Friday, November 17, 2017

If you got them, Use them-tools that is....

  Two weeks ago my wife slipped on a rock, fell and broke her right wrist. NOT a good day.  After all the fussing was over she has a cast on her arm that limits the use of her right hand. Can you tie a show lace one handed? Can you tie a shoe lace one handed with you non-dominate hand? Nay, me neither.  

   There is one of two sets of lace toggles that I made for Eva today. All she has to do is slide the laces tight and push the toggle down. No fancy finger work needed.  Toggle making can be high art, think Netsuke from Japan, mine aren't. But it might be fun to carve a version of Netsuke.

  Anyway I nipped down to my work shop to make toggles for Eva, I had done this before. When I have available tools, I avail myself of them.....all.
 To make four little wooden toggles I first found a bit of dowel in a box where I keep these little bits of wood.  Then I drilled the holes on my massive drill press. Holding the dowel in a drill press vise.( a worthwhile investment)  After the holes were drilled I used my cordless drill and a counter sink  bit to clean up the hole and make feeding the shoe lace easier.  Lastly I sanded the toggles after cutting them loose with a Japanese style handsaw.  Had I had a hand drill and a pocket knife I could have made the toggles just as effectively, but not as quickly. I do love having a work shop with all the tools. 

  Another drill press job was finishing the Quarto men. 

  Two sets, travel size.

  The day wasn't a work shop day really, it was a clean up the garage and put the motorcycle to sleep for the winter day. With all the bicycles hanging from the ceiling, and the motorcycle stowed into the corner there is room for my wife's car to get in out the the snow and ice. (maybe there won't be any snow and ice this year.)

  Here is a link to my Pinterest page showing a whole bunch of stuff to make for kids. 
                                        Kid's Stuff    
 Maybe there is an idea you can use.

 cheers, ianw

P.S. "The Hare with the Amber Eyes" by Edmund De Waal, is a book of history connected with a collection of Netsuke.  I really enjoyed reading it. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Production, worth while but not exciting

  A while ago I made a project inspired by Wood Working for Mere Mortals, a quarto game.  Recently I  was asked to make two more of the travel sized games.  So that is what I am doing currently. Cutting up little pieces of one inch wood and dowel.  That is not really something to inspire a legion of followers so I found a video to share with you folks.

    I have always admired the carved gun stocks.  I suspected it required a special set of tools, which I discovered were not blindingly expensive.  What is needed is a personal disposition focused on careful and detailed work. (that can't be bought at any price.) I don't think I have the focus or attention to do checkering well, but I would love to try.  

  I am working toward Christmas gifts, mostly I am in the planning stages.  It is hard to think of Christmas looking out the window at cold, raining, dark and bleak. Anyhow, one must carry on.

Check out the video, even if you don't like guns you can admire the wood working skills.

Image result for checkered gun stock

cheers, ianw

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Home Again, Home Again

  We have been away for a couple of weeks enjoying a few days in Horsham England on our way to Lanzarote Spain. 

  We got back  four days ago and given jet lag and all the other things that await you ( a fall cold too) on your return I didn't get back into the shop until yesterday. I decided on a quick little project that recycled a piece of  wood from a dresser that I picked up off the street a while ago.  The inspiration was two more pieced of furniture we picked up on Saturday morning. 


  I took a chest of drawers apart and this is the last drawer front left. Obviously it has been  ignored and was laying in a corner until this project came along.

  You can see the trim that was nailed onto the front. This piece is solid hard wood, though not one piece. I worked around the nail homes to make my project. 

all the pieces 
  This is a project that is quick and easy if you do things in the correct order. 
First I ripped the board to width and then used my router table and round over bit to shape the smallest piece, before cutting it off the board. I then rounded over the end and cut the middle sized piece, last I rounded over both ends of the longest piece.

  The little foot goes at one end.  In this case I glued it into place.

  The three pieces go together to make a nice little portable bookend. Actually it doesn't need to be glued together at all, but I didn't want the little foot to get lost.

   To make this a more personal item I did some wood burning. After I burned the initials, I stained them  with transparent water colour paint. It just just a hit of colour to the burned portion.

  This is a quick project that can be personalized or customized in tonnes of ways.

cheers, ianw

p.s. it is nice to travel, but it is nice to get back home too.

