Thursday, January 31, 2013

Seeing Double

They say nothing in design is new - that we're all making a re-hashed design of something else, and I suppose that's true. If you're "appropriating" a design for your own use, like building a table or a bookcase, it's not a big deal.

As far as I can tell, all of these bookcases were built by different people.

But selling a piece and making major dollars from a blatant copy is a different story. Here's an Interesting article about "copying" someone else's design.

Friday, January 25, 2013

101 Handy Sites for Conscientious Wood Use

Amy from  sent me a note the other day, congratulating me for this blog being included in their list of 101 Handy Sites for Conscientious Wood Use. 

The list can be seen here, and I'm in some pretty good company! Thanks, Amy!

Major Suckage!

You know what they say about buying the best tools you can afford. It's really true; you save nothing by buying cheap crap.

Trust me, I know this - having purchased two ShopFox dust collectors, both which were sent back to the factory. They were absolute crap. I should have listened to my buddy Ulf. (Remind me next time!)

When this older Delta unit was giving me a little trouble, I remembered what a reliable machine it has been.

 So I looked into buying another in the Delta line. I've really never been disappointed with their tools - I have a 20 year old Unisaw at home with which I'm codependent - I will probably never get rid of that saw!

So - I ended up choosing this Delta, a 1200 CFM unit, I knew it would be able to handle the job.

The box arrived pretty quickly, having shipped from just one state over. 

When I saw this ding in the side, I was a little concerned - would this unit be damaged like the last two ShopFox units were?

You know what - everything inside was perfect, mostly due to the excellent packaging by Delta.  These parts were cradled in styrofoam.

I decided to time the assembly. It just so happened that I started exactly at noon.

Unlike the ShopFox unit, which was very poorly protected, Delta did a great job at surrounding delicate parts with packing.

There was no way this part was going to get bent!

And I liked how these casters

attached to the frame with threaded stems, rather than bolting in place. Plate and bolts take much longer to install, and most of the bolts were missing in the last ShopFox shipment, anyway.

In all, it took longer to find my 14 mm box wrench than it took to thread these into place!

The tubing and frames went together in a snap, using these threaded knobs. Seriously, this was a breeze. My mom could do it. 

It takes a big person to admit their screw-ups, right? I put the top of this unit on wrong. The motor should have been over the open part of the bottom frame. I shot a picture of it with it mis-assembled. 

Then I switched it around the right way in 30 seconds. Delta said this was a two person job, but - by now, you know I have super-powers, right?

Honestly, the hardest part was attaching the bags, using those press fit clamps that Delta includes. I was finished at

This is one gorgeous unit, and much quieter than I'd expected it to be. I'd read on a tool review that someone thought this unit was loud. I don't think so at all - it is smooth and very quiet compared to the other units in my shop. I may buy another, for the planer. That dust collector is on it's last leg.

So - pros and cons?

The definite plusses for me are:

1)  Delta gives you two dust collection bags, instead of one. Nice.

2)  There are two methods for attaching the bags - the snap in rings, and the standard clip on straps. I'm using the rings for now, but might switch to the straps later.

3)  The extra port cover was a solid heavy soft rubber. They give you two, and these will last forever.

4)  This is one solid unit. Not flimsy - the metal is a nice gauge and everything bolts together perfectly.


1)  I would have liked the casters to have locks on them. 

2) It would be nice for Delta to include clips to hold the dust bag in place, while you're attaching the metal strap. A different Delta unit that I have has those clips and they're really handy.

3) The unit is a little top heavy, but once the bag has some sawdust in it, the weight is more evenly distributed. 

All in all?  I'd buy this unit again in a heartbeat. It's price was attractive - about $300 less that what I would pay for a similar unit here in town. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Penny People

This is SO cool.

This couple glued 60,000 pennies to their bedroom floor, to create an amazing surface. 

They share their tips, secrets and trivia on their blog, The Penny Floor.

 It's a very fun thing to check out, but I'm with Emily, it is a little creepy that that many people have now seen inside their bedroom.  

And I love their tag line - 

penny people - 

They say it takes a village. We say a it takes a bottle of wine and some OCD. Alas, meet the minds behind the madness.

