Friday, February 19, 2016

Palm Trees and Beer

 I have written 743 posts, on average 3 per week since January 29 2011. When I have been away on holiday I have posted from Stockholm, Koblinz, Barcelona, and Ponta Delgada to name just a few. 

 My wife and I are leaving today to have a holiday, relaxing under palm trees and drinking: coffee, wine, beer or maybe even tea. And, I am taking the week off.  I will not have to scramble about to find an internet cafe or struggle with slow internet in hotels. 

 Have a good week folks, and I'll talk to you later.

cheers, ian

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Latest Cabinet Complete

 Now the third cabinet is finished, the doors are hung and finished with orange shellac and spray varnish.

The door frame is 1 1/2 inches wider than the shelves so that I can hang things inside the door, or in the case of the two hammers, out side the shelves.

  The is a successful project, and all that I had to buy was the hinges. The poplar used for the frame was here in a corner and the door skin was left over from other things. All together this section of the work shop is getting to look kind of professional. 

 With this cabinet I had the hardware in hand before I build the unit. Even the doors were a pain to hang this unit turned out better than the one on the right. For the cabinet on the right I didn't have the right kind of hinges and that spoiled the end result.

  If you are planning to build something like this there are 100's of plans on the internet and lots of how to videos on You Tube. There is nothing that I can teach anyone on this project, other than square must be square, close will give you nothing but heart ache.

  p.s. I have also found that my back is steadily but slowly improving.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

Completed Face Frame Door

 Making the door for the top of my cabinet was an evolving design. After the frame was done I changed my mind on what sort of inset panel would use. So in the end I needed 1/4 round trim to finish things off.

  Commonly I make small sections of trim and I have developed what I think is a good method:

1st-cut the profile using your router table on a piece of material that is wide enough to rip many pieces of trim from it.

2nd- I then sand the profile a bit and rip it off on the table saw using a thin strip jig,(mine isn't this fancy).

3rd-return to step one and repeat. 

 I do this to keep my fingers away from the blade and it lets you rip off very thin and consistent strips of wood.

 After the trim was installed I made two panels to fit in to the door. I decided to be non-traditional about my panels. To keep the weight low instead of wood I used card board for the panel. For a whimsical touch and as homage to coffee I covered the cardboard with coffee bean bags.

 This way the door is light and by opening upward it closes and stays closed by gravity.

I also decided to divide the doors up this way to keep the doors to the lower section from be excessively long and heavy. After all the doors are to keep out dust not for security.

this is the next mess.
  As everyone knows it is easy to do good work in an organised space. This corner needs attention next.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

From Rough Lumber To Face frame with KREG

 Legend has it that the KREG pocket hole jig was created when Craig Somerville  was renovating his kitchen and wanted an accurate and easy way to make face frames.

 It is very easy to make perfect face frames with a KREG jig, in fact it is almost fool proof, if you follow the system and make careful preparations. 

  This the completed face frame for the upper section of my new tool cupboard.  The corners are square and strong and it was easy to build with a table saw and a Kreg Jig.

  My frame began as an 8/4 by six inch piece of rough poplar. First I jointed one face and one edge. Then I ripped off three strips that were a fat 3/4 by 2 by 60 inches.

  After I cut off the three pieces I ran them through my planner so they would be smooth and exactly the same thickness.  Then I stood the pieces on edge and put them through the planner so they would be exactly the same width. 

  The next step is to cut the pieces to length. After careful measurement I cut one edge off each board at my mitre saw and checked it for square. I had all ready checked the sides of the boards to see that they were exactly square.

 When you are going to make face frames check the set up of your machines. Make sure the table saw is 90 degrees and make sure your jointer is exactly 90 degrees too.  When you cut the end off your board you now have a perfect end from which to measure. 

  I measured the length for my long sides and cut both pieces at once, that way I wouldn't be out even the width of a pencil line. I did the same thing with the three short pieces too. Now the butt joints will fit perfectly because all the surfaces are 90 degrees and the wood is identical lengths.


  I worked for KREG in Canada for five years. I drilled thousands of holes and made tonnes of butt joints in demonstrations. I still mark where every pocket hole is going to be drilled. I examine the wood, decide which face in out and which face is hidden and then I mark every pocket hole that will be drilled.  Marking the wood reduces the chance of getting the pieces flipped over and the piece being ruined.


  I screwed my jig to a board so that I can clamp it to my bench when in use. You can see I have my shop-vac connected to the jig too. The vacuum clears away the wood chips and makes drilling the hole easier and keeps the bit cooler.  When I have many holes to drill or I want them to be perfect I use a corded drill because the faster drilling speed means smoother holes.