Horsham, UK. high street. 

a beach on Lanzarote

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Spatula, A Sander and A Fish

  A while ago I collected three pieces of fire wood in the garage planning to make some more spoons.  Today I split the wood into eight pieces, a couple are destined to be big deep spoons and I plan to make a couple of long handed spreaders to reach to the bottom of deep jam jars. The rest of the pieces will get turned into something, sometime.

 You can see I have a spatula roughed out from that batch of fire wood.  Between the push knife and the small hatchet I was able to rough out the general shape quickly. 

  Once I got the shape established I turned to modern noisy tools this time. Hand work is nice, but mine is a hybrid shop.   My 36 inch belt sander really brings things into shape in a hurry.  This sander was very good value for the money, I've run it for hundreds of hours over its life time with me.  Several years ago I had to replace the drive belt but otherwise it has been a solid performer.

  After using the big belt sander with 60 grit paper I moved to my random orbital sanders. Those sanders will generally help in the final shaping of a spoon.  I have four sanders, with different grits mounted.  That way I am not tearing the sanding pads off all the time and the hook and loop system lasts longer.

  The finished spatula, is sanded to 320 grit and finished with hemp oil  .  I do my final sanded by hand using a contour sander or my own devising.

old fashioned black board eraser 

  The firm felt supports the sand paper without there being a hard edge that might scratch the work at the final sanding stages.

  I am also working on a colourful shop projects.

   We are going to see our Grand daughters next week and I am taking the four year old a board game. It is an easy counting game and the 'men' will be small wooden fish.  Games for kids are tricky. If they like the game they want to play it all the time, which drives you crazy.  If they don't like it, they never play it and you feel rejected. 

  cheers, ianw

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Another Storage Solution

Every now and then the chaos overwhelms me. 

  Over the years I have acquired many pairs of suspenders, too many to keep straight on a hanger. My solution was a purpose built hanger.

  I originally  planned to make a horizontal hanger, but decided on a vertical one instead.

  I searched in my workshop junk drawer and found a big hook that I used to hang a bicycle and screwed it into the top of the hanger. Yes, it is over kill but for things like this I use what is at hand.

  The actual wooden part is cut from a 2 x 3. I do like to make these quick easy projects from softwood lumber. It is quick and easy to sand and/or plane things smooth.

  If I were a video maker I could have turned this little exercise into a production with close ups and slow motion. After all to make this simple thing I used a band saw, random orbital sander, many clamps, block plane, square, and drill.

  When I look around our home it is filled with wood stuff.  Where many people go to the local "Dollar" store and buy a plastic something to serve their need I make the something.  I grew up making stuff, and encourage everyone to make "stuff".  This little hanger is a perfect example. 
  A person in a small home, or apartment needs very few tools to actually make basic things. I believe that a cordless drill and decent set of drill bit is a necessity.  An okay drill costs about $125.00, less if you look for a sale, a sander is $50.00, less on sale.  A mid-range  combination square can be had reasonably and you can buy your wood mostly pre-cut at the big box store.  If you look around there are community centres that have public wood shops with big machines and expertise for cheap.

  It seems that we are trying to regain our  economic sovereignty. If you are going to appreciate domestic products we need to make some things for our selves too.

  cheers, ianw  

Thursday, October 12, 2017

More Small Projects

  We just had our Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada, and as it should be it was filled with family and a fall fair.  This year the weather was spectacularly un-seasonable, we can enjoy climate change for a while, then it going to get us good.

Rockton Fair from the air.   Rockton Ontario, Canada
    One of the latest 'small' jobs I've done was a repair for 10,000 Villages.  One of the cast metal  statues that they sell fell on the floor in the store and its arm broke off.  Needless to say I did not re-cast the statue, I used epoxy to attach the arm and then got creative in how I hid the repair.

  The left arm was broken off at the elbow,

  You can see that I gave the repair a decorative wrap with coloured wire to hide the joint. To make the decoration believable I put a wrap on each elbow.  Today I returned it to the store and the manager was pleased with my work.  I don't know if the sale price will be discounted but even so it is better than written off totally.

  The other little project was inspired by the visit of my grand kids on the weekend.  My Grandson is getting pretty good at drawing trains and machines so I made him a drawing book, and one made one for his sister too.  She is younger but artistic too.

 I made two sketch books one for C and one for K.  

  This is a simple project as long as you have the tools and the skills.  The first step was to fold and bind the pages. I started out with three large sketch pad pages, folded the paper in four and then bound three sections together to give each book twelve pages.  Binding books is easiest if you have a fine sharp awl, wax thread, large needle and a bone folder.  Once I had the booklets bound I trimmed the edges, (very sharp utility Knife)  and then  cut some 1/8 plywood for the front and back. I clamped the pages between the covers drilled and counter sunk four holes through the covers and pages.

