Monday, October 29, 2012

Shop Tip

   Some times I have to take tools with me to work at my Mom's house and this last weekend I needed to take:

  my circular saw and a heavy extension cord. I had a water bed to shorten, a five minute job with power ( I don't want to guess how long with elbow grease), I like power. To haul those tools about I have always used this:

    a crate which dates back to when we switched from quarts to litres and was discarded by the store for which I worked.  Carrying the crate, when full is an off kilter,  awkward experience.  I have fumbled along in this way for years; decades actually.

  This weekend I put on my thinking cap and created this:
this is a handle made from elm with dadoes cut in each end and stops glued on to keep the  crate from sliding off.

  I cut the handle out on my band saw and then shaped the square edges with a draw knife and chisels. After sanding the hand contact section I put it to work.

  The dadoes and stops keep the crate from sliding off and the broad ends help keep the crate stable when it is being carried around.  

 n.b Spend the money and get a good extension cord for your power tools.  I have two good 25 foot extension cords and  so never have to worry about starving my power tools because of low amperage at the end of the line. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


   A while ago I did a blog on Pie Irons and had some positive feed back from my camping and Boy Scout readers, so I thought   I would share something that I found on the net a while ago.  

  With the arrival of fall, winter is shortly to follow and so this fire starting/tea brewing tip is appropriate to the season.

Here are a couple of links to YouTube videos of the hows  and whys of making this type of fire for boiling your kettle.

Swedish fire ( check out the Bush Buddy fire starter)

    I went winter camping once, long ago.  I was not properly dressed or prepared for the cold wet experience. I was miserable and couldn't wait to get home and so have never gone winter camping again.   Just like working in the shop, have the right tools and the right training, then winter camping can be fun .(I'm told)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fall Is Here !!

Glowing trees

    Fall is my favourite season, the nights are cool the days can be warm and sunny and there are no bugs.  In Ontario bugs are an inescapable feature of summer, we have all the bugs: mosquitoes,  sand flies, horse flies, house flies and gnats.  Those bugs can ruin a day's adventure and even if they don't ruin your day they are a constant reminder that Mother Nature is the boss.

   Another aspect of Autumn is coloured leaves, I love the coloured leaves. And now....fallen leaves are recognized as good for the environment and you don't need to rake, bag and tote away that fallen colour.  Mark Cullen, a well known gardening expert was on the radio yesterday telling people to mulch their fallen leaves.  His recommendation was that we run our lawn mower over the leaves, best if you have a mulching blade and then rake the shredded remainders into your gardens. 

   MTD Power Rake Lawn Mower Blade AT-0142

   While lawn and garden time is not workshop time, it is part of living a good life.  During the course of the summer I generally dig a couple of bushels of saw dust into your gardens as well. (workshop meets garden, everyone wins)  Our house is sitting on a clay bank and the saw dust really helps loosen the soil and promote growth of our flowers and shrubs. 

   So, before the weather really closes in and spoils out door fun get out there and enjoy.


Friday, October 19, 2012

My Start to Carving

This is the beginning of my "Simple Simon" penguin.  I have the general shape and I was able to include the bow tie.  As I work on a project I learn things, and try and remember them for next time.

1. The pattern was on 1 1/4 square stock.  Mine is 1 1/2, mime is too big and so too slow to carve.

2. Dampen the basswood, it cuts easier when it is slightly damp, not bone dry.

3.One the knife is sharp, then hone it some more.  This needs a really sharp knife to be nice to do.

4. Practice, practice. practice.

   Safety is important.  I have puncture resistant gloves, I wear the left one and a thumb protector made for me by Art at the Carving club on my right thumb.  You should never take a short cut when it comes to safety and being safe is not difficult.

knife and carving kit
    The basic kit that I have put together for carving fits into an old leather shaving bag. I use the knife that is featured and I have a couple of other knives in the kit, (mostly to sharpen pencils).  As well as a couple of very small chisels to clean up little corners and fit into tight places.  I have a ceramic stone for heavy sharpening and a leather patch for honing and that is all it takes.  If you just want to play quietly with wood, carving maybe the best way to go.

    I think that I will get a small tool box with a latch and handle so that I can carry some wood and a few other tools, pencils, rulers etc. but it is not a high cost past time.  
   Simple pleasures are often the best pleasures.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Carving Project

 This is a very helpful set of videos for some one like me that has no experience carving in the round.  This morning I went to the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre and joined the wood carving group.  They were all friendly and helpful and Art sharpened my knives, sharp tools are a must.
   My penguin is progressing, slowly, but it is progressing, by Friday I may have made enough progress to show it, at this moment I am not ready for the big revel. 

