Thursday, October 27, 2016

Two Videos, one instructional, one inspirational

  Yesterday I was surfing the net, trying to avoid political stuff and came across two videos I want to share.

  The first video is already showing up on some other wood working sites I follow, because it shows fine wood working at a very high skill level.

   The quality of cut from the hand plane just amazes me.  I would really like to try a pull type Japanese hand plane one day.

   The other video shows how to sharpen files.  In my shop I have several files and rasps that I use very regularly and knowing how to sharpen and extend their lives is useful.

   Just a couple of videos to watch while drinking your coffee after supper.

cheers, ianw

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Table: continued

  When you read about a project like this it becomes obvious that I am a retired guy that mostly plays in his workshop.  The internet is filled with video blogs and YouTube sites that feature a project a week, often complete with bag lots of pictures and video footage.  I have made a couple of videos over the years I've done this blog but generally shy away from productions that large.  

  One of the great luxuries of being retired is that you can interrupt any project to make something with your grandchildren or try something silly in the shop.  Or....not work in the shop at all.  Today I helped in the Cafe at our seniors centre and spent the afternoon playing with our centre's recorder group. It was only this evening that I got around to doing some more work on Mary's sofa table.

  This as been an interesting project all along the way.  This table is actually a bit large for a 'sofa table' but it is custom designed to fit a specific space.  I have worked from a general drawing but adjusted the styling as I went along, only limited by the outer dimensions.  

  My building process was 
a: make the top- I had to be a specific size.

b: make and assemble the long side legs, - again a specific height.

c: fiddle with the spacing under the top for the legs and then make the narrow end spacers, - I had some stylistic lea way.

d: glue the pocket hole constructed long side legs together with the narrow end spacers.

  The top is not attached in this photo but the legs are glued and drying.  I have to fit two more spacers on each end upon which a lower and middle shelf will sit.

  If you look closely you can see the pocket holes on the end.  In this situation pocket holes serve perfectly, the holes are hidden, there are no alignment challenges during assembly and the joint is strong.

  To hold the top in place I will use pocket holes and screws. The trick to attaching the top is to screw all the pocket hole screws tight first then....back each screw off one quarter turn.  That holds the top firmly but allows for a bit of wiggle room.  I had used that trick several times and not had any troubles with wood expansion.

  It is a bit tough to see here but that is a piece of 1/4 plywood that I used as a spacer for the set back on the side rails.  I find it is easier to use a spacer that to try and measure and fit a joint to a line.  On the Kreg Klamp Table I put the spacer underneath the rail and then drove the pocket hole screws as usual. Once the joint is screwed solid I remove the spacer, so I get even set backs all around.

  On December 12 2011 I wrote a blog about finishing a wooden clock kit.  For about a year the clock didn't work.  I fiddled with it a bit but didn't really give it serious attention. On the weekend I got focused and serious about getting Eva's clock going again.  Our summer's are quite humid and so I didn't expect the clock to work then but it is cooler and drier now and so if the clock doesn't work it is my fault.  I fussed and fiddled for over an hour before everything was re-aligned and working happily and now....the clock is running well and fairly accurately.  Now I feel silly for not bothering about it sooner.

  Wood is wonderful stuff, it can be made into a clock, or a table or something as simple as a cutting board.  Now that the weather is cooler it is a good time to make something. (or to fix something, long over due)

cheers, ianw


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Why Wood is So Good !

  Occasionally I write blogs under the title Why Wood?, and this is a blog about why I think wood is so good.

   Years ago I was teaching in a small town and the town was building a new area.  The ceiling was constructed of laminated wood beams not steel.  When I asked why wood, I was told that the insurance rate was much lower for wood than steel.  Wood provides safe support of the ceiling longer in case of fire. Steel softens and looses structural integrity more quickly than wood, wood is good.
Image result for hockey rink wooden beams
wooden beams and ceiling 

  This past week my children and grand children stayed with us and the 1 year old and 3 year old were the highlight of our days.  My three year old grand daughter sat at the table in the high chair that I am my brother sat in 50+ years ago.  The steel and arborite kitchen chairs and table from that time are long gone. (replaced with wood, don't you know) Wood lasts. 
   As well as a wooden high chair the little girls played with my Mother's wooden rocking chair. That rocking chair is 78 years old and have been played with by 100's of children for many, many years. 

The girls played with wood toys that I made for their oldest cousin seven years ago.  All those wooden toys have out lasted many of the plastic trucks and toys that have been played with here.  

  Another great characteristic of wood is its repair ability. After each visit there are often things that need to be repaired.  Not because wood is weak, but because it is strong enough to be worth fixing.  Plastic toys, once broken are seldom worth trying to repair. 

