Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mitre Saw Jig

Lately I have been making small boxes, with mitred corners. There are plenty of ways to cut good 45 degree mitres, my method of choice is with my Bosch 10inch Mitre Saw.  I bought the saw long enough ago that I don't even know if they make a model as humble as this one or whether you have to buy a 12 inch saw now.  


   For this little box I have four sides that are just less than 5 inches.  To cut those on the mitre saw without a jig is a bad idea.  The fence on the saw does not provide enough support for that short a work piece and so invites you to put your fingers too close to the whirling, exciting part of the saw.  Having trimmed the end off of a finger on my table saw just a couple of months ago I have become extra careful about saws and spinning blades so  Sliding Mitre saw jig became a necessity. 

  This photo shows how little support the standard fence will provide for cutting the mitred corner.

  This shows the jig in place and the work piece against a stop block.  This makes the cuts repeatable and gives me a solid place to hold onto the wood as it is being cut.  The jig is easy enough to make, it is just two pieces of butt jointed plywood glued and nailed together at 90 degrees.  I made the jig long so that I have room to clamp it to the saw's fence.  I also made the jig long so that if I nibble off a bit getting it set up to perfect cuts I won't have to replace the jig too soon.

   And a side line.  A few blogs ago I showed you my old high stool taken apart and the paint stripped off.  The request was for blue and this is the result.

  Next weekend when my Grandson comes to visit he has a blue high stool to sit upon at the dinner table.  My brother and I sat on this stool are our Grand Parents house and I am sure that my Grand father did some of the repairs to it in years gone by. This is one of the reasons that I really like wood. This high stool pre-dates me and will probably out last me, wood is one of the few things that can do that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Two Small Boxes Finished

   These are two of the wee boxes wood burned and finished.  I think that I like hinged lid the best but I put more design into the inset lid box.

  For the maple leaf pattern I went to the yard and picked three different sized leaves and made templates from them.  I don't like leaf patterns that are artificially symmetric.  My taste in leaves will impact on the sales of the boxes I suspect. There certainly will be people that will not want real life leaf shapes.

24 x 12 x 12 inches

   While I am on the topic of boxes, this is one of my boxes with history and mileage.  I made this box to carry a specific object forth and back to the East Coast of Canada four summers ago.  I am not going to tell you what is in the box just yet.   Stay tuned for further announcements.

  A decent little sander for cheap. I have been using one since last spring, it is my 80 grit sander.  When I use this sander I connect it to my Fein vacuum cleaner and sand away that first rough layer of planer marks.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spline Jig

  My recent resolution, or realization that I  like to make boxes and so that is what I am going to make, has lead to the creation of a bunch of small boxes recently.

  I have done some serious research on the net and in the library (yes, I like real books) and the authors have peaked my interest regarding methods of box making.  There are many different corner joints available and a variety of lids and hinges to try too.

  This weekend the paint dried on my most recent box construction jig. An active furniture maker has his specialized tools and jigs, why won't a box maker?

Active followers of this blog know that all my jigs get painted red.  

 This is not an original jig, nor an original idea but is was super easy to make and use.

   The first time I used it was one of those, " duh" moments.  Jeez Louise it is easy, safe and adds that little be more Bling to a boring old box.

  Since the slot is cut by your table saw blade you know exactly how thin a strip to rip off a contrasting board for the spline. I put a dab of glue in the slots, slid in the spline and leave it to dry. 

     This photo is another box with its wood splines sawed off and sanded.  The wood is spruce, but it looks as though there is some spalting or something happening.  It does make for a rustic sort of look and the dark splines make for a nice contrast. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Finger Puppet

   10,000 Villages is one of my favourite charities.  I support 10,000 Villages with wood work.  I have been repairing products for them for a couple of years now, it is a great way to do something for our  community. Recently I was asked to make something, rather than just repair a product  that got beat up in transit.


    I was asked to make a Finger Puppet display board.  It is 5/8 dowels, 10 holes and a base board.  Easy!

  You know why I liked making it?  It is nice to make stuff that some one needs.  Not all projects have to be high art.  It is also nice to put my tools to use in a good cause, and 10,000 Villages is a good cause.  Thirdly it reminds me that even small things require a bunch of tools, and not everyone has them.  I had the board laying around down stairs but had to buy the dowel, big deal.  To make the display stand I needed a saw, a drill press, a 5/8 inch forstner bit, sand paper and finish.  All those things are a standard part of my shop but if you don't have a shop even a small project like this isn't going to happen.  Also note: 5/8 dowel is only approximately 5/8 in diameter.  I needed glue with serious gap filling characteristics to glue the dowels. 

