Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Table Saw 101 with Norm

General International 50-200R M1 10'' Tilting Arbor Table Saw
GI  50-200R
  For many woodworkers the table saw is the centre piece tool in their shop.  Commonly the table saw is the first serious tool that we buy and the one that plays apart in nearly every project that we produce.  A table saw can help you prepare stock or make finished accurate cuts. 

   Table saws come in all sizes and qualities, Norm spends two shows educating us about table saws.  The New Yankee workshop is still among the most instructive and entertaining shows from television, check out TABLE SAW 101.

 I also found a series of videos of a fellow making his own table saw.

       Homemade table saw: on youtube 

   As a by the way,  I am as impressed with the quality of cuts and ease of use of the Makita Track saw.  I have been debating with myself about whether to replace my contractors saw with a track saw.

Makita SP6000x1 6-1/2'' Plunge Cut Circular Saw and 55 inch Rail

    Seeing that video keeps that questions alive for me.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Work Bench

   I think there must be dozens if not hundreds of websites, blogs and magazine articles about work benches.   The experts and amateurs all have opinions about what is best, or historic or cheapest or easiest etc. etc. etc.  All that stuff makes good reading and I have borrowed more than a couple of their ideas over time.  

 One thing that I have learned from all the information available is that there is no one perfect bench, because the scope of woodworking is so vast.  To say that you have the One Perfect Bench can only mean that it is perfect for the type of woodworking that you do. That link to shows just what is out there for benches, I think that the Jaw Horse would hold my Toy Makers Bench.  A boat builder is going to have a different bench from a furniture makers, from a pattern maker, from a model maker, or  from a do everything handy man.  

 I seem always to be making something small for the Grandkids or am making other small projects, example, tea boxes.   I do lots of whittling and woodcarving and small scale wood work now and I needed a bench/work area to make those tasks easier

   I have two serious work benches, both sturdy and both too low for this type of work of small scale work.  Big benches have big vises, and are not at the correct focal length,  

So I developed my “Toy Makers Bench”

   This bench is actually an 8 by 10 inch work surface that clamps solidly into my machinist vise on my workbench.  The little cleat on the top offers a place to hold small pieces of wood or plastic while cutting, I can also clamp to this work surface if need be. On the bottom is a bigger cleat that is screwed and glued on the work surface to make it stable and solid.

   Working on this bench/table uses different tools than working on big things.  These are some of the small tools that have found their way into my “ toy making ” kit.

  When I mix them in with various knives and chisels I am able to make silly little projects that give me pleasure  and don’t take up tonnes of spa


Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Garden

   While working in the wood shop is one of the loves of my life, it is hard to deny the attraction of a garden in bloom.

   I love roses and when we bought this house we hoped the light and soil would be good for roses.  Time has proven our yard to be better than we had hoped.   

   To keep gardens this size under control we use bushels of mulch, actually two truck loads in the last couple of seasons. In spite of our best efforts there is always weeding to be done, weeding amongst the roses is exciting, believe me. ( it can also be filled with remembrances  or just plain old scratches, it is something like trying to give a cat a pill.) 

   We have a fair amount of garden space and gardening, like work shop activity is made easier with quality tools, and in our garden gloves are a must too.

annual hibiscus  from our garden

this hibiscus lives inside all winter, but is out on the deck for summer holiday now.

      Not every flower is a rose, hibiscus are very lovely too.

  These lilies haven't happen yet but when they arrive they are spectacular too.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why Sweep - an expert's reasons

    My wood shop is in the basement of our house, not the best arrangement in the world, but the one with which we live.  When I am in good form I spent 2 or 3 full days each week in the shop and so make a tonne of shavings, chips and saw dust.  With dust collection and some care most of the mess stays down stairs, not all but most.  Dust collection systems though flawed are vital to my shop and I suspect all modern shops.  

   I have a mid sized dust collection system connected to my table saw, planer and jointer.  I bought it four or five years ago and it has collected many many bags of saw dust for me.

