Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year to All of You

Hello SCWW, just thought I'd take a minute to wish all of you a Happy New Year for 2011. Keep the sawdust out of your nose and eyes and your fingers attached to your body as we begin a new year of woodwork. Actually what I wanted to do as well is pass along this link from an email I got this morning. Even though I'm known to be pretty traditional in my approach to woodworking there was a lot of interest in the demonstration Chris DiRossi did about Sketch-Up. In my emails this morning I received one from Woodworking Shop, they deal in books. They have a series and this is the first book dealing with the program so I thought I'd pass it along. Heres the LINK for the book. Who knows, this might be something you want to spend your Christmas gift card on.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Show and Tell/Christmas Party

Last Wednesday we had our first ever (annual?) combination show and tell and Christmas party at Jamie's shop/school.  She spent a lot of time cleaning her shop and adding table coverings so we had a relatively unusual, sawdust free environment to get together in.  She also used the dues to buy snacks and libations, special thanks to Chris for being the BarKeep!! It was a good time to have conversation and admire each others work.  There are some photographs at the bottom of this blog showing some of the things that people brought in to share.  This gave all of us the opportunity to learn what we do in our own shops.
Rex Doty gave a talk about his non-profit organization that provides toys for kids that otherwise may never have any.  The organization is called Toys4Smiles and he asked us to consider volunteering with them or donating our scrap wood so they can continue to make toys to provide joy for the ones who need it the most.
There was a raffle held for items donated to the club.  Jamie provided most of them and Dennis Patchett graciously donated 2 carved blocks that go at the top of a doors molding.  Vince DeMarco was the lucky winner of that one.  Other members that were lucky enough to have their number drawn was Brian Foster who won all of the toys brought in by Toys4Smiles (see photo below).  Sharon Bond and Paula Zwicky won Craftsman tool bags but may use them as a fashion accessory for that little black cocktail dress!  Larry Yule won a set of DeWalt drill bits and Micheil Smith was the recipient of one of Jerry's gift card holders which is also shown in a picture below.
All in all I think I can speak for all of the members and thank Jamie for organizing this party as well as all of the meetings we've had so far.  It's no easy task to line up activities and speakers that we all can enjoy plus using her school and shop space for it as well ---- Thanks Jamie!  
Last of all, I'd like to encourage any of you to demonstrate some of the techniques you use in your work, this meeting gave us an overview and I'm sure we'd like to see more details.  


Micheil Smiths' Cutlery Box
Lid Inlays

Vinces' Quarter Sawn White Oak tables
Richs' Keyboard Table

Johns' Pistol Case

Jerry's Boxes and Gift Card Holders
Brians'  Japanese Style Toolbox
Rich's  Wheelbarrow
Dennis's Carvings
Larry's' Cutting Boards

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Meeting Reminder & Tool Primer

Good Morning SCWW, just a reminder about the meeting this Wednesday at 7pm.  This will be a social event, one where we can have a "Show & Tell".  Bring something that you've made to share with us and let us know what you do in your shop.  Who knows, maybe someone will have that last minute gift you've been looking for and will want to sell it to you!  Jamie mentioned snacks so you can't beat that combination:  Food - Wood - It's all Good! I got this email from a friend of mine this morning so thought that since we all use tools, this primer might remind us what the heck they are really for.

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the
 corner where nothing could get to it.

 Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to Say, "Oh, shit!"

 A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

 Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

 An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

 One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle... It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

 Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

 Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race..

 A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

 Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed  your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

 A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

 A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything  you forgot to disconnect.

 Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

 A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

 A tool used  to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

 A tool used to make hoses too short.

 Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit.

 Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records,liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines,refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use..

Son of a bitch TOOL:
 Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling "Son of a bitch" at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Class Information from John Eugster

Many of you were interested in using the composition material I demonstrated a couple of months ago.  I mentioned I learned about it from a guy by the name of Eric Tollefson at the West Coast Art and Framing Convention.  This convention is held at  the Las Vegas Convention Center and the class is being offered on Sunday, January 23rd.  It goes from 10am to 4pm.  Here is a link to that page in the seminar offerings.  The number of the class is H610.  As I recall, he does a number of demonstrations to show how to put ornamentation on a pre-finished frame (cheap ones you can get anywhere) and also goes into how to finish the ornamentation to match the frame.  If nothing else, you'll see the variety of composition materials and learn how simple it would be to utilize in your woodwork.  He also shows how to lay composition gold leaf which I demo'd which you can buy locally from Dick Blick or Desert Decor.

