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Woodshop Hutch Desk (Part 2)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Part 1 of this series was my first semester working on my desk.  Now that I've completed my second semester - here's Part 2!

I really had not clue about how long it would take to build my custom desk out of raw wood.  I can tell you my expectations where higher than they should have been!  This last semester in the woodshop kept me busy but just by looking at my project, you wouldn't be able to tell all that I actually did with the time I had!

When the semester started all I had was the bottom carcass glued up, the top-working surface glued as well as my top-side panels.

 I started with getting the carcass ready to have the top glued on.  Originally, I didn't consider how the cross rails on the side panels have the wood grain running horizontal and how the grain on the top piece would be running parallel to that.  Not having your wood grain match up is a big 'no no' when wood working.  Because of that, I had to consider how much the top would shrink/expand  with the seasons compared to the side panels.  I definitely didn't want cracks!  I knew I couldn't glue the whole top surface to the carcass and decided to glue the front 1/3 of the top to the front of the carcass and add wood pieces in the back with slots where I could screw the back down.  Because of the slotted screw holes, the top would be able to fluctuate more than 1/2" without stressing.  It was my first time using the domino machine for the slots and it worked perfectly!

 Here's a close-up of the wood inserts.

 I decided to personalize my desk even more with a portrait of my family!

 Here I've glued the biscuits in the slots and in a minute the whole front rail will be covered with glue ready for the top!

 Here's the top all clamped up!  Because the clamps wouldn't reach far enough onto the top to press down well enough, I used two large "cauls" to run down the center panels of the carcass.  The cauls have a slight curve to the bottom edge to allow the clamps to press down more than just using a straight board.

  After many more classes I made the center panels for the top hutch, customized the 3 cross rails and made custom doweled joints and slots in the panels to accept the cross rails.  It was a LOT of work!  Here, the top is just clamped so I can make sure everything is fitting properly.  I'm playing around with the long piano hinge I bought for the big drop-down front to figure out the best way to attach it to the desk and the door (still haven't figured it out yet).

I didn't feel ready to glue up my top section because I still needed to make more shelf divider pieces and figure out how I wanted the drop-down door to attach and function.  In the meantime, I decided to work on my 2 large file drawers.  I took my time selecting the right-sized boards to give me the correct height of panels in the end (with just a bit to spare).  I don't have much wood to spare so I take extra precautions to ensure I'm doing everything right the first time without much to cutoff in the process.  Once I got my boards squared I glued them up into panels, put them through the planer until they were my desired thickness, cut them down to the exact dimensions, made the dovetailed joints, rabbited the bottom edge for the bottom and cut the bottom to the precise size.  After many small adjustments, the dry fitting was finally easy enough to do the glue up!

Gluing up is one of the most stressful things for me!  I tense up and stop breathing because of the stress.  What makes it worse is when your pieces don't fit like they're supposed to!  It's never a good thing to have wet glue all over your pieces that took MANY hours to make and them to not fit.  Thinking of the glue drying up on me when I'm not ready is the worst!  I had a few problems with some of my drawer sides not going together very well so I basically hit them with the mallet until they could have died - a few of the dovetails split in the process but I was just relieved to have everything together and square!  It was funny because there was a guy working next to me on the table and I was really frustrated during the process and must have gotten a little rough with the clamps.. he had to say, "easy now!"  Haha!

After the glue dried I was a bit horrified at how bad the joints looked...

...thank heavens for belt sanders!  I also made the sides just a smidgen too wide so I could sand them down to the exact size I needed for the opening in the carcass.

After sanding, test fitting, sanding and some more test fitting the drawers were finally looking good!  Afterwards, I finished up all the other sides and corners with an orbital sander to have perfect, baby-smooth drawers.

Next I glued up some boards for the doors that go in the center-bottom section of the desk.  I got them sized and sanded to fit into the opening just right.  I used a long piano hinge which I cut in-half for each of the doors and got them screwed on just before the semester ended.

It was hard to believe I was going to need to take a third semester class to finish, but that's okay!  I love taking the class and it's good for me to have some "me" time away from home.  I loaded up my desk and took it home for a few weeks to wait for the next class.

While at home I was able to put the drawer slides on, attach the drawers and screw on the file hanging hardware.

It looks so good with the bun feet!

