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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Clamping at the drill press

I used to be haphazard about clamping material to be drilled, not realizing how much torque is generated, even by fairly small drill bits.

When using a large bit, like this 2" Forstner, clamping is absolutely essential.  A shop-made fence makes it easier to clamp at the rear, and small spring clamps are ideal for this purpose.  To clamp at the front, or for drilling small pieces, I use a Kreg clamp that attaches through one of the slots in the table.  For larger pieces, I use conventional clamps and supporting boards, if needed.  For the project shown, my clamps were just deep enough to reach the workpiece.

With secure clamping, plus a backer board, you'll minimize or eliminate tearout, providing that your bit is sharp, of course!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Great new drill bit

When I suspected that my 10 year old 2" Forstner bit needed replacement, I decided to go with a Freud bit that looked promising.

I've only drilled a few holes so far, but its performance is amazing.  It uses a higher rpm, and cuts cleaner and faster than anything I've ever used before.

Only time will tell how well it holds up, but for now it's looking good!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Magnolia box

I truly love this box!  It represents the use of three different techniques to create the magnolia--inlay for the leaves, raised inlay for the first tier of petals, and compound cutting for the second and third tiers. I created the patterns for the petals from photos of magnolias, and spent quite a bit of time sanding them until they "looked right".

The main difference between this project, and those that use compound cutting for all elements of the flower, was the need for careful positioning of the inlays.  The location of compound cut petals can be adjusted at the last moment, since they are attached with glue, but inlay locations need to be planned in advance and positioned precisely.  Once that's done, however, the project proceeds quite easily, and is, I think, worth the extra work.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A different kind of rim

I'm always looking for ways to keep scrolled bowls fresh, and decided to play around with the top rim.  I've seem versions around that did this, but none that involved contouring by sanding.

The principle is pretty simple.  The ring is sized extra wide, and the outside cut is made vertically, rather than at an angle.  Some people leave the extra wood plain, others use fretwork.  I decided to round it to create a soft look, and found it quite attractive.  My own preference if for softened or rounded edges, which I think gives a more finished appearance than knife sharp ones.

This bowl had curved sides which made the designing a little tricky, and the sequence was different since you can't work as well once the top ring is attached, but everything else was standard, and I'm going to see how far I can take this before I run out of ideas.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

New use for old scraps

It's hard enough to throw away scraps without having your partner go through your trash bin and remove what you've put in.  Joe regularly eyes my scraps, particularly those from bowl blanks, and removed two sets not long ago.

He re-sawed each the pieces to create thinner pieces that were book-matched, glued up some veneer for the inside decoration, then created an outside frame to pull everything together.

Now I don't even both throwing larger pieces away.  I just set them aside and look forward to some creative recycling.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Helpful tip for bowls with wide rings

If you're making a bowl with wide rings--3/8" or more--you can do some pre-sanding of the inside of any particular ring that has marked irregularities before you glue all the rings together.

However--and it's an important consideration--you'll still have to get the inside of all the rings smooth and completely aligned once they are glued up, so this can only be done if you have enough wood left after removing the offending places to continue with the sanding as normally done.

I use this very seldom, but sometimes if access will be a problem, and I really need to clean things up, it's worth considering as an option.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Blade entry hole bypass--an informal experiment

I've always drilled blade entry holes when making scrolled bowls. However, sanding out the drill marks can be tedious, so I decided to try an alternative approach--cutting into the ring along the grain instead of drilling.  I wanted to see what it looked like, and whether it could serve as an alternative.

I used a pine bowl whose rings had been cut conventionally, except for the smallest ring, which remained to be cut.  Instead of drilling, I cut into the ring along the grain at the designated cutting angle of 27˚, continued the cut around the ring, then glued up the cut.

I noticed immediately that although the grain at the top and bottom of the ring matched nicely, the cut on the side was a vertical one and could not be completely hidden, no matter how well it was glued.  It reminded me of a scarf joint, which is used to join the ends of two pieces of wood, and means that no matter how neatly you join the ends, or how much you sand, there will always be a scar.

Here are photos of my results.  The view of the underside clearly shows what happens when you make the cut, and why the ends can't be completely hidden.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Another use for the Wixey DRO

I decided to get more precise and use the DRO for cutting a very basic bowl.  I usually add on an additional degree to compensate for imprecise angle settings.  For this bowl, it would mean cutting at a 28˚ angle instead of the more correct 27˚ angle.

This time, using the Wixey, I set the table to a precise 27˚, after making sure that the blade and table were square to each other before I adjusted the angle.

The results were amazing.  I cut two simple bowls, and this is the way they looked when I stacked the rings.  Now there's no going back to using the under-table angle gauge when precision is needed.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Replacing the DRO on the SuperMax drum sander

If you've installed the Wixey digital readout (DRO) on your SuperMax drum sander, you know that in addition to the DRO made by Wixey for planers, the installation also requires some special fittings that SuperMax supplies.

I've enjoyed the greater precision that the DRO allows, and was dismayed when it stopped working.  A quick look inside the case confirmed that the two AAA batteries had leaked, despite the tool's being in regular use.  These were Amazon basic batteries, and this was the third time we've had leakage.  Coincidence?  I don't think so!

