Sunday, September 25, 2016

Finally Finished. Finishing

On August 5th I posted my completed jewel box and said that I would shellac/varnish the box once the weather dried up a bit.  Well, the temperature has gone down and the humidity has gone down, and the box has gone back down to my workshop.


  This is the jewel box back in the shop awaiting a finish.  I dusted it off and scraped the old stain off the top two handles and applied one coat of clear shellac. 

  First coat of shellac.  It took a few minutes to prepare the box and a couple of minutes to apply the shellac and then I left it for an hour to fully dry and harden.

  I have brushes 100% dedicated to shellac.  The brushes are cleaned with alcohol and are never used for oil or water based finishes. My habit it to wrap green tape around the handles of the shellac brushes so they are cleanly identified.  

 Once that first coat was dry I rubbed the box down with 320 paper, just to knock off any bumps or fuzzy bits.  Then I vacuum and or wipe the project down with a clean lint free cloth.  I shy away from the standard 'tack' cloth because they are oily or waxy.

  This is finished box in my shop the next morning.  I put on a second coat of shellac last evening, again giving it one hour (approx) to dry. Shellac will dry in just a few minutes but I like to give it some extra time to harden, especially when the piece has nice wood.

  Once the second coat of shellac has dried I lightly sanded it with steel wood. After sanding I again carefully to remove and dust.  Next I sprayed the box with aerosol varnish, just a light coat.
I left the varnish to dry overnight. Again I do not rush the process once I get to this stage. However with shellac as the foundation of the process it takes hours, not days. (when the humidity is low). 

  Here is the box, completely finished and sitting on my dresser.  The last thing I did was  apply a thin coat of paste wax and used a  buffing wheel to get a soft glow and a finish that is soft to the touch. 

  This box is made from elm and oak with the small trim made from a piece ??? cherry?? flooring.  I don't often make a piece for which this amount of effort is investing in the finishing process, but when I do I find it very satisfying.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Table Saw Tips From JImmy

  I have been a long time admirer of Jimmy DiResta, he appears to be able to make anything. Recently I discovered a video he produced of table saw tips.  More importantly at the end of the video he talks about his table saw accident.  If you have worked around a table saw for any length of time there is a real good chance you've been bitten.

  This video is a bit long but the end worth watching and especially the ending, hang in there and watch the whole video.

cheers, ianw

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday - sharpening and a shop tip.

  Many of the blogs have clever titles like; Wednesday Wonders, or What's Up Wednesday. I guess I could have called today wandering Wednesday, though technically my peregrinations were not aimless.  The day was a beautiful motorcycle riding day and so I zipped about  taking care of little businesses.

 I went to see my brother and he showed me two pocket knives that he had unearthed in an old suitcase/briefcase.  One of the knives was his Boy Scout knife, so you know it is old.  Both knives were dull, I suspect that they had seen hard service. Lucky for him I was there and said I would sharpen then for him.  I had a kitchen knife that needed work, but had not gotten around to it. His two knives motivated me to set aside some time to  do the job properly.

my basic knife sharpening set up
  You can see the three knives that needed attention.  All the blades were dulled to the point that a touch up with the strop or a steel wasn't enough.  I begin this rehabilitation process with a large 1000 grit water stone. This is an oil based sharpening system. 

Stanley Sharpening 3-pc Kit 16-050

 I don't take a position on water vs. oil when sharpening. I use water because that is the system with which I started, for no reason than a random purchase. I strongly support the position, pick a system and work with it until you get good at it. And, do not over look the contribution from a leather sharpening strop. 

  As well as taking some time to do some serious sharpening I added a detail to my music stand.

  I decided that I would make my music stand adjustable for height and so needed to drill come holes in black stained wood.  Needless to say an ordinary pencil is not going to mark worth a hoot.  Having encountered this situation before I had a solution on hand. I have a yellow water colour pencil crayon in my collection of markers and as you can see.....the marks really show up. 

  By the way, the wandering, my Mom's place, Costco, a $ Store, an office supply store, a bank, in three different cities. It was not efficient, or carefully planned but it was great morning's riding.

cheers, ianw

Monday, September 19, 2016

music stand

 Last week I returned to playing clarinet in our local community concert band. I stopped playing in bands about eight years ago for a variety of reasons, mostly because it wasn't much fun.  I am hoping playing will be fun again.

 When I gathered my gear up I discovered that I could not find my wire music stand, it could be anywhere.  I may have given it away or left it in a church some place or......I don't know, abducted my aliens!. Not a real issue, I hate those flimsy, folding wire music stands anyway.

  I have a wood working shop so I made myself a good sturdy, useful music stand.

  At this point the bottom section of the stand is not finished.  Probably I will stain it black too, but for this week I am going to leave it unfinished so that the wood is obvious.

  The whole project was made from re-claimed or left over wood. The body of the stand is re-claimed spruce 2 x 4. The section connected to the top is a bit of oak trim I had laying around, it is fairly thin and so I wanted oak's strength. The face is a bit of door skin.

 The stand is adjustable for angle with a bolt and wing nut. I had the threaded stock available to make the bolt.


