Monday, August 31, 2015

Friday's Workshop Task-Bike

  On Friday I spent a couple of hours working in your garage, with tools, none of which are wood working tools. We have two bicycles each, one bike is for grocery getting,(5km one way or less) and one bike for longer recreational rides. The long ride bikes are lighter, faster, more comfortable and easier to ride. The grocery getting bikes have bags and baskets, weren't super fancy to begin with and are a bit old.

 If you have equipment, you know that occasionally you have to spent time doing maintenance, and that was Friday afternoon in the garage. One bike needed handle bars replace and another needed bar ends added and they all needed to have things checked and tighten.
 Bondhus HF7M GorillaGrip 7-blade Fold-up Hex Set (metric) 12587

 Gone are the days when you could work on your bike with a hammer and an adjustable wrench.  Everything is hex head bolts now, and since nearly all bike parts come from the far east, they are metric. Do yourself a favour get a set of metric and a set of Imperial keys and put them in your tool box.

 After the mechanical stuff there were tires to check and greasy bits to be wiped down. And a while later is was time to take the bike out for a test ride. It must be great to live in one of those bike friendly cities in Europe. We can only hope that North America will get on the bicycle band wagon in time for our grandchildren.

  Romantic cycling Stock Photo - 18184331  cheers ianw

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Three Steps in Making Anything - Step Three - Finishing

 Step Three takes as much time as Steps One and Two combined often. In this case it took just a few minutes to sand the flower box and then only a few minutes to apply the stain and shellac.  What took time was allow the finishes to dry property. On large projects you can pour hours into sanding and finishing.

 There are hundreds of books filled with information about preparing wood for finishing. I am going to pass along a few points that I have learned and adopted.

 1. I always start with 60 grit sand paper. The material might appear to be ready for 120 grit right off but it probably isn't. I have reduced sanding time and use less fine grit paper by starting rougher than it first appears to require.

2 I have cabinet scrappers and hand planes, and still mostly use sand paper. It is what I learned on and know best. Doing what you know best is the most effective use of time.

3. Always sand with the grain, always.

4. When I work my way through the sanding process I use 60. 120, 220 and 400 grit on both hard and soft wood. I use a random orbital sander  until 220 and then I switch to a finishing sander. Often the 400 grit is done by hand. I do mostly small projects so hand sanding is realistic.

5. Buy good quality sand paper, it does last longer and I think it does a better job.

6. Don't ignore a belt sander when doing larger projects, but be careful if you are using course grit paper. 

7. When you are done sanding dampen the wood with water to raise the grain and sand some more.

Before you start putting on any finish rub you work down with a tack cloth or at least vacuum it.

If you are using a open grained wood like oak fill the pores if you want a great smooth finish.  I usually put on a coat of shellac and sand it off leaving shellac in the pores of the wood although there are other fillers on the market. I learned with shellac and know it best.

It the case of this project I stained the wood with a water based wipe on stain, I let it set for a couple of minutes and then wiped off the excess. Next I  gave it 24 hours to fully set and lightly sanded it. Even though I had raised the grain before there were a couple of spots that were slightly rough after I put the stain coat on.

I then put on a 1:2 ( shellac-alcohol) coat of shellac, sanded and followed with two coats of 1:1 shellac.  I allowed several hours for each coat to dry since it has been humid here this past week. Between coats of shellac I use an abrasive pad to knock down any bumps formed by dust. Steel wool also works fine though I find it shreds if I am not careful.

There are hundreds of books teaching, explaining and talking about sanding.  Like sharpening, find a system and products that work for you and stick to them.  There is nothing worse that messing up a project in its final stages with a finish the wrong colour, or that won't dry or something equally nasty.

If this was a baking project finishing is the icing on the cake, or the presentation, size and shape of the cookies. Like a fine finish on a wood working project Stage Three will not change whether the project works, it will change how it looks and what other people think of your work.

See, the icing on the cake can be a big deal. Eva's most recent cake creation for Clara's 4th birthday.

