Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Clamps and Glue

 I continue to be amazed at that you can make with glue and clamps.  I am building another side table, again without fasteners and currently have the beginnings of a music stand drying.

  Last evening I glued a small lip onto the ledge. This afternoon I sanded that joint and then I glued the ledge to the back of the music stand.  All that remains is to leave it until it is properly dry and then sand and finish.  Ratcheting or Quick Clamps are perfect for this type of task.  As you can see I have three different clamps in use.  I often pick up a clamp or two at a wood show, somebody always has something on sale.  Don't buy cheap, 'no-name' clamps, they are not worth the money.  The clamp in the middle of the project is 35 years old and works as well as the day it was purchased.  

  The  other thing that is clamped and drying is a prototype acoustic amplifier for my phone. 

  Every time I change technology I need to make a new speaker.  It is worth noting that each device's speakers are placed differently.  I like the compact size and shape of this design but decided to make a rough prototype before using good materials.  Part of what I wanted to see was how small the speaker could be and not fall over.  The tablet stand I made a while ago was not prototyped and is not a stable enough to hold the tablet vertically. I like to believe that I can learn from my mistakes.  

  This speaker stand is stable while improving and increasing the volume of my phone. I will next make a prettier version with nice wood, careful joinery and then finish it  with shellac. If you are thinking of something like this there are many possible designs for phone acoustic speakers  if you can draw your own plans after seeing a photograph.  I begin with an internet photograph and fitted the design  to my phone.   

  I am not a slave to my phone.  In fact it sits on my desk unused for days at a time, that's why I decided to turn it into a radio.


Saturday, September 16, 2017


 We have been having some wonderful weather these last few days  so I have tried to take advantage.  I've been for a couple of long motorcycle rides and other things have taken me out of my shop too. There will be plenty of cold and rainy days in the months to come,  now carpe diem and carpe coffeum,  I recently found a place that sells ginger cookies at a very reasonable price to dunk in my coffee.

  The only project I've finished lately is another spoon.

I think it is a witch's spoon!
 but the wood grain is lovely.

  This spoon was chopped from a piece of firewood.  I think it was black locust  It is hard and stringy. I chopped it into basic shape with my hatchet but used a grinder and a dremel tool to complete the shaping. 

  My Dremel is old school with a cord attached, and I generally use it with a flex-shaft.  A traditional wood worker this sort of thing is competed with knives and scrappers.  I love to carve/whittle, but this wood was so darn tough it was only going to get done with electric help.  

   Carving a wooden spoon is a link to many, many videos about carving wooden spoons.  I don't think there is anything I can add to the vast knowledge out there about spoon carving.  What I can add is that I think every wood worker should have a spoon on the go in their shop. There is almost nothing as relaxing as fussing away on a spoon and ultimately sanding it with ever finer sand paper until it is baby's bottom smooth.  After I wax or oil my spoons they are  remind my just how wonderful wood can feel. 

  It is supposed to be lovely tomorrow.  I won't be in the basement shop tomorrow either. It is good to be the King.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Repairs and clamping jigs


  This squirrel has stood in a bird bath since I was a teenager. The other day I was visiting my friend to find the squirrel's base had collapsed from years of the freeze/thaw cycle, and was laying on its face in the bird bath.  Of course, I decided I could and would repair it.

  In my shop are many non-woodworking resources for making repairs.  Needless to say I have a large plastic jar of Portland Cement .  I put the squirrel in an appropriate plastic container, mixed up the cement and created a new base.  A simple repair that is possible because I had the basic tools and ingredients at hand.  In my shop are two shelves filled with plastic and glass jars and other containers in all shapes and sizes.  This selection of containers enables me to mix, sort and store all sorts of things in all sorts of sizes and shapes. I also have a couple of shelves of cement, various filler, glues, grouts etc. 
  Then.....when a little repair something comes along shazam, I can do it with no effort at all. Since it takes no effort, it gets done.  Often little repairs are ignored because it is too much trouble to go out and buy the two small ingredients to make the repair.