  Today is the clean up, and put away day.  A week of small children unpacks many toys and books and spreads chaos into all corners of our house.  Tomorrow I can get back into my shop and  continue working on Mary's sofa table. The table's components are machined, a little bit each day during breaks last week.  The next stage needs a bit of non-interrupted time for serious sanding and assembly.  

  cheers, ianw


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

When dinosaurs roamed the Earth, and Workshop

  When the time comes, which is most assuredly will, and you are downsizing your life, it is likely that your woodworking shop will have to downsize too.  Your new digs will probably be in a condo, or an apartment someplace convenient to your day to day needs and not out in the country on a lovely concession road far from the madding crowd.  You will no longer have to shovel your own snow or mow you own lawn but the total freedom of wandering into your shop and making saw dust any time you'd like will also pass away.  Or must it?

  Elements of our far flung family are currently visiting and my little grand daughters are filling my days will delight and confusion. Have you ever noticed how much a three year old has to say,  how difficult they are to understand and how frustrated they become with your lack of understanding? 

  What I did understand is that the big one (3 year ) likes dinosaurs.  In ages past I scroll sawed many 5 and 6 piece dino puzzles. This afternoon I cut out a puzzle, the first in a couple of years. And I discovered that I enjoyed it again.

   Purely by happy accident I made a brachiosaurus, (more or less) and its her favourite.  I think the brachiosaurus has been discovered/identified since I was into dinosaurs as a kid.  
  This little project reminded me how much satisfaction can be derived with so few tools and so little space.  I used my table top scroll saw to cut the puzzle out. I had a piece of pine that was a couple of feet long from which I cut the puzzle, there is room left for several more.  This sort of wood can be bought in any size at big box store and they'll even cut it into bit sized pieces if you can't fit full length boards on the back of your bicycle, or on the bus.

  After the dino was cut out I used a couple of files and some sand paper to smooth down the imperfections that come of lack of practise and shazam....a toy for a little person, a very happy little person.  That is as satisfying as any project I have done in some time.

  A scroll saw or small band saw, a couple of hand saws and an assortment of other hand tools can be used to make small projects with large satisfaction quotients and don't you forget it.

cheers, ianw

 Image result for brachiosaurus


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hammer Time

 This week our other grand children are visiting us from Europe and so we now have a one year old and a three year old (and their parents) staying with us.  Nap times and early bed times are going to impact shop time somewhat, and the fact that I'd rather play on the floor with a baby then work in my shop are going to impact shop time too.  
 In advance of their arrival I had a quick project to do.  The three year old likes to hammer. So I made her a bench and mallet for hammering.

  The blue bench part is mostly maple with a bit of poplar. The top pivots on two dowels so the wooden 'nails' don't actually come out, so they can't get lost. This way you pound in the 'nails' then flip the top over and pound them back again.

  The mallet didn't have enough mass to be effective and so I drilled it through on my drill press and glued steel ball bearings inside then glued plugs into the ends.

  Since the bench is made from hard wood all the screw holes needed to be pre-bored. The top pivoting on dowel inserts needed to be fairly accurately drilled too.  When I am doing a  small project like this I really prefer to do all the hole drilling on my drill press.  Whether you spend $99.99 or $899.99 I really believe that a shop needs to have a drill press.  In a pinch you can also use your drill press for sanding and buffing.  I still use an old  drill press as a spindle sander, I know it is a compromise but thus far I have been satisfied with the results.

 I am continuing work on the sofa table too.  Since everyone is out for High Tea I have had some quiet time to cut and shape the taper's on the tables' legs. I have the skirt to machine from large stock and then it is all about sanding and assembly.

  We've been having unseasonably lovely weather, I hope you have too.  Get out and enjoy yourselves, snow/work shop season is just around the corner.

cheers, Ianw

Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Build a Track Saw

  Many major manufacturers build a track saws now days.  A good track saw costs as much or more than a contractor's table saw and so owning both may be cost prohibitive for a D.I.Y wood worker. Given that situation most of us are inclined to buy the table saw, it is after all the tool that we grew up using.

  This video by D.I.Y. Creators shows how to make a track saw that might inspire a person to really explore what a track saw can do.  This improvised system should show whether the full expense of a track saw is good value.

 This homemade version should be more accurate than the methods that do no include installing runners on the base of the saw. All that is missing is the plunge feature.  

  Secondlys a shout out to my Hand Tool woodworking followers I am including this video of making Japanese saw horses.

  Very interesting, but I don't think my back will allow working on the floor.  It is a solution to the problem of too small a shop.  Could be the the future of condo/apartment work shops?

 cheers, ianw
Image result for fall colours

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pocket Hole Plug Maker

  I made a step stool using Kreg pocket hole jig and wood plugs a few years ago.  Over the course of my time as a sales representative I made dozens of step stools following this pattern.

  This is the stool that lives in our kitchen and is used to reach to the back of the highest cupboards and is made from poplar with walnut wood plugs.  Kreg Company sells wood plugs in a variety of woods.  But if you are working on a project and want plugs from a type of wood not supplied you can make your own pocket hole wood plugs by following this excellent instructional video:

  As a seasonal side line I am going to take a couple of paragraphs and talk about the Rockton World's Fair.  A local fall fair in which my wife and I have entered many competitions and for which we also volunteer each year. 

