Last Saturday I began another project for my church, this time a storage closet built into a 6×12 alcove in our music room. The primary need was to have a secure place to store the brass handbells and accessories used by our church’s handbell choir. And, since I love to work with wood and have the tools…I couldn’t help but say yes. After all, Jesus was a carpenter, so working for Him is quite an honor. First up was roughing out a design based on what the church folks wanted: room at the bottom—and a double door—to slide in the heavy bell cases and tables without lifting, and shelves for cushions and smaller boxes. I was limited to just over 7 feet high because of a false ceiling and lights overhead.
I made elliptical cutouts in the shelves so nobody bangs his head while reaching into the lower level. And I put down plywood on the bottom so the bell cases would slide easy, and, being a woodworker, I routed a chamfer on the plywood edge to avoid a sharp corner.
The double door called for two 30-inch doors without a center divider. I found out I could order one (six-panel oak) for nearly $400, but it would take 3-4 weeks to get it. Not having that kind of time, I opted to buy blank doors and make my own jamb. But I found out it’s tough to know how big to make the rough opening when you don’t have the door assembly built. So I kind of made it up as I went along, leaving the cripples off when I built the wall. After several attempts of trial-and-error, I got the double doors hung, and then added drywall.
I sanded and stained the doors last night, but didn’t get photos. I plan to have trim on it and finished by Saturday, so I’ll post an update then. But I’ve learned several things by doing this job that I might not have picked up working my home shop. First, it’s a lot of trouble to pack my tools to the church and build everything on site. And, of course, I had to make a half-dozen trips back home for more tools or to mill something in the shop.
Second, I have a lot more respect for trim carpenters, who, when building a built-in project, have to deal with unsquare corners and other flaws inherent to homes and buildings. I had to keep reminding myself I wasn’t building a piece of furniture, but rather a closet.
Third, this job has reinforced in me what a joy it is to use quality tools, especially ones that do a certain job better than any other. For example, I used a Fein MultiMaster for a few hard-to-reach cutouts, and it was great. Perfect tool for that task. I also used a cordless circular saw more than I thought I would, trimming off ends of the cripples to fit perfectly in place. Used with a Swanson speed square, this saw proved very handy, much more so than my electric circ saw. I also got to try out Makita’s new three-speed impact driver. I used this 18-volt tool to drive all the screws (see, a carpenter would have used more nails than I did), and was really pleased at how easily it powered in the screws without twisting off my wrist like a drill does. Finally, I used a Festool plunge-cut circ saw and rails to trim the doors to fit evenly. What a joy that was, because once I locked down the rail and set the saw in place, there was no way to get anything but accuracy, and that’s critical when you’re trying to shave off a 1/16 inch taper. Very nice.
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