Thursday, November 28, 2013

Shop Local, Work Local

If you're like me, you 're practically in a food coma from a day of the three Fs... food, football and family. 

It was a perfect day. 

 But - tomorrow, we hop right back to work in the shop. There are SO many projects we need to finish before the holidays!

And I'm doing my part to contribute to the local Small Business movement by opening up my shop on Friday, for anyone who wants to stay out of the malls, and instead - get their creative mojo going. 

If you've taken one of my classes and feel like stopping by to get some work done, stop in tomorrow (Friday the 29th) from noon til 5:00 and work for free. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Give a Redneck a TableSaw...

...he makes a bowling ball.

Dude, there's a tool called a lathe....

This gave me a good laugh for the day!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A very cool use for a beer can

If you know anything about me, you know that I am not into camping. It just seems like it's so labor-intensive, hauling all the stuff out into the middle of nowhere – isn't that what the Marriott is for?

But I thought this video was very cool – I want to make one of these camping stoves, even though I'll never cook with it! 

Hell, maybe I'll use it in my backyard, just to test it out.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Slicing a baseball bat down the middle - sure I can do that

*** If you're looking for split baseball bats - check out my Etsy store listing here. By popular demand, I've purchased some bats and split them, so they're ready for your next flag project!


When I received a call about slicing a baseball bat in half, I thought I'd be cutting one or two of them. Imagine my surprise when a customer showed up with a box of bats! 

She'd seen a cool wall sculpture of an American flag, and pulled up the image on her phone to share it with me. I haven't been able to find the exact one she showed me, but it was WAY cool. Here are a few I found, but hers was awesome. 

Cutting them in half was a little trickier than I thought it might be. While I could have used my Laguna bandsaw to make this cut, I didn't want to take a chance of the blade wavering a bit, and making a curved cut. So I decided to use the table saw. 

Hell, I make 90% of my cuts on a table saw!

I rigged up a 2x6 after cutting a V-groove down the center. I was worried about the bat "rolling" while in the middle of a cut, so the V-groove would help hold it in place while cutting it. At least... that was the plan. 

 A line in the center gave me a visual reference, assuring that I was making a centered cut on the bat. The funny thing was - these weren't real baseball bats, but more like "craft quality" bats. I have no idea where she purchased them, but they were definitely not meant for hitting a baseball! The grip on them was pretty small, maybe 3/4 of an inch at its  narrowest point. When cutting that part of the bat, the vibration and chatter was pretty scary!

Honestly, I wouldn't try this at home, if you're not really skilled with a table saw  It was a dicey procedure, with almost no way to use a push stick effectively. 

I'm glad I can cross this job off my list - it's not very often that cutting something gives me the willies, but this cut was definitely a scary one. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Drop in on the Table Making Class

This is been one of the busiest months ever! 

There are two table making classes in session at the shop, and the classes are evenly mixed between rookies and more experienced woodworkers. 

While it would be easier for everyone to make the same thing, who says life should be easy?  So everyone chose their own project to build. Some came up with good sketches, like these two, 

but I had a hard time figuring out what this one was.

Some people even took pictures of their existing furniture, to try and match the pieces. 

After looking at everyone's designs, I knew I needed this. 

Some people that are barely beyond baby steps in woodworking chose very complex designs, despite my warnings.  Most understood that they wouldn't complete their table of the six weeks of the class, and they were okay with that.

During the first couple of classes - we used every single clamp in the shop.

Sometimes clamping is a group effort, especially on huge dining table tops, where the wood might have a slight bow in it. It usually means someone has to climb up on the table and coax the wood into place.

Later, after the tops were glued together, it was a group effort to plane the boards. And since my planer is only 24" wide, 

some of the tops required planing and re-gluing the individual sections together. 

These tops are huge–and weigh a ton!

Meanwhile - other people in the shop just put their heads down and work away. Sometimes it doesn't seem like they're making very much progress, but then all of a sudden – all of their parts are ready to be assembled and BOOM!  - they have a piece!


One of the guys is actually making four tables, so he brought in wood to make all of the bases first, which are stacked up around the shop. Now the bases are finished - he's working on his tabletops. 

With 16 students into different classes, the shop is getting really crowded! 

Some people are still struggling with their tables, having not made very much progress. Others are nearly done.

It's been a bit of a challenge to keep people from getting discouraged,  but I keep reminding them that they have to learn the small steps of woodworking first, before they can build a house. 

I know one thing - if I ever teach a chair making class again and somebody wants to build one of these, 

I will have to put my foot down and say no! 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

RIP Rick

It seems like I've been a little quiet this week, it's because I've been a little blue. 

No I take that back– I've been very sad. I lost a good friend this week – Rick was a fellow woodworker, a confidant, and just an all-around nice guy. He died way too young, and sometimes when people are gone – the details of their lives get forgotten. I don't want Rick's life to be forgotten.

Rick was my go-to guy when I needed help with projects around the shop. He was always there when I needed help sanding, and I'll always look at my ash dining room table and think of him. He sanded that top far better, and with way more patience than I could've ever done. I can still picture him, Festool sander in hand, getting into the sanding, while listening to music. That was Rick– he just put his head down, and kept going.