Here's the picture of the corner I did for our demo just to refresh your memory!

Composition Corner Example

Friday, November 19, 2010

Planes in Sin City

Last Wednesday's meeting was one of our first, interactive meetings and judging by the comments I heard and the activity going on it was a success.  I was happy to lead the group in learning the basics of setting up and using the various planes.  Yes, it's a time consuming process but, as I heard Dennis exclaim: "there's nothing like the sound of a shaving coming out of a nicely set up plane", well that may not have been his exact quote but you get the idea!
Beginning of the Demonstration
To be sure, setting that plane up can be a daunting task but like I said, once mine is set I generally leave it alone so it's ready whenever I need it. Jamie and Larry both use block planes in their work when needed so even though they may not want to use the planes exclusively to get a great finish they have their place in any shop.  After using my method to teach literally thousands of kids through the years I'm sure it'll work for you.

Here's a picture of using the block plane to cut a chamfer on the end of a board. With its low angle and small size it's ideal for that.

You move the board, I'll hold the plane!!

Before we started the meeting, Neil showed off his cast and shared his accident with us on the router table.  It's a reminder of how careful we need to be working at this craft and that in spite of all the safety precautions, accidents can still occur.  Hope your fingers heal and you're as good as new Neil, look forward to seeing you cast free next month!
Speaking of next month, Jamie brought up an excellent idea of us all bringing a project for a Show & Tell session and also having snacks and libations in the spirit of Christmas.  Seems as if most of us welcomed that so we'll have to make plans and finalize them before the meeting which will be on the 15th. of December.
Several of you asked for plans for the bench I brought and also the article from Fine Woodworking that went into tuning up a plane.  I can't figure out how to attach them to this blog but will send a separate email to everyone that I have in my address book with them as a PDF, you should be able to open them.  If you're not on my list and want them just send me an email.
Last of all, Jamie did a great Cecil B. DeMille impersonation and took a number of videos of us in action!!  Here they are, enjoy  Okay, slight technical glitch!  I've been watching the icon churn around for the past 10 minutes and nothing is happening.  Jamie sent them to me as a zip drive and they really are cool.  I'll send them to you in the same email I use for the PDF files.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sin City Woodworkers October meeting

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. They meet at Studio: Wood It Is!, 2267 West Gowan, unit 106 in North Las Vegas. The next meeting is scheduled for October 20, at 7:00 PM.

We're changing things up a little bit at this meeting - no demos or hands-on woodworking at this get-together. Instead, we'll be discussing the business of running a a woodshop. How do you price your work? Do you use an estimating program? Where do you buy materials and equipment? How do you market your work? Have a website? Sell on Etsy? If you are thinking about starting a woodworking business, this round table discussion will probably answer a lot of your questions. If you own your own shop, we hope you'll share some tips that work for you.

The public is welcome to attend the meeting, but 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 631-1870.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Remember Al Phillips the Cleaner??

If you've been in Las Vegas for any amount of time you probably remember his ads on television.  Someone would ask him "how do you do it?" and his reply was always; "it's easy when you know your business".  Well, here's a picture of our own Dennis Patchett, when asked how do you carve -- yep he said: "it's easy when you know your business".

He gave us a demonstration on how he does some of his carving and brought in some samples as well.  It's pretty obvious that he really loves what he does with his carving and furniture making and that's always the key.  As easy, as he says it, but there's no denying that he has an artistic talent for the work because it's way past just being technically perfect, it's artistic as well.  I like how he explained the way he obtained his tools, every payday for about a year he'd get one or two more.  From my limited carving experience I've found that there are so many different chisels you could go crazy!  Seems as if the key for Dennis is to basically get them as you need and then plan your carvings around the tools you have.  Last night he showed how to carve/incise letters and explained some of the architectural work he has done.  It just so happened that Richard brought in a book of reproduction furniture that had plans for a shell carving that Dennis had done as well.  Here are some photo's of his work.
Carving the straight section of the letter.
Adding the curve to letter end.
Fan Carving for a Drawer Front

Sample for Cabinet Top
Thirty Hours of Work in Maple    Notice the chain in the lower right corner.