  Changing topics completely, I guess that is my weekend brain jumping from one thing to another.  

  I just got a great photo from my son in law. 

   That's the Grand Daughter Clara, with tools.  Maybe she will be the one to inherit my shop tools one day.  There are some talented lady wood workers and I know Clara is going to be a lady. (with dirty fingernails, maybe).  I am also certain that she is going to be talented and we'll give her every opportunity to find her talent and develop it.  (so says the doting Opa)

I am back to my own computer.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Box Topping Day

   Yesterday's boxes glue is dry and they have been sanded to 180 grit.  Now it is time for tops.

   The box with the mitre corners got an inset lid.

    I round over the edges of the lid a little bit so that there is a lip for your fingers to grasp.  Making a lid like this is simple and easy.  First I trace the top of the box onto the board that from which I am going to make the lid. Then I head to my router table and using a straight bit and my fence I gradually cut away material until the lid fits into the box.  Remember this only works if your box is square and the sides are all the same thickness.

  The other box was the butt joint box and I made a hinged lid for it.
the whole lid is a hinge. you can see the 1/8 inch brass  rod that is the pivot point for the hinge.  I drilled through the side and about 3/4 inch into the lid.  When I drill these tops I clamp the lid in place and drill through the side and into the top all at once.
 For me a drill press is necessity to get the holes straight and true.

  For this box I cut a thumb spot into the lid to make opening it easier.  It is easy to make that little round thumb hole, I used my sander and a 2 inch drum.  On this box the lid appears thicker than the other but is is not, it is just that the full thickness of the wood is visible.  I used the thickness so that the hinge wouldn't be liable to break as easily. When you make this sort of lid you must round over the side so that there is clearance for the turn.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Boxing Day

   Today in the shop has been all about Square Corners, and boxes.  Recently I have made several boxes of various sizes, some of the boxes have been sold and others have been absorbed into everyday life.

  This blog is about the evolutionary process from 2x10 by 16 inch cast off to cute little box.

  I began at 3:30 with a piece of wood and an idea.
a piece of spruce stud from a dumper.

   The first thing that I had to do was flatten the piece of wood so that I could saw it into useful pieces.  Since it is 1.5 inches thick I was able to flatten both sides in the planer.  I used several shallow passes and got results good enough to make it safe to take the board to the table saw for ripping. If the board is too cupped even if I could rip it safely the edges would not be parallel and it would make for extra time at the joiner to get things sorted out.

  Once flat I ripped the board into 2 3/4 strips.  After ripping the boards I re-sawed them on the table saw. I have an older version of the Bosch contractors saw.  (I took the guard off, made the cuts and put the guard back).  When doing this sort of thing I find that the lost material is not a big deal and the narrow boards can easily be re-sawn on the table saw, quicker and straighter than I can do it on the band saw.


     That is some of the dressed lumber that came from the 2x10.  This the photo of what is left after I made two boxes.

   These are two boxes that are glued and drying as I am writing.  One box has mitred corners, the one with the green tape and will get an inset lid.  I am using lead weights to hold the inset bottoms on the boxes and elastic hair bands from the $ Store to hold the sides together while the glue dries.  The second box has butt joints on the corners with extended ends, I plan to put some sort of hinged lid on that box.  Both boxes will get wood burned, or carved designs on them once I sand them down.

   The time spent sanding and finishing will be as great as the time spent building, as is always the case.  As you can see I have enough material to make at least two if not three more boxes all for the cost of $00.00 in materials.  

  The next step is to set up stops and jigs and cut out several boxes at once to speed up production.  



Monday, September 16, 2013

Monday in the Wood Shop - Necklace Box II

   I was out and about this morning but right after lunch I headed down to my workshop, I was a man on a mission. Today was a day when I was going to get things done.  At the end of the day I would have something to show for my efforts.  It was going to be a day of wood working glory. 

   Here is photo of what I got done in three hours. 

     What I have is four boards of roasted maple 7/8 think, 5 inches wide and either 12 or 16 inches long.  

   How can that possible take hours.  Well....I confess I am a hobby guy so I did occasionally lift my head and have a sip of coffee.  I did not drift around the shop and waste a bunch of time, honestly, I didn't.

  I did take a short side trip to finish a small project for a school teacher friend of mine.  I made a replacement handle for his Foosball table.  I needed to be drilled, shaped, sanded and painted.  Not a huge project but one that needed doing, and one that took time.