   I am working on another side table.  This table is being made from oak and being glued with Gorilla Glue.  This table is being built with glue joints only, no metal fasteners at all. This type of construction is only possible given the tremendous developments in adhesive science in the last few decades.  The frame for the top of this table has mitred corners and so clamping critical.  I made the red corner jigs a few year ago, use them often.  With careful clamping and quality glue the mitred corners are strong enough.  I have a 1/4 plywood top I will drop into the top and once that is done it will be solid enough without having to re-enforce the joints.

  You can see Bessey clamps and a yellow handled No-Name clamp in the photo. If you are buying clamps for your clamps are not good value.  The yellow clamps slip, and fall apart and remain in my shop only because I spent time riveting the heads on and filing the clamps so that the moving section will grip properly.  The time and aggravation spent out weighed the money saved, in my opinion.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

What is a Hybrid Table Saw?

When you want to know something, ask some one that is  knowledgeable, and it isn't Google all the time.

Matthias Knows : 

Makita 10'' Table Saw Kit w/Stand 2705X1

  For general workshop knowledge it is worth checking out the video.  If you are in the market for a table saw, it is worth checking out the video too.

  While we are thinking about table saws, here is another short video related to safety and performance of a job site saw.

cheers ianw

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Lots of Things Drying

  At this moment in my shop there are things drying and small project stacked up. I am making some small projects for a coming event at our church and the impending Rockton World's Fair .  Our church is having a 'food fair' as a fund raising event in a couple of weeks and I am not going to contribute food, but kitchen accessories. I have made a serving board and three cheese boards.

   The cheese boards are ash wood rounds that I planed and finished with food grade oil. This set of rounds I flatten differently that previously.  The rounds are only about ten inches across and so I used my 12' Planer to flatten them.  I very slowly lowered the blades and took extra small bites as I planed the end grain of the ash.  The result is good but....I think I will have to replace the planer blades sooner than I'd planned.  

   Going to the food fair as well is a turned bowl I made a while ago from maple stair treads. Maple is hard but slightly boring looking wood. 

  I also made and wood burned a tea box.  I felt like working on a small hand tool project and after planing the wood down and edge gluing it I set about making a nice little box.  There is a special satisfaction in beginning a project with a piece of very average stud grade lumber and ending with a small finely fitted project.

  The little oak caddie for the three glass bottle with the turned wooden tops is also for the church. Projects like this are made in factories over seas by the ten thousand.  Mine however is one of a kind, with three up cycled bottles and their three different turned lids.  If some one realizes the unique nature of the tops they'll find a use for the bottles, it no one realizes that the three lids are different wood and hand turned, they don't really deserve them.

  It is nice to be at a point in my life where I no longer have to explain or promote.  I just make stuff I like and let it go at that.

  I have a piece of furniture to make and I have a door knob that I plan to turn in the next while.  My big projects right now are paintings for competition at the fair. Painting is nice, it is a quiet pass time, which serves as a relief from the noises in the shop.



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Its Hammer Time

  Yesterday I dropped over to David's house to do a very small job, with the right tool.  We all own a drill, many of us own several.  Now days most drills are cordless, but you should not discount corded drills and especially corded hammer drills. 

   The small job  was to drill two holes into their concrete block foundation.   A few years ago I bought a good hammer drill.  The hammer feature on that drill is a thing that I  only use a couple of times per year, but is a feature for which there is no really good substitute. We could have gotten along without the hammer drill, but..... having the proper tool available makes the job so much easier.

    I remember drilling a hole in cement before carbide tipped drill bits.  In fact I worked with my Grand Father to drill a hole in a house foundation with a star drill. 

Image result for star drill
star drill bit

 It took us a very long time to drive that star drill into the concrete, probably something nearing an hour and hundreds of hammer blows.  A modern hammer drill delivers hundreds of blows per minute so does the job much quicker.

  If you a planning on a job that requires a few holes in cement buy a cheaper hammer drill and then you'll be set for years.  If you have a big job in mind, rent a big, powerful rotary-hammer drill someplace, you can drill holes all day.  You can also rent large bits that will drill holes big enough for dryer vents and drainage pipe and things like that. 

