Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A little more planer retrofitting

One of my favorite tools is this small Makita 2040 planer. I've had it since the very first days that I hung up my shingle, and last year - Eric and I rebuilt parts of it. You can read about the rebuild here and here.

But there's been something that's troubling me about the design of this planer. 

On the back end of the planar, there's a gap between the outfeed table and roller bar.  The outfeed roller is really powerful, and if you put your hand down, in between the piece of wood being exiting the machine and the bar, you're going to get it caught. 

Or smashed.

 Probably both. 

So I wanted to block off that open area. It didn't even occur to me to do this, but I saw another picture of this planer and noticed someone had blocked off the opening. 

Duh! What a great idea!

And - since two people have gotten their hands pinched in mine, I decided to correct it today.  

I took the back supports off, 

and unclipped the roller bar, 

so that I could drill some holes into the side support bars.

 It's easy to do this on a drill press.

I bolted the bars back into place, and then cut a couple of supports. 

I was planning on putting up plywood deck down, so I tested the height of those supports using a scrap of plywood, to make sure that my height was right. Of course, I needed to predrill those pieces since they were small and likely to split. 

What I did NOT need was to drill straight through into my finger. 

I'm never going to get a job doing hand modeling, but this is ridiculous. With the pieces screwed into place,

it was just simple matter to cut some plywood to size and drop it in place. 

I feel a lot better now that this planer is infinitely safer now! 

Now - if I could only figure out a way to make that drill bit a little safer!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A smile for you on Tax Day

Thought you might need a little levity on this day of pain!

(Doubleclick on the screen below to bring it up full screen on your computer - it's worth it!)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My biggest Craigslist mistake...

A few years ago, I sold a bunch of stuff on Craigslist. Like an elliptical, a weight bench, and a treadmill - I was purging all of the workout equipment in my house. Now I regret it - look at this great homemade belt sander, made by retrofitting a treadmill with some parts.

Makes me want to go on Craigslist right now and search for one!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Holey Galahad, Batman!

There's nothing like going to the studio on a Sunday afternoon, when it's quiet and no one is around. During the week – there're always people stopping in to the shop, and it's so easy to get distracted. Sunday's are perfect for concentrating. 

I was starting to get frustrated with this tabletop - nothing was going according to plan, and I was ready to throw in the towel. But my buddy Dan stopped by - he was working on Sunday too! We brainstormed a bit, and he gave me a suggestion about where he would start, were he building this piece.  The funny thing is - after we chatted, he lost all motivation to work, and ended up going back home to play in his garden. 

Armed with a little fortification, I got down to it. 

This is turning into a labor of love, but honestly– I don't mind. It's always kind of nice to see something morph from a pile of wood into a piece of furniture. I started by fitting the long piece against that petrified slab, and then scribing it to the profile. 

It's a good thing Lupe leaves her Holey Galahad grinder at the shop - 

it was the perfect tool for grinding that shape to fit. 

The Festool belt sander was helpful too. LOL 

(Insiders at the shop will get this joke; no one else will!)

When I work, my bench gets covered with so many tools and devices, that I barely have room to work. So - you know what happened next... time to make another cup of coffee! 

Getting the shape to fit perfectly took a lot of patience, but honestly– I was in the zone, and the work felt good. 

 That doesn't happen often, so when it does - you just have to keep working until you lose steam. Even though I only fit two pieces of wood around the slab, 

I felt pretty good about the day's accomplishments.  If all goes according to plan - I should be able to finish this top in one more session. 

That's a big IF!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

This slab of petrified wood ended up in my shop, with the hope that I will build a mitered frame around it. It'll eventually be turned into a coffee table - at least that's the plan! 

It's a gorgeous piece of wood/stone - I've been staring at it for hours, trying to envision what I'm supposed to build.

The edge of the slab is giving me nightmares - the plan is for the frame to be fitted around the slab.  Considering this slab has more ins and outs than the plot in House of Cards, it's going to be a real challenge. 

This is classic "stick building" - seat of the pants woodworking. I borrowed my buddy Dan's slider saw, and started cutting some miters, fitting the frame around the slab. But - there is one small area of the slab that's giving me nightmares!

 When I originally came up with a plan for this top, I knew it was going to be a difficult project. Here's my original plan, with vague angles laid out in blue tape. 

 Fitting all the angles was giving me fits - 

I'm not superwoman, even though I play one in the woodshop!

This coffee table is going to be one of the biggest challenges I've tackled in a long time - but stepping outside of my comfort zone with a piece like this is good for me. 


Friday, April 04, 2014

Wanna save some $$$?

If you've been a reader of this blog for a while, you know that I don't normally shill for woodworking suppliers here.

But Rockler has a pretty good deal going on right now. They're offering free shipping, with no minimum purchase. Can't beat that! Every now and then, you just need something you can't find in town, so this will save you some shipping dollars.

They're only offering this for four days, here's the promo code to enter:  V2540

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Guess it was his lucky day....

It's no wonder I lose sleep some nights, after a particularly dicey day in the shop. This might be the worst kickback story I've ever heard.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fun with Plywood

People complain about Facebook all the time, but I really find it rather fascinating on several levels. 

Staying in touch with family and friends all over the world?  Check!  

Sharing photos of my students and their work? Check!

A free and effective marketing tool for my business? Check!

"Meeting" other woodworkers? Check!

I belong to a Woodworking and Furniture group on FB, and the 3600+ members in the group often share tips, post photos of their work, and ask each other questions when they're struggling with something, such as a technique or a new material.

One of the members posted these pictures the other day - and at first glance, I thought these panels were a mosaic.

 Turns out - they're made of plywood! 

Someone got really creative with a grinder!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Here's a neat sandpaper tip...

Even though we don't use full sheets of sandpaper at my shop, this is a great tip. One of my pet peeves is exactly what he describes in this video- dulling your sandpaper by grinding it against itself.

Sounds silly, but it's true - sandpaper gets dull pretty quickly, and if you can make it last longer, why not try this?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I hope this is a joke!

Damn, I hope this is a joke!

Meanwhile, back at the shop - classes have started back up and we're in "Full Cutting Board Mode."

There is an Adirondack Chair class starting tonight, and I have a feeling it's going to be one of those really creative gatherings - everyone in the shop is brimming with good ideas about making their chairs unique. 

The wood has started arriving - this stack of African Mahogany isn't going to transform into an Adirondack chair - but rather - a Morris chair. Yes, we do deviate from our stated mission.

These 16' boards make my back hurt, just looking at them. 

Running out of room? The only place to stack these board was on the panel saw. Let's hope no one needs to use it for a week or so. 

More Poplar, and Cherry... now we're really running out of room!

There are so many ways to put your personality into these chairs - that's why I always love teaching this class. Here's one of my favorites - a slick, retro version that was made by a really creative students of mine. 

As always - buckle up and stay tuned!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Makin' me proud

One of my past students called me the other day, to ask about a past project.

As we started catching up, he told me that he and his wife had moved away from Vegas, and he'd landed himself in a woodworking program in Tennessee.

He found a school called the Chattanooga Woodworking Academy,  

As we chatted about the school, he told me about their first project - a tool tote made by hand. Check out these photos of the totes - amazing work (and gorgeous wood!) from these beginners!

I couldn't be happier for him - he had a true passion for working with his hands, and I suspect he'll do great things in the future. Damn, I love hearing about past students taking their woodworking to new levels! Best of luck, D!