For all of you that we're wondering, including you Dennis.  If you go to Facebook and do a search for Dennis Patchett you can find his page.  I scrolled through it and found the most beautiful work.  Dennis my friend, if a computer resistant 'ole dude such as myself can figure out how to get a website up you can too!  My wife has helped me a lot but I used a fairly easy program.  I won't say it's the easiest or the most enjoyable thing to do but if nothing else you can use it like an on-line portfolio so potential clients can see the type of work you are capable of. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 15th. Meeting

     Our meeting for this month is scheduled for Wednesday the 15th., as usual it starts at 7 pm and will be at Jamie's shop/school.  Dennis Patchett will once again demonstrate his carving skills to us.  He plans to bring several examples of his work and also show how to carve a chain as well as a few flower designs.  My first exposure to carving was way back when in Cub Scouts.  We were given a bar of soap, a knife, and the simple direction of carving a whale.  I seem to recall that there was a picture of a whale, maybe Moby Dick, that we were to use as a guide.  The only advice I remember getting was to just "cut off everything that doesn't look like a whale" -- yea, like that really helped!  Good thing it was soap and I was able to use it for a bath later that week.
      Hopefully, Dennis will give us a little better understanding on what it takes to take a flat piece of wood and carve a recognizable feature on it.  From seeing his demonstrations before I'm sure we'll all walk away with some of his knowledge.  To carve as well as he does takes a certain artistic eye, the ability to see what the outcome will be as you selectively remove wood and shape it to become whatever it is you're carving.  Hope to see all of you at the meeting.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Composition Ornamentation

Thought I'd share a couple of photo's of the completed TV Lift Cabinet with you guys.   Did any of you that took some compo after my demonstration have any results with your experiments?  Let me know how they turned out and I'll post them on the blog for the rest of the group to see.  Not my personal style of furniture but it sure opens up a lot of possibilities!

Front View
Side View

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tips from Richard

Hello Sin City Woodworkers,  Sunday Rich sent me an email extolling the use of hand tools.  I'm a hand tool guy myself so thought I'd promote their use with his email.  He told me it was okay to use on the blog so here it is, by the way feel free to send me pictures, stories, etc. for the blog as well.  My email is:  

Hi guys!
I just had to share this.  I was routing a dado for the miter gauge track in my new table saw/router table work center project.  Unfortunately, the pattern bit I was using lost the set screw that kept the collar which kept the bearing in the right position, and somehow the bit got under my template guide and after my first pass, I had a dado 1/8" wider than it was supposed to be!  Ouch!

Now I'm thinking, OK, I've got nothing to guide the bit on the next pass, how am I going to get to the right depth, in the right place (which happened to need to be precisely 33 64ths of an inch).  After much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, I realized that I actually owned the tools to make this possible.  I grabbed my trusty sliding dovetail saw, and my trusty Veritas large router plane, and was all set to go.

I loosened the bolts holding the saw blade in the sliding dovetail saw, pulled out the blade till it was too deep, and set it down next to my miter gauge track and pushed it down until the flat next to the blade seated on the top of the track.  Tightened the bolts, checked the depth again, and viola, 33 64ths in depth is set (without measuring!).  Sawed both sides of the (#$%#%$) dado to depth, and proceeded to hand route (most) of the rest of the waste in the dado.  When I got close, I checked the track, yep, not deep enough yet.  Made a 1/4 turn on the depth adjustment screw, routed, checked again, repeat until fit is perfect.  Done!

Now all I have to do is fill the blinkin gap.  Rockler is sending me a replacement router bit, and pointed me to some filler called Wunderfill which seems to have gotten good reviews.

FYI, one of my magazines had a tip for filling holes with epoxy that I plan to try when the filler comes.  The tip was to pour the 2 part epoxy into a ziploc bag, close, then mush the stuff around until mixed, smoosh it all into one corner of the bag and the snip a tiny bit off the corner.  Squeeze gently to fill holes with epoxy.  He got the idea after watching a cooking show on TV where the chef was using a squeeze bag (not sure what the proper name is) to squeeze decorative icing onto pastries.

