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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Progressing slowly

We hung the heater, and are hoping to get the wiring in place next weekend.  The trick in locating the heater was placing it where Joe wouldn't hit his head on it, coming into the garage.  The hatch on the ceiling was cut when the insulation was blown in, and lets us take a look at the garage roof to check on things.  It's already a lot warmer in the garage, even without the heater on, so we're hoping that this unit will do the trick.

Slow going, but at least we're progressing in the right direction!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The new shop starts here

OK--it's nothing to write home about at this point. What is not visible is that the walls and ceiling are now insulated, which will help a lot when we get the heat in. If you've seen pictures of my previous shop, you'll notice that the tool lineup is the same. What has changed is that I now have use of the full bay, since the car will go in the second bay.

Planned are a drum sander, and a dedicated dust collection unit. I'm hoping to get one that can be rolled around to the other tools that take a 4" port, such as the belt sander. I'm also hoping to fit an effective dust collector to the scroll saw, something I haven't had in the past.

Electrical work is scheduled for early January, at which point, weather permitting, the shop should be usable.

I'll post updates as visible changes occur, but did want to get the process going.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The shop is on its way!

We finally decided to keep the shop in the garage, and to put the table saw (when we get it) in the basement. The cost of erecting walls in the basement, and having good dust collection would have broken the bank on materials cost alone, so we had to scrap the idea of a more elaborate basement shop.

We'll be using one bay of the two-car garage, as well as some space at the very end. Since there is no insulation in the garage, that's the first thing on the list, and is scheduled for tomorrow. That will be followed by bringing up power from the basement, to be surface mounted, and installing a ceiling heater. At that point, we'll be operational.

Yet to be decided is storage, curtain partitions if needed to contain heat, and some additional tools like a drum sander and dust collector to supplement our shop vacs. We're still not sure about an air cleaner.

I'll post progress pictures as we go, and hopefully will be able to get some new projects going. Can't wait!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Changing the size of bowls

I came across a question on the scroll saw forum recently about changing the size of a bowl. If you're considering do this, please remember that when you enlarge or reduce a bowl pattern, you are also changing the width of the rings. Since the width of the rings is one of the factors that determines the cutting angle, you must re-calculate the cutting angle so your rings will stack properly.

If you have the bowl book, you'll find an easy to use formula in the Appendix. If you don't have the book, try the AngleCalc utility on scrollmania.com, adding a degree or two for safety.

And if you really get stuck, drop me a line and I'll help you figure it out. No point in wasting good wood if you don't have to!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Using common veneer to create interest

It's amazing how small changes can make a big difference in the appearance of a project. I was impressed, early on, at the elegance of many lathe-turned segmented bowls, and discovered that veneer was often used to set off the different elements. I found that veneer could be used in the same manner with scrolled bowls or boxes that used a straight-sided ring between the upper and lower sets of angle-cut rings.

This box used three layers of veneer on either side of the maple burl center ring. The veneer was glued to the blank, clamped securely until completely dry, then cut. Veneer from common wood is not very expensive when bought in bulk, and all you need is an assortment of light and dark colors to achieve an effect that moves your project to the next level.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Garage or basement for shop?

I thought the garage in our new house would be a natural for the new shop. However, it turns out that the cost of insulation, wiring, and heating the larger space may be more than we planned.

So, we're now considering making the shop in the basement, which appears to be dry, and seems to hold the heat pretty well. At this point, we're awaiting final estimates for wiring, and then we'll asses the situation and make a final decision.

It's frustrating, since there are so many projects I want to get to, and videos I want to make, but this is too large a decision to rush into. Hopefully, in a few weeks it will be resolved, and I'll be making sawdust again!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A pleasant surprise

I came across a post on the scroll saw forum that mentioned a recent video review of my box book by Steve Ramsey, who has a very active and popular woodworking site. Of course I had to take a look, and I was tickled by his enthusiasm about the projects. It was interesting that he assumed that the projects required a high skill level, which they really don't. Since my primary aim in designing projects is for them to be fun to make, give and receive, I was really pleased by his response.

