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
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
Thanks, the new noob on the block! Peter
On 9 Dec 2006 09:15:59 -0800, " email@example.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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
to email, dial "usenet" and validate
(was jclarke at eye bee em dot net)
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.
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.
You mean you paid to have it jointed? If you run the saw against a good
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...
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.
"Every man is my superior in that I can learn from him." - Thomas
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
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