Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Want to become an entrepreneur?

This new study links the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, found in cat feces, to entrepreneurship...

Are they serious?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Need to repair an old bed?

My most common repair? Dining room chairs, followed by bed repairs. Both take a beating!

I can't tell you how many times I've had to repair old beds, usually by making new side rails. The side rails often break, or get lost in moves across the country. So it seems like one of the most common bed repairs I perform - making new side rails.  The rail itself isn't that hard - it's usually a 1x6, anywhere from 76 - 80 inches long. 

But - installing the bed rail hangers in the ends has challenged me in the past. There are a few good tutorials, like here, and some really bad tutorials... that I won't mention!

By now, I've done so many of them, it's a quick job... cut the wood to size, slot the ends, and install the hangers with metal pins.

Like I said - I've read some ridiculous suggestions... like using a biscuit joiner to cut the slots (the slotting blade doesn't go deep enough), or drilling a series of holes to create the slot (too much work with the chance of your drill bit veering with the grain of the wood), using a hand saw to create the slot, and more ridiculousness.

The best way? Tablesaw, by far!

The slot only has to go into the end of the board about 1 1/4", and it doesn't matter if the slot shows on the bottom of the side rail - no one's going to see it. 

Here's my technique...

You'll need to figure out where the hanger need to be in the new side rail - that's pretty easy. Put the hanger in place (in the headboard or footboard) 

and place the new wooden rail next to it, where ever it needs to be located on the headboard. Trace the hanger onto the wood rail, and you have it's perfect location. 

Here I traced it (on the back side of this board, where you can't see it!) but here's where the hanger needs to be located. 

It helps to draw a pencil line on the plate, showing how deep it needs to be embedded into the wood.  In this case, I needed to cut a slot about 1 1/4" deep, which was a little deeper than needed, but gave me a little fudge room. 

Once I've figured out the depth of the groove, I can clamp the board above the saw blade and raise the blade into it, to the correct height. 

Then - here's the easy part - lower your blade below the surface of the table, COUNTING THE NUMBER OF REVOLUTIONS that you are making on your elevation wheel. In my case, it was eight revolutions. 

Adjust your fence so that your saw kerf is perfectly centered on your board. 

I usually cut a small slot in a scrap of wood, and then flip the piece around and cut the wood again... do that until your two cuts match perfectly. Here, I'm off about 1/64"... so a very slight tap on the fence makes the cut perfectly centered.

Now - clamp the board in place, positioned over the blade right where you want the slot to cut into your board. 

In this case, the wood was clamped a little closer to the front of the saw, so that the blade wouldn't cut into the top edge of the rail.

To be extra safe, you can clamp a scrap of wood in front of the board, so that it can't kick back on you when raising/plunging the blade into the wood.  Like this...

Then - turn the saw and raise the blade the exact number of revolutions it takes so that your slot is the perfect depth that you need. Like I said - I needed eight revolutions to create a slot about 1 1/4" deep.  

A perfect slot... deep enough, and not popping out through the top of the rail.

Seriously - that's the hardest part of this repair, and it's pretty damn simple. Lay the hanger back in place and mark the location of the two pin holes. 

It helps to lay out the pin holes with set-up blocks, 

so everything is accurate.  Marked...

 and drilled. Make sure you don't go all the way through the side rail!

Tap the pins in gently  - if you tap them too hard, you run the risk of bulging out the wood on the other side... I know this from experience. It sucks!

Once they're installed - sand and finish to match the headboard and footboard.  In this case, I tested four stains to get a good match. 

It's always the ZAR that works best! 

An excellent match... I stained the rail, let it dry, and then sprayed a bit of satin lacquer  on it, so it matched this bedroom set perfectly. 

Last thing?  Add a cleat on the inside edge to hold the box spring slats in place - that's the easy stuff! 

The bed assembled perfectly... in this case, I made four rails, for two beds.  The box spring slats aren't shown here, but I cut seven slats in poplar, and left them unfinished.  

Another happy customer! And a pretty easy repair, once you know the tricks!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Fill 'er up!

We go through buckets of glue every year at the shop, and I'm not just saying that metaphorically - literally five gallon buckets are our mainstay!  

So imagine my surprise when I got a delivery the other day from my supplier, and the bucket had no pouring spout! 

There was the outline of a circle in the lid, I'm guessing it was where the spout was supposed to be, so I took the lid off, 

 thinking it might be underneath, and somehow the cover didn't get punched to access it. 