 I cut a channel in the 2 x 4 using dado blades into which the oak stem fits. There is the possibility of adding adjustment for height later, currently it is made by me, for me, so it fits. 

  I would go with the hard wood/soft wood combination on the next music stand too. I soft wood base/body is not very heavy and the hard wood stem and legs are small yet strong.
Making a project from mixed wood pretty much means it needs to be darkly finished or painted to get a consistent looking finish.

  There is a sofa table lurking in the back ground but it involves some heavy machining, and my back it not allowing me much heavy lifting just now.  Later I the week, I hope.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Pick a Date and Celebrate, by....changing batteries!

  Years ago I learned about changing batteries from  a friend who was a serious photographer.  Philip told me that he changed all the batteries in his cameras each year on his birthday, whether he had used that camera much during the year or not .   The fire department wants you to change the batteries in your smoke detector annually too, on your birthday. This way you have fresh working batteries all the time.

  I went to school forever, (or so it seemed), and then I taught school for years and so now September is the time I try to take care of those annual things. Each year in September I take my saw blades in to be sharpened. My table saw and sliding mitre saw have Freud blades.  I like Freud blades because I feel they are good value for money, especially since the blades can easily be sharpened 4 or 5 times. I figure that it works out to about $30.00 year per blade to have good sharp blades in my shop.  

  Another annual job is more of a mess and one that I hate.  I take my vacuum and dust collection systems totally apart and clean all the cracks and crevasses.  I use the fall clean up to clean all the filter bags and vacuum filters.  Once a year I take both dust collection bags off the machine and shake all the fine built up dust outside. Yes I know I should do that every time I change a bag but I don't, I am always in the midst of a project and don't want to  interrupt my work.  

  A September job is assessing consumable supplies.  We have a big wood show in our area in September and that is where I buy glue, drill bits,  sand paper and misc. nuts and bolts when I can.  It seems as though I need those consumables regardless of whether I have had a busy or slack year in the shop.

  This is also the time of the full-on cleaning blitz. I get down on the floor and sweep up the lost screws and bits of wood from underneath the work benches and dark corners.  As a  well known wood junkie this is also the time I gather all the little useless bits of wood and condemn then to the fire, (in two life times I couldn't use all the little bits I collect in a box by the mitre saw as wedges and cleats.)

  At some point in September I sharpen or check for sharp, all my knives and chisels  Generally I put them away sharp one is perfect.

  Over the course of the year I gather empty containers and shop rags, always more than I need, and so those extras are recycled. 

  I have a large collection of wood working books and plans which I often peruse for ideas.   This is the time I put them back on book shelves and into folders to make way for new projects.

  Changing the furnace filter is another thing I do to get the season started.  Our furnace hasn't come on yet this year but......the time is coming soon. 
 Our summer's are humid and this is when I check tools and machines for the beginnings of rust and wipe them down with wax or surface treatment.

  If I were a more dedicated/disciplined person or not doing wood working as a hobby I might do most of these annual things regularly  and not let them add up over the year.  But...I'm not. 
I suspect many people are like I am and so I encourage you  pick a regular time to take care of this type of task, including changing the batteries in your smoke detector and camera.

cheers, ianw


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A typical Shop Day

I stopped taking on big projects except for family several years ago.  I stopped for a couple of reasons, but mostly because I didn't like having my shop space filled with one project for several days or weeks and not being able to putter away on little things for lack of room.  I use my shop for repairs and recycling projects as much as for building new things.

  Typically,  today I painted a recycled plastic pail. A hint; rough up the shiny plastic to help the spray paint to stick. I will next cut out some stencils to apply a bit of design to the plastic tub and use it for a flower pot.

  Then I fixed a magnetic sketch board for the grand children.  They use the sketch board for tic-tac-toe while riding in our car.

  Lastly I finished Clara's clock and can take it to her tomorrow. 

  I was looking around for recycled workshop videos and came across this one:

  This is a work shop project that can be done by/with your Grand kids. A work shop and a craft kit should have good scissors, sharp utility knife, and a hot glue gun. And, not all shop projects have to be serious projects. If the bug was filled with plaster of Paris they could be used as paper weights or door stop.

 cheers, ianw

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Clara's Clock

  When the grand children where here for a visit last week my grandson designed and made a submarine, Clara designed a clock for her room.  I think that design, not engineering is going to be her strength.

  I think we have a duct tape diva in the making.

  The taping and painting was all Clara, I got assigned the woodworking part of the task.

  The round slab of wood is ash.  If you have ever tried to carve ash you know that it is hard, and end grain is even tougher.  You can see from the holes I used a forstner bit to hog away most of the wood.  I drilled out the space for the  clock works and squared the corners with a chisel. Since this is the back of the clock I used a sanding disk to flatten it.  

  To even do something as small as this you need a drill press, drill bits and an aggressive sander. It is nice to have a wood working  and an assortment to tools with which to work.

cheers ianw 


Friday, September 9, 2016

Observation and Experimentation

  I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, both the classic stories and most of the modern attempts at re-creating Holmes and related characters.  One the the things that I admire most about Holmes is his ability to observe and apply information.

