Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer is Here, Score Points-Make a Trellis

Make Trellis for your yard

  Making a Trellis for the garden is always a nice way to spruce up your yard and make the chief gardener happy.

  The attached video from  Garage Woodworks  is a quick and easy project with reasonably priced materials. All you really need is a table saw or a track saw to make this project. If you were old school, you could rip the boards by hand. Soft wood is not that tough to cut by hand. 

 Since the trellis is going outside you don't really need to sand it much and if you used cedar it could be left unfinished. 

  I think I will make a trellis this weekend. If the motorcycle weather isn't good.

 cheers ianw

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

On the Bench

 My workbench is again, chaos. On the bench are carving tools, files, sand paper, shellac, brushes, planes, saws and knives. Not to mention a large coffee cup and a cutting board drying in clamps.

   The cutting board is fairly obvious, this board is maple and about 11 by 17 and 1 inch thick. I glued it together last evening and set it on the corner of the bench to dry. Hooray for Bessey clamps and water proof glue.  

  The other project that was drying over night was a brooch carved out of bass wood and painted with acrylic paint.

   I think those two projects reflect the real nature of my workshop. Projects of all types and sizes come out of my basement shop, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  It has been a few months since I produced a cutting board which is fine, I was getting bored of the process.  Lately I have been working on these little carvings because it is relaxing and gives me a chance to play with design ideas.

  Art and design is funny.  What you make may become popular or not,  and the quality of the work is not as important as the "look".  If the right person sees your piece and likes it, then it will sell and maybe even become popular, and if it isn't seen by the right person.... your piece collect dust.  There is no way of guessing what is going to happen.

  When I work on something small it still needs lots of tools.  Anything made of wood requires the same preparation, the wood has to be square and smooth. Shaping wood for a book case needs saws, planes, files and sand paper, so does shaping wood for a 2.5 inch brooch.  I use more hand tools when working on things like the brooch, I like that because it is quieter produces less fine dust.  I also chose hand tools because I feel it is safer. 

  A workshop footnote.
  Last evening I was ripping 3/8 strips off of mahogany planks with a friend and we began the process by reminding ourselves about shop safety.  With more than 100 years shop experience between us and both with all our fingers we still talked shop safety before settling into serious band saw time.

  The shop will get cleaned up, and it will get messed up again too. I think it is called the circle of dust.

cheers, ianw

Monday, May 25, 2015

Pocket Knife

 When I was 7 years old I found this jack knife in the ditch by our house.

 The handles were gone even then and for some unknown reason the knife has followed me around for 50 years. The blades are fairly good quality but they wiggle around in the handle pretty badly and so the knife gets pretty limited use.

  The other evening the knife floated to the surface of my tool box and I realized it was its 50th anniversary. It was time to put proper scales on my knife.

  I glued and clamped two thin pieces of walnut onto the knife and let it sit over night.

  I trimmed and sanded the scales smooth then put two coats of wax on the wood.

  This was not much of a wood working challenge but, I am just a bit attached to my old knife.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Finished Mini Work Bench

My mini bench clamped to the big bench in my vise. 

  Just about the time I decided it was time to design and build another small work bench I found a piece of a Workmate leaning against a tree awaiting the weekly pick up. The piece of workmate is not real wood does have all of the dog holes pre-drilled and I have a Workmate in the garage so have all the dogs and clamps designed to fit already.

  Construction of my bench involved a 2 x 8 and long screws. While the benches in my last video were used to support hand planing most of the heavy planing in my is done by machine.(you knew I have a hybrid shop). My bench needs to provide support for cross cutting, shooting and edge sanding as well as assembly of small parts. 

Bench hook on the mini bench.

  You can see that the mini bench has two legs beneath it providing support against side ways forces. Holding up the end of the bench hook is a blue box in which I keep the various dogs and clamps to be used on my mini bench.  I made the box to be exactly the correct hight to support the end of my bench hook and shooting board.

  Now I am going to take toy makers bench and my standing bench apart because this latest effort fills my needs better and takes up less space in my shop when not in active use.

  cheers, Ian W

Thursday, May 21, 2015

More-Work Bench Ideas

  Life is for many people a journey, or a quest for the ideal or perfect love, or martini or hamburger, in my case it has become a quest for the perfect work space. (work bench).

