The Wardroom Cabinet

Before we left on deployment, I heard some people talking about getting a cabinet for the wardroom.  I joined in the discussion and offered to help make something.  I figured it wouldn’t be too difficult to throw something together and if time got short, then I could just do the final touches once we got underway.

After a few conversations about how we should make the cabinets, Chaps and I decided to get to work.  Somehow he managed to convince the XO that we should get two days off to build the cabinet and that turned out to be instrumental in getting the project done on time.

The carcase was made out of 3/4″ plywood.  You’ll notice that back is cut just a little lower than the sides.  We did that to allow wires to come up from inside the cabinet since it would be installed under the TV.


The top was made out of three oak boards ship-lapped together.


Chaps cut out a silhouette of our ship and we glued it to the center of the top.  We used a 1×2″ oak board to trim out the front of the cabinet top and a 1/4″ piece of oak was glued to the sides and back in order to hold the bar top epoxy in.  The key to bar top epoxy is to apply it in thin layers in order to ensure that it hardens all the way through.  The blow torch was used to get all the bubbles out of each layer.  I did not realize that oak was as porous as it is until this project.  I had to keep using the blow torch for almost an hour on the first coat because bubbles kept pouring out of the wood.  The epoxy looked like champagne.  It think it took 6-7 coats to finish and came out crystal clear.  I probably could have put the epoxy down in thicker layers, but I didn’t want to risk it.



I used some plywood and stain to make cave dwelling silhouettes like the ones found in the Mesa Verde National Park.  We have a similar silhouette on our ship’s patch.


Here is what it looks like installed in the wardroom.  The hardest part was raising the TV about an inch because we didn’t take the bar top epoxy into account when sizing it.  All the other measurements worked out though.


A little practice

I had a break in the schedule the other day and some scrap wood laying around, so I decided to try a new joint.  I have used dove tails before, but the half blind dove tails looked a little intimidating.  My wife sent me a book all about joinery so I read what it had to say about the joint and then gave it a try.

Cutting the tails was easy, they just don’t go as deep.  I think I will go further than half the thickness of the pin board next time though.  The picture below was taken while removing the waste from the pin board.  It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.


Here are a couple pictures of the finished joint.  It isn’t perfect, but not too bad for my first time.  Excuse all the nail holes, I was working with some scraps from an old crate.





More cedar has arrived.

Another shipment of cedar arrived a couple weeks ago.  I went to work making some more humidors to try to catch up on all the requests.  At first it looked like there was enough wood for four humidors and that I would have a couple pieces left over.  I ended up getting five humidors out of it.  I still have to finish the engravings on the lids, but the assembly is complete.  Thanks John!


Here are a couple pictures of the assembly process.

The corners are getting tighter with each one.


This is the first one I completed with this shipment.  I had the buyers name engraved below the EGA which added a nice touch.  The tray is made out of mahogany that I picked up at a lumber yard in Crete.

Here are the other four that were made with this shipment.  I will get the lids finished up soon and I will add a picture of each one to this page after that.



Workshop with a View

When I am out to sea I like to watch the sunset.  The colors that you see in the sky are always amazing and there is something about having an unobstructed view that makes it that much better.  Here are a couple pictures of sunsets that I have seen while working at the bench.  The pictures taken through the salt spray covered windows don’t really do the sunsets justice, but I think you can get the idea.

Sun rises are not bad either, except that you have to get up early to see them.  This isn’t ideal lighting for a workshop, but I thought this early morning picture was pretty neat.


I will add more pictures of the sunsets as I take them.



Another Humidor

The Chaplain on board received a donation of cigars to share with the Sailors and Marines when we have Cigar Socials.  The problem was that he did not have a place to store these cigars so that they wouldn’t dry up.  Well, problem solved.  I was not sure how many cigars one of these Ammo Can Humidors would hold, but now I know.  Chaps received 80 cigars, but only had 65 left after a Cigar Social.  As you can see, the 65 cigars fit with no problem.  Well, there was one small problem, the hydrometer hit them when the lid was closed so we had to lay some of them down.  I think that the humidor will hold at least 78, but 80 is probably doable.

After finishing the humidor for Chaps I started to work on the next one.  This one is for a retired Marine that one of the Marines on board knows.  He asked if I could put an EGA on the lid so I did a little searching.  I found the laser engraver that the ship has and asked if I could get a piece of cedar engraved.  We found an EGA file on the laser engraving computer and went to work.

I think I found a great way to personalize the Ammo Can Humidors.  Hopefully the guys with the laser engraving machine don’t mind if I stop by a little more often.


Shooting Board

I decided that I should stop dragging my feet and finally make a shooting board.  To start this I needed some lumber.   There is plenty of lumber on board if you  are willing to work for it.  Another project that is looming is a set of corn hole boards that some of the guys want help with.  I told them to keep an eye out for a crate or pallet that had some good plywood on it.  They found a crate that was going to be thrown out during out next port visit, so we got to work carefully disassembling it.  After a lot of prying and nail pulling, we have the lumber needed for the corn hole boards and some extra that I could use for a shooting board.


I used the rough dimensions that Christopher Schwarz recommends in The Anarchist’s Tool Chest for the end grain shooting board.  I am very pleased with the results.  The shooting board itself is not pretty, but it sure makes squaring up edges a breeze.

Dave is missing.

I was told that I should write about Dave again, so here it is.  Unfortunately, Dave has gone missing.  When we pulled into port last month I saw him perched high atop the ship, so I know that he was still with us then.  We all enjoyed some liberty but when we departed we realized that something was missing.  All the sailors were accounted for, but Dave had left us.  But why did he leave?


Maybe he wanted some more scenery when he watched the sun rise and set.  I suppose these are pretty good views, so I can understand that.

The food is much better there, I am sure of that.  He was probably getting tired of the young Sailors and Marines chasing him around the ship for fun.

Maybe he realized that we really were not going to let him drive the ship.  More than anything, he probably found a nice European pigeon to settle down with.

Whatever the reason, he has not been seen for several weeks.  It was entertaining to have him on board for about a month and a half.  Maybe we will pick up another  stow away the next time we visit a port.  Enjoy Europe Dave.  If you need a ride back to the States you are welcome to join us again.

First Humidor is Complete

I finished my first humidor.  I decided that it would be nice to have trays since the ammo can is so deep.  I used some mahogany for the trays and the pictures below show the process of putting them together.  Cutting the pieces for the bottom was a little tedious, but it didn’t take too long.  I imagine that the next one will go a little faster now that I know how I want to lay them out.

I will have humidifiers on them once they arrive in the mail.  The original ones that I ordered are way too big for this size humidor.


Completed Shadow Box

I think I left off with the case finished and a picture of it assembled.  I have made a lot of progress since then.

The theme of this shadow box is the ship.  One of the main themes of this ship is the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.  The cliff dwellings are incorporated into the ship’s patch and we thought it would look nice to have a representation of the dwellings in this shadow box.  I started off with 4 pieces of 1/4″ mahogany that I ripped from 3/4″ boards on the table saw that I found on board.  As you can see, the grain matches on the two boards on the left and the two on the right.  I decided to put the two boards that are on the left of the first picture in the middle because i really liked the way the grains came together and I wanted that to be centered.  Unfortunately, I do not have a coping saw so the process to create the cliff dwellings was a little unorthodox.  I used my panel saw to take out the big chunks of wood and then a chisel and file to get rid of the rest and clean up the edges.  The collage below shows the cliff dwellings as they started to take shape.

The next element of the shadow box is the silhouette of the ship.  The idea that was presented to me was to use metal for this part.  I am not a metal smith, but the ship does have some very talented sailors that could help me out with that.  Using a picture found on-line and blowing it up to make a pattern, the sailor cut this silhouette out of stainless steel.  The pictures below show the silhouette after it was cut and then after the edges were finished.  I tried to rotate the second one, but it was being difficult.

At first, I was going to just glue the cliff dwellings directly to the back of the shadow box.  I was going to have the ship mounted on studs to hold it out in front of the dwellings.  I didn’t go with that plan because it would have covered up the top of the cliff dwellings and I thought it would look off if I did that.  Instead, I took some 1/4″ scraps that I had removed from the original boards when making the cliff dwellings, and raised the dwellings off the back of the shadow box.  I think this added a lot of depth to the box and I really like the shadows that you get behind the dwellings now.


After laying everything out to see how it would look I applied the varnish.  The varnish was fun to find.  I was at a lumber yard in Crete, where I picked up the mahogany, and the language barrier was difficult at times.  I asked them if they had polyurethane and they took me to the wood glue.  It did say polyurethane on the package, but that is not what I was going for.  I saw this Green Hydra Varnish out of the corner of my eye and just went with that.  I wasn’t sure how it was going to look at first.  You can see that it was white before it dried if you look in the windows of the cliff dwellings.  It was really easy to work with and I think it gives the wood a nice look.


After varnishing the inside I installed the face frame and cleaned up the edges with planes and some sand paper.  I forgot to take pictures of that process.  On a side note, I just finished reading “The Anarchist Tool Chest,” a book about the essential hand tools needed for a woodworker and the plans to build a chest to store your tools in.  While reading the part that talked about planes the author, Chris Schwarz, explained all the different ways you can adjust a bench plane.  He talked about moving the blade forward and closing the throat to help prevent tear out on boards where the grain isn’t perfectly straight.  This was frustrating me throughout this entire project!  The oak was full of knots and grain that changed directions halfway down the board.  As a result, I was getting tear out on almost every board.  After reading this I immediately went and moved the frog (the part of the plane that holds the blade) forward and the results were amazing.  I didn’t get any tear out while cleaning up the sides and I even corrected a few places that had tear out from before.

Anyway, back to the stuff that I have pictures for.  After the varnish was dry I attached the ship to the back of the shadow box using really strong double sided tape.  I am hopeful that it will hold.  You will see the ship in a minute.  In the picture below I am attaching a commissioning pennant to the top of the shadow box.  I drilled two small holes into the back of the shadow box and stitched the pennant in place using matching colored thread.


Here is the finished product.  Unfortunately, I did not have a way of getting glass for the front.  This shadow box will have to go on without glass.  I think it looks pretty good overall.  I had a lot of fun (and some frustration) building it.

Shadow Box.JPG

A Shipment of Cedar

One of the projects that I thought would be good while on the ship is ammo can humidors.  I have no problem finding ammo cans, but cedar seems to be in short supply.  What do you do when you need resources on deployment?  Call your friends back home.  After discussing the plan over some e-mails I started getting pictures of cedar boards as they were being prepped for shipment.  3/4″ boards became 1/4″ boards that were ready for shipment to a ship somewhere out in the ocean.

After being flown to a port somewhere and placed on a supply ship, the cedar was then slung under a helicopter and dropped off on my ship.  Now I can get to work.  It’s great having friends with similar hobbies!


I do not have a picture of the finished humidor loaded onto my computer yet, but I do have the pictures below.  I had to make a groove in the bottom board so that it would fit over the bump on the bottom of the can.  The No. 71 Stanley Router Plane was perfect for this.  Just so happens that the same guy that got the cedar for me also found this router at a garage sale.  I liked the way the shavings curled up tightly so I kept some for a picture.  My shop smells wonderful now.  I will update this post with pictures of the finished humidors when I get them transferred over.