Snowman Ornament

It's almost Christmas time! I've got a few more of these to make!!


Egg turning!

Another fun challenge at the WoodNet Turners Forum.

Mine was made from Juniper. It both looked and smelled great! This has two coats of Mylands friction polish. This was a fun and simple turning that I will be sure to try again soon!

Faith In Action

Faith in what is unknown can be difficult. Why do we believe in what we believe in? Is it just a matter of faith? Many times that is all it takes. Faith....and a multimillion dollar advertising budget. Advertising, as you know, is a great catalyst of faith.

Glue. Ordinary, regular, everyday glue. This is a post about glue. Now that we are clear on that I feel I can continue.

I say that 'faith' is attaching a series of wooden boards together, with nothing more than yellow glue and expecting it to hold for a generation. Faith in action is selling said item for over a hundred bucks. Take for example your average wooden kitchen cutting board. Did you know that your fancy wooden kitchen cutting board is nothing more than wood and glue. That's it. Wood. Glue, and maybe some laxative for a finish. I'm not kidding you! This is the real scoop here! The most popular hundred-plus-dollar-wooden-cutting-board-finish is mineral oil. So wood, glue and a bottle of unstopper.

Now you're telling me you that this oily wooden glued up plank, that you cut up your chicken on every night is stable. Sure is! Dang strong. I'm sorry, I'm not a chemist, I don't understand it. For me it just is. I can't understand it I just believe. And that new found faith in glue was pretty hard to come by.

Lets face it, when you think of glue. you think 'oops'! Oops! I've gone and busted something. Something that was important, special or that you really had no business even touching in the first place. Panic sets in, as you look at this thing that is now in more pieces than it was ever designed to be. What do I do now? Okay, relax... Where's the glue!!

In my mind glue is a cover up, a sham, and substitute born out of desperation. I've done something stupid, like put too much pressure on a plastic part and now I'm hoping that this stuff can bail me out of hot water.

"Well if his hat is attached to that beam, and he's hanging on it.... Shoot, man! It should hold this tiny plastic tab on."

Right?! Wrong! How many times has glue let me down. Plenty. I have good reason not to trust it.

I now have to put that aside, because in woodworking, glue stands alone. Many tables are connected solely with glue joints. In fact a really nice piece of furniture is one without any fasteners. No nails, no screws, no dowels. Just solid joinery and yellow glue. Weird. So if you spend a few hundred dollars on a nice bed or bookcase, you can almost bet it will be void of any metal. I don't know about you, but I think, using furniture like that that takes faith. For me it's a lot to come to grips with.

Birdhouse Ornament

It's Christmas in July...

Another fun challenge at the WoodNet Turners Forum.

Mine was mediocre in comparison, but I learned some new techniques and enjoyed it. Plus once I'm done with my cabinet build, I'll probably make some more of these. Nothing improves results as well as practice!

4 Inch Delta Jointer

I'm now the owner of a used Delta 4 inch jointer. Beyond that I know little about it. I just picked it up on Sunday and haven't had too much time to check it out.

The previous owner said it was her husbands, and that the last time he used it, he lost half his thumb! As soon as I heard that I knew that this was the tool for me! Weighing in at a back aching weight of who the heck knows, I wrestled it and attached stand and motor out of my pickup bed.

After 3 hours of WD-40 and a kitchen pad, I found a shiny cast iron bed and fence. I jointed a piece of pine and marveled at the smooth line it created without even dialing it in. I believe that for my small shop this little beauty is going to fit right in.

Now the real work begins, and for $35, I think I did quite well.

20 Things I've Learned From Woodworking

  • You can spend all day in the shop working, and not produce anything.

  • Sometimes these are your best days.

  • Sharpen, sharpen sharpen. The woodworkers mantra.

  • Never do woodworking angry, agitated or when you need to pee.

  • Relax and take your time.

  • Your projects and your fingers will thank you.

  • If it doesn't feel safe, it's probably not.

  • Everyone has a woodworking horror story, scars come with the territory.

  • If you are even slightly squeamish, don't start this conversation.

  • Nothing hurts as bad as a nasty finish on a well build project.

  • When in doubt, keep sanding.

  • Rejects make great gifts. AKA no one else sees your flaws as well as you do.

  • Tool lust comes with the hobby. Warn your pocketbook early.

  • There will always be something else you need to have.

  • There is always someone who can out spend you.

  • Nothing beats the feeling of a well done project.

  • Except maybe getting paid to do it. AKA Your tool budget just increased.

  • Pushing yourself is half the fun.

  • The other half is the sawdust up your nose.

