Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Time is Here

  Our tree carefully and lovingly decorated by Eva.

Our Christmas Tree with the cool and thoughtful gifts from family and friends.
It is my sincere hope that your Christmas season is filled with love, happiness and all the good things for which you hoped.

from  my family to 
your family.

cheers, ianw

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quick Stocking Stuffer and Weird Discovery by a Cheap Wood Worker

There are only a couple of days left until Christmas and this year I haven't spent much time on home made things.  Actually I haven't spent much time on things at all, we've all got stuff coming out of our ears.  Having said that I have decided to make some wooden money clips as stocking stuffers.                                                                                                                                      

hanging to dry

    This is a quick easy make.  I am using poplar for this one and have already given it one coat of shellac.  I made the end a little thicker than the last ones I made a year or so ago.  I am hoping that this clip will not split apart so readily. 

  I just whipped this one off this afternoon and will make a few more later.  The only thing I find tough will projects this small is holding on to them while sanding.  I roughed the shape on a power sander but finished the project of to 320 grit by hand.

  The weird discovery involves dry breakfast cereal.  You know the wax paper type bag that the cereal comes in?  It can be pulled apart into a good sized flat sheet of high quality paper for making gaskets on finish cans. Also I am planning to use it as a bench cover when doing glue ups and painting small parts. The paper in those bags seems to be higher quality than ordinary waxed paper... who knew?  I like the idea of using and re-using if I possibly can, 'cause I am cheap maybe.  

  This morning I ventured into the insanity that is Christmas shopping.  Is anyone buying anything or are they just driving around?

  cheers, ianw

Friday, December 16, 2016

Restoration Up date, and Two Videos.

  I have worked for several hours on the table.  Three of the legs came out, one of the leg's tenons was a mess.  I guess the full weight of the deer must have fallen on that leg.  It took a while to rebuild and reshape the tenon. I have yet to grind all the old glue and gunk out of the mortise holes.  Currently I've left off the legs so the tops sits firmly on my work bench as I sand and re-finish it.

  We've had some serious weather here this week so there was snow to shovel and a couple of winter preparation things to do. Today I cleared the bicycles and gardening stuff out of our garage and put my motorcycle to sleep for the winter.( always a sad day)  We clear the garage out enough that my wife's car can live inside for the winter which means bicycle are hung from the ceiling  the Honda Silverwing is put down for the winter.  I honour of those things I looked up one of my favourite motorcycle videos on You tube. It reminds me of a fantasy that I think all bikers have.

  This has nothing to do with wood working.  I certainly can't encourage anyone to ride like the Ghost Rider.  Watching this video is the current equivalent to reading "The Lone Ranger" when I was a kid.  It is never going to be me, but it is so cool.  Also I've been to Stockholm a couple of times and sent a few days in Uppsala two years ago.  If you want to go on a trip, I heartily recommend Sweden.

  Now, to return to something wood work related: 

   The video for making the table is very detailed and easy to follow. I think that this creates a live edge table that appears light, instead of heavy and rustic looking.  It is a good piece of work and the video is well worth watching.  

cheers, ianw

Image result for the twelve days of christmas in canada

Sunday, December 11, 2016

In the Work Shop - a restoration story.

  This is the object of my current attention. Three of these legs are very loose and wobbly.  One leg  is immobile. Part of the top and two of the legs are stained with deer blood.  The bark is loose on one side.  My mission.  To sand it down, glue it up and varnish it all around.

  This is one of those craftsmen jobs that people often don't respect.  I'm not going to do anything that is magic but I have at my finger tips all the tools that are necessary to do all those non-magical things. To night I worked on the legs. I spent a couple of hours sanding off the stains and the old varnish. To do that I have used four different grits of sand paper, and two different rasps. All those things are at hand in my shop, as well as two types of glue and one type of wood filler.

  Once all the glues and fillers are dry I will have to shape and repair the one leg's broken tenon then use another sort of glue to re-glue the three loose legs.  Next I'll turn the table over, strip the top and re-finish it will a combination of shellac and varnish.

