Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Small Parts Bins

  A couple of weeks ago I made this parts bin using yogurt containers after a design for  I was inspired by the use of these empty containers to use another common plastic container in a similar way.

  My world is filled with 1,000's of these coffee creamer containers and so I decided that I would do something with some of them.  I often keep a few around for mixing glue and paint, it is good if the plastic containers can get more than one use.

I decided to use the inspiration to make another sort of parts bin.  The wood is 2 x 4 stock planed a bit to clean it up and the wholes are drilled with a 1 1/4 in hole saw.  I didn't have a forstner bit the right size.  The cups just drop into the holes and are kept there by gravity.

  Once I got the container done I did what so many of us do, I got carried away.  Obviously there needed to be a lid to keep the bits and pieces in so:

 I made a nice lid to fit over the box, the top is a piece of plywood/door skin that I had laying around. I used chestnut stain and varnish to finish the box. 

Now...what is small enough and important to live in this small part bin?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Paddle Boat for Kieran

  My Grandson is crazy about boats. As Eva and I worked on the water feature in our back yard my mind wandered back to my Cub Scout days and a boat that we made as a craft at camp.  Kieran has decided that toy boats must go into the water and so this boat should fill the bill.

  The paddle wheel is powered by rubber bands and it actually goes along in the water.

  I remain  inept at  making videos but occasionally a movie is worth the trouble it brings. 

   Making the basic boat was an easy project and one were you could  include a young person in the process.

basic size, 11 by 4
  When it comes to making circles I usually find a can or a jar that is the right size.  To make the elliptical shape for the bow of the boat I turned to my Red Neck French Curve .  The shape is the top from an oval box which once held a full bottle of whiskey.  I saved the top for uses such as these, but the whiskey I gave to my favour charity. 

   Once I cut out the hull shape I decided that I would get a little carried away and so I added a keel and rudders to keep the boat going straight in the water.  The extras are only because Kieran knows about the and will look for a keel, trust me, the boat's performance doesn't require the keel.

  It is glued with Tite-Bond III, so I am hopeful that the pieces won't fall off, too soon. When they do we will effect repairs in dry dock.

   As I was making this project I was struck by how use full my band saw proved to be.  I am beginning to think that the band saw is the unsung and under rated tool in a small project shop. 

  A bunch of years ago I helped a buddy move his shop and at that time I was surprised to see that he did not have a table saw, but he did have a very good band saw.  When I asked him about his choice he told me that the band saw served his needs best.  My friend was and is a very fine craftsman, maybe I should have taken notice 25 years ago!!!

  Time to play in the water.

cheers, ianw


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cutting Wood for Turning

 On May 12th I showed my new bow (swede) saw that I plan to use to cut my collection of sticks into pieces for turning.  On the weekend I helped my brother cut a tree down at my Mum's place and now there is more wood that is too good to waste, but not big enough to cut into lumber. The bow saw got a pretty good work out, but the reciprocating saw did the bulk of the work.

  A search of the internet brought forth discussion on how and why to seal the ends of green wood that you cut up in hopes of turning one day.  This blog entry shows exactly why the wood needs to be sealed, as a foot note, the spindle has continued to split, I knew that it would, I just didn't image how much.

The full split experience.
 It seemed to have stopped at this point.
The spindle is firewood, actually.

  This evening I was out buying sump pump hose and clamps.  While wandering the isles of the Big Store I discovered their cache of Oops paint.  The colours are almost always terrible and this evening was no exception but the price is the good news.  I bought a small container of exterior grade primer for $1.00.  The paint has been tinted a colour that is horrible in its depressing grey bleakness.  I can not believe anyone actually wanted paint that colour, it had to have been a mistake, a failed colour experiment no doubt.  To add to the grimness of the situation the paint is really thick and miserable to work with, expect, I don't care.  This paint doesn't have to flow nicely, or look decent, it needs to be thick and seal the ends of a bunch of little pieces of wood that I plan to let dry until winter, at least.   For my purposes the price and product are right.

  These pieces are going to go into a box and stay there until our dry season shows me what they plan to do.  I still have a pretty good pile of big stuff beside the house that still needs the treatment.  One day, soon.

 While I am talking about putting wood away for a "rainy day" I also bought two turning blanks of Dogwood

 Thirty years ago I bought a turning blank that I shaped by hand for the handle on my bench vise.  Dogwood is wonderful for that sort of application, if you keep you eye out, it is cheap, strong, straight with a fine, fine grain.  As a tool handle I think that it beats cherry, maple and any other domestic hard woods.  I don't have a plan for the blanks, yet but when the time comes they will be waiting. When I work with Dogwood I always think of Pear, pear's characteristics  are more famous but for early Canadians I think Dogwood was more readily available.

   There are several ongoing small projects in the shop but really the major effort has been to get the gardens looking good so we can sit out and enjoy our yard.  Once the work is done, (is the work ever done?) we can relax and enjoy.

cheers, ianw


Monday, May 19, 2014

Victoria Day 2014


  Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria, by the Grace of God, Empress of India, Sovereign Ruler of the British Isles, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Empress of India etc, etc, etc.  