I contacted Wixey to get instructions for replacement, and found that while they sold replacement DROs, and had instructions for installation on planers, they were not familiar with the specifics of the SuperMax setup.  I learned that replacement depended upon removing the screw that held the DRO  to the bracket, but found that access to this screw was blocked by the special mounting hardware for the sander.

However, it looked like a simple job to remove the entire assembly intact, which would allow access the screw holding the DRO to the bracket.  Here's what I did:

1. I loosened the bolt that held the black bracket to the sander.

2. I removed the screws that held the silver bracket to the sander.  At that point, the unit could be removed from the sander.

3. From that point on, it was quite straight forward.  I removed the screw that held the DRO to the black SuperMax bracket and set the bracket and screw aside.  The DRO now slid freely on its vertical bar. I undid the top of the spring at the rear of the bar, which freed up the bar so I could slide it out of the DRO.

4. I slid the new DRO into place on the bar, and reattached the spring.

5. I then reattached the black SuperMax bracket to the DRO.

6. I slid the black bracket onto the bolt, tightened it slightly, then replaced the two screws in the silver unit.  I then tightened everything up, zeroed out the unit, and watched it work perfectly.

And I'm going to get a big batch of name brand AAA batteries at Costco this week!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Finally got it off!

Most scroll saws arrive with a part that just about every experienced user removes as soon as possible--the "hold down clamp", which only serves to get in the way of effectively holding down the workpiece with firm finger pressure. Fortunately, this is always easy to remove.

The Jet scroll saw, however, arrived with an additional and unexpected part: an odd piece of metal attached to the underside of the saw table.  I'd never seen anything like this, and found that I had to work around it when inserting the  lower clamp into its holder.  I assumed the piece was a blade guard, but couldn't imagine anyone sticking their fingers under the saw table while the saw was running. Removing it seemed like the sensible thing to do.

My first efforts were not encouraging.  The piece was held on by two Phillip's head screws at its straight end, but there was so little room to work that I could not use my offset screwdriver.   I didn't want to take the table off, and since the piece didn't interfere with the cutting, decided to leave it on.  However, I read of someone's success with the offset screwdriver and decided to try again.

This time, I tilted the table fully to each side, which gave extra headroom for removing the screw on that side.  I alternated the offset with a small ratcheting screwdriver, and when I ran out of room as the screw started to come out, I removed the ratcheting bit and used a tiny wrench to turn it.

Took about an hour (!) but ultimately I prevailed.  Here's what the piece looks like when installed, and here's what I removed:

Now access to the lower clamp holder is much easier, and I think my fingers will be just as safe!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Setting the cutting angle: a cautionary tale

Most scroll saws have tilting tables, but some have a stationary table and tilting arm.  Having used both designs, and having just ruined a project because the blade was cutting at the wrong angle, I decided to try to prevent someone else from repeating my mistake.

My problem arose because the blade was not perpendicular to the table at the zero setting on the saw's angle gauge.  If that's off, then the angle gauge will not be accurate.

On the Hegner, with a tilting table and blade clamps that don't use set screws, the blade is always perpendicular to the table at the zero setting.  However, because of the possibility of parallax when reading the gauge, I use an engineer's square to check for true vertical.  And, when dealing with fractions of angles, I use a Wixey digital angle gauge on the blade and table to double check.  It's tricky to hold the Wixey on the little blade, but possible.

On the Jet, the blade may not be perpendicular when the gauge says that it is because the top and bottom set screws of the clamps are positioned to create a slight tilt when the blade is clamped.  The usual fix is to move the upper set screws in the cam clamping mechanism in or out until the blade is vertical and to leave the bottom one alone.  I made the upper correction, but may have inadvertently changed to a different lower clamp, which resulted in the tilt being off since the lower clamp also uses a set screw.  The cut was off by over half a degree, enough to ruin the project.

Most of the time, small deviations don't matter, even with bowls, especially since I always increase the angle slightly to allow for a margin of error.  However, for double-bevel inlay or for collapsible baskets, half a degree can make a big difference.

The moral of my story:  be sure your blade is perpendicular to the table when the angle gauge reads zero.  If you get into the habit of checking this each time you begin your work, you'll save yourself a lot of time, grief, and wood.

Monday, February 27, 2017

New blade to recommend

I've been experimenting with different blades, and based on a recommendation from an experienced scroller, tried out the Pegas Super Skip blades.

Very impressive performance!  The #7 easily handles 3/4" thick purpleheart, with no burn.  It's an aggressive blade, which gives it an edge over the Flying Dutchman Polar blades, which don't burn, but cut slowly.

Haven't tried Pegas for years, but I'm glad I did.  This blade is especially useful for projects such as collapsible baskets, where you cannot sand the inside rings and need a smooth, burn-free cut.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Dizzy Bowl experiments

One great way to use up scraps of wood is to make a dizzy bowl, so named because of the swirled look created by rotating the rings.

My first attempt was a small bowl, about 6-1/2" diameter across the top.  I left it plain, since it looked pretty nice just the way it was.

My second attempt was a larger bowl, about 9-1/2" diameter, with a slightly different glue-up.  I decided, this time, to add a contrasting top ring and base that would set off the bowl without competing with it.

I'm not sure where I'll go from here, but I sure am cleaning out my scrap pile!