  All this is easy because I have sand paper, rasps, glue, sanders, dust masks and various finishes, brushes, rags and I know how to use them.  ( and clamps )

  When I am done you will not be able to find the stains, the nicks or dents on the legs and the top will have a warm and welcoming glow. (I don't do high gloss).  It will be as good as new, or maybe better.  All of these things are easy, once you know how and have done it a dozen or so times.  

  Often we do not give crafts people credit.  I have too often heard people say "oh I could do that", yes but you didn't you, so ......give credit where credit is due.

  I maybe a bit cranky since I have spent so much time this evening sanding by hand that my hands are a bit crampy and sore.  The person for whom I am repairing and refinishing the table appreciates the effort and my semi-grumpiness is not aimed at her.

  I am watching the snow accumulate and blow around. Tomorrow I will shovel what is left. Tonight, a cool drink, Christmas lights and an audio book for company. (and out old cat).

cheers, ianw

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wooden Spoons and Spatulas

 My wife is a very talented cook and baker and it seems she has  passed her passion  onto our Grand daughter Clara.  Clara's brother Kieran likes to make stuff in the shop and last year he and I made a tool box together.  Over the last few years he has been getting tools for his tools box.

  This year it is Clara's turn to began acquiring tools for her work in the kitchen. 

   The last couple of evenings have been spent making smaller sized kitchen tools for Clara for Christmas.


  These are some of the tools I've made in my shop recently.  The spatula in the middle is full sized, the other ones are about half as long, but 2/3 as large.  The shorter handles will help small hands keep things under control more easily.

  There are many, many videos on You tube showing ways to make wooden spoons.  I looked at a bunch of them for method and inspiration.  

  First I traced the shapes on a clear grained piece of Poplar and cut it out on the band saw. 
For the spatulas the band saw was the last power tool I used.  A jig saw, a scroll saw or a coping saw could also do the job, and not much more slowly. So don't abandon making these things just because you don't have a band saw. 

  Once the pieces were cut out I shaped them with knives, small planes and mostly with sand paper.  You could equally use a spoke shave, I didn't because I have not become skilled with one or a draw knife. The draw knives I inherited are to large to use comfortably on small projects like this.

   The spoon, I shaped with somewhat greater modern savagery.  I wanted a rounded handle for the spoon and needed to shape the bowl and so roughed it into shape on my 36 inch belt sander.  A smaller power sander would also work or you could use my favourite rough carving tool, the Nicholson 4 in 1 rasp.  I bought my 4 in 1 rasp early, early on when I began gathering tools and have used it as much and more than many other tools. 

  Projects like these are labours of love and so I listen to music and work at a fairly causal pace while completing them.  As you can see from the bench I used lots of tools and didn't worry about efficiency.

  There is everything from knives and rasps to shreds of sand paper and coffee cups on that bench.  I used the tooth brush to clear fine wood dust out of 320- 500 grit sand paper. Since I did some serious whittling at the roughing stage I wore my carving gloves with their added leather finger tips.  You can also see two large needle files on the work surface as well as 60 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit, 320 grit and 500 grit sand paper.  Were I making these tools for money I doubt  I would sand much past 220 grit, but for family 500 grit seemed appropriate. And incidentally this piece of poplar sanded as smooth as glass.

  As an unromantic foot note  I used my Dremel tool and a ball shaped bit to rough out the inside of the spoon.  Yes, I have gouges and a hook knife, (somewhere) but my dewy eyed hand tool romanticism does have limits. I do like my variable speed Dremel tool with its flexible tool shaft. 

  This is another personal project that can be made with limited tools and at limited cost.  Every  time that spoon or spatula is used the maker will be remembered. Don't we all want to be remember?

cheers, ianw

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Another Plane for You to Make

Make a Plane 

  As the holiday season progresses it might be nice to take an hour or two out and make yourself something useful for your shop.

  cheers, ianw

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Crayon Holder

  Two of our  grand children are here this weekend and have been making and decorating Christmas ornaments. Also my Grand son wanted to work in my shop and so I directed him toward a crayon holder as a project.  He wanted to make a snake from wood that flexes, he thought that  slicing almost through the wood from two sides would allow flexing. His plan was possible but it wouldn't stand up to serious kid stresses.

