Friday, July 31, 2015

How to Hang a Picture

 On the internet there are many  sites concerned with style and not many concerned with substance. I've never had style so I am interested in substance, but I do get a laugh when checking out the stylish.
 I follow a site called the Art of Manliness and yes it spends time dealing with style but mostly it is a site filled with substance, old school substance generally.

 Recently the Art of Manliness ran a post on how to hang a picture.

How to Hang a Picture

  This post talked about the tools and hardware needed and then talked about style and presentation. 

  The last couple of weeks at our house we have been doing all those jobs that home owners must occasionally under take. You know the ones, painting, chalking, deck sealing and roof checking. We are getting the jobs knocked off slowly but surely. 

  Man it will be nice once they are all done.

cheers IanW

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

D.I.Y Reuse Project

  I know that I am supposed to make projects in my shop from walnut or hand planed cherry. Trouble is I am cheap and I like all wood, without discrimination.  We eat lots of clementine oranges and they come in small crates made from wood.

  Recently I needed a small box in which to put bathroom vanity stuff so I grabbed a orange crate from the garage.

  With a bit of sanding and a handle this turned in a usable box. There is nothing better for making things like this handle than pine or bass wood. I shaped the handle on the band saw and then rounded the edges on my router table. The whole thing took less than 20 minutes including a quick and easy spray paint job.

box with green foam lining 
  The result of my 20 minutes work turned out okay and it is wood, not plastic. 
the box filled with bathroom jink
  cheers, ianw

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Three Tools to have always on hand.

  When I was making the tomato cages I used tools that are always available, often used and mostly unsung. I have a shop hatchet that I bought on a trip to Sweden a few years ago. This little hatchet has sharpened dozens of posts and pegs for the garden. In my shop it has been used to rough shape spindle for the lathe as well. I would be at a loss without it. It deals with things that are too big for a shop knife, and/or to awkward to shape on the band saw. If you aren't planning a trip to Sweden I suggest an Estwing hatchet, Estwing makes very good quality tools.

   The second tool are my scissors. I use the shears to cut everything from paper patterns to veneer and twine. Good heavy duty shears are a must for a shop.  Don't try and get along on crappy $ store scissors, take the plunge and get a decent tool. 

  The last thing is a lump of bee's wax.  I bought this lump at a local farmers market a couple of seasons ago. The wax gets used to lubricate blades and protect tools. I also use the wax to give a quick wax coating to string or twine. The bee's wax can be melted and used as a old style wood finish too. Tonnes of uses for cheap.

  All of these three tools are not necessary if you have a shop where you manage to do things.  I hate having to run upstairs to the kitchen junk drawer for scissors and we have a real axe in the garage but that is just too big for most jobs. I have found having the correct tool at hand makes everything less frustrating.

 cheers, ianw

Les Stroud and a Wetterlings of Sweden axe


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hedgehog - shop therapy project

  Sometimes it is nice to go down stairs to my shop and make a bit of wood dust and finish off a project in an easy hour. I saw this business card holder in a photographs on the net some place and filed it in the back of my mind. Tuesday evening I felt like making some saw dust.

  Even a little project like this needs some attention.  I drew the shape and traced it onto a piece of oak, after I used my 4 x 36 belt sander on the rough lumber. This sander has been around for a long time and been a stand by tool. I've had it long enough that I am on my second drive belt and no one knows how many sanding belts.

hedgehog is about 10 cm tall.
 I cut the oak on my band saw using a Viking Blade. I have used this make of blades for at least a dozen years and have been pleased with the result. Like all blades, cheap band saw blades aren't worth the time and money.
I burned some whiskers and a wee tall on
before finishing with tung oil

  This hedgehog will hold business cards on my desk, he can also hold recipe cards or phone messages. When I cut the slots I used a thin kerf handsaw so that the cards would be snug when slotted in place.

  I have a couple of low skill shop jobs on going. I am sealing our back deck and stairs, a back breaking job but if wood is to last it must be maintained. Also I need to rip some stock and make some tomato cages. Both jobs need to be done, and doing jobs that need to be done are as satisfying as something clever and artistic.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Stone Basin made with ordinary tools.

I saw this video a while ago and it floated to the top of my inbox again so I decided to share it with you.

  Aside from a rented concrete cutting saw all his tools are for sale at . I noticed he is using a Makita grinder.  When you use your angle grinder for cutting stone or tile try and clean out as much of the fine dust as possible.  If you can keep you grinder clean it will last longer.

 Part two of the stone sink series is:

  There were a few challenges on this stage of the project, but he over came them and the result is stunning.  As he said, something to be proud of for years (forever) to come.

  I'm thinking bird bath, without the drain hole, what about you?

cheers, ianw

All the Tools You Need ?!?

