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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Next generation vase

This was a tricky one to do--it took a different approach to cutting rings, one that I used in the bowl book, but never fully appreciated in terms of its versatility.

Center ring is laminated redheart, rings are black walnut, generously donated from a local lumberyard.

It will be a good piece to use in my advanced bowls class at the 2016 Open House.

Here are three different views. It's interesting how the grain varies so much, making it really important to be careful about matching.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Variation on a theme

As usual, I try to work with a project until I've run out of ideas.  This box of bubinga, maple and black veneer, is not quite finished--I haven't yet decided on a handle, and I'm taking my time with it.

This is now my fourth hinge lid box, and I must say that there is definitely a learning curve. Sanding the hinges is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I am definitely getting better. I'm also finding that I'm exerting more pressure with my right hand than my left hand, and I'm trying to be aware of it so I can feed the wood more evenly.

Still have the vase I'm trying to update waiting patiently, but at least I'm not bored!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Success at last

Still working out the last little tweaks, but I've finally got this one figured out. It's really a neat little design, and not too fidgety. I'm learning to tolerate the frustration of projects taking longer than I've expected. Gotta keep moving on!

Monday, October 12, 2015

A new project, finally!

I've been having a really frustrating string of projects fall apart at various stages. My standards are pretty high--the project has to be attractive, different, easy to replicate, and not require extraordinary skills or unusual equipment.

This one looks hopeful, so I'm moving it out of the prototype stage. It's a box with a hinged lid, where the hinges and lid are from the same piece of wood. The prototype posted is a simple version, but I plan to use a "jazzier" lid, and fix some problems I had with the prototype.

I'm overdue for a success!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Face grain segmented bowl

Quite by accident, I tripped on a way to make a segmented bowl that had only face grain showing, without needing to cut angles.  This one was made from some 1/2" oak and padauk strips that I had lying around.  It's meant as a prototype, but I plan to see how far I can push this technique now that I know it works.  So many new things to explore . . . . .

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New source for graphite pads for Jet belt sander

A while ago, I posted a photo showing severe areas of wear on the graphite pad of my Jet belt/disc sander.  Until then, I was not even aware that there was such a pad, or that the deep indentations were the cause of my inability to sand vertical sides.

I had called Jet to help me troubleshoot the problem, found out about and ordered the pad, and installed it with a great deal of difficulty.  The old adhesive was almost impossible to remove, even with Goo Gone, and the new pad had the same type of adhesive on it.

Recently, the same problem sanding problem reappeared, not as bad as the first time, but still problematic.  However, in the interim, I had discovered that Klingspor's Woodworking carried short rolls of cloth backed graphite in 6" widths, and ordered a piece large enough for two complete applications to keep on hand.  Not surprisingly, it was far less costly than ordering the single piece from Jet.

However, the real bonus was the discovery that it was applied using spray adhesive.  I removed the old pad, with the same amount of difficulty as the first time, cleaned the bed thoroughly, and applied the new pad, cut to appropriate length, using repositionable adhesive.  The instructions specified spray adhesive, and this was what I had on hand.  It's been completely trouble free, and I'm now considering replacing just the lower part when needed, rather than the entire pad, since removal should not be such a production.

Nice to find a really good solution to a recurring problem.  I do like the fact that there is an interface between the sanding belt and the metal bed, which not only keeps things cooler, but protects the bed from "dings".

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New display case

Like most people who love trying out new ideas and techniques, I keep running out of display room.  Joe kindly offered to build a display case, so we looked at all sorts of plans until we found one that was room but not overly large or overwhelming.

It's made from sapele, which blends in well with the dining room furniture, and is a pleasure to work with.  The glass shelves and absence of a back and sides keep the look light, so it's just perfect for our needs.

And of course it was a lot more work than we expected, down to the half-lap miter joints for the shelves, but the results were certainly worth it.

Of course I don't know what I'll do with future projects, but I'll deal with that when I have to!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

An easy way to figure out the cutting angle

If you're having trouble understanding how the cutting angle for bowls works, take a look at this photo.  The two parallel lines on the edge represent the ring width, in this case 1/4".

