Making Multiples

I have been beavering away in a push to get my lathe tool drawer project finished or at least complete to the point of needing finish applied. After one minor setback (back of carcass cut too narrow) and two extra trips to the hardware store (finishing nails and supplied screws for handles too short), I have reached to point where everything needs to be sanded.

False front drawer construction hides a host of sins but that is not my point for this post. Like many modellers, I am used to making things by the each. Make one switch frog, build a car, install one decoder, and so on. From my reading of Kozo Hiraoka’s lived steam locomotive construction book, it is clear that he gives a lot of thought to making multiples of the same part. The very first thing described is the locomotive tender truck construction with two trucks requiring a total of eight wheels. He lays out a way to do the first setup on a part, remove that part, put in the next one until all eight are first step complete and then on to the next step. Definitely more efficient. The symmetry of a steam locomotive being what it is, many of the remaining parts come in at least pairs if not more so more techniques are described.

I had cause to think on this outlook as applied to woodworking because my four drawer cabinet has a total of 29 wood parts of only 11 different types (one drawer is an odd height so not the minimum 9). I used one commercially made fixture, my Kreg K5 pocket hole jig, to drill some 50 pocket holes. Coming up with a way to regularize hole placement on panel edges paid off in reduced measuring and increased neatness. All I did is mark out where to put the panel ends with painters tape and away I went.

Investing in an adapter for the dust collection attachment so my shop vac would pull all of the sawdust away as I went sped things up as well. Pocket hole drilling produces a surprising amount of sawdust per hole and you either have to keep clearing it manually or have some way of sucking it up.

The final step of the construction process was drilling the holes for the handles. This was one place where getting things misaligned could make a mess of otherwise nice looking wood drawer fronts. And, unlike any dodgy joints in the drawers, I will have to look at them all the time. It made investing in another technique that Kozo uses, the drilling template, very attractive. My template was simple but is meant I laid out, drilled and test fitted the holes in an expendable piece of scrap instead of my nice drawer fronts. I then needed only to mark the centerlines of the drawer fronts and off I went.

While I have digital readouts on both my machine tools, I don’t have on on my hand drill so this worked well and I got excellent results with much greater speed than if I laid out each pair of holes individually.

I just need to find a place far away from my machine tools and train layout to do the sanding and then apply various finishes. I am looking forward to using the extra storage to organize my cluttered lathe tool shelf.

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