  Bids you Greetings,

   My loyal and simple subjects We bestow upon you a day to celebrate your good fortune to have been born of the Empire. We give permission for celebratory displays of fireworks, feasting and other festive activities as suitable forms with which you can show your affection and love for Us.

   Those were the days, weren't they.  Now 'tis the May Two Four Weekend, and mostly old Vicki, is forgotten.

   My weekend was work heavy.  Yesterday I spend several hard hours cutting a tree down at my Mother's house. My brother and I sawed away at the tree four about four hours.  We used a reciprocating saw and and a brush trimming blade.  It is pretty amazing how much work you can do with a reciprocating saw, it also shows why you cough up the extra dough to buy a more expensive model.  A lower cost saw does not run as smoothly as the more expensive models.  This is a tool were it is an especially good  idea to buy as much as you can afford.  When I was finished yesterday I could hardly hold my beer. 

   Don't take my word for it, there are other folks have have discovered the advantages of the recip saw vs. chain saw.

    Today is officially the holiday, but since I am retired, everyday is a holiday.....sort of.
    The shop work today was much less obvious.  We worked on our back yard, Eva is designing and building a water feature that will show off our terraced garden.

  In under the landscape fabric are bits of wood frame work as well as framing made from limbs cut off of yesterday's trees.   That sort of wood working uses my new bow saw, long screws and a hatchet to put it all together.

  There remains the need for a bunch of stones to cover some of the framing, and a general clean up around the construction site, but, the water runs and the pond doesn't leak. We began work on this back yard feature nearly a year ago.  Shortly after we finished the pond, my back gave out totally and Eva, broke her foot.  

  A busy holiday weekend.
  God Save the Queen.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hole Saw Project and new Word -Handie

  I have been pondering how to make small cylindrical containers, quickly and easily.  Why cylindrical ?  Why not, actually  because they look nice and a bit different.

I am coining a new wood.  I am calling it a Handie.
 It is not a selfie, it is a photo of something held in your...
wait for it.....
This is a Handie of the cylinder that I made in the shop, without a lathe

  My plan is to make a  bunch of little cylinders, with tops; I haven't figured that part out to my satisfaction yet, to use instead of nasty little plastic things, and if the wood is nice enough I think these would make lovely little ring boxes too.

  How did I make them without a lathe?

  I used a set of hole saws.

The is a whole selection of hole saw bits available. 
 My set are a middle price range set.

  I cut the large cylinder from both ends first.  Then I used the pre-existing centre hole to guide a smaller hole saw to cut out the middle.  Hold the cylinder in some sort of clamp, not your hand, Remember Safety First.

  I glued a thin piece of wood on to one end and sanded to 400 grit.  The prototype turned out not bad.  I will make another one, but shorter and figure out how I want the lid to look.  This is sort of the same idea as a band saw box with the ends being re-glued after the machining is done.

   I'll keep you posted.

cheers, ianw

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Parts Sorting Tray is a constant source of information and inspiration.  Recently Matthias built a parts sorting try using yoghurt tubs.  I liked his idea because we eat lots of yoghurt and I hate to see all those plastic tubs tossed into recycling week after week.  I also like anything that might bring organization to my rather cluttered life. Matthias made a rack for 20 tubs, mine is more modest. 

  I think that nine tubs is a more efficient size, for my purposes.  If I load this with screws or nails I can set it out on my bench without giving up too much space. 

     Unusually, I have made a cutting list for this project.

  I made the cutting list so that I could easily make a couple more of these trays.  NOTE: the cut list works with this size of sort of square yoghurt tubs.  My suggestion is collect the tubs and build your frame to fit.  Not all yoghurt comes in the same shape container.

  Notice that unlike Matthias I did not make both sets of cross pieces full size.  I was using up left over wood and did not have enough to make the industrial strength model from

  If you don't eat yoghurt, or don't want to fuss with home made stuff.

Cantilever Organizer 2-in-1 / Tool Box
Cantilever Organizer 

  I kind of like home-made, that is part of the reason that I have a shop.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Hand Saws, the Saws you Need + One+ another

  Once again Chris Schwarz says it all, clearly and briefly.  Recently Chris's blog entry "the saws you need" arrived in my in box.


  by Chris Schwarz.

   Chris did miss one saw that I decided needed.

24 inch Bow Saw
still in the wrapper.

   This is why I need the bow saw. Over the last while I have collected a bunch of branches from local trees and am going to cut them up, seal the ends and let them dry for a season or two.

  My plan is to turn spindles and other small lathe projects from this wood.  I thought about dragging the branches into my shop and cutting them on the band saw,  too much trouble.  Then I thought about buying a big mean blade for my reciprocal saw, but that meant long extension cords and having to haul a WorkMate or something about too. My solution, a bow saw. It is quiet, not too aggressive, safe,  ultra portable and not too expensive.   

  In that pile of wood I have Black Locust, White Cedar, Soft Maple, Poplar and Pussy Willow.  None of the wood is exotic. but it was free.  There will be lots of wood chips and hours of shop pleasure.

