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

Monday, September 27, 2010

A good product for sanding

After trying various kinds of sandpaper for the final sanding of my projects, I've determined that these foam backed gold sheets that come on a roll are the most effective. They come in grits from coarse to very fine, and the foam backing gives the control and flexibility that you need for tight places. They are also ideal for that final sanding of curves, where you want a smooth flowing line that is difficult to achieve with mechanical sanders alone. Not cheap--runs about $.50 per sheet after shipping for small quantities--but well worth the money.

It's called "goldflex" and the brand name on it is "Mirka". I don't know if there are other brands of the same type of product, but this one is really good.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why you need a bowl press

I had to glue up a tiny lamination, about 3" x 3", so I put it in my bowl press to dry. By using a piece of wood under the lamination and spacers, it worked pretty well. I wanted to do another one, and didn't want to wait until the first was dry, so I tried to do it conventionally, by using various clamps. What a nightmare! And even worse, the glue-up wasn't as tight as I wanted.

While making the press (which can't be called a bowl press in my box book, for obvious reasons) takes a little effort, it is extremely useful for any small project that needs firm, even pressure and is susceptible to slippage. I think the picture tells it all.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Well, I got away lucky, this time. I was trying to sand the inside of a pretty deep box with my inflatable ball sander but kept hitting the opening on the chuck of the drill press and taking off little chunks of wood. I didn't have a flex shaft, but I did have a 12" extension, so I attached the ball to the end of the extension, chucked it into the drill press, and started to sand. Well, either I forgot to tighten the chuck or the rotation was just too fast, and the long shaft just sheared right off and sailed across the garage. Fortunately, nothing was damaged (including me) but it was pretty scary.

I removed the little remnant of the shaft remaining in the chuck and started sanding again. Suddenly the whole chuck, including the taper, feel right off! I guess the force from the spinning extension loosened the taper enough so it just slipped right down. We tapped it back in place, and it seems fine, but that's one experience I'm not going to repeat.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dealing with glue spots

Some of my projects involve a lot of fidgety gluing and glue spots have an annoying way of showing up despite all my efforts to remove excess glue. To find the spots, I give the project a sealer coat of shellac, which causes the glue spots to stand out very visibly. I mark them with chalk as soon as the shellac is dry enough for the chalk to adhere. Once the shellac is thoroughly dry, the glue spots become harder to see. I find that shellac works better for me than mineral spirits, and gives a good base for additional coats of shellac or spray lacquer.

The project in the picture is a small box with a loopy bow. The blue tape on the top of the lid keeps the area where the loops will be glued on free of shellac. Once the box is finished, the loops are glued on and sprayed. This project is for the "Boxes with Bows" chapter of my new book, which should be out in about a year or so.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sanding tip for bowlmakers

After several years of making bowls, I've developed some techniques that really make a difference. This one is helpful for getting a nicely rounded lower edge on a ring before you glue it to the base. Turning the ring upside-down makes it much easier to see irregularities. You can also see how much wood you have to work with, so you don't risk having too little wood for gluing.

The ring should be angled as you sand, but if the inside face does not come out quite right, you can "tweak" it when you turn the ring right side up.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The versatile inflatables

I resisted buying an inflatable sander for the longest time, primarily because of price. However, I found that the flexi-pad sander was really not suited for sanding inside curves, and I wasn't about to fabricate my own sanding ball. I've never regretted my decision.

To get started, the only things needed are the ball, a small hand pump, and a set of sleeves of assorted grits. The ball chucks into a drill press, which leaves your hands free to hold your project. As I started working with square and rectangular shapes, I found the small drum useful for getting into corners.

And, once you have these tools, you'll find all sorts of uses for them. The adjustable firmness gives a degree of control that you just don't get with rigid spindles.