Starting my first REAL furniture project...

this weekend. Finally got enough tools to do a fairly simple job....I think. Router, Miter Saw, lots of clamps, saw horses I made last weekend, workbench I made the weekend before, bisquit joiner, hand planer, jigsaws, drills, circular saws etc. I know, still missing a couple of essentials, table saw, band saw, jointer, thickness planer etc. I'm slowly acquiring things as I can afford them in a somewhat prioritized order. Anyways, so I'm gonna try to start my first real project this weekend from some plans that came from Popular Woodworking. It's an Asian Style Coffee table. Before I start I had a few questions. Most of this project is hardwood ply. which is why I chose it for the first project, since I dont have a jointer etc. to flatten wood yet. 1st question is, in the plans the 3/4" ply carcasse is glued up with simple butt joints and bisquits for alignment. I'm sure it must work but I guess I'm skeptical that glue can hold a case together like that, no rabbets or anything. Am I crazy? 2nd question involves the solid wood table top and legs. Since I don't have a jointer or thickness planer, I paid a little extra to have my stock planed at the lumber yard. If I make cuts with my circular saw parallel with these edges will I be good to go, or do I need more prep?
3rd question involves the drawers (2). The plans are pretty skimpy. They don't mention anything about the drawers other than cut dimensions and that you obviously need to make them. They are basically a simple box with a solid wood face. No mention in the plans of joinery. 1/2 ply for the back and sides, 1/4 ply for the bottom. Obviously, the plans were probably written for more experienced woodworkers who wouldn't need guidance in this trivial part of the project. Not me! LOL. What sort of joinery would you recommend for a virgin? I bought a dovetail jig with my router but I'd assume that that would take a while to master since I've never used it or a router for that matter. Any suggestions? Thanks, the new noob on the block! Peter
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On 9 Dec 2006 09:15:59 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

First, I'm a finish carpenter not a furniture builder but I'll give you my two cents and maybe some of the other guys who have more experience in furniture can help out as well.
1) That does not sound good to me. Plywood does not make as strong a butt joint as solid wood. The biscuits will help but I would still be concerned. Further, I would always suggest that someone might sit on a coffee table so it should have decent strength. If the design allows you could consider adding blocks, gussets, etc, to increase the glue surface area.
2) If you are going to use a circular saw you will need to use your hand planes to clean-up the cuts. I would also make every cut using a guide... a straight-edge.
3) I would work with the Dovetail Jig to make the drawers. Practice first and get to understand how to arrive at desired dimensions, getting good fitting, etc
Most important - take it slow. Rushing is always the biggest pitfall in woodworking.
Good luck
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On Sat, 09 Dec 2006 17:58:26 -0500, Joe Bemier

This is the biggest pitfall in everything.
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wrote:

I rushed when I was responding to a fire. <BG>
Max ( who needs to rush no more)
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On Sat, 09 Dec 2006 23:39:12 GMT, "Max"

There's a big difference between working quickly and rushing.
The firefighters I know work quickly.
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wrote:

Uh..........<BG> means "big grin". As Foghorn Leghorn used to say, "It's a joke, son, it's a joke."
Max (33 enjoyable years, 19+ as Chief)
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On Sun, 10 Dec 2006 05:27:58 GMT, "Max"

Gotcha! <G>
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, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com" wrote:

What issue of Pop WW are the plans in. I might have a copy and could be more helpful if I could see the plans. Would a dado be possible where you mention a butt joint. Much, much stronger. I would use Birch ply for the drawer sides and just about any good 1/4" ply for the bottoms. There are several methods for joining the corners of the drawers other than a butt joint. see: http://eagleamerica.com/search.asp?ss=drawer+lock among others. You mentioned a dovetail jig; practice on some scrap. Once you learn how to use it, that's the only drawer joint you'll want. <G> If you haven't used a router it would be wise to get a book (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc) There are a number of cautions you should be aware of.
Max
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It's actually this book .... (Amazon.com product link shortened)65727185/ref=sr_1_1/002-4630946-5204840?ie=UTF8&s=books It has plans taken from Popular WW. Max wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You have all you need to get going. Don't worry about filling up a shop with stuff that you have to put a large outlay of cash into, and worse, don't know how to use. We only had the tools you list above years ago when I started and we (me as a helper) built anything from front doors to bookcases. I think the worst thing I see with the DIY folks is the thought that they "have to have" certain tools. Learn to use hand tools properly and you will be glad you did. Remember, Duncan Phyfe didn't have one single electric tool; take a look at his work.

