Wednesday, February 29, 2012

RIP Davy Jones

Didn't every teeny-bopper from the 60s love this guy?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Even a bad day in the shop....

This was one clusterfuck of a day, and it's only half over. I'd be willing to bet every woodworker out there has had one or two. I know Mikey P (in Ohio) has had them. And Kris in Arkansas. And both Richards, too. And let's see, who else can I add in there? Jay? Rob G? Lupe? John? Julie up in the frozen tundra? Melody? Just about everyone I know!

Yup, we've all had bad days in the shop. And somehow, I'm reminded of that old saying about a bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work.

Well, what if your recreation is your work?

Can I just complain (OK, whine?) a little bit?

It all started when I headed to the shop early in the day, to get a jump on this piece that I need to finish in T minus 13 days and counting.

But first, the saw was a little out of adjustment, and I needed to cut some compound miters. I couldn't get the blade to tilt far enough, so I called my buddy Darrin, who works for SawStop. His thorough understanding of this saw makes swoon.

I wouldn't have guessed that adjusting the tilt stop was going to turn into an all day affair.

Do you have any idea how tired your arm can get when jammed inside a tablesaw, trying to loosen an upside-down bolt?

The only good thing I can say is that I'm glad I don't have bald spot on my dome like so many of my buddies - these photos would make me cringe.

More adjustments. I had to tilt the blade back and forth from 45˚ to 90˚, over and over.

During that time, I only dropped my socket into the cabinet a couple of dozen times.

Right in the middle of this - and I'm not kidding you about this - a hooker showed up, asking for a donation, and later, two Mormans, wanting to talk scripture. I couldn't make this up if I tried.

I should have been drinking something a helluva lot stronger than coffee.

Just when I finally thought I'd gotten everything where I wanted it - the battery died in my angle gauge.

That's OK, I can do old skool, so I pulled out my trusty combo square.

Just when I thought I was in the clear, I noticed the insert was totally jacked.


Is there a poltergeist in my shop?

Pull out the allen wrenches and more tweaking.

Right about then, I noticed my phone. I'd been using the calculator on it, but now it had switched to a scientific calculator.

Uh... if anyone knows how to switch it back, can you e-mail me?

So... OK, I can't get either of these to work.

Of course, I didn't have a spare battery.

By now, the shop was a mess, I was feeling pissy,

and there is a class in just a few hours. Only one thing to do....


As I was sweeping, trying to put all of this wasted time into perspective, something dawned on me. I had a spare.

Tough times call for tough measures - so I headed to Capriotti's for lunch.

Like Clint Eastwood said - you've got to know your own limitations, and I was just about at the tail end of mine for the afternoon.

I'll be fine tomorrow, thanks for letting me bitch. Have a clusterfuck shop story to share? Add it to my comments section!

I need a good laugh!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Box Joints on a tablesaw

Where has the time gone? Classes are winding down, and just about the time you start getting to know everyone, the six week session ends and it all starts over again.

My Intermediate WW classes are coming to an end, and one of the last techniques they learn is cutting box joints. They are definitely a little tricky to set up on the saw, and a lot of test pieces are needed to get the fit just right.

This one is just a touch off,

and these are way off. Good thing Pine is relatively cheap!

Once you've watched someone cut the pieces a couple times, you "get" it, and it's a breeze to do.

The real reward is when you sand the box, after the glue has dried.

While this isn't my favorite drawer box joint, it sure has the WOW factor that some people crave.

Installing the bottom panel is a little tricky, but easily done with a slotting bit.

This class is truly more about learning and practicing various techniques, rather than making projects. We make more sawdust and scrap than finished projects!

Seriously, this might sound corny, but it's terribly rewarding to watch someone learn these techniques and put them to good use. You can just see the light go off in their head, and they usually start thinking about their next project, and how they will use their new skills in building it. There are always past students stopping into the shop, to show me their latest creation, and I'm blown away by some of their work. Sweet.

For anyone that wants to learn this joint, I highly recommend using Tage Frid's book on joinery. His book contains step by step instructions, accompanied with great pictures to help you set this up on your tablesaw. It's like having a woodworking tutor right in your woodshop!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A little tool porn for your viewing pleasure

First off - a huge shout-out to Josh, who is in one of my classes right now. (Hope your hand is healing OK, buddy.) He told me about a local auction house that I'd never heard of - and WOW - he wasn't exaggerating when he said they have some amazing stuff.

