Friday, May 23, 2014

Making her Quilt Racks

In the movie Phenomenon, John Travolta demonstrates he likes a certain woman by buying all her handmade chairs so that she'll come back to visit him again. My wife watches bad sci-fi with me, and I listen to romance books on iPod with her. We call it buying each others' chairs, which builds a relationship. We were engaged for eighteen months and have been married for twenty years. That exercise never stops.

 My wife loves to quilt. She has both children entering the fair with quilts of their own. Although I don't sew, I help program and repair her quilting machine. Last year, her brother Brian and I put together a prototype wooden clamp bar to hang her quilts. This year, for Mother's Day the kids and I bought everything we would need to make a decorative light box for displaying her quilts. It became a family project.

We started with an existing design from a magazine and modified it to use a decorative valence with leaves and a solid oak frame with a routered bottom. She wanted the whole thing stained like cherry with three coats.

The design was modified to be two-thirds the height, half the width, and use an LED to be one-third the weight. It should use less than two dollars of electricity a year.

After trying to router oak without a router table, we gave up and bought pre-routered trim at the proper width. (We now own the table for future projects.)

 I made all the corners mitered with the chop saw and used a wooden biscuit to reinforce the corners. The glue said, "Dries in 30 minutes." Never believe what you read. We had to reglue that corner because it broke apart. Once I put both layers together, that reglue mess made the inside too big. I had to cut them apart and saw new holes. I staggered the layers to hide the panel that holds the light in a recess. However, gluing and holding would be almost impossible to achieve by hand in such a confined space, so I bought a nail gun. Then I had to go back to buy brads that were an eighth inch smaller.

 Mounting this to the wall was tricky. I pre-drilled the back support bar for the 12.5 degrees needed for the main board, not the higher, staggered valence. So we couldn't mount it to the wall until I redrilled every angle through the same hole. This also meant that the screws had to be half an inch longer.
Total time for the adventure: 3 weeks.
Cost... well let's just say I may be selling these to Tammy's quilting friends... in addition to the dozen I'll be making for around the house and her office. Of course, there will be some design changes for many of the others, but Tammy is very happy, which was the point of the exercise to begin with.

After all, she does proofread every one of my books.