Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wood Burning Projects

  Last fall I took a 10 week course in wood burning from Sheilagh Mercer at the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre.  This was a project that I did to practice techniques as the course went on.

  This tray was a gift to my step daughter.  She lived in New Zealand for two years, and loved it. I made this tray to remind her of her stint down under.

  This last project is burning on leather, who knew?

  Burning on leather does smell a bit but the result is quite striking.  If you ever wanted to do a pen and ink drawing on leather but found the ink ran everywhere, burn the design.

  We have the entire family and their cats for a few days.  My goodness do they ever fill up the house.

  Happy New Year.

 cheers, ianw

Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, 

Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward Men.


Ian W and family.

Monday, December 22, 2014

And Now for Something A Little Different

  Part of the reason that we have workshops is because we like to make stuff. Over the years I have made my own beer, in the closet and bottled it myself. I have done a bit of sewing, though not really successfully and I like to cook occasionally, though again I don't do it much.

 What I have done fairly seriously since I was a teenager was bake bread.  On and off for the last fifteen years I have entered my loaves in the Rockton World's Fair and usually won ribbons. This past fair I won the most points in the division with one first and three seconds for my bread.

 The Christmas season in upon and I thought I would share a very successful bread making method that requires limited tools and nearly no talent, and best of all, it makes no mess.

   I suggest you follow the instructions exactly the first time or two if you have no experience with baking bread.  However, once you get comfortable with the method and able to evaluate whether the bread is properly risen and baked you can do anything with this method and modify the recipe to your heart's content.

  Trust me on this, fresh bread goes wonderfully with the Christmas Feast.

  Have a Merry Christmas and I'll talk to you in the gap between Christmas and New Year's.

  cheers, ianw

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pop Rivet

  I was out running a couple of errands today and saw this in a parking lot.  Never under estimate the power of the pop rivet.

    If you are stuck for Christmas ideas for your wood working friends there are some things that are always welcome in a shop.

and of course

  I have one project to get into final shape by Christmas day and I've got to get onto it soon.  Tomorrow one Grand daughter comes to visit for a while, that'll use up all Opa's active time. Little people are the best of Christmas.

 cheers, ianw

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Three Video TIps

  I have been wandering the Internet recently and found three things that I wanted to share with my readers.

  First a cool little video on the best way to fold up your tarp or drop cloth.

there's a better way

  This is another one of those "duh" moments in my woodworking career. 

  There's a Better Way also has a very cool, low cost clamp for edge clamping.

  It is great to have good quality clamps on hand, but there are times that you just need a couple more clamps to finish the job in good time.  These clamps would serve as supplements to your current stock of Bessey Clamps.

  A the last thing I'm sharing today is an article by one of my all time heroes of the wood shop, Chris Schwarz. You know my feelings on his level headed vision of wood working, I own lots of his books but this recent article for Popular Woodworking Magazine  really spoke to me.

  Chris Schwarz is talking about chisels, what to buy and how much to spend. I really like his advice to start with one good tool and add more only when it becomes necessary.  I love wood working tools and I have lots of them, but I had a bunch that I didn't need, some that were poor quality and others that didn't suit my hands or working method.  If I had heard and listen to advise like Mr. Schwarz's thirty years ago I would have avoided much wasted time and money.

  Christmas is counting down, I hope you are well and working.

cheers, ianw

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sunday Wood Working and Boat Box

  The biggest woodworking project of the weekend was the real Christmas Tree.  We are lucking enough to have several major retailers selling Fraser Fir Christmas trees for very reasonable prices in our area.  We got a seven foot tree for $20.00 and on Sunday we, actually mostly my wife decorated it.  We've put the tree up on a couple of boxes hoping to discourage the cats from climbing in it and knocking it over, we'll see how successful that strategy works out as the holidays progress.

 The other big wood working project that was finished this weekend was the boat box.

  The boat is twelve inches long and seven inches wide with a flat bottom.  I added a couple of details to the box, there are four fenders and an anchor as well as the stylish wheel house you can see from the front. There were several feet of painters tape consumed getting the nice crisp paint lines on the hull and storage box on the back of the deck.

  I also made a small lifeboat that goes on the deck.  The actual deck is unpainted wood, as many decks are so that it will not be as slippery underfoot for the fishermen working on the boat. Kieran is quite keen on boats and so he will be interested in the use of the fenders want to know a story about the particular boat and what its job would be.  I will show him photos of fishing boats in Ponta Delgada and he has seen wooden boats in Stockholm harbour which will add to the story of the boats.  We'll name the boat too.  He gets to pick the name.

 And this is the actual purpose for the boat.

