Sunday, December 21, 2014

End of the Year Party and Chopped Challenge Results

On one of the coldest evenings of this winter, we had our end of the year party and the Chopped Challenge contest.  There were close to 40 members and their guests and even though it was chilly outside, between the heater and the warm atmosphere in the room we had a wonderful time as you can see everyone just milling about the room, checking out the projects, enjoying food, drink, and conversation!

We did have a short business meeting and everyone paid attention as Jamie gave a re-cap of some of the years highlights and explained that this years prizes would be cold, hard cash rather than the traditional Lee Valley gift certificates.  We'd be interested to hear opinions on that move, cash is good anywhere and for any purpose whereas the gift certificates can only be used at Lee Valley.
One of the evenings highlights is the random drawing for donated prizes and CA$H!  The cash is the proceeds from our dues and raffles and to be eligible you simply had to pay the voluntary dues for the year.  In addition, if you did a featured presentation you had another chance to win for this drawing.  Speaking of that, Ted talked about the need for featured speakers for the following year and lined up several but ….. there's room for more on the schedule.  Please consider sharing what you know and do with the rest of the group and contact him.

Here are the evenings' winners:
  • Grand Prize of $100.00 went to Paul Yamada
  • Jimmy Clews -- $50.00
  • Doug O'Hair -- $50.00
  • Mel Hitzhusen -- $50.00
  • Pete Hauser -- $50.00
  • Bill Patten -- $50.00
  • John Eugster -- $50.00
  • Eric Felder -- $50.00
  • Richard Daugherty -- wheel marking gauge
  • Joe Hessling -- tool roll
  • Kate Pulling -- By Hand & Eye Book
When we arrived at the shop, all of the entries were laid out on the tables with the entry form and number for voting.  Once everyone had marked their ballot and placed it into the ballot box it was time for us to talk about the project made and how the Chopped Challenge ingredients were incorporated into it.  While the projects were being talked about the ballots were counted and the winners announced and here they are:
Chopped Challenge Winners

Lupe's  Chess Set First Place
John's  Pizza Peel Guitar Second Place
Jerald's Music Box Third Place Tie

John's Carved Shorts Third Place Tie

Lupe took the first place, People's Choice award with her beautifully crafted Chess Set.  Unfortunately, since she is the photographer we don't have a picture of her with the project but here she is, test relaxing in Beth's chair.  Lupe did a great write up on Facebook about her chess set, here's a  LINK to that.  For the "other material requirement" she found a marble chess board on Ebay that met the sizes for the box.  The box is made from Walnut with Maple accents.  She used brass hardware and turned the chess pieces on her lathe.  She took care to have the grain pattern follow around the corners of the box, excellent technique and as the peoples vote showed it is an award winning project!

John's guitar shaped pizza peel took second place.  It's really unique and began life as a commission for a pizza loving, guitar playing friend of his.  After completing that one he went ahead and created this one for the contest.  To satisfy the "other material requirement", John used a technique he learned from the Jimmy Clewes demonstration of making the inlay by the "sound hole" from powdered brass and turquoise and super glue.  The inlaid frets are spaced the same as a Les Paul guitar.  I wonder if this peel will ever see the inside of an oven?
  Jerald's project was this cabinet which houses two separate music box mechanisms which came from Switzerland.  He and I tied for third place.  The music boxes satisfied the "other material requirement" while the remainder of the box is constructed of walnut and Walnut Burl veneer with Maple banding.  Brass hinges and hardware, combined with the dowels used for the feet satisfied the rest of the ingredients for the challenge.  Jerald gave us a little history about the origin of the music boxes and wound them up so we could hear them play.

My entry are these sculptured shorts that are carved out of Basswood.  The metal hanger is attached to the shorts to  satisfy the "other material requirement".  The base is a piece of Poplar and is mounted on a lazy susan bearing so they can be rotated 360 degrees to see that they are a 3-D carve.  The dowel requirement is met with acrylic rods that support them on the stand almost invisibly.  As is my habit, these shorts were blogged about, now that the contest is over that blog was published and if you're interested here is a LINK to it.