The review is somewhere in the middle of the video. If you're curious, take a look. I'd never heard of him, but apparently he's been around a while. And of course I'm grateful for anything that helps get the word out about my work!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A new use for the Hegner

We're still trying to figure out whether to put the shop in the garage or basement, comparing set-up costs, convenience, etc., so it will still be a while before I can get down to some serious work.

However, that doesn't mean we don't need to have usable tools. Today's project was to convert a single mailbox stand to one that can hold two mailboxes (Post Office regulations--don't ask!).  The only accessible saw was the Hegner, so we plugged it into the garage opener outlet and I made the needed cuts.  Hardly precision work, but shows how versatile the scroll saw can be.  Fortunately, I had some heavy-duty blades on hand, and was actually able to find them amid the mess.  As you can see, we have a way to go, but we're getting there, little by little.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Photographing your work

Whether you're submitting your work to a magazine, posting to a blog, or just sharing with a friend, a little attention to detail can produce a photo that does justice to your work.  Here are a few tips:

First, be sure that the background is not distracting.  A seamless background can easily be made using a table placed against a wall, and a sheet of poster board.  Prop the poster board against the wall lengthwise, with about half resting on the table.  This should give you sufficient area to completely surround the project.

Be sure the picture is in focus.  Unless you have a steady hand, or your camera has an "anti shake" feature, use a tripod or some other way to stabilize the camera.

Use natural lighting if possible.  If you must add light, position the lighting on both sides of the project to prevent shadows. If you are using only one source, try moving the light until you're satisfied. If shadows are an issue, try draping a handkerchief or thin cloth over the light.

And finally, take pictures from different angles.  You can do this by rotating the project or by moving the camera.  Upload them to your computer for a closer look, and to "tweak" them, if needed, with editing software.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More about blades

It never hurts to try out different blades on the same piece of wood. Sometimes a smaller blade will cut more effectively than a larger one, or a particular tooth configuration will really make a difference, as with the Flying Dutchman polar blades.

When faced with a really dense piece of wood, like jatoba or ipĂ©, or a thick piece of cherry, on a project that doesn't require tight turns, my go-to blade is the Flying Dutchman #12 reverse tooth (FD 12R).  Add some tape (clear or blue) over the wood or pattern to help with the cutting and reduce burning, and you should be able to handle almost any piece of wood.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A quick tip

Although it will take time to get the new shop up and running, I'll still be posting on the blog as usual.

The quick tip that I want to offer is that Flying Dutchman Polar blade is just super for Corian and for acrylic.  I had never used this blade before, and was absolutely blown away by how easy it was to work with these materials.

I used the #5, because that's what I had on hand, to cut both 1/4" acrylic and 1/2" Corian.  I took extra care to cut precisely, and slowed the speed on the acrylic to prevent melting.  Really opens up a whole new set of possibilities!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My poor shop!

Well, everything is packed up and ready for the move on Wednesday.  We'll try to get the new shop up and running in one bay of the two-car garage, then tackle preparing a basement shop at leisure.  It hurts to see things in such disarray, but there should be many new possibilities, including a drum sander (at last!) in our new location.  Of course, the basics (food, bedding, etc.) have to come first, but once that's done, we can get to work on the shop.  Won't have to worry about keeping busy this winter, that's for sure!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ending on an upbeat note

Before packing up the "shop" in preparation for our move next month, I was determined to get one last project completed.  Given all the packing and arrangements that have to be taken care of before we leave, the project had to be something simple and quickly completed.

Since time and energy were both in short supply, I cut a simple piece from the latest issue of Creative Woodworks & Crafts.  I used quarter sawn white oak for the letters, and an oval of purpleheart for the backer.  I plan to give it to a good friend, who is just setting up her new home and could use something cheerful on the walls.

Now I've tied up the loose ends and am ready to pack up my wood and tools.  Once we move, getting a shop going will be a top priority, and I'm looking forward to making sawdust again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rare earth magnets

Looking for a neat way to keep box lids closed, I started using tiny rare earth magnets.  In small sizes, 1/8" to 1/4", they are strong enough to secure the lid, but not so strong that the lid is difficult to open.

Although I recess them so they're flush, and secure them with epoxy, it's still important to keep projects that use them away from children. There have been recent concerns about toys designed for adult use that contain multiple loose magnets.  These have serious consequences for children who swallow them, especially if they swallow more than one.