I called Titebond, which happens to be in Columbus, Ohio - part of my old stomping grounds, and spoke to a fellow who seemed incredulous that they could ship a five-gallon bucket with the wrong lid... did he think I was making it up?  

So I sent him proof.

And a few days later, I not only received  a lid with the proper spigot, but a box of Titebond swag....glue brushes, clamp tape,  


even a T-shirt! Thanks Titebond!

Back in the day, MacGuyver was one of my favorite TV shows, so I felt like I could make the lid they sent better. 

Why not, I'd waited this long, already!?

I had noticed a plastic bottle in my house that had a spigot on it, so I appropriated it (stole it!) from the bottle, and voila! - it fit perfectly, although due to the viscosity of the glue, it made pouring a little slow.  

 S    L    O    W... ugh.

Plus - the blue "knob" had to be held down to pour, and it's not like I have all day to sit and fill bottles.... on to Plan B. 

I found this on Amazon, and ordered it - but it still wasn't the right solution - the cap on it was too large to screw onto the spigot. 

 So some serious plastic re-engineering was in order. I used the spigot from one, with the cap from another, and combined them to make this bad-boy.

And BAM! 

Just like that, I was back in the business of filling all the glue bottles at the shop. 

This probably sounds like a menial chore, but with a dozen or more bottles (and two different colors of Titebond), as well as plugged caps and cracked plastic, it's nearly a full time job just keeping our bottles in shape!

My vacation is nearly over, and a full line of classes start back up next week. It's hard to believe we're half-way through 2018! 

Saturday, July 07, 2018

What CHU Talking About?!

When I was contacted recently about making something from a “Chinese Blueprint”, I naively thought I’be be working with building plans in Chinese.  

Like I said - naive… 

I’d never heard of that saying, but my usual answer when someone asks me to build something is - “Sure! I can build that!” and then figure it out later.  

My challenge? Make two grips similar to the one on this gun. 

Adding to the further challenge, instead of making these gun grips from a squared up piece of wood, I was given a couple of recycled rifle stocks, the value being in the type of wood - Chu, which (again) I’d never heard of… have you?

There were some tricky parts to this piece - a fairly long, diagonal holes had to be drilled through the handle, and a nut had to embedded in the bottom.  Again - tricky, as drilling an angled hole can often prove a challenge. 

The easiest way to figure out the angle was to put something through the existing hole, and determine the angle. I slid a long drill bit into it, and drew its path on my workbench.


Using a protractor, it was easy to figure out the angle, and with geometry as my friend, I could lay out the piece fairly easily. 

A bit of measuring and testing gave me the size of hole that would hold the nut in place. 

There were two nuts in the existing rifle stocks, so I cut them out, and then popped the wood apart with a chisel.   These seemed proprietary, so my plan was to re-use these nuts on the new grips.

They fit perfectly in this scrap of poplar that I tested.

When I work with material that is valuable or irreplaceable, I often make the part in pine, first, to ensure I don't make any mistakes. So here's the pine sample, with some layout lines and sample holes. 

And here's the (somewhat) finished Pine grip. I was pretty satisfied that I had conquered the details, and was ready to start cutting the Chu. 

Let the lay-out begin! 

Adding to the challenge, these rifle stocks were oval shaped, 

with no flat reference surfaces.

The parts had to be cut from the thickest part of the wood, 

and then I had to square up the blanks. That was a little tricky; cutting rounded pieces on the tablesaw can result in some unwanted kickback, and I didn't feel like eating wood that afternoon.  

Let's just say I made some severely unsafe cuts on the saw, ones that I would never recommend to anyone else.  That was probably the hardest part; cutting small pieces on the saw.  

After that tablesaw insanity, drilling the holes and cutting the shapes seemed easy.  I drilled the holes while the blocks were still square. 

First the bigger hole for the nut, 

and then the smaller hole all the way through. 

I'm glad I did it in a block of scrap, first! 

After drilling everything, I cut the angles on the blocks, thus creating the overall top and bottom shape. and then traced the grips. 

You have no idea how stressful making something like this can be, when there is absolutely no room for error! 

But luckily, the worst was over - some routing and shaping and for the most part, these grips were done.  

All in all, this was a very challenging and fun project, and for the record, I've worked with Butternut quite a bit, and this wood reminded me of Butternut in its color, density, workability and grain. 

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Butternut and Chu are in the same family...  any gun stock makers could probably get away with that substitution without a hitch.