I dislike finishing – I don’t think I’m any good at it, and it’s the easiest way to screw up a perfectly good piece of wood. I definitely need more practice but I always seem to defer that activity for the projects I actually need to finish … and in a timeframe usually unrealistically short to do the job right. (The upside of this part of the project forces me to do a shop cleanup and deal with any remaining dust.) So I spent the better part of my off-time last week on the web attempting to gather a better understanding of the subject. In addition to acquiring some useful information, I primarily learned that there are best practices and things to avoid, but no single right way … and that I need more practice! (aka experience).
After some thought, I came to the realization that the part I disliked the most was parking all the in-process work in my limited area and dealing with the finish issues due to handling and lack of visibility. The current project has (7) 4’ shelves and (2) 7’ 5/4 uprights – all longer pieces for me. I debated over which side to finish first, etc. So in my procrastination, that is the problem I attempted to solve. I wasn’t sure the idea was going to work (i.e., hold the work piece on edge) until I built and installed the clamps (the last to be done). I attempted to design the base to handle my 7’ pieces on my 6’ bench but I as I was designing as I built, I forgot to accommodate the length loss from the clamps. So I needed to repurpose my table saw as an extension of my bench.
The rig turned out quite functional and easy to use. Now I can deal with all sides of the work at once and if I blow the finish, I’ll have the comfort of knowing I didn’t invest a lot of time in material handling to get it that way.
Now I have no more excuses not to start the task.
The clamp has 2 fixed carriage bolts on one side and an opposing hold down clamp with a carriage bolt on “top”. I polished the heads of the bolts (drill w/file, fine sandpaper) but ended up padding them with some cut tubing I had. (I found a small dimple in the test piece – I may have over clamped). The clamp actually doesn’t have to be very tight to keep the work piece from sliding out.
Most of the hardware (except in the clamp) is 3/8”. I made the vertical to accommodate a 24" wide work piece but I ended up putting another hole in it to lower the work. I put a washer on the pivot bolt between the upright and clamp, a lock nut on the pivot bolt on one end and a wing nut on the other. This allowed me to easily lock the position if desired from one end. The 3+” wide clamps (oak pivot block, maple faces, bolted) are such that the work piece will just sit in place unclamped if positioned horizontal. It’s not stable enough for sanding but it is definitely secure and steady enough for hand finishing.