Sunday, October 18, 2015

Wine rack for charity

It's sometimes funny and interesting how these random projects of mine come together. About a month ago one of my wife's friends forgot her phone at our house. Despite it being late I offered to hop in the car and drive it over to her house. This turned out to be a great idea because her husband, a designer and fabricator, had scrap metal in the back of his work truck that night. He knows I have an addiction to making things and helped me transfer some round stock and plate steel into my truck. After letting it sit around my garage for a few days, I posted to Facebook asking for ideas about what to build.  I received a bunch of suggestions, but the one that was the most inspiring idea ended up being a wine rack for an upcoming charity auction. Here's a picture of the result. The project was donated to the Francis Towey memorial scholarship fund. The entire project was made from free materials.  The wood was milled by me from a willow tree that blew over in my neighbor's yard two years ago with the exception of the inlay which was a scrap piece of mahogany I picked up during a visit to North Carolina.

First step was taking the bar steel and turning it into circles. In order to do this I welded a pipe to a steel plate and then heated the bar with oxyacetylene and walked around the pipe.

Next, we used an abrasive saw to cut down the curled bar to separate them from the pipe.

Yes I'm wearing sandals. But I'm also wearing safety glasses. Eyes are more useful than toes, which also have more redundancy. 

Here are the rings after they have been cut and flattened.

After this, it was a matter of deciding what I wanted the rack to look like and just welding it together. 

I used my chainsaw and band saw to mill this willow two years ago. My neighbor loved this tree. When it started showing distress he even had an arborist come and try to save it. We were all sad when a few months later the roots pulled up and it fell over.

The wood was planed and jointed the edges prior to gluing two pieces together to make the top and shelf. I wanted to keep the live edge on the front of the top. In order to avoid marring the live edge with my clamps I used a scrap live edge which matched it and used that as my clamping surface. This will make more sense if  you look at the picture.

There are no biscuits in this joint. They are unnecessary for strength and I had planed on planing the boards one more time after the glue-up to ensure everything was flat and matched. The dark spot on the board is a low spot I saved for final planing. 

The night I did this glue-up was the night of the September 2015 lunar eclipse. Because I have two children, the only work I get done happens after bed time. I stepped outside of my garage and snapped this picture with my phone. My wife was standing beside me.  

My first attempt at an inlay ended poorly. The cnc drive belts were loose and it ended up skewing part of the design. It was my fault for being in a rush and not checking. I glued it all in anyway and filled the gaps with saw dust and wood glue. 

In order to hide the mistakes of the first attempt, I made the design larger and made a few practice runs with a high Z axis to make sure I would inlay over as much of the mistake as possible. This time everything lined up nicely. The finished project will look great. The inlay, more than just look pretty, covers up some gaps that were in the wood. If  you look at the pictures above from the glue-up you can see the imperfections I was attempting to fix.

Here things are starting to shape up.

For the front, I used Inkscape to design an svg that looked like a grape vine. The grapes, vines, and leaves are from three separate images which I cut apart, scaled, and arranged. I used the cnc to carve down 1/8th of an inch and then black spray painted the board. After letting the paint dry over night I ran it through the planer which took off a layer of wood and the unwanted paint. The only spray paint left was in my design. Perfect.

More welding to add brackets to hold the wood, some spray lacquer to shine up the wood, and spray paint on the metal and it was finished. It's hard to believe how well this boring white wood came to life after a few coats of lacquer. Between coats I rubbed the surface with 0000 steel wool which helped keep it smooth. For the metal I used rustoleum hammered black metal spray paint. This is an indoor project and the finish won't have to stand up to direct sun light or weather any way. I toyed with the idea of  using blueing on the steel, but the project was dragging on and I wasn't sure it would be a long lasting finish. I don't know who will be winning this wine rack at the auction and the chances are they won't know how to deal with or fix rust if the bluing were to fail.