Friday, April 11, 2014

Its Bird House Season

  There must be an unlimited number of designs for bird houses, and as we cut down the trees in the city, an almost unlimited need for more bird houses.

   Building a bird house is one of the earliest and easiest projects that you can do with a little person.  Kieran and I have made two bird houses already.  This summer it will be time for his little sister to get into the act as well, I think. ( blog on 4/13/12 and 09/10/13)




   When I typed bird house plans into the computer there came up 100's of pages.  I did like this one: 50 Free Bird House plans.

License Plate Bird House

  When you go to build your bird house it is a good idea to get advise on what size of hole is best for which species of bird.  You want to match the hole size to your local birds.  The trick is keeping the hole large enough for the bird but too small for the predator birds.

  I am sure that there is debate among the 'bird people' as to the very best size of hole, but, when isn't there debate.

  Something else I have been told.  It is not a good idea to put a perch or a stick by the hole on the bird house.  That perch supplies a place for predators to sit while reaching into the house for the eggs or the baby birds and a bird that is the right size for the hole flies in, it doesn't land on the perch and climb in.

   If every shop in the land made one bird house aimed at a local species of bird it could make a difference.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Foot Operated Hold Down or a Carver's Hold Down

  In the last week or two I have been working on my  shop environment. Recently I made the saw bench from the Unplugged Workshop which was long over due.  The bench inspired me to think about some other workshop jigs or appliances that I could build that would improve my working situation and posture.  Since I am finally back to firing on all cylinders after months of back problems I want to stay that way, and have become much more aware of aches and pains that can come from working and playing. As the hair on my head grows thinner and my beard gets greyer aches and pains are ignored at personal peril.

 Though the saw bench is low, it is so efficient my bent over time is shorter and more productive.  Also I am doing more carving, both relief and carving in the round on projects from my shop. Things that require a very careful touch with the chisel need to be clamped/held in place while hold the cutting or anding tool with both hands.  It is best when the wood to very secure so I  can then  use two hands to accurately control the Dremel, knife or chisel.

  I happen upon an Instructable showing how to make a foot operated hold down.  I quite liked the design and will probably make one like in the video for working on larger items but first I modified the plan for use with on my carving projects.


hold down holding a carved spoon.
  Instead of the appliance being held in a bench vise as in the Instructable.com video I made a smaller version that I clamp to my work bench.

   I used a piece of oak, because I still have a bundle of oak shorts around and to held stabilize the hold-down I screwed a cross piece onto the bottom.  It is not a big project, I drilled and counter sunk two holes, rounded the end off the hold down and threaded the rope through.  The biggest trick was getting the rope the length that suited me the best.



  The cross piece is probably over engineering the project but that is my nature when I comes to this sort of thing.  The clamps keep the hold-down from moving one way and the cross piece keeps it from wiggling the other.  I have a spare KREG KKS-BK Bench Klamp that I will probably mount on the top of my carving bench next.

  



   I threaded the rope through the holes and tied a knot at the bottom.  If I want to work with this hold down while sitting I can tie a knot in the rope to shorten it or leave it long for standing.



  As you can see the rope will hold fast to non-square shapes and shouldn't cause damage to the wood, it I am sensible and careful.  To hold round stock I would only need to add a V block.

 cheers ianw


'stepping out!'