Week 2: Repeatability

For my second week in Introduction to Fabrication, I desired to create five coasters. After moving to NYC, I really needed them. They are a great project to show to my guests.

Poplar wood

I bought poplar wood from Midtown Lumber in Manhattan. The wood was eight inches high.

All the materials gathered

I bought stain and a brush from Bruno’s Home Center. The stain should have turned my wood to a dark grey color.

Measuring the wood

I first measured the wood and created basic calculations. The length is 3.5 inches. My initial cut is made at 1.75 inches.

Drawing measurements too quickly

When I first began, I drew my measurements on the wood directly. I would, however, change my design throughout the process. I need to carefully sketch before I jump into drawing lines on my material. To draw my lines, I used one of the special perpendicular rulers.

Sketches

At one point I thought about having two different strips of wood, but I decided on a simpler design.

Miter saw changes measurements

After I created all of my measurements, I cut the wood into my five pieces with the miter saw. Interestingly, all of my measurements became increasingly off at a constant rate because the measurements that I drew did not match the cuts of the saw.

More measuring
Another cut

Instead of drawing all of my measurements at once on the wood, I should draw on each block after they are cut. In the next step, I cut the length in half again with the band saw.

My mistake – the cuts are too thin

I noticed that my wood is a bit thick. I attempted to cut them in half on the side with the band saw, but all of my cuts became uneven. I found the band saw to be challenging to use for this level of precision. Perhaps I was nervous. I cut all of my wood poorly, but fortunately I listened to the pi rule. I needed to cut my coasters all over again. While I attempted to handsand these coasters to make the surface even, I found the task to be too laborious. I would have liked to use the electric sander, but the machine is too powerful for these thin slices.

Cutting new wood

When I cut the wood in my second round, I found the process to be a lot easier. Practice makes perfect.

Using the band saw
Handsanding my pieces

I handsanded my wood to remove the pencil marks. I leveled all of the pieces and began visualizing the finished product.

Staining my wood

To stain my wood, I visited the first floor. The space looked amazing! I stained my wood with two coats and left the pieces to dry for about 6 hours before picking them up.

While all of the stained pieces changed color, they did not appear as grey as advertised. Looking back, using an entirely different colored wood may have looked nice. I found staining to be very time-consuming and not as rewarding as I hoped.

Preparing the glue
Enclosures kept overnight

I glued the pieces together, sandwiched them in each enclosure, and left them overnight. Occasionally the glue overflowed. The next day, my pieces of wood were very strongly connected

The next day, I sanded the coasters. A staff member showed me how to create a perfect perpendicular so that all of my coasters would be the same size.

Some pieces are darker than others
The finished product

My coasters turned out well! If I could redo this project, I would use an entirely different type of wood rather than relying on stain. A few of the coasters did not change color as much as I would have liked.

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