  I have written about this several times as my work needs evolved and my back troubles ebb and flow. Most recently I have added Kreg Bench Clamps to my formidable array of Kreg clamps. The clamps were added to my small bench and now hold my "toy makers bench" in place when I work on smaller projects.

 The other evening I was looking around in Youtube and found a series of videos showing "Japanese Planing" benches and another mini workbench from Fine Woodworking.

Japanese Planing Bench Demo Video

   The planing bench is a slightly larger version of my toy makers bench and much more sturdy.  My small bench does not provide the support needed for serious planing or working on material more than 4 or 5 inches long.

  So, my next bench is going to be my version of the Japanese Planing bench. It will incorporate the style of clamps that I have, and be designed for western style planes.  I plan to make the bench about 30 inches long and 7 or 8 wide and design it to clamp to my work bench top like the mini-workbench rather than sit on top of the bench like an authentic Japanese bench.

  Lumber Jocks also has a blog that talks about the Planing Bench and  includes a couple of videos that are worth watching just for their inspirational nature.

  I am gathering materials together and hope to build my bench over the weekend.

 cheers, ianw


Monday, May 18, 2015

What a Mess !!


  I don't do much large scale wood carving and so while my shop is often a mess, it usually doesn't get into this shape so quickly.  If you really want to create chaos get into heavy duty carving, chain saw carving has to be the only thing that sends more chips flying, more directions.

 Our back yard has a small water feature and my wife wanted a medium sized tree branch turned into  an open channel for water to run from our upper pond into the lower pond. 

  I did a project similar to this ten years ago so I knew what needed to be done, and I do have all the tools.

  First I used a small axe to knock off the unwelcome high spots, then I used my bow saw to cut the branch to length and cut off a couple of smaller side branches.  The next tool I used was my draw knife, I used it to flatten one side of the branch.

  My draw knife is an heirloom.  It came from my Grandfather's tools via my Dad's tool box.  I hope some day that a grand kid will have an interest in tools too.

  After I laid out a basic line for the trough I drilled a bunch of holes in the tree branch with a spade bit. That was the beginning of the serious wood chip blizzard. A spade bit rips a big hole in the wood and if you choose to be careful a large spade bit will do a good enough job for a reasonable price.

  After I drilled out a bunch of wood with the spade bit I switched to my 4 1/2 grinder and my Arbortech  grinding wheel. It makes short work of bark and whatever else you may find on reclaimed wood and branches. 

  After I had drilled and slashed away with the grinder I cleaned up the rough spots a bit with a chisel and mallet and voilĂ ,

 there is the trough awaiting installation. I have done my part, now Eva has to make it work. There are rocks to move and concrete to form. I am sure that the end product will be lovely.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Handles with Care

Handle with Care
  Aside from the fact that I was a big fan of the Traveling Wilburys and played many of their songs while in a party band, Handles with Care is a good idea.

  Today's blog is about home made tool handles. 

Wood turning with a Drill Press
   A common way to make a tool handle is by turning on a lathe, if you haven't got a lathe than you can use your drill press as a mini lathe. Things like handles can be even be turned on the drill press using rasps, files or course and saving you from having to buy extra tools.

  I looked around my shop to see how many tools had home made handles.  If you don't have a lathe or a drill press there are still plenty of ways you can  make an appropriate tool handle. 

  Cheap and easy handles. 

  The knives have several wraps of duct tape covered with painter's tape. The duct tape gets sticky over time, the painter's tape doesn't.  The gouge handle is a hunk of broom handle held together with super glue. I bought the little wood carving gouge blade cheap at a wood show a few years ago. I am beginning to believe that buying the blade alone is a good value, the producers don't have to waste time and energy making a nice handle and can focus on the blade alone. (think Hock Blades)

Fancy Handle 

   The is a fancy handle made from deer antler. The blade is from Sweden and made by the 2012 world champion blade smith. You could do eye surgery with that little knife. All I did to make the handle was bore a hole in the core of the antler and glue the blade in. That blade deserved something special.

Shop Knives

  These are two shop knives made from blades 2 of 6 blades I bought 25 years ago. The small handle is riveted in place but the big handle is held onto the blade with epoxy. Rivets are nice, but the epoxies are so good now days, rivets are not necessary. These knives will take a good edge but are mostly used for splitting, scraping and scratching. If there is an nasty job, these knives get it.  

