Progress at a snails pace…my first commission!

3 Oct

Greetings woodworking friends! If I’ve been absent from the blogosphere it hasn’t been on purpose. I’ve been hard at work on my first woodworking commission! I’ve been pushing hard to visit the shop as often as possible. It’s a half hour drive from my home, so it certainly takes some orchestration. I’ve been getting in about 2hrs at the shop before I have to head off to work. As with most woodworking projects I feel I underestimated the time it would take! And working 2hrs at a time is really a stop and start method I don’t recommend. I recall reading that one of the woodworking bloggers can only get in half hour increments in his shop- I couldn’t even imagine! Even 2hrs amounts to a couple of sawdust blinks and it’s over!

The commish (haha remember that show?)

My apprenticeship mentor (“Tim Timberland” as earlier mentioned in my blog- not his real name!) provided me with this- my first woodworking commission. He has been transforming a room over several months into a study that basically IS a built-in. All four walls are covered by a monumental built-in. Now that he’s wrapping up the project he has had an overflow of work and called in for extra hands. All that’s left are small components that complete the built-in: drawers, pullout writing surfaces, and some caddies that will hold remote controls(to be hung next to a couch) and wine glasses(to be hung on the inside of cabinet doors).


Tim provided me with materials, some detailed plans, and even some samples!

The designs are a mix of veneered sheet goods and solid wood.

I kind of lucked out that Tim had pre-cut all of the materials- it made for hassle free transportation of the materials, and more-over my shop is small so I didn’t have to cut down full sized sheet goods.

Here’s a sample of the pullout surfaces- it’s a cut-away. These will be mounted inside the built-in and the fronts will receive drawer fronts.

And the build…

And so it began! I started with a flurry of cutting parts to size at the table saw. Scroll saw pictured here was just a place for my parts to collect.

A lot of edge banding followed.

Pictured here are all the parts needed to make the pullout surfaces. The far right pile is edge banded on three edges.

Next I put together the sub-assembly of the pullouts. With glue…

…and brads.

And more edge banding ensued.

Next it was time to start assembling- slides and the pullout bases.

But first I stopped to sand my parts. I wanted to use my new sander but it seemed a little heavy for veneer and I’m not used to it yet.

First I attached the slides to part of the base.

Then I screwed the slides onto undersides of the pullout surfaces.Shown here with a 1/8 spacer block, and a registration block that helped position the slides.

Here it is once installed.

Next I added the final parts to the base with glue and brads.

My fingers are holding up a 1/8″ spacer block to show how I aligned the parts. The surface is 1/8″ narrower than the base, and is set 1/8″ forward on the base so that the base will not interfere with the pullout closing.

Now to get your bearings on this built-in component, here it is upside-down…

…and here it is right side up. I pulled it out to demonstrate the full extension slides.

And finally here is the stack that I delivered earlier this week.

I have lots of the other parts all cut to dimension and they are awaiting routing and edge-banding, sanding and assembly. For clarity purposes I’ll present each component from start to finish in a post. In reality space and time are a jumble in the shop and any number of the components move forward with each machine set-up and shop visit.

I wish things would go a bit faster, I feel like I’m letting Tim down. But I can only do what I can fit in the time I’m given. So I’ll just keep trucking. The stress aside- it really feels great to get in the shop and build something with purpose and it’s giving me a chance to test out how effective my tool selections have been. I know now that I need to tuneup my jointer soon, but that I really do have most of my bases covered.

Tomorrow I head off to the shop again- wish me luck!

Til next time, happy woodworking!

4 Responses to “Progress at a snails pace…my first commission!”

  1. ChrisHasFlair October 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm #


    When working for someone else or on a production schedule, I always want to work as quickly as possible. I need to remind myself that working quickly is okay as long as shortcuts and compromises are not being made for the sake of speed.


    • Warped Boards October 3, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

      I like the way you guys think! It’s a good reminder that quality is worth the extra time.

  2. The Butler Did It WoodWorks October 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

    Congrats on your commission Samantha! Be sure to celebrate it, as its a big step forward! I’ve found that a great client most always understands and accepts the time issue, and would rather have a quality product vice timely product.

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