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!