Next project is to make the router table fence.  The plan calls for a 4" tall by 6" deep fence.  Not having tons of spare space to hang multiple fences, I've decided to alter the plan knowing that at some point I'll want a tall fence.  I'm making it 13" tall with a mini-T track 2" from the top edge for feather boards.  Can't think of a good reason why a tall fence won't work just fine for cuts that really don't need one.  Let me know if you see a drawback to this plan.

FYI, I love Baltic birch.  Never worked with it before because I thought it was too expensive, and am never going back to Lowes plywood.  Boy was I wrong.  Cheap plywood is too expensive!  Rugby's got a new customer.

Cheers, and I'll see you at the next meeting!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Compo & Computers

     At our last meeting on Wednesday, August the 18th., there were about 14 members attending.  We had a one new person, Ed, who makes Adirondack chairs and brought one of them to sit in during the meeting.  Pretty heavy for a portable chair but those of us who sat in it agreed it was comfortable.  I did one of the demonstrations and Jamie elected to go ahead and lead the meeting seeing how I was standing up front anyway!  What I had next to me is an electric hotplate with a pan of water and screen stretched over it.  The screen is a piece of canvas and it's all you need to work with composition ornaments.
Samples of Composition Ornaments
     I get my compo from Bomar Designs in Louisburg, KS.  I recently completed a French Provincial style cabinet and when I ordered the compo from them asked if they had any brochures I could give to the SCWW when I did my demonstration -- they were good enough to send some so that the members have some understanding of what the composition material is, how to work with it, and also be able to incorporate it into their own work.  

     The first thing I showed was how you can dress up a typical frame with the compo corners.  The frame I'm using is for one of my wife's paintings but since compo sticks to anything, an inexpensive frame from Michaels, Aaron Bros., JoAnnes, etc. can easily be modified and improved.


Corner Ornaments, can be used on any frame then finished to match

Close up of corner piece

     Another piece that I demonstrated was one that you can use to create a long line of detail.  I showed it on a picture frame but this is something that works really well to edge the bottom of a cabinet or the edges of a mirror frame.  You can imagine how much time it would take to carve a repeating detail like this!  Once the compo is steamed it becomes very flexible and you can conform it to whatever shape you need, just watch that the details don't become distorted.                                                    

Applying Fish Scale, Notice the flexibility!

Close up of the Fish Scale


     The next demonstration of the evening was given by Chris DiRossi.  Quite a contrast -- compo has been around since the 1500's and Chris's demo had to do with Google Sketch Up which is much, much further down the  time line of technology and woodworking!  Really interesting, he brought in his lap top, a large monitor, and this really unique mouse that is great to use with plans and making drawings.  It allows you to select your drawing and then rotate it in any direction to see the details of the plan.  He started out by showing us a plan from a recent magazine (Woodworkers Journal I think) for a table.  You can go to the website, download the plan, and then by using the free Google Sketch Up program completely de-construct the piece and get every detail to actually build it in your shop.  According to Chris there is a huge library of plans available on the internet as well as through most of the popular woodworking magazines.
     He also walked us through how to use the program to design your own projects.  I must admit being somewhat of a dinosaur and computer challenged but I can really see the value in using these programs.  It's very easy to make changes and visualize the work before you start to build.  I know my son has used it for building a backyard structure and he had good success.  A real advantage for making your own plans is how easy it is to change dimensions or, as Chris demonstrated, change the number of drawers in a given space to see how it looks.  To top it off, it will automatically give you the sizes.  You know how difficult it can be to divide a given space into equal divisions -- of course there are tricks to doing that but they're being replaced by the computer.  The demonstration was really informative and Chris answered many questions from the members.

