Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What am I, and What do I do?

    Those of you who are regular readers, and that number is getting bigger all the time.( I'm amazed, and flattered).  You folks know that I mostly make things that have a use, can you guess want use this carved elephant has ?

  Solution to your guesses, next post.

   Also, what to you think of this font and font size?  I am feeling like I need a change.(and I kind of like the "g")

    It is wet, snowy and overcast this month.  
WEAR HIGH  VIS!!! be safe.

Work King, High Visibility Insulated Jacket
high vis makes it harder for the driver to claim he didn't see you.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oak Panels

  I just got a commission to make two keepsake boxes.  The boxes are for kids and so the size ordered is like a large jewelry box. They will be no quite treasure chests, but unlike a jewelry box there will be no trays or drawers.

  My plan is to make solid, beautiful boxes that will last a lifetime.  To do that, I need to glue up a bunch of oak panels from which to make the sides.

  First thing is to bring about 60 of these oak shorts in from the garage and let them warm up to work shop temperature.( this is just the first pile)


 Next a whole bunch of re-sawing, the panels are going to be 3/8" so after jointing one face and one edge the boards are sawed to 1/2".

   The next step after jointing the edges is to glue the oak into panels four boards wide.  I used all my Bessey Clamps, plus my less than stellar clamps to make the all the panels I needed.

   Once the glue is dry I used my planer to thickness the panels to 3/8". Then I sanded until my hands were weary , 80,120, 220, 320 grit using my random orbital sanders.

   The result is pretty damn nice, if I do say so myself.  I do like wood grain.  It is my plan to make a test board with Tom's wood finishing method and if I like it, finish these boxes according to the method outlined in the long video I linked to last time.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tom talks Finishing

     This might be the best and most informative 25 minutes on You tube, for wood workers.  Mr. Iovino talked about all the issues that I have finishing my shop projects and has a solution that really appears to work.

   I have a commission I am beginning next week whose success will hinge on the quality of finish.  I know the wood I will be working with and so tomorrow I plan to get some boiled linseed oil and make a test board.

   I will report results early in the week.

   New Thought: only sort of connected with finishing

   If you do  not have a heat gun add it to your Father's Day wish list.  I bought one ten years ago and it is a tool that I use twice, times a year and would be in deep stew without it. ( a hand held hair dryer is just not as hot, surprise)  A heat gun helps you peal sanding disks, loosen some dowel joints ( on older furniture especially) and of course strip paint (keep the windows open and the air flowing).  I don't do any of the above things very often but when the task arises it is so nice to have the tool for the job.  I have always felt that it was a tool for which I got good value for my money.

ROK 80560 Heat Gun Variable Temperature w. Led
ROK 80560 


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tool Chest

  This is a quick link to a blog by Chris Schwarz.  As you know I am a fan of Mr. Schwarz, actually an Internet stalker, I think.
  I am looking forward to the DVD on making the plywood tool chest.  Having read the Anarchist's Tools chest, and agreed to abandon sheet stock, though I decided to keep pocket holes I was a little surprised to see that Mr. Schwarz is making a plan for a modern material tool chest. 

    Actually I am very impressed that he is doing this design, I think it is for pragmatic wood workers.  If you read the comments many reflect that position. It would be great to make a tool chest from solid lumber, held together with hand cut joinery....but my priorities are a plywood box and a hand made bed from my grand daughter.  A pragmatic wood worker spends his time where it will give him the most value.
screw_chest2_IMG_4778 is featuring a whole bunch of Bondhus tools in their new product section. Bondhus makes great products.
Bondhus HTX10/S T-handle 10-pc Hex Set (SAE)I particularly like T-handle hex drivers.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Straight Cuts with a Circ Saw ??

selection of circular saws from
   Probably everyone with a DIY workshop has a circular saw, maybe a couple.  You can spend a little bit of money on a saw, or a whole bunch.  Saws come with the motor mounted on either side or at the back in the case of a worm gear driven saw, they also come in a variety of blade sizes and as for weight, some saws weigh as much as a calf.

   Regardless of the saw in hand, they are powerful and attack your wood aggressively, usually too aggressively to be thought of as a finishing tool.  We have filled our shops with sliding mitre saws, table saws and band saws rather than learn to control our circular saw.

   I am in the process of deciding whether to replace my contractor's table saw with a: another one and get another 7-8 years out of it, b: a bigger better saw and have it forever,c: a good track saw system and have the floor space and maybe as good a saw system?

  Before I get crazy and get rid of my saw I think I am going to make a saw guide to try things out.  This video is one of several I have found showing ideas and methods.  This is not a decision that I am going to make lightly, or quickly but it is something that I will ponder.  For example this looks great for sheet stock, but what about ripping off 1 inch strips from a 6 inch board, how do you clamp the guide on?

  If there are folks out there with experience I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

creativity in woodwork

  Those of you of a certain age will remember Monty Python's Flying Circus and the various movies made by that odd ball cast.