It was a prep, assembly and finishing project. Making things takes attention to all three steps.

cheers, ian

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Three Step in Making Anything - Step Two

 One you have gathered all your materials together and prepared them to the best of your ability Step Two often takes less time than Step One.

 Step Two - Assembly

This is the container that will hold the soil and plant. It definitely needs to have a nice planter box.

This is the box clamped together and drying.
   When it comes time for assembly I like to dry fit all my pieces first and then coat the surfaces with glue and clamp it all together. You can never have to many clamps, but don't make the mistake I did early in my shop life, I bought cheap clamps. Cheap clamps look very similar to quality clamps but they will let you down, cheap clamps slip. They only fail when it is really inconvenient for you.

 Gather all your clamps and jigs close at hand and get your glue into a small easily manipulated applicator before you begin assembly. If you are a bit messy, like I am, have rags and a dish of water handy so that you can clear up glue squeeze out promptly as you are working.

 I found that assembly for this project was a few minutes, preparation had been at least an hour. 

 Step Two when baking is when you combine  the wet and dry ingredients in a big bowl according to the type of product you are making. Sometimes the batter should be very wet, other times quite dry. Remember not all dough needs to be kneaded, for biscuits kneading the dough will give your biscuits a more solid and less flaky texture. Also not all dough needs to be processed until it is totally creamy, again, biscuits like lumps of shortening in their batter.

 Step Two is finished when everything is square, all the squeeze out is cleaned up and glue has set. Usually several hours later.

 Step Three is where the magic happens and the project becomes a Master Piece, Finishing. I'll talk about that next time and share the results.

cheers, ianw

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Three Steps in Making Anything - Step One

   At this moment I have two woodworking projects on the go and two D.I.Y. home owner projects on the go and I am planning some baking for tomorrow. Doing all five of these tasks requires the same basic steps/stages.  As I was working on a planter for the back deck and a canoe paddle for my Grand daughter I had the 3 Step Inspiration.

 This blog is about STEP ONE:

 Step one is the step where many projects/tasks go irretrievably wrong. 

Step One is: material preparation.  

  In the woodworking shop material preparation is were the lumber is dressed, squared and cut to size. If are not careful and accurate or you trust to the lumber yard's thicknesses you can find yourself in trouble later. The First Step/stage also is where you look for flaws in the wood, like cracks, loose knots or poor colour.

  When baking Step One is also material preparation. A baker gathers together flour, sugar, salt, oil, leavening agent and other ingredients like herbs, fruit or candy. These ingredients are measured out as dry or wet ingredients ready to be assembled in Stage Two. This is where a careful inventory is made to ensure that nothing gets left out.  

 To make my planter I needed cedar boards that were 8 inches wide. To get those boards involved edge gluing two boards together. Since I was using 5/8 fence boards I decided to cut matching rabbets on my boards and then edge glue them with waterproof glue. 
you can also see the dado I cut on each panel
so it wood fit the stopped dado in the leg.

  This project's preparation meant that I had to begin the project one day and wait for the glue to dry overnight.  I could have rushed,glue can dry pretty quickly but it is a good idea to give the glue time to set and fully cure. Once the glue was cured I jointed one edge and cut the cedar to length. 

 This planter has oak legs with dadoes into which the cedar panels slide.  The oak needed to be squared and the dadoes cut using a straight bit on my router table.

the oak is reclaimed, so old and hard a stone.
I cut the dadoes by making four passes to cut 3/8 inch deep
  To successfully complete Step One you need to have accurate measuring tools and sharp cutting tools. For me to get materials ready for the planter I used a table saw, a sliding mitre saw, a router table and a 3/8 dado bit, as well as a 1/2 straight bit. Not to mention rulers, pencils, squares, a centre finding jig and a depth setting jig

   I usually use a ruler instead of a tape when practical, I strongly suggest all shops need a good quality 28-24 inch ruler with easily read markings. Also of course you need a Try Square,or a good quality Combination Square. A Carpenter's Square is a must for larger projects using sheet goods. What ever you do, keep one square as you would the holy grail, you must have One Square to rule them all. (especially carpenter's squares, they can become untrue really easily)

  I use a marking knife, which I made while on a two day blacksmith workshop sometimes, but find that a sharp pencil is as accurate as my eyes most of the time. 

