Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bosch Portable Table Saw GTS 1031

Bosch 10รข€ Portable Worksite Table Saw GTS1031

  If you are an old school woodworker you can't imagine a shop without a table saw. If you are an old dog you may be down sizing or if you are starting out you either can't afford the money or the space for a full sized table saw

  If you can't have a full sized table saw a contractor/portable saw is a realistic option.  The small saws have improved to the point that $500.00 gets you a tool that will take care of a small shop's needs.

 The Bosch GTS 1031 is reasonably priced, gets good reviews and folds up out of the way when not in use.  My older model Bosch contractor saw has cut thousands of feet of lumber and continues to provide yeoman service. 


  I keep a Freud Thin Kerf blade on my saw, keep it sharp and have found that the saw does a good job for me.  In a perfect world I would have a great big cabinet saw with a sliding table, but I don't have the space, (like you I don't live in a perfect world).

  If you are looking for a serious solution to a small shop situation give the Bosch a look.

cheers, Ian

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday Afternoon in The Shop

My last blog showed the preparations for Kieran and I to make his tool box.

My Helper bringing the box he stands on to work at the bench.
 The original plan, ( my plan ) was to assemble the tool box and then assemble the bird house that was to hang on the back fence. The original plan was for a two room bird house with a flat roof.

  I had pre-cut all the pieces and we were going to screw them together.  I used some more from my cache of barn boards, since the boards are 1 inch thick and bird houses ideally are made from thicker wood to make for more stable internal temperature. Also the boards are seriously weathered and look the part.

  Well...., my plan and the young architect's plans turned out to be different. I wouldn't have traded away the afternoon for a whole shop on new tools was an education for Opa. ( I did have to do some fast talking and faster cutting)

  First thing, he wasn't interested in making his tool box.  He was focused on the bird house, and he had his own design in mind, he decided that bird houses have peaked roofs. The other bird houses we've made had peaks and so this one needed one too. He wanted a second floor added with another bird apartment and a peaked roof. We arrived at a compromise, no less of a bird housing monstrosity. 


  I had not prepared enough wood for his plan and so we added a chalet roof line with a dividing wall inside so there are now two apartments upstairs and two down. One of the challenges to projects with little helpers is to have something for them to do. We did some hand sawing on the late design addition but mostly what he does best is drill and drive screws. I bought a 12 volt drill driver  like the Milwaukee so that it would fit his smaller hands better than my larger drill. He found it very satisfying to be able to drive the screws by himself. (stick with red Roberston)  

  I will have to do some serious rebuilding on the bird house before I can put it out.  We don't even have a tree big enough to hold a four apartment bird house like this yet. And don't think we want to feature quite as distinctive birdhouse as that on our fence. It will however have to go up some place, because it will be looked for next visit.

  Condo Hammer - Woodworking  

  In the second project of the day, his idea, Kieran was able to use another of the tools from his yet to be completed tool box.  I bought him an apartment owners hammer.  He thought it was heavy but the short handle meant that he could hit the nail and drive it in were the really light tack hammer required much better aim and greater swing speed. 

  The boat crazy boy decided that we should make an aircraft carrier.  We have already made river boats, and tugs and sail boats. Thank goodness for the internet and Images.  We looked up aircraft carrier photos, together we drew out a design, yes he helped with the actually drawing, it was a chance for me to introduce the 24 inch ruler and the square.

  Once we made the flight deck I cut out a hull from 2 by 12 and we made the command tower from scraps. K used his short handled hammer to nail the deck to the hull using brass nails.  I held the brads with needle nose pliers while he hammered them in. I am not really happy with the flight deck material, the edge is a bit chippy, but he and I sanded the edge and the ship went home with him today. We are going to have to revisit the flight deck soon. I didn't have a large enough piece of Baltic birch on hand, the deck is 21 by 12 inches. 

  My next commission is planes to go on the flight deck. 

  My grand daughters are too young to be working in the shop yet although the 3 year old does help sweeping,a bit. However when the girls get big enough, they will be invited to build things with Opa.

  There is nothing better than working in the shop with my little helper. (even when the result is truly butt ugly)


Friday, July 25, 2014

A Very Important Project.

Today Kieran, his sister, Mum and Oma are having 'A Day Out With Thomas'.

