Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sharpening: The Tormek Way - by guest blogger, Carla

Whether you are a Gardener, Seasoned woodworker or a DIY handyman, sharp tools and instruments are important for every project.
The Tormek Ultimate Sharpening System, Tormek T-7 is a Swedish made product,  which combines both wet and dry grinding techniques when sharpening tools, such as blades, knives and chisels.
Unique building construction tasks, specialized woodworking, and even gardening around the house often introduce some challenging circumstances.
One of the things that helps to surmount nearly any work obstacle is highly sharpened tools. A dedicated craftsman can appreciate the type of assistance that high precision sharpening tools can supply. Now, although countless tool sharpening suppliers exist in the marketplace, Tormek Sharpening Systems have honed out a special place for themselves, and such a reputation actually works in YOUR favor.
How many of you have always wished for an extra pair of hands?, Systems like the Tormek T-7 Sharpening System with Hand tool Kit, with Tormek Gouge and Turning Cutter Jigs is almost literally like having an extra set of hands.
Tormek users throughout the world and especially here in the North America continuously supply kudos for various Tormek Sharpening Systems.
Although, The Tormek is a slightly more expensive tool, the Tormek gives the demanding user more precise, finely-tuned control over sharpening tasks.
You could pair a Tormek T-7 Sharpening System with the efficiency of a Tormek Hand Tool Kit. This allows you to save money plus provide the type of unique accuracy that woodworking especially requires.

If you appreciate enhanced accuracy in your workmanship, then you will be happy to know that Tormek sharpening systems provide well appreciated assistance.
For instance, The Tormek T7 Jig can square a blade to its grinding wheel, and the setting adjustments are amongst the most convenient you can find in the industry.
If are you looking for a way to make challenging work tasks as easy and convenient as possible,  Tormek Sharpening Systems will help you complete almost any building, carving, or construction assignment with impeccable precision, while extending the life of your sharpened tool edges.

Sonic Screwdriver - the one we wish we had

A fun parody of one of my favourite television shows.  Who knew that you could be a lumber jock and a Dr. Who geek. 

I checked out but they seem to have every type of screwdriver but this one.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

SD Card Case

   Sometimes I make big things in the shop.  This time I made a very small thing, in fact  am going to make a bunch of these very small things.
   Rattling around in my desk drawer is half a dozen SD cards filled photos, data and music.  None of them have their original flimzy plastic cases and all of them need to be protected from the hard knocks of life in my desk.

   So, the other day I decided that I had a solution to the card's protection. 

  It wasn't a difficult job, it was actually one that was a pleasant distraction from noisy machines, other than reducing the oak to less than 1/8 inch with my planer.  Everything else was hand tools and hand sanding.  Now I need to make at least five more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Picquic Screwdrivers

Picquic 88561 Multidriver Set Family Pack 24pc

   Over the last 35 years I have owned many set of multi-tip screwdrivers.  I have also given away or thrown away nearly all of those screwdrivers, the exception are my Picquic drivers.   Mostly multi-tip screwdrivers give away in quality what you gain in convenience, not in this case.  I have all three sizes and have used them for years and while there is no money in it for me, endorse them.

   Another nice bonus is the screwdrivers are made in Canada, we can make good stuff here for a reasonable price.  


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wheel Making Tool - hole saw

  This is one of those tools that sneaked up on me.  I bought this set of hole saws a couple of years ago and used them on one project, after which I put it away on a shelf and mostly forgot about it.  It was a decorative divider used to separate two cats that would not be friends.  I drilled a series of random holes in a piece of plywood, stained and finished the wood and set the divider up so that the cats could see one another and discuss their differences without being able to use their claws.  It worked and eventually they resigned themselves to an uneasy life together.

   Otherwise the round things I needed I made on the lathe and so this set of tools sat collecting dust until...I needed some wheels for a toy truck.  I looked around and couldn't find a size I liked for a reasonable price, and it is way too much effort to make a few wheels on the lathe so I struck on this alternative.

  With a little bit of clean up I can get perfectly good wooden wheels, in a variety of sizes.