Watching Chris explain Sketch Up
The large monitor made is easy to see from anywhere in the room

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Next Meeting: August the Eighteenth

     The next meeting will be held at Wood It Is, the usual time -- 7:00 pm.  There will be two presentations for us to enjoy and learn from.  One of the demonstrations will be of special interest to any of you that have attempted to use Google SketchUp.  Chris DiRossi  is bringing his laptop along with a large monitor to give all of us a lesson!  He is planning to do a tutorial and give tips and shortcuts that he has used to design his projects.  I plan to bring a paper and pencil to take notes, computers can be confusing to me.  If you've tried to use SketchUp on your own and had problems, this demonstration should be very helpful.
     The second demonstration is about using composition ornamentation to enhance your furniture. This is a traditional way to give the look of carving to furniture, mirrors, walls, and picture frames.  If you've ever wondered how long it took someone to carve 10 feet of perfectly shaped leaves, balls, or sea shells it may of actually been compo!  This demonstration will be presented by John Eugster and could be considered an extension of the gilding demo he did a few months ago.
     As always, you know that seating is limited so bring your own chair if you want to park somewhere!
                           Hope to see you there.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Local artist honored in San Diego's Design in Wood competition

John Eugster scored an honorable mention at the Design in Wood competition in San Diego. Here's a little local press for one of our charter members - congrats, John!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 21st. Meeting

The meeting last Wednesday had several new faces and there were small discussions going on around the shop before the main event. Once we started, the new faces introduced themselves and gave a little bit of background about what they did and what interested them enough to show up for the meeting. As Jamie mentioned, this was our seventeenth meeting and we've had a core group of 15-20 folks that have shown up consistently. I know I'm not talking just about myself here but the very nature of wood working is pretty solitary unless you're in some sort of commercial shop. The solitude of it is what appeals to me (and probably many of you) but it's good to get out and mingle with others -- that's what makes the Sin City Woodworkers such an interesting group!

So on to the main event of the evening. Larry Yule gave a demonstration on making cabinet boxes using the European, frameless style. As he pointed out, that system evolved after WW II to replace everything that had been destroyed.

Standardization was the key and the system is based on 32mm. Larry used a biscuit joiner which most of the members were familiar with but obviously not every one was. In a nutshell, this machine cuts a elliptical slot (half a football) in the two pieces you want to join. This can be face to face, face to edge, or edge to edge. The biscuit is a piece of compressed beech that expands when the glue wets it -- that gives you the joint. Once glue is applied you can either clamp, screw, or nail the joint together and basically you're done.

If you research it or talk to any number of woodworkers you'll find a range of opinions about the strength and merits of a biscuit joint over any others like mortise and tenon, doweled, pocket screw, domino, and on and on. Essentially, the biscuit joiner is a pretty simple and forgiving way to assemble cabinets, face frames, and picture frames; like any other tool it has its' place in your shop.

Larry started out by showing how he attaches the nailing strip to the cabinet back. He unintentionally demonstrated how it's best to mark which surface needs to be slotted but, with his skills and experience, also showed how to rectify that little mishap!

Next was laying out and cutting slots needed to put the sides together. With European style cabinets there isn't a face frame so that wasn't a consideration. Eliminating the face frame results in less time to make the cabinet and also lets you utilize more of your wall for cabinet space.

Ever seen House Hunters International when they're in Europe?, the kitchens are tiny! A new technique to some of you was how he laid out the biscuits on the cabinet components. He used what's called a "Story Stick". Instead of using a tape measure to make the same measurements he simply laid the required measurements out on the stick and transferred them to each component. Easier, quicker, and eliminates errors.

Assembly couldn't be easier, having a willing helper, a special glue applicator, a mallet, and lots of clamps is essential.

There's a lot of glue that needs to be applied and clamped and with the heat we're experiencing now speed is of essence. In a couple of months from now Larry will demonstrate how to make a face frame cabinet -- that'll cover the two main ways cabinet boxes are constructed. I'm sure we all gained some knowledge from Larry, as usual he invited other members of the group to come up and get some hands on experience using the joiner -- great job Larry!

I'm going to end this blog the same way I seem to end all of them -- come on guys, show us what you do and share your techniques with the rest of the group. It isn't an easy thing to do but once you get into it it's pretty rewarding. Plans for our next meeting include a computer demonstration on using Google SketchUp for drawing your project plans as well as applying composition ornaments to your work. These haven't been finalized yet so if you feel the urge to share your knowledge let Jamie know.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Next Meeting: July 21st.

