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

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Baseball Cupcake Box

The second in this series of cupcake lids looks like a baseball.  Here's a picture of a cake I made several years ago with a baseball theme.

Here's a picture of actual baseball cupcakes.

And here's a picture of the baseball cupcake box.

The lid is cut from ¾” thick aspen lid, and the markings made from red fabric paint.  Since aspen is porous, seal it well with shellac or lacquer before you add the decoration so you can remove any paint mishaps easily.

To position the "stitching", cut two equal sections of the ring from the cupcake base pattern and use them as a guide to mark the location for the "stitches".  

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Rainbow Cupcake Box

For all cupcake variations, use the instructions that appear in the Spring, 2015 issue of SSWC for the base and lid, then add the decorations.

The first of the variations I'll be posting is the rainbow cupcake.  Here's a picture of the real thing, and my version in wood.

I used ½” thick purple heart for the lid, and a ½” thick lamination of veneer and colored wood for the rainbow which was cut into a 2” diameter half-circle.  For the cloud, I used 3/8” thick aspen with this pattern.

Stay tuned for the rest of the cupcake toppers, or just forge ahead and create your own!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cupcake box and variations

I've always loved the cupcake box that was featured on the cover of my box book.  However, I knew there was more that could be done and proposed a different kind of cupcake box to Mindy, one of the editors of SSWC.

I started with the iconic "Hostess" cupcake, using fabric paint for the icing, and searched out photos of actual cupcakes that could be translated into wood.  Because of space constraints, only the instructions for the "Hostess" cupcake, lid and base, appear in the Spring, 2015 issue of SSWC.  Since their new website is not yet up and running, it was agreed that I'd post instructions for the variations on my blog.

To avoid a long and unwieldy blog post, I'm planning to use a series of entries, each giving instructions for a different top, and will have all of them out long before you receive your issue.  They all fit on the base that's featured in the article.

Here's the lot of them, along with the coffee cup that you may recognize from the box book.  They definitely look good enough to eat!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Last box variation for a while

I can't wait to get some version of these boxes out there.  They are so much fun to make, and I've tweaked the pattern to making sanding a snap.  Well, maybe not quite a snap, but certainly not a problem for anyone willing to take a little time and care.  Butterfly was fun, and not as fidgety as I thought it would be.  Nexabond is fabulous for this type of gluing.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Box variation

I'm working up a few boxes that use conventional construction, and pairing them with some flower variations.  Here's the first one, using stamens made from yellow veneer and purple flocking.  Still a lot more things to try before I move on to something else.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Off in a new direction

Always wanted to try to replicate the look of gum paste flowers, without having to rely on carving.  This is my first attempt, using petal dust, a cake decorating supply, to add a touch a color on the tips of the petals, bloodwood for the center, and fabric paint for the yellow "stamens".

The box was made from pieces left over from another project.  Pretty good use of scraps!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Air cleaner for my shop

Decided that it was time to go the next step and take care of those little particles that elude the dust collectors that I have.  Did some research, and decided on a JDS Air-Tech HP Air Filtration Unit.

Fortunately, I had some tall friends willing to handle the installation (and ceiling outlet) and I really notice a difference.  When I leave the air cleaner running after I'm finished working, then come about about a half-hour later, that woodsy smell is completely gone.

And, for the time being, except for consumables like blades and sandpaper, I think I have all that I need.  Right!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A really nice drill press clamp

Needing a way to hold small pieces safely at my drill press, I bought a Harbor Freight special, which is essentially a vise grip.  It worked, but was a nuisance to use.

When I received an email from Peachtree featuring this Kreg drill press clamp, and watched the video, I couldn't resist.  There were, however, a few glitches.

The video failed to mention that the bolt from the adapter that goes into the clamp needed to be firmly seated or it can bend.  It also didn't mention that although the clamp self-adjusts to different thicknesses of wood, there is an adjusting screw to set the amount of pressure that will be applied.

Needless to say, I didn't have the bolt fully in, and applied much too much pressure.  Fortunately, after I sent them a picture of the bent bolt and explained what happened, they sent me a new one.

