welcome to my blog

designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
This blog is a record of my life in my studio.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fostex Open Baffle Speaker Project Complete!

I had "finished" these open baffle speakers some time ago.  But it wasn't until last week that I was able to rub out the lacquer finish, install the Fostex FE206e full range drivers, and power them up.

Overall I am very happy.  I took the new speakers home, and switched them with a pair of Snell Type K/IIIs I had as my main left/right speakers.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ok - here's my miter secret.

Ok everybody - I am going to reveal a secret technique for perfect miters, which I have devised.  I have searched around a while on line, and couldn't find any examples of this technique in use.  I also asked several professional cabinet makers about how they accomplish perfect miters, and most just said "I don't".  The others offered up ideas that looked good on paper, but had failed me in practice.

So, here it is, my big secret.  I am re-publishing a post I made on the Boston Reefers DIY Forum.

Mitered doors and other "external" miter joints: made to fail?

Illustrated Mitered Door Frame
Last week, a customer asked me to outfit his aquarium stand with mitered doors.  For the uninitiated, a mitered door is a door with a frame made from two vertical "stiles" and two horizontal "rails", joined at the corners with miter joints.  Miters are diagonal cuts in the end of a board - usually cut at 45 degrees - allowing two mitered boards to meet at the ends and form a 90 degree corner (see pic at left).

People like mitered door frames, I suspect, because they look cool.  They're also hard to make, and may therefore be a sign of the cabinet-maker's skill. 

Ask a cabinet maker, however, and he or she may well tell you to NEVER buy or make a mitered door.  See this link for responses to the "miter question" on Woodweb.com.  The reason isn't just because of how hard it is to find a well-made mitered door frame.  It's because the miter joint is a natural candidate for opening over time, due to the way wood moves.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Klipsch Heresy Rebuild

Klipsch.  The name is well known among audiophiles, for it's the name of one of the greatest U.S. speaker design companies ever known.  The Company made its name on four classic speaker models  - La Scala, Heresy, Cornwall, and Klipschorn - and the signature horn-loaded tweeters and mid-range drivers used in those models. 

These four "heritage" designs made their debuts in the early 1960's, and the designs haven't changed much since.  And while Klipsch is now a mass-market company, with manufacturing operations in China, they still offer these four flagship speakers for sale to discriminating listeners.  Unlike other Klipsch-branded speakers, the Heresy, La Scala, Cornwall, and Klipschorn are made to order in Klipsch's original plant, located in Hope, Arkansas. 

The Heresy is the smallest of the four speakers, sporting a 12" woofer, a mid-range horn, and a tweeter horn.  If you want Klipsch to make you a pair of Heresies today, it'll set you back around $1,500. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Essential Table Saw Tune-Up

Tuning the table saw: it's something my friend Dave - a carpenter - never really did.  But over my last ten months of woodworking, I've come to realize how important it is when making furniture.  That's because, unlike in carpentry, where poorly-fitting joints can be saved by screws, nails, and shims, perfect angles are critical to good furniture.

I use my table saw for many joinery operations.  Not only do I use my table saw to rip stock (after jointing and planing the other three faces), it's also my go-to choice for cutting square ends and miters.  the table saw excels at these tasks because it's possible to tune the saw to within 1/100 of a degree of accuracy, unlike other power tools, such as the miter saw (the best of which, by the way, could never be relied upon to cut miters for furniture). 

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I am taking the plunge and painting some furniture.  I had to do it.  I know my "rep" (such as it is) as a furniture maker may suffer as a result, but I was left with no choice. 

Here's the thing:  I have been trying to get a good black finish on my aquarium stands for a few months now.  I also have a few striped table tops that almost surely would look best with black bases.  But no matter what I try, I can't get a good black finish that goes on easily without re-work. 

My Bamboo Chest, in its Home

I recently got some pictures from my clients, of a bamboo chest I made for them around Christmas time.  Here they are:

The All-Important Right Angle

A great jig for fast, square frames
Everybody knows that 90-degree right angles are a big part of architecture, furniture, and design.  But many have never experienced the difficult process of trying to make a perfect right angle.  No, I'm not talking about drawing one on a page, I'm talking about making a right angle out of something.  Doing that is no mean feat.  In fact, a good right angle is both an essential, and difficult-to-achieve, fundamental of quality furniture making.  When I first began making furniture, I thought I could rely on the accuracy of my power tools to achieve good right angles.  Almost a year later, I'm coming to terms with the fact that this is not a good way to make an accurate right angle.

But accuracy isn't the only imperative in a wood shop: speed is of equal importance.  Making accurate right angles quickly is essential to making a living in wood. 

A new outfeed table...

Outfeed support: essential for crosscuts
For some time now, it's been clear that my over-stuffed studio needs a re-design.  Among the many changes due is the building of outfeed tables for my table saws (we have a 10" 1.75HP contractor saw and a 12" 5HP cabinet saw).  Outfeed tables are important for certain table saw operations, most notably ripping long stock, and crosscutting wide stock.  The inability to crosscut 4' x 8' plywood sheets has forced me to use my circular saw...never a good option for furniture building, even when using Festool's over-hyped guide rails (which I do use, reluctantly). 

But life goes on, and making an income has taken the front seat and put my improvement project on hold.  To that end, I have been making aquarium stands for the local aquarium installer/retailer. 

But when one of my stand went horribly wrong, I got a chance to take a step in the right direction and install an outfeed table for my 12" cabinet saw.