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  • Steve Krumanaker

    Pulling the trigger

    By Steve Krumanaker

      Thought hard about this segment and came up with all sorts of reasons and justifications for even wanting a laser engraver. The honest truth is, I've just always liked gadgets. Never mind I intend to use it for embellishing some of my turnings if and when I figure out how to use it. There are some youtube videos with turners using small machines to make “signature disks” they let into the bottoms of their bowls or vessels. The machines cost about $90.00 and do a surprisingly good job. The down side is they will only do an area about 3” square and are limited in height. I thought if I ever got one I would like more capacity and flexibility so I spent a little more and bought a machine that will etch an area about 11”X14” There are several vendors that sell these machines, banggood.com, gearbest.com, aliexpress.com, to name a few. I suspect they are all made in the same factory. At any rate I bought this machine from banggood.com. One thing I will say, if, and when a person may decide to purchase one of these, be patient and watch for price fluctuations. The price will change almost daily and move as much as a hundred dollars one way or the other.  So, what do you get for, in my case, about $200.00? Basically, a box of parts. I have to to admit, the parts were packaged very nicely. Everything was organized and easy to get to. All of the necessary hardware and tool are included in a little plastic compartmentalized plastic case.  One thing to note about these kits, they don't come with printed instructions. I imagine that's to save expense as they are shipped all over the world. There is a video of a machine being assembled on the banggood website and there are "assembly" pictures as well.                 When you get right down to it, there really isn't a lot to one of these machines. The little box at the top right contains the power supply and the laser. Next to it is a pile of plexiglass parts that are machined to hold the motors and for the aluminum extrusions to fasten to. Four corner brackets to assemble the frame, a "gift" pack of small wood test pieces. 5 pieces of aluminum extrusion and the controller board next to that. And, of course, the little box of hardware and tools. The three stepper motors and various cables are not in this picture. That's about it.             So, I watched the video several times and looked at the assembly illustrations. For some reason Banggood.com has made the video and pictures so a person can't save them to a computer. Seems crazy to me, but whatever. My shop is about 90 feet from our house and surprisingly, I can access our home network in the shop, if, and only if, my computer is next to the wall closest to the house. My workbench is near the opposite end of the shop and trust me, it's no small feat to change that. So, I would go to one end of my shop, watch a little of the video and run back to my bench to assemble the part I could remember. Being in my 60's that wasn't a lot. Back and forth and back and forth. The assembly starts with putting together the frame which is aluminum channel fastened together with corner brackets. I did that on my router table surface so everything would be nice and flat. The extrusions that make up the frame are two 1" X 1" and two 1" X 2"  channels. I don't know if they are real 8020 or a knockoff but those aluminum channels have changed how we do so many things.                   The next step is to assemble the motors and bearings to the machined plexiglass components. Fortunately, this is all pretty straightforward stuff as the online "instructions", if they can be called that are not the best. I knew that before hand though so I can't complain. The bearings ride in the groove in the aluminum channel and it's actually quite smooth.                     I should probably note that this is not meant to be a "how-to" as far assembly goes. There are a few third party videos on youtube which are better than a series of pictures showing how it all goes together. Once a person gets into the project a little it all starts to make sense. After the motors and the bearings are attached the gantry supports are put on the channel and the feet are attached. I would guess by this point I'm about two or three hours into it. A good part of that time is watching video to make sure it's put together correctly.               As wood workers, we joke about our toys when we get a new tool for the shop. Most of us know that these "toys" can hurt a person. Something like this may seem a little less risky. The opposite is true. A person doesn't even have to be near one of these to suffer eye damage as just the reflected light from one of them can be harmful. The most important safety rule with one of these is; "Don't look into the laser with your remaining eye." After the feet are attached the laser is installed and the gantry assembly is mounted. After that, the wiring begins and its all plug in connectors so that's not a big deal.                           After several hours of studying video, restudying video, hard work, and paying close attention to detail I'm done except for putting on some wire wraps to tidy everything up. Once I get the software loaded I'll be ready to do some laser engraving...........                                 on the ceiling, doh, mounted the laser upside down. Thankfully it's a simple of flipping the gantry channel over as it will mount either way. Now, on to loading the software and doing some world class etching!    
  • Gerald