  The deck lifts off and the hold of the boat is a box in which a person can store their special treasures.

  This photograph showed the rudder installed as well as the fenders deployed. You can see the anchor cable in the hold of the boat as well. I hope that he likes it, I certainly love making things for my family.

  I hope your Christmas gifts are nearing completion too.

cheers, ianw

Friday, December 12, 2014

Clamping a Boat

 I don't remember the exact moment that I realized that everything in the shop is easier to do if your work is clamped properly. Once that happened I embarked on a quest to get the right clamps for my shop.

 Not long ago I bought a Rockwell BenchJaw:

Rockwell BenchJaw Hands-Free Bench Vise RK9006

   It is a good tool and one that I use often.  While working on my boat project I returned to a previous clamping method because my back has been bothering me and I wanted to work at my small standing height bench.

I clamp a wooden hand screw to the bench

then use the hand screw as an adjustable vise.
  There are a variety of companies make hand screw clamps and I have found this is one area where there seems little difference from company to company. Also you can buy threaded stock and make your own clamps.

  In October my wife got a special birthday present and he seems to be everywhere all the time.

here Jr. is climbing onto the lumber rack
in the midst of the lumber checking things out!!

  The saving grace is that the cat is terrified of machine sounds so I don't have to worry that he will be under foot when I am running dangerous machines.  Otherwise, he is right in there helping.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Boat Box

  For Christmas this year I am making some things for my Grandchildren, not a big surprise.  I am making them treasure boxes since they are at the age where they have begun collecting things, shiny stones, beads, leaves etc. and I am making them each a place to put their found treasures.

  The project I am working on now is for my Grandson, who is crazy about boats.  A couple of weeks ago I made him a submarine savings bank.

 For Christmas I am making Kieran a boat shaped, band saw box in which he can keep his treasures safe.

  My plan is to carve and shape the hull some and  so I am making it out of basswood.  Basswood is soft and easy to work with either hand or power tools.  It also take paint very well.

 I joined and planed three pieces of 1 inch basswood and then glued them together with quality wood glue.  Usually the glue sets enough in a couple of hours but since I was going to be working this wooden billet fairly heavily I left it to dry over night.

 This is not a true band saw box because it did not cut the front or back off of it. I will add a bottom and a deck separately. The deck is going to lift off completely to give entry into the box.

I  used my band saw to cut out the inside of the billet and then glued a transom into the cut away section. Unusually there is a knot in the basswood but that won't be a problem, it will be mostly carved away when I shape the hull.  Any irregularity will be filled and painted so the flaw will be invisible.

 If you are planning to try a project like this I suggest that you keep the insert so that the thinner walls will be supported as you are carving, grinding and sanding the hull. I did not carefully plan my cuts when making the submarine and so didn't have the cut out to support the hull while I was shaping it, which made for a slower and fussy job. 

  Unlike most boats the inside will be visible and so finishing inside will be almost as important as the finish outside. 

  This is the box that I have already made for Kieran's sister Clara.  Which inspired him to ask for his own treasure box, Clara likes animals, and Kieran likes boats. They live in the big city away from all animals and boats so I don't know where their interest came from.

 The purple box began with a carved top that I make a box to fit, again the top is basswood. I have become a big fan of basswood, it is about as soft as pine and much nicer to work with, less prone to splinter and the finish doesn't blotch either.

 Keep working, Christmas is getting closer every hour.

cheers, ianw

Monday, December 8, 2014

Makita track saw

  I am taking a day or two away from the shop.  I have always advocated shop safety and so do not work in my shop if I have been drinking or am full of cold medication.  Today I am full of cold medication while I battle a sore throat and runny nose. 

  Aside from watching Monty Python videos on you tube I also found a video on the Makita track saw, you can search out your own Monty Python videos but I decided to link you to the track saw video.

I will be back on my game soon and working on Christmas gifts.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Oak Feet, and the tale of Two Planes.

 This holiday we are expecting a real gang for a couple of dinners.  Our dinning room table will not be adequate  for the crowd and so we'll use a second table as an add on. In the past we have put these tables together and ignored the uneven joint that comes from the tops not aligning. Finally I got around to matching the table top heights. Initially I thought I would cut 3/4 inch off wooden legs of the other table. The prospect of hauling the table down to the shop didn't attract me much, so instead of lowering one table I decided to raise the other. Such an obvious and easy solution, why didn't I think of if sooner?? 

 This afternoon I picked a piece of oak out of the rack, jointed, squared and planed it before cutting four squares to use as feet.

  Initially I drilled a two inch recess into each foot with a Forstner bit.  The recess means that the table leg is not likely to fall off its foot as the table gets moved around.

