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

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!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

New tricks with your drum sander

I've had success using these simple techniques to salvage wood that would otherwise probably be trashed. This is my third video about ways I use my SuperMax drum sander, and the more I use it, the more invaluable it becomes. Some tools are just that good!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When you need to go really basic

Sometimes simple is the best solution!  And Mikasa does make a really round salad plate!

Still trying to learn GIMP . . . . .


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Flattening cupped wood

It's always a pleasure to work with perfectly flat wood. However, sometimes the piece you want to use is cupped. Here are some suggestions you might find useful for flattening the wood.

If the piece is thin, try moistening the concave (incurving) side then clamping it firmly until dry. Often, this is all it takes to flatten the wood to a point where it can be used. However, try to use the wood as soon as possible, since it will tend to revert to the way it was originally. I do this with wood for box and bowl bottoms, and once glued into place, the wood becomes quite stable. I would not use wood that has been cupped and flattened this way for a slab lid or other unsupported use. It might remain flat, but it also might not, and why take the chance?

If the cupped piece is thick enough so you have wood to spare, place it cupped side up so that it is stable and put it through the drum sander. Eventually the top surface will flatten out. When this is achieved, invert the piece and sand the other side until it is flat.