Completed Raised Panel Assembly

Last time I posted I promised I would talk about space balls.  Sometimes referred to as raised panel door spacers, the space balls I want to describe are a woodworkers aid. (not the Mel Brooks movie from the 80’s)  These rubber flexible polymer balls get inserted into the groove of rails and stiles that hold the raised panel.  The space balls help center the panel during assembly, and they contract when the raised panel expands.  This prevents the glue joints from cracking which would essentially destroy the panel.  Another reason woodworkers like to use space balls is to prevent a panel from moving around or rattling inside its frame.  As I mentioned in prior posts, my bar front will be covered by three raised panel assemblies.  A raised panel assembly is comprised by a panel that has been raised (a bevel around the edge), two rails (which hold the panel from top and bottom), and two stiles (which hold panel from the sides).   I used three balls per stile and four balls per rail for a total of 14 per panel. Below is an image of space balls that have been inserted into one of my stiles.  They kind of look like rabbit turds.

additional explanation and images can be found here

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Walnut Raised Panel Creation

Last week Phil and I made what might be our final trip to Armstrong Millworks in Milford MI.  We spent about three hours in the barn picking thru the walnut boards.  Our focus was on minimizing the waste due to knots, sapwood, cracks, damaged edges, ect.  We selected enough walnut to finish the front portion of the bar.  All of the planks we were picking thru had been planked to the dimension of four quarter (4/4=1″).  We had the boards run thru the planer and then a sander to make the boards a uniform perfect three-quarter (3/4″).  Once our walnut stock was brought home it was time to layout the necessary cuts.  This is best done with a piece of standard chalkboard chalk as it is quite visible on the wood, and it erases with some simple wipes of a paper towel.

First action item was to cross cut all of our planks so they are more manageable to handle with the radial arm saw then a table saw was used to make all of the rips (cuts that go the length of the board).  Below is a picture of my pile of walnut planks marked up and ready to mill.

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A Gluten-Free Ale Worth Drinking

Do you know some one whom loves beer but can not partake due to a gluten sensitivity?  I have a few close friends and family members that have significant sensitivities to gluten.  Although there are plenty of alcoholic beverages (wine/cider/liquor/mead) that can be enjoyed in a GF lifestyle, beer is not one of them.  Most gluten free beers made from sorghum malt are quite nasty not as enjoyable as ales crafted with malted barley.  About a month ago I had read that Dogfish was producing a new seasonal ale that happened to be gluten-free.  Today I have finally gotten my hands on some Tweason’ale.  The label describes this beer as a gluten-free sorghum-based ale brewed with strawberries and buckwheat honey.  The label lists the ABV at 6% and is one of the first craft beers I have seen that lists the beers nutritional facts on its bottle (per 12 oz bottle:170 cal / 13g carbs).     I wonder if this nutritional facts table is required to be able to display the certified gluten-free logo on the beers label?

Tweason'ale @ Kruski's

The photo above was taken in the partially finished Kruski’s basement bar by my wife Stacey.  The beer was poured from a 12 oz bottle into a cool looking but not so functional top heavy glass.

detailed tasting notes found here

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3 Must Haves

Well I’m finally making my first post here and a big “Hey oh!” to everyone. A little background on this post first. The last few years I’ve been really interested in some great daily indulgences that can make a dude really feel like a classic manly man. I’m talking Don Draper of Mad Men kind of manly. So, Jay asked me to help contribute some of these great things to this blog. I’m going to start off with 3 great things every guy worth his weight in whiskey needs to know a little bit about. These will set the general theme for most of my posts although I may digress here and there into some other topics (suggestions are always welcome).

The first one that must be mentioned is shaving. Whether you do it everyday, or only when your special lady friend gets on you to clean up for a special event, we all have to do it so why not make it an enjoyable part of the day. Let’s be honest, do you really like using a glorified kitchen appliance on your face everyday? How about paying $25 dollars every week for those new 1000 blade, hyper-ultra-goop coated, battery operated, vibrating thingy’s that vaguely resemble a feminine device that belongs no where near your face? Throw ’em both in the trash and get something that will make you, your face, and your wallet way happier. I’m talking about a classic, double edge, safety razor. The kind your grandpa used to shave with. I made the switch 2 years ago and my face thanks me every morning.  I’ll be posting how-to’s, what to buy, reviews, and maybe even a Q&A if I get enough response.

classic double edge saftey razor

Next up is bourbon.  We’ve all had our nights where we glugged down one too many shots of whiskey, trying to just  force it down and not even taking a second to enjoy that wonderful golden elixir.  Bourbon has such a great, rich history in Americana, some great enjoyable complexities, and a recent surge in popularity due to barrel aged beer and hip, new, Speakeasy themed bars.  It’s worth investigating and learning to enjoy properly.  Start your day off right with a good shave, and finish it right with a nice glass of good bourbon.  I’ll be posting here and there about the world of bourbon and a few reviews on what Jay and I are drinking.

Saving the best, and most certainly not least, for last is great beer.  Jay has been doing a killer job on posting all about fantastic homebrew.  I will cover the vast world of commercial beer out there.  Set that fizzy yellow water aside.  Beer itself is one of the oldest and most varied kinds of adult beverages in the world.  It’s pretty magical stuff.  From time to time I will post reviews of new beers, cellar reports on how certain beers are aging, and lots of  info on great craft beer in general.

