Tag Archives: Woodworking Techniques

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.

I've since started
I’ve since started “decorating” it with some stickers…

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…

Advertisements

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.

IMG_20131126_183855

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…

A Day At Fine Woodworking Live 2013

This post is following my usual theme of “better late than never”…

I got the chance a few weekends ago to spend a day in New Haven, CT to attend Fine Woodworking Live. The event was the whole weekend, however Fine Woodworking also offered day passes for this year’s event. Not to get into too much personal info, but since I have a special needs son, which has meant a very “tag-team” approach for my wife and I, I’m very happy the day passes were offered. I could go for the day, and be back that night.

It was great to see a couple of folks I hadn’t seen in a while, and meet for the first time others. Getting to spend time with fellow woodworkers is always a great part of an event like this. The day began with a presentation to all the attendees, and was then followed by the classes. What was nice is that the most popular classes (determined by a survey they gave to attendees prior to the event) were offered at multiple times. The common thing I took away from the event was the approachability of the instructors and the Fine Woodworking employees at the event. All the folks I spoke with either after classes or in the hallway were easy going and willing to answer questions and feedback.

Of course I took some pics while there (click on each for larger image):

I think I would be remiss if I didn’t share my thoughts on Fine Woodworking as an organization. When I first became interested in woodworking, my impression of Fine Woodworking was that it would be the magazine I would get once I “got good” at woodworking. It was the magazine for folks that had a great deal of experience, which I had yet to obtain. Shortly afterwards, I was invited by the Modern Woodworkers Association to take a tour of their offices and shop in Newtown, CT. It was then that I figured it might be a good time to check out the magazine, so I subscribed.

Once I had magazine in hand and took part in the tour, I realized my first impression was a bit off. With their mix of editor and contributor authored articles, it is a very much “how-to” magazine, with content suitable for multiple experience levels. When on the tour with Matt Kenney and Mike Pekovich, it was clear they were regular guys with a love for the craft.

Now that I’ve been a subscriber for a couple of years, attended Fine Woodworking Live, and listened to their podcast Shop Talk Live for some time now, it’s clear to me that they are working hard to lose any image they’ve had as a publication only for the professional or well experienced hobbyist with an aloof air to it. Shop Talk Live I find entertaining, and they don’t hide the fact that mistakes will be made (Smooth Moves is great section of their podcast).

So for anyone reading that may have a notion that Fine Woodworking is not for the everyday hobbyist or new woodworker, I would say to give them another look. Check out the magazine and their online membership, as well as their Shop Talk Live podcast. Of course, if you can make it to next year’s Fine Woodworking Live, I would highly recommend it. Even if you can’t make the whole weekend, I hope they will continue to offer the day passes – it was definitley worth going.

A Case For Pocket Hole Joinery

When I made my son’s table a couple of years ago, I had one rule that I followed regarding how it was to be built: Keep it simple since it is a child’s work table. It should not be made of expensive materials, and it should be, to the best of my ability, repairable should something happen. After all, kids tend to be a bit rough on their things.

The material I used was poplar – check on the inexpensive material. The joinery I chose to use to join the table legs to the apron was pocket holes and screws. Yes, some folks poo poo the idea of using pocket hole joinery as a “true” joinery method to be used in fine furniture, but, I never claimed this piece was fine furniture.

It is though, a functional furniture piece.

My son was playing one day and got a little rambunctious, and then fell into the table, splitting one of the table legs. He was fine, pretty annoyed, but carried on.

IMG_20130623_174425

This is one reason I chose pocket holes to join the legs into the apron – it was this scenario, along with the reason that should the table last into his adolecent years and beyond, I could easily replace the legs.

So that’s what I did here. I prepared a new leg, same as the others.

IMG_20130626_121757

Once ready, I simply removed the pocket screws, removed the old leg, and then placed the new leg in position and rescrewed into place. Repair complete.

IMG_20130626_123249

The Sawdust Tour & The Woodworking Shows

I recently had the chance a couple of weeks ago to take a Friday off from work and take the couple hour drive out to West Springfield, MA for The Woodworking Shows stop at the Big E (aka the Eastern States Exposition). This was my first trip to one of the Woodworking Shows, so of course was interested in the vendor booths setup there, but I especially was interested in what education opportunities were going to be offered.