It's quite impressive what a difference the clamp makes compared to holding the piece by hand, and since any tool that rotates has the potential to hurl something in your face or across the room, I feel much more comfortable using it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bowl press variation

I've been needing a press that's just slightly higher than the 6" carriage bolts allow, without the fuss of  coupling nuts and rods.  I bought 8" carriage bolts, but the only kind I could find did not have thread running all the way to the end.

My solution was to use spacers that I no longer need, thanks to Dave's quick clamps, so that I could secure the carriage bolts easily.

Works great!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dust collection for pneumatic sander

Finally got the new set of small pneumatic drums from Klingspor, and needed a way to contain the dust.  I already had a hood and stand from Grizzly, but was concerned about small pieces disappearing into the dust collector.

So, using some scrap wood and 1/4" hardware cloth, Joe built a frame that slips over the top of the hood.  While the draw doesn't feel very strong, it does hold a paper towel against the screen, and the area looks pretty clean when I've finished sanding.  I can take the frame off when I use the hood with the flex shaft and larger pieces of wood, so it seems like a pretty good and inexpensive solution to that ever-present problem of dust control.

Friday, September 12, 2014

How to fix a Seyco sander

Decided to give the sander another try.  After a few minutes of light sanding, here's what I was left with!

However, all was not lost--I applied a few drops of Nexabond to the shaft, stuck the foam back into place, and this might actually hold up for a while!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

If you have to ask, you know the answer

Have you ever asked someone--spouse, partner, fellow woodworker--if a part of a project you were working on was OK, or if it needed to be tweaked or redone?

I've discovered, over and over, that you already know the answer--that it's really not up to your usual standards, but you were hoping that no one would notice.

Perfectionism has its ups and downs, but if you strive for it, your results are likely to be a lot better than if you didn't.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Open Segmented Bowl in Woodworker's Journal

For anyone curious about making an open segmented bowl with the scroll saw, check out my article in the October, 2014 issue of Woodworker's Journal.

I was pleased when I finally figured out how to do this type of bowl, and encourage bowl makers to give it a try.  Nice thing about it is that you can use many profiles, not just circles.  The bowl featured in WJ has a wavy edge and curved sides, and makes a nice first project of this type.

Friday, August 15, 2014

New sander coming

I've been working on a "bonus" project, made with wood left over from a new bowl, and I needed something different for a lid.  So, I took the lid I had made, which looked kind of ordinary, and cut it into segments.

As I was sanding the segments, it occurred to me that I really needed a larger inflatable drum than the one from the Guinevere system.  I asked around on the forum to see what's used, and found that I could get one that would chuck into my SandFlee or drill press.  I found a small set at Klingspor that looked like a good place to start, and I should have it next week.

When I needed some small carving burrs, I found that I could use my Dremel and flex shaft, which cut costs tremendously.  I don't mind spending if I have to, but it's nice to be able to work with what I have.

New projects should be appearing in the next few issues of Scrollsaw Woodworking & Crafts, so you can see the results of my new efforts. And I must admit that I'm having a really good time!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A comparison of rounded sanders

Round-ended sanders are absolutely necessary for sanding the inside of scrolled bowls with curved sides, ripples, or petals.  Before the availability of the Guinevere system from King Arthur's tools, anyone wanting a tool of this type had to construct it themselves.

The specific sanders from King Arthur's Tools that I use constantly are the large and small round inflatable sanders.  The rubber "ball" inflates with a small pump, and uses sleeves of various grits.  Although the sanders can be fidgety at times, they are extremely effective.  In addition, repairs can be made to the inflation mechanism, and the rubber ball itself can be replaced if necessary.  The large sander costs about $44, small about $40, sleeves are about $3.00 each, and the pump is about $11.

I was not aware of any other product that had a rounded configuration until I came across one offered by Seyco, called a "rounded end cup sander". The configuration is similar to the KA product, but it is made of soft foam covered by a non-removable sandpaper sleeve, attached at the top with tape.  It is  available in four different grits, and costs about $7.  Curious, I bought two of the coarsest grits at the Fox Chapel Open House in May, and just got around to testing them out.

