Bedside Tables - Part III

  Finally decided to get a sander - and boy am I glad I did! We really could have used it for all of our previous projects. After reading up a bit on sanders we opted for getting a 5-inch random orbital sander with the hook and loop sanding pads. [Aside; it never clicked with me that "hook-and-loop" equates to "Velcro", I was worried that I'd be wrestling with the sander threading some crazy loop mechanism through sanding pads!]
  The sander definitely makes sanding easier - I was able to finish off one of the sanding passes in one evening, whereas one pass would take me two evenings before (and I made two passes before this, just if you were wondering what was taking these posts so long). Unfortunately, we noticed that my hand-sanding from before had inadvertently made some light-scratches on the surface. The random-orbital sander, because of the 'randomness' in the vibration does a good job of avoid this. You can go either with or against the grain with the random orbital sander, and as long as you don't push down very hard, or angle so the edges of the sander bite into the wood, you shouldn't leave any scratches and you should have a nice smooth sanded surface at the end.
Brackets attached to the parts, waiting to be put together.
A close-up of the finished product.
  Post Sanding, we stained the wood, placing two coats of our favored "dark cherry" stain that we've used on all our other projects, on all the sides and edges. We finished up with a quick coat of spray polyurethane sealant, although we'll likely go over the finished product with a paint-on polyurethane sealant.
  With everything sanded and sealed, it was time for partial assembly (we still have to cut, sand, and stain the sides and doors). You can see from the photo, that I opted for thin, 2 screw corner brackets, which I first put on the shelves and the top of the legs. I'm a big fan of pilot holes, and there are some on the legs and top waiting for the screws.
  A very small dab of glue accompanied the legs as they were screwed into the top. Once all were in, I inched the shelves between the four legs and screwed them into place. For each shelf, the brackets were first screwed to the shelf. Then I partially screwed in the screws connecting them to the legs, only tightening them down fully once all were in.
The two tables partly assembled!

  Volia! They're assembled and starting to look light nightstands. Now we just need to finish off the sides, which should prove an interesting exercise with the jigsaw - I've yet to perform an cut with the jigsaw blade at an angle. The final steps will be deciding on the door mechanisms and the hardware. Still, it's nice having a picture of what they'll look like when finished. And they seem to be a good height next to the bed (couldn't help taking them up there for a trial).

Bedside Tables Part II

  Here's the physical start to the bedside tables. I've already cut the table legs and the shelves (see the photo to the right). However, I still need to cut the corners off of the shelves to get the desired look. So here's a detailed look at this step.
  Of course, you'll need a few tools, here are mine; a jigsaw and a couple of clamps. I also have a folding table that you can see in the next picture.

  I clamped a guide board to the bench, and am using it to pin the shelf to the bench. I have a couple of shims to help keep everything almost the same height. While cutting, I make sure to put my weight on the guide board, preventing the work piece from moving. At this point, it's still adjustable slightly so I can make sure the saw will cut through at the right points.

  Check that the saw-blade lines up, both where the blade will start and finish cutting the wood. Make sure that the edge of the blade is on the line, and not the center of the blade. Otherwise your cut will be smaller than you want it to be, as the blade will annihilate the wood in it's path, and then a little bit.

  Four cuts later, we have one done! I think they look pretty good, and also reminiscent of something out of the Battlestar remake. Trim the corners to keep the Cylons from assembling the tables.
  Here's a glimpse of what it will look like when finished the inner shelves are a few inches smaller than the top shelf such that the legs are flush with both shelves. When this is finished, it should give it a nice recessed look along the sides and front, while hiding the ugly plywood edges of the sides.
Here are some "pro tips" I've learned while cutting the 24 corners off of the shelves. First the one I knew going in;
Face the edge you want to look nice downward (on the opposite side as the jigsaw).
  The orbital jigsaw blade moves down, forward, and then up, the amount of forward and back is what gives it the orbital name, and most orbital jigsaws allow you to adjust the amount of forward and back motion. For instance, I usually set mine to cut with a light orbital action on plywood because I want a fairly reasonable finish (our plywood is going towards furniture after all), however, you could set it to a larger reciprocal (back and forth) action for rougher, but faster, cutting along plywood.

  I also noticed that the direction of the grain matters. If at all possible, aligning the grain direction with the direction of the jigsaw cut produces a much smoother and nicer cut. It seems when it cuts against the grain, it is more likely to catch and pull up splinters.
  Well, that's the cutting of the main pieces of the bedside tables. Next up will be sanding and staining, followed by putting these pieces together.