   Once I got the four cedar panels cut to size and the oak legs' stopped dadoes cut I did some initial sanding, to knock the sharp edges off and was ready to move onto Step Two.

  Tomorrow- Step Two

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Buttons for a Grand Daughter

 Three weeks ago another wonderful, healthy and happy wee grand daughter arrived. As I type this Oma is visiting with Baby Rowan and family.  The photo is of a sweater that Oma knit for Rowan and the buttons are from my work shop.  I made the buttons from elm, it is stringy, strong and has a good natural colour.  I finished the buttons with clear shellac and polished them with some bee's wax.

  Something as small as a button is not a total throw away project. I used a small fine toothed saw to cut the blanks out, after ripping a 1/4 piece of wood off of a larger board. Once the blanks were cut out I shaped them with knives and rasps and sanded them smooth with needle files. When I made the buttons I decided that I wanted them to look rustic and hand made so I did not just cut slices off a piece of dowel, which would have been fast and easy.  I wanted the buttons to be similar but not the same, machines make things that are all the same, Opas make things that are similar to one another. 

  If you live in an apartment or a condo and you either don't have a shop yet, or have chosen to give up your shop and down size, you do not have to leave wood working behind.  There are many small projects that allow you to express feelings and keep making things you love.  These buttons are a small project that needs very, very few tools. There are small carvings, bird houses, Ipod stands and desk sets to name just a few things like buttons that will keep you going.  All you need is desire.

  If you have access to a shop in a community or senior's centre you can do the big work on a wooden spoon like Jimmy DiResta does in his video, and then do the final work on your balcony.

make a wooden spoon

  Sometimes sore hands, knees and back make me want to watch videos and not work in my shop or do anything.  Luckily for me my wife keeps encouraging me to keep plugging along. Now I'm encouraging you to keep making saw dust too.

cheers, ianw

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Half Lap Joints on a Sliding Mitre Saw

 In my last project I talked about cutting my dados with my sliding mitre saw instead of on my table saw. I thought I would share this basic video of how to set up your mitre saw for not cutting completely through your material.

Cutting Half Lap Joints 

  While I am on the half lap theme I figured I'd include another video showing The Garage Woodworker making mitred half lap joints. He uses his table saw and router table to make his joints. The first video is a "how to" with limited tools and the second video shows "how to" with lots of tools. An FYI if you plan to do any serious joinery on your table saw you'll need a good after market mitre gauge or a home built cross cut sled.

mitred half lap joints. 

 Currently we are in the midst of a heat wave, I am sweating just sitting here typing. Once the weather breaks, in a day or two I will get a bit more ambitious. At this moment the only firm project ahead is a painting project. Wood needs paint if it is going to last well.

 cheers, ianw

Saturday, August 15, 2015

So I built another box

  If we are being honest nearly everything we build in our woodworking shop is a box, unless you are Izzy Swan, then you build a t-rex. I set out to make this particular box to fill a small organizational need in our kitchen/dining room.

 As I was making this project I encountered a few things that I wanted to share with my reading public.

  I decided to use the sides from this wine bottle box and my Bessey Duo Clamp did a very good job of pushing the sides apart without cracking the wood.

  When I got to the assembly stage there are Bessey clamps again. This box has no metal fasteners, just Weldbond glue and sufficient clamping time.

  The ends of my box are aromatic cedar, I love the colour and the grain of this wood. An FYI it can be very brittle. Initially I was going to cut the dados by hand but the wood was breaking out uncontrollably when I used my chisel to make a 1/4 inch dado. The better option was to use my sliding mitre saw for this cut.  

