Repeatability: Bookman Bookends
Updated: Feb 12
Prompt: Make 5/more multiples of something
Materials: acrylic paint, wood
Concept (Day 1):
The first day I was extremely distraught over what to make. It felt like there were so many options, but when I cross-examined those with my abilities in wood-working I didn't see many options. At first I wanted to make a match box, but the tools we are working with wouldn't be very helpful for small items. I finally settled on bookends, which at first I found boring. But the design didn't have to be boring and at this point boring means just enough challenge for me. While simple I found myself asking a lot of questions about the physical design and assembly.
Because there's an angular face carved in the side, I believe that adds a perfect about of challenge. I get to work on cutting at angles and navigating myself around a new tool , the band saw. I also would like to use the drill press for the "eye holes" and use the drill bit I've never used before.
Cardboard Prototype (Day 2):
I laser cut the shape of my bookends into pieces of cardboard to guarantee I liked the dimensions. Through this I realized I had imagined the horizontal piece too long. My second cut out was more like what I had planned.
Buying Materials (Day 3):
I figured that if I wanted the bookends to have a width of 2.5" that I would carve them from 4x4's. After many misses, I finally found what I needed at Chinatown supply. I bought 12' of 4x4's, lots extra because I knew I would have a few mistakes. I also realized that treated lumber has sanded/rounded edges, so I would have to cut from both sides of the piece of wood to achieve the sharp corners that I wanted.
First Pancake (Day 4):
I wanted to make one bookend to see if there were any flaws in the design or my assembly process. And yes, there were many. The first was the mouth piece. The design I had, had a square mouth. I soon discovered that there was no tool, minus the chisel and hammer, that could achieve the shape that I wanted. I then tried to drill the end for a rounded mouth, but wasn't happy with that design.
So I did quick redesign to have a shape that was achievable by the machines I had. The mouth became triangular so that it could be cut with a bandsaw. I actually ended up using his laser-cut cardboard shape as a stencil for my pieces. It was the most accurate and efficient way to achieve the same shape multiple times. It's also visible that I didn't know how to use the drill press properly. I needed a sacrificial piece underneath and needed to clamp the piece down better.
Assembly Pt1. (Day 5):
My assembly was pushed back a few days past what I had planned because of some broken machines. When I finally got to the band saw, I had limited time, so I focused on getting the "faces" of the bookends cut. I began my cutting the correct widths for each bookend (2.5"). With the bandsaw, it was hard to get very straight edges, which was frustrating, but I just went as steady as possible.
After then cutting down the pieces, I traced the stencil onto all the faces. At this point, I realized that I had cut some pieces the wrong way. I wanted the smooth edges on the face and the "line" edge on the thiner edges. However, because I wasn't sure I had enough time to make more, I complete those pieces just to have them.
When cutting my first pancake piece, I actually freehanded the whole stenciled image. It looked okay but I wasn't sure that would turn out nice for all 5 pieces. With some help from shop staff, I found some ways using the protractor and straight guide to be much more accurate.
Because of the setup I had created, it made more sense to repeat the same cut on each piece before I setup for the next angular cut. This ended up being very efficient and succesful. Of course the cuts are not perfect, but look much better than freehanded cuts.
I also struggled with the drill press because I kept getting wood plugs stuck in the hole saw. The hole saw and I no longer have a good relationship. The first time I attempted drilling the whole, I didn't use the drill bit, making it extremely hard to remove (as in I couldn't...). Next time I use the drill bit and found some tricks, but it was still time consuming and involved a chisel and hammer.
Because I didn't have access to the bandsaw for the rest of the day to cut the bottom pieces, I went ahead and began painting the pieces I had completed.
At this point, I wondered if painting these pieces before attaching the bottom piece was a poor decision, because sanding the pieces together might have looked better.
After cutting and sanding the base pieces, the next step was to connect the top and bottom, which proved to be much harder than I expected. I first drilled pilot holes into both pieces. The issue was that when I drilled them together without a clamp, there was a large gap between the two. After using the clamp there was still a gap just because the pieces were not perfectly flat, but the results were much cleaner.
And then after a quick (nope) paint and sanding job, I had my bookends!!! My takeaways were that it will always be so much harder than I plan, not all the machines will be working, and perfect is not an option. Anyways, I ended up very happy to finish this long process and was proud of what I produced :)
Assembly Pt2. (Day 6):