Wednesday, September 04, 2019

HMS Terror... take a dive back in time

A few years ago, one of my students got me hooked on reading historical books about shipwrecks. I devoured stories about Ernest Shackleton,  Robert Falcon Scott's  South Pole disaster, and more. 

Check out this video - this ship was located in the frigid waters near Nunavut, Canada. They've named it Terror Bay, which is a perfect description, in my opinion.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

What's your oldest tool?

My lathe is 40 years old. That officially makes it older than most of the people I teach. 

It's rusty and worn, and so many of the parts are broken (and unavailable) that it's a little embarrassing when I pull it out to turn something. Still... there's something about that old Rockwell that makes me proud. 

At the time, it was one of the most expensive tools I'd ever purchased, and over the past 40 years, it has more than paid for itself. I've made hundreds of rolling pins and bowls, and salt shakers and handles for broken tools. Not to mention table legs, stool stretchers... you name it, I've probably made it. 

The patina is gnarly, and I've had to substitute parts from other machines, just to make it work. Still... I'm not sure I'll ever get rid of it. It's kind of like an old pair of shoes or a belt that are so comfortable, you just can't bear to toss them, even though you never wear them anymore. Yes, that's my lathe. 

Someone sent me this picture, asking if I could make a paddle similar to this. But - they wanted a turned handle, not a flat one, like the picture. 

Turned like a baseball bat handle, they requested. 

 Well, I can cut and paste with the best of them, so I put together this picture, to ensure that we were on the same page.

 My plan was to make it out to two pieces - the handle and the flat part -  and join them. But they were dead against that, worried that the joint would break over time.  The tricky part in my mind was turning the handle while it was attached to the flat part. The vibration could be epic, especially on my tired lathe. But I worked out a few dimensions, and asked my buddy Denny to cut this sample on his CNC. He came up with this sample  - perfect for what I was trying to accomplish.  

I found a suitable piece of wood,

 and he cut the shape perfectly. 

To lessen the chance of the edges chipping off, I rounded over everything with a router, 

and then pulled out the trusty old Rockwell to get this party started.  

This front plate reminds me of pictures I've seen of the Titanic, where rusty parts abound. 

Since my customer requested the baseball bat handle, I pulled out a bat I had hanging around the shop. 

And started cutting. I'm sure there's a name for this knob on the end of a bat. 

Oh wait -  

it's called a ... KNOB.  

Who knew? 

The part that I worried about most was the transition between the handle and the flat part. One little slip of a tool and the tool could make this piece go flying out of the lathe, and well, that's dangerous AF. I had a rolling pin fly out of this very lathe many years ago, and I had a black eye for a month. 

Luckily, the transition went perfectly, 

and once it was sanded and blended together, it was perfect. 

It's sort of corny, but I like pulling this old relic out once in a while. 

The battle scars could tell a few stories, 

but in the end, it can still produce some nice work.

 Batter up!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Very creative stop motion animation

By buddy Eric always keeps an eye out for fun woodworking videos - he just sent this one to me. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Feeling Lazy (Susan)?

It feels like I've been working on Lazy Susan installs all summer. Or spring and summer...  or even longer. In other words, I've been working with Susans a lot lately!

Although I almost never paint anything I make, 

this red base fit perfectly with this metal piece.

 I don't even remember what this double decker base was used for, but I ended up making a second one, after someone saw it and wanted a duplicate. 

This natural live edge base, complete with worm trails on the front edge,

was a terrific way to display this fish sculpture.  

And this one was first base that I made after I set up my Glowforge laser. We tested a few stains on the mahogany, to bring out the color a bit. 

The grain and chatoyancy was breathtaking, 

and the lasered artwork fit perfectly on this base. The sculpture that was mounted on this had a nautical theme, and this base with that piece is one of my favorites

But almost every one of these sculpture pedestals has a lazy susan swivel inlaid into the bottom, so that the piece can be rotated.  

You can't just mount the swivel directly on the bottom, as it is a little too tall (or thick), thus creating too wide of a gap under the base. 

Sure, I've seen some made this way, but when it is inlaid about halfway into the wood - the smaller reveal looks much better. 

So - it takes a little bit of work, but it's worth the trouble.

This week, I've been inlaying these like mad! Here's how I inlaid this small-ish swivel (say that five-times-fast!). 

 If you draw lines from corner to corner on your wood, the dead center is where the lines intersect. I have a very slick compass set-up in my router, called the Router Buddy, which needs an 1/8" hole drilled in the center of the area that I want to rout. 

This pin on the bottom of the router base slips into that center hole, and allows the router to pivot around, cutting a perfect circle. 

Because that pin is adjustable, I can cut just about any size of a hole that I need.

