Friday, February 27, 2015

Coldest February On Record for Ontario, Canada

  Today is the last day of the coldest February on record.  The sun is shining brightly and there is melting snow but the nights are so cold that there is no noticeable reduction in our snow banks. Most everyone one is heartily sick and tired of the winter.

  Today I went to the Hamilton Wood Show to see what was new and interesting and mostly meet up with old friends. I have been going to the Hamilton Wood show for its entire history, and actually worked in booths at the show for a number of years.  
  What was new? Not much...which isn't a bad thing.

  There is a company selling a new (?) wood finish. The "Last Glue" was there.  All the usual suspects, Bosch, DeWalt, Porter-Cable, Hitachi, King etc were there too. Again I considered a compressor and a 23 gauge pin nailer and again talked myself out of it. I guess I'm not an air tool guy but Grex had a very nice compact compressor and air brush combination for sale that caught my eye.




  I finally bit the bullet and replaced by Hitachi 14.4 volt cordless drills, the drills are fine but the batteries are burned out.  I took a flyer and bought a 12 volt drill/impact driver combo pack from Triton
 I've never had an impact driver before so I am curious to see if I think to use it. I don't have the stats but I feel that the new 12 volt drill develops as much or more torque as did my old 14.4 system. It should, after all, technology has moved well along its path in the last ten years. 

  The other thing I always stuns me at the wood show is the carving.  This year I only took a couple of photos on my phone as I foolishly forgot to take a good camera to the show.

  I also took a photograph of a friend of mine's carved boot.

  Dave's boot even has leather laces, a nice touch that I'd not thought of when I carved my boot. I think it is time to carve another boot. I has been boot weather this winter, that's for sure.
  Something that is new and actually useful is this thermal imaging camera for an Iphone.

Thermal Imaging Camera for iPhone LW-BAA
Iphone Thermal Imaging Camera
  If I was fussing over heat loss in my house I think this camera would provide the proof I needed to make some of decisions. is just way cool.  You've got to love technology.

  Cheers, Ian W 


Thermal Imaging Camera for iPhone LW-BAA

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cat Food Stand

 We've recently acquired a kitten. Jr. Kat, the kitten is pretty, active, has a Detroit Diesel Purr and is about as graceful as an elk on ice.  Every time Jr. eats from his food dish he tips it over and spills the kibble, his water dish is one use only too because he bats is around and spills his water onto the floor. Even if you love your little kitten you get tired of cleaning up puddles or crunching stray kibbles underfoot. 

  This is the solution to Jr. Kat and his messes. I had a couple of pieces of 2 x 10 construction lumber laying around so I planed it flat and square. (flat and square just make all the following stages easier)  I traced the plastic tubs which are standard 500ml containers and reduced the the circumference about 1/4 inch. 

  Next I drilled four holes inside the line to give my saw blade some relief as I was cutting the wood out of the inside.

 For the first hole I used my faithful ol' jig saw.  I've had this saw for ages and cut hundreds of feet of wood. It did an okay job, and if it were my only option I would have carried on, but the jig saw works best in thinner material, the 1 1/2 stud lumber meant that there was a bunch of sanding necessary once the cutting was done. My set of sanding drums certainly cleaned up the cut quickly and easily but for the other holes I chose to use my band saw.

cat food stand, underside

 If you look closely you can see the entry cut which didn't weaken the wood seriously and cutting the material out with the band saw was quicker and meant that there was no sanding to be done.

  I put the cross pieces on instead of four feet to raise the stand off the floor another inch so that the plastic tubs which were deeper than 1 1/2 inch wood could flush in the hole.

  I sanded everything smooth and left the wood unfinished,because Jr. Kat is still chewing on stuff. The plastic tub is the standard sour cream container size and so every now and then the container can be thrown out, after I've got tired of cleaning it. Cats must have dirty noses because their drinking water get filthy.

  This is a job that can be done with found lumber, I think the 2 x 10 came from a local building site last summer and basic tools. Yes, I used a band saw but this could be completed as well in a hand drill and jig saw shop.

 Like they internet keeps saying: " get out there and build something"

cheers, ianw

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Sunday Blog

  Today is yet another overcast cold day. I'm passing the afternoon doing some paper work and sorting out old computer files.  I came across this photo of an amazing tree on Tamaki Drive in Auckland New Zealand.  Needless to say Auckland does not get snow and ice, so the tree's canopy's do not get broken down.