    Lets talk Photography 2- Lighting

    By Gerald

    Lighting is a subject that takes a backseat for most people as it becomes " this is what I have to work with". Even in this case it can be managed. Preferred is to have one light source with reflectors to fill in the shadows. The color temperature of the light source must be balanced and for this you can use the WB on your camera or use a grayscale card to set it based on the light you use. What this does is eliminate or strongly dilute the colors that the camera sees but your eye does not. Fluorescent light can be balanced with special color corrected bulbs, Tungston gives a warmer color. Led can also be used and would allow less heat buildup while you are in session. This photo was done with white balance (WB) set for flourescent and lighting was incandescent photo bulb. Note the reds on the background which is colored from white (bottom) to dark gray (top. This is the same light setup with WB changed to tungsten . light is not covered and is bounced off ceiling at the 4 oclock position. Note the heavy shadows. This shot has a tshirt cover over light to reduce harsh shadows.   Lights can be "bounced" to give softer lighting. To bounce the light is not directly on the subject, but is aimed at the ceiling or wall giving reflected light to the subject. Remember that the color of this light is affected by the object it is reflected off of. The objective of lighting is not to totally eliminate shadows, but to highlight areas and leave some shadow line which will create depth in the picture. The source can be to either side from the 4 or 8 o'clock position. Tents can be used to soften and spread the lighting and you can make your own As Has Been Done Here . Reflectors can fill in light on the opposite side to fill in dark areas and for this use white fabric or Mylar reflector. These are simple to build also. A good point about lighting is do not lock yourself into one method. Be willing to experiment. Do not use internal flash, but do try changing settings which we will cover in other posts. While you are set up make more than one picture and try turning the piece to get shots from different angles as this will change the effect of lighting. All that leads to this is the set up I have. I use a plastic gradient background. The lights are either halogen worklights or a photo bulb I have had for years and dug out recently. The lights are aimed at the ceiling either over the subject or 110 degrees away from the subject. Photo space is limited for my set up so camera is 3-4 feet from subject on tripod . I just bought a remote switch I will use or you could use the time delay feature. I have 2 shop windows and I cover one to reduce the glare spot caused by external light, also turn off all other shop lighting.   This is my setup for the photo itself . With gradient backgrounds you will hereHhave the dark end at the top.                                   Here you will see the setup for the light. The swing arm allows me to change position of the light easily.   This is a Brief Tutorial by John Lucas. John is a retired professional photographer and wood turner. We have invited him to participate with us as he has many helpful tips     This is another tutorial on Photographing Your Work by Neal Addy.
  • lew

    Part 5:

    By lew

    Part 5:   As “Norm” used to say- “We’re gaining on it now.”   Time for the first dry fit to make sure all the mortice and tenons fit together.     Had to futz with a few of the tenons but overall everything went together nicely. You can see why I’m limited to the size of my projects. This is the only assembly space available- add clamps around a piece and things really get tight.   There were still a few more things left to do with the apron and shelf supports. I wanted to carry the chamfer detail along the bottom of each piece. Router table took care of that.       The shelves need to be secured to the frame. I decided to use wooden “clips” and a dado in the stretchers           The “clips” are cut from an “L” shaped piece of poplar       I made a long blank for the clips and then just cut off about 1 ½” piece. I drilled an oversized screw hole through the thicker section (oversized to allow for expansion/contraction). The thinner part slips into the dado on the back of the stretchers and screws thread into the underside of the shelf.   The astute observer will notice the mistake in the pictured blank. The wood grain is running parallel to the blank length. The little tabs (fitted into the dados) will snap off as soon as any pressure is applied. Not sure where my mind was when I cut this, anyway, I made new ones with the grain running perpendicular to the blank length (just forgot to take a picture).   The final bit of frame construction was to create a way to mount the butcher block top. The frame (with 2 shelves) will weigh in at close to 100 pounds. If the completed table is moved, lifting it by the top, quite a bit of stress will be applied to the connection between the top and frame. It took me a while to come up with an idea that solved the problem.   I added three cross supports that were dovetailed into the side aprons.             The dovetailed supports were let into the apron using blind dovetail techniques. I used a trim router to hog out the majority of the materials.     Then I chiseled out the remaining material.         The dovetail shape, in addition to glue and screws at each dovetail location, will provide enough support to keep the top from breaking free of the frame.     Finally, l  drilled oversized holes thru the cross supports to receive 1/4" lag bolts to connect the frame to the top.   Now to tear it all apart to work on the shelves!  
  • lew