    Over time those fellows have continued to create and perform in various formats, except for Graham Chapman who has passed away.  It is worth noting that as well as being creative they are also able to discuss their work and methods and share that information with other people. 
   The video I have attached has little to do with woodworking, or....maybe it has a whole bunch to do with woodworking.  In the video John Cleese gives a 36 minute lecture (talk) on creativity, not what it is but, how to enable creative thinking. He is clear, articulate and I believe hits the nail squarely on the head (so there's some wood working stuff).

   I found the talk he gave  affirming, especially the part where he talks about the need for time to ponder.  When taking on a new woodworking project I like to spend as much time thinking about what I hope to achieve and how I plan to get there as I possibly can.  Sometimes creativity is a design issue, just a often it is a problem solving issue.  When I work in my shop I am regularly confronted with shortcomings in my working methods, or use of space and what I need is a creative solution to a given problem.  For example, my work surface (work bench) is on wheels, it weights a tonne and has locking casters but, with effort can be pushed out of the way  or into better light depending on the project at hand.  A rolling workbench is atypical in a shop, but....mine works.

    Mr. Cleese makes it clear, there is a time for decisive action, but use all the time you can leading up to that decision making moment to explore and consider all options. 

   To review, these are the 5 conditions needed to promote creativity:

   1. space
   2. time
   3. time
   4. confidence
   5. humour

     I hope that you take the time to watch the video and to think about being creative in your workshop.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Flu, got it, don't want it, you can have it.

Emoticon with green sick face
how I have felt the last two days

   You know how you are not supposed to operate heavy equipment when you are taking cold/sinus medication, well you shouldn't handle anything sharper than a butter knife and stay away from situations that need critical thinking skills too.       
 At times like these I drink gallons of tea (litres x 4) read woodworking magazines, surf the net and write wish lists.  It isn't even a good idea to try and paint, poor thinking skills always make for big messes.

   My Sweetie gave me a very thoughtful Valentines gift this morning and is now off for the day volunteering.  Fear not, I did not forget Valentines for her, I got her Turtle wax, not for the car, for her stained glass. ( and chocolates).  So my plan for the balance of the day is to mooch about in my PJs, maybe snooze and if I am overcome by ambition, go for a walk.  Oh yes, and surf.

   As I was surfing around I noticed this, pad lock.

Packrite Defence SS-670 2¾-in. SS Discus Padlock

   It is always a good idea to protect your important stuff from being borrowed without permission.  And, if you have young inquisitive people in your life you might not need that lock but something lighter:

Master Lock, Backpack Padlock, 1548DCM
to keep small, and inexperienced fingers safe.

   Time for more tea, and a brain rest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

pint sized truck II

   Last week I began the mini truck project, in the hope that I would have it finished while our grand children were here and so Kieran would continue to be spoiled by Opa and Oma and get yet another gift. 

  The challenge was scheduling shop time around play time and nap time and snow shovelling time. On Friday I shovelled the driveway and side walk three times and our wonderful neighbour blew the driveway once with this John Deere snow blower.  Kieran loves the Green and Yellow.

  At any rate the truck got finished this morning, 24 hours late.  The children returned home yesterday and I have spend the morning picking up toys and being amazed at how huge and empty our house has become.

    The red pick up truck is 1 1/4 inches long by 3/4 wide.  I am pretty sure that the ratios are not up to international specs, but I don't care.  This is to be a pocket truck for Kieran to carry around.  I think we would call it a good luck charm, but I don't think he would understand that idea yet.  

   Every project as things to teach, even a little project like this one.

a: it still takes time for paint to dry, the small amount doesn't effect the curing time much.

b: sharp tools and a fine toothed saws are a real must, maybe more that with large projects since a tiny flaw seems to be magnified on a tiny project.

c: get the thing mounted on a support as it is in the photo right away.  I fiddled around trying to paint it holding it in my fingers initially, a clumsy move, once I screwed the gimlet into the bottom of the truck it was 100% easier to paint.  That seems so obvious now.

d: seal the wood with sanding sealer first, then undercoat in a neutral  colour paint, sand and then start final colours.  The coverage was much easier and the colours deeper in tone.  I used spray shellac over the craft paint, it has two coats.

e: I will make the next one from maple or birch, this one is pine.  Pine is easy to work but it doesn't hold hard edges very well, and some of the detail would look better with hard edges.

f:  Don't get in a hurry, no project is improved by haste.

    A foot note, I am working on my wife's computer, thanks sweetie, mine is #%%#$* again.

    Don't forget Valentine's Day folks, we couldn't do what we do without the support of our Valentine Sweethearts.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Woodworking Project, pint size truck

nothing to do with the blog,
 I just needed this to remind me of our recent holiday before I go out to shovel the drive way for the third time today.