  And one saw that I have that I really like and Chris has decided against is a rip saw.  My rip saw is outstanding. 

 It will cut dry wood almost a quickly as my band saw.  Since I built my saw bench I have used the rip saw regularly for any type  of job that needs one or two cuts.  

My saw bench, just build one, it comes in sooooooooo handy.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, May 10, 2014

WOOD -chips

  Spring has finally arrived and with it the annual load of wood chips for our garden.  The nicer weather makes working inside less appealing,  however not all outside jobs are joyful.  There a more than 100 wheel barrow loads of wood chips that need to be moved off the driveway and onto the garden.

  While I moved wood chips Eva finished pruning the roses and shrubs that did not have a happy winter.  Much of our garden has been pruned down almost to ground level, it was a terrible winter.

Fiskars PowerGear II Bypass Lopper
Fiskers PowerGear ll
  If you haven't got long armed pruners, do yourself a favour and spend the money.  Not only will you be able to prune heavier branches, but you will be able to reach inside your rose bushes without being shredded. 

  I guess it is workshop in the evenings and rainy days for a while now.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bob and 500 posts

   This is a notable day for a variety of small and personal reasons.

   One, this is blog number 501.  It means that I have been typing away for 500 blog entries, and the latest statistics is 61,791 visits to with an average of over 180 visits per posting.  I can remember not long ago telling my wife that each post was getting 100 visits on average, now I am expecting to get 200 a post soon.  

  For the most part I have enjoyed writing the blog and carrying you along on my wood working journey.  Last summer was tough but it appears that my back troubles have come under control, I'll never be the man I once was. (there is a good chance I wasn't ever the man I thought I once was anyway)

   Another reason it is a notable day is that I have been able to ride my motorcycle for three days in a row.  Yesterday was a longer ride but Monday and today I was able to ride for about an hour.  These rides show me that my back is okay, sort of.  I am a long way from heading off in the morning and riding all day but I have now ridden almost half as far as I did all of last season.  This is a 'good sign' for the future.

  I am laying out a slightly bigger project in my shop that I will start preparing material for tomorrow or Friday, and this morning I was out to the Seniors Centre hanging out with the wood carving guys.  My attendance has been a bit hit and miss lately but that also seems to be on track.  Getting back to routines is a good thing too.

  Last evening I dragged my lathe out and made a mess in the shop while turning a spindle from some black locust wood.  I have gathered fallen branches from the neighbourhood and from our church's yard clean up and plan to make some small pieces this summer.  I will date the projects and people can use them to note our 'winter of the fallen trees'.   Winter 2013/2014 really pounded our local trees and shrubs.  I enjoy working on the lathe and plan to do more of it in the coming months.  The shop, like the motorcycle should bring joy, and it is again.

   Over my shoulder in the photo is Bob the Penguin.  Bob is made from 2x6 lumber, and has been following me around for at least 25 years.  Bob has stood beside my favourite chair or  at the front of my classrooms when I was teaching elementary school, ( a life time ago).

  My Dad made Bob for me and my Mum painted him.  My Dad was not a hard core wood worker, most of his work was 'good enough for the cottage' carpentry, but he made lots of stuff none the less.  I have a couple of carvings he did, a couple of boxes he made, a bench and a flower box and other bits and pieces. I think he coined the title 'wood butcher' for his style of wood work working.  It is certainly what I was when I began 11 years.

 We are the sum total of our experiences. Our relationships with friends, teachers, colleagues, siblings and parents shape who we are, what we think and do in our lives. Making stuff is in my DNA, it comes from both sides of my family and I believe I am a better person for it.

  Two years ago today my Father passed away.  I am glad that he made Bob.

Ian W


Monday, May 5, 2014

Paper Towel Holder - a carving project

   Sometimes I can't help but invest more energy in a project than most people would think it was worth.


  Today I just spayed the last coat of varnish on to a paper towel holder that I made in my shop.  The holder is a five inch flower (sort of a poppy) that I carved from basswood and then painted.

  Unpainted you can see the shallow relief style of carving, but I felt that to have it "pop" it needed to be painted.  As a project, a paper towel holder isn't really worthy of this much work, but some times I do projects more as 'skill building pieces' than for the actual finished result.  I like flowers, I like carving and my painting needs improvement, why not make something while practising those aspects of wood working

  This also turned out to be the first project were I used one of my newest homebuilt shop accessories.

  There is the base of the stand held in the jaws of my homebuilt face vise.  I am using two small Bessey Clamps  in this vise and if you go HERE, you can see my blog entry on making the face vise.  Having that face vise allowed me to hold the carving solidly so that I could shape and sand the edge easily.

face vise set up to cut the end grain for dovetail joinery.

  Please allow me to harp once again on one of my on going themes.   Always buy good clamps.  I was lured into buying cheap clamps in the past and they always let me down at the worse possible time.  Cheap clamps, slip.  Not always, but enough to make them a hazard and a heart break.  It is worth a few extra bucks to have clamps that you know will not slip when you need them, and be realistic, good clamps will last a life time, two life times it there is someone to inherit  your shop tools.

cheers, ianw