Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A different kind of swag

One of the perks from attending the AWFS show is receiving samples and donations from some of the manufacturers. I spoke to some reps from a few of the companies whose products I frequently use - like Lee Valley and SawStop. If those reps are true to their word - there are some cool things coming my way in the mail.

The fine people at Franklin offered to donate any samples they had left at the end of the show on Saturday - but I was working that day, so I couldn't take them up on the offer. Luckily, a friend was heading back to the Convention Center to pick up a dust collector she'd purchased, and offered to stop by their booth.

I ended up with three gallons of Melamine glue - a product that isn't normally on my shelves. In fact, I still have a bottle of it in the shop from the AWFS show two years ago. 

Time to do a little research!

 A little investigation led me to this data sheet. 

But the best research for me is testing the product. Years ago, (when I lived in Ohio) I started testing my adhesives, after they would freeze. Some glue manufacturers will say that their glue is freeze/thaw stable after X number of cycles - but the best way to know is to glue up a sample and test it. I used to throw out a ton of glue in Ohio until I got smart and heated a small room in my studio, where I would store my glues and finishes. 

I'm SO happy I don't have to deal with that here in the desert!

Testing an adhesive is as simple as gluing two pieces of wood together, usually with some sort of offset. In this case, this sample was clamped for just a few hours - it was a warm day and - well - I was in a hurry to test it!

If the two pieces of wood are glued slightly offset, it's easy to hang the sample over the edge of your workbench top and test the joint. Testing is as simple as smacking it with a hammer, to see if the two pieces break apart.

Turns out - I really like this glue! 

The consistency is different from some of the other Titebonds I've used - it has a slightly longer open time, and in the type of heat we have here in Vegas, that is important! So open time is a plus for me.

 But - even better - when you put the two pieces of wood together - it bonds pretty quickly. And I like the fact that it dries perfectly clear, unlike the yellow and dark Titebond II's that I normally use. 

Here's the simple test to check the strength of the glue line. 

All in all - this donation is going to come in handy, especially with some shop fixtures I'm going to be building in the near future. Many thanks to Franklin for their donation! And to Lupe for schlepping those three gallons back to my shop!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day one: AWFS stuff

It's a big week for woodworkers across the country - the AWFS show right here in Vegas. This is THE place to be if you're interested in the latest technologies, the newest tools and accessories, or just want to check out what other woodworkers are doing. 

I arrived to the convention center early, and being greeted by these banners always gives me a rush. 

This is just outside the South Hall, where you can pick up programs for the day's activities. In previous years, the booths filled both halls - the North and the South ends of the Convention Center. This year, it was quite noticeably smaller - with some of the larger tool companies missing. Still - many of the major players were there.

Down the hallway are the classrooms, where you can learn about everything from setting up a dust collection system to repairing damaged finishes, and everything in between. I took a terrific class on "Tackling damaged finishes: Touchup and Spot repair" and it was exactly what I'd hoped for: terrific!

David Smith brought impressive credentials to the classroom.

David Smith
President, Fresh Air Finishers
David Smith is the President of Fresh Air Finishers in St. Paul. He has been finishing wood professionally for 20 years with specialties in on-site executive office touch-up and refinishing; historic interior woodwork restoration; and custom finishing for artists, designers, architects and fixture manufacturers. David travels coast to coast repairing complex wood finishing problems and has taught color theory, spot repair, distressed finishes and water-based coatings at companies seeking to gain knowledge on wood finishing. He is a visiting instructor at the National Institute of Wood Finishing.

The seminar was described this way:  

The ding, the scratch, the gouge, the dent—don’t let these finishing pests prevent your job from having a successful conclusion! David will show you the techniques to make these imperfections blend into their surroundings and discuss how to avoid finishing problems that can turn into enormous amounts of rework. You will be informed as to how to properly fill a range of surface blemishes with a variety of material choices. David will also instruct on how to place the color and blend the sheen – and explain their interconnectedness. Additionally, as learning from others’ mistakes can help prevent you from replicating them, he will discuss real life finishing problems.

David was an amazing artist - he would take a cabinet door, quite similar to one you might find in your kitchen, and then dig a huge gouge out of it. He'd then proceed to repair it right on the spot - and I swear - you couldn't even find the area that he'd repaired. Over the course of the class, he did this over and over, demonstrating a variety of repair techniques, as well as sharing his tips for what products do and don't work for these repairs.  

I've taken on a few repairs in the last year, and his seminar really clarified some questions I had. Wow - worth every penny. 

There is much more to post, and I'll do that in the next coming blogs. But I need to head to the shop. Seriously - if you're interested in wood - you need to start planning for the 2015 show. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year.....

Today marks the start of the AWFS show, held right here in Las Vegas. For anyone who works with wood, or in the furniture / furnishing industry, it's the big event to attend. Held every other year, this conference offer classes to attend, seminars on trends to watch, and miles of aisles of vendors - selling everything under the sun - wood related. 

