Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Night of Log Furniture ...


With around 28 members in attendance for our February meeting, we rolled into our EIGHTH! year of holding our monthly meetings - congrats to all of us for our passion for woodworking.


As usual, Jamie brought up some business related topics, like the upcoming AWFS show, which will be held July 19-22 at the Convention Center. It's truly an experience not to be missed, especially if you're a woodworker!


Next month, we'll again be collecting dues for our group, which are $20 for the year. While the dues are completely voluntary,  these monthly dues pay for various operational costs, like our Meet-Up membership, occasional guest speakers and associated costs with running the group. Even better - at the end of the year - after we award prizes for our end-of-the-year woodworking contest and pay for our Christmas party - everything that is left over is simply given back to our members. It's a win-win, so please consider joining us this year - it's the best $20 you'll spend on woodworking this year!

Jamie explained that she's been in need of a heavy duty wood bleach for a current project, and that commerical wood bleaches has not been very effective. She decided to conduct some research, and was able to find a recipe online, utilizing lye  (scary stuff!)


and a potent version of hydrogen peroxide, commonly found at pool stores. 


Having found a variety of recipes and suggestions, she tried three of them and experimented on a few pieces of African Mahogany. The best results came from mixing the two solutions together (the lye has to be dissolved in water first!) and then soaking the wood in the mixture for about 20 minutes. After a good rinsing, the boards continued to dry and lighten. The middle sample below shows just how light the wood became with the bleaching... pretty amazing!


Richard continues his quest of turning for relaxation - sharing some recent projects including these gorgeous Koa pens, and two Alumilite pens that he had started at our last meeting. 


He also brought along a cool wine bottle stopped he cast and turned, lamenting about the one that got away - he had one of these castings blow up while he was turning it. Yikes, good thing he wears a face shield! 


Next up, Len brought more fine examples of his work. 



With about twenty-four years experience carving, he recommends slow wood chip carving for therapy, and shared that anyone interested only needs two knifes; a basic knife and curved knife. 

His work is so intricate and thoughtful, it's a joy just to inspect his clean cuts and designs. 



 Len shared that he feels chip carving uses light and shadows, therefore less color is best. 



He also shared his method for using freezer parchment paper and a cheap ink-jet printer for transferring an image  to wood with a credit card, like he did fro this hummingbird design below. 


 Finally he shared that he often uses a compass and ruler to lay out the design.



Len is a member of the Woodcarvers of Las Vegas, who meet at Woodworkers’ Emporium on the 4th Saturday of each month. 


Check out their Facebook page here


Their meetings usually run from 8:30 - 11:30 AM.


As usual, Beth brought in another amazing piece that she built - a small (and very lightweight!) stool with mostly turned components and a woven seat. 



She completely nailed the joinery (not literally!!!) and experimented with the weaving materials, settling on macrame cord for the final product. 


In her spare time, she started turning apples on the lathe, and shared her progression of apples as her skill level grew. She envisions a whole bowl full of apples in her house someday, and there's no reason to doubt that she will accomplish that! 


Finally, on to the featured speaker - Neal Grossman and his cool rustic log furniture.  He brought in some great examples of his work, 



and explained that his process starts with stripping the bark from the logs. 



He usually has a rough idea of what he'll be building, with some dimensions and a sketch of the finished product. 


With a drawknife, he'll reduce the diameter of the ends, so that his tenon cutter will fit over the end of the logs. 


These tenon cutters are pricey, but allow him to quickly machine tenons on the ends of his components. 


A heavy-duty drill is pretty much a given, this is hard work! 







Once the logs are cut to length and tenoned, he'll start assembling the piece, using a variety of adhesives. LocTite's PL375 is his go-to adhesive, as it has an extremely slow set time, allowing him to rotate logs and get everything adjusted properly. 




Remember - this is a whole new ballgame, as far as furniture building, and there aren't are strict rules about it. 



Logs can be crooked, there are no straight edges, so flexibility in building is a must. 


Luckily, Neal is very adept at working with these imperfect materials, and his work shows a gracefulness and is the picture of throughtful design. 