I understand that you want to make a nice project right off that bat that you can use and be proud of. But on the other hand, with little or no experience you should try a smaller project (or 3) to familiarize yourself more with your tools and what they do and how to use them. I think you are underestimating this task, especially if you haven't cut large square plywood planks, etc. with a circular saw. I believe that you will do yourself and the materials a large disservice if you turn out a bad project because you make too many mistakes.

You don't NEED a laner or jointer. I they are both expensive to buy and keep in blades. If you are a casual user (or a someone like me that doesn't want to pay labor to stand there and plane), you should put the money into the wood for 2 reasons: #1 if you are a casual user, how much uses would you get out of a $600 joiner or a $400 planer? If you 4-5 times a year project costs you an extra $35 (thinking your coffee table here), so what? Would you rather be planing wood or working on your project when you have shop time? How long would it take you to recoup your investment? #2: You can see what you are getting. You KNOW what the planed surface and the grain will look like when you buy it. No worries about snipe, tearout, case hardened wood (improperly dried), etc.

Butt joints on plywood is a no-no. You need some kind of mechanical assitance whether it is some type of joint or mechanical device (dowels, etc.) Your plans should have something in them that covers this subject.

You will be OK with the circular saw with some planning. If I am reading this right and your material is S4S (Smooth 4 Sides) and is ready to go, then you can do your glue up with all jointed edges. To make this glue up work without a table saw, jointer, etc. do this: Glue up all your boards for width, aligning them in the clamps for best fit; remember to alternate the grain patterns to increase the stability. Find the center of your new top on each edge. Take the plan size of the table top and center your dimensions on the glued top. This will give you two parallel lines on each long end of the top. Connect the lines with your circular saw, then plane or sand the saw marks off the ripped edge. Chances are that your edge pieces will not be the same size as your center pieces, but then you didn't have a table saw/jointer to work with either. Personally, if it were me and the piece was only a couple of inches off, I would adjust the size of the base to fit the top.

I would stronglty recommend that you beat it down to the library, or at least to Barnes & Noble to look at the types of joinery available to you. You should be suitably overwhelmed, but then also be able to find a good joint design that would suit your skill set. People spends years working on nothing else BUT their skills in joining wood, so a few sentences on the net is probably just a waste of time. You should see how they look finished and how they are accomplished anyway.

Good luck buddy! But I have to tell you I would be thinking about a bird house or small utility box with drawers for my first larger project, both with fancy practice joinery so I could practice my cutting, layout, and connection skills.
Robert
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On Sat, 09 Dec 2006 15:07:25 -0800, nailshooter41 wrote:

Well, I don't know about you, but it takes me a Hell of a lot less time to pull a board off the rack, run it through the jointer, run it through the planer, and go to work than it does to drive down to the lumberyard (which is not an option at the hours that most "casual users" get to spend in the shop anyway), pull wood off the rack, have it planed and jointed, and then take it home and get to work.
You talk about "would you rather be planing wood". I'm curious, exactly how long do you think it takes to run a board through a planer? You give the impression that one spends hours and hours doing this.
As for "to keep in blades", how often do you think the blades need to be changed? You act like one goes through three sets of blades on one board or something.
I agree that one doesn't _need_ a jointer or a planer, but you are coming across as if they are to be avoided, and that's just plain nuts.