They're located down in Henderson, and hold auctions every Sunday. Take a look at some of the goodies that are listed for this weekend.

Am I seeing double, or does the hammer below have a double claw? Since I have a hammer collection, I just might have to go and check this one out!

Monday, February 20, 2012


There is an interesting conversation going on in the comments section (below) about the post I just did on the Colbert Report's mention of the SawStop. That's one of my missions with this blog - to introduce new products, share some techniques, and open dialogue among woodworkers.

Some people have voiced their feelings about SawStop's tablesaws being too expensive. I agree; they are not cheap. But - ask anyone who has ever had a tablesaw injury and they will probably say they wished they had been using a SawStop when they were hurt.

This video below illustrates some of the dangers that can happen. Trust me, I lose sleep thinking about things like this. With 30+ people a week using my SawStop, it's one of the best investments I've ever made.

On a related note, while I don't condone what this guy does in the video (for the sake of "sharing" his tablesaw knowledge) - I have to admire his testicular fortitude. (Meaning - that dude has balls!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Colbert Report weighs in

I love it when that woodworker says he has "the right to cut my own finger off on my table saw" - the true definition of a tool!

(Thanks to Jacky H for sending me this link!)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pure silliness

This is a busy day in the shop, I've got a private session going on all day, but I wanted to post this pure silliness.

Love this video, I wish I could get Stella to talk to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hand Care for Woodworkers

(Before I start blogging, let me say that Blogger, the website where I post my woodworking thoughts, is apparently having some technical issues. I can't seem to get the fonts to behave correctly, so the appearance of this post is going to look a little odd, especially down toward the bottom part of this post. I swear - it's them, not me!)

My friends must be sick of hearing me complain about my sore hands.

Let's face it, the days of my hand modeling career are long over, especially since that belt sander incident last Christmas. And that drill press mishap a couple of months ago. And that screwdriver going all the way through my palm of my hand last summer.... the list could go on and on.

It’s really not a case of if you’ve gotten hurt, but when was your last injury.

One of the most irritating things are the small cracks one can develop in your fingertps - sometimes so small you can’t even see them. If you've had one, then you know they hurt enough to bring tears to your eyes. Ignoring them is the worst thing you can do; early prevention is smart.

So when I received these hand care goodies recently,

it reminded me that I've been meaning to blog about hand care for woodworkers for a long time. And I think I might have found the perfect one-two combination for healing my aching fingertips.

At the last Sin City Woodworker’s meeting, I brought this up for discussion, since I was suffering with three cracked fingertips. Almost everyone in the room nodded with compassion, and many held up band-aid covered fingers, in sympathy.

Solidarity, dudes!

I’ve been dealing with this for a long time. The worst was when I was working with glass block a few years years ago, using mortar and grout. Both products pull the moisture right out of your hands. My respect goes out to any concrete workers: you have the nastiest mitts on the planet.

Speaking of mitts, Lupe gave me this pair of gel gloves, apologizing for the color.

Hey, I do pink!

It is hard to describe what these feel like when you're wearing them - sort of like your hands are submerged in a bucket of slime. It is very odd! But - from the few times I've worn them, they seem to work.

Interestingly enough, this month’s issue of Fine HomeBuilding has a small Q&A about that exact question, and the answer they gave was - lame.

So what’s the real solution?

Without a doubt, keeping your hands and fingertips hydrated is far and away the best preventative solution. Your fingers usually won’t crack if they’re hydrated. Ask most people who work with their hands and they'll agree that Bag Balm and Corn Huskers are their favorite weapon again dry hands. Now I’ve tried both, and while Bag Balm doesn't feel as greasy as Corn Huskers, I still don’t love that oily feeling on my hands. And even worse - if I apply one of these at my shop, I leave tell-tale fingerprints on the wood I’m handling. Not cool.

Here are some of the lotions I've tried, Except for the Neutrogena, these lotions weren't that helpful.

If you catch one of those cracks in time and apply a liquid bandage product to it, you can stop the damage before it gets too bad. I've found that liquid bandages, such as the ones below, really help.

Of course, when you apply them, they sting like a mutha!

You're basically “gluing” the crack closed. Trust me, this works.

Skin Shield is my go to product. None of the other products work as well, in my opinion.

There are tons of tips and solutions out there, here is one that is mildly helpful. Some people even use Super Glue for finger repairs, but whenever I open a tube of it, it is usually dried up.