     Just in case some of you haven't seen it on the Meet Up our next meeting is going to feature Larry Yule, of A.G. Yule & Son (  You probably remember Larry as he's the one who did the great demo on making the torsion boxes.  For those of you who have questions on how to build your basic boxes for cabinets this will be the demo for you! Larry builds his boxes in two different styles - either with a face frame, or in a (faceless) Euro-style. For this meeting, he'll focus on the Euro-style, and will demo the other in the future  His box building technique is sure to answer some of basic cabinetry questions.
     If you haven't paid your dues yet for this year please bring them in this week.  Meet Up costs and overhead  for the facilities come out of the minimal $20.00 yearly dues.  If you can, RSVP on the Meet Up site, if not, hope to see you there.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Splintered History of Wood

     Happy Fourth of July to all of the Sin City Woodworkers!

     Hope you've had your fill of hot dogs, apple pie, fireworks, and maybe a beer or two thrown in for good measure.  I don't know how many of you like to read but I read a review about a book titled "A Splintered History of Wood"  that is written by Spike Carlsen.  Being a thrifty Dutch guy the first thing I did was to check the county library website to see if they have it.  I didn't expect to find it since the date is 2008.  They had it and I requested the book. If any of you use the library website it's real easy to request a book but you'll have to wait to get this one!   I've only started reading it but thought I'd pass it along.  Looks as if I'm the first one to read it so it's like getting a new book for free.  For me, it's all about the wood and this book has 11 chapters full of interesting and crazy facts.  Chapter titles include Extraordinary Wood, the Wacky World of Woodworkers, Wood in Music -- Sports -- War, etc.  Very easy reading and quite interesting.  I tried to put an image of the book cover on this blog but was unable to so here is a link to it on Amazon:   click here  
     Check it out, according to the Amazon ratings it's a 4 1/2 star book out of 5 stars possible.  When I checked out there were about 30 reviews.

Friday, June 18, 2010

June 16th. Meeting: Finger Joints and More

       Before the meeting we needed to attend to some business, mainly collecting the dues of $20.00 for the year.  The dues are a way for Jamie to pay the MeetUp fees which are close to $150.00 for the year.  There haven't been too many takers but remember you can get those fees back if you want by doing a demonstration during a meeting.  I'm sure that many of you have a trick or two up your sleeve that we could all learn something from.  Just as an example, the router bit that Jamie showed to cut the slot in the drawer for the bottom was killer!  Matter of fact, I ordered one from Lee Valley this morning because the way I make me pistol cases that's a technique in their construction.  Here is the Lee Valley link so you can get your own.  Using the bit is much easier than running a blind dado and then chiseling out on the finger to allow the bottom to fit right in -- dynamite ; )
      Another item that came up was the Farmers Market (Fresh something or other) that will be in the Henderson area.  It would allow those of you who make items for sale a place to show and sell them.  Jamie mentioned that she believed that the Etsy Organization that she and others in our group belong to has something to do with this as well.  For those of you wanting to know more about them, here is a link to their website.  
      Okay, let's get on to the finger joints.  The advantage a finger joint has over just a simple nailed and glued butt joint is that you expose the long grain of the wood which gives the joint  strength.  Let me explain that concept for those of you new to this woodworking thing.  If you think of a piece of wood as a bunch of drinking straws laying side by side it'll help.  Imagine taking two bunches of those straws and putting the ends together with glue -- where would the glue go?  Yep, right down that hollow tube.  Now imagine putting the glue on the long sides (edges) of the straws and sticking it all together, they'll stick won't they?  Wood is essentially a bunch of microscopic tubes, the more edges of those tubes that you can use to join them, the stronger the joint will be.

The first step to the finger joint process is to cut a slot in the piece of wood you'll use for the jig.  In top  photo you see the dado head set slightly higher than the thickness of the wood being cut.  The blade is the two, outside cutters of a stacked dado head to obtain a 1/4" cut.  Jamie did a good job of explaining how the dado head works, it's a good investment to have.  On the left side there is a piece of wood next to the blade that is attached to the jig.  This is the exact width of the cut.  Basically here's the procedure:

  1. Cut a groove/slot in the piece you will use for the jig
  2. Move the jig over the exact width of the cut and screw it to the miter gauge.  The piece of wood that is the same width as the cut is then put into the slot you made in step #1 -- let's call that the guide pin
  3. You can see that Jamie then took her test board and held it upright against the guide pin to make a cut
  4. Each cut after that is made by placing the cut on top of the guide pin and working your way across the width of the board
  5. To cut the mating piece you put a spacer against the guide pin and align the mating piece with it.  This way you're cutting a notch out of the board -- after the first cut simply set the board over the guide pin and work your way across the board
    In the second photo, Jamie is doing a test fit.  Her secret weapon for adjusting the width of the cut was a hammer!  If the cut is too tight, gently tap the jig towards the right (looking at it from the operators position), too loose tap it towards the left.  Usually you'd make another test set of boards unless you lead a charmed and lucky life (like Jamie) and just go for it.