    The branches of that tree reach over four lanes of traffic. This is one of those trees that is so amazing I don't imagine cutting it into lumber.

  To show that I do complete some projects:

 Here are the sun glasses with the finished ear pieces.  These glasses live in my car and I wear them over my seeing glasses,  so I'll not naive enough to imagine they were ever stylish. This distraction project has breathed new life into the glasses and I hope to get another season out of them.

  The last thing I want to share today is a project I found on

Picture of One Board Minimalist Chair
Make a One Board Chair

  This looks like a great portable chairs for kids.  Once the chair(s) are built the decoration could be left to the style, fair and taste of your grand kids.

  You could also use more tools, like a router to round over edges and use wood filler and a sander to repair knots and other imperfections.

cheers, ianw

Friday, February 20, 2015

Carrying on, and also slightly side tracked.

  I am working away on the bench project, mixing it in with shovelling snow and playing pool and watching Top Gear re-runs. It would seem that I am not totally focused on the shop just now.

  The next part of the bench project is legs.  I have an ever dwindling supply of oak and decided for looks and strength to make the legs from it.

back legs

  The back legs will get a slight taper and will then be screwed onto the side apron and rail that I've added to the seat. I really haven't decided how to attach the front legs since they are not destined to be on the front corners of the bench.  The front legs have to be inset from the ends quite a bit to fit under our table because table has some awkward braces holding the legs in position  

front legs glued up

 One of the things that has been keeping me out of my shop has been the latest book I am making for my Grandson.  Kieran loves transportation machines and so I have drawn the pictures for a train book, a boat book and the latest book is airplanes. I love that he is young enough that my drawings make him happy. I know that once he gets computer age it will be all down loads and print outs, so I glory in drawing pictures for him now. 

  The thing today that I let divert me was brilliant sun shine.  When I came out of the pool hall today I was blinded by brilliant, brilliant winter sun shine. The sun glasses in my car...well,you judge.

  The plastic from the ear pieces has totally fatigued and fallen away, unusually the lens are still scratch free so the glasses need to be saved.

 I took some basswood, light and easy 
to shape. Formed it, glued the wire into the channel with epoxy then wrapped it in tape and clamped the dickens out of it. After the epoxy has set over night I will shape the wooden ear pieces and finish them with tung oil.

  I have the wonderful luxury of having my time to myself.  I do take on serious projects in my shop, but not very often anymore, and so I like to putter away my time doing silly wee jobs like the sun glasses.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wood Shop Ideas

I am working on using the church pew seat to make a bench for our dining room and I have added ends under the seat. The back of the seat is slightly off square and so I needed to hold the work piece firmly while I trimmed 5 degrees off the ends. I decided to add the ends to give me something more to attach the legs to when I finish the bench.  Traditionally the pew would have had an end on it that was both leg and sides.

 My bench is going to have open ends and lighter style legs. Hence the adjustments that need to be made as the work goes along.

one end is in the vise,
this end is clamped using a bit of inspiration,
and improvisation.

    I am using Miller Dowels for some of the assembly on the bench.  My Miller drill bits are in case that I made as a prototype a while ago.  You can see that two of the bits are rattling around in the case naked. I decided to do something about the nakedness this time. I have a foot or two of plastic plumbing tubing which makes perfect easy cases for the drill bits.   

 By protecting the bits they will stay sharper longer.  I want them to last until I run out of dowels.  I bought a shoe box full of mixed dowels on a "clear out" a few years ago and find them useful for certain types of assembly.

Monday, February 16, 2015

What to do on a VERY COLD day - 26 C this morning.

  Recently my 3 1/2 year old Granddaughter informed me that she liked boats too. She is just beginning to show an interest in "stuff" beyond her stuffed toys and modelling clay. She also said that she would like a pink fish as well as this purple boat, and Opa set to work, as all Opas would.

  The lighting in my shop makes the boat look blue, trust me it is purple. Making these small toys makes me admire folks that make miniatures for their trains sets or tiny lead soldiers for historic battle re-enactments. The many port holes are painted by dipping the end of an awl in paint and dabbing it the tiny holes I bored with my hand drill.  

  Jeff Foxworthy, is famous for his "you may be a Red Neck,if you....." jokes.  One of these days I should write down "you may be a Wood worker, if you.....".

  About five years ago I worked at a Wood show in Eastern Ontario and met a fellow that was struggling to revive woodworking in his secondary school.  One of the projects that the kids were doing was making shop stools from reclaimed material and selling them to raise money for their programme.  Needless to say I bought a stool.