   I began my big project with rough lumber and after the initial layout I had to joint and plane the material.  In the process of using my planner I had to stop work and empty the dust collection system, yes, that directly affects the time it takes to complete a project.  Emptying dust collection is like the time you have to take out to sharpen tools, it is a task directly related to the project upon which you are working.

  To prepare the stock I used:

 a planer, joiner, table saw, mitre saw, hand saw, router table, block plane, sanders, hand sanding, square, making gauge, etc etc.
  If the final product is to be premium quality every time you touch tool to wood there must be careful measurement, and also careful machine set up. Both these things take time, not a tonne of time but lots of little bits of time.  This current project is not designed around approximate measurements it is designed to a space and purpose that will be best if everything is especially accurate.

   This project's assembly involves mitred corners.  These mitres are going to be seen, so they have to be right on, close and fudged with glue won't cut it this time.  I have yet to work out a method that will allow me to breeze through mitred corners, they just require time and care and I can't figure out anyway around that.  The real challenge is the gluing and clamping of these corners, that is for tomorrow.
  I have sanded and finished with shellac the insides of this project.  It is now smooooooooooth on the inside, shellac and 400  grit sand paper smooth.  This is a bit of over kill, maybe. I think that it is a good idea sometimes to go the whole nine yards, do the job and then over do it just for personal  satisfaction.

   What is driving this project?

   I have a piece of wood, that is going to be featured and it deserves the best supporting cast that I can supply.

   This is an amazing piece of spalted maple that is going to be the front face of this project.  I bought this slab of wood 5 or 6 years ago and have saved it for a WOW project.  This is going to be the WOW project.  

  I suspect that it will take me a while to get this thing done.  I still have a couple of technical challenges to work out and that too will take time, but it is going to be worth it.

   Speaking of a WOW project, that took time and made me a little more crazy.  In December 2011 I assembled a wooden clock kit.  Something that I learned is that my wooden clock does not work in the high humidity of our summer months.  I think that the contact surfaces just swell enough that the gears won`t turn.  The last week has been cool and though rainy our humidity has dropped, in fact it has dropped to were the clock is ticking away happily once again.  I guess that summer is well and truly over, sigh, alas.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Tote - using oak strips

   Last blog talked about my new thin strip ripping jig.  This is  the project that started me working with thin strips and woven wood.

     For that project I used off cuts from making cutting boards and the width and thickness were approximate which was Okay because it was a prototype idea.

   My most recent woven oak project is not a prototype, it needed consistent wood strips, hence the jig.


   As you can see the tote is roughly 12 by 8 and 3 inches deep.  I decided to make the sides like this to keep the weight down.  This tote is not designed to be a heavy lifter, rather a tool for a gentle person. Gathering flowers or produce from your garden is what I have in mind, not a stonemason's tool tote. (though, I could make one of those too) I know that there are lots of cheap plastic buckets that would do that job, but they are plastic and cheap.

   The base, ends and handle are made from 1/2 inch spruce since it is fairly light and sturdy enough.  I cut a rabbet in the ends and hung them over the base to made a slightly stronger joint that a butt joint.  The handle is held on with glue and a dowel pin.  A shop tip: I needed 1/8 inch dowel.  I used a bamboo skewer from the kitchen drawer and sized it with my Lee Nielson dowel sizing plate.   

   The horizontal slats are glued at the ends but the vertical dividers are only in place by friction.  I did that so it would be easier to repair a broken slat.

   A foot note:
    As I was designing the handle for this project I used compasses and a straight edge.  The straight edge started out  as just piece of scrap wood with one good straight edge.  I used it because it was handy, light, the right size, and because it is much thicker than a medal ruler is was quite nice to trace a pencil along. If you have a bunch of lines to draw try a fat ruler if you have one, or make a Straight Edge as a lay out tool. I think you will find that it is nicer to work with than a thin ruler. After using it I put in a few minutes to sand and shape the Straight Edge a bit and then painted it RED.  So I can find it next time. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thin Strip Jig

   I just started a project that required me to rip a bunch of equally thin strips of oak.  I am going to make another project where I soak, or steam the oak and weave it. 