Thomas Tank Engine 1.JPG

 While they are out for the day I have been working on a very important project.  For Kieran's Fifth birthday I promised him that we would build a real tool box and begin filling it with real tools so that he can work with Opa in the shop. His birthday was at the beginning of the summer and this is the first time he will be here with time to work in the shop. 

  The tool box is 16 by 6 by 8 inches.  The ends and bottom are made from 1/2 Baltic birth plywood and the sides are 1/4.  I have cut the whole thing out and marked all the spots that need to be drilled for assembly.  Drilling is something at which K is good. He also likes to use a drill to drive screws, the box will be partly glued and screwed and partly glued and nailed.  Once assembled he needed to sand the assembly and then we'll finish it with shellac. 

  To keep the handle small but sturdy I am using 1/2 copper pipe rather than a wooded dowel.  I also kept the tool box narrow so that a small person could carry it without it bumping their leg.

  In an ideal world he and I would have cut the parts out together but sheet stock is awkward to handle, and is dealt with best by bench tools.  A keen 5 year old would not have had a positive experience in the shop doing the cut out stage. He would have been stuck sitting on a chair watching the work get done.   Maybe down the road he and I can make a tool box from real wood and he can do all the work.  He has done some cutting with a hand saw and used a block plane once, developing those skills requires time and stronger hands than the little boy has, yet.

  There is nothing radical about this tool box, he will now have a version of the tool box his great Grandpa had, (its in the shop), his Opa has, his Uncle Leroy made in public school wood shop and next we'll have to make one for his Daddy. 

  This is the selection of tools that will go in his tool box to start him off.  Kieran was quite excited to think that he was going to have 'real' tools so he could help in the shop. Most of the tools are not new but all of them will help him build and fix things until he finds his way in the world and decides what he needs for his shop.

  I hope that it rains tomorrow so he will want to play in the shop with me.

cheers, ianw

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rockwell Bench Jaw

  Back in January I talked about a cool new tool, the Rockwell Bench Jaw.  I was impressed with the idea and had seem the Jaw Horse at wood shows for a number of years.  I liked the Jaw Horse but didn't want to give up floor space in my shop, so the Bench Jaw seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

  Yesterday I mounted my new Bench Jaw on my work table/bench and have used it both last evening and today so I thought I would share my initial impressions. 


  The Bench Jaw came with very clear and easy to follow assembly instructions.  Out of the box and onto the bench in less than 20 minutes.  It would have been 10 minutes if the quality of the nuts and bolts supplied had been of better quality.  As it was one of the nuts supplied wasn't threaded properly, luckily I have a jar of miscellaneous nuts and bolts and had a substitute. 

   Not having quality hardware is an on going problem with many tools now.  To save a dime and keep the cost down makes for aggravation I certainly can do without.  I would happily pay a bit extra for better quality nuts and bolts.  Or... don't include them, just include a parts list and I'll go to a hardware store and get my own bits and pieces.

  Once the Jaws are assembled and attached to the bench they work as advertised.  If you go to the link at the top you can see their promotional video.

  In my photos  you can see small wooden wedges  inserted between the clamping head and the mounting plate.

  I found that the locking mechanism is as claimed, it really holds and is very easy to use but there was a bit of play between the body of the Jaws and the frame holding it to the work bench.  Not a bunch of play but enough that it was noticeable.  

   The Bench Jaw body and mounting frame are not precision machined parts, they are stamped metal so the tolerances are a bit loose.  I wasn't really surprised that were was some wiggle for the price a bit of wiggle is expected.  The wedges  make the Jaws more stable and remove movement that would probably increase with use as torque was applied over time.

  Generally I am happy with the Rockwell Bench Jaw, it think it a product commensurate with its cost. I have every expectation of using it for a long time and  the idea of having two hands available to place and adjust a work piece when clamping is real bonus. Further my Bench Jaw is fastened to my lower height work table and so it holds things at a very good working height for me.

  If I were a movie critic I would give it 3 1/2 out of 4 Stars.

cheers, ian


Sunday, July 20, 2014

bbq paddle

   These two things go together, though how is not too obvious.  No this is not a BBQ brush, there are no wire bristles hidden on the underside.


  It is a Grill Paddle.  I can't claim it as my own invention, I saw a similar tool at a restaurant years ago.  I suspect that just like you and I they got tired of buying grill brushes.  Over the years I have bought many brushes, I even used a welding shop wire brush for a while. Getting the grill clean with a brush wrecked the brush quickly and didn't really clean the grill all that well.  