   Carving is an indoor beside the fireplace kind of thing.  For those of you that are out in the elements:
Winter Work Wear

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Push Sticks

  This is an excellent, almost totally complete video treatise on Push Sticks, how and why.  Click the link and watch the video, the only thing that I add to what he says it I put rare earth magnets on my push sticks so that they stick to the end of the table and so are nearly always easy to reach.  I even paint the bright red.

Push sticks at The Tool Store

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kreg Tools Newsletter

  The Kreg Tool Company has embraced the internet and social media with more vigor than many other tool companies out there.  Their Kreg Plus news letter is an example of what Kreg is doing on line.

  I have been a subscriber since the start and I always find that it is a worthwhile read, the postings aren't filled with new and exciting information but being reminded  of things is not a bad thing either.  The October newsletter is worth a read as a reminder tool.

Kreg Tool Box with Kreg Screws

 You all know that I am a pocket hole kind of guy.   I often turn to the pocket hole joint for it speed and ease,  though I do like box joints on the router table too.  ( I need to try out that jig.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Hands as Hands

“It is a tragedy of the first magnitude that millions of people have ceased to use their hands as hands.Nature has bestowed upon us this great gift which is our hands. If the craze for machinery methods continues, it is highly likely that a time will come when we shall be so incapacitated and weak that we shall begin to curse ourselves for having forgotten the use of the living machines given to us by God.”

   Gandhi was not a wood worker, though he understood and appreciated the need for a person to express themselves through the use of their hands.  He spun cloth rather than worked wood among other things.

    “One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915), author and teacher

   Hubbard was a bit of an oddball in lots of ways but he is right about the value of the extraordinary man.

   Sadly we have come to a time when people that can make things are becoming not only extraordinary but the exception in Canada.  And those that work with their hands are not valued and that attitude tends to creep into the quality of their work.

 This blog is a bit of a rant, using the words of many other people, some older, some wiser and all thinking much like I do. is the place for tools for your hands, and the sponsor that enables me to rant.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Rockton World's Fair

Rockton Fair Oct. 5, 6, 7, 8, 2012

  My wife and I have been entering home crafts in the Rockton Fair for years.  I have won first with wood carving and bread on several occasions and Eva often wins a dozen or more ribbons in all sorts of classes, including bark carving one year.

    This year I took firsts in chip carving and novice wood burning.  I can't really brag, chip carving is a bit of a lost art at the fair just now, though some years there have been super complex pieces entered.  The novice wood burning category wasn't loaded with competition either, but that is the luck of the draw, also next year I have to step up and play with the big boys and girls, it will be nice to come top three next year.

   The Leamington Fair: Held the third weekend each June.. The Leamington Agricultural Society presents its annual fair. Tons of fun for the whole family. Contact: 519-326-8082 for more information. Leamington is the home town of, it would be great to see local folks out and supporting their spring fair.

Fall means some serious yard work, so the spring will really sing. Take sometime over the next week or two to get that pruning done and the yard/leaves under control so that you don't start next year with muck and dead spots instead of grass.

Happy Thanksgiving and:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Small Cat

walnut cat pin with pencil to show scale
  I have decided that it is time to get back to my roots and make some small scroll saw projects again.  The scroll saw was the first power tool that I got for my shop 10 years ago when I started back into serious wood working. I had an uncle that had become quite expert at scroll saw projects and I hoped to emulate him.  Little did I know the path I was going down.

   This winter I plan to spent time on small projects, carving  and improving my detail work. I have built book cases and flower boxes and dozens of cutting boards in the last while but I think it is time to work with some hand tools in the quiet and make projects that need fitting with files, and finishing with rifflers.

  This little walnut cat, from an off cut is the beginning. Actually it was cut with a band saw rather then the scroll saw.  I painted the details with acrylic paint and then spayed the cat with shellac. The spray shellac is expensive but quick, easy to use and leaves a nice finish.  Any time that I can spray and avoid brush marks is a good time.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fencing on the Mosel River

  As we cycled along the bike path from Koblenz going east beside the Mosel we saw lovely countryside, beautiful vineyards and in one of the small towns we saw this fence around their wee yard.

  I noticed that the properties were small by Canadian standards and usually sturdily fenced, no doubt for good reason.  This fence, while effective seems fun and friendly. Probably it takes tonnes of up keep to have it look this cheerful and bright all the time.

   When I am looking for fun colours I often turn to Milk paint because it lasts well, is easy to apply and I can mix up small amounts at a time rather than having a bunch of half full cans of used paint sitting around in the basement.

   I also suggest you look in on the Village Carpenter, her quick video about honing carving gouges may proof helpful.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Top Five Tips for Ending Plane Frustation

  I have to admit that sometimes I get tired of Stumpy Nubs presentation.  He is a bit silly and not nearly as funny as he thinks he is, but he is no dummy.

  His recent blog entry has Five Tips for Plane users that are well worth watching and the jig that he designed most recently also has great application if you build lots of shelf units.

this is the full on sharpening system available at