  If your material is not accurately prepared your face frame will not turn out well. The pocket hole screws will pull your joint together tight, and crooked, if your cuts are off by even a little bit.

 I am working on the sections that will be inserted in the frame, actually part of it is drying as I type. You'll see it at the end of the week.

cheers ianw


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tool Box Complete, and Tool Cabinet begun

  The little tool box is finished. The side of the box are cedar and the top pine, for a finish I stained the outside with my home made walnut stain, followed by two coats of shellac. You can see all the "small tools" that now live together,in happiness and safety. They are mostly measuring tools with some very small clamps and edge tools.  

  Since amalgamating these tools from their various drawers worked so well I began what for me is a big project.


   I had so much momentum going that I had the middle of the three open shelves down before I took a photograph. These open shelves hold many of the tools and related items I reach for all the time. The open shelves also collect dust and are a bit of a dumping ground. 

   This is the situation so far. I kept the shelves but they are now enclosed with a frame that will hold doors. I have expanded the capacity from three shelves to five as well. 

 Building a frame this size is about the limit of my working space.

  You can see that the frame is as large as my work table and so it had to be slayed side ways to be assembled.  The other challenge of course was that the stuff from the shelves on the wall had to be taken down and put into boxes while the work was going on. Have you ever noticed that the thing you put into the box first is the thing that you need first. 

  Also I had five little repairs on things from 10,000 Villages to do at more or less the same time. Lets just say that every flat surface was in use.

  To keep things from falling off the top shelf I added some tightly drawn sash cord as restraining rails. To get the things on the top shelf I need a step stool and there will be a separate door for the top shelve too. I just wanted to reduce the chance of things falling from the 'over head compartment'. 


   The original shelves were not all the same size and so I had to cut one down.

  This project started with a piece of 3/4 inch plywood. Having a table saw made cutting the pieces so easy. Then I hung the unit up using  two long French Cleats. To make the cleats I took the blade guard off my table saw and ripped one board at 45 degrees. I then put the blade guard back on. On older saws like mine removing and re-installing the blade guard is a bit of a pain. On newer saws it it much easier. As a fellow that has nipped his fingers thrice on his saw I strongly encourage  everyone to use their blade guard.

  While doing this job I decided to align my cabinets so I rehung the big new frame so it was level with the cabinet on the left,  and I took the older cabinet on the right and raised it to match. The tool rack that used to be on the bottom shelf is on the wall below my saw cabinet. 

 The list of tools that I used to manage this puzzle and build the cabinet frame is legion. The table saw cut the frame parts, the mitre saw cut the parts to size and cut the shelf down to size. After everything was cut It was glued and clamped.  Putting the frame up and moving the old cabinet required a spirit level. And there was always a cordless drill and impact driver in play. 

  Having a cordless driver handy means that things can be tacked into place with a screw easily, and the screw can be removed just as easily later. For example I initially screwed the frame to the wall before making and installing the 'french cleat'. The third shelf is attached with pocket holes. I needed to get the frame onto the wall a.s.a.p so there would be room on my work table so I put it up with the two top shelves,bottom and sides in place. The other shelves were added once the unit was on the wall. I will measure build and attach the doors the same way.

 Building the cabinet as a frame, adding the shelves once the unit is on the wall and putting the doors on last like this is awkward but it did mean that I was able to lift the frame into place without help. Had the cabinet been fully assembled on the bench it would have taken help to lift it into place. Getting help is easy, being well enough organized to arrange for help, that isn't as easy.(for me).

  Another advantage for me and the way I work is that all the stuff from the shelves can go back onto the shelves now and the doors can be added later.(shortly I hope).

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Japanese Style Box

 I have been making an effort to streamline the organization in our basement these last couple of projects.  The shelf unit in my wife's stained glass space is a big improvement.  I was inspired next to make a small tool box specifically for my small tools. Currently they are spread around several drawers and shelves in my shop and that is not working as well as I would like.

 The box I am building is following a style loosely based on a Japanese tool box.  There are several of versions of these boxes, as there are many versions of tool boxes generally.  I am making my box with dado corners which is a variation.

clamped and drying
 The biggest part of this project is the waiting. Everything is glued together without nails or screws, so it takes time. I am not good at waiting.  While this is going on I built, painted and installed a door in our kitchen and designed/devised a variety of inserts for this tool box.

 The unique feature of all Japanese Style boxes seems to be the way that the lid attaches.

John Zhu box

  I made most of my box with hand tools as well. My box is made from shop left overs this time.  I think that I like the the form and will make another using better materials. I found the lid system interesting.