To be on the safe side, it would be prudent to keep any project using these magnets away from children, and to advise anyone to whom you give or sell these projects to do the same.  Since delicate or fragile items are typically kept away from children as a matter of course, it should not be a problem to add these to the list.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The problem with leftover wood

In preparation for a move to a new home, I've been sorting through the wood I have on hand, deciding what to take and what to leave.  Large pieces of wood, especially the more expensive hardwoods and exotics, are an easy decision--they come with me.  Small pieces of common wood are not a problem either.  Since they're easy to replace, they're easy to leave.  And small scraps of exotic wood don't take up a lot of storage space, so they're coming along, too.

The real problem I'm having is with the smaller pieces of hardwood like cherry and maple, left over from past projects, that are could be made into something, but are more likely to take up permanent residence in a box stuck under a table.  So, with some reluctance, I'm forcing myself to be realistic, and leaving them behind.

I am hoping that when we get our new and more spacious shop up and running, I'll be able to sort my wood in such a way that I can easily put my hands on what I need.  I guess everyone starts out with plans like that--let's see if I can actually pull it off!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Clockwise and Counterclockwise

Recently, I've seen a couple of posts from folks who are confused about table tilt and cutting direction.  This comes up with bowls, inlay, and other situations where you need to cut at an angle.  It's not that complicated, but easy to get confused.  Here are some basics:

1. Most saw tables will tilt fully in either direction, but not all.  If they tilt in only one direction, it is usually left side down.  If yours tilts right side down, or if you prefer that orientation, just reverse the direction of the cut from what's given in the instructions.  In other words, left side down clockwise is the same as right side down counterclockwise.

2. Cutting clockwise means that you move the wood in a counterclockwise direction.  The blade gives the illusion that it is cutting clockwise.  When the table is tilted left side down, the resulting cut will be larger on the upper face than on the lower face.

3. Cutting counterclockwise means that you move the wood in a clockwise direction.  When the table is tilted left side down, the resulting cut will be smaller on the upper face than the lower face.

I use counterclockwise cutting for my projects primarily when I know the smaller dimension, not the larger one, as when creating a neck or a base.  If you're ever unsure of which way to cut, use a piece of scrap to try it out.  No fun wasting your last piece of good wood!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Using a scanner to personalize a project

Using a scanner is a great way to personalize a project.  I'm surprised that so few people take advantage of it.

Scans can be of photos, book or magazine covers, menus, invitations, or anything that is likely to have personal meaning.  All you need to do is to scan the picture into your computer, and print it out in miniature using photo quality paper.  Using wood or crafts glue, attach the photo to a piece of wood and weight it down until the glue dries.  I use wood about 1/16" thick for magazines, cut the same size as the scan, and 1/8" to 1/4" thick for photos, cut just a bit larger to form a "frame".

For those of you who do crafts fairs, projects can be pre-made, then customized when sold, which allows you to handle a large volume of orders.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Some thoughts about cupcake boxes

The cupcake box, inspired by an editor's challenge, has certainly become a popular project.  It's easy to make, and different enough to attract attention.  And what is becoming more and more apparent is that there are many alternative woods that can be successfully used.

For example, one scroller used pieces of 2x4 construction lumber for the base, an economical alternative to mahogany, and pine for the icing.  Dark oil finish added a desired "chocolate" effect to the pine, and the grain added considerable interest.  Another scroller used zebrawood to create a "mocha swirl" icing, something that never occurred to me to try.

If you keep in mind that suggested wood, and dimensions, are just that---suggestions---you free yourself up to experiment with what you have on hand.  Often the variation may be even more attractive than the original version.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Can you find the cupcake boxes?

