thickness. It didn’t make my door loose though. Since there are so many pieces, they all hold each other together. However, the rails aren’t flat with the door, and there’s the tiniest of gaps on one side – you can tell in the picture where there’s a dark line on the left stile. I glued it all together and clamped it right before the shop was closing, so hopefully with some creative sanding, my door will end up flat and pretty. Fingers crossed!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. ben ross
    Mar 08, 2015 @ 03:13:02

    *bites nails for the fate of the door*


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