It’s quite shocking to think that I’ve been living on my own for almost five-months now and yet, I’m still using the window sill of my “bijou” bathroom as a convenient means of keeping a roll of toilet within arm’s reach! 😳 It doesn’t look tidy and that’s something which generally bothers me. I’ve been looking around at the prices of various steel or chrome-finished products (to fit in with the other bathroom fittings and furniture), ready to buy off the shelf and they were either surprisingly dear or, at the other end, the cheap ones just looked nasty and tacky.
So, armed with a spare length of 1in thick English beech (about 4in wide; I think this was a spare length that I didn’t use on my workbench drawer fronts), this has become yet another small project where I could make something useful out of, well, almost nothing (…scrap wood!).
As you’ll see in that first photo, I managed to get all the main components (two sides and a back) from this single short length, even though a reasonable amount still ends up going to waste.
I decided that I would join these three components using wedged-through tenons, simply because you don’t need to bother with clamping anything in place. This first called for two pairs of square mortises to be cut, using a forstner bit to remove most of the waste, before squaring the corners up with chisels.
To cut the tenons, I first trimmed about 1mm off each face on the router table and then defined each with most of the work carried out on the bandsaw. That tenon cutter came from Wealden Tools and I’ve been using it happily for over two-years. I was surprised to find that it left a slightly ‘furry’ edge on the cut shoulders, which it doesn’t normally do when I’m cutting tenons and rebates with hardwoods. Maybe it’s finally starting to lose its edge? This is a problem commonly associated with using ordinary straight cutters but, it’s certainly not the end of the world and a sharp chisel makes it all go away.
I didn’t put an awful lot of planning in to this project, ahead of making the first cuts in to this beech board but, I knew that I wanted to use a larger diameter (38mm) round dowel and, as this holder would live close to corner with access only from one side, it made sense, to me, to have to machine this dowel so that it slides in through one side and locates positively in the other – hence, the two holes of differing diameters below, where only the larger one is drilled right through the thickness of the wood:
As I didn’t have a 38mm diameter forstner bit though, I had to use a 35mm bit and then take the component over to my bobbin sander, with which I could very carefully enlarge the diameter of the larger hole for a “goldilocks” fit between the pre-machined length of dowel.
I’ve said it many times before that I’m no great woodturner, in spite of the fact that I own a reasonably-sized lathe. So, I accurately machined a scrap of 2in thick beech (plus a couple of spares) to 1½in in diameter and then removed the four corners using a Tornado round-over cutter with a ¾in radius. There are safer ways to do this and, if you’re not very careful, the bit can roll towards the end of the final pass over the cutter. If you have any scraps that’s long enough, you could leave flats (no more than 2in long) at each end which should help to keep the blank seated firmly on the table.
My approach to machining a round tenon on the end of this 38mm diameter dowel involved clamping a stop block to my router table and fitting it with a large-diameter straight cutter. By offering the dowel up to the stop (through the cutter) and rotating it against the direction of the bit’s rotation, reasonable results can be achieved. Twin-flute straight cutters aren’t the best bits for this job though, as the ‘flat’ in between the two cutting tips doesn’t erm, cut anything… With a rebate (or, tenon) cutter, you get the full cut in one single operation, without having to inch the dowel further in to the spinning bit a few millimetres at a time.
At the other end, I decided to create a handle – but, again, without using my lathe… I started off with a 3/8in core box cutter, purchased specifically for this job. In hindsight, I think I may have been better off with a ½in-diameter bit but, I didn’t fancy trying to ‘enlarge’ this cove detail while performing in an operation similar to what you can see above (it made a lot of chattering and left some severe tearout on one of my scrap pieces, actually…).
That round-over on the end was cut using a bit with a 1in radius (the largest in my set) and, instead of using as stop block, I just offered the blank up to the bearing fitted to the bit. As always though, it’s important that your fence provides full support to the side of your blank, particularly when working with a short length. If there’s a large aperture surrounding your cutter, you may well find that the bit pulls the timber in to this opening. A false fence is better than one that only does half its job!
Before getting ready to assemble this short project, I cut the four corners off the back plate and rounded off the ends of the two sides (temporarily held together with double-sided tape) on the discs sander for comfort.
Finally, I chamfered all the edges (with great care!) on my router table, using a bearing-guided cutter:
This is how it stands today. Glued, wedged and assembled, ready and awaiting a finish before fitting:
There’s just one problem now… My finishing supplies are low, which means I may have to place an order with Axminster very soon, in order to restock on a few items (there are still a couple of other projects I’d like to complete before the cold weather comes…). That’s always risky, though… You say you’re only going to buy one or two items yet, there’s the lure of free delivery once the break the £50 mark and yet, somehow, your basket’s already sailed past the first century!!
Thanks for reading. One day, I’ll return with finished photos of this project and several others; all awaiting the final coats of finish…