One of the very competent members of the scroll saw forum entered a set of cupcake boxes, with stand, in the box division of a local fair.  He won first place for the boxes, which is not surprising, since he did such a good job.  However, he also reported that the workers at the fair kept changing the location of the cupcakes, and they finally ended up being grouped with the real food items!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Life imitating art, or vice versa

Ideas come from many sources, some of them quite unexpected.  The pattern for the box top was based on an actual photo of a braided bread, and that same pattern was "tweaked" to make a segmented bread board.  To demonstrate the authenticity of the design, I braided an actual bread, using the wooden version as a model, and was struck by how similar they were.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Vietnamese Temple Window Box

The new issue of Creative Woodworks & Crafts has just come out.  As promised, it contains the pattern and instructions for the Asian style pivot lid box that I mentioned in a blog post last April.  It's a fun project to do, and just demanding enough to be interesting.

Here's a picture of a slightly different box, whose lid was modeled after a Vietnamese Temple Window.  It's made exactly like the other project, and if you'd like a copy of this pattern, just email me and I'll be happy to send it out to you.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Working with fabric paint

A while ago, I shared some of the problems I had while trying to use fabric paint to decorate my bed box project (see blog post of 5/13/12).  Since my paint dots have definitely gotten better, I thought I'd pass along some tips that should be helpful, passed along to me by Kim Braa, a woodworker who does amazing things with paint.

1. Buy only bottles with squeeze tips.  They are small and easy to handle, and pipe a nice sized dot.
2. Shake the bottle well to mix the paint thoroughly.
3. Do some test drops on scrap wood to determine the pressure you'll need.
4. If you get any air bubbles, pop them with a pin.
5. If you need to redo a dot, you can remove it while wet with a damp paintbrush, followed by a damp cotton swab.  Or, you can wait until it is dry and use a craft knife to scrape it off.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Another cake!

But this one is not only chocolate, it is also low-fat, and everyone who tastes it loves it.

The down side is that if you've never folded beaten egg whites into a mixture, it may seem too difficult.  That's why I made a video of the procedures.  My older son, who does not do much baking, had success on his first attempt, even using a hand mixer.

Sometimes the shop just has to take a back seat to the kitchen!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fun with Photoshop

I was cleaning out my files, trying to free up some space, when I came across the cover of the issue containing my original Ribbons and Bows box, along with a fun version of the cover, merging scroll sawing with cake decorating.  The cake in the moose's mouth was really quite a production--all the fruit was modeled out of sugar paste, and the basket was the actual cake.  I used to love playing with Photoshop, switching heads and stuff.  Most of my work these days, however, involves process shots for my projects, and it's hard to get creative with that.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fabric paint cautionary tale

I was finishing up a new version of the decorative bed box (see blog post of 3/28/12) for an article in Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts.  I had the pattern all marked out, and started to pipe the dots with fabric paint. Well, the opening in the parchment tube I tried using was too large, and the dots came out terribly.

Instead of waiting until the dots dried so I could remove them neatly, I tried to take them off wet.  This only succeeded in smearing the paint into the pores of the purpleheart.  I was forced to wait until the whole mess dried, then scraped off all the offending paint and sanded the whole things down.

Tomorrow I'll have to apply a new coat of lacquer, trace the pattern, and try again.  Lesson learned is that if you pipe something that doesn't look right LEAVE IT ALONE UNTIL IT DRIES!!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

How I made my son's wedding cake

Here's a three-part video tutorial that documents the steps involved in making the cake for my son's wedding last Sunday.  As you'll see, it was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A cake board for the wedding cake

I decided to make videos of the various steps I followed to make my son's wedding cake.  This is the first video of the series, and shows how I made the cake board.  Cake boards for major cakes must be strong enough to support the weight of the cake, and should also add to the overall presentation.  As you'll see, the scroll saw was a necessary tool, as was the sewing machine, making this a multi-craft project.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flour, not sawdust, last week!

My younger son got married on Sunday, and it was my pleasure to make his wedding cake.  I've found that sawdust and flour really don't mix, so I put my shop projects on hold for a few days.  The wedding was great, and the bride, who is a pastry chef, loved the cake.  And, as usual, I breathed a sigh of relief when it was safely in place.

Finished and ready for delivery!

Here's the final presentation!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Asian-style pivot lid box

Inspired by some pictures from a friend's trip, I decided to create a box with a lid that looked like an Asian temple window.  I chose yellowheart and red veneer for their bright colors, and used a wood dowel for the pivot.  To secure the lid, I used small rare earth magnets.  Complete plans and instructions for this project will be available in the August issue of Creative Woodworks & Crafts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Boxes goes mainstream

Just received notice of a review of Creative Boxes on the Woodworker's Journal eZine.  What's funny is that it's in the "What's In Store" section, sandwiched between reviews for a hammer and a router.  Can't get much more mainstream than that!