    Seam Rippers For My Sister And Mom

    By lew

    My Mom is 91 (this past Monday) and she still sews and makes clothes. I noticed she had an the same seam ripper for years so I thought I'd make her a new one for Christmas- but it turned out to be a birthday gift. However when making one it's just as easy to make two so the other one will be for my sister for Christmas.    I bought the kits from Craft Supplies because I needed some other stuff that I can only find at their site. Making the rippers is pretty straight forward, especially if you turn pens.  I had some walnut pen blanks I found in a box of scraps. Drilled them with the proper sized bit using the lathe. One trick when drilling pen blanks is to not drill the hole completely thru the blank. Using a brad point bit will have the point punch thru before the bit actually exits the blank. This process keeps the blank from being blown out when the bit would exit.      Once the brass tube is glued into place, the end of the blank can be trimmed near the tube- I trimmed mine on the band saw. Then used the sanding center to bring the wooden blank flush with the brass tube on each end.     I planned on doing a CA finish on these. To keep the CA from gluing the bushings to the blank/tubing I apply a coating of bumble bee butter to the bushings.   Then mounted the blank and bushing to the pen mandrel.     Then the assembly on to the lathe   Rounded the blank with a roughing gouge   Shaped with the skew     Sanded the blank to 400 with Abranet mesh to 400 and finished off with Abralon pads to 4000. Applied some sanding sealer.   Then about 40 layers of thin CA-   Assembled the parts with my shop made pen press     One gold and one silver     I still have a bunch of wooden scoops to turn for the nurses at my doctor's office and a few other people.
  • Smallpatch