To get a rough idea of the correct cutting angle, tilt the saw table, left side down, so that the tensioned blade meets the right line on the top edge of the wood, and the left line on the bottom of the wood.  That angle, with the thickness of the wood in the photo and 1/4" wide ring, is about 20˚.  If the wood were thicker or thinner, the angle would change.

If you go to scrollmania.com and look at the diagram for the Angle Calculator, you can get a clearer idea of what that diagram represents.  Remember, the angle you are computing is actually the amount the saw table is lowered from its normal level position.

Hope this clears things up a little.  And yes, there are people who just use the method in the photo to "compute" the cutting angle.  If you're precise enough, it should work just fine, but I'd rather double check with a calculated angle.  With a neat online tool like the Angle Calculator, there's no excuse for not being precise!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A new type of sander

At the Fox Chapel Open House this year, the SandFlee folks (RJR Enterprises) had an interesting new type of sanding mop.  I was intrigued by the compactness of the sander, and the fact that it came in both 2" and 4" sizes.  I'm always on the lookout for sanders that can be used to sand bowl interiors, especially for open segmented bowls.

I started out with 120 grit for a trial run, and was so impressed that I ordered both coarser and finer grits in the 2" size.  Here's what it looks like, chucked into the drill press, sanding an open segmented bowl.  I still have to test out the other grits for a more complete understanding of when and how to use this new tool, and will keep you updated on my findings.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

End of box saga

Looking for a home for my newest flower box, I submitted the project to the new German scroll saw magazine, Feinschnitt kreativ, where it was accepted and previewed in the current issue.  I only wish I were fluent in German, since there are limits to Google translate!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fox Chapel Open House 2015

Well, the folks at Fox Chapel did it again, with another great show.  I had fun teaching my classes and   helping scrollers with their bowl projects.  When not teaching, I was at my table meeting folks, signing books, and just hanging out with whomever came by.

Here's my table, full of as many pieces as we could safely carry and set up.  Not a bad way to spend a couple of days!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Revisiting an old project

A while back, Woodworker's Journal published an article of mine which gave instructions for making a small cherry jewelry box.  It was one of the projects that had been intended for the box book, but there was no room in the book for all the projects I had planned, and this one was sufficiently different from the others so that it didn't fit conveniently into any chapter.  I was sorry not to be able to include it, because I liked it a lot, but there really was no way to do it.

Fortunately, it found a home with Woodworker's Journal, whose editors did a very good job with it.  I just happened to get a copy of their eZine today, and noticed that they were offering the full article at no charge on on their website.

If you missed the original publication, you might enjoy making this unique little box that is quite easy to do with the scroll saw.

To find it, just click on this link: Cherry Jewelry Box

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Completed box

Here's how the box turned out.  I am really pleased with the delicacy of the flowers, and the use of two types of stamens.  There are still a number of petal designs yet to try before I start on another "series".

This type of project is not too demanding, once you get used to handling the fidgety little pieces, and the compound cuts, even with demanding wood like purpleheart, are not difficult.  To play it safe, I always draw my petal patterns extra thick to allow plenty of wood for shaping and for removing the "uglies".

Friday, April 3, 2015

Designing by trial and error

Sometimes the only way to visualize a new project is to play with the pieces to see what works.

This project will be an oval box with flowers.  I am working out the final arrangement by using replicas of the petals and seeing how they fit together.  Loops of masking tape hold them in place and I can change things around until I get the look I want.

The leaves and petals at this stage are cut but otherwise still unfinished, and the larger flower will be purpleheart, not poplar.  The components are similar enough to the finished versions to give me an idea of what it will look like.

Now that I have finalized the patterns, what remains is to prefinish the box, complete and prefinish the leaves and petals, then glue the flower components into place.  Stamens will be added, and then the project can be given several coats of lacquer to finish it off.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Amazon finally has my books in stock

I will probably never know the full story of how it happened, but Amazon did not have either of my books in stock for many months, along with quite a few others published by Fox Chapel.

Although both were readily available all along, even on the Amazon website, but from other vendors who are always listed, many people apparently saw only that they were "temporarily" unavailable and did not place an order.  The irony is that several of these other vendors met or bested Amazon's price, even for Prime members.