  I chamfered the edges of the feet with my block plane. Cutting across the grain in the very dry oak did cause some tear out, but not enough to be a problem once I planed with the grain. When doing something like this always make the cross grain cuts first, just the same as you would if you were using a router table to chamfer the edges.

  You can see the rough vs. smooth finish.  For many years I have had two block planes on my bench, one plane is set to cut quickly and the other has the blade set to take a shallow cut with a narrow throat opening. I also have two  smoothing planes set up the same way.  With pairs of planes I almost never have to take time out to set blades, I'm sure that it doesn't save much time but I find it efficient not having to reset the blade as I work none the less.

   The plane in front is the fine cutter and the one in the back is for rough stuff.  I have written about my old block plane before, it's been dropped, broken and repaired.  It wouldn't be 'my' shop without it.

  I got these planes a decade ago when I was the national importer for Anant planes. The 'R' and 'S' are there for obvious reasons. Though these are reasonably priced tools I have not felt moved to replace them, with a plane I think it is mostly about the blade and how sharp you keep it.( my humble opinion).

  Christmas is coming, I hope the presents you are making are coming along as planned.

cheers, ianw 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Knives - sharpening

  This afternoon I went down to my shop with the purest of intentions. I was going to clear away some tools, move a standing bench around a bit and get serious on a couple of Christmas gifts that need attention, if they are going to qualify as gifts for this Christmas.

 First however I needed to spend a couple of minutes sharpening a knife that I'd brought home from the communal cutlery drawer at the Ancaster Seniors Achievement Centre.  If you have ever been connected with a community kitchen you know the sort of knives that are in that vast drawer of castaways.  Worse than the appallingly bad knives is the way that the knives are treated.  Our kitchen has two stainless steel work tables and a couple of 'glass' cutting boards.  Sadly, even when I sharpen a knife on Tuesday, by the following Tuesday it will barely cut vegetables.

 Today I brought two knives home to sharpen. One is a standard paring knife, of actually good quality, though very very dull. Sharpening this knife is no big deal, trying to find a place to hide it so that it will be sharp when I want it next Tuesday is another thing.

 The second knife is one of those T.V. brand super knives with a serrated blade. 

 I have used these kitchen knives before and they aren't too bad, but the steel is soft and the edge turns over easily. (especially if you cut on a glass cutting board or a stainless steel work table)

 The edge on this knife was rolled over to the point that it even the serrated edges were bent over. I suspect that is why some thoughtful soul generously donated this knife to our kitchen. Well, surprise, a little bit of work with two needle files and this knife is as good as new.

  First I used a small flat file to grind the hook on  the non-serrated sections of the blade. I clamped the knife to my bench and quickly filed away the rolled edge.  Second, I used a rat tail needle file on the serrated section, I think a triangle file would also have worked to clear away the rolled edge. 
  This type of knife has shiny stainless steel which isn't very hard so once the blade is clamped down it was easy to sharpen. These knives also have a single bevel blade which means there is really only one side to worry about.  Next time you are at a yard sale and one of these is for sale for $0.25 you can bring it back to life for cheap and very little time. It would make a really good picnic basket knife, sharp but cheap.

 The other knife that distracted me from my goal was this Game of Thrones, style letter opener.  I picked this beast up at the Woodstock Wood show last fall.  A local smith had been beating mild steel into various shapes, one of which was knives (?) like this one.  He didn't have the tools to make any effort toward forming an edge on the knife, it was nearly 3/32 on the narrower side, not really an 'edge' at all.

 Since I was putting things away and moving my bench around I decided to sharpen this knife to the point that it could be used as a letter opener.  Since it is mild steel it won't hold an edge very well if used like a real knife, but a letter opener won't tax it too heavily.

 I began forming the blade by grinding a bunch of steel away using my bench grinder.  The only thing that you have to remember when using a bench grinder is to not let the steel get too hot. I keep a bottle of water handy and keep the steel cool. Once I'd sort of ground the basic shape I clamped the blade to my bench and did some work with a course then finer file.  

  The last stage was to use my low speed wet stone grinder to get to the stage that it could then be sharpened on my Work Sharp. Once I got through all the stages the blade was really quite sharp, but I know that the edge will roll almost instantly if I try and cut anything tougher than a banana or an envelop. That doesn't matter because it was just a distraction and a bit of fun.  

  Now I have got to get back to serious wood work, there is a boat and some blocks that need to be made before Christmas.  

cheers and a merry ho ho.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Another "Why Wood" - moment

  A couple of seasons ago I helped a friend make two large planters that sit on either side of his garage doors and feature bougainvillea in the summer months.  It was not a big project and didn't cost much money to do but the result are solid, unique and attractive planters. Built according to his wife's careful, and correctly drawn design.  Certainly there were cheaper planters available from store that sell extruded plastic stuff, but wood is better. 