    By Smallpatch

    I had enough time working at the fire dept to draw a small pension when I turned 55. Being 41 at that time something kept telling me to go and do something else with the rest of my life... My wife was an RN but not working so she could raise the kids so I knew she could go back to work if my ventures went bad.   I want to build a nice,big go-cart track. WHAT, say that again. There aren't any go-cart tracks around here, how do you know you could make any money was my kids questions and answers, except for my boy, it was OH BOY. Working for the city fire dept was , back then, a very low paying job but because of the hours worked, 24 on and 24 off let one if he wanted to, have a part time job, which I had, so actually I wasn't going out in to the world cold turkey so to speak. My part time job was selling Mac Tools out of a step van...This was also a fun job for I knew my products and enjoyed being around people who used hand tools....   Pictures of the track I might not can find for back then pictures wasn't a concern.   The track and buildings took three years to build. The only professionals I used was to pour the cement and smooth it on the track its self. I put up all the forms. I poured and smoothed all the sidewalks Building the buildings and everything on the property was a new experience to me so I would go to the library and check out all the books I could find for what was coming up in the next few days of work.... I put in the septic system, did all the plumbing, electrical and all the sidewalks but I did trade out wiring the overhead lights over the track on the tall poles which I put in, I traded go- cart tickets for two guys labor for the track lights. This was before I decided to get the know how books from the library. The land was almost 2 miles past the city limits so I needed no permits except for the septic system. I called the inspectors before I started and they said come get  some instructions and go from there.      After I closed the track at 11 each night I would closed the gates and leave the lights on so I could go into the area where I was planning to put the golf course and using strings and 2x4's I would lay out some thoughts on the ground then the next few days think over why was that good or what problems I would have with each hole . Most all my holes were multi holes. The only time we worked on the golf course during the day was on Mondays when the track was closed. The first 8 years the track was open 7 days a week. And most all those years I was plotting a golf course..   I realized right quick having a bunch of high school boys working for you was not good without some supervision for they would let their buddies kill each other on the track if I would have let them. I added lots of things a normal mini golf would not have. Like in this pond in the picture. You can see a green on the other side. You putt in to a hole and then the ball goes down in to a cave which was under the waterfall to finish putting in the cup under the falls then come out from under the waterfall on this side of the pond.. I had added a 4x4 foot hole so they could see the waterfall from the inside the cave. Something I didn't plan on. On windy days the wind would blow water through the hole onto the carpet and get it dirty. So I installed some plexiglas over the hole and that solved that, just a little extra work. Number 3 green you laid down your putter and picked up a chipping iron and had to chip over a river to get to the hole. I built rivers and waterfalls everywhere. People would tell me there were more trees and flowers on our four acres than all of Odessa combined. So I went and looked myself and sure nuff, There are four trees in Odessa. kinda.    My sweet wife drove the tool truck for a couple years while I was building the golf course. She was better at sales than I and especially she could make those guys pay their bills where I would let them slide for a while. She said some would go in to the bathroom to wait until she had gone to come out again. She would knock on the door and say I am not leaving until I get some money. It took me 8 years to finish the golf course and about 6 years was changing my lay out of each nightly chore all the while doing lots of what if's. I had to replace a bunch of 2x4's making some of the greens cause they had rotted from ground contact. We had some remote control boats on a big pond with lots of shrubbery and women really bragged about the beauty we had created. Beauty yes but at a lot of extra labor. We finally got to putting name plates on most of the stuff because people could see things in the nursery and our stuff had grown larger with more flowers and things so it made our stuff more attractive, so they told us.   My thoughts were if I make mom and dad happy with our surroundings they would for sure bring the kids more often. Running the go-carts while I was building the golf course I actually paid for everything as I built...No debt when finished   I also built a kiddy track for the small kids who were too young to ride the big go carts . It only had two coin operated animals that they had to drive by them selves on a 40 foot circle.  I never saw either machine sitting  idle. My age limit to ride the carts was 9 years old but first they had to ride in front of mom or dad to show me and and the parents they were mentally old enough for them to handle the stopping and turning and this would make the parents feel more at ease....   You can't believe how many parents would lie and tell me the kid was nine just to get them to ride. Some dads thought their kids were smarter than a normal 9 year old. It took us a couple of years to come up with the age of 9. Most but not all could start to concentrate at that age, but not all. I would ask a kid how old he was before he got in the go-cart, nine was always the answer. Then as he was sitting there ready to go I would ask them what grade they were in. They had not learned to lie that good and would tell their actual grade which they would say 2nd or 3rd. If they were 9 years old and only in the 2nd or 3rd grade their minds was not ready for go-carts...   Maybe I can find this post so I can continue later. Sometimes all it takes is guts to do something different with your life. I might can convince someone it isn't that bad even it you don't come out with a good ending, at least you were brave enough to try.    Later.

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  1. The final installment of this project is just a little follow-up on the last details. My friend supplied the hardware and liner for me to install.


    The latches snap securely and installed easily, as did the hinges. The only caveat was that the sides of the case were 1/2" thick and the screws were a little longer. The difference isn't noticeable due to the type of liner he chose. The short protruding nibs actually help keep the foam in place.




    I had never worked with this material. There are a few videos on the Internet explaining how to cut and shape it to your needs. Because I was placing it inside a box and the fit needed to be perfect, I cut the foam to size on my table saw using a fine toothed blade from my circular saw. Worked Perfectly!!