  Hammer drill vs. rotary hammer 

  Aside from a bit of home improvement stuff this weekend I am working on three new cutting boards.  Cutting boards are low skill and another case where the correct tool makes the job easier.

cheers, ianw


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ash Round Side Table Finished

After four coats of shellac and two coats of spray varnish the little table is sitting in our living room.

  The table turned out not bad.  One of the legs was drilled a bit out of line and it is visible if you look closely.  When I drilled the holes through the top I was focused on not breaking through and blowing out the sides of the hole. Another time I would focus just as much on alignment.  I though I would wiggle the legs into alignment if needed, didn't work. The wedge filling the split worked very well, so this time two out of three, next time perfect.
Before I put the table on our hardwood floor I glued felt footies on the bottom of each leg. Next time you are in  a $ store buy a bunch of felt feet, they will save your floor in the long run.

  While the table was being finished I avoided saw dust creation in the shop.  A while back I made a blade cover for my Mora push knife.  While the shop was a 'no dust' zone I did a bit of wood burning.

  I made the blade guard from stud lumber and the slot fit closely enough that the rubber band isn't absolutely necessary, right now.  

  This is a pattern with no meaning, it is just a pattern. I burned the shape with a blade style tip and then filled the space with dots.  Spruce is not a good wood for burning, the grain doesn't burn uniformly, so it is difficult to get a smooth straight line.  


  WAL is WAL Speciality Woodworking, that's me.  I burned the letters then filled the space with dots and red ink.  The effect is textured and  colourful .  This tool is high quality and deserved a proper blade guard from the start.  I actually bought the tool in Sweden on a trip there four or five years ago. 

  The last week or two have been pretty active and I seem to have over done it...again.  My back is a bit sore and so I  won't be taking on a big job like the table again for a while. Making the table involved a couple of hours of serious hunched over grinding to get the top side flat, and one full afternoon at the lathe. Hunched over work is the worst kind for my back it seems.  I have to ration that sort of work very very sparingly.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Ash Round

   I turned 4 legs on my mini lathe for the end table.  I split the ends of the legs, hammered them  into the top and drove in wedges. Everything is firmly connected without glue.

  The next part of the project is the part I like least.  Sanding, sanding, sanding. To sand the legs I will use my finishing sander instead of my random orbital, I find the non-orbital movement of the finishing sander easier to control on rounded surfaces.  The legs are elm. Elm is tough, has an interesting grain and is a bit stringy.  Finishing the legs will involve several coat of shellac to raise the grain, with lots of sanding between each coat.  I really like the final result but it does take time to get the grain under control and smooth. 


  You can see from my lathe set up that I really need to develop some type of dust collection system and a much better way to deal with my tools as I work.  My lathe is on a rolling cabinet that is great for moving it around the shop but not a very good work station.   I am thinking/planning what to build to make wood turning more efficient. 

don't do this at home.
  The legs were almost too long to fit my lathe.  Honestly,  the legs were too long, and I should never have run the tail stock out so far.  I was more by good luck than superior technique that the spindle didn't come loose while I was turning the legs.

  These legs are rounded off squares, not totally round spindles.  That means that there are four narrow flats as well as four rounded corners on each leg.  When it came time to sand the legs I was only able to sand the top shoulder and the round feet with the lathe running. The middle of the leg had to be sanded after it came off the lathe.  It would have been quicker to make the legs round and finish them on the lathe, it is easier to get a glossy finish that way. However, the rounded squares make for a more interesting and less expected leg.

  This small table a first try. I know a couple of things that I will do differently when I make my next small table.  I also think I am still going to make a little three legged stool.

cheers, ianw


Monday, August 21, 2017

Prep Day in the Work Shop

  Even before I could begin today's work I had to clean up last week's left overs.  Building in the shop with my Grand Children tends to be messy.  I used these two tools to roughly shape the hull of our latest boat.  For years the blades have been projected by card board and duct tape. This morning I decided that they deserved more respect than that.  Especially the draw knife, it is many many years old and was made for my late Grandfather by a local smith in Bracebridge, Ontario.  As tools go it is excellent, razor sharp and remarkably easy to control for its size. 

