Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pencil Case

  Since I have been laying around waiting for my back to heal I have been drawing and painting a bit. I decided a while back that what I liked to do were watercolour washes and then add detail and crispness with pencil crayons. As with everything now days colouring with pencil crayons is not as simple as it was when we were kids. After checking out the pencils on the market I found these wood less ones that I like. the colour is good and they are cheap. After a while the card stock box in which the pencils lived fell apart, not a surprise, or disappointment, and I decided to make a wooden case for this set of colour pencils.

  One advantage of having a wood working shop is you can make exactly the wooden box that you want. Since I have piles of off cuts and bits of wood I can make the box I want, from what I feel is the best wood for the job.

                                     6 1/4 by 5 1/4 by 1 1/4   inches                                             

 I made the two side rails from cedar. I like it better than pine and I wanted the rails to be wide enough to nail into without making the box unnecessarily heavy. I chose to nail the box together because I am trying to show my grand kids that nails are okay for project construction. Gluing and clamping is a bit slow for 4 - 6 year old's and screws don't always suit the nature of the project. If Kieran can get comfortable with nails, he can complete more things while he is here.

  The bottom is a thin strip of elm. I have lots of elm on hand  and I like elm. Elm is tough and stingy and will provide a strong bottom even though it is thin.

 After I burned the pattern onto the box I give it two coats of spray vanish and its done.

 Here are two of the painting/drawings that I've done while laying around lately.

4 x 6 one pencil crayon on mixed media paper

10 x 14 water colour paint and pencil crayon
on 129 lb. cold pressed water colour paper

cheers, ianw


Monday, September 28, 2015

Walking Stick-Oak

  I have to walk.  It is about the only exercise that doesn't bother my back, and I do need to exercise because I continue to eat and drink. As a minor foot note, a bit of exercise also helps me sleep better and makes me less cranky generally, so I walk.

  I have found that if I walk with a long stick, not just a cane,  I stand up straighter and have less back pain.  I encourage anyone with lower back pain to give it a try, there are tonnes of places selling hiking staves, trekking poles etc.  because I am cheap, and have a work shop I decided to make my own.

  Years ago I bought a aluminium walking stick and have been using it but I decided as a wood worker I should get busy and make myself a stick.  The one I made a few weeks ago was just a bit too short to serve my purpose. 

   This project began with a six foot long piece of oak that had been used as trim in an old house.  My guess is that this piece of wood was used to fill a gap beside a book case or cupboard, it was slightly tapered over its length so it had been used to fill an uneven space.  This piece of wood also had a few nail holes in it, as a Wood Junkie  I had saved it because I knew it would be useful one day.  

  The first thing I did, you may be able to see if you look at the far end.  I tapered the end that was going to get the rubber foot.  Once I got that end sized properly then it was easy to taper the length of the stick using a long straight edge to mark it and my band saw to cut it.

   Once I had the  shape trimmed on the band saw  I used my planes and sanders to round over and shape the edges of the walking staff.  This stick doesn't have any carvings or curly Q's just smooth rounded edges.

  There is no question that this is not a high tech, or high skill project.  So the question is, "Why do walking sticks like this cost $50.00+ in stores?" I think that I will make a few more of these and have them available in the back of each of our cars so that I won' t get caught out.


  Initially I thought I would leave the stick with out a handle but then decided that the wood was a bit slippery.  What I ended up doing was putting bicycle inner tube onto the shaft and then wrapping the tubing with hemp twine and hurricane tape. The tape gives good coverage and helps keep the twine in place. The handle is slightly soft and comfortable to hold the black tape is mostly a design feature, it just looked like it needed something!

 As a follow up many months later. ( we don't even have the car that the stick is  leaving on any longer)

   I have walked with this stick long enough that I just replaced the original rubber foot. Also the handle has been replaced, the tape handle while soft, began to slip and roll.

  My final solution was to glue cheeks of bass wood onto the oak shaft and shape them to be more or less round. Now the handle is large and smooth enough for a comfortable grip.

  Making stuff in the shop makes me happy, making something that has an immediate use makes me even happier and when it turns out to still be useful a couple of years later, well that is just a bonus.

cheers, ianw


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Four Foot Stools Plus a Step Stool.

  Over the course of the last few years I have made several stools in my shop. It seems that there are lots of folks out there that need a bit of a help up or who what to put their feet up at the end of a busy day.

  This stool is for Clara to give her a way to reach the light switch in her bedroom. This stool is made from 2 x 8 spruce, the only thing that distinguishes this stool from something hammered together for use in a barn is the inlay and carved name.  Isn't that the case with most woodworking? The designs are basic and the details decide whether the project belongs in a barn or a boudoir.

  I think this foot stool is the most sophisticated stool I've made. The stool follows the Art and Crafts or Mission Style furniture in our living room, the top lifts off and provides storage for books and magazines. I made the piece from poplar and stained it to match our other furniture. If you looked inside you would find that it is held together with many carefully placed pocket hole screws

  This funny foot stool was designed for my daughter to use while nursing the grand kids. The sloped design helps get your legs into a comfortable positions for holding the baby, I am told. The two big holes are hand holds making it easy to pick up the stool and move it about with one hand.  Now that the babies are grown the foot stool is back here, waiting....