    I was able to get both the lid and bottom liner from a single sheet of 58mm material. The box bottom used the piece's full thickness. The lid, however, needed the material to be a little less than 1" thick. The plan was to simply separate the 58mm foam into a thinner sheet.

    The foam is manufactured in layers. The concept is to cut out an outline of the item you want to store and then remove the foam layers to create a cavity. My thoughts were- "Hey, I'll use the same idea and just thin down the thick piece." Not so fast, pilgrim! Let's just say it sounded easier than it turned out. The surface where the material separated is extremely rough. Fortunately, that surface is not seen.

    He still hasn't decided on a carrying handle. He is thinking of something like a woven becket-


    My friend comes from a family of "finishers", so I think that part of the project will be handled by them.

    Well, that's it! Thanks for reading along

    • 2
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    • 2095

    Recent Entries

    Lighting is a subject that takes a backseat for most people as it becomes " this is what I have to work with". Even in this case it can be managed. Preferred is to have one light source with reflectors to fill in the shadows. The color temperature of the light source must be balanced and for this you can use the WB on your camera or use a grayscale card to set it based on the light you use. What this does is eliminate or strongly dilute the colors that the camera sees but your eye does not. Fluorescent light can be balanced with special color corrected bulbs, Tungston gives a warmer color. Led can also be used and would allow less heat buildup while you are in session.


    This photo was done with white balance (WB) set for flourescent and lighting was incandescent photo bulb. Note the reds on the background which is colored from white (bottom) to dark gray (top.


    This is the same light setup with WB changed to tungsten . light is not covered and is bounced off ceiling at the 4 oclock position. Note the heavy shadows.

    VASE cover light.JPG

    This shot has a tshirt cover over light to reduce harsh shadows.


    Lights can be "bounced" to give softer lighting. To bounce the light is not directly on the subject, but is aimed at the ceiling or wall giving reflected light to the subject. Remember that the color of this light is affected by the object it is reflected off of.

    The objective of lighting is not to totally eliminate shadows, but to highlight areas and leave some shadow line which will create depth in the picture. The source can be to either side from the 4 or 8 o'clock position. Tents can be used to soften and spread the lighting and you can make your own As Has Been Done Here . Reflectors can fill in light on the opposite side to fill in dark areas and for this use white fabric or Mylar reflector. These are simple to build also.

    A good point about lighting is do not lock yourself into one method. Be willing to experiment. Do not use internal flash, but do try changing settings which we will cover in other posts. While you are set up make more than one picture and try turning the piece to get shots from different angles as this will change the effect of lighting.

    All that leads to this is the set up I have. I use a plastic gradient background. The lights are either halogen worklights or a photo bulb I have had for years and dug out recently. The lights are aimed at the ceiling either over the subject or 110 degrees away from the subject. Photo space is limited for my set up so camera is 3-4 feet from subject on tripod . I just bought a remote switch I will use or you could use the time delay feature. I have 2 shop windows and I cover one to reduce the glare spot caused by external light, also turn off all other shop lighting.


    setup.JPGThis is my setup for the photo itself . With gradient backgrounds you will hereHhave the dark end at the top.





    light covered.JPG














    Here you will see the setup for the light. The swing arm allows me to change position of the light easily.


    This is a Brief Tutorial by John Lucas. John is a retired professional photographer and wood turner. We have invited him to participate with us as he has many helpful tips



    This is another tutorial on Photographing Your Work by Neal Addy.

  2. ChallengeCoin.thumb.jpg.777651eb0767d350Thank you for joining us. Below is the Military Challenge Coin Display as described by The Patriot Woodworker network. This is a design that we drew up with the help of designs seen all over the web, it is easy to build, most folks have the tools that are necessary to build it, and the finishing process is quite simple. If you don't have the tools that I am using, your sure to find a way around that, as this is as I said, very simple to build.
    This basic display is 12" long, 4 1/2" deep, 1 1/8" tall at the front, and 1 7/8" tall at the rear. The grooves are 1/4" wide and 5/16"" deep. The beauty of this design is you could take an 8' long board and mill the board out and groove it in it's entirety, and then section it up to make many coin displays at one time.
    This display unit will hold up to 20 challenge coins plus or minus as the coins can vary in size. The front face of the display is 1 1/8" tall to accommodate a name plaque if the warrior wishes to install his or her own name plate. I have found that our soldiers actually take their name tag off their Class A's uniform and apply it to the front of these displays.