To start with my conclusion, if you are serious about bowl sanding, go with the King Arthur product. Although the initial outlay is greater, the $7 replacement cost of the Seyco product will quickly add up.  A set of four sanders, one of each grit, costs $28.  A set of assorted sleeves from KA for the large round sanders costs $11.

In terms of performance, even the coarsest grit from Seyco was not effective for that all-important initial sanding.  In addition, the stem, which is glued to the foam, quickly came unglued.  I did like the size, which was intermediate, but found the longer configuration not as easy to use as the more ball-like KA product.  The fact that it's ready to use is handy, but you pay for it in an inferior performance and greater ultimate price.  And, for many projects, you absolutely need the small size of the KA product the get into those tight lower curves.

If you're curious about this type of sander, there's no harm in buying one or two Seyco sanders to test them out.  And if you already have the KA system, you may find the medium size of the Seyco product handy at times.

However, as most of us quickly learn, there's no substitute for a quality tool!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Drum sander tip really works!

I needed to sand a wide board today, and had not yet tried to remove the dark stripe running down the middle of the abrasive on the drum.

So, following the instructions provided by SuperMax, I used a small piece of plexiglass to scrape the abrasive clean.  It took some work, but I was able to remove the entire mess pretty easily.  If I had removed it when it first appeared, it would have been a really quick job.

Pretty good save of a fairly new sandpaper strip!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SuperMax sander scores again!

I've been delighted with my SuperMax 19-38 drum sander from the get-go, and am especially pleased with their great customer service.  

Recently I developed a problem with lines appearing on the abrasive that were not from glue.  I didn't think the cherry or hard maple I was using were particularly resinous, so I was clueless.  Here are the photos I sent them:

 I contacted SuperMax, and here's the response I received:

These black lines are build-up on and in the abrasive. Usually caused by a glue line or resin line in the stock being sanded. Easiest method to prevent/reduce these lines are to angle the stock being sanded. A 30 degree angle is ideal. If the stock is too wide for that, any angle is helpful. Even a 1 or 2 degree angle can dramatically reduce build-up.

As for resin lines, Cherry and Hard Maple are the most prone to this kind of build-up. Again, angling is helpful as is less depth of cut and a faster feed rate than used with other woods.

These lines can be removed with using clear plexiglass on edge as an abrasive cleaner. Or the abrasives can also be soaked in paint thinner or mineral spirits, which will dry out the build-up. Then it can be brushed out with a stiff nylon brush.

If the lines are developing from Cherry or Hard Maple and are not from glue lines, the other option is using a cooler running abrasive such as the blue Zirconium… Please let me know if you have questions or if I can be of any service.

If you need a drum sander, I'd suggest you give this one serious consideration.  It's a little more money, but for a lot more tool, and you can't beat the customer service. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Work in process

I've been working on some new projects using a texturing compound that dries hard like wood, but can be applied with a piping bag and tip.  Before doing an actual project, I experimented with the compound, and also with fabric paints, to see what the limitations were.

Here's a picture of some of the preliminary effects I played with, and some wood that's been prepped for an actual project.  When I start off in this way, I never know where I'll end up, and I already have quite a punch list of things to try.  Those that work will probably end up as published articles for everyone to enjoy, and those that don't are still a learning experience!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Outdoor spray booth

Whoever said that spraying had to be a hassle?  At this time of year, I just tape some newspaper to a stool, find a shady spot, do my spraying, then move inside to let things dry.  Of course wind, rain, pollen, birds, etc. can be a problem at times, but generally, the ease and speed of this low-tech method can't be beat!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blade update

Continuing my experiment with larger and smaller blades, I added the Flying Dutchman Ultra Reverse #5 (FD-UR #5) to see how it compared with the Polar #5.  It actually gave a smoother cut, and sliced through a little more easily, but couldn't clear out the sawdust sufficiently to prevent burning.

However, I am now convinced that the rule I've been following, to use larger blades with thicker wood, needs to be reassessed.  The importance of this for my work is that the smaller the blade, the smaller the entry hole, and the less sanding away of drill marks.

