Last week did not go as well as hoped. Admittedly it got off to a slow start with the Sunday Night windstorm and the subsequent power outage, but I'd hoped to be further ahead by last Friday than I actually was.
On Tuesday, or so my Moleskine tells me, I cleaned up the shop, added a coat of oil to Felicity's table, and managed a full-size drawing of the High School's display case.
Original display case measurements in the Moleskine diary (2009)
and subsequent scale sketch and added notes. Click to enlarge.
The full size sections revealed some hitherto unthought-of problems, mostly concerning the difficult reconciliation of the need for large unbroken expanses of glass and the necessity for a rigid framework, strong enough to support the weight of a large hinged glass door, closed or open.
On Thursday my friend Donald Gunn popped by and advised using Plexiglass (three-eighths) with a protective coating, instead of the glass. Why? Because, he said, it was less subject to annoying reflections, and would not shatter into thousands of nasty little pieces if it should be hit by chance or with deliberate intent.
I'm still a bit reluctant to take his advice, although he obviously knows a good deal more about display cases and so on than I do. But...Plexiglas is plastic ((Poly)methylmethacrylate) and made from petroleum (2kg petroleum make 1kg of Plexiglas – thank you Wikipedia). On the other hand it's lighter than glass (about one-half the density) – but I'd need to increase the thickness of the panels from a quarter of an inch for glass to three-eighths for the Plexi.
In the end I deferred any decision on this 'til this week, when I'll also call the Plexiglas supplier and get an estimate.
On Wednesday I started making the base for the cabinet - a simple mitered plinth. "Simple" however becomes "slow and tricky" when it comes to cutting accurate 45 degree miters on eight foot lengths of 4" x 1.25" oak boards. It took a lot of trial and error cutting to adjust the aging radial-arm saw to produce a half-ways reasonable joint. (Ernest Joyce maintains that miters never fit as well when they're glued up as when they're dry-fitted, and I'd have to say that in my experience he's right. Besides, radial-arm saws are notoriously balky machines, and go out of adjustment if you so much as look at them sideways.)
Once satisfactorily cut, there remained the awkward problem of clamping the joints. It's much too far around the frame for any band clamp I own, and in the end i resorted to hot gluing clamping blocks to the ends of all four boards, enabling me to use 9" C-clamps across the corners:
The hot-glue made a strong enough joint to withstand moderate clamping pressure, but not so strong as to prevent the temporary blocks later being knocked off with a sharp hammer blow without damaging the finished wood.
(The block on the left hand piece is hard to see).
The mitre joints were reinforced with biscuits, as well as with glued and screwed corner blocks, installed after the glued frame had set up.
So by Friday the plinth was sanded, a small chamfer had been added to the edge, and it was ready for the next stage... Not much to show for nearly three days' work. But perhaps I do at least have a notion of where to go from here.
On a final note, on Saturday J. and I delivered Felicity's table to Victoria. J.'s 95.5 year old mother Barbara surprisingly agreed to join us for dinner (at the new table) in F.'s bijou apartment. It's down to F. to send some photos.