    Now here we go
    This display cost me nothing to build, I had the wood on hand, and the finish on hand, it took me an hour to build this first prototype.
    I first started out with a 2" thick (8/4) by 4 3/4" by 12" long walnut blank.


    I then drew a guide line at the end of the blank, note I started at 1 1/8" up from one side to the corner of the back. After I drew the line, I laid it on the jointer and set a straight reference item such as my engineers square (it can be anything straight) to determine the angle I needed to set my jointer fence. I eyeballed this, it doesn't have to be perfect. The 1 1/8" side is your front, the front is where the name tag is secured. As you are looking at the blank, it is laying upside down on the jointer. The front is to the right against the jointer fence.


    I set my jointer to cut 1/8" increments, you can set it to whatever you want, it's purely a personal choice. After a few passes my blank is taking shape.


    The following picture is after my final pass, it really only took about 15 to 18 quick passes, about 3 or 4 minutes on the jointer to get it to this point. The final cut is a bit off the line, but I am calling it good. You see, this is not rocket science folks! It's just fun!


    Before I lay out my centers for the grooves, I set my table saw to 5 degrees and shaved off the front of the display, I am sorry I failed to get a picture of this, but just set your display upright and the back of your display against the fence, set the fence so your taking just enough off the front to make the front a 5 degree slant back as your looking at the front. Keep in mind, I am using a right tilt TS.
    Now with the front of the display cut at 5 degrees, I laid the first groove out at 5/8" from the front, then 1" on center after that, you'll end up with 4 grooves for the coins. Depending on what your blank ends up being, you might have to fudge the numbers a hair until you get an equal layout between the grooves.
    After I marked the centers, I laid out the sides of the grooves at 1/8" on both sides to make a 1/4" groove.


    Now set your TS blade at 90 degrees to cut the grooves, this allows the coins to rest in the crook or angle at the bottom of the grooves. Your natural tendency is to cut the grooves canted back, but the better option is to just lay the display face down and cut the cut grooves at a 90.


    To come up with a nice even set of grooves I set my calipers to 0.250 or 1/4". If you don't have calipers, plane a piece of wood to a 1/4" for a feeler gauge, we want these grooves to be 1/4" as close as possible.


    Then I set my blade height at 1/4". (ATTENTION, make the grooves 5/16" deep)


    Now you will have your blade set at 90 degrees, you now have your depth properly set, you are now ready to cut the coin grooves. Set your display face down, bottom side up, and with the front against the fence, set the fence to your layout line, and start your cut. I make about 3 passes per each groove, after the first two passes, I check the groove with my calipers to see where I am at.(I failed to take a shot of this process so I laid the finished display in place for a visual reference, sorry!) NOTE: the display is upside down, face down, front against the fence, rear of the display to the left of the blade.


    After the grooves are cut, you will notice the blade left a nice kerf mark at the bottom of the grooves. I took a very sharp Marples 1/4" chisel and cleaned up the bottoms of the grooves. I used the chisel in a scraping fashion. Be careful not to drag the chisel on the top edges of the grooves, it's easy to do, please don't ask me how I know. You might have to skew your chisel a hair to avoid dragging it against those edges.