  My friend David asked me to repair a sieve that he used to sift earth he uses in his garden. He told me that it needed some serious work, I said " no sweat" .

  Truly the wood frame on the sieve was whipped, still no sweat.  I took the screening off the few bits of rotten wood and set about making a useful tool with the screen.

  All of the wood I used was laying around in my shop, old chunks of barn board mostly. What I decided was to make solid corners by adding bracing to the butt joints. Probably the screwed and glued butt joints would have been enough but while I had the project there I added the corner braces.

  Then I stapled the mesh back on and decided that I didn't like the exposed mesh on the out side of the frame.

notice the fold ruler,
old school still works

 I added an outside frame to cover the wire mesh's sharp bits.

 The photo is the hand tools that I used in this little project. I also used a joiner, a planer, a table saw and an sliding mitre saw. 

 Did I need all those tools to do this job? No. but having them at hand meant that it was a quick, easy job with good results. Since I had the tools it was easy to add the outside frame which makes the sieve a stronger and nicer tool to use.

 Since I had the tools handy I planed the wood nice and smooth, not necessary but nice none the less.

 Having clamps means that one person can work much more comfortably. It is great to have Kieran to hold things while I work but he's not always here, clamps are.

 Pliers are another of those tools I love to have easily at hand. Pulling out the old staples and trimming the wire mesh is just easier with the correct tool. 

  We know air tools are good but a quality hammer is still well worth the money. I got my Estwing hammer from an estate sale and though I have several other hammers, it is the one that I reach for first.

Estwing HAMMER, RIPPING 20oz Leather Handle 010313320

  I have begun using nails more and more lately for projects in soft wood or for outside. Ardox nails have good holding power and are easy to install.

  I love to be able to make things that fill a need.

cheers, ianw

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bunk Bed Adjustments

On June 18th I posted the photos of the kit bunk beds Eva and I assembled in the basement for our grandchildren.
  I just finished the modifications to the beds that we felt were necessary.

 On the bottom level I added a rail to contain the little girl and her many, many stuffy friends. I was able to mostly use existing Ikea hardware so in the end I only needed three non-standard screws to hold the safety rail in place.

  The ladder didn't have any available hardware so it is screwed together.  We decided to give this ladder a bit of an angle to make climbing it easier for K, especially in the night time. I used my old friend the Kreg mini Jig to attach the ladder to the 
bed frame.  The Mini Jig is great for adding pocket holes later, as the project develops. 

  I am adding a video bonus that showed up in my in box. Check it out.

cheers, ianw

Monday, July 13, 2015

Not a One Trick Pony

I like making stuff. I like making stuff out of wood but I also like making stuff in the kitchen. I regularly bake bread and I also like making biscuits.

  That is batch of half whole wheat/half white bread flour with raisins and cinnamon. 

  Baking is not that much different than making projects in the workshop. It needs you to learn to use some tools and perfect a few techniques

  At first you follow the instructions exactly, with little understanding of how and why things interact. When make a nice project in a wood shop at first you follow the plan exactly, using the same wood and joints.

  After you have accumulated experience you recognize the things that can be changed to individualize a project and the things that can't be changed successfully.  This biscuit/scone recipe usually is all white flour. White flour soaks up more liquid than whole wheat flour, with experience you know that and adjust accordingly. The recipe calls for water, I have used milk and cold espresso coffee instead the results are different and good.

  Often we woodworking writer types admonish our readers to get into their shops and build.  So for a change up, build some biscuits or cookies. Surprise the whole household.


  Then make a really really nice end grain board and don't use it for cutting, use it for serving. 

P.S. I don't bake cookies because when I used to in the old days I could go from no cookies in the house to a house with no cookies in it in 35 minutes flat. Cookies are too easy.

cheers ian w

Saturday, July 11, 2015

K is a good helper

  I confess to having project envy sometimes.  I see photos and videos of other woodworkers making heirloom projects with heirloom hand tools and I admire their workmanship and am stunned by the beauty and cunning of their projects. Most of my wood working is more basic than theirs but it does have its own special rewards.

  Our kid's house is to be heavily renovated shortly and to get their building permit the city had protective fencing built around the big trees in their yard. Since the job was ordered by bureaucrats and completed by drones the fencing blocked access to the back gate,the garden shed and the garden. So last Monday Kieran and I got busy and cut a couple of gates into the government fence so that the rest of the yard would be useful.

 I cut the sheet stock with my reciprocating (or noisy) saw and K held the shaking fence for me. He was a big help because without him the fence would have shaken to the point where I wouldn't have been able to complete the second cut.

 My recip saw is another of those tools that sit in their cases for months but when the time comes there really isn't a better tool for this job. 

  Kieran is wearing the hard hat, gloves and tool belt given to him by my old university chum Clive. A big shout out to Clive, K loves his work gear. We cut a section out of the fence in front and on the other side of the big tree. 

