Monday, January 30, 2012

Book in Clamps

wood working clamps can be used in many ways
  This little fire truck book has been read to Kieran dozens of times in the past year, and, he sometimes reads it to himself. (he version is an artistic interpretation of the printed text)  Unfortunately the wear and tear that a book experiences at the hands of a small boy can be fatal. 

  There has been a previous attempt at repair using tape, but the most recent repair called for serious tools.  The spine of the book is paper and so the pages, which are quite thick card stock were pulling away from the spine.  My solution, and we'll see how long it lasts, was carpenter's glue, serious clamping and a full 24 hours for the glue to set.  At this point the glue is solid, I don't know how solid the spine will be.  It is that old story, the glue is only as good as what it is gluing. 

  The clamps are two of my "go to" clamps.  The old speed clamp is great and has seen years of heavy action in my shop.  The aluminium bar clamp is light and easy to use, and it means I don't have to tie up my Bessey Clamps up on little jobs. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Little Boot

What do you do when you are waiting for the paint to dry?  I had already cleaned my shop and put my tools away. So, I carved a wee boot.

coffee cup is usual size, the boot is for hard stomping pixies.
  First I cut out the basic shape on the band saw, then I whittled away the parts that didn't look like a boot. Next I wrapped some sand paper around pencil to do the finish sanding then used my home made walnut stain for the colour.

 The boot is scrap pine that was laying around and I wanted it to have some colour when done but was tired of painting.  Besides craft paint does cover anything interesting in the wood's grain. 

  I make the walnut stain by soaking black walnuts, in their green casing in water for a year or so.  Do it out side because it gets pretty stinky. After the long soaking time I strain the liquid ( which is pretty lumpy) through  coffee filters and add a   couple of eye dropper drops of alcohol, to kill the rotten smell and to kill anything growing in the water/stain.  If the object is small, like this I soak the thing and brush off the excess and let it dry.  Once the finish is dry I put a clear oil or wax over top to seal the stain in.

  If you are interested in trying this you will need a couple of gallons of walnuts to get a couple of cups of stain. Walnuts are everywhere here so I don't spend much time trying to mechanically break them down to get the maximum amount of stain.  I am sure that if the nuts were pealed and soaked and mashed and mashed and maybe ground up there would be more colour extracted per gallon of nuts.  Also if the husks were ground up the colour could be extracted with less soaking time, I just haven't bothered to stream line my methods.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bottle Patterns - the art of the Pattern Maker

Wooden Bottles used in producing  glass wine bottles.
Mixed in with some other nicely shaped bottles.

     Once upon a time there were men with great skills in wood working, they were part cabinet maker and part sculptor.  The craft was called "pattern making"and has pretty much been eliminated by CAD and computer controlled manufacturing.
   The bottle patterns sitting on this shelf date from the era when an artist or designer drew with  pencil on a piece of paper, a draftsman rendered it to scale and then it was sent to a Pattern Maker to be created in 3D. Cars were and sometimes still are rendered in clay but most small objects, things to be cast in metal or glass first appeared in wood.

   These bottles were turned on a lathe from maple, maple is hard and straight grained. Even though the designer had a picture in their mind's eye of how the object would look, a model still needed to be created so the feel and balance of the bottles could be experienced.  Once the design was finalized the models were  used to create molds for the bottles and then the molds were used in manufacturing.

   Once the molds were created, the pattern, so carefully created by the craftsman had no more value, and would be discarded, or the materials re-used, 
   Years ago Eva saw and appreciated the pattern maker's art so did not let these bottle patterns be discarded.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brush Soap

If you use craft paint or use water based finishes this brush soap is amazing.  I have used it to clean watercolour paint brushes with natural bristle or artificial bristles for years. Good brushes, carefully maintained using this soap have lasted me 15 years.

  I buy the soap at a local art supply store and just bought my second or third container, so you don’t use much to get the job done.

  This is a product that I buy at retail price and and use all the time.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why Wood 2 -Honduran Mahogany

 My  wife Eva, just  returned  from  Roatan  Island  where she  spent a week’s  holiday.  Roatan belongs to Honduras it is very poor in fact Roatan Island depends on tourist money as its only source of income.

 One of  my souvenirs from Roatan was a bottle of run, from Nicaragua,(the Hondurans believe their neighbour’s rum to be superior to their own). I am not sharing it here, the internet is good but it doesn't do justice to 8 year old rum.  You'll just have to take my word for it, it is good.

   Also Eva brought me a turned bowl made from off cuts of mahogany.  Honduran mahogany is quite famous as a quality wood when imported to Canada and it is nice to see the off cuts and scraps of this wood getting used too.  The bowl is beautiful and shows all the different colours the wood can show including a knot.  The wood worker probably makes the bowls by the dozens and his skill level shows in the quality of design and execution.   My bowl is currently filled with peppermints and sitting on the corner of my desk.  I fully expect it to sit on my desk and then my grand-kid's desk and since it is wood it could easily end up on the Antique's Roadshow 125 years from now.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Anarchist's Tool Chest


                                                                                 Last summer I bought a copy of Christopher Schwarz's book the Anarchist's Tool Chest.  Last August in fact, and I read it in three days.  Since that time I have been trying to write a clever and worthy review of this book, filled with pithy quotes and trenchant examples, clearly that is not going to happen.  So here is a not so clever but just as sincere a review of Mr. Schwarz's book.

   Christopher Schwarz is a very fine writer with a flowing conversational prose and an excellent sense of organization and style.  The information imparted is done so clearly and with objectivity.  There are many tips and ideas within the book and I have to think even the most experienced wood worker would benefit from Mr. Schwarz's insights.

   For me the real heart of the book was the author's dedication to superior quality work and what impressed me the most was his sympathy with the professional woodworking class.  I felt he placed the blame for poor quality work clearly at the feet the of consumer who demands cheap products and labour and thereby forcing production quality down.  I agree with Mr. Schwarz, wood workers would rather do fine work in real wood but they have to make a living and compete with products made from sheet stock and sold to people that don't know or care. So crafts people are unable to do their best work because they are limited by time and costs.

  If craftsmanship is to survive this down turn in consumer taste then the amateur and hobby woodworker is the one that is going to have to build for the love of the work and hope that in time their efforts will be understood and recognized.

  Having read "The Anarchist's Tool Chest" I have changed my approach in the work shop in some ways as well.  I do not use sheet stock to build any longer.  I use face frame construction to build things like book case and doors now.  It takes longer but result is much better, both more attractive and just as sturdy.