  This is Eva's haul from the fair this year.  She won most points in food, as well as winning ribbons for roses and stained glass crafts.

  My winnings were more modest, but two of my wood working projects got ribbons.

  Another aspect of the fair is sponsoring events.  I sponsor five of the cookie categories and as the sponsor I get to keep the winning entries.

 So for $10.00 I get 25 first place cookies.  More cookies than will fit into my workshop cookie jar as you can see by the overflow on the plate. I encourage everyone to get connected with their local fair.  Enter, there are several hundred categories for arts and crafts, food and preserves...or sponsor an event it adds to the fun and deepens your connection to the fair.

cheers ianw


 Image result for cookie monster  
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Folding Saw Horses done, Fish Begun

  Recently the plea went forth "my kingdom for  a saw horse". But not a really large awkward horse that takes too much space.  I researched and found a great video for folding saw horses from "Wood Working for Mere Mortals".   I made two horses following Steve's plans, more or less.  I found the strap hinges I used to be pretty flimsy and so I needed to add extra cross bracing to the moving pair of legs.  My horses are made from reused 2 x 4 and that wasn't a good idea either. The boards were pretty twisty requiring the bracing to be fitted individually.  All together though, two steady, stable folding saw horses. 

  Sitting on my work  bench now is a fish. I band sawed a fish shaped garden ornament  from more recycled material. The tail had to be glued together and so is drying before I shape the wood.  I plan to use a 4 1/2 inch grinder with a sanding disk and carbide rasps on my  oscillating multi-tool.

  Once the basic shape is achieved I will add on fins and gills from contrasting wood then finish the fish with deck sealer and let it swim through the garden.


 cheers, ianw

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. 

Image result for turkey bird
* enjoy a ham for the holiday*

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Its Nice to Have a Workshop.

  It is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend and so Rockton World's Fair Weekend.  My wife and I have been entering things in fair competition for many years as well as volunteering in one way or another. My wife is a super cook/baker that wins big most years.  My efforts are much more modest.

  This year I entered a couple of drawings, some bread and a some crafts work.  I always know the fair is coming, always know what I am  planning to enter and always it is a scramble on the last couple of days to get things ready. This year we had to cannibalise some of our photograph frames to frame some grandchild art and I discovered a couple of my pieces were not standard sizes.  I had to rush down stairs and frame a painting and a wood burning project at the last minute.  I was surprised at the painting since I bought a ready stretched  canvas.  I assumed it would be a standard size with cheap framing readily available  The wood burning was a one off and so it being an odd size wasn't really a surprise. 

  But...why does this always have to be dealt with at the last minute?  Haven't I learned anything from years of going to school?  Actually I was better organised as a student.  In five years of post secondary education I never handed in an assignment late, nor had to ask for an extension. 

   The wood burning is on 1/4 inch Baltic birch sanded to 400 grit and then buffed clean and smooth.  The smoother the wood, the easier it is to wood burn.   I glued the picture to another larger piece of plywood and glued the oak frame onto the backing piece.

  Once I got the frame glued together I sanded the oak and then spayed two coats of varnish on the piece to protect it from smudges and finger marks.

  Included in this blog: an inspirational video.  I actually have a couple of projects on the go but one is at a boring stage and the other is a gift (secret), so my sharing is limited.

  Get out and enjoy the weekend, come to the fair. I'm helping manage one of the car parks for a while tomorrow.

cheers, ianw

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Other Hand Skills

  Over the weekend my grand kids were here for a couple of days.  My Grandson and I worked in the wood shop on another boat and we built a hand cranked crane together.  This crane clamps to the railing at the top of our stair rails and the kids lower and raise a clamp on the string. 

  The crane pivots on a bolt

  I needed a knob on the handle and I used a twist-on wire connector.  I drilled a hole and put a small bolt through and threaded the twist-on, on.  It was quick easy and strong.

  This project added a new tool to my grandson's woodworking experience.  We drilled several holes using the drill press and he really liked and understands the tool.  Now every hole needs to be drilled using the drill press so that the depth can be controlled and the holes will be drilled at right angles to the materials. 

  I would say that a drill press is a critical shop tool.  It can't replace a cordless hand drill totally but the drill press enables you to drill larger holes safely and accurately.

  The other serious project was with my grand daughter.  We mixed up and baked a cake.  It was a cake mix, but....we did a good job.

  I  covered the cake with icing and a bit of piping and then Clara got going on the decorating.  Clara is five and loves candy but Oma's taste has out grown gummy worms.  Oma likes chocolate, so the cake is chocolate, with chocolate butter cream icing with dark and white chocolate bits and chocolate coated almonds.

  Wood working is good, but it is a good idea to have other tricks up your sleeve. 

cheers, Ian