The Koco Community Centre, the home of Coventry Makerspace, wanted a notice board outside of the main entrance in a style that blends in with the building and looks like it has been and will be around for a long time. So based upon this very brief brief I volunteered to make them one.
- oak boards over 80mm wide
- external varnish
- polycarbonate sheet
Step 1: The Design
I started out with a piece of paper and a pencil and started sketching out a few basic ideas covering the traditional church notice boards in a variety of roofing styles and a few wackier modern designs. This was a quick process just to show the people at Koco and kick start more detailed discussions.
Quickly is was obvious that they wanted traditional and liked the apex roof style so I set about knocking up a 3D model in SketchUp. I could just start building but by forcing myself into doing it, i not only get to see the proportions of the final design but it also gives me a basic cutting list to help sort out the wood I will use and minimise waste.
Step 2: Building the Frame
As this is a one off project, a lot of the steps that you might ordinarily do with machinery and power tools I’ll be tackling by hand if the effort and time to set them up does not merit the slightly better results and it is nice to get the chisels out once in a while.
The oak boards have been planed flat and thicknessed so we now have a pile of stock to start working from. I’ve not worried too much about defining specific thicknesses so long as they are all the same then I’m happy.
Those pieces that will form the basic square frame of the noticeboard are cut to 80mm wide on the table saw and trimmed to length. If this project was for me then I’d have gone down the Arts and Crafts style with wedge and tenon joints but because we are looking for something more timeless and classic, I am using simple housing joints cut into the styles (vertical pieces). The reason you do it this way is that if you do the joints the other way round then a large weight put on the bottom could cause the glue to fail and the bottom would just fall away. This way downward pressure cannot pull the bottom of the notice board.
The top rail is slightly different because of the overhang so the two stiles are notched at the top front meaning that the lip runs continuously for the full width and removing any areas where water can ingress.
With the 4 frame components completed, I give them all a couple of coats of hard vanish before knocking back with some sandpaper and applying a few more coats with a cloth. I prefer doing this because it is easier to sand individual pieces and it also seals the wood more completely. After final glue-up it will have a couple more coats.
I started off saying that I was going to do most of this project by hand and I have for the joints. However when I was faced with cutting the rebates for the backboard I had a change of heart. So instead of planning for an hour, I slotted a router bit into the spindle moulder and cut a slot in all 4 pieces in less that 5 minutes. :-) The back is simply some exterior plywood that has been varnished and placed in the 4 slots.
Step 3: Building the Doors
Of all the things involved in making this notice board the doors are both the easiest and the hardest. My chisel work is not the tidiest but there is something satisfying about cutting the mortices and the tenons for the corner joints, slotting them together, applying a bit of clamping pressure and seeing them come together perfectly with zero gap. One of the photos shows them cut and ready for gluing.
The doors are made up of simple mortice and tenon joints. The only complexity being the fact that the style where the doors meet is slightly wider on the leading door. This is so you can have a rebated overlap to reduce water ingress. The application of glue and clamping overnight and these are ready for the next step.
Drilling the hole for the lock I forgot that the hidden face of the door had been rebated for the overlap of the other door and for the glazing. If you take most of the wood out then it tends to not be very strong and broke . . . . . don’t like this noticeboard any more.
A couple of weeks away from the noticeboard and I've done lots of pondering. Finally I’ve decided how to repair the broken door. Basically I’m going to scarf in a piece of wood on the hidden face of the door. So a small jig has been made to allow me to trim away most of the broken section leaving the front in place. A replacement section is then cut, glued and clamped in place.
Step 4: Final Details
It would have been lovely to carve the lettering into the front of the noticeboard and I did create a sample on a scrap of wood but it was far from the quality you would like on something so public so I opted for the easy option and bought vinyl lettering over the internet.
Glass was installed in the doors. To stop people gaining easy access I installed it from the inside with the beading only accessible when the doors were open. Cork floor tiles were cut and glued to the back.
Finally the whole noticeboard was given another couple of coats of varnish before being attached to the entrance gate post.