With this winter's cold weather upon us at last, our progress has slowed just like cold molasses. As such, it has been a little while since we've gotten significant work done on the trailer. Cold weather or no, however, we haven't actually stopped! Here's some proof of that.
In a previous post, we wrote that our trailer will have a sink. The sink caused quite a headache as we worked on packaging it into the trailer. A sink is such an odd shape, when the faucet is considered. The best shapes for packing are cubes. A sink is essentially a big, empty shell, and the faucet just sticks up there getting in the way of everything. We want to be able to store the sink neatly, but also have simple access to use it. Ideally it would be as close to the grill as possible, because they'll likely be used together most often. After countless redesigns, numerous configurations, and hours with pencil, paper, and eraser, we finally got a layout we like that should work well and checks all the boxes. So we got straight on with it.
In an effort to make this drawer a little more attractive than the grill one, we opted to use hardwood instead of plywood. The plan being if it goes well and comes out nicely, to rebuild the grill drawer with hardwood as well, to match. So let us know how we did!
Step one was laying out all the cuts to make for the first set of dovetails. Step zero, of course, was sharpening all the chisels. And the kitchen knives, while the sharpening stone is out. Pocket knife too...okay now you're just procrastinating. Right, okay. Make sure to mark which part of the dovetails is scrap, because it sucks to cut the last one the wrong way, then the whole piece is scrap.
Then you just rip cut down the lines and chop across the grain. And chop. And question whether solid maple was a good choice. Keep chopping. Make sure everyone has earmuffs on because it's loud! Remember, because you're doing it in the kitchen, because it's so cold outside. Finally, the first set of tails is done. Transfer the tails to make the pins.
Fast-forwarding a whole bunch, seriously it was like a week or so of cutting dovetails, and we have a 4-sided box. It's critical to make sure the joints always go together the same way, so each is match-marked. They go together and come apart and go back together several times during the process as there's several iterations of test fit, trim, test fit, repeat. But in the end, is it worth it? We think so!
What we haven't really described is the overall design. But the pictures do a really good job of that, so it's probably not totally necessary. But to shed some light, there is a small storage compartment "behind" the sink. Behind meaning on the opposite side of the faucet from the sink. So we had to make a divider, which would also enclose the storage compartment. For this it was decided to use a mortise joint on each end. I've never made a mortise so it was..."interesting".
I made what I anticipated to be the easier side first. I was definitely right about that. I probably could have done this quite easily on the table saw, but as stated earlier, it's been really cold out, so the kitchen was preferred for its warmth. Plus the rest of the drawer was handmade at this point, so we'll just keep it going.
With both ends of the divider cut, it was time to start on the last major hurdle of this subassembly. I wasn't really sure the best way to go about it as I'd never made one before. In the future, I'd make the joint just slightly wider, or get a smaller chisel. The smallest we have is 1/4" wide, which is the same width as the slot that needed to be cut. Unfortunately, that meant it was just a little bit too snug to cut lengthwise down the slot without ruining it. So I set about chipping out just a little bit at a time. This seemed to take forever. We couldn't wait to be done with the chopping.
Fast-forwarding a bunch again here. So much respect to people who can do this kind of handcrafted joinery in hardwood well. Not sure about those who do it for "fun" though...
Both mortises and all the dovetails complete was a major milestone, as it meant the worst (and loudest!) was behind us. It meant we were ready to apply glue, which was mildly terrifying because that means it's permanent. We triple checked that everything fit properly, and then glued it all together.
Next, we had a discussion for the top face. Should the grain go the long way or the short way? We both had it in our heads that it would go the long way, until we saw it both ways and realized we both preferred it the short way. So we cut one piece to size for both openings, then removed 1/2" strip in the middle for the divider, so the grain matches up.
During the great grain debate, we also discussed hinges for the storage compartment. We agreed that we didn't like a piano hinge across the top. Our preference was to see as little hinge as possible. So we looked at piano hinge with an offset, but it was kind of pricey, and not readily available. We perused the catalog of our local hardware boutique, maybe you've heard of The Home Depot, and found some workable options. We decided to go with a couple of overlay-style hinges installed backwards. Typically, the pocket goes in the door, but our door didn't have the depth to allow it, so we put the pocket in the storage compartment wall. Unfortunately, the forstner bit was M.I.A., so the pockets were also cut by hand.
With both hinges installed, we started to have a clearer idea of what this thing would actually look like. We were quite pleased. A couple of magnets (not visible here) were installed on the near wall to keep the lid shut over bumpy terrain.
If you've made it this far, you've been very patient. We can finally get to the purpose of this post. Which is the sink. We found a bar sink a while back at a local building supply store, that fit the dimensions we needed, without being uselessly tiny. The faucet, as mentioned earlier, was a long struggle. We found this awesome faucet from Ambassador Marine, which was a little bit on the expensive side, but has the wonderful feature of folding flat. Actually it folds beyond flat; if the mounting allowed, it would spin full 360 degrees. We searched quite a bit, but could not find anything like it that had hot and cold inputs, and seemed like a good quality piece. The drain is also from Ambassador Marine, and has a very low profile as well. It projects only about 1-1/2" below the bottom of the sink. The drain can be purchased here.
With the box complete, and the parts in hand, we simply drilled some holes for plumbing and jig-sawed out the hole for the sink. The assembly was very simple, and took only a couple minutes. And...voila!
We put a handle on so we could actually open the door!
And finally, we put a bottom in the opening, so that it was actually useful for storage. We haven't worked out what will be stored in here just yet, but for scale, below is a medium sauce pan and a small dinner plate. There's plenty of room! You can also kind of see the faucet in it's folded position.
If you were wondering why we put such large tires on a trailer, let us show you. First, we made an upside-down drawer. Next, we destroyed it.
Then, we made another upside-down drawer. With a different joint design, this attempt came out much nicer. When flipped over, this piece becomes the counter on which the grill will sit.
We wanted the cooking surface to be at a workable height, which required the use of 30" tires. The ground clearance is nice, too, since the trailer will see off-road use.
We acquired ball-bearing drawer slides 30" long with a 400lbs. capacity from Amazon. These will allow the grill to slide out it's full width, plus some extra for a small work space next to it. Standard drawer slides are used for the inner utensil drawer. These are 24" soft-close type from Home Depot.
Next, we made a smaller drawer to fit inside the upside-down drawer. This drawer-within-a-drawer will be used to store utensils and/or cookware, most likely.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.