The lessons learned are that if your favorite blade isn't working, don't be afraid to try other options, and don't be afraid to go smaller if, like me, you've been leaning towards the larger blades.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Flying Dutchman #5 Polar blade

My latest project required cutting 1-1/2" thick hard maple.  My usual go-to blade, Flying Dutchman UR-9, left burn marks all over the place and cut with difficulty.  I knew that many people use small blades successfully with thick wood, so I decided try out the only Polar blade I have, a #5.

The picture shows the cut with the UR-9 on the right, and the one made with the Polar blade on the left.  What a difference!!  The cutting was slow, but dead-on accurate, and left no burn or blade marks.  I've since found out that this blade has become quite popular, and comes in many sizes.  I've used it for corian and acrylic, but never thought of using it for wood.

Hope my discovery inspires you to give this blade a try.  It was a wonderful and unexpected discovery for me.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New source for veneer

I've been working on some new projects that require colors that don't occur in nature, or tend to fade over time.  I could not find them at Constantine's, my usual source, so I tried to find a place that carried them.

I'm pleased to report that my search located a site that sells dyed veneer  in colors that are absolutely eye-popping, like pink, plum, and two gorgeous shades of blue.  I've already used the blue for a holiday project that should be appearing in Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts, but also have some laminations planned out that will combine yellowheart and purpleheart with some of the new dyed veneer for a project I can't wait to start.

The pricing, customer service, and packaging were all first-rate, and I'm happy to recommend B&B Rare Woods as a good source to consider.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fox Chapel Open House

Just returned from the Open House, held at the Rough and Tumble museum in Kinzers, PA.  For a first time at a new location, it worked out very well.

There were 80 classes given (40 each day, repeated), which was certainly an ambitious undertaking.  I enjoyed giving my bowl classes, despite the competition from tractors and farm machinery that kept passing by my tent.  It was great meeting people from the scroll saw forum, and also people who have followed me online and have seen my videos.  I also had a chance to meet John Nelson, whose excellent beginner's book taught me how to use the scroll saw.

But now that that's behind me, it's time to move forward and see how much I can accomplish before next winter.  Wood has been bought, a new supply of veneer has been ordered, and several projects are already in the planning stage.  I can look forward to many months of working comfortably in my shop and the opportunity to get a few more videos out, as well as enjoying other activities that take advantage of the lovely warm weather!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

New glue

Had to give Nexabond glue a try for gluing on loops.  It's touted as a next generation CA glue, with a  curing method that uses the salts found naturally in wood.

The glue set up quickly and held well on my sample loops.  However, I was concerned about shear strength, so I tugged on a loop to see what would happen.  I was relieved when the loop broke but the glue bond held.

Too expensive for general use, but when speed and strength is needed, it looks like a good product to have around.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Useful equipment for gluing

With many of my newer projects using veneer, I've been forced to face the reality that smearing glue with my fingers is probably not the best technique to use.  I was intrigued by a few pieces of equipment featured in a Rockler catalogue that looked just right for my purposes, and took advantage of a free shipping offer to give them a try.

I've long used silicon brushes for baking, and have been impressed with how easily they cleaned up.  This silicon glue brush is angled, and perfect for spreading glue.  The silicon tray holds just the right amount of glue securely, and although I haven't used the spreader yet, I'm sure it will help spread the glue on larger pieces of veneer.  It reminds me of how you spread thinset mortar for tiling.

So, although I tend not to buy the latest "gimmicks", this was certainly money well spent!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Back in the shop--hooray!

Well, couldn't do too much today, but I did manage to finish the laminated bowl that was featured in my latest gluing video.

The main wood is quarter sawn red oak, center ring is redwood burl, top and bottom rings are nogal (like walnut), and black and white veneer dress it up.  The construction was not difficult, but the slight warping of the veneered pieces is what led me to make the video.  I had too much costly wood invested to give up, and as you can see, the joints came out nice and tight.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Haven't disappeared, just recuperating

And just as the weather is getting warm enough to make some serious sawdust!

I'm trying to create a new type of bow, a little loopier than what I've done so far.  I'll need to do some prototypes from scrap wood before I invest in the veneer that will bring them to life.  Hope that tomorrow I can run off some patterns and get the process going.