Beth's creation was this chair which got a thumbs up from many who "test sat" in it!  She found the plans from an issue of Fine Woodworking (1987) and needed to scale it down to the amount of wood allowed for the challenge.  It consists of mainly 1" x 1" pieces held together with dowels and has many brass accents.  To satisfy the "other material requirement" upholstery materials were used as you can see.

Randy's entry  was this sculpted shirt combination Men's Valet box.  It was carved out of Basswood and the bottom section has been hollowed out so it can be used as a valet box.  Dowels are used to connect the top and bottom together while brass rivets are the fasteners.  The "other material requirement" is an IZOD label located in the neck just like it's supposed to.  Hope they don't go after him with an infringement letter from their lawyers like Woodcraft did to me!

Jim's entry is this beautifully crafted, Oak necklace cabinet.  It features dovetailed joinery with brass hardware.  The bottom is doweled to the case and glass satisfies the "other material requirement".  There was a story about the origin of the Shaker pegs but coming from a previous employer but since I don't want to get him in trouble I won't put that in print.

Pete's entry was this Cherry and Curly Cherry magazine table.  The legs are turned pine dowels which were painted black.  The leather magazine holder is suspended from the apron with brass rods while the leather satisfies the "other material requirement".  That piece of leather was found at Tandy along with someone ability to sew it for Pete's project.

Jamie showed off her "Stash Lamp", a rather ingenious design that allows you to hide your pistol right next to your bed!  One of her law enforcement students mentioned that in almost every burglary the main items taken are guns and computers.  The base of the lamp is hollow and can be lifted off to get access to the contents stored inside.  After finding that every lampshade available locally was a hideous affair, she fashioned her own of wood (what else) and copper wire -- those parts satisfy the "other material requirement".

Braxton  took a different approach to the Chopped Challenge.  Rather than making one item his goal was to see how many items he could create from the basket ingredients.  To satisfy the "other material requirement" he utilized brass, spade bits, and magnets.  He's holding an amplifier that you can place your smart phone in and as he demonstrated; it gives a much richer tone to you iTunes.

Other items he created were the marking knives at the lower left of the picture.  They are turned wood (Oak & Rosewood) with a sharpened, 1/2" spade bit.  Using a brass lamp coupling piece as a ferrule holds it all together.

The stands are for your iPad and have two angled notches in them so you can place the iPad at an angle making it easier to view.

The items at the upper left are a way to keep from losing your keys!  Instead of a traditional cup hook that you hang your key ring on, these have a rare earth magnet embedded in the bottom of the shelf that holds them in an updated way!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I can't put it any better than Jamie did on our MeetUp announcement so took the easy way out and copied her work!  Our Christmas party is tomorrow evening and it should be another great one.  I mean, how can you go wrong with food, contests, drawings, and the company of other woodworkers?  If you're not on the MeetUp list and want to you can follow this LINK to get there.  There should be a "Join Us" button that will allow you to join.  