Files and Rasps

  Files usually come without handles. Don't use a file or rasp without a handle, it is a sure way to get a puncture wound. Again cheap and easy handles, no real tools required. The needle files have handles made of plumbers putty, you can see that the one on the left was made in a hurry. The file on the left has a wine bottle cork wrapped in tape as a handle.  I found that he cork needed help to keep it from breaking when used as a handle. On the right it started out a piece of square softwood and was given a rough shape with the sander.  Handles do not need to be high art, they are just a way to make a tool more usable.

Big Handles

  The middle file has a oak handle that I appear to have taken some time over.  It has a bit of shape and is very smooth to the touch. Again it wasn't a lathe project, and was done a few years ago.

  When making wooden handles I have found, especially for files which have a tapered tang it is best to drill out the hole with at least three different bit diameters so that he wood doesn't split nor the file wobble about. 

Turned Handle

  As if to prove that not all my wood working is rough and ready here is a lathe turned handle on a socket chisel. If you have the time and inclination a turned handle that has been sanded to the nth degree while spinning is pretty nice.

  My tools have been marked with three dots since I worked for Ontario Hydro in Dundas Ontario in the late 1970's. So I used a wire to burn three stripes into the handle when I turned it on the lathe.

  **As a side note 
Figure out a way to mark you tools. All the tools that go onto job sites or out of my shop have WAL clearly marked or three dots/slashes. It is nice to go out and help folks/organizations but you want to come home with all your tools.**
cheers Ian W


let your imagination take flight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Build a Wooden Passive Speaker System for your Tablet or Phone

 A week or so ago a email arrived in my in box from Popular Woodworking Magazine showing a plan for a speaker system, with no wires or batteries. 

Passive Wooden Speakers

 It was a good looking project and one that I figured would be useful. As is often the case I used what I saw as an inspiration and set about making my own set of speakers.

  I used my tablet to decide the size I wanted to make this project. As you can see my plan was a rough sketch only. The speaker was made from real wood, though I did consider using up some left over plywood and held together with glue only. Making a project like this is about straight lines, glue and lots of small clamps.

  Once the glue set I sanded and planed the speakers I tried them out and discovered that as the article claims, it improves the tone of the sound coming from my tablet very noticeably.

Passive Speaker complete
speaker made from spruce finished with Tung oil

cheers ianw


Monday, May 11, 2015

D.I.Y. Knife Sheath Project with - Duct Tape.

 As I have said before, I volunteer in the Cafe at the Ancaster Seniors Achievement Centre one morning a week. As well as pouring coffee I help make soup and sandwiches and so I often need to cut up veggies and sandwich ingredients. I tried for several weeks to sharpen the knives that are at the centre but a combination of poor quality and abuse meant that every week I had a dull knife with which to work.  I hate using poor tools and so I began taking my own knives.

  I have been taking the Chinese Cleaver for a few weeks now, it is razor sharp and great for chopping and slicing veggies.  The other two are going tomorrow since we don't even have a decent paring knife to use.  The Ulu Knife is good for cutting pizza and sandwiches as well as anything else that needs a sharp knife. It is also a single bevel blade thus super easy to sharpen.

  What I was needed was a safe easy way to carry these knives forth and back.  I wrapped the cleaver in a tea towel and held the towel on with rubber bands and that worked okay, but the knife slid around in the carrying bag and I worried that it would cut it way loose.  I saw some DIY ideas on the net featuring Duct Tape projects and decided that it might work for me. Naturally I have duct tape in my shop, doesn't everyone?

  I made Duct Tape Cloth and in between layers, where the blade would rest I lined that section with leather. The first sheath I made uses rubber bands to stay in place but by the second and third I got wiser.

rare earth magnet
between the layers of tape.
  On the paring knife I used one magnet and on the cleaver I used six small magnets which holds the sheath on perfectly well.

  This is not as traditional as leather but for this application the double layer, leather re-enforced sheaths are exactly what was needed. The duct tape cloth is also quick and easy to do. The necessary tools are few and simple, duct tape, measuring tape,straight edge, really sharp knife.

  Another bit of work was a clamping project. I had a chair to repair. One of the rungs pulled loose on my Mom's kitchen chair.

  Having the clamps and glue available  makes this sort of job easy. 

cheers, ianw

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Artistic wood work

  If time is taken to add an artistic touch to a workshop project it will increase the uniqueness of the project.  As well I believe that it adds to the project's emotional appeal. 

