[Maker’s Note] 7 Tips Often Overlooked for DIY Woodworking

by Yun-Han Lin

Recently, we built a tea cabinet. The entire design is simple, so we would like to share the production details with you.

1.  3D drawings for specs check.

We redesign our work according to our own needs. We drew the 2D drawings in Illustrator, but we still imported the drawing into Fusion 360, in case there are some differences that cannot be spotted in the 2D format. In that case, we could least solve some of the problems, before the production began.

2.  Typesetting before deciding the specs for materials.

After the drawings are finalized, we used the 18 mm plywood. We first arranged the boards by simulating on the computer, and also took into account the order of each piece to be cut. One thing to be noted for beginners is that the cutting itself will wear out the width of each board by about 3mm. Hence, if you measure the specs just perfectly enough in typesetting, it could turn out that there are too much boards left that are not used, which is why it is suggested that there could be spaces left among the pieces.

Circular saw: desktop v.s. hand-held.

Circular saw + Kreg® cutting guide: the width limit to be cut is 61 cm, and it moving path for cutting is long, with medium accuracy.

Hand circular saw + self-clamping table saw fence: There is no width limit to be cut, but the moving path for cutting is limited by the length of the fence itself, so it is usually not used to cut objects that are too long. The cutting accuracy is poor.

Table Saw (Sawstop SS-CNS175-SFA30): The width limit to be cut is 62.5 cm, and the moving path for cutting is limited by the size of the working station or platform. If the board to be cut is too large, it could be a bit dangerous to operate the table saw. The cutting accuracy is the best among the three.

Use of the tools with combination: First, divide the whole piece of board roughly into several pieces on the floor, using a hand circular saw. When using a hand circular saw, there could be two or three centimeters more than the intended size since there is little accuracy. Next, trim with pieces with precision with a desktop circular saw.

3.  Hand-cut edges may not always be straight.

When cutting the board with a desktop circular saw, make sure you press one side of the board against the fence, and it is suggested you start with the mation edge, since it comes with a line striaighter than the one that is hand-cut, so that the boards turn out in a more squarer form after cutting.

4. When cutting, the pieces with the same size can be cut at one time.

As previously mentioned about the oorder of each board to be cut, the piecs with the same size can be arranged side by side in typesetting. Yet, that is not always the case, since there is just not enough space, sometimes, but they can still be cut together, so that the fence does not have to be adjusted, or there could be minor differences in the position.

5.   Tenon Joint

In the past, we used inclined screws with wood glues for fixture, which saved a lot of time, but the problem was there could be a huge inclined hole after drilling. We could either use a plug to cover the hole or use a tenon joint for fixture, instead.

6. Trial assembly before gluing.

All the pieces should be put together with joints to see if they fit with each other, before glue is applied for fixture. Otherwise, should there be any parts that do not fit, it could be troublesome after gluing.

7. Door and drawer finish last.

The specs for the cabinet door and drawer are decided after the entire cabinet structure is completed. Although the size of the drawer can be estimated at the beginning of the design, what happens sometimes is that there will be differences upon assembly. Therefore, build up the entire cabinet structure before the cabinet size is decided, so that the drawers will fit in without a problem.

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