Back at the beginning of the year, I had the idea that I wanted to make something for Rebecca for our 9th wedding anniversary (June 10th). Rather than just buying something, I was searching for ideas of something that she would like that I could build. But another criteria in my search was to make something that required me using skills that I had not used previously.
Enter the wooden lazy susan.
While browsing woodworking youtube channels, I came across a video on the Darbin Orvar youtube channel. I watch her channel regularly, and enjoy seeing many of the projects she builds. This one in particular struck my fancy. What I like about her projects is that they have a certain rugged beauty, a practicality that I can relate to and design elements that you might not see elsewhere.
I have always liked the contrast of maple and walnut, and she just happened to use those two in her project. I think that is one thing that really appealed to me. So, those are the two wood species that I chose to work with. The darker wood is black walnut and the lighter one is considered "hard" maple. Even "soft" maple is considered a hardwood, but this is a particularly dense variety of maple.
My local hardwood dealer is not ideal. For starters, they are only open Monday through Friday and close at 4:30. So, I would have to go over there during lunch one day to pick up hardwood. One other problem I have with them is that they make you purchase the entire board of one of these species. They won't sell you say 48" of 4/4 wood...you have to purchase the entire 8 or 9 feet, which brings us back to the problem of having to get it during the week...in my car. It just doesn't work. I don't have a truck, so I would either have to borrow one (that's not very practical during the work week) or somehow hang a 9 foot board out of my car window/trunk for the entire afternoon. The last issue with this place is that their prices seem to be a quite a bit higher than other places across the nation. I will touch on this a little later on, so keep reading.
I found a hardwood dealer that I decided to give a try. I was watching one of The Drunken Woodworker's videos on his youtube channel and he mentioned where he got his hardwoods. I looked up Kencraft Company, and they shipped across the nation. It did take a little back and forth via email and the phone to convey what I wanted and to actually have them ship it out, but they were very nice people, with great prices on their wood and reasonable shipping. Their website is not good, I'm warning you. [sorry, Kencraft, you know it's true] After saving more than $2 per board foot over what I could get it for locally, it was all shipped to be via UPS for a mere $20 or so. I did some figuring and it appears that I still saved money, even given the shipping costs.
I would have had to borrow a truck and drive nearly to Clinton (more than 20 miles one way), just to get a few boards that I needed. Rather than waste all of that gas and more importantly, time, I decided to give Kencraft a try. I will order from them again, as I was very pleased with the product.
So, back to the skills that I wanted to learn while creating this. Let me put them in list form, all of the skills I was either unfamiliar with or had never tried:
1. Joining boards into a laminated panel
2. Inlaying a different species of wood into the boards
3. Chiseling out the shape of some custom inlay dutchman
4. Using a card scraper
5. Using a hand plane to chamfer the underside of the lazy susan
6.Tung oil finish
7. Marking and cutting out a circle from a jig I made
I had joined some boards together by laminating them with glue, but I had just not done that many and I had only used pine. This was a little scary to use "real" wood and do this.
The inlay was completely unnecessary, but I wanted to include it. The example I was inspired by (Darbin Orvar channel) only had two of the dutchmen inlays, but I wanted three. I think it gave it a better look for this particular piece.
The chiseling was a learning experience for sure. I didn't really know what I was doing, but it went pretty well considering. There were a few places by the end that needed to have a gap filled with epoxy, but I'm okay with that.
I had never used a card scraper before. Basically, this is a hardened piece of steel that you put a burr on some of the sides. This allows you to scrape very minute shavings from the surface of your work piece. Many people have said that they like to use it for glue removel, but I have not found it to be super effective for that. I would rather use something else that is not so labor intensive to sharpen, just for glue removel. In fact, I found a cheap paint scraper for $5 that works great.
I used my block plane to do some smoothing and shaping on this piece. Most of the final surfacing was done with my block plane. I also decided to put the curved edge, or chamfer, on the underside of the lazy susan with my block plane. I just had to let it kind of slide off of the edge of the piece at an angle. It worked pretty well, but I had some chip-out in a few places. I think my plane had just gotten too dull at that point. This was pretty much the first thing I had ever planed by hand, so I guess I should have practiced on something else.
I have used quite a few wood finishes in the past, but never tung oil. This is a natural oil extracted from some kind of tree. It kind of smells nutty. Anyway, it has good water resistance as a finish and I wanted to try it on this lazy susan, because it gives a nice, soft finish. It doesn't look like it has a finish on it at all. It just looks like the soft tones of the wood are by themselves, but they are not; they are being softly cradled by the tung oil.
To cut out the circle, I made a quick compass. I just drilled a hole that could accommodate a pencil and then drove a nail through the other end. I did this at the diameter that I neded, only to realize it would twice as large as I wanted. Then, I made it the radious, and all was fine.
I would not say that I have mastered these skills by any means, but I definitely learned a ton from this project. Oh, and it turned out great. I gave it to my wife for our 9th anniversary and she loved it! We now have it sitting in the middle of our kitchen island, and it looks fantastic!
Below are some photos of the entire process. If you see something you have a question about, leave a comment and I'll answer it. Would you put this in your kitchen?