Definition of "dado"
1.a. the part of a pedestal of a column above the base
1.b. the lower part of an interior wall when specially decorated or faced; the decoration adorning this part of a wall
2. a rectangular groove cut to make a joint in woodworking; specifically: one cut across the grain
This project requires a LOT of panels, which amounts to gluing individual boards together to make said panel. Sounds easy, no?
In short, the boards all have to be rough cut to length and width, then planed (both sides), then edge jointed, then cut to final width, then glued and clamped. The challenge (one of them, anyhow) is that due to the nature of working with reclaimed wood, which means leaving as much of the patina or "character" as I can, I can't just blindy remove as much material as I want - or sometimes need - to. As a result, I have to spend a little time sort of studying the lumber and figuring out which boards will work best with others, which ones will work best in certain spots, and where/how to cut the boards to maximize the yield (because there's NOT an infinite supply of the stuff). Then, I have to use a wild combination of tools to create flat surfaces and square edges on material that is definitely not flat or smooth to begin with.
The other big challenge, one all woodworkers face at one time or another, is that I don't have enough clamps to get everything glued and clamped all in one shot, so I have to glue up a few panels, do some other stuff while the glue dries, remove the clamps once the glue dries and glue/clamp another set of panels, do some other stuff while the glue dries, etc. Wash, rinse, repeat.
All that...just to make the panels...that then have to be hand planed a bit to smooth out any unevenness in the glue joints, cut to the right length, and given any number of dados or rabbets or tenons so that the guts of this piece will be rock solid without any mechanical fasteners or glue. I don't have a big enough table saw to make this an easy task, so while I use the table saw whenever I can, I also have to use the circular saw and the router, both of which require rigging up some kind of fence or guide for the cuts. It's a lengthy process just to get to the point that I can start dry-fitting pieces together.
But, the worst of the worst is over; the biggest panels have been fabricated and dry fit; so far, so good. 3 more panels are in the clamps now, and tomorrow ought to see this thing really start to come together.
There have been a few challenges to deal with along the way, but today a corner was turned: the reclaimed wood laundry room island is ready for the pre-Civil War lumber treatment.
There's a place here in St. Louis - Perennial - that I'm a big fan of. They had a fundraising event last Saturday that I caught wind of at the last minute, and I wanted to do something to see if I couldn't help them raise a few dollars, so I donated these two serving boards (I have piles of them, or the blanks anyhow, laying around the shop collecting dust) to their silent auction.
There's more to the story, but the short version is I'm about to start work on a reclaimed wood island that's going into the laundry room of a house - currently being rehabbed and added on to - that was built in 1858. The game plan is to use some of the lumber that came down from the original house as part of the renovation to build this island, which is going to be roughly 6' long, 3' wide and 3' tall.
Today I went and picked up some lumber to get started on the project, which is currently located in a storage unit. There's no real easily accessible electric hookup at that site, so I brought all the battery operated saws I could get my hands on but with lumber as big as I'm dealing with - full 2x8s and 1x15s (that's right, a legit 1 inch thick and a full 15 inches wide!!) - the battery operated tools were only good for a few cuts per battery. On my second trip to the storage unit (I can only fit so much in my vehicle), I brought the ol' hand saw, which isn't as old as the lumber but it did belong to my great-grandpa, so it seemed weirdly appropriate to use a crazy old hand saw to cut even crazier old wood. And as it turns out, the elbow-grease-powered saw cut through the wood a whole lot faster than anything powered by a battery.
Of course there was a lot of denailing that took place; the boards ride a lot nicer when they all lay fat and don't have big nails poking through all sides and in all directions. Obviously (maybe), the nails I pulled were all square cut, and a lot of them were massive. If you've ever driven a nail, let alone big nails and/or lots of nails, can you imagine building a nearly 4,000 square foot, 2-story house and having to drive thousands of these bad boys by hand?!
Oh, and for anybody wondering...the vast majority of the lumber I sorted through - lumber originally milled in 1858, mind you - was flatter and straighter than anything a big box store has ever sold.
You might have read some of this on here previously, but for any newcomers, I'll rehash the details of the source of the lumber that was used to build the dining table I recently completed.
A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to salvage some lumber from a house - "The Philip and Louisa Green Home", built in 1882 - that was hours away from demolition. Most of the house had already imploded - the roof had collapsed, fallen into the basement, and taken most of the internal structure with it - and what was left of it was pretty dangerous to be anywhere near. As a result, I didn't get to pick and choose or go after the cream of the crop, I had to accept whatever lumber was easily and safely accessible, regardless of condition, color, size, etc. I also had to get to it before the demo guy did; demo guys are in the business of making things go away, not preserving anything.
Anyways...I got a few boards. Maybe (10) 2x8s, and that was about it. But I was happy to have gotten anything, because the house was pretty bad ass. Here's a few lines taken from the house's National Register of Historic Places Registration Form:
"The Philip and Louisa Green Home is an ornate Italianate house that was constructed on the western fringe of St. Louis’ developed neighborhoods in 1882. The stately home features prominent design elements such as stone quoins, an elaborate wooden cornice, and projecting octagonal bays. While many such homes associated with country estates were once common in the countryside surrounding the city’s central core, rapid urban growth in the late 19th and early 20th centuries destroyed most examples. The Philip and Louisa Green Home is a rare surviving example of a high style Italianate home that was originally constructed in a rural context and then managed to survive the boom and bust cycle of St. Louis’ urban growth from the late 19th through the late 20th century."
If you nerd out to local history and/or architecture like I do, I'd highly recommend reading through the registration form, as it contains a lot of interesting stuff regarding the original owners, the surrounding area and the house's architectural details.
Unfortunately, the house is now a memory. But this table, she's brand new...aside from the the fact that every last piece of lumber used in its construction came from a house built in 1882...which means the wood itself might very well be somewhere in the 200+ year old ballpark.
So...here's the 3rd video in the build series; it doesn't cover anything too earth-shattering (unless planing and sanding and applying polyurethane are your thing), but it might still entertain ya for a few minutes.
The way I figure it, I'm 2 days behind on the West Belle dining table; running out of steam - and not getting the top glued up when I wanted to - due to all the planing the table top required got me 1 day behind, and the orbital sander literally falling apart in my hands yesterday, mid-use, put me another day behind.
But, the polyurethane is finally going on. Stuff that'll never be seen gets 2 coats, and all the exposed surfaces will get 3. I'm not sure I've ever been so excited to get some poly on something as I was with this table.
Plane, check fit, repeat.