Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mark your calendars - Lie Nielsen will be here in October!

Before we get too much further into this blog post, you may want to grab your calendar and put a big circle around October 17 and 18th. In fact - you might want to do this with a 

Lie Nielsen, one of the most highly regarded hand tool makers in the world has chosen my school to host their upcoming Tool Event this fall. 

I could sit here, trying to describe it for hours, but the best words that I've read about it come straight from their website:

About Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events

“We started these Hand Tool Events to expose more woodworkers to the improvements in quality, environment, and enjoyment that hand tool work can offer. Over the past decade, we’ve seen their popularity explode with new and experienced woodworkers alike. Incorporating traditional tools and methods can offer even die-hard machinery users ways to bring their work to the next level. The fact that our tools don’t require earplugs or respirators just adds to the appeal.”
- Thomas Lie-Nielsen 

Each year, we visit over 40 venues across the US and Canada and set up a Lie-Nielsen shop for two days. We bring our full line of hand tools and demonstrate essential hand tool techniques for everyday woodworking useful to both professionals and amateurs. 

Events are hands-on: we encourage customers to try our tools, ask questions, and experience how woodworking with hand tools is rewarding, quiet, and surprisingly efficient.

Events take place at woodworking-related venues like woodworking shops, schools, guilds, stores, and lumberyards. Unless it is part of a larger show or festival, Hand Tool Events are free, open to the public, and do not require registration. A selection of Lie-Nielsen hand tools is available for purchase at most Events. Attendees are eligible for free shipping on orders placed at the Event (excluding Workbenches, Shavehorse, Sharpening Station, vise hardware, and the No. 51 Shoot Board Plane).

We also invite Guest Demonstrators to showcase their work at our Hand Tool Events. Our Guests often include other hand toolmakers, expert woodworkers, and woodworking organizations that share our passion for quality craftsmanship. They demonstrate, answer questions, and, like us, aim to encourage customers to do their best work.

As my shop heads into its sixth year of existence, I find myself being so thankful for loyal students who support and promote my school, as well as friends and family members who help me with the numerous tasks of running the shop. As word has leaked out about the tool event, many of you have come forward offering help...   trust me, I am going to need it! 

Beside the overwhelming task of cleaning and straightening the school, I find myself in need of people who can help with organizational skills, PR work, and event planning. If you like to be part of this event, please contact me - I look at this event as one that the Las Vegas woodworking community can embrace as a whole. 

Will you be a part of it?  Contact me and let's make this event a memorable one!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Table Saw Tricks

You have no idea how happy I am to report that the petrified wood table has finally been completed, and is sitting in its final resting place. It was a beast to load! 

 Thanks for the help, Richard and Eric!

Wiping off a little dust that I just spotted. 

Ummm... how am I supposed to get out of here?! 

It was both a challenge and a refreshing change of pace from what I normally build. Not sure I would take on another project like that again in the near future - I just want to go back to straight lines and more traditional joinery for a while!


Here's a great video to start your woodworking week - this is just terrific! 

I mean, I do everything on my table saw - from making raised panel doors to resawing veneer, but I would never think of half the things that this guy is doing! I particularly love the bowl at the 42 second mark - that's just gorgeous. 

I'm totally going to try that on one of my saws - when I have some time. 

On a related note - I have some HUGE news coming up - I'll try to post it here soon, but if you're a hand tool fanatic - you may want to mark some dates on your calendar - keep October 17 and 18 open.

Off to work....

Friday, June 20, 2014

Half the battle is finding the right materials for the job

There's a lot to be said for finding the right material to finish a job. Use the wrong stuff and you'll never be happy with the result. So when I was trying to finish up this coffee table, I really struggled finding the right color of grout. Or in this case - caulk.

I bought a few different colors and tried them out, squeezing out small beads next to the wood, to see how the color matched. Damn, nothing was right! So I was in a frenzy to find the right color. Luckily, my buddy Dan recommended a flooring shop right here in town.  Danny always comes through for me - like yesterday, when we went on a two hour wild goose chase for a workbench.... but that's a whole other story.....

When I walked in, I was blown away by the color choices I had - luckily I brought a sample of wood with me, so was easy to choose the color I needed. 

If you can't find the color you need here, there's something wrong with you! 

And finally - after a couple days of caulking,

 this table is finally complete!  

You have no idea how happy that makes me! 

It's been in my shop for four months, and has challenged me a dozen different ways.

Stepping outside of one's comfort zone only leads to better skills. Let's just say that my skills grew exponentially on this one. And on top of that -

 I scored a couple of cool T-shirts! Since my mom's name is Virginia - the shirts are an awesome reminder of this job!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This is why I love SawStop

Once again, they have completely exceeded my expectations and blown me away!