  Today I took the few minutes necessary to make proper guards for these tools .  I ripped some 2 x 3 spruce and used my table saw to cut a slot in the guard. Unlike a stop gap job of cardboard and duct tap, I made the guards fit properly, not just adequately.  Once made I went the extra step to sand the work and break all the edges.  I have a supply of bicycle inner tubes on hand, they make excellent heavy duty elastic bands. 

  A couple of silly little jobs like this can be done with very limited available tools.  When you have a shop it is amazing how many tools come into use, cause they are available.  I used my table saw, my band saw, my 6 x 24 inch belt sander, glue and clamps as well as hand sand paper. Don't forget the drill press and drill bits and block plane.  All those tools aren't necessary but it makes replacing card board and duct tape easy and rewarding.  Each time I reach for my draw knife and push knife I will know the blades were safe and will be sharp. These guards will also serve as a lesson to my Grand children to take proper care of their stuff.

  Yesterday's project was filling in the crack in my ash wood round.  I used a variety of power tools to flatten the round first. I began with my power hand planer to knock the roughest stuff off. I find the power planer pretty aggressive, or at least that's how I use it and it survives the treatment. 

 I next moved to a 5 inch grinder with a 36 grit disk and then my 4 1/2 inch grinder with a 100 grit disk.

  The next challenge was fitting a wedge into the big crack. I decided there was no way the repair would be invisible so I didn't even try. First I traced the crack onto a bit of paper then transferred the shape  to a piece of spruce and cut it out, (more or less) on the band saw. Then it was a trial and error, fit and fuss process until I got the wedge shaped more or less to match the crack.

  I used Gorilla Glue and some filler putty to firmly install the wedge. Then I did some extra sanding and it looked better than I had planned.  Originally the round was destined to be a three legged stool, now it is going to be a side table in our living room.

  The change in plan for the round of Ash means that today I was gluing up some wood to become  four legs. 

 After facing the boards on my jointer I glued them together in pairs. I will cut them into squares and turn them on my lathe.  One pair of boards couldn't be glued to day, they were wet, my out side lumber stack cover leaked. No trouble I will not have time to turn all four legs in one day.  My back is getting better, or I am getting better at coping.  I can work in my shop for 3 or 4 hours in a day now,  which is not perfect, but it is much better than no hours a day which it has been in the recent past.


  While I was gluing wood today I also re-sawed some spruce to 1/4 inch for a tea box that I plan to make.  I squared the board on my jointer, then re-sawed the boards on my 14 inch band saw and then planed them to thickness with my 12 inch planner.  If I were doing lots of thin board, small projects I would like to have a thickness sander.  At this point I'm set for tools, never know the future. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bee House and Swedish Fishing Boat.

Eva has worked long and hard to make our gardens lush and attractive.  I would hazard to say that our garden is among the best in the neighbourhood. To have a good garden you need to have sun, water, good soil and bees.  Recently studies have shown that there are many solitary bees that need good places to live.  Yesterday K  finished his Swedish Fishing Boat and I started a bee house.

 If you are looking for a project that is low, low tech to do with a work shop learner this is it. The log is about 17 inches long and features holes of four different diameters.  This bee house is going to the family farm. I plan to make  more for our garden and various friend's gardens. I used the drill press for the bigger holes but used my corded hand drill for the other ones.  I have cordless drills, but when I am planning to drill that many holes in one place it is worth plugging the drill in. ( I like non fading power).

  Yesterday was also spent finishing the most recent boat.

  K opted for Swedish National Colours. His cousins live in Sweden and recently visited. This boat was our most complex project.  When we shaped the hull it under went sea trials to ensure that it floated evenly. This boar involved in all,  two control panels, controlling five separate lines, bow, stern, port,starboard and the boom. The lines are connected by string from the control panels to the two sunken pylons and then the boat.  It works in theory and in the mind of the eight year old inventor that designed it.  We spent three hard hours building the string control system, every time we got one thing working he wanted to add something else.  It makes me thing of "A Big Ball Of String"
Image result for the big ball of string

 Without a shop filled with bits of wood, hooks, screws, sting, saws, drills,chisels, awls and all sorts of hand tools this project could not have happened.  

 cheers, ianw

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday August 15th 2017

  First of all, here is David's table complete and on the deck.  The dark stain he used gives the project a good looking finish. It remains to be seen how well the finish stands up to the
  My Grandson is here for a couple of days and so we are working on a couple of projects
with him, needless to say one of them is a boat.

