Monday, August 29, 2011

Reinforceing a Particle Board Drawer Set

When you have a particle board set of drawers, it usually doesn't last long because weight on top will bow the top, and it cannot handle much "side to side" stress.  To strengthen it up, get the weight off and remove the drawers.  Then, remove the back so you have just the skeleton.  Then, make some U-frames out of 1x2 poplar wood.  Put 4 or 5 frames inside ... one in the front, one in the back, then 1,2, or 3 in between.  Making them like U frames means you can get away with minimal screws ... use glue to hold the top piece on, then put the side pieces on and secure with glue as well.  Make sure you put the side portions of the U frames UNDER the top piece. Anyway, once dry, put in screws into the bottom on each side.  At that point, it will hold LOTS of weight on top.

Now you need to fix it so it won't move side to side.  Go into the corners, just the top/back is fine, and secure in 45 degree pieces of wood at the top corners using glue and nails as shown below.  I usually use 6" pieces of 3/4" plywood ... plywood is best because it doesn't split as easily.
Once those two steps are complete, it will be super strong.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Power tools you'd like to have on hand

I primarily use 3 tools ... a cordless drill/screw driver, a table saw, and a chop saw.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Materials You'll Need

As my earlier post stated, you'll want several types of adhesive ... wood, RTV, and construction cement (like Liquid Nails).  Also, scrap wood ... lots of scrap wood ... used for shims ... for hammer "buffers" ... and for clamp "buffers".  Now, if you're trying to make particle board stronger, use finished hardwood from the hardware stores, like maple of oak.  I've found that poplar is not too expensive, machines well, and has a lot of strength for the dollar (and like I've often said, I'm cheap).  Then finally, some 2x4s are always welcomed (for when pure bulk strength is necessary ... pine is usually fine, but hard woods can provide more strength).

Hand Tools You'll Need

Certainly, the standard set of screw-drivers and pliers are handy, but a few hammers are also necessary.  I use a smaller steel hammer, but also a mallet because there's less damage (impact is spread over a larger surface).  And squares ... oh yes ... both fixed and movable squares are essential.  Then finally, as most people quickly learn, you cannot have enough clamps.  Right now I probably have 3 dozen different clamps, and honestly, I'd like more (but I make do).  And finally, I'd guess a coping saw should be on this list as well.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Saving your wood glue

I just went out into the garage to do some work and found my wood glue pretty messy ... thick ... clumpy ... just a mess.  Well, I didn't want to buy new glue (hey ... I'm cheap) so I added about an ounce of water, opened the top, put it in the microwave, put it on "soften chocolate" mode for about 20 seconds, and it came out toasty warm.  They I stirred and shook it for about 10 minutes and it seems as good as new.

Start with adhesives

I use 3 different glues when I put knock-down (KD) furniture together, RTV (aka Silicon Cement), construction glue (like Liquid Nails), and wood glue.  Knowing where to use them makes all the difference.  

I typically use the black RTV (room temperature vulcanization) because in testing I've done, it tends to stick better, white is second, and clear is last (never stress tested brown or red).  I use RTV in places where I need the flexibility of a joint that I want to allow to flex a little bit.  That's because RTV doesn't dry hard ... it's like liquid rubber.

Wood glue (they are all pretty much the same) is used when I want wood to stick to wood ... but make sure it's grain to grain.  Often in particle board, the 'wood' is coated with a clear sealent, so if in doubt, use construction adhesive.

Construction adhesive (liquid nails) is good for about everything else.  It adheres well to a large variety of surfaces, and dries pretty hard.

Why glue?  Is that cheap?  Glue is great because it's like a million tiny nails holding your work together ... but beware ... GLUE NEVER DRIES.  I don't care what it feels like ... if you nail a piece of wood to the wall and then glue another piece of wood to it, you can let it dry with something holding it in place for weeks if you want, but one day, that piece you glued on will fall off.  You stop pieces from 'creeping' by using a small nail ... that tiny bit of metal (it doesn't take much) will stop the 'shearing' action of the attached piece.

Finally, don't be in a hurry ... let it dry.  Typically I allow 24 hours before I remove the clamps.