    After you've cleaned up the bottoms of your grooves, you can now sand the grooves, I used a folded up piece of 120 paper, I wasn't making much progress getting the bottoms smooth with this method, so I ended up folding the paper around a piece of wood that could fit in the grooves, then the bottoms were getting the attention they needed with this method. I finished the grooves to a final sanding of 220. No one will be able to touch the inside of the grooves, so just a good sanding to clean up the chisel marks is all that is needed here.
    I sanded the entire piece with 120, 220, 400, 800, then a final burnishing with Abralon 1000. The Abralon actually burnishes the wood to a nice dull sheen. During the sanding process I paid special attention to the end grains, I love end grain when it is finished nicely, it adds a ton of character in my opinion.


    Below you'll see an Abralon pad on my ROS


    After we have sanded the display, I wrote a heartfelt message on the bottom of the display, and signed it on behalf of my family. After all your work getting this far, this in my opinion is the most important part of the entire project. This is what adds personality to your display, this is what makes your display unique, and none other in the world will be like it.
    On my display I wrote with a black Sharpie,
    "Dear Service Member: Thank you for all you've done, Thank You!! Drive on and Stand Tall, We Love You!!
    From:The Morris Family" In the lower right corner, I wrote the species of the wood used.
    Also, feel free to write your company name on the bottom, or brand it, I will be affixing a small decal on the bottom with our network name on it.


    Now we are ready to finish the display.
    I finished the display with BLO. Brush on the BLO. Let the BLO soak in for about 15 minutes on the entire piece then wipe clean. I will repeat this process two more times to get the BLO to soak in. I like the simplicity of oil. And for the coin displays, they are strictly being used on top of furnishings, not in moisture areas where a protective finish would be needed. I love the deep rich tones that BLO and Danish Oils bring out in furnishings. Once it's all dry and ready to go, I will affix four round felt pads at each corner on the bottom of the display.


    So there you have it folks.
    Keep in mind, this is only a guide to making a wonderful Challenge Coin Display for our troops. This is not the end all be all. I would like to really encourage folks to be creative, your more then welcome to come up with your own designs, and your more then welcome to use any type of wood.
    If you have any questions regarding this project, feel free to leave a comment here in this blog
    And, please take pictures of your displays and post them on our Woodworking Forum !

  3. John Morris
    Latest Entry

    The last blog post we left off with the completion of the "appreciation awards" for our veterans who work for our school district. This blog we'll check in and see what took place the night of the Big Night. Our girls and the club members really worked hard to make this a wonderful event for our school district employee veterans. On the invitations the veterans were encouraged to arrive in full dress uniform, and many did! It was a wonderful sight. Below are a couple images of some of the veterans and their dates for the evening.

    The Sargent at the left is the club advisor for our daughters club. Some of the kids from the club were stationed at the entry to welcome the guests of honor. The building where the event was held was donated by the Golden Era Golf Club locally here where we live, they frequently donate their space to veterans and military events and gatherings. They also donate the space to the high school where our daughters attend and have their club. The annual ROTC ball is held here as well. It's a tastefully decorated building, and it has some wonderful history behind it.


    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (24).JPG


    The kids welcome the guests for about a half hour as they trickled in, our daughter and club founder and president is in the background looking on with approval for how the night is unfolding, can you say "PRIDE"!

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (28).JPG


    I walked around and  took some images for the evening, the golf course loaned their kitchen out as well, so the club members were able to prepare the nights meal for our veterans. The gentleman in the center is LT. Albright, he was a mess hall cook in his Army life, and he helps out with the high school club and he is also a teacher at the school, and this night he volunteered to lead the charge in the kitchen. This man smoked pork all day long for this meal in order to serve some awesome pulled pork sandwiches for the guests and many other items on the menu as well.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (9).JPG


    Below is our younger daughter who is the Patriot Tigers treasurer, I just happened to catch her coming through the door to the kitchen as she was checking on things and making sure all was running well.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (11).JPG


    Days before this big event, the kids from the club came over to our home and assembled several boards showing what the club as been up too. Most of the images on these boards are of the clubs efforts at the Homes for Our Troops events they attended. Mama and I put a lot of road time in for these kids, we drove them all over the county, and sometimes out of the county to get them to their volunteer destinations. We all had a great time, always.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (17).JPG


    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (18).JPG


    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (19).JPG


    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (20).JPG


    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (21).JPG

    These kids worked really hard with this club, we could not be more proud of their efforts, and their Patriot spirit they demonstrated by giving back to those who gave much.


