Magnetic Knife Holder – Mistakes

As I mentioned in my previous post I’ve been thinking about making a magnetic knife holder as a way to practice different joinery techniques. Since this is supposed to be a learning project I thought I’d share some of the horrible mistakes I made. If you’re impatient though the TLDR of this post is I definitely needed the practice.

Mistake #1

2016-01-23 23.02.52My plan was to join two smaller pieces of wood together with glue and butterfly joints. Realistically though this was all unnecessary since the wood I had was perfectly wide enough. But, I decided I would cut the wood in half, rotate one of the pieces and join them back together. This way the grain patterns wouldn’t line up and I hoped the two pieces would look distinct.

My mistake wasn’t in the plan but in the execution. I was so focused on making sure I cut and planed the pieces to the exact same shape, and in getting my first glue up right I forgot about rotating one of the pieces. After spending far too long getting everything perfect I ended up with such a precise glue up you couldn’t even tell the board was ever cut. Normally this is a good thing, but this time it was definitely not what i was hoping for. (Seriously, look at the picture. Can you even tell that board was cut in half and put back together?)

Mistake #2

2016-01-30 10.51.09My next mistake occurred when making the butterflies; combining a lack of patience with a desire for perfection never turns out well.

I decided I could remove the last bit of wood by quickly pairing across the grain with a chisel. While there are techniques to do this they require patience. You are never supposed to cut all the way across because this causes blow out and rips the wood apart, and this is exactly what happened.

Thankfully this occured pretty early in the butterfly making process.


Mistake #3

2016-01-30 22.41.28This was the worst of my mistakes and occurred when cutting out a slot for the butterfly key.

Cutting out the slot required me alternate between hammering a chisel into the wood around the edge, to keep the line sharp, and slowly chipping away the interior. Because I need to the hit chisel it was a little noisy, nothing terrible but it was getting late in the day and I was worried about disturbing my neighbors. Instead of putting it aside for another day I decided I could speed things up by just hitting the chisel really hard and cutting the line deeper.

This was working well until I got down far enough into the wood that it started to weaken. I hit the chisel too hard and it split the wood along the grain all the way through.

It may not look to bad in the picture, but it opened pretty wide and even with clamps I wasn’t able to get it back together. At this point there was no saving the piece; I had to scrap it and start all over.

Hopefully one of these days I learn to be patient.

Project Sketches – 1

Before I start a project I often spend time thinking through the design, and sketching out plans.

I’m currently thinking through two different projects, and thought I would show a glimpse of what my planning looks like. As you’ll see below I have terrible handwriting and no artistic talent whatsoever. Thankfully those skills aren’t required to learn woodworking.

Magnetic Knife Holder

IMG_0458In my kitchen I currently have a metal bar that uses magnets to stick to my fridge and hold several knives. (Not mine but pretty similar.) It’s nothing fancy and I’ve been thinking about replacing it for a while with a wooden version. Although I could simple get a small plank of wood and put some magnets on it I decided this would be a good small project to practice a few new techniques. Specifically I wanted to practice laminating boards together and joining boards with butterfly joints.

If you aren’t familiar with those types of joinery techniques laminating is just another term of gluing the boards together, and a butterfly joint is when you inlay a dovetail key (which looks like two dovetails connected at the narrow end) to hold two pieces of wood together. Butterfly joints are also often used to hold together a slab of wood that is cracking.

In the sketch below I start laying out the rough dimensions of the piece, and then playing around with a few different designs. The bottom section of the page is a bit unfinished; I was planning on drawing the three different designs to scale, but ultimately I decided I liked the first one the best and stopped there.

I never sketched out the back of the knife holder, but my current plan is to use  a forstner bit to inlay a few circular magnets that will hold the piece to the fridge, and then cut two small groves near the top and bottom to inlay some magnets that will hold the knives. I need to do some tests to see how deep these grooves need to be, but that’s the current (rough) plan.


Table Top Workbench

IMG_0455The second project I’ve been thinking through is a table top work bench; I got the idea from this video. The bench in the video is placed on top of an existing workbench to create a raised surface to make it easier to do detailed work. I don’t have an existing workbench, but I figured the idea could be used to create a table top work bench I can put on my bathroom counter.

I don’t have much to report yet since I’m still early on in the design phase, and there is still a lot I need to think through. The two biggest elements I’m still thinking / working through are: how modular should the bench be, and where to put / what type of vise to get.

Since this is a more complicated project, and I want to make sure my bench is useful for a wide variety of future projects, I’m sure this first design will only bare a small resemblance to whatever the final bench looks like. That said, putting down my initial thoughts and being able to reference them later is always helpful.