Thursday at noon, I'll be moderating a "Women in Woodworking" discussion, held in the AWFS Theater. Here's some info:

Women in Woodworking
Thursday, July 25 at 12:00pm | Location: AWFS® Theatre
WoodworkingNetwork.com sponsors a panel discussion and “speed networking” to talk about the challenges and advantages women hold within the wood products industries. Come find your peers or potential mentors among women involved in the furnishings, cabinetry, case goods and wood industries suppliers businesses.

It's not all hard work, though... you can attend the Belt Sander races, or visit the SmartShop.


The smartSHOP is a fully operational cabinet shop on the exhibit floor that will showcase “Simplicity in Automation for the Small Shop.” If you’ve ever been intimidated by the vast field of woodworking machinery visible on a trade show floor, the smartSHOP brings automation down to scale for the modest size shops. This is a great opportunity for you to see how it takes less time to do more, and do it with ease and sophistication.

I'll be blogging from the hall, hopefully capturing some of the cooler new items that are introduced at the show. It's going to be a fun, busy week here - wish you could join the festivities - but you'll have a front row seat through this blog.... stay tuned!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How refreshing - a Delta Machinery employee going above and beyond the call of duty for a customer!

It's not very often that you want to hug a perfect stranger, but wow - I "met" a fellow who works for Delta tools who made me feel exactly that way. 

Any time you have 30 or 40 people a month working with your tools, there are bound to be times when things break. It just happens, and for the most part - it's just a part of life in the woodshop. Blades dull, bearings seize, tops rust, belts break... it's just a part of life. 

So when the Delta Midi-lathe that I bought about three years ago developed a problem - I sighed with relief, realizing that it was still under warranty. 

A few of us diagnosed the problem - the speed control module was kaput, and I called the repair hotline to find my nearest Delta service center.

Now I deal with tool companies all the time. Some are absolutely fantastic - like SawStop's tech department.

A call to Delta gave me the name of the local repair shop, and Scott, my friendly repair man took the tool with some reservations. He told me that Delta has been undergoing some changes, and parts are hard to find. That's a whole other story, but suffice it to say that there wasn't a speed controller to be found in the whole country. 

After about five weeks of Scott's updates that parts were unavailable, I pulled out the "WWJD" manual - what would Jamie do? I decided it was time to bypass corporate bullshit and try to find a Delta supervisor who might be able to help me. 

That's where the urge to hug a perfect stranger popped up. 

 It took a few phone calls to locate the right person, but after I explained my predicament to a customer service rep, she put me in touch with Bob, a supervisor who had the power to help. (I'm not including his last name, in case there is a chance that he could get into hot water for helping me out like this.)

Bob couldn't have been nicer, in fact - he was a fan of lathe work, having done it as a hobby for years. And he explained the parts lockdown that Delta was going through. But he offered some hope to me - saying that he was going to roll up his sleeves and go digging around the Delta warehouse until he found a replacement  control module for me. 

He'd promised that the module would be on its way the next day, but when he went to dig for it, he found the warehouse closed for the weekend. The Fourth of July holiday put a hold on his snooping on the warehouse. I spent the weekend wondering if he was going to come through - would he remember his promise?

And sure enough, the next week, he sent me a message about a package heading my way. 

Be still, my heart.

Not only did the package arrive as promised, but Bob sent two of them. (These came from machines returned to the warehouse for one reason or another. Sending two of them made sense - he wanted to be sure I would have a module that worked.)

My machine came back from the repair shop partially disassembled,

and the inside of the control module was a jumble of wires.

Some people can take one look at this mess and know right where every wire is supposed to be connected. Not me. I've repaired tools before and royally screwed them up, so I've learned to take pictures and notes of how things should be reassembled. 

Luckily, even though the new module was slightly different, the wire connections were exactly the same. 

It took about a thirty minutes to button everything back together - and WHAM! - the lathe was working like new! 

In this day and age, where everything is run by the book, and things are so tightly managed, it is refreshing to "meet" someone like Bob, willing to go above and beyond the call of duty to help a customer. Like I mentioned earlier - I didn't want to mention his name, in the off chance that he could get into hot water for solving this problem in a unique way. But if you need a compassionate Delta contact for a problem you're having, let me know and I'll get you in touch with him.

But I'll tell you what I think - he should be commended and rewarded for going out of his way. Companies should empower their employees to solve problems on their own, it cuts through red tape and earns them a customer for life. (My own hometown company - Zappos does this with their customer service reps and it's a very successful management strategy.)

I don't often meet people like Bob - helpful and willing to cut through red tape to give great customer service. But I'm thankful I did. Nice job Delta - he's is a huge asset to your team.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Motorcyclist saves cup!

How many times have you gotten in your car and forgotten something you put on the hood? Or the bumper? 

Years ago, on an icy morning, I put a cup of coffee on the roof on my car, while I fumbled with the keys. As the coffee melted in the ice it was sitting upon, my mug slid right off the roof and spilled down the front of me. Not a great way to start the morning! 

