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

Monday, January 6, 2020

A useful addition to my finishing supplies

I've recently added a new piece of equipment to my finishing supplies, which has proven to be a big time and work saver.

My go-to finish these days is shellac, sometimes followed by coats of spray lacquer.  Since I never use sprays in the shop, my winter finish is brush-on shellac.  I start with a one pound cut, then add additional coats of either one- or two-pound cut, buffing between coats with a well-worn 320 grit sanding mop.  This creates a soft, deep shine.

The new addition is a headlamp whose light can be aimed in three different positions.  The light reflects the shine off the bowl, and easily shows up any missed spots or sags.  It also keeps my hands free to rotate the bowl, although I think my next addition will be a turntable, rescued from my cake decorating supplies.

You never know where you'll find your next "woodworking tool"!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Sloan's Woodshop is closing

After many years of providing caring and professional service to the scroll saw community, Sloan's will be closing its doors next week.

I bought my first blades from Rhonda and David, still have some small drill bits that go back many years, and learned of Weldbond, my go-to adhesive from their site.

Best wishes to the Sloan's for peace, good health and happiness in the coming years.  You will be missed!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Making dovetails with the scroll saw

Among the less well-known capabilities of the scroll saw is the ability to do a large part of the cutting for dovetails.  The result is often much neater than can be done with a handsaw and chisels.

There is one important limitation: while all components of the tailboard and the sides of the pinboard can be cut with the scroll saw, the portion of the pinboard between the pins must be cut out with a chisel because the scroll saw cannot make the angled cut that is needed.

Here's a photo of a tailboard that will become one side of a small drawer.  I tried my best to keep the cutting as regular as possible, and am quite satisfied with the results.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Double-sided tape discovery

I typically use double-sided tape for stack cutting and double bevel inlay.  I had been using turner's tape, which is extremely strong, but sometimes overkill for my purpose.

When I discovered a thinner tape with adequate holding ability that was easier to remove, called XFasten Double Sided Tape, I started using it instead of turner's tape.  The down side was that this tape cut poorly with scissors, and the backing tended to separate prematurely when small pieces were needed.

The solution was quite simple: attach an end of the tape to the workpiece, unroll the amount needed and press it down, then cut the tape with a razor knife.  The wood stabilizes the tape, but you need to be careful not to score the wood as you cut.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Kreg bench clamp adventure

A few years ago, I purchased a Kreg 3" bench clamp, with an adapter that allowed it to be used with a drill press.  Unlike visegrip type clamps, it self-adjusts to the wood thickness, and the thick pad doesn't damage the workpiece.

Unfortunately, the underside of most drill press tables is not flat, so although you can tighten down the clamp, you have to keep checking to be sure it doesn't loosen.  Recently, while using a moderately sized Forstner bit, the clamp loosened just enough so that the pad got in the way of the bit.  Nothing was damaged, except for the pad, but it could have been worse.

I wanted to replace the pad, but replacement parts don't seem to exist for this type of clamp.  Fortunately, when I called Kreg and explained the situation, the person I spoke with was able to locate a pad, and sent it out without charge.  It's a pleasure when a company stands behind its products, and even more so when it's a company as large as Kreg.

Score one for the good guys!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Forstner bits for tea light candles

I've been having some fun trying out different uses for tea light candles, and needed a Forstner bit that would allow easy insertion and removal of the candle without excess play.

I got the best results with both 40mm and 1-9/16" bits.  The amount of extra room, using a candle in a clear plastic case, was about 1.5mm for the 40mm bit, and about 1mm for the 1-9/16".

Neither size bit is likely to be included in a set, but if you plan to make tea light holders in any quantity, it's worth the small investment for a more attractive project.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mini press for small glue-ups

Most people think of presses as something used only by bowl makers, but they are very useful for any situation where precision gluing is required, along with evenly applied pressure.

I decided to add a small press to my collection, sizing it at 6" x 6".  I used 3/4" thick plywood to prevent flex, and 3/8" carriage bolts, each 4" long.   I'm planning to use it for smaller pieces that can be fidgety to clamp.

My main reason for making one, however, was to facilitate the removal and re-clamping of the workpiece in order to clean up glue squeeze-out, which I find easier to do with a press than with conventional clamps.

Good use for a small scrap of quality plywood!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Easy angle tutorial

Although all instructions for making scrolled bowls provide cutting angles, it's sometimes useful to be able to compute your own.  You might, for example, have wood that's a little thicker or thinner than used for the project, or might prefer to use a wider or narrower ring.

While the computation of the angle is not difficult, the Angle Calculator at scrollmania.com is not only a calculation app, but a self-contained tutorial that clearly shows how the three variables--wood thickness, ring width, and cutting angle--are interrelated.  Enter any two of the variables, and the third is automatically calculated.  You can even enter fractions, and they are automatically changed into decimals.

Even if you don't plan to design your own bowls, it's interesting to see just how the interrelationship actually works, and this is the clearest presentation I've ever seen.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Revised and Expanded Edition of Wooden Bowls from the Scroll Saw coming soon!

The materials are due to go to the printer by the end of the week, and the book should be available about mid-May.  I've completely rewritten the first chapter to bring it up to date with new tools and techniques.  Some of the original projects were removed to make room for nine new ones, which include three that have never been published.

I was pleased to have been given the opportunity to share my new projects and techniques in an organized and systematic manner, and hope the material in this new edition gives readers many hours of pleasure at their scroll saws.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Woodworker's Journal now has a scroll saw department

It's very encouraging when a high quality, mainstream woodworking magazine like Woodworker's Journal decides to add a scroll saw department to its lineup.

All too often, woodworking magazines are quick to assume that their readers don't regard the scroll saw, or projects made with the scroll saw, as something worthy of notice.  By contrast, Woodworker's Journal has long been receptive to projects made with the scroll saw, and recently confirmed the interest of their readers in a survey taken by publisher Rob Johnstone.

Ironically, when I've shown highly skilled, professional woodworkers some of my work, the response is often amazement, and the comment, "how did you do that?" is typical.

The first article of the new department, which I was pleased to be asked to write, included some of the less well-known uses of the scroll saw, as a way of saying, "Hey, folks, maybe it's time for a second look at that dust-covered tool hiding in a corner of your workshop".

I'm hopeful that this new department will translate into more interest in the scroll saw and its uses, and help provide years of pleasurable woodworking for a larger audience.