  A trick that I learned with this hole saw is that it  gums up quite badly when cutting wood since it doesn't have saw teeth but abrasive glued to steel.  After each use in wood I clean the cutting edge with a wire brush and so have less burning and a cleaner cut.  Also, use it in a drill press if you possibly can.
   This set of hole saws was also used to make wooden bracelets to sell at the craft shop.  

stern of the ship Vasa 1/32 scale
  This photo has nothing to do with wheels, but it is just too cool to have is left on the hard drive.  This is a photo of the stern of the Swedish Ship Vasa that was built in 1626-1628 and sunk on its maiden voyage.  We went to  the Vasa museum in Stockholm last June, it is well worth the trip.  

  Why is it here, because it was wood, wood is wonderful and in the hands of mater crafts people beautiful to behold. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Minwax Express Colour

after one coat with Express Colour


  I pretty much hate waiting for the punch line so I usually give the after photo first.  This is one of the many magazine cases that I made a year ago.  Each case is finished with a different product or combination of products and the product information is written on the bottom of the case. It is my working reference library.

   Last week Ralph Swann, the Minwax guru passed some green Minwax Express Colour along to me to try.  If you read the blog you know that I am always on the look out for a good quality, stable water based, finishing product.  

    Express Colour worked as advertised, it was easy to apply, easy to clean up and dried  quickly.  In two hours I could handle the case and over the drying time it did not seem to attract much airborne dust.  I found the grain was raised slightly but I had not treated the wood with conditioner before staining.  If I were doing a higher quality project I would use Minwax Wood conditioner first.

   This is a product that I will buy for finishing toys and crafts in the future.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Quality Lasts

   I just spent the weekend at the Welbeck Wood Expo talking with folks about router tables and quality.

   Let me make my beliefs clear:

   I believe that you can have good things.

You can have things, quickly and you can have things cheaply. 

 I do not believe that you can have good things either cheaply or quickly.

   If you are an informed customer and spent your time wisely you can get adequate things at a reduced price, not for cheap.  Going to trade shows and prowling around clearance isles has enabled me to buy some adequate tools and other things at discount prices. I have occasionally had to compromise when making these purchases, sometimes I don't get the manual or all the accessories but I make due given the reduced price I am paying.  

   In my experience if the thing is too cheap or marked way down, you are getting what you paid for.  Buyer beware.

  The other thing that inspired this small rant is sitting on my desk today.

   In 1967 I was a Cub Scout and our pack (12th Burlington) went camping during the summer break, (I never liked camping) during which time we worked on badges and stars and made crafts.  That little money-moccasin was one of our projects that summer. As you can see I was born all thumbs and nothing has changed.

   That little change purse has followed me through life for many, many years (you do the maths). Currently I am using it as a guitar pick case, it hasn't been beaten to death, but it has been soaked through, many times (leaky book bag) and battered around, (life in teenage hands).  It has travelled in the glove box of all my cars, for several years it faithfully held my subway tokens and for the last few years it has carried parking meter money under the seat of my motorcycle. It has been in bags and pockets and suit cases and travelled to Europe at least once.  The kit was a quality kit and the materials were quality, no doubt the instruction was also very good.  

   So... despite my clumsy efforts in construction, this little purse still looks damn good and will last me the rest of my life.  If it had been cheap, with cheap lacing or crappy leather made from split chicken skin it would not look as good or maybe not even exist any longer.

  Buy quality, pay what quality is worth and enjoy the results of that choice for years and years.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Small Squares

Small Squares

Sizes of the squares, beginning in the upper left hand corner.

a: 4 1/4in. by 3 1/2in.  45 degree parallelogram, a great tool I use often.

b: 3 3/4 in. saddle square from Lee Valley, again a tool that I bought years ago and use regularly.

c: small engineer's square 2 5/8in. by 1 13/16in.  It lives on my drill press for insuring that the table is at right angles to the drill bit.  I learned that lesson the hard way.

d: 3 1/8in. by 5in. engineer's square.  I use it to make sure that the fence on my joiner is square.  It lives with the joiner, that way it is easy to check and so I check often.

e: a pair of dovetail squares, an 8 and a 6 degree that are 4in. by 2 1/2in.  They were a gift from a good friend at this recent box was the first outing for the 8 degree square. It is a nice little tool.

f: 4in. by 2 1/2in. sliding square.  I saved this wee square from death by rust.  I found it in the basement of our old house and it was totally a rusted mess, being a sucker for the underdog I set about cleaning it up and found my effort well served.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dovetail Box 3 - Finished

Here is the finished  box, in all its minor glory

Notes to Self:

1. 3/4 stock is too think and ugly for such a small box ,it just happened to be available.

