Friday, August 11, 2017

Tonight's the night....


Well, the wait is finally over... I hope you can tune in to Handcrafted America tonight, on the INSPIRE Network, where Jill Wagner and I make one of my tiled chests together. It was a terrific experience, and she and the crew were amazing.




Go to INSP.com to find your local channel... and remember - this show airs early on the west coast.


Sunday, August 06, 2017


Big things are happening at the shop! 

There's another Live Edge Woodworking class being taught by Andrew Moore of Reclaimed Secrets, and we just got a load of Claro Walnut slabs delivered, perfect for coffee tables, sofa tables and of course - big ass dining tables.

These two slabs caught my eye... 


these slabs started selling the moment they entered my shop. They were flat, stable and just gorgeous! 


I chose a couple, and cut a straight-line on one edge, book matching them for a table top. 


There aren't enough words to describe the awesomeness of these boards. 



Meanwhile,  working with wood is starting to take its toll on my hands.



 This is the only kind of "glamour shot" I pose for....but don't worry - 


everything is OK. 


Just a few tests to figure out why my hands feel like an elephant walked on them. 
 No biggie. 

Back at the shop, we epoxied the cracks in the boards... we spent a few nights epoxying the boards, and then stacked them up to dry, with stickers in between. 


After it had hardened - we used cabinet scrapers to scrape off the excess.   




Using a cabinet scraper is much easier than using a belt sander. This sander almost met its match with the slab it flattened.


Scrapers are quicker, too. And you get all these lovely shavings, instead of a room full of dust. 


With one side scraped, we flipped the boards over and epoxied the other side.



 The BIG question that I'll have to address is - what sort of tile will I make to fill that opening?  

A mosaic?


 Some texture? 


Stamped designs? 


I have some terrific glazes that I can use on that area, so I have a lot to consider... but luckily, there is SO much more sanding that this slabs need, so I have some time to consider the choices. 

Check out some of my past tile work - 







Speaking of tile - I hope you can join me next Friday, August 11 on Handcrafted America, where my wood and tile work will be featured, along with two other artists.

 It's the Season Three opener - here's a link to see the preview! 






Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Better late than never - my AWFS wrap-up!

It's safe to say that a good time was had by all. At the AWFS show, that is!



If you attended, then you know there was fierce competition in the Fresh Wood Furniture Show, a plethora of woodworking projects made by high school and college students. 

There will always be some Malloof rockers,


 or some double wides, in this case,


but my favorite piece was this gorgeous musical chest made by Sarah Provard of Utah.






A few other notable pieces included this Whale chair, available in two different styles and designed for mass production by bending 1/8" plywood into this complex shape. Awesome!


And these two College of the Redwoods wall cabinets - small, but packing a mighty (design) punch. 




There was also a nice selection of guitars - a perfect high school project!





This Diad chair was particularly cool - slats of wood formed the back of it,



 but the back could be tilted forward to create a slick end table. 


The GL Veneer booth displayed this awesome octopus, carved from a tree root - I think the exhibitor said it took that artist six months to carve this! 


And this headboard was massive - I suspect this bed could hold 4 people comfortably... perfect for Vegas!


There were lots of other eye candy displays - from Vegas themed roulette wheels 


to massive saw blades, 


flags, and much more. 


I had a chance for a quick catch-up with Kayleen McCabe, TV host and contractor extraordinaire.  In 2009 she beat dozens of male competitors for the grand prize on TV's Stud Finder.  She also hosted DIY Network’s Rescue Renovation for five years, and is widely known as a good-will ambassador of woodworkers and DIY-ers everywhere. We're in discussions to possibly bring her here to host a weekend workshop in home renovation - wouldn't that be a blast!?! 


One of the highlights for me was attending a lecture given Paul Downs, author of Boss Life. This might be the single best book I've read on running a business, and his discussion highlighted many of his thoughts about various aspects including pricing, hiring and training employees, dealing with problem customers, and much more. 


This isn't just a book for the furniture industry, but a general guideline for running any small business. I had a chance to sit and chat with him after his lecture, and he gave me some really interesting pointers for my shop. 

You can find a copy here: Boss Life.

All in all - a very nice show, with some interesting prospects that I hope will result in some cool future projects!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Its finally here....



You'll know where to find me during the next few days!  Can't make it? 







