An Introduction

My name is Jay Oyster. By trade, I'm a manager in the IT industry, but by inclination, I'm a woodworker. This site began as a place for me to share my projects, my ideas about design, and my commentary on the world of woodworking. But since it's my site, I occasionally use it to talk about other things, such as politics, religion, pop culture, science, the space industry, and literature. Basically anything that catches my interest.

My thought processes, and my projects, are very Ent-like. They take a long time to develop. I take forever to finish large things. But I occasionally erupt in periods of intense activity, even becoming, dare I say .. . "hasty". 


 

Tansu Teabox: Basic dimensions and cutting raw parts

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For the teabox, I laid out a basic step-style tansu cabinet layout, with 10 drawers and two doors, and space at the top right where I can put a couple of steeping tea cups.

So the dimensions I started with to determine what size to make the teabox were the two Adagio tea infuser mugs, similar to this.  Each of these is about 3 1/2" wide and 5" tall, with the infuser and glass top  in place. I decided to use the top step of the box, on the right side, as a place to store these two mugs. So a 5" step down from the top height. 

The overall box height is limited by cabinets in our kitchen. That's 16" of space. 

The width needs to fit in with the rest of our counter items. I decided to go a bit wide, so 20". It'll be a focal piece in our kitchen.

In terms of depth, I wanted the drawers to be functional, not bottomless cubbies I couldn't reach the back of. I thought between 5" and 7" deep. So I split the difference and decided on a 6" deep box.

Labels for the parts list

Tansu Teabox

Until I have a better photo of the working project, here's my initial sketch
A small counter-top box, inspired by Matt Kenney's 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks project, and my appreciation for Japanese Tansu chests.  Intended to store loose leaf tea and the tools and vessels used to make it.

I've been wanting to build a small project again, but something nice. Something with some challenging joinery and some nice wood. But not too large.

I was inspired by Matt Kenney's "52 Boxes in 52 Weeks" project. I happened across it during a podcast, I think. Probably the Fine Woodworking podcast, and in one of those rare instances where I was motivated enough by a podcast discussion to actually open a browser and *type in a search phrase*, I found Kenney's MEK Woodworking website. Not only did I like the boxes, but I love the web design. 

A couple of the boxes later in the year are naturally tansu-like. Since the author also seemed to be interested during that same year in learning about Kumiko, or the art of wood screen making, several boxes have kumiko added as design elements. Box 2Box 39Box 45, and Box 51 all spoke to me on an id-type level. While thinking about the need to build a tea box for our kitchen, I remembered boxes 45 and 51, in particular. Those became the design inspiration for my latest project.

MEK Woodworks boxes 45 and 51 were the design points I wanted to reference for my teaboxI drink tea. I don't drink coffee. At this place, in this time, announcing a preference for tea over coffee has the impact of making me as appealing to be around as a leper in the Bible. All I'd have to do is mention that I can't stand the NFL, and my favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla to have the majority of my fellow Americans shun me and shame me. Mostly, though, they just look at me in vague disgust and confusion. Like trying to understand a sea cucumber. Anyway . . . I like tea. And in fact, I like serious tea. You know, the kind you brew loose leaf in a steeping tea pot or an infuser. And I've got lots of different teas . . . in glass jars and pouches and metal containers in our pantry. I need someplace to put the tea, and the paraphernalia. It's a weakness . . . thank you Adagio, you marketing maestros.

Drawings of key dimensions and the overall layout of the drawersI started by measuring my favorite Adagio steaping tea cups, and the glass jars I use to store my favorite teas in. And I built around that, as well as the dimensions available on our kitchen counter top. It had be less than 15 inches tall, and not too deep, so it wouldn't take over too much of our counter space. I'll put it into Sketchup eventually, but I started out with a simple gridded sketch pad I was gifted last year and drew what I had in mind.

Over the next few weeks, this is what I'm going to work on. My goal with this is to finish it fairly quickly. I'm over the multi-year projects. 


StartDate: 

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Finished project?: 

No

Finishing side doors and adding hinges

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Cutting recess to house side hingesCompressing a bit of the work here. I built the side doors, mortise and tenon corner joints (See photo), routed grooves for the panel. I glued up the center panel of 100% quarter-sawn sycamore. Finding clear, white pieces of sycamore among the remaining stock I had was a big challenge. In the end, I managed to get a clear face on one side for the outsides of the door. I debated what to do about the inside of each door. Finally, I opted to use some of the washi (Shoji screen paper) I had ordered for the front door, and taped in down at the edges on the inside of the door, covering the panel. I'll show photos of that on the completed project.

But up next was mounting the side doors. I ordered two pair of the smaller 1 1/4" tall Brusso (CB-302) butt hinges. Damn they're expensive.  And I suppose that they're worth it, but it is such a premium these days to support American manufacturers. I did take some photos of the process as I cut the shallow mortises to house the hinges on the doors. Rather than a router, I just used some newly sharpened chisels and cut them out by hand. 

January 2020 - Bringing the Project back to Life

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OK, after moving four times in six years, I had two projects that I'd dragged along all across those moves . . . my workbench, and my wife's jewelry cabinet. Both projects were approaching 10 years from start, and I was both embarrassed and tired of not having them done. So last year (2019) I finally finshed the workbench. And in January 2020, after doing a bit of a reorg in my shop, I was finally ready to make the final push to complete the Jewelry cabinet.