I found one such opportunity at The Woodworking Coach booth run by Andy Chidwick of The Chidwick School. Andy is travelling with the show in what’s called the Sawdust Tour – a “social media blitz” where Andy is teaching at the show, and in the process taking the opportunity to meet with other woodworkers along the way, including visiting folks’ shops if possible, such as Todd Clippenger and Matt Vanderlist.

Of course I checked out the vendor booths and caught parts of a few other seminars, but after attending Andy’s first seminar of the day, it was clear I was going back to hear more. Andy spoke about steam bending, picking out the best grain direction from a board, sculpting work – and the joinery that goes into a sculpted chair, and also encouraging us to think outside the typical woodworking publications – to become an observer anywhere and gain inspiration from something that could then be used in a project in the shop.

I had a chance to talk with Andy after the seminars. He’s a great guy, very knowledgeable, and clearly has a passion for the craft along with the desire to pass that along to others. Check out the site for the Woodworking Shows to see if one is near your area. I highly recommend going if you can and check out Andy’s seminars. You can learn quite a bit and they are highly motivating. Also check out The Chidwick School site as well. Andy offers classes in Montana, and soon will be offering an online curriculum as well.

So Andy, it was great to meet you, and thanks for the Sawdust Tour shirt!

Double Dose of Goodness

The months of November and December have been great ones here at the shop. Allow me to explain…

November – The Puja Table is complete!

The Puja Table, the project that I had been working on for the better part of the past year, was finished back in November and given to my friend who it was for. This was my second furniture piece, and my first commission. When I completed my son’s work table and posted it on Facebook, he approached me about building him the puja table. After discussing some design items, and what wood to use, he gave me a deposit to buy the materials.

One of the reasons I did not cover the project in too much detail before (one blog post and one video), is that by the time the project was really taking shape, it was also getting to be a while since he asked for it. I spent a good amount of time sweating the details. I must honestly say he was more than patient though, which I really appreciated. My focus however, especially between August and November, was to finish it up to deliver to him before Thanksgiving.

When it was delivered, he was more than happy with the result. My first commission ended with a happy customer!

I had a few things I set as woodworking goals for this project.

  • I had worked with walnut some when making some paddle cutting boards and really liked how it is to work with. I helped “steer” my friend toward walnut as the primary species, as I really like the look of it as well. When I showed him some pictures online of projects made with walnut, he readily agreed.
  • Attempt a new joinery technique. This was my first attempt at sliding dovetails, which I used to join the leg pieced into the top. This definitely proved to be a challenge, especially with some limited tooling. With some finessing though, I was happy with the result.
  • This was also my first experience with spraying finish. In this case lacquer. Once I got the hang of it, things went pretty well. I did have to correct some overspraying and drip marks initially though.

Some pictures of the final piece. Click each for a larger view and info.


December – The Wood Whisperer Guild for Life!

I’m no longer one of those folks who can say that I never win anything. The Wood Whisperer had their yearly Holiday online party a couple of weeks ago, and as usual part of the festivities were prize giveaways. The prizes ranged from tshirts, USB thumb drives, DVDs, to Guild memberships. This year, saving it for last, the granddaddy prize was a lifetime Wood Whisperer Guild membership. When I heard my name as the winner, I had to pick my jaw up from my desk! I was surprised and excited beyond belief. I was now a Wood Whisperer Guild member for life!

Now, if you don’t have any experience with the Guild, you can find out more and sign up here. I joined the Guild last year when Marc had a one night sale (after the 2011 Holiday party) of 50% off. I was able to sign up for the three month option, which I then renewed that next spring for one year. Since then the Guild has been restructured to have various levels of access. You can gain access to the “a la carte” version, where you pick which projects you want, or an option to gain access to all the currently existing projects. Again, check out the link. There is a section that explains all the levels available that goes into more detail than what I am here.

So now the next question… why join the Guild? After all, there is a reason why I renewed my membership before winning the lifetime membership. In short, because it’s a great resource – both in knowledge and the community. The level of detail that Marc goes into in the videos that accompany each project is incredible. There is also access to help for your project, and interviews with experts that are recorded and posted if you can’t make a live event. Even if you’re not in a position to build the particular project that is ongoing at the time, the insight that you can gain when watching the videos can be easily brought to whatever project you are working on. Having that level of education at your fingertips really makes it a no brainer in my opinion.

So am I excited I won the lifetime Wood Whisperer Guild membership? “Heck yeah” would be an understatement.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!