Friday, July 14, 2017

Rebuilding a Bridgewood Planer


This 24" Bridgewood planer is my workhorse, a 1000 pound beast that plows through hardwood without breaking a sweat. 


It's been in the family since the 1994, and worth every cent that Wilke Machinery charged. It's rare that you hear that about a piece of machinery - most woodworkers find flaws like inferior engineering or poor quality of materials, and regret buying some of the tools they've acquired.  

Right off the top of my head I can think of two tools that were total wastes of my time and dollars - you can read about them here and here.

But not this one - there's virtually not a single thing you can find wrong with this machine, and I've babied it throughout the years, ensuring it'll last for a long time. 

But lately, raising and lowering the bed has become harder and more stiff - I'm not sure if it's just age, or if something entered the gearing, but luckily - it happened just as the school was entering a break in classes.  

Time for a tear down!

This handle controls the the bed, raising and lowering it to control the depth of cut. 


After planing some damp wood one weekend, the handle became stiff and really hard to move. Coincidence? I wasn't sure...


The handle shaft runs down the side of the machine, attaching via a simple bracket at the top, down through the gear cover plate and  finally at the bottom, where it  attaches the handle to the planer, shown below. 

We (well... Denny....) pretty much narrowed it down to one of those two areas that was causing the problem. 


Removing the handle and the cover exposed some pretty sexy gearing!



Denny, the shop's boy-wonder, always rises to the task of getting greasy  - so once he assessed the situation,  he realized a couple of things - the planer needed to be raised, so he could have better access to everything. So - two car jacks, some various wood blocking and a little acrobatics - and bam, the planer was lifted about 8" in the air.  


That made everything a little easier... 


this bevel gear held 23 years of grease and grit, and after narrowing the problem down to two areas, we decided to pull apart the whole bottom half of the machine for some cleaning, greasing and new bearings.


Usually this puts fear into most woodworkers, who dread doing repairs, but this one was a dream. The Bridgewood was so well engineered - simple and straightforward - that it was a breeze to rebuild. We pulled everything out, and Denny labeled the parts. (Good Army training!) 

We took out everything - the handle and its shaft, and the two rods and all their components that make the bed raise and lower, parallel to the cutterhead. The rods were covered by rubber boots that were fairly degraded, and I'm pretty sure they're no longer available, although I read somewhere that Wilke parts are still floating out there for purchase. 


The sludge was unbelievable,


these weren't your standard bearings, at least like I'm used to seeing!




 Den suggested buying some carburetor cleaner and giving everything a good soaking. 





It worked like a charm!


 Pieces went from greasy to shiny, 

and after buying some new 1/4" loose ball bearings, 



we re-packed the inner and outer bearing races with fresh grease.


After greasing and replacing the top race, this spun like... well, a fidget spinner on steroids! 


Time to re-assemble everything and keep our fingers crossed. 



Here's the bottom of that handle shaft - cleaned, greased, and ready for attachment. 


You have to have access under the machine to do this.




By the way, I'm neglecting one important step, in case you have a similar planer and are considering doing this re-build.

Taking out the rods that raise and lower the bed leave the bed free to fall out of parallel with the cutterhead. I didn't get a photo of it, but we put some blocking under the table, propping it up while we took these adjustment rods out to clean them. Getting the bed back to parallel comes later....

After everything was re-assembled, we took a wide board and drawer some lines on it - to see if the bed was parallel. After we ran it through for a light cut - we noticed the lines were taken out on the right, but not on the left. 


That meant the table wasn't parallel.  

There's an adjustment on the top of the rod below - and we grabbed the mother of all Channelock pliers and adjusted it, maybe 1/8 of a turn. And then re-planed the board - better, but not perfect.  A few more adjustments, and we grabbed the digital caliper to get a more accurate reading.   

By now, that wide board was too thin to get a good reading, so we used two strips of wood, running on on the left side of the table, and one on the right side. 



Here's the difference between the left and the right pieces of wood - I'll take it! It's nearly perfect, or as we say - good enough for government workers! 


Everything was buttoned up, and we lowered the planer off the blocks - back in business! 


And the handle rotated like a dream again! If anyone wants to tackle their Bridgewood planer and has a question, feel free to contact me:  jamie@wooditis.com   

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