Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year - nothing saw dusty today.

   Our home is soon to be filled with Family and Friends. I  hope that your year begins in good company and is filled with happiness and health.

 Ian, Eva and Munchie the Cat.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Theoretical Woodworking

 Everyone knows about theoretical physics now days because of the excellent work done by that noted documentary presenter Sheldon.  It appears that theoretical physics is mostly about whining and watching television.  Theoretical wood working is more about wishing and watching videos. 

  This week our home is filled with Children, Grand Children and their Cats, all of which are welcome but also create a barely suppressed excitement/chaos.  What with opening gifts, playing games, eating, drinking and hanging out, workshop time is theoretic only. 

  I have been reading books, admiring/making plans and watching some videos for ideas. Last night after the little people were in bed and the grown ups where having second dessert and drinking wine I watched a video by Peter Brown
on making a Drunken Cutting Board.  This is a project that I have been thinking of trying for some time.  I have made dozens of cutting boards but they have always featured straight lines, it is time to spread my wings and try something new.

A Drunken Cutting Board

  For a board like this maple and walnut seem the natural choices. I think I have some walnut laying around but I know I don't have any maple. Poplar is a good contrasting colour but not as hard a maple.  Poplar would be fine if this was to be used as a serving board rather than a cutting board. Instead of making it extra thick I think I will make mine thinner and put handles on it.  A Drunken Serving tray will be appropriate for a Mad Hatter's Tea Party. 

  Mr. Brown made an interesting comment  at the glue up stage of this project. I am like him often, I want to add one more clamp, you know, just in case. My favourite clamps are 'speed clamps' :

       Irwin 6'' Quick-Grip Bar Clamp/Spreader 506QCN      Bessey, 18-inch EZS Ratcheting Clamp EZS45-8
now I see they're called ratcheting clamps, those are the clamps I reach for first. I like their one handed use and clamping strength. Though they seem expensive, quality clamps last for years and years. 

  Today our city is facing the effects of its first winter storm. We don't have to leave the house, so we don't care about the weather, a bonus that comes with retirement. 

  I hope you have sometime for both theoretical and practical woodworking today.

 cheers, ianw

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

  Well, Eva is in the kitchen making several desserts, all heavily influence by chocolate. My work shop is pretty much shut down and fairly well cleaned up, ready for a couple of days break from making saw dust. Both of those things are usual.

 Later today family arrives to exchange some small gifts and to eat way to much food. Also usual.

 The thing that is unusual it our weather.  It is a few degrees above freezing and so far there had been no snow. The ponds at the end of our street have no ice on them and the forecast doesn't really foresee winter weather until at least the New Year.  That is not usual. For goodness sake the herbs are still green in our front garden. 

                    Merry Christmas.
              I wish you a

               Happy, Healthy,  
                and saw dusty  


cheers, Ian W

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Travelling Game, Stocking Stuffer

  Tic-tac-toe or Noughts and Crosses is a rite of passage, every kids plays it.  I like Tic-tac-toe because it is the first direct strategy game most kids learn.  

Wooden Game Boards, Unique Wood Board Game, Wood Game Boards Wooden Marble Rollers -MyUniqueWoodenToys:

This is the game I used as my inspiration.  An off cut of spruce 2 x 4 and a bit of 1/2 dowel and one screw was all it took to make this project. If the kids show an interest in playing with it we'll make another one over the holiday as an "Opa and Kid" take home shop project .  I used my drill press and Forster bits to make my game but hand tools could also do the job.

 Instead of marbles, I used dowel sections. Marbles are lovely but easily lost, dowel is as easily lost but replacement is easy. 

    The idea of built in game storage was what caught my eye initially. A further advantage of using dowel sections was that I could make the game smaller and still have enough playing tokens.   
 If you have kids that need to be amused while riding in the car, or are just trying to encourage strategy and problem solving skills this is a quick, easy and useful shop project. 

  Cheers, Ianw

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Oak Door Mat

 A while ago I posted the ripped pieces of oak for a new door mat.

  This time instead of threaded stock and washers I am holding  this door mat together with nylon cord and knots.  First I  drilled two holes in each piece of oak slightly larger than the cord, so it would be easy to thread through the holes. 

 At the drill press I set up a jig that enabled me to drill the holes consistently three inches from each end while holding the pieces of wood parallel with the edge of the jig to keep the holes in the centre of each board too. There were fifty two holes to drill so a jig is the efficient way to get consistent spacing.

  The final result  will stand up for several years, and when the cord wears though it will be time to scrub and scrape the wooden slats anyhow. I left all the corners sharp so that mud and mess will more easily be scrapped off of shoes and boots.

  If you have need for a last minute gift this one used left overs, is low tech and is useful.

