January 1, 2013

A New [Woodworking] Year

I found this pic on Toolemera's site.  Love it.

  I'm not much for resolutions.  In fact I'm not big on planning or goals in general.  That is likely a stumbling block in my path as a woodworker, but that's a subject for another day.  The reason I bring that up is because I don't intend to etch a list in stone and hold myself to certain events and experiences I may have the chance of accomplishing in the coming year.  Rather I intend to just do more.

More Building

  It seems that I build a little more each year, spend a little more time in the shop each year.  I like how that's going and I'm finding the more I do and the more word gets around, I'm connecting with a lot of new people and my skills are improving along the way.  There's a lot of shop improvements on the list: bench, tool storage, etc.  There's a customer project in the works as well.  Nothing too fancy, a painted [giant] dresser, but it should be a good time spent building something for someone.  I like that feeling.

More Selling

  Thanks, in part, to Tom Iovino for showcasing my blog a little while ago, I've heard a little more of the 'can you make one of those for me?' chatter.  I sold my first turned bowl last month.  One small sale, but it's a step in an awesome direction.  I'm limping into the making and selling thing slowly as most of what I've made in the past was gifts given to family.  That's not going to stop, but I can't wait to pass my work onto to those outside my family and maybe help fund some shop improvements.  To that end I'm looking into the best way to make a gallery page and create a place to start the discussions that may lead to custom orders.  The sky's the limit.

More Blogging

  There's no hiding the fact that I'm not a regular contributor to this blog.  I always have ideas rolling around that I just need to put them into pixels.  With the wonders of apps on phones and tablets, I'm never too far away from a place I can save an idea or take a moment to author a short entry.  

  So here's to you and yours.  Whatever the past has dealt you, and wherever the future leads, enjoy what you do.

November 29, 2012

Turnings: Curvilear Bowls

Having never turned a bowl or plate before, I decided to try a form of segmented bowl with splines intersecting in the bowl blank. Wait, what?!? 

Yep, that's kind of a them for how I work. Never done it before? Just sketch something up that thought in your head and go for it. It does help that I've got a decent eye for how stuff works and I work with CAD on a daily basis. Admittedly, the CAD really only helped me with dimensions. I had a decent idea what I was going for when it was still in my head. 

 I had some 8/4 stock laying around and started by cutting out roughly 6"x6" squares. The splines were all cut at a 45 degrees, one at a time. After each cut I glued a thin piece of opposing colored wood. Rinse. Repeat. 

blanks stacked, waiting to go out to the
garage for the next round of cuts 
two of the blanks after the last cut showing the other
splines already glued in

 For this to turn out perfectly, I should have ensured the inserted spline matched the kerf of the cut. Meh, I wasn't too concerned. Even on the ones that are off, you have to look for a bit to see it.

glue-ups were fun on the angled ones
it gets difficult after on the 3rd and
4th cuts to line everything back up
doesn't look like much now
the series of splines appear woven

 The fun came in turning to bowls. Depending on how the bowl curved from its rim to its bottom, the resulting visual spline will swim this way and that.

you can already see the curves appearing
on the bottom

A perfect spherical bowl would produce splines that would appear like the lines on a basketball. Curve a lip on the top of the bowl and you might get the splines to do an 'S' curve. Pretty cool.

 I was pretty pleased with the results on these and they were well received.

November 10, 2012

WIA 2012 Spotlight: Frank Klausz

Frank touching up his work
Frank Klausz came to WIA to spread his knowledge in dovetail joinery.  As an extremely talented and successful cabinet maker, he knows a thing or two about joinery.  His Hungarian accent and stern sense of humor makes for an enjoyable lesson.

If you're new to dovetailing you may not know of the age old argument of: which end is correct to cut first, the pins or the tail?  The truth is that it really doesn't matter.  No matter what way you go about it, the end result is the same, a mechanical joint, that, if done well, fits tightly and square. Frank's way is pins first, and he'll argue that it's the right way.  Why, Frank?

"Because that's how my grandfather taught me." He'd say.

He'll go on to show that transferring your cut to the adjoining piece is easier when you've got gravity assisting you to hold the pin board down onto the tail board as you trace what you've cut onto it.

This is the opposite of how I had been practicing my dovetail joinery, but I'm a good student and am never one to  not listen to a person in the know.  I've been posting a series of my practice joinery on twitter under #dovetaildaily and can safely say that pins first has produced tighter joints that are, indeed, easier to transfer lines.

The second pins first dovetail I had ever cut.
Thanks, Frank!

If you ever get a chance to hear Frank speak, do it.  He's a wealth of knowledge and very entertaining.  He is, by his own admission, too old to join the Modern Woodworker's Association, though.

Tom Iovino doing his best to recruit Frank into the MWA

Frank, Paul Schurch, and Chuck Bender discussing the finer points of veneer saws

November 6, 2012

Woodworking in America - Midwest Edition 2012

The MWA crew pose on Megan's 'Gloubo'

Well, WIA was a blast again.  It was a whirlwind of fun, games, and woodworking.  I'm still processing all that I was exposed to.  I need to go thorugh notes and photos and hopefully make sense of it all. Stay tuned . . .

