Friday, February 27, 2015

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Priceless Gift

Damn, I'm getting old. I can't remember if I posted this before - but Lupe just sent me a link. And it's a great video!

 So even if I have posted it here, it's worth another view!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Never a dull moment in the shop!

You know how I often say things are busy at the shop? 

Well.... this past few weeks, they have been especially busy. Seriously busy. Kindacrazybusy. 

Denny and I have repaired some old table legs, made a cool mechanic's tool stand, cut too many replacement shelve to count, repaired and refinished a danish modern table, turned a console TV/stereo cabinet into a wine storage unit, built four prototype tables, repaired some cabinet doors, built a couple of commemorative teak boxes, and... well, that's just a partial list! After a while, they all blend together!

Yes, some of these jobs have been a bit boring, but hey! They pay the bills! The good news is - there have been some really unique pieces coming in the door - here's a cool example of one of them. 

This terrific doghouse came in needing some work to finish it - it was modeled after a Prairie Schooner.

Luckily - the owner brought in some pictures for me to use in designing the new parts. 

I had no idea that the front and rear wheels were different diameters!

 It was a bit of a challenge to make the new axles and have the doghouse sit level.

 Nailed it!

The owner also requested a small cargo box be mounted at the rear, just like an old stagecoach would have. I have a feeling this will be painted to resemble a piece of luggage, with banding straps and cool hardware. 

 I happened to have a small box already made what was a suitable size, so we just mounted it with some magnets to hold it shut. 

And finally - the hardest part, which (in the beginning) seemed like the easiest- building a small set of stairs. The stringers needed to have an S-curve in them, and since the overall rise was only 7 inches, it was tough to lay out the curves on such a short piece. Making these steps took longer than everything else - go figure!

It's hard to get into the rhythm of building when you're not doing the same thing every day, so I'll be happy to get back to building furniture again. I've got some very cool pieces in the pipeline - and as my mom would say - there's never a dull moment in the shop!

Thursday, February 12, 2015


This really doesn't have anything to do with woodworking, but I think it's a hell of a story. 

The only time I've ever watched Shark Tank has been on a plane - for some reason, it's always playing when I'm flying. 

People who innovate within their trades are fascinating to me, and this guy has it going on. This episode got me thinking about SawStop and how its owner/developer would have fared on Shark Tank. What do you think?

Friday, February 06, 2015

Speed Woodworking

What's that saying - one man's trash is another man's treasure? After this week, I couldn't agree more. A customer came into my shop with a wooden part that belonged to a table - similar to to the one below.  

And damn! - was that part in bad shape! It looked like someone tried to repair it with silicone, and smothered the wood in a poor attempt to fix it. Ugh, I barely wanted to touch it. 

On top of that, the sliding dovetails cut into the piece were broken. 

In short - it was a mess. 

But here's the thing - this table had great sentimental value, and she wanted repaired at any cost. To be honest, the table was very poorly made, and it probably didn't cost very much, even when it was new. 

Call me a sucker, but I hated the idea of putting in a few hours into making this part for her, and charging a lot of money for it. I need to figure out a way to do it quickly, and for not much money. 

Normally I would turn a piece like this on the lathe, but that takes time, and you know the saying - time is money. So I decided to do a little speed woodworking. 

I took some 8/4 lumber and using my big round-over bit, I roughly formed it into a cylinder.  It didn't need to be perfect, just close. 

 I kept the ends of the piece square, so that it would be easier to route the sliding dovetails on the router table.

The piece is less than three inches long,  but working on a piece that's always scary. So I kept it longer than I needed for now. I picked out the appropriate dovetail bit to cut the slots, and put it in the router table.

 Luckily, I have a good set with different bits, 

and this one fit perfectly. 

Of course, I did a practice cut, to make sure the bit height was right. 


Cutting the first slot was easy, I just used the square ends of my wood to keep the spindle from spinning. But then I marked off 60°, and  tacked a piece of wood to the end of the board, so that I could rout the next slot. 

I rotated the peace another 60° and routed of the third slot. 

And Bam! – as Nikki says – the piece was almost done. 

 Router tables can do some serious damage to your hands, ask Neal Grossman! So I was glad I kept the piece long. It was much safer to work with it that way.

 But now - I cut it to length, rounded the bottom over (again on the router table) and installed the hanger bolt from the old broken part.

  Not bad for 45 minutes. I told you – speed woodworking!

A little stain (I did some tests) 

and a shot of lacquer, and this piece look nearly brand-new. You know - not all the things I work on in the woodshop are rewarding. But that's okay; they pay the bills.

Some of my buddies tell me I'm crazy for taking on some of the silly repair work I do - but honestly, if I don't do it, who will? Most other woodworkers would've said – throw that table away, it's a piece of junk. But to my customer - it held significant value. 

Who am I to argue with that?

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

It's Garden-Starting time!

As much as it might hurt my east coast friends to hear this - I have to admit: I have Spring Fever. We've had a couple of really warm days here, and it's sparked thoughts of getting my garden started. 

Last year, a few of us got together and started a very informal gardening club. All of us chose a few plants to start from seed, and about six weeks later - we met to exchange starter plants with each other. I'm telling you - it was awesome!

For the cost of a few packs of seeds, everyone walked away with TONS of plants for their gardens. I don't think I'll ever buy plants again. 

So - this year, I sent out an email to everyone, asking if they wanted to participate, and we even got a few new members in our group. I think this year's crop is going to be amazing!

I've been saving cardboard rolls - they make a perfect vessel for starting seeds.

 I'd chosen to start zucchini, spaghetti squash, and armenian cakes, and when I went to the store to buy the seeds, I met the seed distributor who was sticking the shelves. After she heard what we were doing, she joined our club, too!

 It was in the 70s on Sunday, so I pulled out some soil and got to work.

  Call me Jack. 

(Like Jack and the Beanstalk, which was a favorite book when I was a kid.)

 The zucchini is on its way!

 I left everything out in the glorious sunshine for a few hours, to warm up and drain a bit. 

I'll keep you posted about our progress!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

A little SuperBowl Commercial humor for you

The commercials are the best part anyway, right?