Now this will sound weird, but my secret weapon is to sand the skin surrounding one of those cracks a little bit. I use a piece of medium grit paper, or an emery board, to sand those areas where the skin around the crack is getting too thick. Sometimes I even use my random orbit sander to do a quick job of it. That might sounds extreme, but it works. I think that thinner skin is less prone to drying and shrinking and cracking than those hard leather paws.

Someone also mentioned Gloves in a Bottle, and I found a link for a free sample here.

Finally, my favorite lotions are Bag Balm and Neutrogena. Hands down. (no pun intended)

The Neutrogena never leaves a greasy film, and it comes unscented, for any of you out there worried about smelling like girly-men.

The Bag Balm works well, too, but leaves a slight residue that I can't have when working with wood.

So there you have it - keep your hands hydrated with Bag Balm or Neutrogena. And if you develop a crack, repair it with Skin Shield. I've been using this hand care regimen for about a month now, and my hands have been silky smooth and crack free.

Now if I could only find something that erases scars.....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lamp shade on a lathe

In the past couple of months, a few friends and I have taken lathe lessons with Jimmy Clewes, who (luckily) lives right here in Las Vegas. If his class doesn't get your heart pumping to buy a lathe, I don't know what will!

In my Intermediate Woodworking class that's running right now, we were playing around with compound miters, and some of the students made lamps. The hardest part about making a lamp is finding an appropriate lampshade to go with it.

Here's a pretty awesome clip of a lampshade being made on a lathe. I'm not too sure of its durability; the heat from the bulb will probably dry out the wood and cause some nasty cracks.

Still, it looks awesome!

Monday, February 06, 2012

My current project - part two!

If you remember your Tablemaking 101 class, then you know there are three different types of table bases that you can make. I've chosen a four legged design, with connecting aprons for this table.

Luckily, I have enough Ash to sort through and choose some lovely pieces for the aprons.

As if my hands aren't rough enough,

I start the staining process a little early.

A very simple way to add a little more strength, visual interest, and leg room to your aprons is by adding a cutaway on them. The diagram below shows what I mean.

And one of my little tricks for making cutaways is to glue them up, rather than cut them from a solid block. I think it's just easier that way. I'll start with a solid block, rip off the strip, shape it, and then glue it back in place.

The grain matches perfectly, but I don't have to mess around with any tough cuts.

Here they are, re-glued back together. You want to be careful when you glue them, that you don't infiltrate that end grain with glue, which is tough to remove. Let the glue set up a bit, then cut it away with a sharp chisel.

After they're dry, plane them down and they're ready for tenons on each end.

I start by making my shoulder cuts all the way around the tenon. Then I remove most of the wood on my radial arm saw, using a dado blade.

There is just a bit of cleaning up to do with a hand saw, trimming this top area.

This tenon just needs a little TLC with a chisel and it's ready to test.

A nice fit, I can live with that!

Remember, there are two short aprons, and two long ones.

After all that fitting, I am pooped!

But - no rest for the weary. There is a stack of pieces that needs me. Time to assemble!

There are a couple of things to do before I glue this up - like adding dados to the long aprons, so that I can add some center stretchers that will run just under the table top. This top is pretty long, and it needs a little extra support underneath it.

Finally, I just want to see what it looks like, before I glue it. I'm checking my overhangs, to make sure I haven't made an apron too long. So I cut a couple of pieces of plywood to the exact size of my top. And then position the parts over it.

Since everything looked good, I start gluing the sides. With a big piece like this, sub assemblies are the way to go. I plan on assembling the two short sides first, by gluing and pegging the joints. Dry fitting the pieces before you actually spread any glue is smart. Here is a lovely connection from leg to apron, no gaps, everything square.

The flattest surface in my shop is the tablesaw, so I glue up the sides there.

After the glue is set, I drill some holes for pegging the joint.

It pains the purist in me that I'm not using Ash pegs; these are Oak. Only you and I will know. Put a little glue on the pegs, tap them in until they're just a tad proud of the surface, and then use a small block plane to flush them up.

A completed side!

I clamp the whole thing together to measure the lengths of the three stretchers that I need to cut.

and once I cut them, it's time to glue the whole apron assembly together.

My next step will be assembling the whole base together. I'll borrow some long Bessey clamps from my neighbor for this. These clamps are pricey, so I've never invested in any for my shop. Considering I only need them once or twice a year, I'll borrow instead of buy!