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More Pictures of My Progress

Some pictures of the men who worked the wood enjoying some glasses of Kruski’s

Close up shot of one of my four drawers, the two drawer fronts do not move that are in front of the sink.

Tons of room for all my glassware, I intend to hang some stemware from the bottom of this shelf.  Stacey did not like the pre-finished maple I used to construct the carcasses, but once she saw it contrasting with the oiled walnut she fell in love with it, and takes back any harsh words used prior.

Next steps -> We purchased more walnut last week to allow us to begin working on the raised panels.  This will begin to transform the patron side of the bar. I expect to post some updates on the patron side in March 2012.

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Attaching / Leveling Carcasses + Building / Mounting Counter Top

After the face frames were attached to their respective carcasses my next task was to level all three carcasses to each other.  This posed to be much more complicated than expected as my basement floor has major pitch towards the integrated floor drains.  Phil and I began the leveling process with the goal of using some small blocks of wood and shims to do the trick.  This was a real challenge to level three carcasses with a basement floor which was constantly changing floor height in two directions.  We would get one carcass perfect and then a slight bump would throw everything off.  We then acted like engineers, tried to think of a better way to reach that same goal with less effort.  Our idea was to attach adjustable leveling feet.  We wont discuss the hours spent driving and searching for the perfect foot, but the following weekend we installed our leveling feet.  Then we methodically adjusted each of the twelve individual feet till we had a level trifecta of carcasses!  We then strategically placed some shims between each carcass and drove some screws into some inconspicuous locations to create one long carcass.


It’s now time to work on the counter top for the back side work surface.  This is my side of the bar, this portion of the bar contains a sink, and access to all my glassware.  We made some simple triangular corner braces out of a soft pine, and back wall bracing strips out of particle board which were installed to the carcasses to allow the counter top to attach firmly and easily.

please keep reading about counter top fabrication and images

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Fabricating Face Frames

The basement bar build has been chugging along.  I am embarrassed that I have not posted much on its progress since late November 2011. I would like to start from where I left off and post myself into the current status.  I was thinking of some clever way to express and execute this since I just finished watching Back To The Future.  Wow what a good movie trilogy BTTF was!  The last post I made the carcasses had been cut and assembled. Phil and I had just completed some milling of the walnut that soon became the face frames for my bar.


Face frames are a key component to cabinet making, and this bar takes much inspiration from the world of custom made traditional cabinets.  The face frame does a few things, it covers the raw edges of the carcass, it provides strength to the cabinet, it allows things like doors and drawers to be attached, and it looks dead sexy.  Budget minded cabinets sourced from the Swedish furniture store (my wife is addicted to) typically do not bother with face frames, they simply treat the edges with the same laminate or veneer used for the rest of the cabinet.  Face frames consist of two main components; horizontal rails and vertical stiles.  They can be attached in a number of ways but we chose to use pocket holes.

For my face frames the rails and stiles were attached with wood glue and a really cool tool, check out The Kreg Pocket Hole Jig.  This tool cost approximately $140 and makes perfect pocket holes.  Another thing that Kreg does well is that they sell their own brand of fasteners, and its focused around square drive.  We used Kreg square drive screws for all assembly of the face frames on my bar.  Once you drive a few square drive screws you will not want to go back to standard philips style screws.  The square drive screws stay on the provided bit and appear impossible to strip.  The same definitely can not be said about standard philips style screws, which strip and self destruct the moment you forget to keep the drill driver firmly pressed perpendicular to the screw.  Except on those home improvement shows on HGTV where screws heads never strip.

Sorry I could not keep my manly flannel shirt on for this days woodworking,  I am wearing my Shorts Brewing Co t-shirt comfortably on abnormally warm afternoon (December 26th 2011) in SE Michigan! WTF mother nature?

much more descriptive text and pictures here

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Danish oil night

Tonight I applied a coat of danish oil to my drawer fronts. I am using a natural finish danish oil made by Watco.  This hand rubbed finish really makes the walnut look amazing and it was really simple to apply.

The two drawer fronts on the left have been oiled and the two on the right are unfinished walnut.


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Welcome our newest contributor Stevie D

Steve is a great friend and fellow beer geek.

He plans to contribute in the form of posts about beer and food and other manly topics.

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Two Flannels Hard at Work

So we were making some serious progress this weekend. Day one we were cutting sheets of particle board into the back bar counter top and the patron side bar top. Day two we focused on cutting the walnut hardwood that will soon makeup the rails and stiles which make up the face frames for the bar carcass.  The two days in The Neir Garage Woodshop were very enjoyable.  We enjoyed a few beers, listened to some metal, and most importantly made some serious dust.


We began ripping sheets of 3/4″ particle board down to manageable length and width using a long straight edge guide and a circular saw.  Once we finished our initial rips, we used the table saw to square it up and cut to the desired finish dimensions.  note: Me and Mike got these from Phil as X-mas presents and now I know how its used and why its so useful!  It is way easier to cut things down before feeding the table saw.  Day two we began cutting the walnut boards into rails (12) and stiles (6) that will soon become the carcass cabinet face frames.  This was the first time we actually cut walnut on the project.  We were nervous since each of these boards are quite expensive, but when things are planned out as well as Phil does things go smoothly.  The interesting thing about walnut is that the heartwood (chocolate) and the sapwood (khaki) are significantly different colors.  See the picture to the left, on some of the swiggley marked sections you can see the undesired light color sections.


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