Saturday, July 31, 2010

A day at the shop...

Every Saturday, the school is open for past and present students to come in and work on their various projects. I thought it might be interesting to share a day in the shop, so I tried to keep my camera around and capture some of it.

Here's the first thing you'll see when you pull up and park.

When you come in the front door, you'll walk through the small gallery, where a few pieces are on display.

The dust is always out of control, but who the hell drew on my tiled table? (Note to self: vacuum before everyone starts arriving.)

The shop isn't much better - I was working on Friday and left everything out on the workbenches. Yes, that's a chromed machine gun barrel on the table, pointing right at the camera. More about that project in an upcoming post.

At least there is some color and a good vibe in the shop, despite the mess!

Luckily, the bench room was a little better, even if it doesn't look like it in this picture.

I made a small picture frame yesterday, and of course, all the tools I were still sitting right where I left them. It was getting close to the time when everyone was going to start showing up to work, so I tried to get put everything away. Never got around to the vacuuming, through.

But - one thing I always try to do is keep my desk fairly organized. I really need to build a chair to match the desk, but that's on my to-do list for 2013.

First thing - I threw on another coat of oil on the frame I built yesterday.

My friend Adrienne dropped off this piece of plywood and asked if I would cut it into a circle.

And even though I pretty much had everything set up to cut it, everyone started arriving, so I didn't get the chance to do it. Of course, when she came to pick it up, it was still sitting on the bench. I grabbed my router with it's compass attachment and cut it while she sat there waiting.

Coach Jerry is making a set of Mission nightstands; here he is, using my Domino, mortising all of the slats.

He brings the biggest water bottle that I've ever seen to the shop. When it's full, I can barely pick it up with one hand.

Steve, who I've mentioned here before as being one of the two smartest people I know in the world, comes in nearly every Saturday to work. He's a joy to have around - mellow and always up for an interesting conversation. Here he's building a planter out of some rough sawn cedar.

Dereck was having such a rough day in the shop, I never ended up taking a picture of him. So this picture was taken a while ago. He is building two of these bookcase units, and he was having some difficulties with the second one. That's sort of an understatement. I kept reminding him that shit happens in the shop. I wish I had a buck for every time I've had days like that.

Here he is on a more productive day.

But one of the coolest things about the day was a visit from Julie, from Follow Your Heart Woodworking in Canada.

She and her husband Eric came to town to celebrate her 50th birthday. We've been online buddies for the last year, but never met. So it was very cool of her to stop by and hang out at the shop. Here is a link to her website.

Of course, we exchanged some of our woodworking - she gave me this handpainted schnauzer,

knowing that I have two at home.

And I gave her one of my inlaid clipboards, here she is holding it. She and Eric look pretty happy, despite the fact that they were melting in the woodshop. It was a warm day, and the swamp coolers just couldn't keep up.

In between all of this, I had a few people wandered in to talk about woodworking projects, my friend Kristi dropped by to return my golf clubs that she borrowed last weekend, and my buddy Vince stopped by the BS for a bit.

Just another Saturday at the shop. If you're ever in town on a Saturday, you're more than welcome to stop in and hang out!

I'm starting a huge project tomorrow for a VIP, and of course, they wanted it built yesterday. (Remember that machine gun barrel at the beginning of this post?) So for the next two weeks, I might be a little too busy to blog very much. But I'll be taking some photos of the piece as I build it, so stay tuned. It's a pretty special project, and one I'm thrilled to be building.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Military flag case

My dad was great guy. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him in some way - whether it's reminiscing about a good time we'd shared, or remembering when we butted heads about something silly. He taught me a lot of things, like how to golf, or how to invest in the stock market, and or how not to do woodworking.

One of the last things we did together was hang a big picture window in a room I was remodeling.

When he accidentally stuck his hands in the caulk, and then got handprints all over the glass, we looked like a couple of maniacs, arguing over what a mess he had made on the window.

Six months later, he passed away.

I never could bring myself to clean his handprints off of that window. I just couldn't. Jimmy and I were very much alike, even though I never wanted to admit it when I was younger. (Everyone called him Jimmy, including me.)

This past Memorial day, when most people were off picnicking and enjoying the start of summer, I was starting a commission in my studio. A very sweet couple had stopped by a few weeks earlier, and spoken to me about building a military flag box for the family of an old Navy friend of theirs who had passed away.

Since my dad was in the Navy; I took more than a personal interest in this project. Here's Jimmy in one of the only pictures I have of him in uniform.

Before I started building the flag case, I called the widow, and spoke with her several times, discussing it's design and some various details. I'd never built a flag case before, so I hopped on the computer and did the research.

Did you know there are two types of flags - mission flags and casket flags? When I learned about the different sizes, I made a call to the frame shop at the local air force base and got the precise dimensions for each folded flag. The angles are a little tricky, but once I got the saw set up, cutting the parts was relatively easy. The Wixey digital cube really helps out in setting the sawblade to precise angles.

Here is a picture of the case I recently finished, ironically, just after the Fourth of July. Taking a picture of it was a little difficult, as the front kept reflecting things in the glass. So even though the image is a little grainy, I think it shows the love that I put into building this. It's a fitting tribute for such a fine man.

Here is another a fitting tribute for such a fine man - my dad.

My mom commissioned this bronze sculpture from a local artist - a man and a woman in a perpetual circle of love. What a lovely piece to mount on top of their mausoleum.

If this blogpost sounds somber, I don't mean it to be. I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to build this flag case for the family. Honored, in fact. Now I'm going to start a case for Jimmy's flag.

I may even put my handprint on the glass for him.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday is for...