See you tomorrow -- John

  • Reserve next Wednesday for our annual Sin City Woodworkers Holiday Get-Together, where we’ll celebrate a productive year and toast the coming New Year. 
    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, December 17, at 7:00. We’ll be providing some munchies and libations, and - as usual - feel free to bring a guest!  And if you so desire -  bring a dish to share! (No sawdust cookies, though!)
    They say that Las Vegas is a tough city to make friends in - but anyone who attends one of our monthly meetings knows that we’ve formed some great connections within our group. We’re heading into our sixth year of sharing tips and techniques, failures and successes, and best of all - new friendships.
    This year’s celebration features our Chopped challenge - a woodworking contest where each entry has to include four basic items -  four board feet  of wood, a dowel, some inclusion of brass (be it hardware, fasteners or whatever!) and a miscellaneous material of the builder’s choice. We’re giving out cash prizes this year - and as a teaser….  I can assure you there are some excellent entries in this year’s contest. First prize is $100 - you can't beat that with a stick! (Or a board!)
    If you’re a dues paying member, or if you’ve given the main presentation at one of our meetings during the year, your name in is the drawing to win cash prizes this year. Hey - it’s Vegas - CASH IS KING! In the past, we’ve given out Lee Valley gift certificates in our membership drawng, but this year, we’re going GREEN. As in - Benjamins and Grants!
    By the way - if you have something to donate to the drawing,  please bring it with you to our party.  Maybe someone gave you a woodworking book that you already own, or have some duplicate items sitting around your shop - we will add  your donations to our giveaway table. 
    We hope you can make it! As always, 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, but remember -  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.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Alright all of you that are ready with your

                            Challenge !!

It is time to bring them on in:

Jamie has open shop this Saturday morning which would be a good time.     Another good opportunity will be Monday evening when she has a class going on. 

Just to be on the safe side you may want to call her first @ 702-631-1870  Looking forward to seeing what everyone came up with this year!  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

One Week to Go !!

That's the number of days until:

You're seeing that right, our end of the year Christmas party and Chopped Challenge project deadline is next Wednesday, December 17th.

I'll be sending out information on times that you can bring your project to WooditIs along with the entry form.  Remember, this is anonymous so don't put your name anywhere on your work.  Jamie will assign a number to it and your project and the form will be displayed for all to see and vote on.

If you need another entry form, just send me an email:

(Please put "Chopped Entry" in the subject line)

It will be easier for Jamie and her elves to set up the show if you can bring your projects in a head of time.  You can bring them in the day of the show if that's not possible with your schedule.  See you then -- John

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Yet Another Reminder!

Yes, I'm talking to you --- can you hear me now?

We are now down to 17 days until the end of the year Christmas Party and the first ever Chopped Challenge with the mystery ingredients for us to make some sort of project from.  Just one final reminder as to the ingredients in our basket, here's a list of them.        

 Chopped Challenge Creation    

Your work needs to prominently incorporate the following:
  • Lumber limited to the equivalent of 1" x 6" x 8'  and you're allowed to use more than one species
  • Something of brass (fasteners, plates, etc.)
  • Some type of rod or dowel material
  • Something other than wood
If you need another entry form email me at

      A few days prior to the meeting (Wednesday, December the 17th.) I will send out a blog to let you know when you can bring your project in to Jamie at Wooditis.  You can bring it in the night of the party but if at all possible bringing them in before will give Jamie and her helpers time to set things up prior to the meeting/party.  Do not put your name on the project, the only thing that should be with it is the entry form listing the ingredients that you used and maybe a short explanation of where they are if it isn't obvious.  Jamie will put a number on your entry form and then they will be judged anonymously by everyone in attendance.

Looking forward to seeing everyone there, last year saw a lot of creativity in the projects so I'm betting we'll have a repeat of that this year.  

The countdown continues …………….

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November Meeting 2014

Well, as you can see from these pictures, we had a decent turn-out at our November meeting last Wednesday night.  Some of you try to move around so I count you more than once but at my last tally there were about 30 in attendance.  As Jamie pointed out during our traditional, round robin introductions we are having more women attend the monthly meetings and I'd attribute that directly to Jamie's influence and teaching.  She creates a welcome atmosphere which encourages both men and women to stick around and learn what they can about this craft of woodworking we all enjoy.

     Following the introductions we had the business portion of the meeting.  This is the final meeting where we can remind you about the Chopped Challenge which will culminate with an anonymous judging at the end of the year Christmas party.  If need an entry for this send me an email using this LINK and put Chopped Entry in the subject line so I know it isn't a spam -- Thanks.

