I used to keep all my sandpaper in a plastic bin, where I’d have to go through a bunch of sandpaper to find the grit I needed. I finally got around to making a simple organizer that I hung on the side of a shelf unit in my shop, where I keep my sanders. This can be easily wall mounted as well. One of the features is the use of whiteboard material to make it easy to reorganize and relabel what is in each slot.
Accordion Style Christmas Tree Decoration
Shop time has been a bit in short supply lately. I had a couple of days off this week where I was able to spend some quality time there finally.
Sometimes a small, easy project is great to get back into the groove and get a feeling of accomplishment that you got to finish something. In this video, I make a small Christmas Tree decoration that has an accordion style to it. To make it more interesting, I adhered sheet music of “Silent Night” to it.
After a mistake and redo, I finished the project, and then celebrated in a fashion that I think Nick Offerman would approve.
Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop by Nick Offerman.
Hybrid Woodworking: Blending Power & Hand Tools for Quick, Quality Furniture by Marc Spagnuolo.
Make Your Own Cutting Boards: Smart Projects & Stylish Designs for a Hands-On Kitchen by David Picciuto.
The Minimalist Woodworker: Essential Tools and Smart Shop Ideas for Building with Less by Vic Tesolin.
Nick Offerman’s original Yule Log video.
(** Please drink responsibly **)
I recently went into the shop after a few weeks of not being able to spend as much time in there as I would like, only to discover some rust on my combination square!
So, this video talks about what I think happened, how I fixed it, and what general steps I take to try and prevent rust on my tools.
What do you guys do to prevent rust in your shop? Leave a comment!
Links to the products I mention are below:
Thoughts When Starting Out
I’m not the most experienced woodworker by any stretch of the imagination, but now that I have a few years under me, I thought I might pass along a few thoughts that may benefit folks that are interested in getting started in woodworking.
It’s no secret that woodworking can be dangerous. One can spend tons of time focusing on specific safety topics, but from a high level you want to protect you eyesight, hearing, lungs, and body.
Protect your eyesight. A decent pair of safety glasses is not expensive. If you’re a glasses wearer like I am, you’ll want an “OTG” (Over The Glasses) pair of safety glasses. Don’t rely on your prescription glasses for this – you’ll be mad when you get a scratch or ding in those nice pricey lenses, plus they don’t have great side or underneath protection. I have a pair of OTG safety glasses, and if I am doing anything that is going to kick up dust from underneath that can get up and behind the lens, I also have a pair of OTG goggles that I’ll use.
For hearing protection, I have a pair of ZEM SensGard that I use most of the time (and can’t beat free – I won them from Matt’s Basement Workshop shwag a few years ago). I also have a pair of the over the ear type that includes a radio and 1/8″ jack for plugging in an audio device.
To control dust, and therefore protect your lungs, you can think of doing this in three phases. First collect as much of the dust at the source. You can use your shop vac if you don’t have a dust collector yet. Next is for the finer stuff in the air, you can get an air filter, or use a filter attached to a box fan in the meantime. Thirdly, a decent mask for the face filters what’s left before you breathe it in. You can get a good respirator that can take interchangeable particulate and organic filters (for vapors) for not a lot of money.
To protect the rest of your body, use safety items such as push blocks (which you can make and I like better than push sticks at the table saw), a riving knife or splitter at the table saw, etc. Make sure you have a “no zone” for your fingers around any blade. For instance, anything closer than the throat plate of my table saw is off limits. I have and love the Micro Jig Grr-ripper, and would recommend it as a core piece of safety gear. Have a healthy respect for the tools used. You don’t want to be callous, but you also don’t want to be so tense that you are approaching the operation in an overly stiff or nervous way. I think either approach can leave one more at risk for an injury. Trust your gut instinct as well. If you have reservations about a certain cut, take a step back and rethink it. Chances are there is an alternate way to get the same thing done. If you’re tired, maybe another time would be a better time to flip that power switch on.
Early on, I bought some tools with the thinking that “oh I bet I cold use this to do xyz thing!”. I was too concerned with building up my shop instead of building a thing. But I became anxious to get started building and luckily at that time, some very talented woodworkers I met helped set that priority straight.
So what would I do differently and recommend for folks starting out? What I do today. That is, let the project decide what tools I need. Think of the project you want to make – what tools do you need to get it done? Chances are, you may have the basics: cordless drill, hammer, circular saw, etc. and you can get quite a bit done with these. I worked with a basic set of tools like these when my wife and I lived in an apartment. Say you have these tools, but your project calls for some curves, that could justify a purchase of a jigsaw, or if you have a shop space ready, a bandsaw.
You will make mistakes. It’s okay. It’s even good. Good? Yep, because you can learn from them. A mistake may mean you alter the design of something, or maybe at times, you may end up with a piece of wood to add to the burn pile. Either way, it’s an opportunity to learn. Failures are not the opposite of success, but the path to it.
