Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Combining technologies - making ceramic patterns using my laser engraver

There is a lot of focus on water conservation when you live in the desert. Just watering your yard on the wrong day of the week can earn you a hefty fine. And since I've been doing a ton of ceramic work lately, I've found my bill creeping up. 

Sure, I usually have a rinse bucket in the sink outside, where I can rinse clay off on my hands without wasting gallons. But I decided I needed a sign near the sink to remind myself to conserve. I did a clip art search and found a design that I liked. 

And added some text. 

Here's there best part - combining technologies. I cut out a simple pattern in MDF of the artwork, using my laser engraver.

I even saved the small pieces that came out of the individual letters. (I'm sure those have a name.)

There are basically two types of ceramic pieces - pots that are thrown on the wheel, and pieces that are hand-built. 

I decided to hand-build a sign, so I grabbed some clay and rolled out an even, compressed slab. 

My slab roller is powered by a small motor, which saves a great deal of wear and tear on my back. So I rolled out a slab, 

 and then gave the pattern a quick coat of release, so that it wouldn't stick to the slab.  

Everything that touches the clay needs some sort of release sprayed on it, or it will stick to the clay. The release could be something like WD-40, or Pam cooking spray - anything that is greasy and non-stick-y.

With the pattern on the clay, I traced the outline with a knife and cut the final shape. 

Using a roller - it was easy to add a bit of fish scale texture using this texture mat. Again - this has to be sprayed or it will stick.

Then I took the tiny letter bits and added the final details to the letters. 

Here's the final piece - with lettering, a little fish-scale texture, and a hole at the top for hanging.

Once this is bone dry, it'll be bisque fired to around 1900˚. If there's any moisture in the piece at all, the buildup of steam can cause the piece to explode in the kiln. Luckily - in the heat here, the clay drys out fairly evenly and quickly. 

I'll experiment a bit with some appropriate colors, in greens or blues... you know - the colors of water. Glaze looks amazing when it pools around the textures on the clay, so this piece is going to be special.

With a little luck, it'll be glazed it and fired next week. Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Spring has arrived - so have the winds!

There isn't any particular reason that I'm posting this video below - I'm just up to my eyeballs in gardening and not doing much woodworking right now. 


Tuesday, April 09, 2024

The SawStop saga continues...

One of my favorite sayings is - ask ten woodworkers and you'll get 11 opinions! So I'm not 100% sure I agree with what this fellow has to say about the future of tablesaws.  I know this - I had 3 of these saws in the school and they definitely saved fingers. 

Beyond that - their customer service is absolutely spot on

This is rare in the tool industry -  I have literally dealt with 4 other tool manufacturers that were absolute a$$hats when it came to customer support.  Which ones? 

I could give specifics about each interaction, but I won't. But let's just say that I'll never buy tools from those companies ever again. And when past students or friends ask me for advice about purchasing a tool from these four companies - I highly discourage them from dropping dollars to those manufacturers.

You can say what you want about SawStop saws - they're overpriced, the inventor was money-hungry, etc... but no one complains (or whines) about Festool this much. 


Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Four foot saw blade on the loose....

Holy hell - this got my attention!

Click here - I promise it's worth it!