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 Post subject: Second Staining Attempt
PostPosted: 15.03.2011 21:00 
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japala wrote:
Is challenging to get the shade you want or expect from the wood stain. I do like to use it myself too but again, one has to expect the unexpected. :)
My wood working album in Allthemods.
Wow, I checked out your gallery, and there is some really nicely detailed stuff in there! How long did it take you to "master" the scroll saw? It looks like it requires a lot of patience to do those clocks (Constantly attaching and detaching the blade especially).

The staining is a slow process... the second attempt goes much more smoothly ;)



Some of you may have wondered - "You stained 2 small pieces of wood in the past 2 weeks?! That's all you have to show for progress on THE ULTIMATE DESK?!"

Well, not quite... Really - I did more, I swear.

As you all know, the first staining attempt went really poorly, so I immediately went out and started on a second staining attempt. This time, I purchased some pre-stain wood conditioner, as well as a traditional oil-based stain. I also set out to do this the right way. If I'm going to spend a week staining small samples, I might as well have something to show for it. I cut 8 small blocks of wood, and sanded them all to 120 grit, just like before, and tacked them all off.

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I had a plan this time - I was going to see what kind of colour combinations I could get with just 2 stains, and 1 wood conditioner (The gel stain, for what it's worth, had been mixed several times, and had been kept upstairs for a few days). Here is the wood conditioner I used. You can see in the background that it tints the wood just slightly.

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Here is the oil-based stain I picked up. It's a Minwax product, Red Mahogany.

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And of course, the Varathane Gel Stain that you've already seen, also, Red Mahogany.

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In this picture you can see a bit how the oil stain reacts to the wood conditioner. The wood conditioner seemed to have hardly any effect on the gel stain, most likely because gel stains don't really penetrate the wood the same as an oil stain.

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And in this picture you can see the whopping difference between the oil stain and gel stain, which are, strangely enough, supposed to be the same colour. The one on the left is the Minwax, and the one in the middle is the Varathane. Neither the first or second piece have wood conditioner on them. The piece on the right is wood conditioner + the Minwax oil stain.

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Here's the production line, the stain is still wet, I haven't wiped off the excess yet.

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And here is the result of 2 days of staining. (First day sanding, tacking, wood conditioner, first coat of stain, second day some of them got a second coat).

From left to right, here is what I did to get the different results (Some of them obvious, some of them pretty darn subtle).

1. Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
2. Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
3. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
4. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
5. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
6. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
7. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain x 2 Coats
8. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain x 2 Coats

Wow! It's pretty amazing the different shades you can get when using just 3 pretty simple substances.

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I then set about the next 4 or 5 days applying one coat of high gloss polyurethane each day (That was a long and boring process). Basically, get home from work, go downstairs for a whole 5 minutes, do a quick sanding, tacking, and another light coat of poly, done for the day, wait for the next day.

Here's the final result of Staining Attempt Number Two. Please keep in mind, they are not in the same order that I mentioned above.

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There's no doubt that I will use this method again in the future. I also now have a great set of staining samples for maple plywood that I will surely fine handy in the future (They are all marked on the back what the process / stain used was).

Guess what though. None of them really came out the way I wanted. I'm still in search for that rich, deep, red mahogany / cherry look, and these just won't cut it (Though I admit, I do like #5 and #6, but maybe only because of their really spectacular grain pattern).

See you next time for Staining Attempt Number Three! *sigh*



Oh - and here's another snap of the kittens - they are 20 days old when this picture was taken, and they had just opened their eyes only a couple days beforehand.

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I won't be posting another update until next week, as I've decided to take a trip to the East Coast to celebrate St.Patricks day! I'll be in Halifax if anyone wants to go for a few pints! Have a great weekend everyone!


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PostPosted: 16.03.2011 19:20 
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Oh wow, I've always known working with wood is a lot of work if you want a nice fit, but I never really understood it would also be so much work to finish the damn stuff :) Still, I bet it's gonna be worth all the work when it comes together and you'll have a really nice looking desk.

Keep up the good work!

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 Post subject: Third Staining Attempt
PostPosted: 25.03.2011 00:00 
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Jipa wrote:
Oh wow, I've always known working with wood is a lot of work if you want a nice fit, but I never really understood it would also be so much work to finish the damn stuff :) Still, I bet it's gonna be worth all the work when it comes together and you'll have a really nice looking desk.

