Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sad day at the shop...

It really saddens me to say that Brandolyn lost her battle with cancer yesterday - she was bright and fun, and a good woodworker, to boot! 

Sending nothing but good thoughts and love to Scott and their adorable son Austin. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Plan A... finishing the slab framework

It's been a busy couple of weeks, but I managed to finish the top framework for this coffee table I'm building. The petrified slab is going to sit in the middle of this frame, which is made of two inch thick Oak.  Each piece has to be scribed, and by this time - I've gotten really really good at it. 

I scribe using a Lee Valley compass, using the rough edge as my guide. 

 Once I get the line drawn, I use the bandsaw to trim off the excess. 

I'm not aiming for perfection yet,  I just want to be close to my line. And because the live edge juts out,

 I bandsaw the waste on a slight angle. 

Once everything is fitted perfectly, I use the Festool Domino 

and put in some floating tenons. 

It's hard to see pencil lines, so little blue tape and a white pencil works great. 

(Thanks for the white lead pencils, Beth!)

 I thought fitting the last piece would be tough, but damn!

 I nailed it! So the top is done, except for gluing it together. 

 While I was working on this, I came up with an interesting design for the legs - dovetailed leg with through-joinery, showing on the top of the table. So I made this prototype - and  called my client, to see if he and his wife might like to change the design we'd already agreed upon.  I think this dovetailed leg would be great,  especially if I taper it down and give it an interesting profile. 

But – in the end - they didn't want to change the design, so I'll go back to Plan A - and hopefully finish this table off this week. 

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.