This video is hilarious - the woman probably thought the motorcyclist was stalking her!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The summer of 2013 - with fire and ash

People who live here in las Vegas are well aware of the fire going on up on Mt. Charleston, but I don't think it's getting much attention anywhere else. 

The fire has been burning since July 1, starting with a lightning strike. Since then, it's grown to 40 square miles, and just today, it took its first six structures. 

The sky is amazing - scary and ominous. 

 Almost everywhere you drive, you'll see cars parked on the side of the road, with people taking pictures. Luckily, the fire is pretty far away, but damn... it sure is scary looking.   

Here are a few of the shots my friends or I have taken.... wow!  This is from my neighborhood,

 and this is about a mile away from my house, when the sky was raining ashes. 

It's weird - the sky reminds me of one of those blockbuster actions films where the sky opens up and hell starts raining down.

Only this is for reals. 

A view from the airport.

My buddy Dan took these from his yard.

For people with asthma, this is a particularly difficult time. Keep your fingers crossed that we get some rain tomorrow - the forecast says there's a chance. 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Another simple repair....

This door might qualify as one of the worst engineered doors I've ever seen. The stub tenon machined to hold its corners together failed miserably. I guess that's what helps keep people like me in business. Right?

To compound things - the doors (yes, two poorly made doors!) were hung on an aquarium cabinet. When the tank leaked - the drawers dampened and swelled, popping those corners wide open. 

 The good news is.... we have the technology to fix it!

I waited for the wood to dry out a bit - in this weather, in didn't take long. Once I could pull the joint closed, the repair was a simple one. 

Thanks to my friends in the medical world, I have a good supply of syringes, perfect for injecting glue into small places. 

A bit of glue, injected along the entire length of this joint mostly did the trick, as this bit of squeeze-out proves.

Clamping in both directions was necessary, I had to coax the joint back together. 

These clamp pads keep the wood from being damaged.

Finally - to ensure that the joint didn't separate in the future, I decided to pin it. The size of the tenon didn't give me much wiggle room, so an 1/8" pin was all I could manage.

Of course, I didn't want to accidentally drill through the face of the door, so I needed a stop on my bit. Some people use a piece of tape, but that doesn't work so well for me. I've accidentally drilled through things using tape as a depth stop - so I pulled out one of my Fuller Tapered Countersink bits and flipped the stop backwards, to create my stop. I can't tell you how useful these bits are!

Call me McGuyver. 

An 1/8" dowel and a dab of glue adds a great deal of strength to this joint. I pinned each corner of the door, to ward off future problems.

Once the glue dried, I pared the pins flush with a VERY sharp chisel and...

another repair completed!

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Random shots around the shop...

It's been a while since I did a "random thoughts and shots around the shop" post, so here goes....

I have a week-long break before a new session of classes start back up - and I'm usually found ass-up in the air, fixing the tools. 

The good news is - eight new woodworkers joined the ranks of Wood It Is! graduates. 

They look pretty proud.

Kevin (below) stopped by the shop to do some router work in MDF.

 It's nasty work, and combined with the heat - well - it is miserable! 

The MDF dust combined with sweat makes a decent wood putty!

I suspect he hosed himself off in his yard before he entered his house.

Lupe's working on a new project - an interesting jig for scooping out seat blanks on a tablesaw. She's tireless in the shop, so she made the seat, 

and then the jig!

 I'll blog about the seat scooping jig, and the process of using it, in a few weeks, after we test it out. 

Can you ever have enough clamps?

 I thought it would be a nice touch to add a wood sample board to the shop. 

Eric put it all together for me, hanging the pegboard first, and then all of the samples. 

Anyone who is a Giants fan will get this. 

Speaking of Eric, he's working on a three legged stool, 

and spent the afternoon playing with the tricky angles. 

Gillian is in town for a few months, she's the wardrobe supervisor for the Priscilla, Queen of the Desert show. She's wicked with a sewing machine, and her table saw skills aren't too shabby, either!

She's becoming the plug queen in the shop!

This board has about 30 plugs!

Anyone who has taken a Basic Woodworking class will recognize what this shot is about.

My new Coozie - a bottle of water gets hot pretty fast in the shop when it is 118˚ outside.

Group shot in the shop, with Kris' dad, who was in town for a visit. He's sitting in the stool that Lupe just built - but I forgot to get a picture of the stool! D'oh!

Another student brought me a gift - a new pencil holder that she made for the shop. Way  cool! She even filled it!

I spent a couple of weeks making some Peace Pipes for a customer - and the lathe work was interesting. 

I made four pipes, and sold two of them. 

Finally - a very old friend and I re-connected this week, after 50 years. Yes, that's not a typo. Here we are, the middle two kids in this shot. (Damn, I'm always the shortest!) That's my sister on the far left. Looks like a fun summertime shot. 

Speaking of that, have a very safe Fourth of July!