     I'm sure many of you attended the Lie-Nielsen tool event and according to Jamie, it was a huge success thanks in part to many of you that volunteered to help with shop clean up and organization.  Lie-Neilsen has expressed an interest in holding the event again next year and were pleasantly surprised the the turnout from Las Vegas woodworkers exceeded their expectation.  

     One last bit of business that many of us weren't aware of is that there are used tools available for sale from members.  Jamie has set aside some space to place them and it's a free service she's offering us.  I saw a lathe and bench top mortiser but know there's more!  Give her a call or if you're in the area perhaps you can drop in to see what tools are available or maybe you have something you don't need anymore and want to sell.  

Show & Tell

There were a couple of show and tells at this meeting starting with our photographer/videographer Lupe herself.  Oddly enough there was only one picture of her project.  This doesn't begin to do it justice.  This is a stool designed by Tage Frid; one of the woodworkers who were instrumental in the 60's and 70's that brought furniture and woodwork to a new level.  Those of you that are of the younger generation may not be aware of some of these folks but if you do a google search for him, Sam Maloof, James Krenov, Art Carpenter and a few others whose names escape me now and you'll uncover some fascinating, old school, woodworking history.  This stool Lupe made is simple looking but very complex with it's angled joinery, not only in the legs but also the way the seat and back rest are dovetailed together.  Not only did she challenge herself with the construction and joinery, she also used different finishing techniques with aniline dyes, shellac, and lacquer.  Here is a picture of the stool from Tage Frid, it's featured in one of the three classic books he authored about woodworking.

     If you attended last months meeting will recall how Zac showed us how to cast resins and use them for creating blanks for turned pens.  Angela took what he showed us and turned these two pens which have genuine, Nevada Sagebrush cast into their bodies -- very nice work.

     I brought in one of a series of boxes recently made that I call "Tails around the Corner".  I'd always been curious to see what would happen if you broke tradition and put a tail on one end of the board and a pin on the other.  It created kind of a puzzle especially when it came to assembly! The tails also have a peg of contrasting wood to add to the design.  The woods are Black Limba and Maple and the joints are hand cut.

     Ed brought in a collection of Stanley planes that he's been amassing for quite some time now.  As I recall it all started with his son in one of the Carolina's sending him a beat up one that he brought back to life! I think the "old tool bug" has bitten him.

A newcomer showed up with a few items he's been making, one of them being this wooden tie.  His name is Billy and he also makes some pretty intricate puzzles as this parrot on a perch shows.  Glad no one dropped it as there are many, many parts!

Feature Presentation: Nelson E. Cassinger

Nelson is a woodturning artist who currently lives in the Las Vegas area.  He's been turning wood for over 18 years and has been a presenter at the annual Utah Woodturning Symposium on numerous occasions.  His work is known the world over.  He mentioned that a Las Vegas client of his presented the Queen of Nepal with one of his bangles!  He specializes in segmented turnings which, as you might imagine; take an awful lot of prep work to not only cut all of the small pieces to the required size and shape and then glue them together.  Designing them requires a lot of paper, pencil, and compass work.  He uses Bordens ProBond glue to assemble his creations and, surprisingly; although many pieces are glued up no clamp is required since they tend to lock together due to the angles.  He mentioned how his eyesight is failing which has curtailed his ability to create the turned vessels he brought to show.  He now concentrates strictly on creating these marvelous bangles. 


The primary focus of his demonstration was how to go about making the jigs required to turn the bangles.  This begins by turning a disk the required size for the inside diameter of the bangle, he has three basic sizes but recently had to go for an extra large to accommodate his clientele.  In the photo on the right you can see the line drawn in to get him to rough diameter.  He then uses gauges to turn them to the diameter needed.  Nelson really likes a wood turning tool made by EasyWood which are carbide.  Many of the turners in our group seemed to nod their approval of them when they were mentioned.  I hope I wasn't the only one slightly confused as he was turning his mandrel/jig but it became clear as he actually finished a previously started bangle.  Creating a turned, segmented bangle begins with first making the mandrel to hold it safely on your lathe.

