Saturday, September 20, 2014

September Meeting Write Up

     Our September meeting was well attended with roughly 33 woodworkers in the house!  I added 4 new comers to this mailing list and want to welcome you all to the group.  We've been around for quite a while now and under Jamie's supervision plus the help of volunteers are continuing to grow and foster a woodworking community here in Las Vegas.  Huge news is that this coming October 17 and 18 Jamie will be hosting a Lie-Nielsen Tool Event.  If you're a hand tool woodworker you're sure to know that name and his reputation.  Here is a LINK to their official write up for this exciting event.  Besides Lie-Nielsen there will be a number of small, independent tool makers showing and selling their specialty tools.  Might be a good time to ask your family for an advance on any Christmas money they have reserved for you!

Jamie following the Rules of Order and Opening our Meeting

As far as other business went, the Christmas party woodworking challenge was discussed and explained.  It will be based on the popular cooking show; Chopped.  By now you should have all received your entry form as a PDF since I sent it out Thursday afternoon.  Gift certificates to Lee Valley tools will be awarded to the top vote getters in the anonymous judging done by all of the members.  If you feel confident, here's a LINK to Lee Valley so you can work on your wish list.  Have fun with this challenge, I think you'll agree that last years 2x4x8 challenge was a huge success -- amazing the different things people came up with!

Show & Tell

Our show and tell time is always a great way to learn about new techniques and see the work members are doing.  It's an opportunity for us to be exposed to things we've never seen or attempted to do before and inspiration to try new techniques in our own work.  Beth has really plunged head first into the waters of woodworking after taking several of Jamie's classes.  This picture of the table she designed is proof of that!  She had a goal of putting it all together without the use of any metal fasteners plus she wanted to have the top go through the legs.  The legs are tapered in several directions, work that was begun with a bandsaw and finalized by hand planing.
As with many designs, the striking banding on the outer edges was added primarily to hide and reinforce glue joints at the top.  With all of the angles and pieces that needed to be assembled at one time, glue up and clamping was quite the challenge!  She used an adhesive from Rockler called Nexabond.  It's one that many of us (including me) had never heard of before so here's a LINK so you can check it out for yourself.  According to Beth, putting this project together without it would have been a complete nightmare!

Our resident ultra cutting board maker, Pete; showed two of his recent creations.  The piano keyboard theme is obvious and after a couple of boards he's figured out the proper sequence and sizes of the wood required.  It's made of Wenge, Wenge veneer, and Maple then finished with a product called Tried and True Linseed oil.  All of his work is top coated with beeswax and lemon oil.  

This other board is one that'll make you cross-eyed just looking at it so can you imagine trying to build it?  If I got the numbers correctly the pieces are cut at 60 degrees and each row consisted of 28 different pieces.  

Pete has found that for the precision required to make these beautiful cutting boards a ruler just isn't adequate.  He recommended using this electronic caliper, here's a LINK to it from Amazon, pretty sure it's the same one made by iGage.

Leo is one of our members who is really into the CNC end of woodworking and owns 3 of those machines.  He's been in the Christmas spirit as this project shows. Another thing he's been experimenting with is using epoxy inlays that are colored with powders of varying colors and materials.  The plant container he's holding actually looks more like a miniature barrel due to the way the inlays are wrapped around it to mimic metal bands.  

Another of our members, Randy; had his work written up in this magazine.  Here is a LINK to the contents of that edition, I was unable to find the write up on line. 
Randy is one of the founding members of the newly organized Las Vegas Woodcarving club.  He showed me the article and it is a really cool carving done on a Cyprus Knee.  You have to see it to believe it but it is Snow White and the seven dwarfs, each one of them carefully carved on a portion of the knee.  The carving club meets every fourth Saturday of the month at Woodworkers Emporium on Arville.  This month that falls on the 27th. and the time is 9:30 - 11:30.  Our featured presenter is part of that group so if you got the carving bug from his demonstration, come join us next Saturday.  Woodworkers Emporium's address is 5461 Arville, 89118.