   As this BBQ season got rolling I chewed up another brush, then had an inspiration. As we drove by the neighbourhood that had the restaurant I thought of the Paddle. So, I knocked out this little beauty  on my band saw and softened all the edges with my random orbital sander.

   The grill paddle works best when the grill is HOT.  I crank the gas up and scrap the grill down before putting the food on.   After cooking, I just ignore the grill until the next time.

  My Grill Paddle is 22 by 4 1/2 inches at the broad end and made from clear pine. You can see here I am  pushing the paddle along the hot grill.

  There are burn marks on the wood already and I've only used the paddle twice. The hot grill cuts channels into the wood that align with the grill bars and make cleaning quick and easy.  Effectively I have a 'custom grill paddle'. Since this paddle is 3/4 I can use it to clean between the steel bars on the grill too.

  Why use this instead of a steel/brass wire brush?  

Have you ever wondered where all the little bits of wire go? I do. 

Do you hate wasting money on cheap junky tools like the standard BBQ brush? I do. 

Do you like making stuff that is useful in your house? I really do. 

And this paddle cleans up the BBQ as well as any wire brush I've even used.

Heat up the BBQ and try it out.

cheers ianw

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Pocket Sized Wood Working

6 3/4 by 2 3/8 by 1 3/4

  In the summertime there is lots of travelling about, lots of sitting around with friends and family on the deck and lots of out of the shop time.  Part of the reason I make things is that I have always needed to be doing stuff. I have tried nearly every crafts that you can imagine to keep me busy.  I even used to knit mitts and scarves while sitting in lectures at university. Polite folks call me a fidget, when I was little kids like me were called 'High Strung' or brats and people tried to keep our troubled little hands busy. 

  Little has changed, and so I still need to try and keep my hands busy. Keeping my hands busy keeps my feet out of my mouth, too. 

6 3/4 by 2 3/8 by  1 3/4

  This box, which once held a wrist watch maybe my woodworking salvation for this summer. It contains enough stuff to keep my hands busy and my mouth shut, and the out put is useful too.

  Full credit goes to my daughter-in-law Jen.  I did not think of this craft myself though I did turn it into a travelling woodworking system

Beads in various stages of completion,
 from bark still on to ready for paint.

  In this box is all a simple fellow like me needs to keep himself amused, because it has all the ingredients of a wood working shop.  There is wood, in this case short bits cut from shrubs in the yard, mulberry and cherry. A sharp blade, with which no wood working shop can exist. And two grits of sandpaper for finishing.

  I do one part of work in the shop at the end of the process.  I drill through the pith of the sticks so that the bits of wood becomes a hand shaped bead.  If you have Granddaughters you know that there can never be too many beads. I will make them and they can paint them and everyone is a winner.  Since I am a slightly obsessive Opa I will seal the beads with a water based product before giving them to the kids to paint.

  As a wood carver I have several very good knives and as a general knife lover I also have several really nice folding knives.  I opted for the utility knife because I doesn't need sharpening once dull.  I can carry a couple of extra blades in a much smaller space than a strop or fine stone. I have taken carving with me on holiday in the past but this set up is even smaller and lighter.  

  The trick is to not get too serious about the carving project, it is not art, it is a way to quietly pass the time while hanging out with folks.  The art is in the painting, isn't everyone's grand children great artists?  Our's are.

when a penguin likes rock n' roll.

cheers, Ian W

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Shop Made Story Sticks

 Lately story sticks seem to be the tool of the day.  I can think of three tool producers that are making commercial 'story sticks' for sale. I even featured the EZ Woodshop story sticks on April 12th 2013.

  I use story sticks when doing renovations or fitting trim or when building a 'one off' project, usually from available wood. If I am making a serious project I use purpose acquired materials and even a plan. (sometimes)  For me it is just easier to copy a measurement with a story stick than take a measurement with a tape.

 After checking out a number of commercial sticks I decided to make a set for myself. A while ago I bought a bundle of 18 inch graphite dowels 3/8 inch in diameter.  I had no idea what they were for and really had no plan but couldn't pass them up at the cheap cheap price.

  I could have made my stick using wooden dowel but since I had the graphite stick that is what I used.

  The middle section with the screws is 1.5 inches by 2 inches by 3/4 inch.  The full reach is 35 inches which will be big enough for most box/case work that I will do.  