Keep up the good work!
You're telling me, lol! The only wood projects I've made before were either out of melamine, or I just painted them black!!

For those of you interested in seeing how the kittens are doing, I've been keeping a bit of a video log on them - ie. I have been taking quick video clips of them every few days, since day 0. You can check them out here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/MrAderome#p/u

Also, here is a bit of a sneak peak, as far as actual computer hardware is concerned - I've been slowly acquiring bits and pieces, since I'm still not entirely sure what will end up in this Ultimate Computer Desk.

Kingston has decided to sponsor me, and has sent me this really fantastic SSD drive. I am PSYCHED!

http://www.kingston.com
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As you are all aware, my first 2 staining attempts were successful in the sense that I learned a lot, however, I was still not achieving the result I originally wanted.

I decided to try something other than the tried-and-true local Home Depot, and I hit up a custom furniture store - Randalls. Let me tell you - it was a truly great experience, and I will be returning there many more times in the future due to the incredible service I received there.

I walked in with my backpack full of my 2nd attempt samples, and immediately a salesperson started talking with me about what I was there for. I explained to her the stains I tried, along with the techniques, and she asked to see my samples.

I pointed out the ones I liked, and why, and why I didn't like them, and she came back in a few minutes with a couple stains that might interest me. She then asked if she could do some sample stains on the back of the pieces I brought in. She took the pieces behind the counter, sanded them down, stained them, and came back in a few minutes with actual, real - this is what they're going to look like - samples.

How cool is that? I could have just gone there in the first place and spent the whole extra 2 dollars, but would have walked out with 1 product - the right one - the first time. Amazing - I'm really happy I discovered that place.

I can't imagine Home Depot opening up any of their products for a test piece.. I've never asked though, so who knows. Randall's is my goto place for stains now, however!

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Once again, I decided to see what variety of colours I could get with what I had on hand, so I setup 8 samples once more:

1. Old Masters
2. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters
3. Wood Conditioner + Minwax + Old Masters
4. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters + Minwax
5. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters x 2 Coats
6. Old Masters x 2 Coats
7. Wood Conditioner + Varathane + Old Masters
8. Wood Conditioner + Old Masters + Varathane

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I worked on the samples for about a week (1 coat per day, did 5 or 6 coats of poly on top, light sanding between poly coats)

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Here are a couple close up shots while staining was in progress

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And a comparison with the previous samples, once everything was nicely glossed up

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Look at the difference in colour! Now that's more what I was looking for. There's no question that the gel stain has "muted" the grain a little bit, however, the colour is unquestionably closer to what I was looking for originally.

Here is a shot of my previously favorite samples from the 2nd round, against the new samples

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And a closeup of the 2 samples I think I like the best. The differences between this batch are quite subtle, as the Old Masters gel stain has a very strong dye which mutes out the effects of conditioner, or any other stain applied before or after.

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Now that's what I call progress! I think I can call it quits for testing stain now. Time to move on to the dreaded motherboard tray / I/O Slot stuff...

Until next time!


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 Post subject: Some New Hardware
PostPosted: 01.04.2011 00:35 
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Joined: 23.12.2010 19:44
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Sorry about the lack of updates everyone, it's not that I haven't been working on the desk much, but it's more that I've been using the camera a lot (You know.. kittens) and I haven't had time to sit down and sort through all the photos, re-size, crop, etc for some real proper updates.

I've had this update sitting on the back burner for a little while now and I've been meaning to squeeze in it somewhere. I had been talking with some folks at Danger Den because I was looking at their motherboard trays and I/O panels, and they've decided to sponsor me!

Big thanks go out to Danger Den, as these are critical components required for a professional end result - you've all seen the mangled results of the cases I tore up earlier in the project.

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http://www.dangerden.com

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Everything came very nicely packed - not much loose play, and plenty of foam to absorb any shipping issues.

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I had these PSU support brackets custom made:

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I sent them a higher resolution image of this, that I threw together in Sketchup:

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Also included in this little shipment were some momentary switches for power and reset. (These are really popular these days, aren't they?)

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And some real nifty motherboard trays:

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All the acrylic is 1/2" clear - I will leave them wrapped up until the project is close to completion. With these parts -finally- settled, I can cut some holes in the cabinets and actually put them together -for real- !!