    In the third photo down, you can see that yes, the finger joints do indeed fit.  You'll notice too that they are quite proud of the surface but you can either plane or sand them flush.  When the drawer is finished this will leave a decorative element since the end grain will finish darker than the edge grain -- remember my straw example?

    Last but not least, the bottom photo shows how easily the slot cutting router bit I linked to earlier makes the dado for the bottom.  Like Jamie said, you can either radius the corner of the bottom piece or I would square off insides of the slot with a chisel.  I'd suggest cutting the bottom piece slightly undersize so that it will be able to float in the grooves.  Not too crucial if you're using a plywood, masonite, or MDF for the bottom but if you use solid material you need room for expansion and contraction of it.

    Hopefully we all learned something from the demonstration, I know that router bit was new to me and according to my shipping data I'll have one the middle of next week!  If you try this at home and have any questions you can contact me, I'll try to answer them.  I can't speak for Jamie but I'm guessing she'd help you out as well. 

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fantastic Carving

  During our recent visit to Seattle we stopped in to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM for short).  Lots of really interesting exhibits including one dedicated to Kurt Cobain for you Nirvani fans, but what really got my attention is this sculpture.  Would you believe that it's a solid piece of redwood?  I think the title was "The Shroud" and although it looks like it's sitting on a piece about 8" square, it's actually carved and then the bottom looks to be planed or chiseled to look like a post.  Really cool, looks like a challenge piece for Dennis!
Anyway, the artists name is Dan Webb and I looked up his website, click here to view his other work.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Kallenshaan Woods

What a great May meeting we had!

Ken and Colin Nelson, of Kallenshaan Woods, makers of laser cut pen body kits, brought a nice selection of their products and actually made a pen during the meeting. Here, Ken describes how to put the pen body kit together on a mandrel and load it onto the lathe.

He also brought a nice selection of finished pens.

The pen on the lower left has a hot air balloon design,
and although it's hard to see the actual detail, all of those pieces are individual pieces of wood, dyed and reassembled together, just like a puzzle would go together. As Ken explained the manufacturing process, it's clear that he's put a great deal of thought and expertise into these kits.

Ken began the demo by roughing out the body of the pen with a simple
skew cut. This father/son duo really complemented each other, each had their area of expertise.

Colin begins the finishing process, by applying a CA finish.

If you want more information about his technique, check out Colin's website.

He finishes up the process by wet sanding, using micro-mesh papers. The video below shows his quick and effective methods. Thanks to both Ken and Colin for not only a fantastic demo, but for all the goodies they shared with the group.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wednesday, May 19th. Reminder

       Just in case you haven't checked out the link for our demonstration this Wednesday you can click here  to see what is in store for us.  Ken Nelson is the creator of some outstanding kits for making wooden pens.  I'm sure you remember Jamie talking about them at the last meeting.  She mentioned one that was similar to a jig saw puzzle and I just couldn't picture that one in my head but looking at the website put it all together.  Why not check Ken's site before the meeting and maybe ask him about a design that intrigues you.  If you haven't done so already, go to the Meet Up page and RSVP for the meeting.  See you there......

Friday, May 7, 2010

How I Love Wood -- Gorgeous!!

