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

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ever hear of bronze wool?

I thought the only "wool" around was steel wool, but there are other metals and combinations that are out there. One is even specially formulated to pack small spaces to keep mice out!

Someone suggested that bronze wool might be worth looking into, so I did some research, bought some pads, and am waiting for an opportunity to use it. Although it does not come finer than a "fine" grade, it should be good for smoothing intermediate coats. The advantage, apparently is that it does not shred or rust, like steel wool. It's especially recommended for marine use, which makes sense.

I also found out that there is some oil in most regular steel wool, that is added to prevent rusting. One manufacturer specializes in "oil free" steel wool, since oily residues can interfere with some finishes. I had been storing steel wool pads with assorted bits of sandpaper, and wondered where the oily looking patches were coming from. Never occurred to me that the steel wool might be the culprit.

I may just give the oil free stuff a try, since it, too, is not supposed to shred. If you've ever tried to tack off those little steel fibers, you know that it's not fun. Finishing is enough of a chore as it is. Anything that makes it better and easier is certainly worth a shot!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Looking for inspiration

As I wait for the page proofs for the box book (promised by August) I'm thinking about some new paths to explore. Since the response to the menorah (project as well as pattern and instructions) has been so enthusiastic, I thought I might look into some other projects with a Judaica theme.

I have a couple of ideas to explore, but if anyone has any thoughts about something they would like to be able to make, please let me know, either by email, or by response to this post, and I'll see if it's something I can try.

A bit early for the holidays, but never too soon to think of neat stuff to make.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An early holiday project: A pivot arm menorah

I came across an interesting design for a menorah while browsing in a Judaica store. It is based on the arms pivoting around a rod that goes through the ends of the arms. I did some online research, and found that concept described as a traditional mid-Western design. I also found instructions for a candelabra using that mechanism, but with the arms facing down, as well as various posts on woodworking forums from people who had experimented with the concept over the years.

I found the design in the store attractive but knew it could be made far more interesting. I changed the shape of the arms to resemble Hebrew letters, and used a much smaller and thicker base, with an interesting shape. A touch of contrasting wood was used for color and added interest.

Here are some pictures of the menorah, which was made for a friend who loved my prototype. It can be positioned in a variety of ways because of the way it is made. If anyone is interested in making one, just use the email address on this blog, and I'll send you a pattern and set of instructions.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A better foam brush

When I applied the last coat of Waterlox to my bowl, I used a cheap foam brush whose plastic support snapped almost immediately. This forced me to hold the brush by the foam itself, and made it impossible to remove excess oil from the foam. As you know, I did manage to get a good coat on, but it was a struggle.

Yesterday, while browsing in a waterfront hardware store, in search of bronze wool (more about that in a future post) I found a much better quality, made in the USA, foam brush. The foam was longer and denser than on the cheaper brush, and the head flexed without snapping. Being a big spender, I popped for 4, at 25 cents each. I did some online research, and found that it is readily available on many sites, including eBay.

The manufacturer is JEN, it's called a poly-brush, and it comes in the standard widths. If you like using the disposable foam brushes and have not been satisfied with "big box store" quality, you should be happy with these.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Triumph over Waterlox

Refusing to give up, I gave the bowl a final coat of Waterlox. This time, I wiped the bowl down thoroughly with mineral spirits until no specks at all were visible, strained the Waterlox to get rid of any steel wool particles I had inadvertently introduced, and used a disposable foam brush. I worked on the inside first, going over the sections until no dry spots were visible, and mopping up excess liquid from around the circumference of the base.

Then, I elevated the bowl on a small piece of wood, and worked on the outside. I left it overnight at the community shop, which is air conditioned, and picked it up the next morning. In a few weeks, when the finish has fully cured, I will give it a final rubdown.

I'm pleased with the way it came out, but the first time using any new product is always a bit hair-raising.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Swag bowl tutorial

I'm nearly finished with a fairly complex swag bowl--just needs one more coat of finish. Rather than post just the completed project, I decided to post pictures of its earlier stages as well, so you can see how rough the bowl looked before sanding and finishing.

The pattern for the blank was based loosely on one used for a really high-end lathe-turned bowl. The glue-up was sanded with a drum sander, then finished on the SandFlee to get it really smooth and even. The main wood was ipé, the strips padauk, and the end pieces yellowheart.

The blank was then cut into four rings, at a 20˚ angle. The base was re-cut to a 35˚ angle for ease in shaping. The rings are stacked to illustrate how they look assembled, but are actually glued up one at a time.

To stack the rings so that the swags will line up properly, you must anticipate how they will meet once sanded.

Once the rings are glued together, the inside is sanded smooth, and the base is glued on.

Then, the outside is shaped and sanded, and the upper rim is given its final shaping.

I then applied several coats of Waterlox to finish the bowl. I usually use a combination of spray shellac and lacquer, which works quickly and easily, but decided to give this a try. Although the wood does look nice, I have conflicting sets of instructions on the best way to apply it, and will need more experience before I make a final decision about it. I still have one final coat to give it before letting it cure and giving it a nice rub out.