 Shortly after I started using the stool in my shop I had to re-enforce the legs.  The design was good but maybe not solid enough to survive in a big guys shop.  At that point I really didn't need to fix the stool, I could have retired it to the fire, but, you know you are a wood worker when you rebuild or repair something 'cause it is made of wood.

I sat on the stool this morning and it ended up looking like this, a section of the top just broke off. Oops, do you suppose the furniture is hinting at something? 

When you've got a work shop and every tool there is, you fix things.

  I used my KREG drill bit to drill three holes into the section and drove three KREG 2 1/2 inch self taping pocket-hole screws into the stool's seat after giving it a liberal coating of Weldbond glue.

  Since the standard KREG drill bit is 3/8 it is easy to plug the hole if you want to.  I use this drill bit/screw combination frequently  because the screws are strong, the drill bits are high quality and the pilot tip on the bit helps with alignment when screwing.

 cheers, ianw

Friday, February 13, 2015

Plane Work

 I have a couple of hand planes that I use regularly in my shop.

  I am not a hardcore hand tool woodworker but I recognize when a hand tool is the best tool for the job.  I recently had to flatten a wide cutting board for our kitchen.


  The photo on the left shows the cutting board after I used my scrub plane on it.  A scrub plane will remove plenty of material is a short time, and the cuts are smooth enough that you sometimes see this pattern on undersides and backs of older furniture. For a cutting board that is not smooth enough. Stage two is the jack plane or another smaller smoothing plane.  Since I am not accomplished enough to fully exploit a hand plane finish I usually end the process with 220 sand paper on a sander, random orbital or finishing

  Another project upon which I am working is a bench.  Years ago I bought a church pew from a junk yard, the bench is ash, I think, and comes complete with petrified chewing gum stuck to the underside. The bench is for the one side of our dinning room table. On large family occasions we are running out of chairs for guests and this bench will accommodate several children at the dinner table.

  The first job is to flatten some sections on the bottom of the pew to enable me to attach rails and legs.  This old pew's bottom has developed a bit of an arch, but it isn't necessary to flatten the whole thing, just the contact sections.

  I knocked off the biggest part of the bump with the scrub plane and then used to Jack plane to finished the flattening process.

  The top side of the pew is a different story, and needs different tools.

   You can see the random orbital sanding, with 60 grit paper attached to my shop vacuum. Since the top of the bench has some contour I decided to sand instead of scrape.  The old vanish came off in sticky little balls and revelled a pretty nice grain and one huge scratch. 

  The scratch is deep and will require filling but once the bench is sanded to 220 grit and finished with 3 or 4 coats of shellac it is going to look good.

  I'll keep you posted.

cheers, ian

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jimmy DiResta: Log Bird House

Log Bird House

    One of the most clever builders on the internet is Jimmy DiResta.  He has You tube videos of wood and metal working projects and I am in awe of his skills. His wood working is artistic and his welding and metal work is excellent.  In the log bird house video he makes the bird house with hand tools, basic hand tools. He used a general purpose saw, and hand drill and a couple of chisels to make his bird house.

  There are a couple of lessons in this video,though Mr. DiResta doesn't say anything. Lesson one: sharp tools, Lesson Two: solid clamping to a solid workbench.

 I am going to look around my garage for a piece of fire wood that is big enough to copy Mr. DiResta's example.

 *regarding bird houses.  
   Check on the net for the correct size hole for your most popular birds. If the hole is too large you'll get squirrels not birds. Also leave the perch peg off, that peg provides a place for predator birds to sit and attack the baby birds in the bird house, the bird that lives there won't need the perch.

cheers, Ian W

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lap Top Stand by Steve Carmichael

   Steve Carmichael has website filled with good basic projects, that he makes with good technique and straight forward tools.  If you are an experience wood worker  or a beginning wood worker there is value in Steve's site.

  This video is his making a Lap Top Computer stand/night table.  I like that he begins the project with Big Box Store lumber and uses tools that most wood workers have in their shop.  And, this project could be completed by someone working with hand tools alone. You won't need a real shop, you could build this in the spare bed room of your apartment.

lap top stand
  When I see projects like this I think some of my first projects.  Years ago I made a book case for my parents and I built it on the patio and painted it under cover of the car port. I doubt  if any of the corners were square, but the book case is still in my Mother's basement.