Until he couldn't.

Like all of us, Rick experienced some hard times in his life. Who doesn't? But it's how we handle them - how we work through them - that illustrates our character. Rick handled everything with humility, grace, and humor.  Much humor.

I was feeling blue yesterday, and I just didn't feel like going to the shop. Days off are rare for me, but I decided to go to the movies. I got there a little early, and had a few minutes to kill, so I walked around the casino and spotted this the slot machine. 

It was Rick talking to me. 

He was so proud to be Native American, a proud member of the Turtle Mountain Band Of Chippewa Indians. I didn't even know there were slot machines that had a native American theme to them, but when I saw this machine - I had to put $20 in it.

The irony wasn't lost on me when –on my third or fourth play –I hit a jackpot.  

I kind of felt that way about meeting Rick. 

Rick was a flute maker; a good one, too. 

 One day, he wandered in my shop with a handful of flutes, and asked my opinion - which was my favorite.

 I chose this aromatic cedar one,

which he promptly gave to me, in thanks for helping him out a few times. It's a really special piece of mine.

I'll miss his goofiness, his endless stories, his self-depricating humor, and our endless discussions about the best ahi poke in town, which packages of ramen were the tastiest, and of course - when our next trip to the ocean was going to be. I hope he's enjoying his next adventure. 

RIP, buddy. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Russian Survivalist Tips - in case you wondered...

These Russian guys are hilarious! 

What's your favorite line of this video?  Mine comes at 1:55.

Boom! And guess what - cat gonna survive too!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What Time Is It?

In the past couple of years, there have been two classes that have stood out as the most popular classes ever. One of them is a cutting board class, where we make some of most crazy beautiful cutting boards ever. (Think of end-grain boards on steroids!) 

The second most popular class was a surprise – one that I call Instant Gratification Woodworking. It turned into such a spectacular six weeks that I've decided to take one of the projects and turn it into a two-session class. 

So here is -

In this two-session class, everyone will complete a wristwatch made in woods of your choice. Check out these proud watchmakers!

The dates are December 9 and 12, from 6-9 PM.

Tuition is $85, and materials are $20

(Pre-requisite: Basic Woodworking)

I'll even have extra wood and clock movements available for purchase, should you want to make more than one watch.

These watches are flexible and bendable, and can be hung on the wall or folded up to sit on top of the desk.

You'll learn a few new techniques– like using the plunge router with a circle cutting jig, and you can personalize your project with inlays, if desired.

This class is already nearly half-full, so if you want to join us please enroll now. 

Friday, November 08, 2013

A different kind of "over the top" Vegas


If you've never been to a Bass Pro Shop,

 then you're really missing something! 

Just walking up to the building, you know you're about to enter something special. 

It's hard to describe. But it's over-the-top,

 and fits perfectly in Las Vegas. A trout stream and palm trees? 

Only in Vegas!

 Once you enter, the sheer size of the store is overwhelming. There are stuffed animals everywhere, Including giraffes,




not to mention the giant fish tank, with a 4 foot catfish swimming around. I didn't stick around for the fishing demo, but I suspect it would have been interesting. 

Follow the footprints over to the housewares department, 

and you'll find everything you need for outfitting your cabin. Like these redneck party cups -

 a red Solo cup onto crystal base. 

(This would make a great Christmas gift for my brother-in-law!)

 These tacky paper towel holders really had me laughing,

And I loved these fish pillows!

And the fish mailboxes.

Some marketing genius dreamt up this redneck glassware collection, which is nothing more than mason jars.

Come to think of it, my brother-in-law probably knows a lot of people who use mason jars as drinking glasses!

Even the fixtures in the store are cool - like this gi-normous box wrench used for hanging clothes.

 Seriously, the housewares department is amazing! Lamps! Rugs! Almost anything a person could need... except for fireplace tools. Which I need.  :/

I don't completely understand the whole Duck Dynasty thing, but there sure was a lot of their stuff around.

For the record - I also don't "get" the whole "proud to be a redneck" thing. 

When you enter the fishing department you know you've entered someplace very special. Overhead - there are sculptures of fish everywhere. 

The ceiling is painted blue, and textured, to make you feel like you're walking on the ocean floor. Very cool!!! That's a shark headed right for me, down the middle of this picture. Awesome.

Toward the front of the store, there was a huge selection of food items - they had everything from barbecue sauces 

hot sauces,

to old-fashioned candies, chili mixes, 

 and everything in between.

Since it is Christmas season, there was a full line of ornaments. My sister would love these little antler ornaments.

I spent three hours trying on clothes, they have a great selection of Carhartt gear, and some really nice outdoor clothing. I hate shopping for clothes, but shopping in this environment didn't seem so bad.

On the way out, my hands weighted with bags of purchases, I noticed these two fish benches.

In the setting sun of a gorgeous weekend, this was a terrific way to spend a Sunday. 

And just for the record – no, I don't own Bass Pro Shop stock!