Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Two months ago, at our Sin City Woodworkers meeting, a new fellow brought an amazing table. The top was a walnut burl, and he'd taken great care to flatten, sand and finish it. Just about everyone in the room had to touch the burl top - it was so gorgeous, we could barely keep our hands off of it.
The finish on it was amazing - smooth and soft, without any sheen. When quizzed about what he used on the wood - he explained that he's used a mixture of beeswax, oil and turpentine.
Of course - a lively discussion ensued about custom blends of finishes - almost every woodworker I know makes his own custom blend. I've never loved the one I've mixed up - it uses turpentine and it's too smelly for my taste.
Later - one of the members sent me a link to this video. That's one of the great things about this woodworking group - there's always a woodworking tip to be shared, or a technique to be demonstrated. Awesome.
Posted by Wood It Is! at 7:54 AM
Saturday, May 18, 2013
This is a terrific video, forwarded to me by no less that four of my woodworking buddies here in town. The woodworking community here is growing every single week - at our last Sin City Woodworkers meeting, we had close to forty people in attendance!
One of the best parts of that is the diversity of the group - we have carvers and furniture makers, toy makers and turners. Have a question about dovetails or dust collectors? No problem, someone is there to answer it for you.
Though this video is on the long side, I think it will keep you captivated.
By the way, have you heard of this Kickstarter campaign for a fellow making wooden pinhole cameras?
Yes, the woodworking community here in Las Vegas is growing and evolving, but I love how the Internet allows us to become one larger global community.
Posted by Wood It Is! at 7:52 AM
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Holy crap, this makes my back hurt.
Here's a clip of a fellow who had been doing the same job for 76 years. It's a charming short video, and obviously - there is one important factor here. He loves what he does, so his "job" doesn't feel like work.
But - can you just imagine doing a job that long? I mean - I love working with wood, and I often feel invigorated after spending a full day at the shop. But - if I worked with wood for 76 years, that means I'd still be doing it when I'm 90.
Let's hope I'm retired by then!
Posted by Wood It Is! at 9:05 AM
Sunday, May 12, 2013
When I said it was time to wrap up a few things around the shop, I wasn't kidding! Remember those four drawer fronts I've been working on for-fucking-ever? The ones with the inset pulls
and the carved areas?
To tell you the truth - once I started carving them - ugh.... I wasn't all that about them.
In fact, I really didn't like what was happening at all. You have no idea how tough it is to be working on a piece that you're not "feeling."
One of the best things about owning every tool under the sun is that at least one of them will do what I want it to do - in this case - I used a router with a straight bit to eliminate the carved area. Took it right out!
See, I wasn't satisfied with the carved area - it just didn't pull the piece together for me. I had been planning on using a little MilkPaint in the carvings, for some contrast. But instead - I came up with a scathingly brilliant idea.
(Ode to Hayley Mills...)
Why not inlay the area with a contrasting wood? There were a couple of details to consider - the grain of the wood had to run in the same direction as the drawer fronts. So I glued together a piece, and then cut and thickness-sanded the pieces to the correct dimension.
They already look great - much more like what I envisioned.
I needed to put a small chamfer, but the wood was so thin - it was a dicey operation. A router table and a scrap piece of wood to act as a hold-down was all I needed.
Here's the routed edge.
Before and after pieces.
It's funny how I really hated working on this piece before, when I was carving it. Now that I was doing something that I really felt, this was coming together beautifully.
Normally when you glue two pieces together, they will slip and slide around a bit, usually ending up mis-aligned. But this hold down clamp secured the two pieces nicely.
One side was applied almost flush- just a hair over the edge, so I would get a good glue joint.
Here's an edge waiting to be cleaned-up.
One or two passes with a plane evened things up.
I trimmed the other edge flush on the tablesaw.
Don't these look a hell of a lot nicer?
Last thing to do was chamfer the two long-grain edges.
Ready for sanding - and knobs. Knobs will be the next design decision... but this time, I feel much more equipped to make the right decision!
One last thing - Happy Mother's Day, mom! I miss you and wish we were hanging out together. And Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there.
Posted by Wood It Is! at 5:02 AM
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Now that this last round of classes has ended, it's time to hop back onto a few jobs that are piling up. The first one has something to do with broken arms.
No, not like this.
Or even this.
It's more like this.
Broken arms on chairs are one of the most requested repairs I do. A few weeks ago, my dentist called and said he had some chairs that needed repaired. Not my favorite job, but - hey, that's why they call it work, right?
Apparently the manufacturer of these chairs knew that this part of the arm was its weak spot. All of them were broken in the same place, and had mortises in the arms, with a loose tenon inside. An interesting thing though, was that the tenons weren't glued into place. At least I didn't have to dig them out, that made this repair a little simpler. They all looked like this.
I felt the best way to repair them was to cut new tenons and glue the arms back together. Since the mortise was one-quarter inch square, I set the fence on the table saw up to cut a one-quarter inch rip.
I made a vertical cut on a piece of wood,
and flipped the board around, making a vertical cut,
with my hands for about ten minutes, until the glue set up.
Ah... the glamorous life of a woodworker.
Posted by Wood It Is! at 7:33 AM
Sunday, May 05, 2013
Thursday, May 02, 2013
Seriously, I have the best friends!
I was whining (I know - I'm not proud of it) about my tough teaching schedule and a friend of mine sent me this in the mail.