Featured Presentation

Scott Bigler
Our featured speaker was Scott Bigler who is quite the accomplished caricuture carver.  His talk and presentation exposed a lot of us to an entirely different aspect of woodworking -- one that you can do almost anywhere with a minimum amount of tools and materials.  He has been working at this craft for a very long time and the quality of his work, the assortment of tools, and wealth of knowledge he has is ample proof of that.  He began his talk by telling us about a world class caricature carver, Andy Anderson; who inspired him.  There is a gallery dedicated to his work in Reno plus many links to the work this man accomplished.  Here is a LINK to that gallery.  If you check out that site and then compare it to the examples Scott brought in of his own work you can see the inspiration.

Some of Scotts' Work
Scott began his talk with mentioning safety.  Kind of interesting but during any gathering of woodcarvers they will have what's called the "Blood Bucket".  Anytime someone cuts themselves they have to throw a dollar into that bucket.  I imagine that money may go for libations after the meeting is over!  Carving and cutting yourself go together so many carvers use a special kevlar glove to protect themselves, LINK here for an example.  They will also wrap the thumb and pointer
finger with either surgical or masking tape.  

Woodcarving takes a minimum amount of wood for most projects.  The wood of choice is usually Basswood because of its even grain and ability to hold details well.  Basswood is also referred to as Limewood in England.  Other woods that can be used for caricatures would be Aspen, Butternut, Walnut, and Cherry.  Exotics are difficult to carve due their nature but I imagine if your tools are sharp and your patience is long any wood can be carved to some degree.

Scott mentioned that half of your time carving is going to be spent sharpening.  Just like the popular saying: "Ask 10 woodworkers the same question and you'll get 12 different answers", sharpening is an area where you'll get a variety of ways to go about it.  Methods include traditional oil stones, Japanese water stones, ceramic stones, diamond stones, one of the many styles of grinders, sandpaper, and whatever else you can come up with.  This really gets down to your personal preference and budget with the bottom line being that whatever works for you is what you should stick with.  One constant in the sharpening process though is to always hone your blades while working.  This can be accomplished with leather strops and compound, slips, or even compound on a piece of cardboard.  Sharp tools are safe tools because they will work effortlessly for you. The minute you have to work hard to make your cuts you open yourself to a slip, cut, and a dollar in the blood bucket!

A Few of Scott's Tools
Tools are the next main topic of discussion, through the years Scott has amassed a huge assortment of tools.  As with most things, there is no shortage of claims that such and such tool is the way to achieve the perfect cut and ….. no shortage of us that will open our wallets to buy it!  Again, it gets to be a matter of personal choice.  Quality tools are made in England and Switzerland and can be found in most online sites or catalogs.  Flexcut is a good, medium quality knife for that's widely available and also carried locally at Woodworkers Emporium.  At the other end of the spectrum there are custom knife makers as well.  One Scott mentioned that he's fond of is Mike Shipley who's knives are available from specially wood carving sites, here's a LINK to one of them.  
After all of that is said and done, Scott pulled out one of his most used knives which he made himself from a piece of Sawzall blade.  I have to admit that he showed these at one of the Woodcarving meetings (next is Sept. 27 @ Woodworkers Emporium) and I was inspired to make my own and you know what ---- they work!

Study Stick
The actual carving starts with a knowledge of basic anatomy.  Drawing skills are helpful but with today's technology it's fairly easy to copy an image, size it to fit your work, and start working on it.  Caricature carvers use what's referred to as Study Sticks where they practice making stop and corner cuts to create the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth of the character.  Of course, almost anything you can imagine can be carved from people to animals.  For larger work you may have to join pieces together.  Scott learned a lot of this craft from attending various workshops which you can find on the web or in magazines dedicated to wood carving.  Another way you can begin is by buying what's called a rough out.  Here is a LINK to a web source that claims to have more of them than anyone else!  There are many sources of these that you'll find if you do a web search.  I seem to recall seeing some that even included a knife so it was a complete set up.  

To sum it all up I thing that Scott opened a whole new world of wood working to us last Wednesday.  I'm pretty certain that many of us have thought about adding carving to our repertoire and maybe his talk is the inspiration we need.  Several people brought up how hot it's been in their non air conditioned shops, here's something you can probably get away with doing on the kitchen table!

That's the end of this blog, I've had some help from my cat Ali who is purring in my ear ---- I think she's saying it's time for a cat nap!   

        See you next month, John

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