Friday, September 15, 2017

Woodshop Headphones ... what's in your ear?

If you knew how many hours I spend in the woodshop, then you'd understand why ear buds are so important to me. In fact, they might be one of my most important "tools" in the shop right now.

 With commissions piling up, I've been doing a ton of work with loud machinery, and this set by Plugphones perfectly deliver crisp sound in my ears. I'm a huge podcast listener, and these earbuds not only fit your ear better, but they have noise reduction qualities, so I can actually hear spoken words while the planer is roaring, or the dust collectors drone for hours.

 A while back, I attended a convention and wandered up to a booth, discovering these. The best part about conventions is that you learn about new products, or find things that you've never seen before. 

When these are in my ears, I can work and enjoy great programming at the same time. Seriously - the noise they block is amazing!

So.... what are YOU listening to in your shop? 

If I had to list my top favorite Podcasts, ones that I tune into weekly - I'd have to say:

 If you're interested in upping the sound quality in your shop, check out the links to the right. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Wanna find your niche in woodworking?

Who knew that there was such a need for piano legs? When a sweet older couple wandered into my shop with this broken leg, 

 and it sent me down the rabbit hole, trying to locate a replacement. 

As with most older customers, they didn't have a ton of money to throw at a replacement leg, which is what it turned out to require. 

One piano restorer quoted me $1500 for a replacement!

After a discussion with the piano owners, who told me their piano was simply for their grandchildren to bang on when they visited,  we decided to make two new legs. They explained that their piano bench was a hand-me-down, and was of a different style, with straighter tapered legs. So - if I could match that design, they'd be satisfied. 

As they said - they don't have to be pretty, they just have to hold the thing up!

I'll tell you this - measuring this leg was the hardest part! 

There wasn't a flat surface on the leg, except for the very top, and getting and end-to-end dimension was tough. Years ago, I'd come across a similar situation, and used my tablesaw to get an accurate measurement. 

Here's the leg, butted against the fence, 

and just touching the blade. 

My read-out told me the leg as a hair under 25 1/4" long. 

Sweet. I found some thick stock and laminated a couple of leg blanks, 

and after they dried - I milled and tapered them. Even added in a little decorative kerfing to dress them up a bit.  

A bit of sanding and some stain and lacquer and my clients were on their way. 

Who knew?!  I'll tell you this - if you want to start a whole new cottage business - teach yourself how to make piano legs. There's a whole market out there, waiting for you to show up!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

3D Printing - how cool!

Remember that Mid-Century Modern desk that I re-built a few months back? 

One of the handle ends was missing, and hours of research didn't help locate one.

 But a student of mine mentioned that she had started working at the local SynShop, learning all kinds of cool techniques, like welding, robotics, lasering and 3D printing.

Hmmmm.... 3D printing... that started me thinking about a replacement part for a handle. 

It took a while to coordinate things, but Rachel was finally able to get the part printed. 

And threaded for a new bolt, no less!  This is SO exciting - the desk is going to be whole again, once I get the part and paint it to match the older parts. 

Meanwhile, I'm working on another piece for this office set that will match the desk - a wrap-around cabinet that will hide a Xerox copier. 

Staining the cane to match the older cane is the most difficult part, but once that's done, it'll be smooth sailing. 

One thing's for sure, I'll be happy to wrap up this project and start on some new stuff. It's never boring in my shop. Classes start soon, and I'm looking forward to cooler temps in the shop. 

Happy Fall, everyone!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Some of our latest creations...

We just finished up a "Working with Live Edge for Beginners" class at the shop, and what a wonderful assortment of tables and benches we made!

We started out with some gorgeous slabs, like these, 

and ended up with projects like these!

When I get a few more "finished" shots, I'll post them... we made some gorgeous tables and benches!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Things are finally starting to settle down over here...

As you might imagine, after the episode of Handcrafted America, where my work (along with two other artists) was featured - life got a little hectic. Thankfully, I'd prepared for that onslaught, so I had cut back of my schedule a bit, in order to pay full attention to everything else. It paid off - I'm busy and back to making tile and working on filing cabinet benches again. 

It's been a LONG time since I worked with clay, and getting the kilns running again is exciting! By the end of the day?... well, let's just say that I mostly sleep like a baby. 

Reading used to be my guilty pleasure - you'd always find a book in my backpack, or a few on the nightstand. I've even been known to pack more books than clothes on some vacations. 

But these days, my leisure-reading time is has been drastically cut. And I'm often so tired when I hit the sheets, that reading just isn't a reality. But I just read this gem for the third time - and even bought a copy for a friend. 

Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business by Paul Downs

I met Paul Downs at his recent appearance at the AWFS show - he gave a frank and generous discussion of what it's really like to run a business. This really was a once in a lifetime discussion; usually business owners keep their info or managerial tips close to the vest, but Paul was open and frank about his company.  It's gotten me thinking about the shop, and scaling it to what I want it to be. It's a lot to ponder, trust me. 

Meanwhile - I'm back to making tile. 

Ahhhhh..... I've forgotten how great it is. 

Here are some gems of the past... hopefully what I'm working on now will be half this beautiful. 

I'll keep you posted..