I spent some time last weekend drilling. I'd decided to fix the sides of my shoe rack onto the front and back rails using these barrel nuts:
...well, not those exact ones, but you get the idea. Real joiners and woodwork buffs will be turning their noses up at this point since fixing stuff together with bolts is cheating. Well it turned out that this approach was probably harder than the glueing and dowelling but it did allow for some adjustment - and will it'll be super strong in the directions that will probably experience the most stress as the thing gets dragged about in use.
The barrel nut and bolt approach seemed to require me to drill nice accurate, 90 degree, super-straight, super-central holes. I mentioned last time that I didn't have a drill press so my solution was to set the pieces up as straight and level as I could in my 'bench' and use the little round spirit level thing on the end of my Argos drill:
That seemed like a good approach but when I tried to get things to fit, they didn't. I'd drilled 10 mm holes for the 10 mm cylindrical nuts but they were too snug and too shallow. It took some effort and ingenuity to get the nut back out! 10 mm is the biggest brad-point wood bit I've got and the next size up from that is my 15 mm forstner bit - so obviously I had to try widening the holes with an 11 mm general-purpose HSS bit - and it made a right mess. Afrer I tore out a nice big gob of wood out on one of the pieces, I decided that I'd had enough for the day. Sometimes you just have to know when your patience is wearing thin and it's best to stop before turning your project into a complete sodding disaster...
A couple of days later I had another look at the situation during my lunch break (beween sessions, slaving over a hot computer) and I decided I could widen the holes for the nuts to 11 mm fairly succesfully without making too much more mess. For the nuts to be central in their holes, I needed to drill through pretty much the full width of the rail but just stopping before breaking through the other side - using my finger to feel the bit starting to jiggle under the surface! It's amazing the difference it makes coming back to what seemed like such a hard problem but with a fresh head this time. I also decided I needed to enlarge the 5 mm right-angle holes for the bolts to 6 mm to allow a bit more adjustment and wiggle room.
I cracked on with this on the following Saturday until all the holes in the rails were reamed out to my satisfaction and I was ready to try fitting stuff together. It was really fiddly trying to get all the dowels to all go in and I noticed some of my 15 mm holes were not deep enough with the result that the selves would be pushed out too wide. More on that later.
Earlier in the week, I'd invested in a sander as I thought that'd be handy - and I like buying stuff with wires. I (wisely) tried out my new random-orbit sander on a piece of scrap - and instantly knew I'd bought the wrong bit of kit! That thing would have reduced my project to sawdust in no time. However, I did still find a use for it:
Clamping the handle as shown, I was able to assemble a poor-man's sanding station which enabled me to very quicky chamfer the ends of all the dowels to make them easier to locate in thier holes. It could have also enabled me to quickly lose a few fingertips too if it'd have come loose. So don't try this at home kids, I'm a trained idiot. I did at least wear eye protection.
Holes endeepened and dowels chamfered, I just needed to make some holes for the bolts in the side pieces to correspond with the bolt holes in the rails. When I said earlier that I didn't have a drill press, I sort of lied. I have one of these sort of toy drill presses you can fit your Dremmel tool into:
The biggest bit I can fit in my Dremmel is 5 mm - just big enough for this - and not much else. It made some very nice, straight holes so I think I need to get me a proper one...
Now I'm ready for the final (ish) assembly. It was a bit fiddly but it went together much better than I expected. Here's a close-up of one of the joints, showing one of the chewed-out holes (one of the better-looking ones) with its barrel nut nestling inside:
The final task was adding some castors to the bottom. I just drilled some 9 mm holes and the M 10 thread of the castor just self-tapped its way nicely into the wood.
So here it is, in all its glory:
Acually, I lied about the castors being the final task. I still need to sand it down (manually!) and paint on some wax finish.
It's not entirely perfect and the bolts aren't real joinery but all in all I'm pretty happy with it.