Welcome to my blog. Let what you see stimulate your imagination and inspire your own creations.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Some Christmas cheer

While holiday ornaments are not my usual type of project, I fell into these quite by accident, and am delighted with the results. All are made from rings or discs cut at an angle, then glued and sanded as though they were bowls.

Some of the orbs contain a large jingle bell, others are just decorative. The insides of the orbs can be made into shaped ornaments, or the shaped ornaments can be made as a separate project.

Instructions for the orbs, with and without bells, are available in the November/December 2018 issue of Woodworker's Journal, and instructions for the shaped ornaments are in the Holiday 2018 issue of Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts.  They are both great ways to make maximum use of colorful scraps of hardwood and veneer.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

SuperMax maintenance completed

Well, it turned out that I needed a new conveyor belt after all!  The old one was stretched too unevenly to track properly without over-tightening.

I replaced it with the same type that came with the machine. Although it was a little more expensive than aftermarket ones, it had given me six years of good service, and you can't really complain about that.  The benefit of my attempts to rescue the old one was that the replacement and adjustment procedures were now familiar, and I had the new one up and running in no time.

Happy ending, and the pleasure of experiencing really top-notch tech support!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

SuperMax sander maintenance

Although I'm pretty careful with my tools, it's hard to do what you don't know needs to be done!

I had noticed a slight rhythmic rattling noise when I used my SuperMax 19-38, and was concerned that it might indicate a part wearing out, or other serious problem.  My conveyor belt appeared to have stretched over the past five years, and I wondered if it needed replacing.  The noise disappeared if I loosened the belt tension, but that resulted in the belt slipping, leaving ridges in the wood.

The source of the noise appears to have been dirt--black, slightly sticky residue that coated the rollers and inside of the conveyor belt. At the advice of a tech support person at Laguna (where SuperMax now resides), I removed the conveyor assembly and belt, and cleaned them as best I could.  Once reassembled and tensioned, everything seems to be working properly.

Since I'm always wearing my hearing protection whenever I turn on the dust collector and sander, I have no idea how long ago the noise started.  I don't even recall how I happened to be operating the conveyor by itself, but I'm very glad that I did!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Service Temperature Range of glue

As I watched the flame flicker on a new project I was testing, I began to wonder whether the slight warming of the wood adjacent to the candle would cause the adhesive to soften and the petals to fall off.

I had a spec sheet for the adhesive that I used, Titebond Instant Bond, that gave the service range for the glue, which is the temperature range it will hold without weakening.  For the Titebond, it was up to 100˚C (212˚F), which was far greater than I needed. The wax used for most tea lights melts at 140˚F, and the candle is surrounded by a metal or plastic cup.

I've seldom need to look at spec sheets, but it never hurts to know as much as you can about the products you use.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

Revised and expanded bowl book in the works

One of the reasons I've not been posting lately is that I've been busy working on a new, revised edition of the bowl book.  It's scheduled to come out this spring.

I've reworked the first chapter to incorporate updates on tools, blades and techniques, and there will be additional projects added.  Details are not set yet, but I'm quite excited about the opportunity to get my newer ideas together in one place.  You do learn a lot in ten years!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Using a drill press with a wire size drill bit

Not all drill presses can accommodate really tiny bits, like this wire size #62.  When I was looking for one several years ago, I was considering a relatively inexpensive Delta, and had to call the manufacturer to find out the size of the smallest bit the standard chuck could accommodate. I don't remember the specifics, but it was more than adequate for my needs.

I've been quite successful using these little bits, even though their short length doesn't leave much to insert into the chuck.  I start by closing the chuck completely, then opening it just until I can slide the bit in. That assures the bit will be centered.  Then I carefully tighten each hole of the chuck, working around the chuck until everything is tight. Once that's done, I adjust the throw so the bit will drill only as deep as needed.  I try to keep as little of the bit extending from the chuck as possible, to increase stability and accuracy and reduce the chance of breakage.

Next, I make an awl mark to guide the bit in, and position the bit carefully so it enters that opening without any deflection.  I also drill the hole in stages to reduce stress on the bit.

Although a hand-held drill like a Dremel might be easier to use, I prefer the precision of a drill press when the hole needs to be dead-on vertical.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The versatile sanding mop

I've long used sanding mops to soften edges, as seen in the photo below, or smooth curved surfaces.  Recently, I've expanded their use to dramatically expedite the finishing process of bowls with curved sides.

I start with a sealer coat of thinned shellac, brushed carefully on all surfaces.  When dry, I sand the bowl with a foam-backed 320 grit pad, then buff vigorously with a well-worn, small 320 grit sanding mop.  I reapply the shellac, and buff again until the bowl feels silky and has a soft sheen.  For a more formal look, I spray on a coat of gloss lacquer.  Depending on the type of wood, that may be all that's needed, or a second coat of lacquer may be desired.

Quick, easy, and very effective!

Friday, March 2, 2018

A new blade clamp in town

Pegas has recently come out with set of blade clamps that fit the Excalibur (and clones), and also can be used with the Jet.

This means that Jet owners who are not happy with the all-in-one upper cam clamp can use a more conventional system.  It also means that you can now top-feed with the Jet.

Installation is fairly simple, provided your setscrews and bushings are not loaded with gunk, and the clamps appear to work as promised. Only time will tell how sturdy they are, and at about $90 they're not cheap, but they certainly open up possibilities for those attracted to this type of saw.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Checking for spaces

Anyone who makes scrolled bowls knows that rings that don't lie flat create unattractive lines when glued up.  I usually include a caution in any of my bowl projects to check for and correct any spaces, since omission of this step can lead to disappointing results.

There are two ways to check for spaces.  The one that's usually sufficient is to stack the rings, hold them up to eye level, and look for any light coming through.  Occasionally a bulb or flashlight is needed, but that's no big deal.

The second method, which is easier and may actually be more reliable, is to see if a sheet of paper can be pushed through the rings at any point.  The rings in the photo passed the light test, and it was only a matter of luck that I decided to use the paper, as well.  What a surprise!  It was actually a quick fix using the old reliable sanding tile, and will result in a much more uniform effect once the interior is sanded.

When you've already put a lot of effort into a bowl, don't cut corners just as the end is in sight!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Clamping at the drill press

I used to be haphazard about clamping material to be drilled, not realizing how much torque is generated, even by fairly small drill bits.

When using a large bit, like this 2" Forstner, clamping is absolutely essential.  A shop-made fence makes it easier to clamp at the rear, and small spring clamps are ideal for this purpose.  To clamp at the front, or for drilling small pieces, I use a Kreg clamp that attaches through one of the slots in the table.  For larger pieces, I use conventional clamps and supporting boards, if needed.  For the project shown, my clamps were just deep enough to reach the workpiece.

With secure clamping, plus a backer board, you'll minimize or eliminate tearout, providing that your bit is sharp, of course!