These dog beds are a fabulous use of smaller logs! His best advice if you want to get started is to start hoarding logs, so that when you have a design in mind, you'll have enough of the log components to choose whatever you want to work with - it's not like you can bring a cut list to Mother Nature and order the materials!


 A big THANK YOU to Neal for lugging all of this gear and furniture to the shop, and sharing his building philosophy - it was a very enlightening night of woodworking talk!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Interested in Rustic Furniture?


Sin City Woodworkers, a Vegas valley social and networking group committed to serious (and not so serious!) woodworking discussions, meet on the third Wednesday of each month to share everything from techniques and ideas to information about local suppliers and much more. Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 15, at 7:00 when long-time member Neal Grossman will share some of his techniques for building rustic furniture out of logs.
Neal has a cabin up in Utah, and access to some interesting wood not necessarily found here in the Vegas Valley. He’ll be sharing some great tips that he’s learned from years of building with Aspen, and bringing some hand tools to show the group how it’s done.  He’ll explain where the trees come from, and how he procures the wood. He’ll also share tips for taking the trees down, bucking them, and tooling the logs with his “giant pencil sharpener!”
He’s been having a blast with this work, building everything from coffee and end tables, to dog beds, dog feeders, and much more, using a variety of hand and power tools. He’ll also share his adhesive of choice (it might surprise you!), and his finishing advice. Interested in making rustic furniture? Neal will discuss the difference between finer carpentry and rustic work, and will bring a few tools to demonstrate his tenoning technique. 
This meeting will be held at Studio: Wood It Is!, 2267 West Gowan, unit 106 in North Las Vegas. As always, the public is welcome to attend the meeting, so members - please feel free to bring a guest along. But remember that there are a limited number of chairs in the woodshop. Attendees might want to bring a folding chair if they wish to sit during the meeting. If you have questions or need directions, call the studio at 702-631-1870.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Turn, Turn, Turn....

We had a nice, intimate gathering in January - marking the start of our eighth year as Sin City Woodworkers. 

Yes, that's right - eight years of sharing great woodworking tips and techniques, as well as having some fun field trips to our woodshops around the city. 



Along with some general announcements, Eric took the floor with an offer to try out his Bad Axe Tools handsaw.  


He explained that they will take a 3D scan of your hand upload it in to a CAD program, to make a custom sized handle, if desired.


 His one bit of advice - when facing the choice or several different sizes - choose the smaller one! The balance and cutting action of this saw was amazing - it cuts remarkable straight and true.


Jamie mentioned that one of our member's daughter owns a lumber company in northern California, and has some of their live edge slabs on sale at the shop. Most are Claro Walnut, but several English Walnut are also available. These are terrific boards, and most sold in the first week or two. These boards are a great value and if anyone is interested, you can call the school and get more information. 


The woodcarvers were well represented, and Len brought some of his terrific chip carved boxes to share - like this sweet little shark carving, 


and this intricate box with what he calls "Gothic" inspired designs. 


It was beyond amazing, and the quality of these cuts were top notch.


 Len will be giving a demo at the Woodcarver's meeting next month - check out their Facebook page for more info about their group.  The Carvers’ Meeting is the fourth Saturday of the month from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.at Woodworkers Emporium, BTW.


The box featured some interesting embellishments and a clock movement,  


Leon brought in a lovely bowl he'd turned, with reclaimed wood from the side of the road. It's adorned with iridescent acrylic inks. He calls this his "cosmic" bowl, and the photo below barely shows its incredible depth of color.


Finally - on to the main event - Richard's demo on turning a keyring.  


He brought a nice array of examples, 


and explained that when Zac Higgins gave a demo on casting Alumilite a few years ago, Richard got the bug to start casting it, as well. 



Using these three Easy Wood lathe tools 





and an Easy Chuck, Richard guided us through the process, 


mounting and drilling out the blank,



and then gluing in the liner. 


He sanded them flush, 


and then mounted both on a mandrel, to begin turning them. 




It's delicate work, and it seems like Richard find his moment of Zen in it. 




Once he was satisfied with the shape, 


he sanded it up to 12,000 grit polishing paper - and viola! 


It was time to press on the ends...


 and stand back to admire these beauties. Thanks to Richard for a fun evening, his humor and easygoing nature made this a very enjoyable meeting!