After turning to the required diameter he drilled a 1/4" hole for a T-nut.  The larger part of this T-nut requires a countersunk hole put in with a forstner bit.  This is used to attach the other part of the jig which holds the bangle on the lathe so that the inside can be sanded and finished.  What you end up with is a section of the jig that is equal to the inside diameter of the bangle but less than half of its width, this way half of the inside can be held securely while the other half is being sanded and finished. For his example he used a friction polish to finish this bangle.  He also uses lacquer which requires a spray set up not available for his demonstration.

After making the jig Nelson took this previously glued up blank:

and turned and finished it with the friction polish to end up with this!

If your vantage point during the demonstration wasn't the best and you had some  difficulty seeing and hearing what Nelson was demonstrating,  here's a link to a great video that Lupe made of it:

While you're on that YouTube Channel, check out some of the others too.

Last of all, here are some pictures of his previous work.

Monday, November 17, 2014

November Meeting this Wednesday

Now, this is what you call a Segmented, Turned Bowl


I was curious since I'm primarily what I think is referred to as a "flat woodworker" so found a website from our featured presenter this month to see what segmented turning is all about.  His name is Nelson Cassinger and he is an expert woodturner that has specialized in segmented turnings such as the bowl pictured above.  He is also well known for making beautiful, segmented bangles.

Nelson is a renowned wood turner and has presented his work at the Utah Turners Symposium  as well as sharing his skills at Craft Supply; a well known woodturners supply store in Utah.  He will explain his segmented technique to us as well as give a demonstration to show how to go about making a segmented turning.  Whether you're a turner or not, this promises to be a very interesting meeting.

As usual, we'll begin at 7:00 pm at WooditIs Studio located at 2267 West Gowan, Unit 106, North Las Vegas.  In addition to the presentation by Nelson we will have our customary meeting with business, reminders about the upcoming Chopped Challenge, and a show and tell of your latest work or woodworking adventure.  Just a reminder to limit the show and tell to around 5 minutes or less so we can have ample time for our featured presentation.

The public is invited, bring something to sit on as you know seating can be limited.  Any questions you can call Jamie at 702-631-1870.

See you there -- John

Monday, November 10, 2014

Hello Wood Guys and Gals,  I'm here to remind you about the challenge, every year people put off their Christmas shopping and duties and next thing you know it's:


I'm sorry to remind you but --- if you've been in any of the stores lately you know that Christmas is coming!! 

Although I personally hate how the $eason$ are being rushed to boost the merchant$ bottom line it's my duty to remind you of this:

27 Days to Go

At our Christmas meeting / years end extravaganza we will be judging your creations anonymously to see whose project will be rewarded with gift certificates from Lee Valley for their:

 Chopped Challenge Creation

Just to remind you of the requirements, your work needs to prominently incorporate the following:
  • Lumber limited to the equivalent of 1" x 6" x 8'  and you're allowed to use more than one species
  • Something of brass (fasteners, plates, etc.)
  • Some type of rod or dowel material
  • Something other than wood
If you need another entry form email me at

Monday, October 20, 2014

October Meeting Update: Ah Yes --- Those Senior Moments !!

I left out one of the most important features of last Wednesday nights meeting, the video that Lupe took while Zac was going through his demonstration!  As I was writing it I struggled to put everything he taught us into words and completely forgot to add the link Lupe sent for the video.  CRS is a wonderful excuse, Lupe sent the link on Friday and I wrote the blog on Sunday so that's ample time to lose it in my brain.

My apologies, here is the link to her video:

If you're a subscriber to YouTube you can put Sin City Woodworkers into the search box and have access to all of the video's that she has made during our meetings.  For those of us with CRS it's an excellent way to refresh our memories as to what went on at the meetings!