 I hope Ellen invites them to her show!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Compound Miters

In the Intermediate Woodworking Class last week, we finished up some pretty amazing projects. This relatively simple technique, featured in Tage Frid's book, allowed us to cut some simple shapes using compound miters. Then it was up to everyone to come up with a way to use the technique and make something with it. 

This lamp is one of my current favorites, 

and I think everyone got the bug for lampmaking. 

These were being Milk-Painted, 

and turned into a nice set of two bedside lamps.

This student chose to leave the wood natural, and made a set of two. 

Talk about creative! She found a shade and covered it with a different fabric! This lamp is AWESOME!

I made this small trash can many years ago - 

unfortunately, I can't find it anywhere! So now I want to make another, and will try to come up with a similar palm tree design on the front. 

Have you looked at small trash cans in your local stores? They're hideous! Why would you want a mass-produced one when you could make one yourself, customized for your home? You can add anything to it - color (via the MilkPaint) or inlays or intarsia - you're only limited by your imagination.

Compound miters also allow you to make shape like this one - for a mantle clock. Here's a before picture

and an finished shot.

Finally, I made these last summer, when I needed some planters for four banana tree plants. These planters vary in height, and I used a 5 gallon mud bucket inside, as the pot for the plant.  They're about two feet tall, and they just look terrific. 

If anyone makes pieces using this technique, send me photos and I'll post them here!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Field Trip!

Some students from New Horizons Center for Learning stopped by the school for a field trip, and I'd been racking my brain, trying to come up with a project for them to make. The best way to get someone interested in something is by letting them get their hands on it, right? 

I decided to glue up a bunch of small clip board blanks for them to sand and finish. Everyone can use a small clip board, right? Good news is that scrap wood piles up fast around the shop, so I had a ton of material to use. Here are stack of sticks, waiting to be glued. 

These kids are probably not going to be college bound. The school works with kids who have not been successful in a traditional school setting . That might mean learning disabilities, or health issues, whatever.

My buddy Eric offered to help with the group. That's a big offer, coming from someone who isn't a "kid" person, nor a morning person. 

Lupe offered to help too, and considering she had just gotten off a plane and was fighting a terrible sinus thing - it was miracle she made it! Since she was on camera duty, I didn't get a shot of her with the kids. But I snuck a photo of her today, while she was working on her massive bookcase. 

(Why do the littlest woodworkers always build the biggest pieces?)

The day started with a stack of clipboard blanks, and a box of safety glasses. 


Everyone tried on their glasses

while I explained what we'd be doing. 

We gathered 'round the planer, while I showed them how to take a rough block of wood and plane it down into a smooth panel.  

Then we gathered by the tablesaw while I explained how cool the SawStop is, and how it features flesh detection technology. Damn, if I had planned a little better, I could have asked SawStop for a demo cartridge and blade, and we could have run a hot-dog through it. 

Next time!

Eric passed out sanders while Lupe made sure everyone everyone used the right grit of sandpaper. 

Watching these kids fire up a sander and work on their boards was pretty great. 

It was apparent that some of the kids needed a little help, and you know - some of the classmates put their work down to help the others! It was pretty inspiring. 

We oiled the boards at the community workbench in the center of the room - 

and everyone loved the colors of the woods that the oil brought out. 

Eric was a huge help to some of the kids, 

who couldn't get the hang of the screwdrivers. 

The look on their faces pretty much says it all. I was sort of worried that they'd think this project was dumb; I should have known better!

At the end of the day, we gathered around to share some final thoughts and answer woodworking questions. Honestly, it's so easy to forget that initial rush of satisfaction you get from completing your first woodworking project. I think these kids reminded Eric, Lupe and me.

Before they left, we got a group shot, 

and one of the kids slipped this note into my hand as he boarded the van. I shared it with his teacher, who was surprised he'd written it. She said that she'd never seen him show so much interest or excitement over something like this shop visit. 

To tell you the truth, I think I learned as much from their visit (in a very different way) as they did. What a nice afternoon. 

Thanks again to my partners in sawdust - Eric and Lupe.  And to the kids of the New Horizons Center for Learning for sharing their talents with us.