Here's the link: What's In Store

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The littlest round sander

Finally got a hold of the new round inflatable sander from King Arthur's Tools.  I haven't had a chance to try it out, but it seems very sturdy despite its small size.  I plan to create a project that requires its use, just as soon as I'm able.  It's been a long time in coming, but should be very useful, especially for those tight places that require a round bottom as well as small size.

I placed it next to the regular round sander so you can see the tremendous size difference.  Way to go, King Arthur!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Box Book Giveaway from the Wood Whisperer

I was pleased to write a guest blog post for Marc Spagnuolo, otherwise known as the Wood Whisperer.  I decided to focus on a "boxes without joinery" theme, and shot a video to go with the post.

Marc is giving away a copy of the box book for his April giveaway, so if you're interested, check out the post at the Wood Whisperer website.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NE Woodworkers Show at Saratoga Springs, NY

One of the nicest woodworking shows around is hosted by the Northeastern Woodworkers Association, and held each year at the end of March.  There are wonderful displays of projects, free demos and classes, and lots of quality vendors.  I shared a table with Advanced Machinery, the North American distributor of Hegner scroll saws.  We had books on hand for sale, and projects for folks to see.  It was fun introducing folks to my style of scrolling.

I was scheduled for two presentations on scrolled bowls, which were a lot of fun to do.  The only glitch was that somehow, in the presentation schedule, "bowls" became "boxes".  Since it was too late to correct the printing, I was told to put a few of my projects in the display area, with a book cover and a note indicating when the classes would be held.  I never expected to be entered into the judging, and was completely astonished to find that one of my projects had won an award!

It was an exhausting weekend, but lots of fun.  And, as a bonus, I was able to meet many of my forum friends.  If you live anywhere close, consider coming next year.  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bed Box #2

I figured it was time to try out those fabric paints that have been hanging around waiting to be used.  The bed is a larger version of the one I posted previously, with a slightly different headboard and footboard.  I used a pattern for the "bedspread" that was similar to ones that I've used for cakes (with icing, not paint, of course!).  Now to figure out what else I can add to my "furniture suite".

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New lid liner technique

Many scrolled boxes uses a technique where the inside of the box is cut out, the inside face is sanded, the wood for the bottom is glued on, and the outside profile is cut.  Lids for this type of box are usually cut from wood that is 1/4" to 1/2" thick, and match the profile of the box.  These lids are usually held in place by a liner that varies from 1/8" to 14" thick.

As I worked on the projects for the box book, I found that the easiest way to get an accurate outline for the liner was to turn the box upside down on the wood for the liner, after the inside was sanded, but before the bottom was glued on.  It was easy, at that point, to trace the inside profile of the box directly on the wood and get a liner that fit well.  The lid would then be cut from the same pattern as the box and the liner would be glued into place.

However, gluing the liner to the lid was tricky, since clamping tended to move the liner out of alignment.  I always found that I needed to check and readjust the liner several times until I was satisfied that it was in the right place.  There had to be a better way!

I discovered this "better way" just last week, as Joe was making a guitar box for his grandson.  Since the profile was fairly involved, the liner had to fit just right or the lid would not line up properly.  It occurred to me that it might make sense to change the order of things and my idea worked out very well.  Here's what it involves:

1. Glue the liner to the underside of the piece of wood for the lid.  Clamp the liner and let it dry.
2. Invert the completed box body on the liner, hold it firmly in place and trace its outline.

3. Cut the lid along the outline.

This not only gives you a lid that matches the sanded box body, but a liner that is perfectly positioned. Too bad it took so long to figure this out, but I guess some ideas just need to percolate a bit.

And yes, Joe is allowed to use my scroll saw if he promises to treat it gently.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A new piece of furniture

I was playing around with some squares I had left over from another project, and decided to try a box that looked like a bed.  I looked at lots of pictures of headboards and footboards to find something attractive yet easy to make, and finally found one that worked.