  A while ago I was watching a wood working video and during the course of his work the carpenter used two part epoxy and wood dust to fill some imperfections in his joinery.  At the time I thought that epoxy was over kill for the task. There was no commentary related to why epoxy was used and I dismissed it as a 'use what you got' sort of moment.

  Recently I have begun work on a piece of fine furniture (a sofa table) with a single 10 inch board for the top.  While planing the board a knot broke open potentially ruining the board.  Clearly the knot could not be filled with wood dust and carpenter's glue. The board was too nice to discard and the knot would add  real character if the hole problem could be solved. The the solution occurred to me, two part epoxy. Epoxy is strong and easy to use, but the patch would be translucent not invisible.

  The knot was black and so I decided to colour the epoxy before stuffing it into the hole. Fortunately I did a bit of experimentation before I applied the glue to the finished board.  I began by mixing the epoxy and adding  water based black wood stain. I guess the water changed the epoxy's chemical reaction, it dried but had a rubbery, soft finish that was not suitable, but the colour was good. I tried again with less stain but got pretty much the same result it seemed that it was not volume of stain but chemical composition.
   I decided that I needed something black and prue.  The next experiment used:

  One centimetre of willow sketching charcoal.  I ground it to a very fine powder and mixed it in to the epoxy.  The result was a hard, black patch.

repaired and rough sanded
   I put painters tape on the top side and filled the void from the underside of the board. After 24 hours (more than enough time) I removed the tape and shazam a solid black knot where a nasty hole had been.

  Once the patch is finished sanded and varnished I expect the repair to go un-noticed, as repairs should.

cheers, ianw


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Yesterday was Labour Day-A Related Rant-Revised

  So I didn't work.  I went to my Grand daughter's fifth birthday party and ate cake.

  That forgoing statement is only partially true.  Yes I partied and ate cake but, no I worked too.  I didn't build anything in my shop yesterday unless you count the toy I repaired and the glue test I ran, as working ( which is was).  The other two hours were cleaning, organizing, planning and generally putting stuff away where it belongs.  Also work but mostly not credited. Too many people work in offices and talk on the phone as their work, they don't have to clean up, sharpen tools or prepare materials before beginning to work, so they forget about that part of 'work'.  

  At this point I had a multi-paragraph rant about 'work' and 'labour' etc. written this morning. No one wants to read a rant about how people that make and create are undervalued.  Those of us that make and create know that and the other people probably don't read this blog. 

  So I am going to share photos of my latest project with my Grandson. This is why I love to work with wood.  When the batteries are dead,or the plastic has cracked on other toys this thing will be knocking around and inspiring an imagination.

  Kieran holding the submarine that he designed and we made from 2 x 4's recovered from his home renovations.

 The modern conning tower opened to show where this sub stores its drones. The design was K's idea, drones are very fashionable. How it works: He comes up with the ideas and it falls to me to make them happen.

  The sub hinges open totally so that the torpedo tubes can be loaded with elastic bands. There is a firing pin (2 inch nail) that pushes down on the clothes pin from the top.  Everything is a bit rough, 7 years old want results, and this 7 year isn't much interested in sanding.  I am tempted to refine this idea and make a small submarine just for grins.

  I have a video of K planing the edges of the boards, this is a screen shot because I can't figure out how to import my video into my blog. (new software, limited computer expertise, and limited interest too)  Kieran is using my block plane and he used my good saws and drove the screws to hold the hinges with my cordless drill.  At this point he is not tall enough, experienced enough or brave enough to use any power tools beyond the cordless drill.  I hope to get him working on the scroll saw on Christmas holidays. 

  I hope that he will be a builder, a maker and a creator all his life. His sister is getting into the workshop too though it will take a couple more years for her to get big/old enough to really get making.

cheers ianw

Friday, September 2, 2016

Double Decker Tool Box

  The summer is winding down.  On this last week of summer holidays we have our grand children staying with us for a few days. There have been shop projects under taken and while one is artistic and the other clever, neither really merit attention outside of the family.   On the other hand, having a 5 year old girl and a 7 year old boy wanting to make things in the shop is absolutely a good thing, and one to be encouraged.

  My grandson's project had him cutting small pieces of wood in my mitre box and more importantly he was using a block plane to round off some edges. Our project is still rough and ready but now quality of finish is becoming important and doing more of the work himself has also become  important.  It is difficult to develop skills when you get workshop time only a few days per year.  When Kieran began working in my shop I resolved to provide him with good and  sharp tools. In keeping with that philosophy he uses my planes, I watch him like a hawk and have foam floor mats down where he is working but he gets to use the good tools.

  A while ago he and I made a small tool box for some of his tools and today I saw another tool box video that I wanted to share.  I like the mega-box joints he uses and the two piece design.

  I like the design and the execution, as well  he gets along with a limited selection of tools, well used.  Sometimes I find myself tripping over tools and wishing for space and light and offering to sell my soul/tools to get those wishes granted. 

 Tomorrow we finish work on our latest project, a submarine with torpedo tubes, I'll share some photos once the paint is dry.

cheers, ianw