  I cut my left index finger working on my table saw a couple of seasons ago and resolved (and promised my wife) that I would leave the guard on the table saw and use other tools when the guard got in the way.  I have only taken the guard off my saw twice to use my stacked dado set, I get along fine with my router table, mitre saw and other tools 99% of the time.

  Part of the reason I wanted to make the box was to try my Red Neck Polissior. Cedar looks great with a wax finish.

There it is, ugly,wrapped in Duct tape 
and ready to use.

  Well, it didn't get used because I found a source of quality broom corn and my wife had an inspiration to replace the hose clamps holding the broom corn.

 The clamps are replaced my zip ties. The ties are spread out to fit between my fingers and all the lumps are on one side. 

 The end result is a box to go on the island between our kitchen and dining room to hold all the stray papers and magazines that collect there.

  The cedar polished up great with the polissoir and bee's wax. I will continue to experiment with this finishing method but so far I like the result and zero drying time.

 cheers, ianw

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Picking the Right Wood.

  Sometimes I make my projects from the wood I have on my shelves. Other times I choose the wood for my project to match or stand out in relation to the decor that will surround it. Still other times I choose the wood for its mechanical                 characteristics, like weight, strength or resistance to rot and weathering. 

  If you are a follower of the Harry Potter's stories their wands were made from a variety of woods with magical inclusions. My grand daughter's birthday is this coming weekend and I was asked to provide wands for her and her fairy princess guests.

12 inch wands with bells attached,
there will be ribbon attached later.
  The initial thought for the wands was to simply buying  dowel and spray it gold. I decided against dowel for two reasons, these wands are bass wood which is lighter than dowel of sufficient diameter, basswood is also less likely to break if stepped on. If it does break and it will certainly not splinter leaving a dagger like end the way a dowel can.

 I was easy enough to rip off 3/4 pieces of bass wood and then use a round over bit on my router table to shape the sticks. 

 It took more time to work with the wood than dowel, after all it had to be shaped, sanded and then painted. I considered putting unicorn tail hair or phoenix feather into the heart of these wands, but, I suspect that nine four year old fairy princesses filled with cake and ice cream will cause enough chaos without extra magic.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Old Timey Toy

Flying toy
The inspiration from the Internet
My prototype 

  My grandson is almost strong enough to make the helicopter fly, you have to really pull the string with vigour. I am trying to show my grand kids that there are toys that don't need batteries, it's not easy.

  If you are looking for a project to practice your whittling, try making a balanced prop.  I used knives, needle files and sand paper to make mine.  The second prop I made flew into the wild area beyond our yard and got lost.

  Now that I have figured out the best size and weight for the prop I am going to make a few of these toys to share around the grand kids and their friends. 

  If you have a small shop and a few tools, make some Old Timey Toys for some modern kids, you might get a surprise.

 cheers, ianw


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Pocket Hole Jig Work Station

  On the most recent Woodsmith Tips there is a pocket hole jig workstation.
Kreg Jig work station. 

  This particular work station is quite advanced but also a very good design.  If I were working out of my shop on jobs sites I would certainly make a version like this to take with me to work.

 The fellows in the video make reference to the Kreg Jig being screwed to a piece of plywood.

  My original Kreg jig hangs on the wall ever ready to deal with 3/4 inch wood and my Kreg K3 Master System is on a board under my work bench ready to handle any thickness of material from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inch. I have not up dated to the latest version of the Kreg Pocket hole jig, yet.  I always felt that the really big break through for the jig was that addition of the vacuum hose connection. Being able to clear the wood shavings while drilling made for a faster, cooler and much cleaner working situation. If you doubt the advantage of  dust collection, drill a  dozen pocket holes and see how mush saw dust is all over the place.

 While I am on a Kreg Pocket Hole theme here is a How To video for making picture frames with pocket hole joints.

