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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Setting the cutting angle: a cautionary tale

Most scroll saws have tilting tables, but some have a stationary table and tilting arm.  Having used both designs, and having just ruined a project because the blade was cutting at the wrong angle, I decided to try to prevent someone else from repeating my mistake.

My problem arose because the blade was not perpendicular to the table at the zero setting on the saw's angle gauge.  If that's off, then the angle gauge will not be accurate.

On the Hegner, with a tilting table and blade clamps that don't use set screws, the blade is always perpendicular to the table at the zero setting.  However, because of the possibility of parallax when reading the gauge, I use an engineer's square to check for true vertical.  And, when dealing with fractions of angles, I use a Wixey digital angle gauge on the blade and table to double check.  It's tricky to hold the Wixey on the little blade, but possible.

On the Jet, the blade may not be perpendicular when the gauge says that it is because the top and bottom set screws of the clamps are positioned to create a slight tilt when the blade is clamped.  The usual fix is to move the upper set screws in the cam clamping mechanism in or out until the blade is vertical and to leave the bottom one alone.  I made the upper correction, but may have inadvertently changed to a different lower clamp, which resulted in the tilt being off since the lower clamp also uses a set screw.  The cut was off by over half a degree, enough to ruin the project.

Most of the time, small deviations don't matter, even with bowls, especially since I always increase the angle slightly to allow for a margin of error.  However, for double-bevel inlay or for collapsible baskets, half a degree can make a big difference.

The moral of my story:  be sure your blade is perpendicular to the table when the angle gauge reads zero.  If you get into the habit of checking this each time you begin your work, you'll save yourself a lot of time, grief, and wood.

Monday, February 27, 2017

New blade to recommend

I've been experimenting with different blades, and based on a recommendation from an experienced scroller, tried out the Pegas Super Skip blades.

Very impressive performance!  The #7 easily handles 3/4" thick purpleheart, with no burn.  It's an aggressive blade, which gives it an edge over the Flying Dutchman Polar blades, which don't burn, but cut slowly.

Haven't tried Pegas for years, but I'm glad I did.  This blade is especially useful for projects such as collapsible baskets, where you cannot sand the inside rings and need a smooth, burn-free cut.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dizzy Bowl experiments

One great way to use up scraps of wood is to make a dizzy bowl, so named because of the swirled look created by rotating the rings.

My first attempt was a small bowl, about 6-1/2" diameter across the top.  I left it plain, since it looked pretty nice just the way it was.

My second attempt was a larger bowl, about 9-1/2" diameter, with a slightly different glue-up.  I decided, this time, to add a contrasting top ring and base that would set off the bowl without competing with it.

I'm not sure where I'll go from here, but I sure am cleaning out my scrap pile!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Rockler flyer project link

I just received the latest Rockler flyer, which contained a link to one of my favorite projects--a really lovely holiday bow box which appeared on the cover of the December, 2013 issue of Woodworker's Journal.


Since Rockler often runs good promotions, if you haven't yet signed up for the flyer, you might want to do so.

Here's the link to the flyer

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Jet belt sander maintenance update

About two years ago, I posted a video on my YouTube channel about my discovery of the replaceable graphite pad that's under the sanding belt of the Jet belt-disc sander.  It's supposed to help keep things cooler, and also protects the metal bed that it covers.

Since the pad was never mentioned in the manual, how was anyone supposed to know that it was there, and needed periodic replacement?

Removing the original pad and cleaning the metal bed was unpleasant and time-consuming due to the strength of the adhesive backing. However, quite by accident I discovered that Klingspor's Woodworking Shop (my go-to place for most sanding supplies) sold comparable graphite strips that were 6" wide and 3' long.  Each strip was far less costly than the Jet product, and was also long enough for two complete applications.

Most important, however, is that the back of the graphite pad of the Klingspor product is not self-stick.  To attach it, cut the strip the correct length and apply Aileen's temporary spray adhesive.  When it's time for replacement, just remove the belt, pull the pad off, and clean up any residue with mineral spirits.

Even better, since only the lower part of the pad is likely to wear out, you can double the life of each pad by inverting it when it gets worn. Now there are no excuses for struggling, and I plan to check the pad each time I replace the belt.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Oval open segmented bowl

I'm into oval shapes these days, and worked up one in an open segmented version.  The trick was to keep the segments the same size all around the circumference while using my usual wedge method for this type of bowl.

Here's a picture of the bowl and what the rings looked like from the underside, once cut.  I sanded the remainder of the wedges from the center so I could use it for the base.  An alternative would have been just to use another thin piece of wood.

Same technique as I've been using, but the different shape gives it a totally new look.

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.