  This is K's latest boat from Opa's shop.  It is sort of a fishing trawler from a book he brought with him on this trip.  This time the boat floats with pretty good trim.  To get the boat to float we had to shape the boat as well as cut away wood from the inside of the hull. K used the drill press to clear out most of the material and sanded the rest.  He also worked on shaping the hull with a drill press mounted drum sander.  Over the years he and I have made many boats, and each time the form of the boat gets more important and the quality of finish needs to be better.  If we made ten or twelve boats a year instead of three or four he would be an his way to being Canadian's Youngest Marine Architect, who would be the proudest Opa then...!

  While K is working on his own projects I usually have something small going on around him. As he worked on his boat I cut out a couple of rough spoon shapes for me to work on later. 


  While the boat was being built I whipped up a BBQ grill cleaning paddle for Kieran's family's BBQ.  I cut it out on the band saw and shaped the edges with a round over bit on my router table.

  Today's big project was a Republican Attack Shuttle. 

  This isn't a workshop project, it is a Revell snap together model.  K loves Star Wars stuff. It is his generation I guess.  After reading the instructions and only calling on adult help three times the shuttle was complete.  I was very impressed with his patience and careful work. It isn't wood work but all building is a useful learning experience. 


Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday's Round Up.

  I have been slacking off a bit this summer.  I spent the beginning of this week on a short motorcycle road trip.  The weather was perfect, the roads were smooth and empty and the riding was wonderful. I need to do that more often.

  I arrived home to a patio furniture project with my friend David. Since it was a David project there was an excellent plan from which to work.  Never discount just how much easier it is to build when you have a good plan.

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  The table is made from cut down 2 x 3 and will be painted just like the plant stand.  As David said, it is easy to make this sort of thing when you have the proper tools.  My table saw and sliding mitre saw enabled us to knock the project off in 90 minutes working slowly and talking steadily.  The project is all butt joints and screw fasteners, strong and quick.

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  The table was made to hold up the round glass top from their previous patio table.  This photo was clearly and after thought. 

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  This is the finished tear drop box.  It has two coats of shellac and two coats of Minwax spray varnish. I really don't have a purpose in mind for the box but I liked working with the maple and oak. 

  Displaying WP_20170811_002.jpg

  Here is Maui's hook for my four year old grand daughter.  You know what it is like making things for small children, she may love it immediately, or ignore it totally.  There is no way to know.  Two weeks ago Moana  and company where totally in fashion, this week, Moana and Maui could be old news.  We'll find out tomorrow when the hook is delivered.

 I apologise for the poorer than usual photographs. For some unknown reason the software was not importing photos properly and so I had to use another method that is not as clean or clear.

cheers ianw

Monday, August 7, 2017

Band Saw Style Box

    While I was working on my latest spoon I thought I would have a couple of small projects on the go too.  I like to have a variety of things going on in my shop.  It adds  interests and has me working with with muscles and in different postures, which helps my back pain issues. This is an oval (ish) box with a twisting lid. It has a maple body and oak top and bottom. 

  It is similar to making a band saw box but instead of cutting the ends off I shaped the body, through drilled out the inside and then added the end pieces.  Through drilling and adding the bottom afterwards makes for a smoother finish inside and on the bottom.  Fitting the bottom and shaping it is easy.

  I rough cut the oak and glued it onto the bottom.  Then I used my belt sander to form the bottom to the exact shape of the body of the box.  To fit the top exactly I use a trick I learned from wood turning.  As you can see from the photo there is paper residue on the wood. 

  To glue the top onto the body solidly enough that I could shape and sand it and still get it loose I glued a layer of ordinary printed paper between the two pieces.  I clamped the two pieces together and gave them lots of time (over night) to set thoroughly.  After I was done sanding and shaping I inserted a thin knife blade between the top and bottom and gently pried them apart.  

  At this moment I haven't got a use for the box.  It is awaiting multiple coats of shellac and spray varnish.  I will finish it when I am finishing other small projects. 

cheers, ianw