  You can see that I used zip ties to connect the sections.  Once the books were assembled I took them up stairs and painted initials on the outside cover.  To control paint successfully you need decent paint and decent brushes, and a bit of practise. (more tools and skills). After painting the letters onto the book covers I took the books apart and sealed the front and back with shellac.  

  When I went to the shop my first thought was water based sealer instead of shellac.   Water based sealers are all the rage and are better for your brushes and the environment.

  However, I have some experience with finishing wood projects and so....did not fall into the trap.  The initials were painted on with water based poster paints.  Water based sealer would have softened and probably smeared the paint.  Shellac on the other hand doesn't react with water based finishes, the result is good sealing and no smearing.  The covers are hanging in my shop drying currently.  I will add a couple more coats of shellac and then some wax to make an easy but tough finish.

  There is no way to know if they will draw in their books or ever use them at all, but I still like to make things for  kids, just in case.

cheers Ian W


Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fold Down Work Bench

 Something  I noticed at the wood show recently was the number of workshop tools that had big tools features in smaller spaces.  I saw several mini lathes, an attractive 10 inch band saw as well as smaller work benches.  I really think that a person in a one bay garage or a small basement room could set up a productive and useful wood shop with careful planning and limited funds.

  This video shows a step by step method for building a very useful fold down work bench.  This is a bench that could be mounted on a garage wall or in a basement laundry room that supplies storage and work space but doesn't permanently take up floor space.

  While I am sharing and encouraging work bench builds, here is another build that makes a good portable work bench, or with short legs a good patio bench that can come inside for the winter;

  All you have to do is adjust the length of the legs.

cheers, ianw

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fish and Flowers

This past weekend was the Woodstock Wood  Show.  For several years I worked as a presenter at the show but for the last few I've been a customer.  Interestingly, I never got to see the wood shows very well when I was working at them. 

  Last Saturday I wandered around, visited old friends, spent some money and drank some coffee. There are always new innovations, tools and companies,  but what I enjoy most is the wood carving.

  The following are photos for my fishing Grand daughter in Sweden.  She won't believe these are wooden fish.

Those award winning carvings blow my mind.  The fishes look more like real fish than, real fish do.  I am filled with respect and admiration for the artists that made them.

  This fish is a bit more rough and ready.  This is a fish carved by chainsaw. I watched this chap work for a while, it was great.  His carvings are large and more impressionistic. 

 On another track entirely I have a photo of my oldest grand daughter's recent crafting effort.

  If the child is too small, or too cautions to work with you in your wood shop, encourage them to make things none the less.  Clara used foam and pipe cleaners this time.  I think that one day she will be ready for a scroll saw, her brother is comfortable using the band saw already.   
  Sometimes we forget that people grow by baby steps and miss our chance to promote making things by waiting until it is too late.  The fellows that carved and painted those amazing fishes started out as beginners creating crafts, the art comes later.

  cheers Ianw

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Telephone Speaker and Bee House.

  Last week I glued and clamped the phone speaker made from nicer wood together.  This small speaker seems to double the volume output of my phone speaker.  This wooden speaker also holds the phone firmly, so it can sit anywhere.

    Inside the box I placed two small dowels to keep the phone from choking the sound waves and reducing the sound.

I painted the inside black for aesthetic reasons. 

  Next job is to make an equivalent speaker for my tablet. 

  Yesterday's project was a bee hotel for our back yard.  It is firmly believed by experts that bee houses/hotels are good for solitary bees, and all bees are good for our gardens.

5 by 16 by 5 inches,
 that is a whole bunch of plant stems.

  I used part of a bundle of the pallet lumber I collected during the summer and nailed it together.  Along time ago I was taught to pre-drill holes when nailing thin stock or nailing into an edge.  I adds a bit of time but....nothing splits and the thinner nails don't wander or bend.

    I don't have bamboo available so I used stems from plants from our back yard garden.  There are spaces of random size for the bees to crawl into for protection. 

  As I gathered more information about bee houses I found that some builders cover the outside to protect the bees from predators.  I opted for a louvred front, there is plenty of room for bees to get in but it should be almost impossible for a bird to snack on the bees.  
The house is in an out of the way corner of the garden. The bees should be able to live undisturbed and I hope happily.

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.