Stay tuned, I'll sit down this weekend and sort through the next round of updates ;)


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PostPosted: 03.04.2011 20:44 
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Nice amount of sponsorship! This just shows how unique build this is. I too managed to get some wood work done. CNC machine this time but still took around 3.5 hours to get everything cut. :)

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http://allthemods.com/userinfo.php?userid=1&album=762

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 Post subject: IO Slot Cutting
PostPosted: 12.04.2011 19:49 
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japala wrote:
Nice amount of sponsorship! This just shows how unique build this is. I too managed to get some wood work done. CNC machine this time but still took around 3.5 hours to get everything cut. :)
WOW! That is seriously really cool japala - nice new CNC machine, how are you enjoying it so far? Even though it is quite small, it looks like it can handle a lot of different projects. Have you tried any aluminum sheets or anything like that yet?


So - it's been sometime since I've posted an update - apologies, things have been very busy lately.

With the parts from Danger Den having arrived, I could now move on to some more specific details with both of the cabinets that will contain the computers.

Once again, I started with a test fitting, this time, it was a very accurate fitting, requiring quite a bit of sanding and fiddling around to get as close to the final product as possible.

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I then placed some test parts for fitting, and traced some outlines on the wood. The motherboard tray was placed on some thin strips of packing foam that I cut up, to help isolate any vibration from the CPU Heatsink.

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Installed some new blades on the jigsaw, put my biggest drill bit in the drill, and went to town!

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After doing the rough cut with the jigsaw, I took out the router and free-handed with a straight bit to smooth out the edges.

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The semi-finished air intake for the left-hand cabinet:

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The power supply rough cut:

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I decided that the PSU bolts will need a little more clearance around the screw holes.

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The I/O Shield cut out was a bit tricky to measure, but I think I did a pretty decent job:

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And a final shot from above and below:

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Next update, I'll have pics of actual assembly of the left hand cabinet, and then more cutting, and biscuit joining on the right-hand cabinet.


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PostPosted: 13.04.2011 21:07 
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Nope, haven't tested to mill aluminum yet. I believe it can handle the thinner sheets quite well but as I'm not able to add proper cooling to the mill, the thicker pieces have to wait for now. :)

Cool update again on your project. It seems that I have to start building something from wood very soon...

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 Post subject: Left Cabinet Assembly
PostPosted: 21.04.2011 00:41 
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japala wrote:
Nope, haven't tested to mill aluminum yet. I believe it can handle the thinner sheets quite well but as I'm not able to add proper cooling to the mill, the thicker pieces have to wait for now. :)

Cool update again on your project. It seems that I have to start building something from wood very soon...
Well, cool stuff either way. I bet it's opened up the possibility for a lot of different projects for you!


It's been a while, but I can assure you, progress is still moving forward with the Ultimate Computer Desk!

I finally got around to assembling the left-hand cabinet - here it is, all glued and clamped together. It's a really solid unit - the dado cuts lined up really well, and the structure is rock solid.

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Here I am doing a mock-up of the right-hand cabinet. This one was a little trickier to put together. There is a pretty specific order of assembly, otherwise, you're left with a piece that just doesn't want to fit properly.

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Some outlines for the motherboard I/O and power supply

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I remember mentioning that I free-handed the holes with the router for the left-hand cabinet. I decided to play a safer route for the right-hand cabinet.

I took a piece of wood, lined it up with my straight edge, and ran my router on top of the wood with a straight bit - this game me a perfect "stencil". What I can do then, is take the stencil, line up the edge with a line that I've drawn on the target piece, place a straight edge behind the stencil, clamp down the straight edge, remove the stencil, and run my router across the straight edge for a straight, accurate line.

Wow, that was a mouthful.

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And the end product:

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And then I made a pretty huge mistake...

Here is the suspect:

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Bam. Can you guess why this was a bad idea?

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 Post subject: Right Cabinet Assembly
PostPosted: 17.05.2011 23:50 
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Holy moly, I'm really sorry for the lack of updates folks - I've been sick for quite a while and the weather has been miserable so I haven't had much time to work on the desk. Apparently I had cedar poisoning! Wonderful!

Anyways - back on track!

Those of you who guessed it right - yes, I shouldn't have made the hole in the first place. I don't know what I was thinking. This is the right-hand cabinet.

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Whoops!

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Here's the biscuit joiner I was using. It worked pretty well for what it is. The tricky part was determining the order of which pieces/faces/sides to glue first and how to keep it all from falling apart before completion.