Always The Learner
There is always something new to learn. Check out my Woodworking & Maker Links section for some great podcasts, blogs, and education sites, as well as my YouTube subscriptions for some great video channels to learn from. (And, if you know of a great channel, blog, podcast, etc. that I don’t have listed, post a comment to let me know!)
Not just with woodworking, but with anything in life, I try to take a learner’s approach. Knowledge is valuable. There are things I can share with others, and there are always things others can share that I can learn from.
Challenge yourself. With each new project, I try to incorporate something I have not done before. With the puja table I made, it was sliding dovetails. My workbench was the first time I used mortise and tenon joinery (and big ones at that). That said, don’t discount a technique that can be used effectively just because some may poo poo it since it’s not “fine” woodworking. I’ve used pocket holes in situations where it works well (and in a case where it maybe it wasn’t – but that goes back to that whole learn from mistakes thing).
That’s the whole point, isn’t it? That also means it’s okay to take a break, too. If you’re tired, short on time, maybe even a little bit burned out on it if you’ve been in the shop a lot, or simply just not “feeling it” that day, it’s certainly fine to take a step away for a bit. You’ll be back in the shop in no time, refreshed.
Woodworkers Fighting Cancer 2015 – (Modified) Kids’ Table & Chair
Again this year, my son and I took part in Woodworkers Fighting Cancer. For 2015, my son reprises the role of “goofball” at various points in this video :).
The Woodworkers Fighting Cancer builds are, in my opinion, great projects to include kids in the shop. They’re approachable projects that a child can help out with some assistance, and have some fun and learn in the process.
I modified the original plans for this project by scaling it up for use by a 5th grader. The table height is 29″ and seat height is about 17 1/2″. I also made the surface of the table to be 42″ x 21″ as he will be using this to replace his current table I built for him in 2011 as he was entering the first grade. One other alteration we made is instead of a removable top with an box style underneath, we made 3 apron sides, leaving one side open for storage similar to a desk in school; leaving the top stationary.
The top is painted with grey chalk board paint. The apron, legs, and chair are painted in a dark green (the same paint used in last year’s toy chest project).
Thanks to Marc & Nicole Spagnuolo for once again heading up this year’s Woodworkers Fighting Cancer effort!
Shop Tour 2015 & What’s on the Bench
It’s been quite some time since my last video, and even longer since my last shop tour. As mentioned in my last post, 2015 hasn’t seen much shop time until just the last couple of months.
A lot has changed in the shop in that time. Now that I’ve been getting back into the shop, I wanted to show you around, and give you a quick update on a coffee table I’ve resumed working on.
I changed up the format a bit from my last videos, let me know what you think!
A Bit of a Catch Up Post
The first half of 2015 really didn’t turn out to be much of a great woodworking period for me for various reasons. It hasn’t been until the last couple of months that I’ve been able to get any significant shop time, but now that I have been able to get more shop time, I wanted to get back to the site.
That doesn’t mean I’ve been totally idle though. This past summer, I was able to get what I consider two pretty cool things done that have been on my list for a while.
July – Lie-Nielsen Open House
I was able to take a comp day on the Friday of Lie-Nielsen’s open house this year. I’ve wanted to head up to Maine the last couple of years to see where some of the nicest hand tools are made. (I had to work on Saturday, which made it a somewhat anti-climatic Saturday, but I digress.)
I took what normally would have been a 3 1/2 hour drive, but with a Dunkin’ Donuts large iced coffee with my breakfast on the road, it made for closer to a 4 hour drive with “pit stops”. I arrived, and it was great. We got a tour of the facility from one of the employees – a very nice guy who mentioned he was originally from Plymouth, MA, (a stone’s throw from me) and we got to some small talk of things in this area. They had many folks demonstrating both outdoors under their tent and in their upstairs education workshop. I placed a low angle jack plane on order, and got to meet the man himself, Thomas Lie-Nielsen, who proceeded to apologize a couple of times for not having them in stock that day, but he was sure I’d love it when it came in. It came in the next week, along with an extra toothed blade, and yes, I do love it. It’s an excellent tool that I will continue to find many uses for. Thus far my main use has been as a shooting plane and a small jointing plane for smaller pieces.
August – I Finally Got a Bandsaw!
I’ve had a good bandsaw on my list for a few years now. Every time I got close to being able to pull the trigger, life would throw a bit of a curveball and we’d have to reallocate the funds.
The stars aligned quite nicely for this. I was able to sell a small amount of some stock that had vested at the time Woodcraft was having a nice sale, which also coincided with a Massachusetts sales tax holiday! It was an estimated savings of about $160-$170 between the sale and no sales tax.
So a very nice Laguna 14 Twelve bandsaw now sits in my shop! With the low ceilings in the basement, I had to double check all the measurements before buying to make sure I could fit it in there.
So we’re caught up… mostly. The project on my bench that I’ve resumed is a coffee table. The leg assemblies are mostly together with the exception of some trim pieces. Once that’s done, on to the top, and then finish!
More to come on that…