,-- --John to email, dial "usenet" and validate (was jclarke at eye bee em dot net)
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Thanks for the thoughtful response. Much appreciated! snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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I think this is an excellent piece of advice. One of the things that many folks here try to do is add one new skill, technique or tool with each project. You are trying to tackle a pile of them. Of course, to get into the game you have to dive in at some point... just initially, you should expect to encounter some missteps.
For example, one of the first boxes I ever made with nice wood, I sanded the components before assembly. The rounded the corners (from presanding by hand)made an unsightly indent where surfaces were supposed to mate "flush".... Oops I didn't anticipate that.
Each of your 3 questions could rightly be answered by "that depends".
1. Butt joints w/ Biscuits could be poor or perfectly adequate depending on the scale or the rest of the design. Although biscuits to provide alignment, I'll bet they are structural in this application.
2. How to make a drawer.... there's lots of ways to skin that cat, but save dovetails for another day. It depends on the design again. Inset or overlay? Dados are simple an effective of you have the tooling for it.
3. Circular saws and jointing.... I though we were using plywood? anyway
If you consider this piece to be a prototype, you will be doing yourself a huge favor. Make sawdust; make mistakes. Come back here with a specific problem and you will lots of advise (most of it pretty good) on how to handle the issue.
Good luck
Make dust
Steve
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I don't know if you are crazy, but you are right to be skeptical here. Butt glued ply will have very little strength. Biscuits will help, but not all that much since they won't hold in the ply that well. You have router, rout a dado; that will improve things considerably. Or use some nails. Yeah, they are real unprofessional, but not as bad as having it fail. It is amazing how much strength nails add. I built a little TV stand out of scrap plywood and nailed butt joints; I always wondered if it was strong enough. When I got sick of seeing it, I decided to find out just how strong it was. I was able to crack the joints by jumping on it; but it took 200 pounds of weights AND jumping on it to make it actually break.

straight edge it ought to be okay. A free cut would be beyond my ability.

Unless I especially want the drawers to be pretty for some reason (and you sure can't do that with ply) I just use rabbets in the front and butt joints in the back, with brads. I cut slots to hold the bottom, but without a TS or router table butt joints should be good enough.
Without proper tools you are a little restricted in what you can do. My first big project, a narrow bookcase, sits in our entry way. I can show you about 5 serious defects in it, but a non-woodworker will never see them. I keep thinking about replacing it, but when it looks good to everyone...
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I agree. Maybe I'll just do it like the plans call for first. If it seems flimsy maybe I'll countersink some screws and cap them or something. Thanks! Toller wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Many years ago when I was young and stupid, I thought wood glue was majic and it would hold any two pieces of wood together in any orientation. I didn't know that end grain makes a weak glue joint or that plywood doesn't glue well on the edge. I made several drawers of plywood with simple butt joints glued together. After 20 years of daily use, none of those joints have failed. I was visiting a friend's new house the other day. Big house, kitchen bigger than my living room, granite countertops everywhere and custom built cabinets (she drew up the plans herself). I pulled out a kitchen drawer to see how they made it. Four pieces of plywood glued with butt joints and a groove for the plywood bottom.
Now I'm not suggesting that you take the attitude that good joints don't matter, just let the glue hold it. I'm just saying wood glue is a lot stronger than we sometimes give it credit for.
Here's a tip from the Titebond website. Mix a little wood glue half and half with water. Brush it on the plywood edges that you intend to glue together. Let it dry, then glue as usual. This treatment seals the edge grain to keep it from absorbing too much glue, which is the real problem with ply and end grain glueing.
DonkeyHody "Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him." - Thomas Carlyle
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Was it me, I'd look into using dados or mortise and tenon rather than butt joints. Dado's tend to hold the parts in alignment while the glue dries, increasing your chance of things coming out square. They also increase the gluing area so the glue join is stronger. Your router will make good dados or mortises just so long as you use a guide. I do dado's on my radial arm saw, but that's just 'cause I have one. Router will work fine.

Yes. By "circular saw" I assume you mean a handheld Skilsaw rather than a table saw. With a good carbide blade and a VERY carefully aligned straight edge guide you ought to be able to get good results. This is really a table saw job, but the Skilsaw can do it if you are really careful in setting up the guide. Use a square to double check that the Skilsaw blade in truly perpendicular to the bottom plate of the saw. Don't let the clamps holding the straight edge guide chew up the surface of table top. A good blade will leave a nice smooth surface that is ready for finishing with just a little sanding.

Well, if I had a dovetail jig, and the dovetail router bit to go with it, I'd do dovetail joints. Practice a couple on cheap scrap and then go for it. Drawers call for dovetail joints. There are other ways, but since you have the dovetail jig, why not use it and have the best? And then rout a dado into the drawer sides,back, and front to accept the drawer bottom.
David Starr
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