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Here's the left-hand cabinet all dried and ready for some trim

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And voila, my erm.. elegant clamping solution (I need to grab some cauls!)

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Hope you enjoy! Rest assured, this project WILL BE FINISHED! Just.. mm, I don't really know when. I'm moving in a month and a half, so all the staining/sanding will have to be done, at a minimum.

Take care!


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PostPosted: 20.05.2011 22:38 
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This part of the project took a better part of a month. There was a lot of sanding, waiting, and sweating as I put on each thin layer of polyurethane on the desk surface.

Here it is at the start of the phase - what a mess!

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You can see there was still sanding to do from when I put in the wood filler back in... November!

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All cleaned up, ready to rock the stain. It was starting to get nice as well so it was time to lube up the 'ol bike chain as well!

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Part way through the first coat

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Note that this is the bottom of the desk surface. I did this intially without any kind of pre-stain or wood treatment to see if I could get away with it.

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I actually noticed a significant amount of dark spots and uneveness, so for the top of the desk, and for all future staining, I went with a pre-stain, and two coats of Old Masters Gel Stain. Here is the desk surface approximately a month later with around 8 coats of polyurethane on top. It will be getting a good ol fashion rubbing out in another month from now once it has fully cured.

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Have a good weekend everyone!


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PostPosted: 20.05.2011 23:03 
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Wow, that surface is amazing! Great work indeed! 8O

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 Post subject: Prepping the Upper Desk
PostPosted: 26.05.2011 00:31 
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japala wrote:
Wow, that surface is amazing! Great work indeed! 8O
Thanks japala! It took a long time, but it seems as though it has paid off!

So, with the main desk surface out of the way, it was time to start focusing on the top shelf portion, which, at this point, hadn't been sanded, cut perfectly, or assembled. Here were all the pieces required.

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A quick mock up:

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A few tests with the biscuit joiner to make sure I was aligned properly:

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I couldn't get it exactly in the center - the bottom of the joiner is a bit concave and it made lining it up a little difficult. The tool is generally used to join boards end to end, so there wasn't really any facility for on-face joining like this.

Assembly and glue up time:

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Enjoy! You can never have too many clamps you know? I couldn't continue on doing the side pods until this stuff dried up first.


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PostPosted: 26.05.2011 19:13 
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Looking good so far! but I must admit that I just quickly glanced through the pictures :D
I'll try to read this properly when I have more time (at work :wink: ) it's awesome when you find a good project with tons of pictures and explanations!

so far I have one question, where did you get those power buttons? i've been looking for those (not too seriously, but a little bit)


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 Post subject: Top Shelf Assembly
PostPosted: 27.05.2011 23:18 
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anacron wrote:
Looking good so far! but I must admit that I just quickly glanced through the pictures :D
I'll try to read this properly when I have more time (at work :wink: ) it's awesome when you find a good project with tons of pictures and explanations!

so far I have one question, where did you get those power buttons? i've been looking for those (not too seriously, but a little bit)
Thanks for joining in anacron! I got the power buttons from Danger Den!

With the first phase of the top shelf all solid and dried, I could continue on to the two side pods. Here's the initial mockup.

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Notice the pencil lines for the biscuits I'll be installing.

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Those biscuits are so dark and moody... lol!

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Aaand, some gratuitous clamping shots. Like that extra-long setup? Yeah, that worked this time, but I don't recommend it. It wasn't too stable, but there wasn't really anything else I could clamp on to for that end-pressure required.

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Mmmm glue.

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So that's it for this update, I know it's a pretty simple one, but hey, it's one more phase done. Just needs to have some trim stuck on and then staining!

Have a good weekend!


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 Post subject: Top Shelf Trim
PostPosted: 21.06.2011 00:06 
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Ok, so it's been a little while since an update eh?

I've been busy, sorry folks, life seems to speed up in the summertime!

As a peace offering, here are the kiddo's, at about 4 months old now!

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And, back to the desk!

I had a bunch of solid maple cut into more 1/4" strips so I could finish doing the trim on the top shelf and the cabinets.

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My trusty compound mitre saw - got it reconditioned at a bargain place for like 60 dollars, and it's been pretty reliable for a number of years now. It's loud as all heck though!

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And, my favorite part - clamping up!

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And, since there was nowhere to place clamps in between this area, I had to improvise with a small block of wood!

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