2. Work with nice wood since it takes more effort to make the box.

3.  Sharp pencils are as important as sharp chisels.

4. Sand all the end grain before you start to work so that it will be easy to see your pencil marks.

5.  On a project like this, stain all the parts before assembly.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dovetail Box 2

  The box is nearly finished, once the glue dries I will sand and stain it.  This is the first time I made all four corners dovetails.  In the past the boxes have had two dovetails and two mitre or butt joints.

   What have I learned from the experience?  This is a slow method for me to use, the method is not slow (I've seem Rob Cosman), I am slow.  I can also see why wood workers that use dovetail joints often make a special vise to hold the wood while they saw.  It is important to have the wood solidly clamped and at a good working level.

   I also learned that cutting dovetails by hand is enjoyable and something I will turn to more often, I think.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why Wood - Wooden Ladders

   Check out this video, wood ladder shop.  The ladders are expensive, but....some of them are 25+ years old.  WoW.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


    I have been a big fan of pocket-hole joinery since I learned about it fifteen years ago.  I had the good fortune to work for the KREG company for nearly five years some years ago, and over that time I used all their products with great satisfaction.  When  showed this all inclusive pocket hole jig kit I was blown away by what was included for the money.

   The following are some photos of pocket hole projects that I have done over the last few years, from simple to complex, some obvious and some unexpected.  Pocket holes made all the work easier and quicker.  There are woodworkers that "only use mortise and tenon", or "dowels" or what ever.  I don't think it is wise to exclude any technique from your bag of tricks.  

    I made two side tables like this and two cabinet doors and a panel, my wife painted them in these "Mexican" colours as part of the d├ęcor in our television room.
    Legs on this table are true 2x4s and are attached to the top with 2 1/2 inch pocket hole screws.  I bought four rough slabs like this 10 years ago and still have two left.

  The standard flower box, I made a bunch of these.  The pocket holes keeps the fasteners out of the rain and eliminates rust issues. 
    This is an ottoman/storage unit that I made for our living room, the design is to complement our Mission style furniture. 
    A few years ago I made this sofa/hall table using pocket holes.  The top is held on with pocket holes screws, driven in tight, then loosen half a turn to allow for wood movement.
  The last example is the classic KREG foot stool, showing the pocket holes filled with contrasting wood.  I have made dozens of these over the last ten years.

   If you read last entry, I am half way through a dovetail box.  As much as I like pocket holes, it is wise to work on dovetails to hone those skills too. The grand kids are here for the long weekend and the grand boy is sleeping in the family room next to my shop so wood work is on hold.  When he is awake I am busy with other things and when he naps, I can't work in the shop for fear of messing up his nap time. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dovetail Box

  Okay, so the research on Monday got me thinking about dovetails
  I decided I needed a box to store the junk that accumulates on my desk, you know the stuff I am talking about, reading glasses, coffee cups, pens etc. In a moments insanity I decided to make a 15 minute job into a production,so I decided to make it a dovetail box.

  The box is going to be 3x4x8 and I gathered up some 3/4 inch pine and set to work. In the top photo you can see half of the box's joints.

  Up close my efforts certainly are not air tight, not even water tight, but good enough for a pencil box.

   The product looks rough  at this point,  once complete, sanded and stained it will look pretty good.  I'll show you when it is done.

   Aside from being slow in the hands of a man with extra thumbs it is a pleasant way to work, it is quiet and practises  a set of skills that are often neglected.  I think the next box will be 1/2 inch stock, 3/4 stock looks pretty clunky.