 This is the classic Kreg Pocket Hole stool, though in this case it is made from maple with walnut pocket hole plugs instead of being made from pine, with the pocket holes hidden.

  This step stool is actually my own design. We needed a way for the grand kids to reach the bathroom sink to wash their hands before eating. Since the powder room is small I made a stool with a step that pushed in so that it didn't take up much floor space.

This stool is made from a piece of laminated birch that was a shelf from IKEA. It was in their As-Is section,cheap so I bought a few of them. 


Wood working and making useful things brings me pleasure and now my Grandson want to make things too,and that is the greatest pleasure (and challenge) yet.

working on a project last summer.

  Keep making sawdust.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Two Small Projects Done

  It has been a tough week.  I had a good day on Thursday, well an improved day I got a bit active and now I am having a few really difficult days as punishment.

  Over the course of the week I did a little bit of gardening and a little bit of work in my shop. Yesterday I gathered together energy and did some painting on this week's small projects.

  The Thumb Stick was sanded smooth and then finished with opaque walnut glazing stain. The stain will project the stick from drying out and help resist smudges and dirt from dirty hands.

  Two blogs ago I showed pieces, this is what the pieces look like finished and assembled.

  I saw this little puzzle on Pinterest and made my own version. This is a four piece puzzle for a two year old girl that likes Owls, (Uggla in Swedish). I often go to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration, there are photos of anything you can imagine.  For example if you search 'bookcase' there are 100's of photos to inspire you. Most photos link to web sites or blogs with plans, or instructions to help you copy or create your own project too.

 The old saying, 'cut your coat to suit your cloth,' when you are having trouble getting around, do smaller crafty things, but keep doing things.
cheers, ianw

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shellac under Polyurathane

Shellac under Polyurethane 

  Folks that read my blog know I like shellac. This video by The Wood Whisperer  talks about a number of things that are relevant to using shellac and addresses the question of shellac under polyurethane.  I have used shellac under old style varnish and got tremendous results, as long as the humidity is low. Over time I have also sealed acres of wood with both waxed and de-waxed shellac and put all sorts of finishes on top and not had any issues.  Paint goes well over top shellac and helps to give a sealed and smooth finish.

  When ever you plan a project it is very important to consider the environment in which the project is going to live. The environment will effect choice of wood, fasteners and finish, it is important to remember that wood can last 100's of years.
Swedish Stave Church 
 or fall apart from neglect in a few years.  This winter I have to begin replacing window boxes and flower boxes that I made 10 years ago for friends and family. The cedar boxes spent many hours wet, and many hours in the hot sun and didn't really get any TLC so they have not lasted.

  Wood finishing is treated as though it is an arcane and black art, it's not.  It is just another area of wood working that can be improved with study and practice

 cheers, ianw

Monday, September 14, 2015

Two Small Projects

  I am currently working with limited mobility and so I am doing small things in my workshop. Projects that take less than an hour are taking two or three days as I work for a few minutes at a time.

  This project took two days. Yesterday I drew the pattern on white paper and glued it to cereal box for future use.  That was about all the time I had on my feet for the day.

 Today I cut the pattern out, traced it on 1/2 Baltic birch and cut it out with my scroll saw. Can you guess what it is?

 My second small project was finishing my walking stick.

  I picked up this tree branch last year. At that time I peeled off the bark and sealed the knots and ends with paint and hoped that it would not split apart when it dried.

  When I was a kid I had an Akela that had a thumb stick like this that he took on hikes and I always thought it was a cool. His stick featured carving, crests and ornaments that added to the coolness factor. Akela is long gone but since I walk with a stick often now I plan to retain some of his spirit.

 As the stick dried it did not split and today I did a bit of trimming with my shop knife and sanded the shaft with 220 grit sand paper. It will get a couple of coats of varnish to protect it until I have my own ornaments to add.

  We are having a brief return of summer temperatures here and I am looking out the window at a beautiful day.  Get out there and enjoy yourselves.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Two Work Bench Posts

  In case you are wondering about the latest round of workbench posts there are three reasons.  First reason, I have stumbled across several good Youtube videos related to workbenches lately and I want to share them. Second, like a teenage boy admiring the latest hot car I am always looking at and imagining myself owning the prefect ride,(bench). Third, I threw my back out seriously last weekend and am spending nearly all my day laying down.  In fact I am laying on my stomach on the living room floor typing this blog entry on my wife's new Chrome Book.

 Both videos are a bit long and the presentations are not super slick but both presentations are very informative.

  The Nicholson style work bench was new to me but I am quite taken with it. Mike Siemsen shows how good a bench can be without the expense of vise hardware. If a person was looking to make a bench and develop a working style from the beginning this bench and system is efficient and cost effective.

