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

Monday, October 10, 2016

Choosing a foot pedal

I had never used a foot pedal until I got my Hegner scroll saw, which came with one.  The pedal was small and thin, and very easy to use.  The only drawback was remembering to push it under the saw so that I didn't step on it unintentionally.

When I tried using the pedal that came with the Jet scroll saw, it felt like my foot was suspended in mid-air.  I know that this is a standard design, but for my size 7 foot, it was just too large and high.  It was easy enough to replace with the smaller one, since both types have provision for connecting a tool to the pedal.

Here's a picture that shows the size comparison for the two different types.  If you're in the market for a foot pedal, it would be a good idea to try out both types to see which is most comfortable for you to use.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

.15mm makes a difference

Maybe it's just my drill bits, but when I drill a 1/4" hole for a 1/4" dowel, it never fits!  I end up sanding the dowel until I can slide it in, and it is a big time-waster.

Recently, we used 8mm barrel hinges for a box, and found out that a 8.2mm drill bit was recommended by the manufacturer.  I decided to apply the same principle to my dowel dilemma, using one of the metric drill bits that was part of an inexpensive set I bought on eBay.

I looked at my conversion table, and found that 1/4" is 6.35mm, so I drilled a test hole with a 6.5mm bit.  As I had hoped, the dowel slid in snugly, but easily.

Metric bits can be hard to come by, but those cheap sets from China are perfectly adequate for occasional tasks, and nice to have on hand.  They certainly make what should be a simple task exactly that!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Safety glasses

Shop safety is an ongoing issue, even with relatively safe tools like the scroll saw.  While I'm vigilant about wearing a dust mask and hearing protection, I must admit that I've been careless at times with eye protection, especially when the risk seemed minimal.

Recently, I've had some eye surgery, which upped the ante a bit, and made me realize that you never know when an accident might happen, and that I'd better clean up my act before getting into trouble.

I knew that reading glasses didn't offer sufficient protection, but I wasn't sure what options were available, especially those that wouldn't break the bank.  I asked around to find out what other people use, and learned that DeWalt, as well as some other companies, make bifocal safety glasses in different strengths, at minimal cost.

I ordered a pair of DeWalts, since I've used their regular safety glasses successfully.  I'm new to bifocals, but the adjustment period was pretty quick, and I thought it couldn't hurt to get the word out.

Seeing, breathing, and hearing are pretty important, and worth protecting, even if it's a nuisance at times!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Unexpected solution to a problem

I've been struggling for the longest time to find a way to draw a thin line on dark wood, like walnut or sapele.  I have a white pencil, but the lead is thick and waxy, the pointed tip breaks off immediately, and the line it makes is too wide for accurate cutting.

I mentioned this dilemma while teaching a class at this year's Fox Chapel Open House.  One of the participants mentioned that his wife uses something called a quilting pencil to make marks on dark fabric.

I went to a local shop that teaches quilting and sells supplies, and sure enough they had one.  It wasn't inexpensive, but came with extra pieces of lead, so I decided to give it a try.  The lead is still quite fragile, and I broke a few tips until I figured out how much to let out, but it does give a line that is thin enough to use as a cut line, and shows up nicely against the dark wood.

So, if you've faced a similar problem, here's one solution.  If anyone has others, please let me know and I'll get the word out.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

When clamping's not an option--the video

Many of my projects cannot be glued using standard clamps.  Instead, I use hand pressure and the right adhesive.  Here's a video of my tests, to supplement my previous post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When clamping is not an option

I often find myself in situations where I need a strong glue joint but clamping is out of the question.  It might involve attaching a bow loop to a box lid, gluing a strip on the diagonal, or joining two pieces of thin wood.

My solution has been to use my hands to apply clamping pressure, along with an adhesive with a quick grab and relatively fast set-up time. As my projects increased in complexity, I found that Weldbond, my go-to PVA glue, was too slow-setting to be practical for my new needs. I was reluctant to use a CA glue, since they are vulnerable to shear, and no one wants to see decorations snap off with normal handling.

When a new product, Nexabond, came on the market, it was touted as a CA glue formulated for use with wood. I gave it a try, and it performed as well as Weldbond, but with a much faster set-up time. It soon became my adhesive of choice for these special gluing situations.

However, when it became unavailable, I needed to find a suitable replacement.  I located several contenders and set up a test to see how they stacked up against each other, and against Weldbond.  The three on the left are CA adhesives, and the two on the right are PVA glues.

I tested them for ease of application, for how long it took for a piece to hold its position when pressure was released, and for resistance to shear.  The results were quite encouraging.  All adhesives performed well when subjected to "normal" rough handling, such as picking up a lid by the center loop or tail.  When I tried to separate the pieces from the wood, to see if they would shear at the glue line, there was some variation.

The best CA performers overall were Titebond Thick and DAP RapidFuse.  (RapidFuse is actually Nexabond Medium, renamed, and now manufactured by DAP.)  The Titebond Gel formula was too thick to spread easily, but performed best for tests were it could be "blobbed" on.

The two PVA glues performed well as far as ease of application and resistance to shear.  Titebond Quick&Thick had slight edge in resistance to shear, but is less versatile than Weldbond as a general adhesive, making it more of a specialty product.

On a test that involved the insertion of multiple pieces of veneer between two pieces of wood, neither PVA glue produced satisfactory results.  Tasks like this need the faster set-up time of the CA adhesives, and the thick and medium formulations were easier to spread than the gel.

Your choice depends, of course, on your specific needs, but you can be confident that these are all quality products that deliver what they promise.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Preparing for Fox Chapel's Open House next week

Made a new project, a larger version of one I'd tried, especially for my advanced bowl class, and have also made a totally unglued version of it to show how to handle multi-blank bowls.

The larger version was made the same way as the smaller one, but with slightly thinner wood, and one extra ring for the lower section to give it better proportions.

Not too difficult, and a really fun project!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Finished table project

If you check down a few posts, you'll see the sanding set-up that I used to true the corners of a piece of wood to be used for the top of a small table.

We finally finished the table, and I'm pleased to say the the edges required only a little touch-up to prepare it for bearing-guided routing.

And here's a photo of the tray that inspired the project!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Error alert for basket project in Issue 63 of SSW

It was just brought to my attention that the dimensions for the base piece of the basket are incorrect.  They should be 5-1/2" x 5-1/2", not 4" x 4".

If you have already cut the rings, you can use the remainder of the base from the original blank by sanding off the wedges from the underside. It should match the bottom ring perfectly.  If you drilled a small hole in the center for pattern placement, you can fill it with a mixture of glue and sawdust and it will pretty well disappear.

Sorry for the error, but sometimes they slip through despite many layers of proofreading.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Making the most of your belt sander

My belt-disc sander combo is one of the workhorses of my shop. Usually my workpieces are small and easily fit on the tables. This time, however, I needed to smooth out the curves for the top of a small table that we're making to fit a lovely brass tray that we picked up from a "free" pile outside someone's home.

The heavy duty stock support is usually used with the table saw or band saw.  However, this time it showed its versatility as it allowed me to rotate the wood easily as I smoothed out the curves in preparation for routing.

A little cumbersome, but really did the job!