  • Enjoy yourself. That's the point, remember?
  • Boots on The Ground

    So, I'm officially in the bottle stopper business. I purchased the Ruth Niles starter kit and made a load of bottle stoppers. I have to say I'm rather pleased. The next question was, now that I've got close to $100 sunk into this how do I get it back?

    Don't get me wrong, I like making them, but still. I mean to say I almost always look at life through the prism of capitalism. "How can I have fun AND make money!?" So I loaded up my bag with bottle stoppers and started my march to rejection.

    Two weeks ago, I hit about eight local gift stores. Most encounters stared off the same.

    "May I help you"

    "I'm peddling," I'd say to break the ice. "Do you do consignment sales?"


    And here the stories would differ. The owner is traveling, the owner isn't interested, the owner makes bowls (didn't quite understand that excuse myself). Of the eight shops only one took my card and only two actually looked at my product. It was a rather large bash to my ego.

    I honestly let it get to me all week. I was a bit deflated, but last weekend I tried again.

    This time I had a stopper in my hand as I walked through the door of the shop.

    "Do you do consignment sales? I make these!" This time the response was much better. On the fourth shop I got a bite. I'm heading back there Friday to drop off the stoppers and a display I've been working. So begins my stopper sales. Luckily, being in the heart of wine country, bottle stoppers are pretty popular here. We'll see. Either way it feels good to get a bite!

    Inside Out Vase

    A fun afternoon project. It wasn't that difficult, though I would certainly do many things differently. Mainly the cutting away of the windows section...

    Start with a four billets. Since I didn't have that I needed to make some cuts. I ripped a 2x4 in half, then crosscut it to equal lengths.

    Next I jointed the edges with the table saw, a straight edge and some double sided tape. A very effective and simple method.

    Next I taped all four sides together and took it to the lathe.

    Mounted between centers I turned out the windows. I measured 4 inches from the outside and turned a teardrop shape (a bit larger than needed). I then sanded and finished with friction polish.

    Next I separated the billets, flipped them all inside out and glued it together. Once dried I planed the ends, though looking back this might be an unneeded step. Either way it's nice to bring out the #5.

    Mounted and turned to shape.

    I then drilled out the end with a 1/2 bit and shaped and lips.

    Sanded. Sanded, Sanded. Sanded. Friction polished, parted off and called it "good enough" and stuck a weed in it for its photo op!

    There it is. A few hours and a pretty cool vase. For next time, I would make the windows smaller, use a more workable wood and a steady rest would be a HUGE assets!


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    Neglecting Table Saws

    Don't think I haven't noticed. I used to be your star, your favorite, your only love. But now...well you know. I've been pushed off to the side by that shiny young greeny. Now I hardly get used at all, unless it's to prep some project for you new special tool. Seriously, did you notice that nice clean end grain cut of mine before you hauled it over to the lathe and started slobbering all over it. Trust me the other tools have noticed. The router seems especially pissed off, I wouldn't change his collet anytime soon.

    It's no joke. There is some serious venom in the shop. It presence can be felt hovering just over the piles of walnut shavings on the floor in front of my lathe. The table saw is jealous. And with that sort of destructive power at her fingertips it's not the tool to piss off. Why couldn't it be something more benign? Why not the dovetail jig? What retaliation could it take anyway?

    "Watch out pal, or you'll have a 60lb jig bouncing off your toe!"

    The thing is simply this. The lathe is a blast. I keep telling myself to get back into flat work. I built the world map frame. But I sort of disliked it. I love the way it looks in the office, but the project was a little shy on woodworking and little long on paint and extremely tedious for final assembly. As such the table saw's only duties recently is cutting small pieces for bottle stopper glue ups. It's worlds away from furniture assemblies. And I haven't dusted off the dado stack in months.

    All this just to say, I'm getting worried that a serious retaliation might befall me, if I don't put her to some serious work. Sigh... I suppose there are some shop cabinets to be built...

    Paint Hater

    I hate painting. Period. End of story. Painting sucks.

    I completed the woodworking on a large picture frame (50"x 32") in about 2 1/2 hours, glued it up and walked away happy. It was a pretty simple project and I was ready to move on to the next one. That was about 2 weeks ago. Since then I've been fighting my mortal enemy for countless hours of wasted shop time.

    Paint. Black paint no less. Why did we ever choose black for the counter tops in the office? Didn't I know sooner or later I would have to accessories that spot?! The wife is vehemently against anything but black in the bastion of computing that is our modern office. As a homeowner, I agree. It looks cool. As a woodworker I think it sucks!