General International 10-005 M1 Dust Collector 1HP

   I also have two big shop vaccum cleaners that are used in other situations.  My Fein vac is attached to my orbital sanders, and by monster "shop-vac" is collected to the router table.  The shop vac is noisy and to keep the cost of bags down I bought a Oneida Dust Duputy, but it is still an important tool in the battle for breathable air.

    Another important tool is the lowly, low tech, broom.  I bow to a more expert and eloquent writer, as he discusses:


     I especially agree that sometimes a good sweep is good for the soul, it helps clear the head as well as the shop.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shellac by any other name: Zinsser Seal Coat

   Since my shop is a hobby shop I find myself moving toward more hand tool work and toward more traditional wood finishes.

   Using hand tools is more about quiet than anything else and appropriate to small projects on flexible time lines.  I can do many things with couple of hand saws that I can do with a band saw, just not as quickly.

   Older style finishes are also slower, generally.  I use a home made wipe on finish that is oil. paint thinner (turpentine) and varnish for many projects.  I got the idea from Tom at so I call it Tom's Finish.  A finish that I have  been using for quite a few years that is not slow, but.....very fast,  is shellac.  Shellac is a natural product and plays nicely with either oil or water based finish and so I have been using it as a pour/sanding filler for a long time regardless of what I plan to put on top.

Zinsser Z00861 Sanding Sealer Sealcoat 3.7L

   Shellac is also at the heart of "French Polish", a very classic, warn rich finish that was popular with wood turners and furniture makers for many generations. 

    This finishes can demand more time and technique  than modern plastic finishes but the results when you have the time is ageless, and repairable.  In the last couple of years I have been asked to repair damaged furniture or recently a wooden bowl and in each case the finishes were old style and so I was able to make a nearly invisible  repair.  

   The shellac can also be sprayed over paint to give it a glossy finish without working about lifting the finish, since paint is either water or oil based and shellac is alcohol based.  As long as the paint is totally dry the shellac goes over it fine.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Planer Stand on Clearance at

*Makita Planer Stand 122383

   There is no art to this entry, just a heads up.  I have a couple of stands like this that I have picked up on clearance at shows and things.  Generally I fit a shelf half way down and one of the stands has casters attached.  They are solid, cheap, stable stands for more than just the tool they were designed for.

 ** Note, I am just getting back onto my feet after being felled by a serious back injury early in the month.  Not only did I blow my back out, but I followed it up with a horrible reaction to my medication.  The pain from the back injury was staggering, and the side effects of the medication could not have been borne except for the support of my family and friends.  I know now that I am a lucky guy, but it did not seem so only last Sunday and Monday, while the drugs were clearing my system and the pain at its uncontrolled climax.  Last weekend was terrible for everyone connected, and again thank you so much to my family for caring for me when I certainly could not care for myself.

  I am able to walk about a bit(now)with the help of crutches but still can't stand for long and can't sit at all.  I will be exploring what sort of woodworking can be done while laying down, so that I have something to talk about and something to do while I await my MRI and the results to come from it.

cheers, ianw



Monday, June 3, 2013

Wood gets in your blood

   I believe that the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree.  I you grew up watching your Dad fiddle with old cars that is  likely your area of interest, equally, if you grew up around Wood people their actions couldn't help but rub off on you. It might also have helped by there being tools laying about with which you could play.

    Aside from shops, docks and a wooden boat or two something I remember my Father doing with wood was whittle.  He made dozens of turtles and feathers.  My Father also whittled walking sticks from wild cherry with burls for the handles.

    My Grand Father made six or seven wooden boats as well as renovated their houses.  I can also remember my Grampa making me whistle like in this video.

  Neither Father or  Grand Father are around any longer, happily there are some tools, some timeless projects and a few workshop tricks remaining.

take a look and see what has available to make for a memorable Father's Day this year.