Working Holding without a vise
   Jay Bates' video shows his  adding a vise to his version of a modified Ron Paulk design workbench.


Add a Pipe Clamp Vise

  Pipe clamps are a low cost and versatile tool and in this application they have more than adequate clamping force.   

 cheers ianw

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Roubo Workbench Thoughts

 The quest for the ideal work bench is akin to the quest for the Holly Grail.  All wood workers struggle to create the perfect work space in which all things are at hand and all projects' stages flow smoothly.

 Andre Roubo wrote one of the most influential books on wood working and the testament to his talent and the value of his book is that it is still quoted and admired and his thoughts on work benches are as important now as they were  in 1770.

 I recently came across two takes on the Roubo bench and thought that I would share them with you.

   David Barron's take on the roubo work bench reflects his furniture and cabinet making skills. 

   Stumpy Nibs' bench reflects a more blue collar, maybe even red neck interpretation of the classic roubo. His bench however is still a serious alternative plan for someone outfitting a shop on a budget.
Stumpy Nibs 2X6 Roubo

  If you don't have the time or inclination you can buy work bench kits or components. There are all sorts of permutations  and combinations when it comes to bench bits and pieces. 

  Whatever you decide, keep working.  And be open to new ideas and work spaces.

cheers, ianw


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Number Owls for Tova

  My Grand daughter Tova Elise is just 2 years old and beginning to learn her numbers. She likes owls so this is a winning combination.

 I had some 1/4 inch  poplar left over from a box project from which I marked out and cut 10 owls. I decided to use my scroll saw  to cut out the owls. Had I had a finer blade on my band saw I probably could cut out the pieces too. I think the scroll saw is a somewhat over looked tool. It is a tool for small pieces so craft or model workers are more likely to have a scroll saw that a carpenter.

 I bought a cheap scroll saw 13 years ago and in 8 years it shook its self to death. My current saw is a better quality saw though interestingly it is more difficult to change blades. If you are looking to buy a scroll saw look for one that is smooth running and has a quick and easy blade exchange system. Looking on the internet will show that there are 1,000's of scroll saw project plans available for free or for cheap. 

 The scroll saw is a good gateway woodworking tool, it isn't expensive, or noisy or dusty and can be learned quickly. Also, as power tools go it is pretty safe, you would have to be determined to really cut yourself badly on a scroll saw.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Three Shop Projects

I have a photograph that shows life in my shop almost perfectly. Last Friday I was working on bicycles, because I can, and this Friday I have worked on a canoe paddle, two boxes for repair and another polissoir. 

    10,000 Villages in Hamilton provides me with a steady stream of wooden boxes that need adjustment or outright repair. It is amazing how many tools I use to repair these boxes. I use needle files, rasps, planes and chisels on nearly every box. On the larger of the two boxes I used my Rockwell Bench Jaw, this bench fixture has become a 'go to' bench vise for many tasks of this sort. 

Rockwell BenchJaw Hands-Free Bench Vise RK9006

  The other thing on that canoe paddle is a polissoir, 6 1/4 inches long by 1 1/4 inch in diameter.

 This polissoir is made from new broom straw and bound with waxed thread which has its knots glued solid. After shaping the ends I soaked them with pure bee's wax. If anyone is interested in buying a polissoir I am selling them for $20.00 PLUS shipping costs. I can be contacted at to make arrangements, put polissoir in the re:line so your inquiry doesn't get lost.

 cheers, ianw

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Kid sized canoe paddle

  My kids in Sweden recently bought a cottage (stuga in Swedish) on an island in a neighbouring lake and so travel forth and back to their place in a motor boat or canoe.  My two year old grand daughter wants to help paddle, and so needs a mini canoe paddle with which to do the job.

 I have never made a canoe paddle and certainly never imagined making one kiddie sized.  However I didn't let either of those things stop me. 

 Making one paddle is not really very time effective, so I made a couple of compromises.  To make a really good, commercially saleable product it would have to be perfectly symmetrical in every way. Symmetry is comforting to the eye and more comfortable in the paddlers hand.  Since this paddle is going to be used by a three years old when she is paddling next season I was not too concerned about the paddle having the most efficient shape or grip. To make a fine paddle I would have had to spend time creating a fine pattern from plywood so that I could use a pattern cutting bit on my router table to shape the paddle. To make one paddle I chose not to spend the time and effort to make a pattern that would only be used once. I also decided that light weight was more important than strength so I chose white cedar from which to make the paddle.

  My approach was to draw a pattern on card board, cut it out and trace it on a piece of cedar board. I cut the paddle out on my band saw,and so the result was acceptable but not perfect.  I chose cedar because it is pretty good in wet environments. Were I making a larger paddle I would look to either re-enforce the shaft or make the whole thing from a different wood.   

  Once the paddle is cut out I abandoned my work shop for a table in our garage. Cedar dust is very hard on the lungs and so I took the sanding part of this project outside into the summer breeze.

How its Made: Canoe Paddles.

Check out how the real paddle makers do it.

cheers, ianw