I found a source for many more colors of veneer than I've seen previously, and if it works out, will pass along the source.

I'm used to being fully functional--now I'll be sure not to take that for granted!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Two tips for gluing up bowl rings

Here are some tips to help you get better glue-ups of your bowl rings.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'll be at the Fox Chapel Open House May 9-10

Just received an invitation to do some presentations at the Fox Chapel Open House.  The last open house was in 2006.  I attended as a fairly novice scroller, so this should be an interesting contrast.

I'm looking forward to teaching some of my newer tricks and techniques, and to having a chance to chat with other scrollers.  At least by May the snow should be gone!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Buying dyed veneer

Colorful dyed veneer is ideal for dressing up wooden ribbons and bows.  Unfortunately, the most common sources of this type of veneer, stores like Rockler or Woodcraft, sell it only by the pack, which gives you no control over the actual size of the pieces you're buying.  This can be wasteful, depending on your project needs.

A reliable source for dyed veneer sold by the individual piece is Constantine's.  I've probably mentioned their store in a previous post, but as I'm still getting inquiries, I thought it would be worth mentioning again.  Shipping cost is on the high side, but the overall cost is lower than any other place I've found, and if you place your order by phone, you can specify the dimensions you need.

In addition to the bright colors, I absolutely love the black dyed veneer, which comes in two different thicknesses.  It's wonderful for adding drama, and a lot cheaper than ebony!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's next?

I'm trying to use these cold days, when the shop is pretty much off-limits, to start planning out new projects for spring.

Specifically, I will be making an all-out effort to get plans published for more advanced bowls. This will be quite a challenge, since I need projects that move the art forward, yet are not too frustrating for the typical scroller.

I'd also like to make more use of veneer, especially dyed colors, for laminations and glue-ups--ideal for holiday-themed projects. Although I generally use natural wood colors, some projects really need that extra jolt that's not found in nature.

But it is very frustrating, not being able to move things ahead the way I'd like, or posting news of my latest projects and discoveries. However, it should only be a matter of weeks before I'm busy making sawdust again.  Can't wait!

Friday, January 31, 2014

The yarn bowl--final version

Here, at long last, is the final version of the yarn bowl I've been working on.  Patterns and instructions will be appearing in Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts, probably late this year.  I'm very pleased with the project, and hope that many knitters make good use of it.

For the bowl maker, it provides a new shape to work with, and a new technique--decorative cutting of the finished bowl. I took advantage of the few warmer days we had last month to get it finished, and am really looking forward to getting back to work in my shop.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

WJ bow box pattern correction

It was just brought to my attention that the pattern for the ribbon loop for the holiday bow box in the December, 2013 Woodworker's Journal is incorrect.  The pattern for the face (striped) side of the loop should be 7/8", not 1".  Here's my original, hand-drawn version of the pattern, which is crude, but correct.

I'd suggest copying the pattern that appears in WJ, separating the two parts, then trimming 1/16" off each edge of the face side.  Tape the two parts together carefully, and you should be good to go!

Monday, January 13, 2014

A weighty matter

Thought choosing the best weights for the yarn bowl, or anything else needing weighting, would be simple.  Although I ordered slingshot ammo, I did want to check out the possibilities in lead.

So, I went to Sports Authority in Connecticut, where lead can legally be sold.  In NY, it can be used, but not sold.  Go figure!  I decided to get some egg shaped sinkers, since they were heavy, although not as cheap as I'd like.

I've concluded that the best choice for projects, depending on the size of the cavity to be filled and the amount of weight needed, would be either the smaller egg sinkers, or slingshot ammo, 1/4" or 3/8" in diameter.  I found price differences on the ammo between Sports Authority and Dicks, so it pays to shop around.  I didn't look into BBs, since that's a restricted product for NY residents, but I know that some folks use them.

First proposal submission for the actual project is in, and I'm awaiting feedback.  One way or another, I'm getting that bowl out there!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Too cold to work in the shop, so I spent the afternoon making pretzels. It's not difficult, and they really taste very good. Cooking and baking is also an ideal way to feel productive when you can't make sawdust. Enjoy!