I'm currently trying out some variations, but I think for a first attempt, this came out pretty well.  And it's always nice to use up leftover wood!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A new take on the "bonus box"

I recently received some photos from a very talented woodworker, Raymond Luckhaupt, who puts his own creative "spin" on projects from my books.  The work shown here is his take on my Bonus Box, which uses one lamination for two boxes.  Ray took this concept one step further, and used the remainder of the lamination from the round box for the lid.  His work is very special, and I was pleased that he gave me permission to share it.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

You get what you pay for

I recently came across a forum post regarding a large silver knob sold by Hegner. This part can replace the standard upper blade holder if you need to feed the blade through an entry hole. I use it all the time for bowls, and also for cutting out the inside of boxes.

I was aware that there is a lever available for the Hegner that serves the same purpose as the knob, and is a lot cheaper. This lever is not made by Hegner. I was curious about the difference between the two, and why the knob is so much more costly. It seems that what looks like a threaded bolt attached to the knob actually has a pivot at the end that keeps the blade from bending or twisting as you tighten the knob.

It's still an expensive piece of equipment, but like the rest of the saw, really does a great job.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2012 Northeastern Woodworkers Show

I think I forgot to mention that I'll be doing two demos at this year's Northeastern Woodworkers Show in Saratoga Springs, NY. The show starts on Saturday, March 31st and ends on Sunday, April 1. I'll be doing a demo on making bowls each day, from 1PM-2PM.

The rest of the time, when I'm not buying stuff, I'll be at the Advanced Machinery table (Hegner scroll saws). We'll have both books there, and I'll bring along some bowl and box projects. If you're planning to attend, please drop by and say hello.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cutting on the line--some considerations

I've been trying out some different designs lately, which require more precise cutting than I generally have to do. This has forced me to be aware of things that I had not considered seriously, such as where on the line you cut. The answer would seem to be simple--just cut on the line. However, unless you're using a pattern with very thin lines, most lines have two edges and a center, and where you cut does make a difference.

For example, if I'm cutting a piece that will be glued on its cut edge to another piece, I'll probably need to sand or joint the edge. In this case, I'll cut to the outside of the line, which lets me straighten out the edge and keep the required size. If, however, this is not the case and I'll probably be OK with the cut edge and no sanding, I cut carefully right down the middle of the line.

Or, if I'm cutting several pieces that need to fit together, I have to account for the wood lost to the kerf. Sometimes it doesn't matter, and the pieces will line up tightly without adjustment, but if there are center pieces, those may need to be cut on the outside of the line to prevent gaps. On the project pictured, the double ring box from the new box book, I used a very thin blade to keep the kerf small and I stack cut the pieces to create the bloodwood insert. Since the pieces were glued to a backing, any tiny spaces would not matter. The alternative would have been to inlay the bloodwood, but I wanted to keep this simple.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Here's what's in the book!

Here's a slideshow of all the projects that are in the new book, Creative Wooden Boxes from the Scroll Saw. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fitting my new Dust Bee Gone mask

When my new Dust Bee Gone mask arrived, I discovered that it was just a little too big for my face. I was pretty sure that the youth mask would be too small, so after consulting with the woman who designed the mask, I got to work. I detached the mask from the lower tie, and trimmed off about a half inch. I then basted the parts together to secure them for machine sewing. I also trimmed off about 3/4" from each end of the lower tie, which meant removing the velcro pieces and repositioning them. When everything was fitted properly, I sewed the pieces securely into place with my sewing machine.

Now the mask fits perfectly, and I look forward to giving it a "test drive" in the shop tomorrow. Among the features that attracted me was the fact that you can talk without having to remove the mask, a terrific advantage if you do demos involving cutting or sanding.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Cupcake RING Box

In my cupcake box videos, I mentioned that the box could easily be turned into a ring box. The change to the box itself involves only one easy step: before gluing the rings together, you need to drill a hole through the center of the lid insert, just until the point comes through the upper face of the bottom circle, using a 1-1/2" Forstner bit. Then the rings are glued up and the box finished as usual.

Instructions and patterns for making ring inserts from 1/2" foam core and adhesive backed velvet are in the box book, but I made a slight change in procedures, which allows a ring with a larger stone or setting to appear centered on the velvet.

