6 – Woodworkers Fighting Cancer 2014 Toy Chest

We took part in Woodworkers Fighting Cancer once again this year. One of the things I really like about the WFC projects, besides the fact that they’re built for a great cause, is that they are rather easy projects that you can easily invite kids into the shop to help out.

My son helped with this project, and is loving the toy chest that he now gets to use. As you’ll see in the video, he’s not too camera shy, and he had a couple of fun goofy moments!

To learn more about Woodworkers Fighting Cancer, and see the other great toy chests built, visit http://woodworkersfightingcancer.com.

A Woodworking Mindset During An Unintended Hiatus

Unfortunately, various events of late have kept me from getting into the shop as much as I would like. From end of summer and back to school, to giving my dad some extra help as my mother has experienced increasing health issues the last few weeks, I haven’t spent too much time in the shop from mid-August onward.

I did however, get a few hours on a Friday a couple of weeks ago to attend the Lie-Nielsen hand tool event in Manchester, CT. I have to say it was nice getting back into a woodworking setting and mindset. This particular event in Manchester, CT was hosted at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. I’ve been to a few other Lie-Nielsen events, but this one by a good margin was the largest. Lie-Nielsen will often have another vendor or two with them, but there were several at this event: Tico Vogt (premium shooting board maker), Fine Woodworking Magazine, Catherine Kennedy (Tool Engraving), and others who I forget their name, but dealt with molding and wooden hand planes. If you have never been to one of these events, you owe it to yourself to try and get to one. You can test drive any tool they have there, and you get a great feel for what a quality, sharp tool should feel like. Ask a question, and you’ll get a detailed answer and/or a great demonstration.

So here are a few pics:

 

5 – Time For A New Workbench | Nicholson Workbench Part 2

I had planned on getting part 2 of the Nicholson workbench walkthrough out sooner, but this little thing called summer got in the way a bit. Anyway… Enjoy!

Here is The Wood Whisperer episode demonstrating flattening a bench using a router… http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/flattening-workbenches-and-wide-boards-with-a-router/

Glen Huey’s Popular Woodworking video on dog holes using a router http://youtu.be/fKMYD8jYWWQ

4 – Time For A New Workbench | Nicholson Workbench Part 1

I mentioned back in my New Year’s post that I intended to build a new workbench this year. What I had was not impossible, but not ideal either. I was always able to cobble together a solution to get a workpiece held in place, but it would cost more time in setup. Once it was in place, any sort of hand tool work would cause the bench to wobble and at times slide on  the floor.

When deciding on what type of bench I would build, I had a few things in mind:

  • The workbench should follow the basic rule of being a three dimensional clamping surface. Legs should be flush with the aprons (as outlined in Christopher Schwarz’s Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use).
  • Economical. A workbench build can cost very little, or a relatively large amount of money. On the more expensive bench builds, one can easily spend $1400 or more between materials and vise hardware, which is perfectly fine for folks where that fits their budget. I firmly believe though that there is a bench that is suitable for just about any budget.
  • Flexible. By this, I mean a style that if you don’t follow specific plans to the letter, but take the overall idea and make it your own, you can come up with a bench that will suit your needs.
  • Heavy enough to not slide or move when doing hand tool work.

So what I chose was a Nicholson style bench, also known as an English joiner’s bench. Like the Roubo, it is a “clean slate” type of bench that allows for many different configurations of vise hardware and placements.  One of the characteristics of the Nicholson is that it can be made of construction grade lumber, which gives it a bit of an edge in the “Economical” department. For my bench, I went with douglas fir. Doug fir is more easily found than Southern Yellow Pine in construction grade lumber in my area. It’s tougher than the typical spruce construction grade stuff at the big box stores in the Northeast, but still softer than most furniture grade woods. I’d rather my bench get a ding, than my workpiece. While I built this bench, I took some video, and a bunch of pictures that I summarized in the “part 1” video above… So enough reading and now time for more viewing… check out the video! Thanks for watching!

It’s Get Woodworking Week! Two Things To Keep In Mind.

GWW14It’s “Get Woodworking Week”! Begun by Tom Iovino from Tom’s Workbench, it’s a week to think about ways to introduce the craft to others.

For this year, I’d like to offer a couple of things to keep in mind…

Mistakes are okay!

I think the fear of failure makes some folks a bit timid about getting started. Don’t let mistakes throw you. Mistakes are learning experiences. Often they are not catastrophic. Embrace them, learn from them, then get “back on the horse” and get going again. Take this example from the recent Woodworkers Fighting Cancer easel build.

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Yep. I cut on the wrong side of the line. I had my dado stack in the table saw set to 5/8″ thickness. I had a choice: either discard the piece and start over, or keep my current setup that I had at the table saw, cut the rest of the legs the same way, and thus choose a “design modification” so that the panels of the easel would be 5/8″ shorter. I chose the latter, resulting in a “design modification”.

Invite Your Kids Into The Shop.