    Woodworkers like wood, and working with it. Paint as a finish is fine, but it doesn't call to us the same way another more complementing finish would. Something that shows off grain of the piece and all the awesome joinery that we absolutely perfected! Paint covers and hides. Unless you touch the frame it looks almost like plastic. Ah well. I am stuck in dust chasing hell.
    Paint. Wait. Sand. Paint. Wait. Sand. Paint. Wait. Weep.

    It's mostly done. I just have place the acrylic and mounting hardware. It looks good, but I just know what's going to happen next...

    "Very nice! How about some shelves?"

    The CA Finish

    When I first heard of a CA finish for pens I was mystified. Cyanoacrylate Glue (see why we call it CA) is basically what we are familiar with calling Super Glue. CA is a woodturner staple. No wonder the constant friend of fixing turning mistakes also became a popular finish.

    It's strong, resisting wear and scratching and when applied correctly looks like glass! I found a lot of folks work really hard at making it difficult. Maybe it's just their way. I need a finish that's simple.

    I've yet to sell a pen for over $50. Which means that I cannot spend hours or days on the finish. I can do a CA finish in about 10 minutes. Sometimes less. My results are awesome. Sometimes I get the tiniest swirl marks on the surface. I don't care. The first time the pen is put in the pocket or purse, it will likely be marred worse so why should I kill myself to remove them?


    (Lathe running @ 1800ish)

    1. Sand to 320 grit. Usually that means starting at 220 and ending at 320. Every once in a while 150 comes out, if my skew work sucks.

    2. Wipe of blank with clean shop towel. Paper towel works fine too

    2. Add a few drops of medium CA (like seriously 2-3 drops) to a shop/paper towel

    3. Rub it across the blank once or twice briskly.

    4. Stop. Either you wait for 2 minutes or spray some accelerator.

    5. I do this 3 times. Thats it. With the accelerator your at about 3 minutes total time invested

    6. Last step is the polish. I keep my mico mesh in a tupperware with water. This helps with heat, and keeping dust off the pads. I polish through the levels 1500 to 12000, wiping the blank with a clean shop/paper towel each time.

    This is what you get. The two on the far left are friction polish to show the contrast. The rest are this simple CA method.

    Add some wax if you like, or not. It absolutely amazing results for a small investment of your time.

    Creating Flat

    For the last couple of months, I've been crazed for turning! It's one of those things you just get hooked on. I find the process quite fulfilling. The major benefit is speed. You can finish a project in a day or less. Many of my projects have been small. Pens are a staple for me, but I'm also turning other items. I've turned a goblet, pot handles, door pull, wine bottle stoppers, and even a paper towel holder.

    Recently though, I've been thinking flat. I have a ton of non-lathe projects to complete as requested by the wife. In fact the longer I go the more there are. So in upcoming months I expect a sudden upturn in flat woodworking.

    First on the list is a frame for our office map. 32"X50". The woodworking is already complete. I used a half-lap joint with poplar, since it will be painted to match the office. It's construction was quite simple and will give me an easy ramp to get back into flat woodworking again. The pens will always be with me, as I'm now selling them. In fact I'm in the middle of a 13 piece order for a shop in WI. It's nice and their sales allow me to buy wood and tools for other projects.
    Next on the wife's list

    1. Fence with gate for the backyard
    2. Cabinet with storage to replace our unused wet bar.
    3. Jewelry box. (might even try my hand a veneer)

    Recent Pens

    Left to right.
    African Blackwood & Maple (friction polish)
    Yellowheart & English Walnut CA finish)
    English Walnut endgrain pen (CA finish)
    Maple & English walnut (friction polish)
    Dymondwood (friction polish)
    Maple & Purpleheart (friction polish)

    Left to right.
    Mopani (friction polish)
    Zebrawood (CA finish)
    Africian Blackwood & Paduk & Yellowheart (CA finish)
    Construction grade plywood (CA finish...that sounds weird.)

    Rikon Mini Lathe

    I got busy this weekend and completed a couple of projects. I took a number of pictures of my new lathe in action. Most of them during the turning of a recent euro stlye pen made from padauk and ebony with a CA finish. It was a SF Giants theme, and the lathe was covered with padauk streamers and ebony dust. Very cool first project. I had a little trouble with the finish owning to the extreme cold in the garage, but overall a pretty good result.

    As I normally do, I forgot something. I forgot to bring in the camera and upload the pictures to photobucket so I could post them. As such, there is once again no proof. sigh...

    Everything is simpler. No more wrench to move the tool rest or tail stock. No more indexing pin to take off the faceplate. No more hassle removing the centers or mandrels. Man what a difference!