  If you plan to make a mat like this remember the knots use up a great deal of cord. I allowed fives times the length of the mat pieces and once I'd strung the cord through and knotted it on both ends I had less than one foot left once I tied the ends off.

cheers, ianw

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Quick Last Minute Christmas Ornament

Jig Saw Star
This video attracted my attention when I saw how cleverly pocket83 over came his lack of a scroll saw. By making this jig for a jig saw you can control your blade and do finer work than is typically the case.

This is nearly a home made Rockwell Blade Runner, with the advantage of taking your jig saw from its mountings and using it free hand. 

While I was checking out the Jig Saw Star video I turned up one for a Jig Saw Vice Attachment , a more heavy duty set up to utilize your jig saw.  With the correct jigs and patience a small shop mightn't need to tie up space with large tools.

  I am still working on puzzles and have a hippopotamus to repair before Christmas. So, it is time to make saw dust, not electrons.

cheers, ianw

Monday, December 14, 2015

Carving with a Six Year Old and his Four Year Old Sister.

 On the weekend two of our Grandchildren were here for a visit. My Grandson loves to work in Opa's shop and his little sister is not going to miss out on anything going so she is right there too. Both of the children love to be helpful and always spend time sweeping and cleaning the shop, I got them small brooms and whisks to make helping easier. Oddly enough the shop always needs to be swept, always, even after I have spent sometime cleaning, there is always room for improvement.

 Aside from sweeping Kieran likes to make things and this weekend I hit on something that he (and she) can do that lets them work without my having to hold their hands.

 This weekend we were carving, soap carving that is.  I had a box of Ivory soap cakes that the kids carved into boats, mostly.


  The knives they used had been pate knives before I sharpened them a little bit, and they shaped and carved the soap cakes pretty well. I made the sail boat using the wooden tools as a demonstration and then let the kids go to it.

  Kieran's boats turned out not bad, Clara's were pretty good for a four year old. These are the boats that are left, the other efforts were used at bath time. Just a point of interested, a bar of Ivory soap has grain just like wood.

the left over soap chips, I plan
to melt them down and they can be
carved again.
  The other on going project is a large scale glue up for two segmented vases.

you can never have to many clamps.
  I put the plastic bags onto my K Clamps to keep glue off the bars. Once glue dries onto the bars it is a real pain to slide the clamping jaw up and down.

F-clamps and K-clamps are always useful

 It took David and I two hours to cut, joint and plane all these pieces of roasted maple and poplar. Once planed there was coffee to drink and the the glue up stage. Later in the week we will glue both pieces together and then cut the block in two pieces. 

Shop supervisor walking past on an inspection tour.

Friday, December 11, 2015

An Old Project, a Christmas Project and a Crafty Project

 As I was rummaging around our basement the other day cleaning away wood chips so it would be nicer for guests. I looked at our basement window again.  We finished the basement four years ago and I made all the trim on my router table.

  I also made the built-in shelf unit, it fits tightly inside the window frame, so tightly in fact that it needs no extra fasteners.  At the time I was quite proud of the accuracy of my work, now I would expect it.

I think you can see how closely the shelf frame fits, actually closer than the mitred corner on the window frame. 

  Those oak slats sitting on my bench are waiting to be turned into a Christmas gift.   It is certainly easier, faster and more accurate to turn rough lumber into planned, squared and uniformly thick building materials in a power tool shop. I love my jointer, planner and table saw.

  The last two photos are of a little craft project I did to show my Grand kids.  My two local sweeties are coming for the weekend and if they like the fire wood Santa we can make a couple more.  If they don't, he can still sit outside the door and greet the holiday visitors.

Not very big at all.

I think we need some snow, to help
with Christmas Spirit.
cheers, ianw

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Another Good Reason to Have a Woodshop

  With Christmas coming our house will have a few extra folks around. Getting all the appropriate decorations out and arranged will also help fill the place up and so it is a good time to do a little bit of organizing. ( not too much, I'm saving bulk of that job for my retirement)

 Many years ago, nearly ten years ago we were at our local Ikea store and Ikea was selling off one of their small drawer kits. We didn't need the kits at the time but today, ten years after the fact I assembled the last two of the kits.  I believe that we bought six sets of these discontinued products, over time they have been built and adapted for various needs. 

  The product comes flat packed cut to size with nails and screws included. For one of the units I decided to stain the outer box with Varathane wood stain  and give it a coat of orange shellac. 

  You can see the difference between the finish box and the raw one. I am going to use the finished box for my art supplies and the unfinished box is for the Grandchildren's art and craft things. They are here this weekend and I'll invite them to paint their own craft box.

 The title says another good reason to have a work shop. Things like these kits can be assembled on the kitchen table but it sure is nice to go down to the shop, spread the parts and pieces out and not have to worry about getting done and out of the way by dinner time. It is also nice to have a shelf with stain and shellac handy to add that little bit extra to a kit project.