Keeping safety in mind, I would encourage folks to invite their kids into the shop. My son is 8 years old. With a little ways to go before being ready for the table saw, jointer, or other power tools, he was a great help in the easel project with glueup and assembly. I didn’t push him, I simply invited him into the shop to see if he wanted to help Dad out with some glueing up of the easel. He readily said yes. With some special needs, he can either be prone to less focus, or have laser like focus.

I explained that we needed to spread glue up evenly in each of the half lap joints and if he needed some help, just let me know. He did remarkably well, and when he did run into a situation of too much glue running over the edge, I told him it was just fine, we can wipe up the excess, which we did.

In the end, he really enjoyed helping me out, and of course, had some extra fun as well.

photo 4 (7)

Happy New Year! Some New Year Goals for 2014

First things first… Happy New Year! I hope that you have a great and safe New Year, and that you all had a great Holiday season!

In looking back over the last year, I have made some improvements to the shop, attended Fine Woodworking Live, and completed a couple of projects, but I wanted to outline some goals I have for 2014…

  • Since I’ve turned my table saw around 180 degrees from what I had before, I now have the space available for a true outfeed table. The roller stand I have is nice, and will certainly use it elsewhere, but it will be even more nice to not pick up offcuts off of the floor. The outfeed table will add safety and convenience.
  • This improvement is already in the works: I finally ordered an RF remote unit for my dust collector. No longer will I have to walk over, turn it on, then walk to the tool with the hose connected and then turn it on. Because of where the dust collector is, after I build the outfeed table, this will be a huge gain in convenience, since once the outfeed table is in place, the dust collector will be that much harder to get to.
  • A workbench. What I have now is not impossible – it’s an MDF top on a metal cabinet base. It’s flat, well, except the corner that got wet and is now swelled. It does though, seriously lack in workpiece holding ability. While I haven’t ironed out all the details, I do know that this will be a “bench on a budget” so to speak. I don’t expect to have the resources for a large Roubo with expensive vise hardware, but I do think I can complete a bench that will be a huge upgrade over what I have, and not break the bank. I am coming from no specific experience, and therefore bias, toward certain vises or other wood holding systems, or styles of bench. My “vise” has  been a wooden screw clamp that is clamped to the bench top. I’m leaving on the table the various types of vises: metal jaw,  twin screw, leg vise, etc. Face vise with planing stops? Face vise and end vise? Some combination? Expect some further posts on this as things roll along.
  • In keeping in what I try to do with every project, whatever further furniture projects I end up doing, I will continue to incorporate some new joinery that I haven’t done before, or perhaps some other new technique I haven’t tried.
  • Continue to attend some woodworking events or classes. While my personal circumstances with a special needs child may prevent me from any significant travel, I do hope Fine Woodworking will have FWW Live close enough to home that I can make that drive again, and offer day passes. The Woodworking Shows will be coming to the area in the next couple of weeks, as well as perhaps the Design Build Show in Boston in February. I understand why WIA doesn’t typically move much beyond the Cincinnati area (there’s a LOT of stuff to move), but if they did find their way to southern New England, I would certainly try to attend that. There is also the fairly new Woodcraft in Walpole, MA that is now offering classes, so I plan on looking into their offerings as well.
  • And of course, anything can happen during the course of a year, so will keep an open mind to anything that comes along!

So Happy New Year everyone! Take care, be safe, and happy sawdust in the new year…

Waffle Trivets – Last Minute Elf 2013

RunningElf

I was thinking about what sort of Christmas gifts I might make this year, especially since I did not get time to do any last year. Then, when Tom over at Tom’s Workbench introduced The Last Minute Elf, I  thought it was a great way to generate some ideas for folks on what they could build.

I had some walnut left over from the puja table I did last year, enough to make about five 7″ square pieces to make into trivets.

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Now, to make the numbers easy, I installed my fairly new dado stack (yes I finally got one, instead of doing dados as multiple passes with a standard blade) set to 1/2″ thickness. I then set the height to just a hair over half the thickness of the piece (so for a 3/4″ piece, I set the height to just a hair over 3/8″).

I then found the middle of the piece, 3 1/2″, and cut one dado so that the middle of the dado was the middle of the piece. Then I flipped the piece over, turned it 90 degrees and made the next cut, so what you have is a dado on each side that are perpendicular to each other.

Next, I moved the fence out 1″ (twice the distance of the dado thickness), and made a parallel cut on the same face I just cut, turned the piece 180 degrees, without flipping it over, to make another parallel cut. So  this  then makes 3 parallel dados on one face. Flip the piece over and make parallel cuts on the other face to the initial one made, so that face then has three dado cuts. Move the fence out one more inch, rinse and repeat, so that you have five parallel cuts  on each face that are perpendicular to their opposing face.

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It’s actually more to describe in words than it is to actually do. I left the edges with a more substantial border since giving it another groove would look odd, and put it too near the edge, or at the edge.

Next steps will be to break all the edges and do a normal sanding routine. Also, from what I’ve read, it’s something you can elect to not do a finish on, since hot items off the stove could react and damage finish anyway. (I haven’t personally tried this, but might be a good experiment.)

These only took  a short time to make, so perhaps give them a shot if you are looking for a quick project idea to give out as gifts!

Experiments of a woodworker

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