Sunday, September 16, 2007

We've made living biological attractions so astounding that they'll capture the imagination of the entire planet.

Well major construction started yesterday. Most of the morning was taken up with the layout and running around to get various tools and minor items that I missed. That just goes to show; no matter how many lists of supplies you make, you're going to have to do running around to get some items you missed.

My recommendation would be to either take a half day for planning and getting those items, or to start earlier in the day to minimize downtime.

Originally we had planned on laying two pieces of melamine together, and cutting them with a router. It turned out the bit required wouldn't fit into the router we had, so I ended up having to purchase a jigsaw. It was probably for the best anyway as cutting out the coin door, fan holes and speaker holes are going to be considerably easier with a jigsaw.

I ended up purchasing some 8 tooth blades, and they didn't do too badly. If they had a better selection I would have purchased 10 or 12 tooth blades and I think they would have minimized the thrashing at the edge of the melamine.

J had the perfect idea for cutting the melamine and I'd recommend it for anyone doing the project. Put your good sides facing in (lift, don't slide) and your bad sides facing out. What will happen is the tearing will occur on the outside edges which ultimately face to the inside of the cabinet and no one will see.

We also used masking tape on all the cuts to minimize the melamine edges being ripped apart. The circular saw did a nice job, and clean straight cuts. The jigsaw was a bit more challenging as it tended to flex on the edges of the MDF / melamine and bind at several points on the tape. Thankfully there were no major cutting errors and everything seemed to come together nicely.

Most of the major cuts were done by J with the circular saw, and the curve piece was done with a jigsaw. We used a 3/32 bit for the routing for the T-molding as I couldn't find a 1/16 bit at any of the stores we went to, including a specialty tool shop. J cut the inside support pieces with a double-bevel miter saw.

By the end of the day, we managed to cut both sides of the cabinet, and attach the spruce to the inside which will attach to an inside supporting frame. I know most cabinet builders don't go with an internal frame, but this cabinet will be moved as some point and I don't feel confident that bolts to the MDF will hold a 110lb 27" monitor in place. With an internal frame I can be reasonable confident it can be moved, and there should also be no shifting during game play.

When they say pre-drill the MDF / melamine, the reason for that is as you drill your 2" or 1 1/2" screws through into the MDF it's going to resist your screw. If you pre-drill it provides a nice anchor point for the wood (the screw will naturally go into the hole) and the MDF doesn't resist the screw. We tried two screws without pre-drilling and they wouldn't even go into the melamine, it simply pushed the board up.

We used 2" decking screws, which have nice chunky teeth on them, inside of fine teeth like a wood screw.

Today I'm going to have to do some more running around to switch out the door hinges and the casters. Two of the casters I purchased from the 3" bin turned out to be 2 1/2" casters. The door hinges I purchased were totally wrong and should have been cabinet hinges.

This is the saw horses set up in J's garage.

Close up view.

Two sheets of melamine laid back to back, bad sides out, good sides in.

You can see the 2x4 cross members providing center support for the melamine.

Showing the safety equipment we're wearing. J is quite pleased with me taking his photo. It was a toss up between these type of masks with carbon filters, or re breathers. Unfortunately the price tag on re breathers starts at $70 and goes up from there.

Using masking tape (in this case painters tape) to minimize the tearing at the edges. Even with the painters tape you can see significant chipping. Luckily this is the side that will face to the inside, while the piece that faces to the outside has zero chipping.

After fooling around with different router bits, it was decided I had to get a jigsaw to properly do this job. No cutting corners.

J made a slight slippage changing the router bit, and this is what it did to his thumb. This was the worst injury for the day, and hopefully the last.

The shape of the cabinet is taped out, and J measured it precisely including all the angles.

Better shot showing the tape and level.

J managed to do this sweeping round angle in one shot. Very nicely done I think it's going to look much better than straight cuts. You can see the nicely centered routed space for the T-molding.

There's a bit of a hump halfway down the cut from the jigsaw blade flexing, but we'll likely just touch it up a bit with the belt sander.

Attaching the frame to the inside pieces first, and then the frame will attach to that. Quite difficult as the glue acted like a lubricant and the pieces would move around quite a bit. We managed to get a system down and secure the pieces after pre-drilling into the spruce and melamine.

With both sides done, we call it a night and J tells me to get the hell out.

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