  The end was really easy to shape in my belt sander. 

  The centre section has two bolts that provide friction to keep the rods from sliding in or out once set.

   If these sticks prove to be too short, too often I will be easy to add and another wooden section and make them three dowels long. I'll jump off that bridge when I come to it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chirp Magazine - Storage Bins

 Kieran has a subscription to Chirp Magazine  and as with all magazines storage is a pain.  I have made book ends for Kieran's books and now I am making magazine bins for his magazines.

 Making things like magazine file bins is always a scrap bin job.  I seem to have a pretty good supply of 1/8 Lauan and 1/2. If you were to buy material and get as over blown as Ikea does, the bins would get so they were not cost effective. However having a shop means that you can be cost effective.

  A home work shop is one of those things that is half toy land and half work space. Once I acquired a few tools I began making things and over time wood became a dominating texture in our home. At this point I seem to always look at something and wonder weather I can make it out of wood, especially when I see something made from plastic. 

  The bicycle carrier boxes are a case in point.  As soon as I saw people with plastic milk crates strapped to their bike racks I knew that wood was a better option.  

 If you are going to have a work space workshop not just a toy land you need to have some basic tools at hand.  In my shop I have a selection of sand paper, 80, 120, 220, 320, 500 grit in sheets and in 5 hole hook and loop and an abrasive cleaning stick. I also keep a few bits of steel wool around, it smooths a shellac finish better than anything else I have found.

  Another thing that I keep is stock is throw away paint brushes, both with bristles and made from foam. I can then slap a quick coat of some sort of paint onto a project and clean up is a snap. The exception to that rule is shellac brushes. I have brushes in four sizes and they are clearly marked by having their handles painted bright green, or wrapped in green painters tape. I use green tape for labelling and for masking.

 Since I am thrifty I also have a jar filled with chop sticks that I have brought home from restaurants.  I use chop sticks to mix glue. I sharpen the tip to a very fine point and use it to clean glue out of cracks.  I have driven chop sticks through my dowel plate and made custom dowels for projects. I even hammered the end of a chop stick into a sort of brush to spread glue. 

  These are some of the tools at hand that I keep in my shop. 


Monday, July 7, 2014

Wood Turning Project - a good practise piece.

  The video I am attaching this time shows a paper towel holder as a project. As a learning/practice project for wood turning this project has all the elements. 

  To complete the paper towel holder you make a spindle and the practice involved in getting the spindle a even diameter is good for you.  There is a small design feature and then you are cutting a tenon on one end too.

  The second element is a face plate turning project for the base.  When you turn the base you have an opportunity to practice with you bowl scrappers and well as your gouges.

  We sometimes forget that to get good at something requires practise. Even when we work in our shop regularly we should take some time and practise some of our skills that we may take for granted.

  Recently I have been making some boxes to be attached to bicycles racks.

   A box like this is held to the bicycle rack with 'Zip' ties. The ties are quick, cheap and easy to use.  I had a request for a box that was a specific size.

  The box had to carry 12 beers, 2 sixes or a full 12.  I made the box so that the cases fit snugly so the beer wouldn't rattle around as you brought it home.

  I boxes are made from 1/4 and 1/2 inch Baltic birch.  Normally I prefer solid wood, but in a case like this the Baltic birch plywood will survive better in the hot sun and probably better in the rain too.  A wooden box is not impervious to the weather but then a plastic box breaks down in the sunshine and gets brittle, the wooden box can be repaired when the plastic becomes landfill.

 I held the ends on with pocket holes using the Kreg Micro Jig.  The Micro Jig is perfect for pocket holes in 1/2 material.  I used the dedicated 3/4 pocket hole screws and got solid, strong joints, quickly and easily.

  It sounds funny but it is not a bad idea to make a few boxes now and then, as practice tool. 

cheers, ianw

Friday, July 4, 2014

Deck Work

 Two days ago I gathered some tools together and went to help out a buddy do some work on his back deck.  He and his wife are in the redesigning stage of an ongoing process so the task at hand was repair work.  This sort of work is what my family called 'jack knife carpentry', usually it involves some recycling, some reusing and lots of improvisation. 

  This job had it all.  On the two edges of the wooden deck the deck boards had got quite rotten. My friends are trying to decide whether to have the whole deck replaced with interlocking stone but for now they just needed the rotten boards repaired so the deck was safe and sound.