February 12, 2012

Get Woodworking: Take the plunge!

This week has been brought a massive amount of advice to woodworkers thanks to Tom at tomsworkbench.com.  The thought is for woodworking bloggers to put up posts and videos to help those interested in woodworking get an idea of how to get started.  It's a great idea and we all have our own twist on the craft.  Check out Tom's blog to get links to a wealth of online woodworking knowledge put out by people just like you.  Hobbyists, crafty folk, DIYers and honeydoers.  

Here's my submission:

I don't exactly know how I got started in woodworking.  Can anyone state with certainty why they started a hobby?  Sure I watched Norm growing up, but my schools didn't have a shop class and I definitely didn't have any tools when I was younger.  I was a tinkerer and am the son of an all around handy guy, so I saw somewhat what could be done with minor repairs and the annual pinewood derby car project when I was in boy scouts.  Not exactly a ton of exposure or inspiration to start with.

As life went along, I got married, got a house, and the DIY project list started growing.  It's still going strong today.  My first little project was some movie and CD storage.  I thought about it, took a few measurements, and set out to the big box store.  Some MDF, paint, and a trim router to soften the corners with detail later, I returned home to have a go at it.  A few hours later I had 2 matching shelves hanging in a closet.  They're held together with butt joints and drywall screws.  

I'm not exactly proud of them, but they're a good example of where my hobby began,  and what can be done when you're just starting out.  This catapulted me onto a path of learning.  The history of woodworking fascinates me.  I dove into books and magazines and the internet to learn as much as I can.  I've since progressed in my skill set and knowledge.  My tool till has grown and every new project I do involves me learning something new or trying something out.

Hand cut mortises?

Yea, I've tried that.

Crosscutting with a handsaw?


My latest adventure is in hand resawing.

This is gonna take a while . . .

With all there is to learn and try, get out there and try it!  You can learn a ton just by trying something new, and fixing any mistakes you make will only enrich your journey.  I'm enjoying my trip so far, and can't wait to  learn more.  But I can't do that here.  Please excuse me, I've got tome sawdust to make . . .

November 11, 2011

Boxes, a lesson learned

It was holiday gift time again, and I wanted to make spline mitered boxes.  Simple form, shouldn't be too hard to make.  I went to my lumber supplier and picked up some shorts of curly and birdseye maple.  I had some cherry left over and plenty of thin scraps for the splines.

The original idea was for a roughly 6"x4" lidded box with recessed hinges.  All the stock was milled to 3/4" and away I went, cutting the sides to length and then the miters using a slightly modified crosscut sled.  It wasn't until I had them all cut and dry fit the boxes together before cutting the keyways for the splines that I realized the error of my haste.

All the time I spent drawing things up, devising what species to mix to make the splines stand out, I never considered how small the inside of the box would be considering the stock thickness.  You see, a 6"x4" box with sides this thick left inside dimensions of roughly 4 1/2"x2 1/2"  Severely smaller than I had envisioned, but I pressed on anyway.  In the end, they're not even big enough to hold recipe cards.

I delivered them to the family holiday party filled with cinnamon mints and they were well received.

Tiny boxes in a row

Lids up!

So, what's the lesson learned?  Think it through, all the way.  I was really upset with myself when I realized what I had done.  I spend a little more time before each cut now and try to have a complete idea of what I'm making in mind.  Working without a plan of any sort, this type of thing can happen.

November 5, 2011

The [drill] doctor will see you now

I've been on the hunt lately for hand drills.  I've never owned one, first used a brace and bit at WIA 2010.  I did pretty well and really think it's a good skill to have in a hand tool shop.  I'll likely fall back on my corded friends purely because they're so much more convenient, but I love to learn new skills.

I shopped around for a while and pulled the trigger on a Millers Falls No. 5.

While I don't want to spend too much of my time and money rehabbing old, rusty tools, I'm not sure you can find a quality hand drill anymore.  I  picked one up off of Ebay for less than $30.

It was a little tough to turn when I got it and, after taking the easy-to-remove bits off, I discovered a decent layer of schmootz on it.

I took out some WD-40, paper towels, a flat head screwdriver and an abrasive pad and spent the next half hour or so scouring what I could out of the nooks and crannies.

I dripped a bit of oil in the lubricating holes and behind the upper pinion to loosen things up.  A little really does go along way.  I wasn't brave enough to bang out the pins to totally disassemble the drive shaft, gears, and handle.  When I get my hand on some ball bearing grease, I may take on that task to really make it a smooth mover.  The only problem I have with it is that it predates a spring assisted chuck.  Upon advancing the jaws, they hold plenty tight, but releasing said pressure doesn't always let go.  I actually have to manually push a pin or 2 back a bit to release the bit.  Not a biggy, I really don't think I'll be doing any major drilling with this.  The 3/16" max opening limits is use a bit.

While it's nothing like what wktools produces, It'll work just fine in my shop.