Sunday, November 27, 2016

A hippo's nose job !, I love wood working

  It has been an interesting wood working day.  I visited a potential client that needs repairs and refinishing done to their live edge table.  A deer crashed through their front window and smashed the furniture on the ground floor of their home.  Regular repair guys are fixing flooring and book cases but the table needs an irregular guy like me.

  What else did I do with my day?  I repaired yet another box for 10,000 Villages like this one:


  The boxes come from India and often the lids warp with the temperature and humidity changes.  The hinges are maddeningly attached with nails so all the work on the boxes has to be done fully assembled. I have developed a whole bag of tricks for clamping, planing, sanding and re-staining these boxes. 

  Today was  another first for me.  I was so carried away with this project I didn't take a before picture, only after pictures.

  The hippo began with a symmetric face but somewhere in his travels from Kenya to Canada his right nostril got broken completely off.

caution: hippo at work.
I have no idea what sort of wood this is. It didn't help that I was working on the end grain but  I learned from trial and error  that it was better to use files and rasps than to try and carve it with blades.

  With some patience and a bag load of tools I reshaped  the face then sanded and polished my work.  I know that it has been repaired just looks hand carved and individual to the uninformed eye.

  Do you remember the scene in Toy Story 2 where the guy  repaints and restores Woody.  He has a super tool box with all the specialized tools he needs. 

carving tools on left
Dremel tool box on right
small box of needle files, sanding jigs
 and other tools spread all about. 
  When I do those small repairs I use every tools I can lay my hands on.  There is always filing, scraping, shaving and trimming in those jobs for 10,000 Villages.  I have carving knives, about a dozen, a whole bunch of needle files and rifflers as well as various bits for my Dremel tool. 


   As a by the way this tool box was made by my father as a shop project when he was in high school, a long time ago.  It would be great if one day it was a tool box for one of my Grand children. 

 cheers, ianw


Friday, November 25, 2016

Spool and Bobbin Holder

   Even though this looks like a medieval torture device for squirrels it is in fact a spool and bobbin holder for a family friend.  If you have a sewer (sewist, seamstress) in your midst a project like this might be welcome.

  I reused a 19 inch square of 1/2 plywood as the back. This plywood had very thin veneer and so sanding it wore through the veneer is spots. I used dark rub on stain to create the random finish and laid out the 81 holes.

  The holes are drilled on a 10 degree angle.  I decided on 10 degrees because it would hold the spools and still be easy to drill with the jig I made. 

After I drilled the holes I had to cut 1/4 dowel into 81 pieces 3 1/2 inches long. Again I set up a simple jig.  

  A jig can be something as simple as a mitre box with a stop block clamped in place. What ever makes the task easier and more automatic can be called a jig.  

  This sort of project is not difficult but it is time consuming. It took a hour to cut the dowel, taper both ends of the 1/4 dowel with a pencil sharpener, add glue and hammer each piece into place.  After I drove the dowels into their holes I had to wipe the plywood down with a damp cloth to clean up the squeezed out glue.  All of those things take time when done 81 times.  

  The whole project took about two hours  and cost about $10.00 for materials.  If you know some one that sews and would like to get organised this would be a good gift.

cheers, ianw


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How Wooden Barrels are made.....

  There are many different wood working trades and although some of the trades' skills have fallen out of use there are still a specialised wood working skills that are interesting to me.

 For example, there are still a few highly skilled wooden boat builders left. Not everyone can afford or wants a steel boat.  There are many, many plans for small boats on the net and if you search you will find several evening's worth of entertainment watching boats built and repaired. But there are still some boat yards that will make a traditional wooden sailing boat, a boat like that must be amazing to sail upon

Another specialised wood working skill is bow making.

  I have used several different kinds of bows in my life. At one time I was a Boy Scout Competition Camp archery champion and I recognise the advantages of high tech bows, but do like the feel of a wooden long bow.  Feel and emotion are allowed to trump practicality since I don't hunt my own food.

  Another common wooden object for many hundreds of years were a wooden pulleys.

  Bellows are ornaments in most houses, if they exist at all. But once, a wood worker made bellows in all sizes for all uses, including huge bellows for forges. 

  In many cases a wood worker combined their skills with those of black smiths, rope makers, leather workers and a whole host of other skilled craftsmen to make our lives better.  

  In a world filled with mass produced, and plastic things we who are lucky enough to be wood workers should be Thankful for our work shops and our tools.

  And as almost an after thought the noble cooper.  This video is what started my mind to wander down the non-carpenter path.

  On a cold evening cruise around the internet to see and encourage your fellow woodworkers, young and old.

  What did I do in my shop yesterday?  I added some wood burned details to my small projects. Here is a video of a traditional style of traditional wood burning from Korea,.  I encourage you to check out the entire series of videos. I am not traditional or as artistic, but I love to play with wood.

cheers, ianw

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Shop Shoes and What to do while Varnish is Drying

 My shop activity is a little restricted while I spray the coats of varnish onto the chess board from 10,000 Villages. The chess board is going to get 10-12 light coats of spray vanish. Between each coat I rub it down with steel wool and a tack cloth.  I am trying to keep the air in the shop dust free if possible.

 So this morning I used my time to put things away and to gather up little scraps of wood for my buddy's fireplace. A couple of times a year I need to dive into the chaos that is my shop space and throw away little bits of wood that I have saved for later use.  Experience has shown me later use, just doesn't happen.