Making a Picture Frame
 *I am going to add a disclaimer.  I used to work for Kreg Company in Canada. I worked for them because they had/have really good tools that I was perfectly happy to sell to people.* 

  Cheers, Ian W


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Polissoir -

The Polissoir is a finishing tool that is used to apply bee's wax.   I learned about the polissoir from Chris Schwarz.  His article made me curious, mostly because I really like wax finishes and this looked like the tool to improve my results.


I continued to follow the various blog entries and found the one for the Red Neck Polissoir.


  As you can see my polissoir follows the non-historic red neck methods of construction.  I bought a whisk and some clamps at a local surplus store (more cheaply than Mr. Schwarz) and went to work.  The clamp ends were a real problem. I tried wrapping the whole thing is duct tape but it didn't work. So, enter the  Dremel tool and cut off wheels. 

  With the sharp ends of the clamps gone I  hold the polissoir in a work gloved hand and it works well.  I will go looking for a broom maker to see if they can and will make a pollisoir for me for a reasonable price. I will keep you posted on the result of my efforts.

 An unhappy foot note, the kitten that Keiran and I made the play structure for was put to sleep on Monday. Jr. Cat developed breathing problems and was in so much distress we didn't feel there was any choice. He was a wild and crazy kitten that is dearly missed.

cheers, Ian W

Monday, August 3, 2015

Grandson Projects

  Unless you have grandchildren you will not understand this blog. You will not understand the joy that I feel when my Grandchildren want to build something in the work shop with their Opa.

 Keiran and Clara arrived last weekend for a three day visit, after they checked out their new bunk beds and played with the cats,  K decided that he and I needed to build a "cat castle" on which Jr. Cat could play.

 Kieran, who is six, designed this climbing thing on a piece of paper and then searched out the wood scraps with which to build this thing.

 Yes, it is ugly, and mostly not very square ( I opted not to interrupt the flow of work by constantly squaring up the stock, that involve power tools and all K can do is watch) but...Kieran drove all the screws to hold it together. He also learned about corner brackets and pocket holes. Further, I put 
some of this together with nails so that he had to drill pilot holes and then drive the nails with his condo hammer. 

Condo Hammer - Woodworking

  Our Grandchildren don't come here that often so there is not much continuity in Kieran's workshop education.  He began his workshop life helping Opa clean up, a job that his four year old sister has since taken over. We have worked on plenty of projects over the last two years and each time I try and introduce a new thing while re-enforcing known skills. It is pretty tough since a little kid wants thing to happen immediately. K is just now beginning to accept that glue takes time to set.  His initial solution was to tell me to use tape instead of glue.

 Now projects have a plan drawn, he is getting better at that and this time he talked about looking down from the top and from the side on the plan he drew. And he is getting so that he can swing a hammer, that is difficult because he hasn't do much to give him hand strength.

 On the next day we undertook another project. He said he would rather work in the shop than go bike riding since he could bike ride at home but there was no shop in which he could work. The second project was interesting for two reasons.  First he decided that it should be painted, usually paint is too slow and our projects go unfinished.

the green section is cargo bay doors that open!
 The bay doors were painted with a small roller, he then decided that he would go back to a brush, and like so many kids he likes black paint. 

 The second important part of this project was the cargo that he made.

 These are the missiles that are carried in the bottle rocket. K has carefully labelled them C for cruise, R for regular and the ones with wings are LR long range. What makes these little sticks of wood a break through is he cut them all from longer pieces by him self.

 We marked the length of the pieces with a tape measure and a square then we clamped the wood to the bench and he cut the pieces. I have been trying to figure out how to enable a small boy to cut wood and I finally figured out the solution.

Bacho 10-inch x 15-16 Point Reversible Dovetail Saw 010621560
Dovetail Saw

  This small saw and small pieces of wood meant that K was able to cut his own pieces of wood, then he drilled pilot holes for the cross pieces and we glued and nailed them together. 

 I know that this was a maudlin sort of blog entry for some, but nothing matches the joy and satisfaction of working in the shop with my Grandchildren. It brings back memories of the way I worked in my Opa's workshop with him, along time ago. 

cheers Ian (Opa)