Just wanted to share this image of the crib I've talked about making for my first grandson.  The cap is a piece of curly maple that also had birdseye in it.  I scraped it and then finished with many coats of platinum shellac followed by rubbing out with 4/0 steel wool and Liberon Black Bison wax.  Hope my grandson to be doesn't decide to use it for teething!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gilding Sin City

      During the opening remarks of our meeting Jamie mentioned a really good dust mask called "Dust Be Gone"  I have one of these myself and even though they are expensive compared to the paper ones available locally, these should last forever as they are washable.  As Jamie mentioned, not only do they filter out the dust, it seems as if they are so good, the smell of the wood is removed as well.  I don't know but I kind of like the smell of wood! They claim that your safety glasses don't get fogged up but mine do, ever so slightly but usually not a real problem unless it's humid and we talked about that when I did the gilding demo -- not too often.  In any case, click here for a link to Klingspor's catalog page for the mask.
      We also discussed the yearly dues of $20.00; these should be paid by July's meeting.  The dues are used primarily to pay for the Meet Up page and we're also considering buying the domain name of Sin City Woodworkers for the club.  In case you missed it at the meeting, don't use the name of Sin City Woodworkers at this time to get a discount at Peterman lumber.  Apparently there is a business somewhere out there that used it and they are delinquent on their bills -- you may end up paying more than you want to!!  Just a preview for those of you who were unable to attend last night, Jamie has a demo set up for the next meeting that will feature a pen turner who makes some very unique pen kits.  He will be bringing in a small lathe to show how it's done.  Click HERE to visit his site and see what to expect.
     The next part of this blog may be a little difficult to write because I'm blogging on my own demonstration.  I guess that's like writing your own performance report hoping for a raise!  I'll tell you what my goal was with the demonstration and if you feel like it you can let me know if you think I accomplished it or not.  A couple of months ago my wife and I went to the Scottsdale Artist School to take workshops.  A well known figurative artist (John Michael Carter) and his wife (Barbara) taught them. Diane, being the artist, took his and I took Barbara's to learn about the fine art of water gilding.  I wanted to share what I learned there with our group.
     I talked about the two main ways  to gild; oil and water, and for most of the work members in our group may do the oil gilding process is the easiest and probably sufficient.  We talked about the materials needed (which can be bought for less than $30.00) and applications we could use for our work such as  moldings on cabinets, decorative panels in boxes, carvings, deep grained woods, etc.  I had a prepared demonstration board and showed how to gild using the composition gold and also silver. Several members were really interested in the variegated composition leaf which is available at Dick Blick here in Las Vegas. Then we got to the fun stuff if you're process driven person like me!  I think it was agreed that this is not for the impatient.
      Water gilding is using genuine gold leaf, 22kt. in this case, and through many steps applying it to whatever it is you want to gild.  I discussed the materials and showed samples of them, the cost of the materials, and also the time and methods used to prepare your wood for the actual gilding.

The first step is to remove the leaf of gold from your book and place it on the gilders pad.  Everyone kindly held their breath so it wouldn't blow away and it stayed in place on the pad much to my relief and surprise.  This pad is basically a piece of deer skin attached to a board with a light layer of foam in between.  I think it provides some tooth for the leaf to stick to,

Once the leaf was cut with a gilders knife you use a gilders tip (usually made from squirrel hair) to place it on the board.  A very small amount of vaseline is applied to the tip to hold the leaf and also to counteract the lack of humidity.  That is our enemy!!  I've brushed on the gilders liquor which is a combination of denatured alcohol and distilled water.  This reactivates the gelatin glue that was in the clay.

After the sample board was gilded and the liquor had a chance to evaporate off, you use cotton balls to tamp the leaf into place.  You have to be sure keep the cotton dry because if it gets any moisture on it  you may pull off the gold as I inadvertently demonstrated.

     The last step is to use an agate or "hounds tooth"  to burnish the gold.  Luckily the lack of humidity allowed me to demonstrate that before the meeting ended.  Contrary to what most folks think, you're not polishing the gold at this point, instead you are pressing it into the clay which is what makes it shine like only genuine gold can.  

     All in all, I think the demonstration and discussion went well and I hope I gave you something to think about adding to your work.  If you added some gilded details to your moldings or carvings it would set your work apart from others.  I mentioned the compo material and some seemed interested in that as well.  That's an excellent way to add the look of carved details to your work without actually carving.  I have quite a bit of composition gold leaf and if any of you want more information or some hand's on experience with it let me know and we'll see if we can get together.  There were a lot of questions at the end and I answered them to the best of my knowledge but, like it says on those warning labels:

                                                       "Try first in an Inconspicuous Spot".