  I actually got off fairly easily as David, (deck owner) did a tonne of nasty on his knees work tearing apart an unwanted section of deck and reclaiming the boards and deck screws.  All I had to do was help him fit the replacement boards and screw them down.


  First thing we did was lay down a chalk line  and cut about 20 inches off the deck board with my circular saw.  A chalk line is a tool that I only use once every couple of years is exactly the right tool for making a long straight line.  I wonder how many young people don't even know how to use a chalk line? 
   Once the boards were cut and removed, it was just a measure and cut exercise.  We did notice that the deck was not totally square when we started cutting the replacement pieces.  This is the kind of job that goes easier when there are two people working.  David took measurements, I cut the boards and then he screwed them down.  It is faster and easier if you are not bending down and up when working, or at  least is is easier for grey beards like me.  On Thursday both of us had sore backs none the less.

  I think that the quality of the final product was pretty good considering that the material cost was ZERO dollars.  

  For now it is safe to walk along the edges of the deck, it looks Okay and if in a season they decide to have it torn up and replaced they are aren't out a tonne of money.  I invested about two hours with David putting it together, I have no idea how much time he put in taking the other section of the deck apart and salvaging the wood.  Time is something retired people have, that and poor eyesight, and thinning hair, etc. etc. etc.

cheers, ianw

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Wood Junkie Box + Spline JIgs

 Back on June 6th I wrote about found wood.  The drawers that I found on the roadside were made from maple. Not all road side furniture is good wood, but this is why I stop and check.

  This box is five inches square and three inches deep. It is made from found wood.  The drawers had a spray on stain finish that I easily sanded off to revel clear maple. I have got pretty good at figuring out if the furniture is wood on the road side is real wood or wood/glue.  I sometimes pick up the wood/glue stuff if it is in real good shape.  I use sheet stock for jigs and wood table surfaces, and free is a good price.

  This box has splined mitred corners that I made on my table saw.  The inset wood is not found wood, it is a little bit of Jatoba that I had left from another project. As you can see from the top, the wood had been laminated together from narrow boards. Not my first choice but considering the price I paid for the materials .....

 The bottom of the box is also from that haul of found wood. The bottom is made from one of the drawer bottoms, 1/8 inch plywood.

  Since the box is real hardwood I gave it four or five coats of spray varnish and finished with a coat of Minwax paste wax once the varnish was totally dry and hardened. (couple of days),

   My experience with hard maple and hard birch is that stain really only sits on top of the wood, like the previous finish that was on this wood. The lack of penetration means that the stain doesn't really high light the grain, not that there is much to see anyway. Since the stains don't penetrate I just use a clear finish, or sometimes orange shellac to finish this sort of project.

 This little box was just gifted to my littlest Grandchild. Tova Elise and her grown-ups visited us at home for four days last week and her Mum thought the wee box would be a good place to save small special things for Tova.  I think there are few things nicer than making things your family likes.

  As I worked away in my shop and checked around on the Inter net I found a couple of other videos for you to check out.

 These jigs are both different from the one I made last August 23/2013.  I particularly like the design of the jig in 'a' and I think I will copy that design for my next jig since it is more adjustable than my current one.

Remember:  Get out  and make stuff!

cheers, ian

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bulletin Board Complete

  Before I get carried away with today's blog,

Happy Canada Day 
to one and all

  Now, back to the task at hand.  Last blog was my bulletin board glued up and awaiting completion.  I finished it and put it up yesterday.  The Elm trim has orange shellac and spray varnish on it and the large surface is two quick coats of spray paint.

    The BB is above my work space at the front of the house.

  I used my stud finder and screwed the bulletin board right to the wall.  At first I thought of hanging it like a picture but decided that it was best attached solidly.  A side note, the electronic stud finder is worth the money, I've used mine hundreds of times for years and years.

     You can see in the close-up photos I glued pieces of wine bottle cork along the bottom and drove 3/4 inch 10 steel screws into the trim to act as places to attach magnets.

  This is another of those projects that can use a few or many tools.  Since I have a table saw and a sliding mitre saw I made the trim myself and mitred the corners. However, this project could have been done with trim from a Box store and a hand saw and mitre box.  The magnets came from a $ Store and the rest of the project was glue and screws.  I used lots of clamps to make my BB but that isn't necessary, lots of trim is held in place with brad nails. 

  Get out there and make stuff.

cheers, ianw