  If you have the urge to organize has a pretty good looking tool box:

Cantilever Organizer 2-in-1 / Tool Box

for a pretty good price.

  The serious Christmas count down is happening.  Don't get stuck with a lost minute solution, we still have time.

cheers, ianw

P.S. a cheap woodworker tip. Ikea has an AS IS room. That is were I buy all my finished dowels, you can get a bag full for a dollar. (20 -25 dowels)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Keeping in the Christmas Spirit

Make a wooden truck system

  Steve at has a good video on a simple 2 x 4 project that would be great as a gift for a little kid.  I made an assortment of wooden toys for my grandchildren when they were small. A real asset of a toy like Steve's truck is that it can be left in the sand box overnight, in the rain and still work properly the next day. As well, a wood truck lasts much longer than the equivalent plastic thing.

 This is also plug for Woodworking for Mere Mortals, the projects are approachable and the video production is excellent. Every time I think my blog should include home made videos I look at Steve and others and recognize my limitations and stay away from making a bad video.

 Here are three Christmas gifts, the fish puzzle is finished and the small snowman is ready to be bundled up and sent overseas. The turtle puzzle is half done and too difficult for Clara.  I am going back to the drawing board on the turtle. This one will get finished and stored away for another time, she will grow into a puzzle of this difficulty eventually. In fact I think the fish is too difficult for the six year old puzzle boy. I think there are not enough clues from the paint pattern to help him put the puzzle together, at first he will need help, but after a few times I expect he will learn the shapes and be able to make the fish himself.

  My finished segmented bowl and it is in our bathroom with shaving soap in it. I still may make a lid.  

  Here it is December 6th and technically I have my Christmas shop projects complete.  That is only because I set my sights quite low this year. I still can't put in more that a hour or so on my feet before it becomes a struggle. It is a bad idea to work with sharp tools when you are not fully comfortable and and in control.
Readerest Glasses Stainless Steel 8#
A stocking Stuffer from

  It is December 6th and there has been no snow and very little freezing weather. In better circumstances I would have been out on my motorcycle today, as were two hardy souls this afternoon.

  cheers, ianw

 Image result for honda silverwing photos

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Working on Christmas Projects

  As well as making Christmas tree ornament for my grand kids I have been making wooden toys and puzzles for them for years too. I began making 5 and 6 piece puzzles and now need to make 50 pieces puzzles. This year I am trying two different approaches to these more complex puzzles. For this turtle puzzle I decided to paint it completely, I have yet to add the details and then cut it out.

 With the fish puzzle I laid it out and cut it out and will then paint it. Regardless of when I paint them I give my puzzles a generous coat of shellac before I paint. My experience is that sealing the wood means that the coat goes on easier and takes far fewer coats, sometimes only one coat of paint is needed to get a good result. 

  And now that our grandchildren are 4 and 6 years old I don't have to worry about them chewing on the wooden pieces so I will lay on a coat or two of spray varnish once the painting is done.

  Another project that is rolling along and leaving wood chips all over the house is my movie snow men, tomorrow I am going to look to attach so pipe cleaner arms and the carrot nose. I think the legs are a bit too long to impersonate a recent movie celebrity but I check that out before final painting.

  It will soon be Christmas and I have found the most recent must have tool for a man's workshop. Check this out, it is my secret link of the day. This tool is specialised but may have a place in your shop beside the coffee pot and the mini fridge.

 Keep work folks, Christmas is coming faster than you imagine.

Happy Holidays 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

One Bowl Done, One to Go

  Today David embraced his inner middle school self and turned the segmented bowl to completion. The end result is Okay.  We both learned several important things on this project that we will use in the next one.

  We were pretty casual with the glue up stage and that showed in our results. More careful fitting and clamping is called for next time. In spite of poor preparation the mini lathe makes a good little bowl with a minimum of fuss.

  If you look closely you can see that some of the glue joints needed help from glue and sawdust. We also didn't knock ourselves out with the finishing stage, the bowls just got some wax. However, David and I decided that it was a good time and that we will be doing it again, more seriously this time.

 The other thing that has been happening in the shop are my annual Christmas ornaments.

   This year's tree ornaments are six, slightly silly snowmen. I think the next line is five stolen rings. It actually took longer to stain the aquarium sand black and carve the noses then it did to carve the heads, I think.  It sure was more fussy.

  For a carving project like this all you need is a sharp knife, a folding knife or a smaller fixed blade knife or a utility knife will let you whittle up a storm. I have been making some sort of tree ornament for nearly ten years now, and my Grandchildren may never have to buy an ornament for their trees ever. Oma and I are supplying their needs. 

Cheers, Ian W

maybe one like this next time. isn't it amazing.