But first - I need to set the depth of my cut - in this case, an 1/8". 

This setup block allows me to set that depth in no time.  A single plunge cut with a flat bottomed bit cuts this donut in no time... maybe 20 seconds, at most.

I could have adjusted the compass jig to make one more cut, making the center just a bit smaller, so the swivel would have fit perfectly over it, but instead - decided to take out the entire center area. Since that center was about 2" in diameter, I simply drilled it out with a 2" forstner bit. 

And - BAM! ... an inlaid swivel. It's not difficult to do this, but when you have a few dozen  of these to inlay, you want to complete this in as few steps as possible. 

Once this walnut base is oiled and the swivel attached, it'll be time to mount the sculpture.  I'll leave that task up to the sculptor ... I have another few dozen swivels to inlay!

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Oh man! If you like woodworking, put your feet up and watch this video

This video features some of my favorite woodworkers - from Wendy to Tom Loeser, and everyone in between. This is a fascinating glimpse into some really amazing wood minds! 

Put your feet up and grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy this.  

This year, in Austria, the Wood Design team has presented the pieces that was inspired and influenced by both the Austrian vernacular painted furniture and the beautiful forests of the Stübing Open-Air Museum. The style of the artwork are varied but all centered towards the theme, Change, from different perspectives. The diversity of the presented pieces may change the audience’s perception of furniture and art, providing them a chance to understand the value of Wood Design. While preserving the traditional woodworking techniques, the Wood Design team takes the contemporary route with the material, seeking the “changes” for moving forward by expressing and addressing a variety of concerns in world matters and the need to protect nature.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Don't be a hater!... embrace the putty!

Here's a little secret... all woodworkers have flaws in their work. It might be something as simple as a bit of chip out on a corner of trim, or something as bad as a screw popping out of a tabletop.  

It happens; we're not miracle workers. 

I've been lucky enough to have been steered toward a few products that make my work look amazing. I don't feel bad about repairing a flaw; its' all part of the building process. Here's one product I couldn't be without ...

My shop always has a ton of Timbermate on hand! 

Whole books have been dedicated to fixing what we screw up!   
This book has been a lifesaver!   

These sticks will up your game in the woodshop. Couldn't live without them! 

What's your secret weapon in the shop?

Friday, July 26, 2019


Everyone always remarks how life is so different these days - driverless cars, social media politicking, Yelp, Uber and Snapchat; it’s all changing. Even ten years ago, no one could have predicted what would be popular today. So staying flexible in this ever changing society is a must. 

(Flexible, get it?)

I certainly didn’t see that I’d be getting a whole  bunch of commissioned work from Air BNB hosts - people who open their home as mini bed & breakfast hotels. To be a registered AirBNB host, you have to outfit your home to certain standards, and that’s where I come in. I’ve been working with various homeowners, sprucing up their furniture so that it's more attractive, safer, and durable. On top of that, sprucing up your furnishings adds a cohesive design element to your home. 

Sometimes the projects that come to me are very vague; this homeowner sketched a headboard that she wanted me to build on a scrap of paper. 

I actually prefer to work like this, without firm dimensions that I have to adhere to - so that I have some flexibility when building. 

So this started out with a simple sketch, and in this case - they even dropped off some paneling that they had. (Not my choice of building material, but like I said - flexibility is good.)

Their goal was to have a headboard that attached to the wall, with two “bedposts” crating a small alcove for the people in bed.  Because there was other furniture in the bedroom that this headboard had to match, they wanted to employ curves in the design of the bedposts. 

I started with the flat paneling, adding the posts on either end. Building up layer after layer, I was able to create the curve they wanted. 

It’s funny how the timing of this project coincided with the AWFS show that was in town; the fine people at Pony/Jorgensen donated a bunch of their new clamps to my shop, and they came in really handy for clamping the boards in place while I marked the cuts I needed to make. 

A few years ago, at the 2017 AWFS show, I won a huge package of Senco tools - six nail guns, a compressor, and all the accessories that one would need. These three guns have become workhorses in my shop - the 23 gauge pin nailer, the 18 gauge brad gun, and a stapler. In this case - the stapler was helped me build this headboard effortlessly… working with this type of paneling is all about - glue, staple, and repeat!

The posts are starting to take shape, you can see how I created that subtle curve on the front edge. Like I said - glue, staple, and repeat! This glue bottle took a beating!

After the curved stack was complete, I capped the ends and trimmed everything flush with the router and a flush cut bit.

Here’s the finished headboard, which will be covered in a faux textured stucco to match the rest of the room. It hangs on the wall with Z clips, and despite working with materials that I don’t love, this was a very fun piece to build… no pressure, and freedom to build it however I wanted.

 I’ll take that kind of work any day!