  About eight days ago we in the Great Lakes Region experienced prolonged heavy winds, 35 - 40 mph with gusts to 60 - 70 mph. (100 kph).  The havoc wreaked was significant and one of the victims of the winds was a wooden planter. The planter was blown about and broken as you can see in the picture below.

    Had this been a plastic or an injection moulded fibre resin thing it may well have been battered to pieces, then embarrassingly blown all over the neighbourhood.  Since it was stout, and wood one corner's collapse was the only real damage.  AND, the damage can be repaired with a bit of 2 by 2 and four self taping wood screws.

   I don't really know how I would get along without self taping screws.  It seems I am just too lazy to pre drill holes all the time as I know I should.  I don't suppose that self taping screws are as useful a convenience as instant coffee but... they are pretty close.

  The holiday's are coming quickly, I am working on a couple of projects that will be gifts, you can hear about them next year.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Two Christmas Toys - Wooden of course.

  Of course you don`t have to print your plans out from a CAD programme but a printed paper plan is nice to do if you plan to make more than one of the particular toy.

  Build and enjoy.

cheers, ianw

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cajons at School

   Last November 3rd I showed a pile of 30 Cajon kits finished and ready to be delivered to a local school. It was a big job for a small shop space dealing with the sheet stock, and a bit repetitive too. 

  Today I went to the school to see have the kids were getting along putting their kits together.  As with so many school activities the parents financial contributions have been slowish to arrive and so not all the kids have their kits yet.  The drum above belongs to a good little boy that was the first in the class to finish.  All that remains is whatever wild paint job he decides.  He can also really play the cajon.  I opted for 1/8 ply for the front and I feel that contributes to a fine sound.

  You can't imagine the chaos of the class room with about 12 kits in various stages of assembly.  Some of the kids have never held a screw driver or driven a nail, but they are right in there making it happen.  I supplied the kids with clamps for assembly and a hand plane to trim the edges once it is all glued together.

  I've been promised photos of the fully finished and painted Cajons. The sound of the drums is remarkably good so I suggest the cajon as a basic wood working project for you and your kids.

cheers, ian 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Garage Finished, Mostly

  I am a day behind my time, for the last while I have been able to post a blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I missed yesterday's blog I had an attack of " I don't feel like it, my tummy hurts."  You would think that you would out grow such issues buy the time you were 6 or 7 years old, but I haven't.

  I have two things to show in this blog. The platform in finished in the garage.  You can see the small freezer sitting on one end and the nose of the car just under the platform.  This a pretty rough carpentry, mostly 2 by 4 and 2 1/2 screws. I braced the legs with angled pieces of wood and instead of toe nailing I used my KREG jig to attached the pieces. Kreg even has a jig just for this time of work, their KJHD Heavy Duty Pocket hole jig. Using the jig makes for stronger and more consistent joints. Note that when driving pocket hole screws, even 2 1/2 screws a drill driver is better than an impact driver.  It takes lots of practice to know when the screw is set and tight with an impact driver, if you aren't careful you will strip the screw and end up with a weak joint.

I still need to make a small step from
the door step to the freezer platform.  A
job for another and warmer time, I think.

 Elm picture frame finished with tung oil. Elm is an under rated wood in my opinion. It can be difficult to work, but the grain gives it tonnes of personality. If you are making a number of picture frames you my want to consider Picture Frame Pliers.

 cheers, ianw

Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday's Jobs

  Many people are filled with grand plans and noble ideals.  I'm not.  Today my great hope was to not to have to put on socks.  I wanted to spend the day wandering about our house and maybe do some work in the wood shop too. 

   One of today's jobs was finish off Kieran's submarine bank.  Kieran drew a plan for me two weeks ago.

  The submarine has two compartments and one side is glued on while the other side is held on with screws. Kieran wanted to be able to get the money out, I didn't want it to be too easy.

  The real job of the day was making a picture frame for a painting by our friend  Rhonda.  I made the frame from elm.  Elm is a wood that has wonderful character, but is stringy and working with it can be a challenge. 

  When I was cutting the rabbets on the back of the frame sections the wood came away in strings and choked the dust collection system on my Jess Em router table

  After I got the elm cut to length I used my KREG Klamp table for assembly.

   The picture frame is finished with tung oil and once it is dry, the glass  cut and the painting installed I will post a picture for you to see the result.

  Here is a link to an instructable making a wooden picture frame using biscuits.