It's not a bad idea, as a general practice, to look at these other vendors, some of whom are well-rated and may not charge sales tax.

I'm relieved that this problem seems to be resolved, thanks to the folks at Fox Chapel, and glad that anyone who was waiting to order can finally do so.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A new kind of press

Finally got tired of lid liners slipping out of position while trying to clamp the pieces together, so I decided to use my 3" pad sander and drill press to create a way of clamping without torque moving things out of position.

I positioned the lid liner in the usual way, marked its location on the lid, applied Nexabond in dots all over the liner, held it in place for a few minutes, then put it on the drill press table that was elevated with a few thick pieces of maple.  I cranked the table up until it held the lid and liner firmly together, and checked with a flashlight to be sure the edges were fully down.

After a few minutes, I could have removed the assembly and clamped it at the edges with spring clamps, but that didn't seem necessary.  I imagine that this could be made more elaborate, but for a small lid, it seems to have worked just fine.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Using the Wixey on aluminum or non-metallic surfaces

I think I forgot to post this useful tip I discovered quite by accident, so better late than never.

My Jet belt-disc sander has only one cast iron table, and I use that with the disc sander.  The table for the belt sander is probably aluminum, and has no angle guide for tilting.  While this seems inconvenient, the trade-off is that as you tilt the table, you can also adjust it to keep a very small space between the table and the belt.

This is essential for the type of sanding that I do, which often involves tiny or very thin pieces that could easily get caught in a wider space. However, sometimes I need to set the table angle accurately, and holding the Wixey in place is very awkward.

My "aha" moment came when I realized that the miter gauge that comes with the saw and fits into the table slot will hold the Wixey securely.  I usually don't use the miter gauge, so this never occurred to me before.  Such an easy solution, and it was there all the time!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The glued-up bowl, completed

Thought you might like to see the results of the glue-up featured in the prior blog post.  This basket-weave bowl required two different blanks, rings stacked alternately, to get the gradually sloping sides.

I gave it a wax finish, which I think worked well, and was practical since I only spray outdoors, and certainly can't do that in sub-freezing temperatures.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Some tips for better gluing-ups

In working on a new bowl lamination, I realized that I now do some things automatically that are important in obtaining a good glue-up. Here's a video that contains some tips that you might find helpful.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Blooming Petal Bowl

Just in case you were wondering, here's the project whose leftovers are used for the bonus box.  It's not "quick and easy", but if you take your time, you should be able to produce a bowl that will be the envy of your wood-turning friends!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Bonus Box instructions

If you make the open petal bowl featured in the Spring, 2015 issue of SSWC, you might want to use the centers left over from cutting the middle and upper rings to make this cute little box.  Since it is made almost completely from scrap, I call it a "bonus box".

The pattern and instructions are too long to post directly on the blog, but if you're interested, email me at scrollsawbowls@yahoo.com and I'll set you a set of instructions with process photos, and a pattern for the lid.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Heart Cupcake Box

The last cupcake in this series features "candy" hearts.  Here's the inspiration:

And here's the version as a wooden box:

The lid was cut from ¾” thick zebrawood, and the hearts cut from 1/8” yellowheart and purpleheart, and also from maple, veneered with pink and red dyed veneer.  The sides of the veneered hearts were painted to match the tops.  The piping was done with MUD, a compound that pipes from a pastry bag and dries hard like wood.  For the tiny letters, I used a #0 piping tip.

Here are the patterns for the hearts.  You will probably have to resize them to fit, or just draw your own.

Hope you've enjoyed these additions to the cupcake project featured in the Spring, 2015 issue of SSWC, and are inspired to create your own delicious variations!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Flower Cupcake Box

Next up is a cupcake decorated with a wooden flower.  The inspiration for this design were these cupcakes:

The wooden version looks like this:

To make the lid, I used 1/4” thick yellow heart and decorated it with petals cut individually with the grain from 3/16” thick padauk, shaped by sanding.  You could also cut the petals as a segmentation, but you'd lose the grain effect.  For the center, I drilled a hole ½” in diameter in the middle of the petals, and cut a matching plug, which was sanded and covered with fabric paint dots.

Here's the pattern for the flower: