Category Archives: How It’s Built

Vanity featured image

Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards – How It’s Built

This is a vanity that I built for a previous home of mine in Southeast Portland. All of the wood came from the Rebuilding Center. They were very rough boards to start with but once milled down they produced a nice finished product.01 reclaimed wood rough boards Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltIn this image you can see the boards I was working with on saw horses behind my house, plus the van that I used to move to portland.

02 reclamed wood riped down Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltThe thickness of the boards that I was working with ranged from 1 1/4 inches to 5/8 of on inch. The easiest way to create a uniform slab thickness was to cut the boards to a consistent width of 1 1/2 inches and turn them on edge. I then planed the broad surfaces of the boards to prepare them for edge gluing.

03 edge gluing with pony clamps Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltThe pieces each get a light coat of glue. I usually use a paint brush to apply it and then get clamped together.

04 edge glueing with pony clamps Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltHere are more pieces of wood being glued. The clamps I use are Pony pipe Clamps and they screw onto 3/4 inch gas pipe so you can make clamps whatever length you want.

05 edge glued wood Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltHere are the two pieces that will be joined to form the bottom of the vanity. I have a 13 inch planer so I glued the pieces up in two sections that would fit through my planer. Once the pieces had gone through the planer I then glued those pieces together and used a belt sander followed by an orbital sander to smooth the joint.


07 edge glued wood Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltHere’s the full width bottom piece and one of the vertical pieces. 

08 reclamed vnity top Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltThis is the vanity top after unclamping and before sanding.
09 routing dado on vanity top Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltI made a jig from some scrap plywood in the garage to rout out channels to fit the vertical pieces.

10 asembing the vanity Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its BuiltHere is the vanity being assembled. 

11 reclamed vanity installed Reclaimed Vanity From rough boards   How Its Built

After a whole lot of cutting, gluing, clapping and sanding here is the finished and installed vanity. All of the wood for the vanity it’s self is reclaimed fir and the doors are made out of painted scrap plywood.

2013-06-19 17.25.28

How It’s Built – Stairs built with a Domino Joiner

These are a set of stairs that were built using a Festool Domino Joiner. The Domino Joiner is a somewhat recent addition to the tool world.  The Domino joiner cuts a mortise sized correctly for a “Domino” (a pre manufactured hardwood floating tenon made by Festool)

01 2013 05 29 09.58.41 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner This is the site built jig made from scrap wood that I used to mark the end cuts on the stringer and the tread locations.  The jig is double sided so it can be flipped to mark both stringers.  Once marked, the jig is clamped to the stringer to act as a guide for the saw to make the end cuts, then again for the domino mortices. 02 2013 05 29 09.58.58 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner   The hole in the jig is the size of the stair treads and is use to mark the stringer. 03 2013 05 29 11.02.42 300x225 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner This is one of the marked stringers. With a project like this it’s important to mark the stringing before making any cuts to make sure that your measurements work as anticipated. The stringers on this project were cut from  4″ x 12″ x 10′ pieces of Douglas fir. Pieces of fir that big are expensive and usually take time to order. A miss cut would be a huge setback to the project. 04 2013 05 29 11.07.03 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The stringers after the end cuts were made. 05 2013 05 29 14.44.35 300x225 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner   The  jig being used as a guide for the Domino Joiner. 06 2013 05 29 14.44.45 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The jig has a stop block that the base of the Joiner rests against to set the location of the first of four mortises that correspond with the mortises in the ends of the stair treads. 07 2013 05 29 14.45.35 300x225 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner I cut three uniformly sized blocks out or scrap plywood that when placed against the stop set the spacing for the mortises. 08 2013 05 29 14.46.26 300x225 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The jointer with two blocks against the stop. 09 2013 05 30 09.28.44 300x225 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner Since the finished floor wasn’t installed yet,  I could screw down some scraps of wood to hold the treads in place while cutting the mortises in the ends of the stair treads. 10 2013 05 30 09.29.02 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The green pieces of wood on either end of the tread act as a stop to push against when their opposite of the end that’s being cut. On the side that’s being morticed, the wood strips provide a consistent surface for the base of the Domino Jointer and set the height of the cut. 11 2013 05 30 09.29.54 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The same blocks that were used to space the distances between the mortises on the stringers are then used to space the mortises in the ends of the stringers. This makes certain that the mortises  match up. 12 2013 05 30 09.31.00 300x225 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner Jointer with three spacer blocks. 13 2013 05 30 09.56.28 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The ends of the stringers with the mortises cut. 14 2013 05 31 16.07.37 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The top flight of stairs being  set into place. 15 2013 06 12 12.57.35 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The stairs in place with the first slat installed. 16 2013 06 12 16.01.52 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The bottom ends of the slats were cut to match the angle of the stringer and installed with a domino. 17 2013 06 13 14.14.13 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner

Carrying on with the slates.

18 2013 06 13 16.33.30 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner Yay More slats! 19 2013 06 17 14.11.03 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner I drilled into the edges of the slats with a countersink bit and screwed them into the stringer. I set the screw heads deep enough that they could be concealed by wood plugs. I used a plug cutter to cut plugs that matched the size of my countersink bit. The slats shown above that do not have holes have already been plugged. The plugs are glued in place then cut flush with the surface and then sanded. 20 2013 06 19 17.25.28 300x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The stairs with the slats installed. 21 2013 06 19 17.25.46 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner The stair well with the slats installed and no handrail. 22 2013 06 28 18.16.44 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner Handrail transition at the landing between the flights of stairs. 23 2013 06 28 18.16.56 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner Top view of the stairs. 24 2013 06 28 18.17.55 225x300 How Its Built   Stairs built with a Domino Joiner A view from outside of the stairs and a matching slat wall above. At the time of these pictures the landing floor hadn’t been finished and not all of the finish had been applied to the handrail. Maybe I’ll make it back for better finished photos some time. I’ll post them if I do.

Working with The Domino Joiner

The company that contracted with me to build the stairs are the ones who handed over the dough for the Domino (it’s not a cheap tool) and specified it’s use on this project. Having never worked a Domino I was interested in taking it for a spin. I always like trying out new tools!

Overall the Domino worked great. I think the idea is to bring the ease of use of a biscuit joiner to a mortice and tenon system. however with the setup and jigs necessary to accurately cut mortises for all 104 Dominos that were required for the treads alone, it seems like I could have just gone with a traditional mortice and tenon approach. On this job, separate jigs had to be created to make the mortises in the treads and stringers. With a traditional mortice and tenon, a jig similar to the one I used as a guide for the Domino Joiner, could act as a router guide to cut one large Mortice per tread in the stringer. The Tenon on the end of the treads could have been cut without the use of a jig using a table saw with a dado blade or a router with an edge guide. Also the “Dominos” that are used with the Domino Joiner are an added cost that would be avoided with a traditional mortice and tenon system.

While I’m glad I got to check out the Domino, I don’t see myself running off to purchase my own anytime soon.  If you’ve used a Domino Joiner let me know what for and whether you’ve found it to be indispensable or like me find it to be “just another neat tool.”