Cauls for a change of plans...

Well I went into this weekend with grand goals of what I wanted to accomplish on the rocking chair project. Goal #1: Get the seat boards glued together.  Goal #2: Sand the runner strips and laminate both runners.  These seemed like both reasonable and achievable goals, but apparently I was foolish for thinking so.  I forgot that I needed to make a new side extension table for my table saw, to replace the one that I sold last weekend.  Not a huge job, but it took time to build and install it onto the table saw.  This extra project combined with a couple of unforeseen "challenges" and I found myself at the end of the weekend with progress made on the rocker, but ending just shy of completing both goals.

Goal #1: Glue the seat boards together.

I figured this would be an easy task to check off the list, seeing as I already had the three seat boards cut to size and the leg joints already cut into the edges.  Well I quickly realized that I had some more prep work to do before I could glue-up the seat boards.  When I dry fit the seat boards together, there were gaps at the ends of each joint.  Apparently the seat boards warped slightly since I originally milled them. Luckily, it only took a light pass on the jointer to flatten each edge again.  Now it was time to prepare for the seat glue-up.  The DVD recommends using dowels to align the seat boards when gluing them together.  I did some layout to locate each dowel and the edges of the boards and setup a fence on the drill press to drill the holes.

Drilling dowel holes in the edge of one of the seat boards.

After only drilling the first set of holes and inserting the first dowel, I could tell that using dowels to align the seat boards just wasn't going to work.  I'm not sure if the issue was my layout lines or my drill press table being out of square, but the seat boards just weren't lining up well enough to proceed with the glue-up.  There's more than one way to skin a cat, so I decided to abandon the dowels and to use clamping cauls to align the seat boards instead.  I cut and milled some cedar scraps to make two sets of 30" clamping cauls.  I used clear packing tape on clamping edges to keep any glue squeeze out from sticking to the cauls.

Two sets of 30" clamping cauls, read to go.
Seat boards clamped and aligned with the clamping cauls.
Front view of the clamped seat boards.
George photo-bomb!

Goal #2: Sand runner strips and laminate both runners.

Again, in my head, I thought this would be a piece of cake because I already had the clamping form made and the runner strips already cut.  The form curves were still a little uneven and needed to be smoothed out, so I went to work with the flexible sheet sander.

I made a flexible sheet sander to sand the form into smooth and even curves.
Runner form with the curves evened out.

After a lot of sanding with the flexible sheet sander, I got the curves evened out.  But then, another problem reared it's ugly head.  When I set the form flat on the bench, it was obvious that it had developed a significant twist since I milled it about two months ago.  Thankfully, I left the form 2" thick when I originally milled it.  The runners are only 1 1/2" wide, so I had some room to re-flatten the form.  A series of passes on the jointer and through the planer and the form was flat once again.  If I had taken the form down to 1 1/2" when i originally made it, I would have had to start over and make a new clamping form from scratch.  Better to be lucky than good!

Runner form after re-flattening.
Runner form and runner strips prepped for laminating.

At that point, I checked the time, and it was 10:00pm.  So I fell short of my goal and didn't get the runners laminated.  But I'm glad that I spent the time to fix the form.  Spending the time to fix it now, will pay dividends later.  I was temped to just plow ahead and use the form as it was, but in the end, it's just not worth it to rush the process.  If I were to use the twisted form to laminate the runners, I would have ended up with warped runners.  Warped runners would be no bueno!

Tomorrow I'll sand the runner strips and laminate the first runner.  Hopefully the extra time spent on the clamping form will pay off and will make the end product nicer.