  I have been working in my shop on a variety of projects for the house and store but for amusement I have been carving. I am new to carving but find in very relaxing and distracting.  Recently I read a book about carving netsuke, these are an old and highly refined Japanese art form that reflects historic aspects of Japanese culture.  Someday it would be nice to be good enough that I could carve a netsuke, but I think mine will reflect modern Canadian culture, perhaps I will carve a hockey puck as one of my first netsuke. (even I should be able to do that).
    Anyway small carvings have some real advantages, if you mess up big time, you haven't ruined dozens or maybe hundreds of hours, just a couple of evenings, and you use almost no materials so costs are almost zero.

   I've carved a few Christmas ornaments but my latest carving follows in the tradition of reflecting out culture.

    I am carving a pick up truck, as you can see it is pretty small even in comparison to a Matchbox truck.  This truck will be painted red and become a pocket toy for Kieran.  For the next truck I will try and make it less a generic truck and more a specific model, a Ford or Chevy or something.

   When I am making anything small I carve and whittle using very sharp knives and chisels but in the end I often need to touch things up with needle files or a wee piece of sand paper.  Something I learned when reading about the netsuke, it takes much finer grade sand paper to do a good job on a small carving.  Commonly I use 320 on woodworking projects but need to go to 500 or finer when sanding a carving before it is finished.

10 Pc Diamond Needle File Set

   About three years ago I bought this low price set of files at and have used them by the hour.  I find them especially good in soft woods, the sort I carve nearly all the time.  Big money can be spent on high quality needles, but unless you are a gun smith, maybe the quality is over kill.

    Thanks to Sham for fixing up my byline, it is cleaner and more professional looking.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

You Might Be A Woodworker...if....

    It is surprising how many of those things I've done in my life.  All humour aside I think that if you are a woodworker, you work in wood.  

   If someone asks me to make something, in wood, if I have the time I say yes.  That is how I got into making cutting boards, a cutting board is not a difficult project, but it is one that people need.  It would be lovely to make reproduction period furniture but...I don't know anyone that wants any.

   Recently I have been wood carving and my most recent carving project was a commission to carve beads from aromatic cedar.
the feature piece, for a musician, no surprise 

the little fish and graph paper are for scale

    The long bead is a chicken bone, (a famous east coast hard candy) and the bead in the foreground is just a standard old bead.  If you go to a craft store wooden beads are made in China of ???? wood and perfectly manufactured by machine, they come on strings of 6, all identical.  Sometimes people want hand made, one of, instead of machine perfection, by the bushel, lucky for me.

   I feel that a "woodworker" should make a serious effort to explore the many sides of woodwork. Certainly there will be some aspects of woodwork that a woodworker will enjoy more and execute better but until those things are tried the person will not know.   As you explore the craft you will be able to include those new skills in all your projects, nothing personalizes a project like a bit of carving or pyrography.

FOOT NOTE: you can never have too many push sticks.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Desk Gadget Charging Centre

       At Steve started his year off trying to get organized and his site and Facebook page have shown some really good projects, both large and small that he has made this year.  I follow Steve' site both for entertainment and inspiration.

   I have given up making New Year's resolutions and so did not catch the "get organized" spirit, but....I have undertaken a couple of projects lately aimed at reducing clutter and make my work space more comfortable and/or efficient. 

   When you come into our house there is a little space in front of the window beside the door that is called a breakfast nook. We've decided to use that space for a couple of small desks and our computers.  (breakfast is not worthy of its own space, in my opinion)

   It is actually a really pleasant space, with natural light and room to organize the parts of our lives that come and go out the door.  On the left is my desk, on the right Eva's, my desk is often pretty messy since when people come in the door things like gloves and car keys tend to end up on my desk. 

    Most of the time the clutter is not an issue since I have real desk space upstairs where we have am office and craft room. However, the other day I got motivated to make better use of my desk space down stairs.  I had a couple of little things to do and there was no space on the desk to work because, aside from the standard stuff that always drifts ashore on my desk  there was also a phone and a Blackberry Playbook laying there getting blood transfusions. 

   I took the toys down stairs, looked in the scrap bin and set about making a charging/desk organizer because even I have my limits when it comes to clutter.  It is great to have a workshop, I love having an idea and then...going down stairs and making it.  This project is made from 3/8 poplar and 3/8 oak bits left over from some long forgotten project.

  Less than an hour later, there it sits, on the corner of my downstairs desk.  The Playbook is in back, my pocket calender is next and my old faithful phone sits in front.  The little unit is sitting on the rubber travel case for the Playbook and the wires hang off the side out of the way.

  The whole project used $00.00 worth of wood, four or five cuts on the sliding mitre saw and a fast trip past the round over bit on the router table.

   I sanded it a bit and then hit it with a coat of spray shellac.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Wood Carving from Hamilton Wood Show 2013

     Last weekend I went to the Hamilton Woodworking Show, the show features some amazing wood carving.  Check out this turtle, I don't know if I will have the nerve to share my efforts with you readers anymore.
  These projects look absolutely real. The painting on the Penguin is fabulous but I like that fact that you can see some of the wood grain in the turtle.  If the grain is nice I really hate to hide it under paint.  If the grain is good and the object isn't going to be worked too hard I like to just polish it and leave it to show its natural beauty.