  Final pictures to follow, right now the stain is drying and I am trying to figure out exactly what tools will live in the little box.

cheers, ianw


Wednesday, February 3, 2016


 One year ago I made the case work for a stereo stand,

last week we made the doors.

 Finally, here is the finished project. Since the cabinet was to be painted the case work is 3/4 plywood while the doors are poplar and the inset panels door skin. 

  Having the proper place to put your stuff makes for a neater and more efficient work/living space. I have been trying to address that issue in our house lately.

  My wife makes quite lovely stained glass panels, and as with all crafts, she has acquired many little bits of useful material and a few special tools.

 4 boxes of glass bits and pieces.
All the glass  in a wheeled unit

  The storage unit is made from chip board that a neighbour gave away last summer. Ordinarily I would not use chip board for anything but sub-flooring but since it was free, I took it knowing I would find a use for it sometime. 
Image result for chip board
chip board.
It certainly is chips, but is it board?

 There is no real trick to making a unit like this if you have a table saw or a circular saw with a guide.  The only real trick is to have the three sides square, and it is easy with enough space and  tools.  Chip board doesn't have much strength when screwing into end grain so  I made for square frames from 1 1/2 by 1 inch spruce to which I attached the chip board by screwing though the side and into the wood frames.  Four casters are attached to the bottom frame so the unit can be moved around when we want to get to the books on the shelf behind.  The whole project is satisfactory and given that the sheet stock was free, very cost effective. 

  Since chip board is so ugly I even painted the rolling cabinet. I bought a litre of paint for $3.00. 

   How so cheap you ask?  The paint was an "oops" mixture from a big box store.  I always check to see if there are "oops" cans at those stores.  An "oops" for those of you that don't know is paint where the customer doesn't like the colour the base is tinted. Usually the can is full or very nearly and dead cheap. This time is was a greyish sort of colour, perfectly useful in a basement craft area.  Chip board is thirsty, I used 2/3 of the litre painting the rolling cabinet.  I also painted it to try to glue down the thousand loose feathery edges on chip board.

  This rolling glass storage cabinet is exactly why I like having a workshop. For a bit of invested time, and limited material cost Eva's craft space is 100% improved.  I really like making things that have a purpose.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Why all those knives.

 When I made the knife holder the other day it just seemed a matter course that a wood shop needed all those knives. As I thought about it I wondered why I had so many knives when other woodworkers seemed to have so few.

 One reason I think is that I learned how to sharpen a knife long before I learned how to sharpen a chisel and so when I needed a really sharp blade to trim something I opted for a knife. As well I have carried a pocket knife almost everyday since I was ten years old. Even in school I had a jack knife, no one seemed to care in those days. As an adult I had a knife in my briefcase, the glove box of my car and the top drawer of my desk. Over my adult life I have owned, lost or retired dozens of folding knives so for me the knife is a go-to tools.

 I thought I would explain what all those knives are for,as they mostly have a use.

  First the knives for nasty work:

  These blades are sharp, but they are mostly used for scrapping, prying and splitting. I bought the blades un-handled years ago and have expected these knives to do terrible things and clean up ugly gluey, paint covered messed, and they have never let me down.

 The two knives that sit in the top rack with the scrapping knives are:

razor sharp, (left) for fine trimming and the centre knife for food. When I want a snack I like to peel my orange and cut up my apples, don't you?

Mora Sheath Knives
 In the lower pouch I have five sheath knives. These three are working knives. On the left is a Mora chisel knife which I mostly use it out the shop because I can take one tool and get two fine cutting edges. The middle knife is a Mora Shop knife that does heavier trimming that the other very fine bladed knife. With the moulded plastic handle this knife is nearly indestructible and it was very reasonably priced. The knife on the right is a Mora carving knife, I use it to add little details.

  These knives are just historic. The top one was my Grandfathers, it is old, bent and fantastically sharp. I don't remember where the lower knife came from, the blade is very think and heavy but I like they way it the knife looks. I am not a collector, but I see, to have collected a few things just because.

 The knives in the middle holder are a marking knife, that I don't use much and a utility knife that I use to cut plastic and plywood mostly.

 While I am sharing knife information I'll share a knife that lives in a drawer, was cheap, won't hold a edge and I bought because it caught my eye.

  It is an imaginary skinning knife. It looks the part, sort of, but won't hold an edge, at all. I think I knew it was junk when I bought it, but it just looked cool.

  That accounts for the knives that I keep close at hand, in my shop. Maybe one day I'll share my folding knives' story too.

  cheers, ianw