I try to make Sundays fun, since they're my least favorite day of the week. Everything closes early, you can't get an appointment with anyone that you might need to see, like a dentist or a doc, and well... they just remind me of all the years I spent going to church. No offense to people of faith, but my Sundays aren't about that at all.

So I usually try to do something a little out of the ordinary, like drink mimosas all day, or make something decadently special, like Captain Crunch pancakes. Whatever. Like I said - decadence.

Work-a-holics like me don't indulge that often.

This morning, I decided to whip up a batch of doughnuts. Like - the best doughnuts you'll ever taste. Forget about
Krispy Kreme, or Oram's or Randy's - mine are better.

When my friend Adrienne and I visited Sur La Table in May, I picked up a set of doughnut pans, perfect for making mini and regular sized doughnuts. The recipe they include with the pans is simple, and really good. It just takes a few minutes to prep it, and all the ingredients are things you would normally have in your kitchen.

They recommend filling the pans about 2/3's full.

Dammit, I always overfill them.

The next batch, I filled them a little more sensibly.

While they're cooling, I whipped up a little chocolate ganache. Once again, ingredients that you would have in your pantry, like chocolate chips, butter, etc.

Cooling and waiting to be coated.

The mini doughnuts might look good, but the larger ones are to die for, even if I'm not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition.

Here are two different versions - a powdered sugar doughnut, and a cinnamon one.

And the funny thing - I couldn't control myself, so as soon as I finished these, they started disappearing from the plate. There wasn't even enough time to get a photo of the whole plate.

If you're a doughnut freak like me, you MUST buy a set of these pans and make your own. You may never leave your home on a Sunday morning ever again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wine rack research

Someone contacted me over the weekend about a wine rack that would hold bottles as well as glasses, so I had to do a little bit of research online regarding wine glass sizes. One of the things I found was simply bizarre.

Is it just me, or does this seem like a really ridiculous product?

Here are some hilarious "reviews" from people who have purchased one of these glasses.

This review is from: Giant Wine Glass - Holds a Whole Bottle of Wine! (Kitchen)
I LOVE this whole bottle wine glass! I like wine. A lot. So when I'm driving, I find it very distracting to have to text my friend "hld on 1 min", put down my cell phone, then try and pour another glass without spilling.

With the whole bottle wine glass, I can minimize spills and keep texting since I only need to refill my glass at every 3rd stop light. I do wish it came with a snap on lid and a straw though.


This review is from: Are you kidding?

Why not just drink out of the bottle? :P If you want it aerated, just pour it in a bowl, and use a funnel to pour it back!

And finally...(my favorite)...

This review is from: Giant Wine Glass - Holds a Whole Bottle of Wine! (Kitchen)
I am the third trimester of my pregnancy and I have put myself on bed rest. Any little convenience that helps with repetitive movement is a blessing, as staying in a relaxed state is critical to the well being of both mommy and baby.

So having a large glass that negates the need for repetitive pouring of a wine bottle is one of those tiny little aids that helps add up to a state of relaxation. The only thing that could have improved this would have been the inclusion of a very long straw.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Drill press repair

If you get bored reading about tool repairs, you may want to skip this post.

This drill press has seen better days.

In fact, I could barely believe my eyes when I discovered that every time I turned it on, the direction of the rotation reversed. One flip of the switch and it was drilling properly; turn it off-and-on and it would drill in reverse. Of course, this causes the bit to completely loosen up and fall out, so it posed a bit of a problem.

A little research, a few calls to locate the part (a capacitor from WW Grainger) and it was mostly back in working shape. All except for a nagging little issue - the chuck had very small amount of play in it, from side to side. As you can guess - drilling with a wobbly chuck results in slightly over-sized holes. Not a good thing, as Martha would say.

Over a couple of beers, my buddies suggested that it might be time to replace the bearings on it. Never one to argue with taking a tool apart, I grabbed the manual, and started the tear down.

First- off with the chuck, which was surprisingly easy to pry down.

And then depth gauge rod.

And the bracket that holds it in place.

Next comes the handle which has to disengage from the spring,

which was an interesting (i.e. - an "oh shit!" moment) part to disassemble. When you pull the handle out, the quill falls down.

Rather rapidly, I might add.

I kept I hoping that I would be able to get that same amount of tension back on it.

I could see three of the four bearings that I needed to replace, but the fourth was stuck up, under this top pulley.

Removing the pulley was the biggest problem, it took me a week or more just to locate the right sized deep socket. Thanks to Eddie and Thomas, I borrowed one from a local tire repair shop.

And with the help of Thom's big ass impact driver, we had the nut off in no time.

When you're working on something, does your workbench look like this - a big jumble of crap?

After the nut was off, the pulley should have slid right up and off the shaft, but it just wouldn't cooperate.

No amount of prying, cussing, penetrating oil or muscle would budge it. And finding someone with a pulley puller was even more problematic.

When all else fails... call the manufacturer.

The tool tech I spoke with felt there was no way that my machine needed new bearings, despite it's age (born in 1994) or the fact that it's drilled thousands of holes. Maybe tens-of-thousands. He said he'd never heard of one of their drill presses needing new bearings, so he suggested another remedy. A thorough cleaning of all the parts, to dislodge years of sawdust and grime was the first step.

From this

To this.

And this

To this.

And then reassembly. This particular drill press has a set screw rides in a slot on the quill. Here's the slot.

If the set screw either becomes loose, or wears down a bit, it can cause some side to side wobble of the quill. Here's the set screw, housed within a locking nut.

So once the drill press was reassembled, I adjusted the set screw. Too tight and it inhibited the action of the quill spring. Too loose, and it allowed that slight sloppiness.

In the end - simply adjusting the set screw solved the problem.

So the moral of this story? If you're experiencing a problem with one of your tools, a simple phone call to the manufacturer might save you a lot of time and aggravation.