  Since I have been having trouble with my back again I have not been able to spend long periods of time in the shop but something that I have found helps create a stable standing posture are shop shoes.  My father wore shop shoes and I thought he was a bit silly.  Shop shoes are warm on the cement floor and have characteristics of modern safety shoes, though they can be slippery on wooded stairs.

As unlikely as it seems, and as funny to look at, these wooden shoes protect my feet, keep my toes warn and seem to extend the time I can work in the shop before my back begins to bother me.  And the shoes are wood, how cool is that. One of these days I will sand off the yellow but otherwise, my Dad was right.

  My shoes aren't hand made, sadly.  Isn't it amazing what a few tools, leverage and experience can do with wood.

  Since I couldn't make saw dust, and I did tire of the clean up process I did a bit of whittling.  As you know I am thrifty. (cheap maybe). I use my pencils until they are just about worn away.  To keep them long enough to be useful, I made a few pencil extenders.

  The extenders keep the pencil from sliding down in the pouch and getting lost and gave me something to do for a while in the peace and quiet of my shop.  I keep little pieces of basswood for just this type of time killer project.  Small carving projects like this are a good to help keep my hands strong and limber.  Older hands need extra exercise to keep working well.

  I carved the pencil extenders with various knives and sealed them.  I think I will have a grand child paint them for me one of these days.

 cheers, ianw


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Coffee Maker in the Work Shop

  In my shop I have several coffee cups that are variations on this design. The moustache cups date from my waxed moustache days in the army reserves. The problem with a moustache cup is my single serve drip/filter coffee makers doesn't sit flat on it.

  The filter holder sits to one side and will tip off if I am not vigilant, and often in the shop I am distracted. So...there are coffee stains all over my shop.

  The solution is a simple shop project.  That I saw on the internet, but was not clever enough on my own to think of. I made this holder from my scrap bin since it is a prototype. I think I will make a couple of nicer versions and give them away as gifts this Christmas season. I need to go to a cheap clearance store and buy a couple of single filter holders first.

  I have most of my Christmas gifts planned, and of course they won't appear in the blog until after the holidays. I don't want to give away any surprises.

  Also today I embarked on a repair for 10,000 Villages.  

  This chess board had two pronounced scratches that I scraped out with a very thin cabinet scraper.  After the scratches were gone I cleaned the top with alcohol to remove any  wax and have started  the process of applying ten or so light coats of spray varnish to rebuild the depth of finish in the areas that had been scratched.  I think in certain light situations the variation in the finish will be visible, but the scratches were visible in all lighting situations.  Once the varnish coats are dry I will give the top a good buffing with polish and it will be as good as new.(in most lights).

cheers, ianw

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

On my way home from our church's Christmas Bazaar I saw, sitting on the side of the road an opportunity. 

   This chest of drawers is in rough(ish) shape, on the outside.  There are stains on the front and one side, the feet are broken off the chest and some of the paint has been chipped.


  The drawers have solid wood sides with plywood bottoms.  I expect that the wood underneath the paint is veneer on solid wood.

  What do I do now?  My first thought was to break this piece up and use the drawer sides for other projects but...I could repair the bottom and install new legs.  The staining can be washed off and the nicks in the paint can be filled and sanded.  I would never try to return this piece to bare wood but it could be made to look good if carefully painted.  I now have to decide what to do.  We certainly do not need another chest of drawers, I guess we'll have to find out if someone else could use one.

 I've included a small bench build video with today's blog.  It is similar to my bench top bench from last June.   I use the clamping capabilities of my small bench regularly. Especially when I am sawing and shaping smaller pieces of wood by hand. 

  cheers, ianw

p.s. I love fall colours.

Image result for fall colours in ontario

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Tips for Woodworking

Today I am posting a youtube video from the Woodworker's Journal on tips and tricks for measuring and layout.

 The video is worth watching, there are a couple of tricks you have not thought of I bet. has many quality Starrett products from which you can choose.  Your shop must have accurate squares and rulers.

cheers, ianw

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Table Built

  You can never have too many clamps.  I glued up the remaining shelves for Mary's table yesterday.  I milled the two inch boards from a slab of poplar.  Poplar is an interesting wood, there are several species included under the name "poplar" and so the wood can be pure white, or slightly greenish, straight grained and very hard or softer with tinted coloured gain running though it.  These shelves are fairly soft which made milling them on basement equipment easier.  I started with a slab 44 inches long, 2 1/2 inches thick and 10 inches wide. I was able to flatten the board on the planner because it was so thick the rollers could not flatten the cupping.  First I planned off the top of the cup (hump) then turned it over to plane away the edges. The jointer provided a square edge and I used my table saw to slice off six two inch boards. 
  Once the boards were cut I did what all wood workers do next.  I went to my wall of clamps, got down a bunch and clamped the boards together.  Every time I do this I marvel at the advancements in adhesive technology. Now I almost never use dowels, or biscuits when edge clamping.

  This table is a custom size, and that is what you can do when you have a work shop.  In reality the table is a bit taller than typical which allows the middle shelf. The photo doesn't show but the legs are tapered  to lighten the presentation somewhat. 

   I will spent a bit of time sanding the whole thing again and then Mary can stain it, paint it or what ever her heart desires.

  I saw the band new Kreg  mobile work centre , I can't wait to check one out in person. In the  The video looks great.

cheers, ianw