Next semester (Part 3) is going to be stressful trying to finish everything, including the stain and finish!  Wish me luck!!

Tutorial for Sewing Curved Welt Pocket Design

Friday, January 9, 2015
If you've ever attempted to make a welt pocket they can be quite challenging.  When I decided to change it up a bit and do something that looked more girlie for my bags I was surprised how easy it actually was!

With this tutorial you will be guided step-by-step to sew a pocket of your own!

Project Time:
30 minutes to 1 hour

Shopping Lists:
*scraps of medium to heavy-weight fabric for outside (non-stretch)
*scraps of light to medium-weight fabric for pocket lining (non-stretch)
scrap of fusible interfacing
matching thread
black writing pen
fabric marker/chalk

*Feel free to mix & match different colors of fabrics depending on what you want your pocket to look like.  In the tutorial I used different colors of fabric so you can better see what pieces are which.  If you have a big bold pattern like the chevron purse you may want to do a solid color for the welts because it would be nearly impossible to match the patterns for all the pieces.

Download & Print Pattern:
SMALL pocket, HERE (approximately 5"-wide)
LARGE pocket, HERE (approximately 9"-wide) <--used in tutorial

Out of heavy to medium-weight fabric cut:
-pocket back (1 piece)
-pocket welts (4 pieces)
-large piece for the exterior (about 3" bigger on all sides of 'pocket bag' piece)

Out of medium to light-weight fabric cut:
-pocket bag (2 pieces)

Out of fusible interfacing cut:
-rectangle 2" bigger on all sides of 'pocket opening' piece (1 pieces)

Pin fusible interfacing to RIGHT side of large exterior piece (with fusible side UP) about 1" from top edge.  Trace 'pocket opening' over fusible interfacing.

 Stitch over pen markings with a 2.5 length stitch.

 Cut down the center of stitching and into each of the corners (be sure not to clip your stitching!)

 Cut out the bulk from the center so you have about 1/4" left, and clip into the seam every 1/2-1" for ease of turning.

 Turn the edges of your interfacing through the opening and to the back side.  Carefully iron interfacing down so that the stitched opening is crisp and holds the correct shape.

 Turn your piece back over and this is what it should look like from the front side.

 With right sides together, sew both pairs of pocket welts together along longest edge with a 1/4" seam.  Clip seam for ease of turning.

 Turn welts right side out and press flat with iron.

 Place welts under pocket opening and arrange until they look good.

 Gently pin the welts together without moving (don't pin the top layer of the top welt).

 With the top layer free of the top welt, you can open and sew just inside the seam allowance where your welts overlap.

 This is what it looks like from the back side.

 Use your 'pocket back' piece and trace the bottom edge along the bottom edge of your welts (on back sides) using a fabric marker or chalk.

Pin the right side of a 'pocket bag' piece along the marked edge of your welts.  To do this, first clip 1/4" into the dip in the center of the pocket bag and match and pin that to the dip marking of your welts.  Manipulate (without stretching/pulling) the rest of the pocket bag piece to follow the marked line and pin as you go.

Sew the pieces together by following along the marked edge/edge of pocket bag with a 1/4" seam.  Make sure you back stitch when you get to the center on each side of the clipped area.

 This is what it should look like when you're done.

 Flip pocket bag down and iron flat.

 With wrong sides together, pin welts + pocket bag on the backside of your opening.

 Top-stitch 1/8" from opening's edge across bottom edge, making sure to backstitch on both ends.

 Sew the other 'pocket bag' to 'pocket back' with right sides together, matching centers and edges with a 1/4" seam.  Flip down and iron just as before.

 Center pocket back with the welts so the "dips" match.

 Pin the back on from the top side.

Top-stitch around the rest of the opening 1/8" just as before, making sure to backstitch.

 This is what your pocket now looks like from the back side... all you have to do now is sew the pocket bag pieces together on the sides and bottom!  Do this by first marking where to sew with a fabric marker/chalk and a ruler.  Pin pocket bag layers together.

 Sew over your marks, overlapping with the top-stitching from the front by 1/4".  To sew this you'll need to fold over the top layer (where the opening is) back so you don't sew it.

 Finish off by trimming the pocket back to reduce any extra bulk.


Interested in learning how to sew a zipper pocket?  Click here.

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