  Frequently I repair something in the shop, or replace a plastic bit with wood. That is the case with the pants hanger, it only added a few minutes to the project to do a small bit of relief carving. The hanger is now unique and a little bit personalized.  

  The piece of 1/4 inch Baltic birch plywood is about 15 inches square.  I plan to paint it completely with water colour paints and then seal it with varnish. When it is done it will become the cover for a photo album. (not everything is digital).

 To prepare a plywood panel for wood burning is it important to sand it as smooth as possible.  I sand to 500 grit and then use steel wool to further smooth the panel. 

  As I was checking things out on the net I found an interesting video on making a Shave Pony, a smaller version of a Shave Horse.

  Trying to rough out wood before putting it on my lathe is always a clamping challenge. If you do much lathe work you will instantly see the advantage of a Shave Pony and draw knife. This is a project that I will copy soon.  

 cheers Ian W

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Small Projects in the Wood Shop

  Recently I have been idling in my shop. The woodworking engine hasn't come to a complete stop but it is not really working very hard.

 Last evening I spend time cleaning up and putting stuff away and then I spend time sanding 16 x 16 1/4 inch plywood panels. If you want to get good results when wood burning it helps to have the wood very smooth, in this case sanded to 400 grit. I volunteered to sand four panels for people in my art class. It is easier to do that job when you have a full set of sanders like I have. My final 'go to' sander is my 1/3 sheet finishing sander

 Another small project I did in my shop recently was make some bottle openers after the design I saw on Instructables.

  You can see that I used a couple of scraps of oak and two 1 inch nails. This was a pleasant no noise project, I shaped the wood with a shop knife and a bit of sand paper. The only power tool was my cordless drill.

 The design from Instructables has one hidden addition that I liked. 

 There is a small magnet on the bottom of the opener to hold onto the bottle cap.  That way there is less bending down to pick up loose caps from the deck.  Once I got the openers finished I had to go to the beer store and get some bottles to conduct product testing upon. (life in the shop can be hard).

 Another little job in the shop was fixing another pant hanger. The plastic part gave out on another hanger and so I replaced the cracked cheap plastic with some wood. For good measure I did a bit of relief carving on the wood part too.

As a complete aside I have a product that I recommend from IKEA company.

 This is a rubber corner bumper.  I have stuck bumpers onto sharp corners in our kitchen and my workshop. In the kitchen the sharp corners on the range hood  are at my forehead hight. In my shop there is a air circulation unit that hangs down in my storage area with a sharp corner, at head level. I had flagged the workshop unit but hadn't come up with a pleasing solution for the kitchen until I found these bumpers, which come in a variety of colours.

  Now that I have taken a bit of time to fiddle with little things in the shop I am getting myself organized to take on a couple of bigger things. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rubber bands, chops sticks, rags and boats too!

  So this is a sort of rambling blog about three non tools that every shop needs and my weekend's amusement.

  Non-tool number one that every shop needs is rubber bands.  I have a jar of rubber bands I collect from our delivered newspaper and veggies we buy at the market.  I use the rubber bands as small clamps as well as using rubber bands to hold loose parts together instead of a zip lock bag.  A typical example is bundling pieces of trim.

 Chop sticks are not really substitutes for dowels since chop sticks are oval, sort of. What chop sticks are good for is spreading glue, mixing paint or two part epoxy.  I also pare the sticks down to a fine point and the use it to clean out small joints, or wipe up glue squeeze out, anything that needs a small strong disposable stick. Since the chop sticks are fairly strong and don't split easily I also have used them as alignment pins when making wood working projects.

 Rags; remember when cotton rags were easy to come by? Now there are lots of rags but polyester rags are not much good for work in the shop.  Shop towels are the solution for those that haven't got a good source of old tee shirts and pillow cases. 

  The weather has finally turned consistently nice and so I rode my Honda Silverwing Maxi-Scooter up to Collingwood for the weekend.

  My wife and I walked about the town and dropped in on the local museum.  Collingwood was a ship building town for many years and the local museum had a good display of that part of local history, among other things.

life boat made in
Collingwood Ontario

model boat in the
Collingwood  Museum.
  Now that the weather has turned the shop and its tools will be focused on the yard in summer as much as anything else I suspect.We'll see how the summer unfolds.