  In the past I have cut the strips by eye and they have been close (ish) in thickness.  This time I decided that since this type of project was coming around again I would take the time and make a Jig to enable me to easily set up the saw for cutting the thin pieces of wood.  In my experience it is not accurate or all that safe to set the fence 1/8 of an inch from the whirling saw blade and have my ultra thin cut off against the fence, hence this jig.

jig in use, before it got its RED coat of paint.  (all my jigs are painted red)

  The Thin Strip Jig enables me to have the thin cut off on the outside of the blade and though the board gets thinner each time I use the jig as a stop so I can slide the board and fence over each time and get  the same thickness ( or thinness) of wood strip.

Underside of the jig.
 I used a 3/4 in bar from a very cheap feather board. It provided the bar and the hardware, screws etc.

    I of course do not claim to have invented any part of this jig. The internet is filled with plans for this type of jig, and if you want to spent the money there are several suppliers that will sell you a version of this jig. (in plastic) What I claim is that it is quick and easy to make and will find a use in the shop for years.  The body of the jig is left over edge glued oak from a box I made a while ago, and the bar is also left over from a feather board that I quit using because it slipped under pressure once too often.  For this use it is not under pressure and so works fine.

  I encourage wood workers to make jigs and fixtures to improve their efficiency and safety.  The last time I had a shop accident it was while trying to cut thin strips of wood, from too thin a board.  I will not make that mistake again, and with a accurate jig I shouldn't find myself pushing my luck on this type of task again.  (once bitten, twice shy.)

  This is the jig after it received its compulsory RED paint job.  All my Jigs are RED, it makes them easy to find in the chaos that is sometimes my shop.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

More Cutting Boards

    Today is unseasonably hot.  Working in my basement shop was the coolest part of the house but still a warm sweaty place. The result of the day's work are these three cutting boards.  I have talked about and featured boards in my blogs over and over and I have got a pretty good system in place for making them.  The other day I was talking to someone who wondered out loud why my cutting board cost so much more than the ones available at department stores.

   So lets review.  At a large department store there are cutting boards made from wood (sometimes)  Usually the wood is an unknown species from Asia, glued together with heat activated epoxy. Small wonder people  have switched to plastic cutting boards.  Not only are they cheap but you at least know what they are.

   My cutting boards are oak and maple, (roasted maple in the case of the two tone board)  or elm.  All the wood I use is from eastern Canada or the United States and since it is common domestic wood there is little chance of the lumber being over exploited. In other parts of the world it is much more difficult to be sure how they manage their lumber resources.

  I have also been very careful about the finish I put on my boards. I use hemp oil as a finish, it is food grade.  In fact it is possible to cook with hemp oil. 

   As I was working on the boards I was also aware of the number of tools needed to get a high quality result.  I big factory some place certainly has the advantage over my little shop.  Things like cutting boards are a product that is affected by the efficiencies  of scale. Of course you end up with 100's of cutting boards that look exactly the same.  My boards are nice enough to be used as serving boards, they don't come out looking the same.

   One of these days I am going to make a board start to finish with hand tools alone.  That will be a hand planing challenge. 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Another Use for your Starrett Combination Square

  Read down to the bottom of Mr. Schwarz' latest blog entry.  Not only does he have a good idea for a bench light but....he also has another use for the Starrett square, one that I would have never imagined. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

L.S.S. Co. - Four Inch Combination Square

4 inch Square by Starrett Co.

   The little square has really come into its own in the last couple of months.  I listed small Squares last August and talked briefly about their uses.
  I went on to say:

f: 4in. 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.

   I cleaned this square up so long ago that I didn't know what L.S.S. Co. meant and so was not aware of just how good a tool this was.  Why was it a rusted mess?  Damp basement workshop.

   In the last blog I didn't  go into much detail about how I use it and so I thought I would provide a few more details. 

   This is a very old version of the Starrett 13B Double Square, which only has one blade left and has remained very accurate.  

   Since it is very square I use it often when I make little boxes.  
Starrett 4-inch Double Square w/ Graduated & Beveled Blades 13B
   I use this square for making sure that the drill press table is perfectly aligned. (Something that you should check every time you move the table about, I learned this the hard way).

  Another use for this wee square is checking the 90 degree angle on my jointer fence.  I slide the fence forth and back to try and use the entire blade and it is always a good idea to check that it has tighten down square again. 

  This square is also good as a depth stop when setting router bits and table saw blades.  I find that since it is only 4 inches long it does not tip over easily.  

   Last but not least, it is a tidy little lay out tool when working on small projects.  Matching the size of the tool to the job often makes for easier working conditions.

  At the risk of repeating myself, good tools, the right tools and proper planning can make work a joy.