A small metal clip on the fence broke the other night in class, rendering the fence useless on one of the table saws. I had to remove the fence from the saw, lest someone accidentally try to use it and get hurt. 

 Luckily - I have two other tablesaws that could be used, but still - you don't want to have a broken fence, especially with classes going on five days a week.

I called Darren in their service department, explaining the problem to him. That was yesterday. 

Today I got this in the mail - seriously! 

The part was overnighted and I got it 24 hours later. That is some seriously crazy customer service, and another reason why I'm so thankful to have their tools in my school. 

Funny how a little $2 part can wreak havoc in the shop. It was a simple repair, accomplished in about two minutes. It took longer to find the right sized allen wrench than to switch out the parts. 

I can't recommend them highly enough - if you're in the market for a table saw, you might want to consider their products. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day and.....The ABCs of Hand Tools

It's kind of long, but here's a fun video made almost 70 years ago about hand tools. The first place I ever used hand tools was in my dad's workshop, as a child. I actually got into quite a bit of trouble using his tools - I either used them without prior instruction, or did really dangerous stuff, without any thought of losing a finger or putting my eye out. 

But - isn't that what all future craftspeople did as kids? 

Happy Father's Day, pop... 

We all miss you like crazy!

Friday, June 13, 2014

A two hour mental vacation...

When some people need a vacation, they take off for the woods, or the mountains, or the beach. Personally, I'm a beach person. But I haven't had time to get away lately.

I needed a little vacation today - just to take a short break from all the things I'm working on right now. I'm not complaining, but I just needed a little mental down time. 

Play time!

Yesterday when I was picking up some supplies at Lowes, I spotted this lamp for sale. 

Was that a mistake? A lamp for $3.74? 

Are you kidding me? 

On the downside - it was ugly and kind of wobbly, and the shade was a little messed up. But you can't even buy a lamp kit for $3.74, so of course it wound up in my shopping cart. I wasn't really sure what I would do with it, but then today - when I was looking for diversion of the shop - I had a scathingly brilliant idea.  

(Any Hayley Mills fans out there?)

Remember those baby toys  that we all had- the ones that you stack rings around a center pole?  

I started by taking the lamp apart, and finding a thick piece of wood that would make a great base. 

I knew what I was going to make the second I found the piece of wood! It's funny how project start like this - BOOM! - you get an idea, and two hours later - the piece is sitting on your bench, nearly finished.

I love using the Router Buddy - it makes quick work of cutting circles using a plunge router. I think the Router Buddy company may have gone out of business - but if you cut a lot of circles, you may want to track one down on eBay. It's a terrific device for making micro-adjusted circular cuts using a router. 

I cut a test piece first, to see if I had the bit set at the right diameter. 

Of course I did! 

I've used this tool so many times for cutting circles, I could set it up in my sleep.

So I started cutting the inner circle - which by the way - makes one whoop-ass-mess in the shop! 

I kept widening my cut at the center, until it was nearly cleaned out. With the Router Buddy, you can't completely clean out the hole,

so I finished it off with a forstner bit.

Then I switched to a longer bit, to cut the outside diameter. This is a monster 3" straight cutting bit,  which frankly - reminds me of a torture device in a horror movie. That is one scary tool.  

But it cuts the outside shape perfectly! Again - there's a little sawdust action going on everywhere on the bench. 

Time for some Albuterol, even though I was masked up!

  I left a little bit of material on the base, choosing to plane it off in order to separate the circle from the rest of the board.  

Here you can just barely see that I'm nearly through the board. See the outline of the ring in the wood?

And after one more shallow pass in the planer - the pieces are separated.

A little bit of drilling, sanding, (and vacuuming
 up the bench!) 

 and this piece is nearly finished.

 I decided to I re-rout the cord through a side hole, so I drilled one, clamping the piece to a large block of wood for support.

This ensured a perfectly located cord hole. 

A little sanding and stain - and this lamp was really starting to take shape, just as I'd envisioned it two hours earlier.

 I even used the original plastic grommet that came with the lamp -   

which was slick!

Now all I have to do is make a few dozen rings of wood to stack up on this center post.  There are so many options, it would be wise to sit back and think about it for a little while. Shapes? Colors?  I have some of the coolest scrap in my shop - I've been wondering what to do with them, and now - I just may have found their purpose. I love it when a plan comes together, and to tell you the truth - spending this afternoon in the shop tinkering around with this lamp was almost as good as a day on the beach. 

Well ... not quite.... But still, pretty damn fun. Wait 'til you see this lamp finished!