  There were a couple of things that I didn't like about his plan, the main problem was that he couldn't do much of the work.  I try to keep the project simple and such that he can do as much of the work as possible.  And a toy that breaks easily is not a good idea either.
  This is one type of crayon holder that is sort of snake like.

  Our snake started out a straight piece of poplar.  Kieran rounded  the top edges with a block plane.  As a production item I would round the edges with my router but the block plane is a tool available to a kid. I did a bit of sanding on my 36 inch belt sander.  That is a tool that is too aggressive for small hands.  Even I get a finger tip polished when using the belt sander occasionally. 

 We drilled 20 holes in the board for crayons. I held the wood solid and he used the drill press to make the holes.  I ripped the snake in half on the band saw, a tool still to grown up for my grand son.  Then he used a mitre box and cut the snake into sections. 

  Once we had the snake cut into sections I cut a strip of leather to go through the middle of the snake. We glued the blocks onto the leather spine.  Gluing and clamping are activities that a kid can do.

  All we had to do was wait for the glue to set.

  This is a quick easy project that can be made with off cuts and limited tools. If you could arrange to make gifts with your kids  and or grand kids, that might be the best gift of all.

  I have compromised my mixing of kid work and shop work.  My plan is to have projects that provide for the minimum amount of watching Opa work time.  On the other hand a quick cut on the band saw means we can complete a project within the attention span of an average 7 year old.  My criteria for success requires a finished project during the current visit, so short visits mean small projects.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Corner Caddy

  In the corner of our living room sits my big chair.  For a long time my chair has been surrounded with books, magazines and miscellaneous electronic devises.  Like everyone else I have a phone, a tablet, a lap top computer and an e-reader plus books and magazines.  Often those things drift into the corner and settle in  small piles around my chair. The television remotes and all that stuff is up stairs in the family room.
  Yesterday I looked at the collected chaos, considered the coming month with all the traditional comings and goings and decided it was time to bring the 'stuff' * under control.

  Again this is when a workshop in the basement is wonderful.  I designed this caddy to hold my phone and tablet/e-reader a pen or reading glasses in the narrow front slot. The larger compartment is for books and magazines. The handle means it is easy to move around the room and can be easily stashed behind the chair when there is a crowd of folks hanging out.

   The first stage of this project was decided its over all size.  I opted for 6 1/4 by 13 by 5 in front 8 inches in back.  I made the box so it would fit on the window sill if I wanted it handy while sitting and reading. 

  I had some Baltic birch plywood in the bin down stairs but made the front panel from thinly planed pine.  I stained the bulk of the box but left the front unfinished as I plan a wood burned pattern for later.

  Making this type of project is interesting because when I am making for myself I often use nails to put things together.  Had I been making something like this for someone else I probably would have glued it together or made an effort to hide the fasteners, thereby taking twice as long.  I like my projects to get going and get finished in a hurry, I'm afraid. 

  Here is the box sitting on the arm of my chair.  I can throw all my corner stuff into the box and find it  quickly and easily.  

  A project like this is really an apartment workshop style project.  Sheet stock can be bought in bite sized pieces at building supply stores and the tools necessary to make a nice job of this project are limited.

  I used a saw, if you have only one get a jig saw. Hammer and a few nails. Wood glue. Then I sanded everything and stained it.  You can sand a small project like this by hand or spend a few dollars and get a reasonably priced random orbital sander  to make finishing easier.   In fact a project like this could be covered in wall paper or stickers or if that  suits your style and taste. 

  The reason  to make this is simple.  It is wood, it will last.  Some  cheap plastic thing from a $ store won't look as good, last as long or provide the satisfaction you get from making your own thing.  Also since it is wood it can be refinished to match evolving decor in a way that a plastic thing can't.

  Wood is Good.

cheers, ianw

* there are other names for stuff, but this is a family show.