Using the newly finished workbench to build the side doors of the jewelry cabinetI didn't even know for sure if I had managed to keep all of the pieces to build the rest of it. So the first thing I did was to assess the project and find the cut parts in amongst the piles of wood that I moved between the various houses. I did find all of the pieces, especially for the side and front doors. But it was a bit of a jigsaw. The side doors, particulalry, had several large pieces of fairly thin quarter-sawn  sycamore that I need to glue together into panels. And I knew that I couldn't get two faces that were clean, meaning two faces of white sapwood. So a big part of the next step was deciding on an approach to glue up and size the panels for the side doors. 

After reclaiming the shop, I needed to assess where I left the jewelry cabinet project

Final week of work to finish mudroom bench

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Finishing up the paint. Benchseat not yet installed.September 2018 - I got some help to move the case up from my basement shop to the garage. Thank you very much Kamil. Once it was in place there, I worked on getting the crown molding installed, as well as the lighting. Once those were in place, I took a couple of weeks to paint the whole piece with General Finishes "Charleton Blue" chalk paint. It took two coats with a quick sanding after the first. 

Finished bench, seat installed, lighting working, hardware installed.October 13, 2018 - This is the weekend I finished this project. Sprayed the whole case with lacquer. (I don't have a HVLP spray rig, so it was rattle cans from the  big box store. $12 a pop for those cans, but the result was worth it. ) 

Then it was the struggle of getting the 2 1/2" thick cherry seat installed. Boy, that was a challenge. It had fit perfectly in the shop, but of course, after the paint was applied to the case, and of course the higher humidity of the garage space where it's installed, it didn't quite fit. I had to haul the seat back to the shop and sand and plane a bit more to get the clearance needed to make it fit. It's a very tight fit, specifically in the center where the seat fits tightly around the center vertical shelf piece.  

Cutting Plywood and Poplar

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Wall where the mudroom bench will be installed. I have a power outlet to move.Mudroom Bench Project — For everything but the solid wood benchtop, this was a project to be supplied quickly and conveniently at the big box store. I did spend more time than normal looking through the plywood and poplar choices to make as clean a selection as I could given their generally lower standards. But I ended up bringing home three sheets of 3/4" birch ply, 1 sheet of 3/4" 'Sandply', 3 sheets of 1/4" birch ply for the backs, and numerous pieces of 1x6 poplar for the face frames and crown molding. My helpers - Liam, Elle, and Remington I also thought about whether or not I wanted to route the bead board backing of the seat area, and ended up by pre-formed and primed whitewood  bead boards. That should save me some time.  I also bought some sacraficial plastic sawhorses. 

I brought it all home and stored it in the garage for a day. I checked out the physical location of the bench and realized that I have a power outlet to move. (And clearly some Halloween decorations to move . . . oh, and my old Kaypro II computer, purchased in 1983.) As I was working, Liam and his friend from the neighborhood Elly showed up with her dog Remington. I enlisted Liam to help out. 

Breaking down the sheetgoods in the garageThen I set up my saw horses and my cut list, and carefully cut down the 4x8 sheets into the approximate widths I needed for all of the larger pieces. After cutting them down, I carried down into the basement shop through the door  on the other side of the house; the one place where the basement isn't below grade.  For the smaller pieces, I had Liam carry them. He's 11 . . .old enough to start earning his keep.

Breaking down the sheetgoods in the garage

Mudroom Bench

Finished it in early October. Quickly used to capacity.
We don't have much closet space on the first floor of our home, so we need a mudroom bench to store coats, boots, hats and gloves.

Photo from FinishesbyAlan.comWe have a spot at the front of our two-car garage that will serve as the home for our mudroom bench. The previous homeowner had installed a half deck a the front of the garage, with a small workbench and space for storage. The area near the door into our kitchen seemed suitable for a bench, so I designed it to fit there.  'Designed' may be too kind a word, however. i took my inspiration from a photo I found on Houzz. I liked the layout of the shelves and the boot nooks under the bench of this design, so I designed around that layout, and adjusted it based on the available space. 

The other design consideration was what to build the bench from. I couldn't make this truly a 'fine furniture' piece, because it will be sitting in our unheated garage, and subject to the knocks and dings of our two young sons and their friends. Still, I wanted it to be sturdy, and at least attractive. So it's built to be like a factory pieces, with screwed construction and plywood for most elements, but it will have solid wood face frames and crown molding. I thought briefly about running over to Peach State Lumber to buy some furniture-grade plywood, but time-constraints prevented that. I bought birch plywood and one sheet of 'SandyPly' from the local Home Depot for most elements, and some pre surfaced poplar for the face frames and top parts.  My wife picked out the color she wanted. Originally, she liked all white, but I think we're both rebeling a bit against the current design trends of neutral colors against a bright white background, with dark wood and stainless steel accents. Too sterile feeling these days. She picked a color based on a sample I bought . . .  General Finshes' Charleton Blue chalk paint.  I'll put a coat of clear varnish or ply on top to provide protection.  . . . I'll figure that out at the end.

StartDate: 

Saturday, January 20, 2018 to Saturday, October 13, 2018

Finished project?: 

Yes

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