 After cutting the section out we added wood around the edges to create a frame that stiffened the piece and gave use something to drive screws into when adding the hinges. I started the screws and then K used his 4 volt screwdriver to finish them off. He worked steadily and drove dozens of screws, he is a six year old with real focus on his tasks. 

  Yes, I still have project envy, this project was not very fancy but the heirloom part is the proud little boy with his tool belt, work gloves and hard hat. And he was a real help, that extra pair of hands was invaluable when cutting the sheet stock and hanging the gates.

cheers Ian and Kieran

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Folding Table Finished

Last week I built a small folding table to be used on our deck. I began with rough oak and after joining, planing, scraping, sanding and finishing I ended up with this:

  The table is the perfect height for holding a beverage on the deck.
  As for folding out of the way:

  The one set of legs pull free and side in between the permanent legs. Assembled you get a  fairly solid, quite stable little table. 

 Finishing the table was a bit of an odyssey.  Since I used oak for the table I decided to put a filler coat on before applying the final finish. I sanded the parts to 220 grit giving the edges special attention. Once sanded I wiped the table down with a tack cloth and applied a coat of 1:1 shellac, I had some garnet shellac already mixed so I got a seal coat and some tinting.  After the shellac dried solid, 24 hours, I sanded everything fairly heavily again to 220 grit which cleared off some of the surface colour but left the wood very smooth. Two coats of Minwax Poly with light sanding between coats and a final buffing with paste wax and the table is done. 

  I have found that getting a really smooth finish on oak is easier with a dedicated sealer coat.  If I don't use sealer than I end up having to put extra coats of finish on anyway. Sealers don't show runs and if you use shellac, can be faster and smoother than extra coats of vanish, in my opinion.

 The weather has turned dry again and it is time for coffee on the back deck.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, July 4, 2015

St. Jacob's Market-isn't wood wonderful!

A couple of years ago their was a fire that burned one of the buildings at the St. Jacob's Market to the ground.

The wooden building was quickly replaced with a soft top building as a temporary measure.

The soft top building is very nice, super bright but only a single story which displaced half of the vendors.

  Last week my wife and I went to St. Jacob's and as well as all the good things to eat we got to see the completed replacement building in all it two story glory.

  The market is run by Mennonites, maybe even owned by the Mennonite community and the buildings show their barn building heritage, also their practical good sense.

  This replacement building is wood,the walls are wood and the beams, and roof are wood.

  The posts and beams are laminated soft wood.(spruce I think) I suspect most of the wood was milled locally there is a large milling operation not far away, that cuts local timber.

  The design inside is high, bright and airy.


The floor is poured concrete. The bathrooms are tiled but everything else is rough lumber that will age gracefully and be easy to repair or replace for years to come.
   I am always so impressed buy the organization of the market and of course the beauty and practicality of the buildings.  This new building is filled with food booths so the smell of cinnamon rolls and coffee mixed with new wood is heady.

  It love to see wood instead of cement. Many of our public buildings look more like concrete bunkers than inviting living spaces. 

  Well done Market Management.

cheers ianw

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Before there was plastic there was Raw Hide.

  A while ago I replaced the end on one of our garden hoses. To hold the new fitting in place I used a hose clamp and the result looked like this:

The clamp is doing the job perfectly but it is not very nice to hold on to while splashing water around the yard. Having a nasty thingy on the end of the hose is not really an issue for grown ups.....but shortly there will be grand children playing in the yard and I don't want a four year old's hand messed up by a rough edge.

 The solution:
before trimming

 a raw hide wrap.  
after trimming.

   Once raw hide is wet it can be shaped easily and once it dries it is very hard.

  I started out with a cheap cheap piece of raw hide for a cheap cheap bag of raw hide chew pieces for dogs. I bought the bag at a $ store, not even a pet food place.  There are a dozen irregular hunks of raw hide about the size of the palm of my hand.

 First stage to making the raw hide workable is to soak it for a good long time.  Usually I soak the piece I want to work with for at least over night and usually more like 24 hours. Once the hide is that soaked it is kind of spongy, a bit slimy and ready to be shaped and stitched.
  I cut the wet hide with a sharp utility knife and punch holes in it with an awl. After getting the wet hide shaped I leave it to dry out, usually a couple of days. Once dry it is a bit rough but quite hard. For this project I will probably smooth the dried hide down some how, sand paper I expect.

  Yesterday was Canada Day and as I rode my bike around the neighbourhood I saw some school kids playing road hockey. 

   The great Canadian summer tradition.  There is even a reference to playing road hockey in one of the Murdoch Mysteries episodes. Aside from a part of my history as well as Canadian Identity I just love it when I see kids outside playing.