When I was writing this blogpost, I found this!
I'm not sure I'm up to hacking this button, but it got me thinking about hacking.
Which brings me around to the topic of this post - hacking with wood. I had no idea there is a whole IKEA hacker movement, it's ridiculously fascinating. (At least to me!)
The concept is - you purchase an IKEA kit for something - like a bookcase or a side table - and then you use the parts to create something completely new and different. And cool.
Check this out! This hack turns an end table kit into a kid's bicycle. Love this!
Here's a link to read more about the IKEA hacker's movement - it's really interesting.
There are simply too many cool things to read about on the internet, and not enough hours in the day!
(Thanks for the EASY BUTTON, Susan! You made my day.)
Posted by Wood It Is! at 5:28 PM
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Life has felt kind of heavy lately, hasn't it? The events in Boston and West, Texas remind us of how precious life is, and how it can be gone in an instant.
TIme for a break!
I thought I'd give you a couple of things to smile about - first - in the "Wow, the world really is a small place" category, I received an email today from a woman who recently visited Maui and met Moe, the same tiki carver I met a couple of months ago. Remember I blogged about him here?
Stephanie bought one of Moe's carvings and when she did an internet search for him, she found my blog. How cool - she even sent me a couple of photos.
Seriously, if you're ever down on the south side of Maui, near Big Beach, look for him on the side of the road. You won't be sorry.
Stephanie added this -
"The carvings in the turtle represent the road to Hana and a Haleakala sunrise...both activities that we did here. And I had told Nathan that I wanted a hand carved turtle as our souvenir because while snorkeling we swam with three honu...so when we met Moe and saw this turtle, it was meant to be. :)"
That is one of the magical things about Maui - the sheer coincidences of things that occur there. You ask for something, and something comes your way.
Here's a true story - something like 15 years ago, I was snorkeling in a small bay by Little Beach. There was a fellow spear fishing, and he had a squid on his spear. It was surreal, and since I had an underwater camera with me, I asked if he would take a picture of me with the spear.
(I'd post the picture here, but it was a nude beach and I'm not so sure my mom would appreciate seeing that.)
Anyway, I got the fisherman's address and told him I would send copies of some of the pictures I took of him, they were very cool. The water was SO clear and he was surrounded by fish and squid ink.
Later, when I returned home and sent the pictures to him, they were returned to me - he had moved.
I hung on to them, and a few years later, when I returned to the island, I was walking on the beach and ran into him again. Luckily, I had stuck his photos in my sketchbook, which I always have with me on vacation, and was able to give him the photos in person!
What are the chances? He and I were amazed that we ran into each other again - and that we recognized each other; this time we had our clothes on!
So here's Moe and Stephanie and Nathan - with a little commemoration of their carving experience. (Thanks for sending the pictures, Stephanie!)
Finally, this video just made me smile, which I think we could all use right about now.
Posted by Wood It Is! at 10:14 AM
Monday, April 22, 2013
A friend of mine gave me an amazing tip for starting plants in my garden. I've never started plants from seeds, but she said it was a hell of a lot cheaper, and really simple. I started saving the cardboard tubes that we're all familiar with. Don't you feel good when you recycle?
I filled them with dirt, dropped some seeds in them, and kept them hydrated.
Whoa - three weeks later, I had about a dozen zucchini plants.
In fact, I had so many, I took some to the Carving Class and shared them with everyone. We all agreed - we need to do this every year, with each of us starting a different plant.
The little plants were really healthy,
and went into the ground easily.
But it was still a little chilly at night when I planted them, so I covered them with yet another recycled container - one of those large clear tubs you get when you buy an industrial supply of spinach.
(Or - as Stella says - green treats.)
(Or - as Stella says - green treats.)
Here's that same plant, six weeks later.
All told, I have about a half dozen around the yard. Yes, I love zucchini!
That got me thinking - what else could I start from seeds? I love this yucca plant, the pink shoots and flowers attract hummingbirds all Summer long, but the local nursery charges way too much for them.
You guessed it - I saved up some more rolls
and found a pod of seeds laying near the plant. The plant drops these pods at the end of the summer. I never knew what was inside until I noticed Stella gnawing on one. She had little black seeds all over her tongue, and you know what your mom says - if you're going to eat that, you're going to have plants growing in your stomach!!! (Where do mothers get those lines?)
I grabbed some of my favorite planting mix
but you-know-who was all about playing, rather than helping.
Fold the bottom up,
put a little dirt in it and drop in some seeds.
Keep your fingers crossed.
Of course, just after I planted all these seeds, I read an article about pre-soaking the seeds before planting them - that it gives them a boost in the sprouting stage.
These will be out in the sun until they're ready to go in the ground.
Here's a recipe for a great organic weed killer - don't you feel guilty spraying highly toxic stuff on weeds? I know I do! I'm planning on making a batch of this ASAP.
Yup, that's it - pretty much what I fill my Sundays with - gardening, working around the house, and catching up on my R & R. This lettuce looks great, doesn't it?
Speaking of R & R, someone asked me the other day what I do for relaxation. Ummm.... I had to think about that one. Yesterday I had the day off, and this is what I played with - a simple carving based on a tee-shirt I just bought.
It was an interesting design, so I thought I'd try my hand at it.
Happy Earth Day!
Posted by Wood It Is! at 6:32 AM