Enjoy the video, and if there's a "ring occasion" in your future, give it a go!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Finding the right tool for the job

I'm not the only woodworker in my house. Joe, my partner, makes the "big stuff", while I make the decorations. However, sometimes I'm called upon for specialty work. This is Joe's fifth leather topped desk. We have three, my son has one, and this one is for Joe's daughter. Since I'm the "finesse" person, my job is to glue and trim the leather for the desk top.

We use a double strength wallpaper paste for the "glue", since it works really well, and is very forgiving. We've gotten four tops from one cowhide, bought on ebay, at a lot better price than anywhere else. The top is frame and panel. We start by making a template out of paper. The leather is cut to exact size, (which, of course, is never exact) then moistened on the underside. Paste is brushed onto the top, and the leather is unrolled.

My tool of choice for smoothing the leather and eliminating air bubbles is a plastic fondant smoother. Fondant is a sugar paste icing, and once applied to the cake, has to be smoothed. I use a wide putty knife and Xacto knife to trim the leather, keeping the putty knife on the leather in case of slippage. For trimming any places that I can't do with the knife, I use a small embroidery scissors.

The bottom line is that the tools you need for a job aren't always found in your shop or toolbox!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Cupcake Box Video

Here's the first set of videos coordinated with the new box book. I hope you find them a useful supplement to the written instructions, and that it inspires you to "bake" up a whole batch of delicious little cupcakes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mini-seminar sign-up information

I've been asked by Advanced Machinery, the North American distributor of Hegner scroll saws, to participate in writing mini-seminars for scrollers. These seminars are slated to go out monthly, by e-mail. Topics will vary, depending on who is writing the piece for that month, but all will focus on ways to get more enjoyment and productivity from scroll sawing. These mini-seminars are free and entirely opt-in, and will not result in a flood of unsolicited e-mails

The first edition will go out sometime in January. It will contain my mini-seminar on making beautiful bowls on the scroll saw, and provide an overview of the scrolled bowl, from basics to more advanced work.

If you'd like to give the mini-seminars a try, here's the link to the sign up page: www.advmachinery.com

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Preventing cherry from blotching

As some of you may have discovered, cherry tends to blotch when finished, and benefits from a wash coat of thin shellac. Since I usually use shellac, either by itself or as a sealer under lacquer, I haven't had to think about this for some time.

However, when creating the first version of this serving tray, on the right, I decided to use an oil finish (Boo's Mystery Oil--which is totally food safe) directly on the wood. I completely forget about the possibility of blotching, but that's exactly what happened. Once there's bread and cheese on the the board it won't be very visible, but on the next version (using a revised pattern as well) I used a wash coat of spray shellac, rubbed it down well, then applied the oil. Although the color wasn't as rich, there was absolutely no blotching.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The box book has arrived!

I've been checking in on Amazon to see when the box book would be in, and to my surprise, it was listed as "in stock" as of yesterday. I know that folks who pre-ordered the book received notification that it would be arriving next week, a little ahead of schedule.

I'm hoping that people who put their trust in my work are not disappointed. I know that folks who have seen the projects always ask if they're for sale, which is a good sign. But until the reviews--formal and informal--start coming in, I won't know for sure if my enthusiasm is shared by others.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My furniture suite

When I wrote the bowl book, I asked that the publisher use all the bowls from the book for publicity, since I was totally unknown, and I thought it would help raise interest for reviewers to see the actual bowls. I also did not know where I would put them if I did get them back, so it worked out well all around.

This time, I decided to take the projects back, but still had that same problem--very limited display and storage room. So, I used this as an opportunity to get rid of stuff that I didn't need to free up closet space. I also decided it was time to change the "exhibit", and put out some of the newer projects. These boxes are all from the chapter on boxes that look like furniture. Most are variations of band saw boxes, so there's no joinery involved. All the drawers interiors are flocked, and perfect for use as jewelry boxes. It was fun to create the miniature objects, and to use tiny photos to personalize the projects. I used to do this with sugarpaste for my cakes. Now I do it with wood.

Not as tasty, but lasts a lot longer!