  To get started in wood working shouldn't cost a fortune. While power tools aren't necessary I would suggest that at least a drill, a jig saw and a random orbital sander would make your life easier. After those tools I would add a circular saw with a good blade and a mid-power router.  Everything else is a bonus.  

  Check out this video and his other ones too.

Ian W


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Stereo Stand in Action, and another prototype

  I know it seems as though I never actually get anything built here is a photograph of the stereo stand I built early in January.  As you can see the stand was made to fit that space exactly and rather than try and match stain colours the owner painted it black.

 Here is the stand sitting on my bench before heading off to its new home. On January 10th I talked a bit about making this unit. Pieces of furniture this size are a challenge in my shop space.  I have all the tools, but have given away much of my working space to accommodate the tools. As my bigger machines wear out I will seriously look at alternatives like a track saw to replace tools like my table saw and sliding mitre saw. 

  Most everyone recognizes a pant hanger like this, and some of you even remember when they worked well and you didn't have to pick you dress pants up from the floor on a regular basis.

 Make no mistake, I am not a fancy Dan who wears special party clothes all the time but I do have some  nice pants that get worn to church and funerals etc and the new pant hangers are CRAP.  

  The spring mechanism is too weak to hold the pants, or the wood falls off or the little crap plastic thing breaks pants are on the floor.

 As a wood worker I decided it was time to address this problem.

  This is the very rough prototype.  I used my dowel threading kit to make wooden nuts and bolts so that I can fasten the pant legs firmly in the hanger.  This version is designed to hold nice light weight dress pants, or...heavy chinos without either falling to the floor.

 I know that this will be a bit fussy to put my pants into, but having it work first time, every time is worth a bit of fussing.

  I have yet to decide what to do about the hanger part, I am going bend my own hooks from heavy wire probably.

  If you want to thread dowel I suggest that you use high quality hardwood dowel, maple has worked well and soak the dowel in something like tung or linseed oil or to make sure the fibres are fully swollen before you cut the threads. When I tapped the nuts I put oil on the tap just like I would if I were taping metal. 

 I'll keep you posted on the success of this prototype.

cheers, ianw


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Two Projects and a Helpful VIdeo

Having got back to the shop, aside from a couple duct tape type repairs, and show shovelling, I made a extra large oak cutting board.

  This cutting board is 18 by 18 by 1 inch thick.  It is a custom order and it required an extra step in its production. My planer is only 12 inches wide and so I had to make the board in two parts then glue it together and hand plane the seam in the middle.  I was careful and used lots clamps and so the seam was pretty close and required limited planing, for which I was grateful. 

  The other project was one that I talked about last blog.

  Here are my two bench top saw horses.  I chose to re-enforce the I-beam structure by putting another board in the middle to support the cross pieces. There is a very good chance that the additional boards are just over-engineering, but since the entire project was made from left overs I don't see any harm in it.  The I-beam shape allows for easy clamping of the pieces to the work table, or the materials to the saw horse. The saw horses are reddish-orange and so will be easy to find when I need to use them, all my jigs are painted stand out colours. 

   The video I wanted to share is by Ira Glass, he talks about the creative process and says some very important things in a two minute video.  A commonly held idea is that mastery requires 10,000 hours of practice, 10,000 hours is 1250 eight hour days, or approximately 5 years of full time work. 

  If you are a crafts person as your hobby I think it is smart to recognise that it will take you a long time to achieve a level of mastery that will produce work of which you are proud. It is also encouraging to realize that quality work will come, if you just keep at it.

 cheers, ianw

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February and Back To Work

  I finished off January in the sunny south, my wife, Mother and I spent a week at a very nice resort, the Melia Cayo Coco.  It is all inclusive, beach front and no kids.  Instead of breathing in sawdust I breathed the salt air and walked along the beach. 

  Those are three of the three different sponges that I picked up on the beach while I was relaxing and wandering.


And just to prove that I was thinking of you woodworking folks back in the great white north, eh! Here is a photo of a palapa, (beach umbrella) made from wood and covered with local fronds. Wood stands up better to the high winds and even if it gets blown down, can be rebuilt. 

  I am getting back to work in the shop too. I have a large cutting board that just came out of its clamps and needs some sanding and I am planning to make a pair of 'bench top saw horses'.

  A couple of horses like this will come in useful on my work table. Needless to say, my horses will be painted a bright colour so they don't blend into the back ground.

  The last thing of note, Leamington Home Hardware had their annual Tool Expo this weekend. As always it was well attended and there was neat stuff to see. Good job guys.

 cheers, ianw