Conoid Maple Nightstand

My daughter shared that she would like a nightstand. We measured the height, width and length needed and reviewed what it would hold (school-issued chromebook, phone, google home thing, her latest book). So, 16″ tall would be flush with top of the bed frame and it needed to be around 14″ wide and any length, but after 30″ might get in the way.

This project’s materials come from my bountiful maple milling project of 2018.

These dimensions were ideal for my off-cut bin, so I started last week…selecting stock. I milled and cut to size. Since the bed and wall are perpendicular, the piece would be least intrusive if it were a right triangle, or a conoid. I had an off-cut where the main trunk bifurcated to the large branch. The hypotenuse is a live edge. (see pics or leave comments if that is confusing)

Once the wood was flat, I taped the backside and filled holes with epoxy, including a tint that would darken to a dark brown color.

The base is trestled and attached to the top with figure 8 fasteners that allows for wood movement.

The new owner gladly finished the nightstand with boiled linseed oil. Installed today 🙂

Gratuitous Gallery

New Office Desk

Since the beginning of my working from home adventure, I have been interested in improving my home office and a big part of that is the desk at which I compute. This project’s materials come from my bountiful maple milling project of 2018.

The desk is made from two pieces of norway maple and features a live edge on the front side and 15 degree bevels on the sides. The legs are 1 1/2″ square at the top and taper on two sides to 1″ square at the bottom. The top had a substantial crack in it, which was filled with a dark brown tinted epoxy. Legs are joined to aprons with mortise and tenon. The rear apron has a usb and some peripherals attached. The front apron is arched for optimal ergonomics. The desk was frankly over-finished but I will describe it. First, I used several coats of boiled linseed oil and gave that ample time to cure. Then I did a few coats of blonde shellac. Finally, I gave it a durable finish with 3 coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal and gave that 30 days to cure, according to the product instructions.

Gratuitous Gallery

Made a new Knife Block

We have a nice collection of knives, right to left:

  • CCK Small Cleaver
  • LL Bean Carbon Steel Chef Knife
  • Wusthof Chef Knife
  • 12″ Lasting Cut Slicer
  • Scanpan Scalloped Bread Knife
  • Scanpan Carving Knife
  • 8″ Flexible Boner
  • Scanpan Utility Knife
  • 4 Paring Knives
  • Honing Steel (cropped out accidentally)

The Scanpan knife set came with it’s own knife block but it wouldn’t include some additional knives. I started the job by measuring and drawing each knife and then drawing the block itself.

This project’s materials come from my bountiful maple milling project of 2018.

I took some maple scraps and cut them into roughly 8 pieces, measuring 6″x13″x1″. Then, I had a choice of routing the slots with a router bit or a dado blade. I decided on the dado blade and it worked fine, using several passes, until complete. Then I glued the pieces together. For the internal pieces, I nailed them together and then sandwiched the outside with the cleanest pieces and no nails. Sanded to 180 grit and finished with boiled linseed oil.

Gratuitous Gallery

Super-Insulated Attic

The people from RISE Engineering gave us a proposal to put 14″ of insulation in our attic. The attic had a room in the back that needed to be demolished. Since we wanted to use the attic for storage and the existing joists were 6″ deep, I put 2″ x 8″ joists, perpendicular to the existing joists and demolished everything that had to go. I know from my bill at the dump that I removed 3000 pounds of garbage. In the process, we updated all knob and tube wiring to modern romex. In all, it’s really clean and satisfying to be done with such a major project.

Gratuitous Gallery

Patio Table: How it Failed; and how I fixed it

I built this patio table in 2016. The wood came from a mill on Coventry, where I bought a whole pile for around $100. The seller said it was Cypress, and I’ve had my doubts about that, because it is so lightweight. However, it has lived up to its reputation of resisting rot. Anyway, the top is made of two pieces and has breadboard ends. The base is all mortise and tenons. This week, someone must have bumped it pretty hard because the mortises gave out and I figured it would be good to document and share where it failed, as I consider how to salvage the top.

breadboard ends

Breadboard Ends

The first thing to fail was the breadboard ends. The idea, drawboring is supposed to make the joint last longer. In my case, the wood grain split and broke off where the drawbore was attached. See mortise and tenon below. This wasn’t a critical failure and I have left the ends loosely attached for years.

failed tenon
the mortise and drawbore pin are intact

It’s All About that Base

As mentioned earlier, the base gave way and is useless now. In retrospect, it’s easy to see why it failed – the leg isn’t straight grained, so the mortise is only supported by the grain that ran the length of the mortise. Straight-grained wood would help and it would also have worked better with a stronger wood. The leg is 2″, square. The outside of the edge of the mortise is 1/2″ thick and the tenon is 1/2″ thick, leaving a 1″ square inside.

glue joint is fine, it’s the wood that split

Final Thoughts

So, the table lasted five years. I can replace it altogether or build a new base. I’m leaning towards a new base, since the top is fine, but what wood should I use? Maybe some black locust. What construction technique? How thick are legs supposed to be? How long does a patio table last if it is build right?

How I Fixed It

Update 9/24/2021: The original base was flawed by design because the grain wasn’t running straight and the wood was weak (very light). 3″ legs seems a little awkward but, if they has a taper towards the foot, it could work but still; the added girth would only add minimal strength. The solution I chose was practical and promises durability – it’s called a trestle table. The 2 legs are attached to the top with figure 8 connectors (screws that allow for seasonal expansion). The stretcher and the through-wedge-tenon is a rigid solution that allows for easy break-down and stand-up if it is needed. Interesting to me that it should be simultaneously more durable and more aesthetically appropriate.