    In addition I tried turning a few things between centers. Basically just mangled some spindle blanks. Good fun, lots of walnut shavings. So, the new lathe has officially been broken in and deemd, "Good to go!"

    Selling Free

    As I mentioned my current Lathe was free. As in, I didn't pay anything for it. As such anything that I get for its sale will be a profit. I'm hopefully selling it tonight. I have been saving. (Truth be told I got some side work and most of my 'savings' came from 4 hours of computer work)

    Regardless I'm still about $70 short of buying a new lathe. This is the one I've got my eye on..

    For the price the is one of the most feature packed Mini Lathes. Lots of reviews have come out for this unit. Many claimed that when they were first released (2006) they are prone to trouble. Now you scarcely hear that. Considering that this will be my first new stationary tool purchase, I'm not too worried. All my power tools are prone to troubles. What's one more?

    For me, since I don't need the 30" between centers that my current lathe offers, smaller is better. In addition it boasts a 12" swing (9 1/2 over the tool rest) . My current is 9", or like 7" over the rest. Plus by upgrading I can get rid of my 1/3 hp outboard motor and take up only 1/2 the footprint of my current lathe.

    So I got a buyer coming tonight. I got the lathe all cleaned up and oiled. She runs well, and hopefully I can get the bucks I need for my new toy. Wow. This turning stuff sure does hit the pocketbook hard!

    You Turn Me...

    How many lathe jokes are there on the planet? Not many. As such my humor on the subject falls a bit off center. I try to turn it round to something amusing, but I'm left spinning out more mediocre fair. Forgive me. I needed to get that out of my system. I suppose, it turned out...okay.

    When it comes to woodworking, I've been diverted. An interesting turn of events. The lathe. With the lathe I have stopped working will all my other tools. They don't even exist except to serve the lathe. I bought a drill press, just so I could make pens. There is something so fun about it, one part bliss, three parts bane.

    My lathe was free.

    With my free lathe I had to purchase $250 dollars worth of 'essentials' which blew my mad money to kingdom come. If you know anything about turning, the spending never levels off. So in order to keep from spending another $200 I didn't have, I decided to spend $60 I didn't have instead on pen making stuff. I also bought $60 worth of pen kits.

    So...I now make pens.

    I've been giving them away as fast as I make them, mostly without taking pictures. There are about 3 pens that I did REALLY well (Yellowheart, Paduk and an Oak). But I have no photo proof. Shrug

    Below are a few of my pens I have taken pictures of.

    First couple of slimlines. One is maple... the other, I'm not sure. Nasty splintery stuff.

    Slimline style In English Walnut with ergo thingy. My first attempt at a CA finish... Not quite right...

    Euro style Oak with English Walnut. My first attempt at a Celtic knot. Got the CA finish down...botched everything else.

    So there it is. An addiction that has cost me close to $400, and all I've got to show for it are four lousy pens.

    Thumb In My Eye

    Woodworking is, without a doubt, my favorite hobby now. I started out getting hooked on this hobby, from making a small, "bookshelf toy shelf living room space saver thing". When I first completed it, I was like a new dad.

    "COME SEE MY BOOKCASE! See, how it's square? See the shelf and how level it is!? Did you notice those nice clean butt joints?"

    About a week later someone said to me, "Welcome to the craft. Enjoy it. And after a while, you'll look back at your first project with disgust."

    "Oh, Okay. Thanks for the advice. I'm sure that applies to you, but I'm perfect. Sorry you didn't get the memo."

    "That's absurd," I thought. How could I ever see anything but perfection in this?

    Well... he's was right. I've only been woodworking for about 9 months, and I find that that this 'perfect' bookshelf is an unrelenting thumb in my eye whenever I come home. Every time I look at it, I get ill. Its funny, because looking back, I can't see how I ever thought of it as quality. The shelf sags, the plywood edging isn't hidden, there are gaps in the casework and the finish is a blotchy and offensive to the eyes. I made it in about 8 hours. At the time I was bubbling with joy. Now I wish I'd taken more time on it.

    I was just so excited that I made something. Something that I could put books and toys on it without it giving way. Something that made a huge improvement for space in my living room. Something that didn't exist before I dreamed it into creation.

    When I compare it to my second piece, the difference is staggering. My second piece was an over the toilet cabinet stand thing. I planed it out, designed it, worked out dimensions and took weeks to assemble. The standing toilet cabinet isn't perfect, but it does show growth.

    So I guess what the point of this post is simply this, without a starting point, you cannot grow. So it's not as perfect as I though it would be, but it's still the first. And nothing I do can change that the nasty thumb in my eye piece of woodworking, is what helped me find this diverting new hobby.