    The following images are the main dining area before the guests showed up, and you'll see an image of the patio where drinks were served.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (4).JPG


    Golfing in the background! The drink service area, some of the Patriot Tigers are serving our veterans. The man to the left being served is Colonel Sick, he is an Air Force Colonel and he is also the commandant of our 6th grade sons military school he is attending.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (14).JPG


    Below are the awards I made for the veterans, they have a wonderful prominent position in this event, I was proud of them as I looked on and took this picture.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (6).JPG


    My wife below, she stands proudly by the club boards as she and I both remember all the hard work our kids, and the club members put into their Patriot Tigers club.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (31).JPG


    The opening ceremony is about to begin, and the ROTC is warming up before the event and the presentation of the colors.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (33).JPG


    The guests are starting to take their seats and the ceremony begins. And dinner is served.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (34).JPG


    After dinner, the honorees were each presented their plaques. I really like the way the kids did this. Here is what our daughter stated at the microphone before the awards were handed out.

    "Dear Veterans, please stand when your name is called, please do not approach the podium, you have done enough for us in service of our nation, we will come to you and present you the plaque".

    I thought this was pure class, when the name was called, the veteran stood in place at their table, then each Patriot Tiger club member took turns walking to the veteran, and presenting them the plaque at their table, and each child shook their hand, and gave them a solemn message of thanks, it was done very nicely. Then after the plaques were handed out, they were all called for a group picture.

    Our daughter is at the far right in this image, and our younger daughter is the next young lady to her right, and next to the man in the grey shirt.

    Patriot Tigers Veterans Event (36).JPG


    This was a really fun project for everyone involved. I cannot say enough how impressed we are with the kids involved, and the adults who welcomed the opportunity to come to this event. This was an evening presentation, and our veterans came to this event on their own time. So you could say, these veterans keep on giving, even after service. By coming to this event, they allowed our children to express their thanks, and to be a part of something wonderful. Thank you veterans!

    Please click on link to view the program below.



    And we'd love to thank everyone who helped!


    A special note about our supporters of The Patriot Woodworker. I was able to create the awards for our veterans only because our supporters have contributed funding to our organization, and with some of the funds, the material for the awards was purchased, and so where the service medallions that went on the awards. All in all, about 375.00 dollars was used to create these awards, and we could not have done it without the support of our tools and supplies retailers who are year around sponsors of The Patriot Woodworker, thank you sponsors!


    Links of interest

    Patriot Tigers High School Club

    San Jacinto High School


    The Supporters

    Anadys Trophies and Engravings

    Laguna Tools

    Woodcraft Supply

    Pony Tools

    Easy Wood Tools

    Bessey Tools

    Golden Era Productions Golf Course


    our supporters.jpg





  4. lew
    Latest Entry

    And Finally:

    The last bit of machining was to create the two lower shelves. The minister wanted to keep the “maple” look for the shelves but hard maple is a little expensive so we went with soft maple.

    shelf material.JPG



    Planed everything to ¾” and used biscuits to help with alignment during glue up. I made these shelves full width during the glue-ups

    shelf glue ups.JPG



    A card scraper brought everything smooth.

    shelf scraping.JPG


    I sized the shelves using the same procedures as the top. Cut to length and width with the skill saw and a guide; then used the router, flush trim bit and a guide to finish off the saw marks.

    shelf trim.JPG


    shelf trim 2.JPG

    The guide is held in place with double sided tape and screws. The screw holes are located in the area that will be removed where the shelf wraps around the legs. I also ran the chamfer detail around the perimeter of both shelves.

    Marked and cut the corners

    shelf corners.JPG

    shelf corner 2.JPG


    Finished shelves

    finished shelves.JPG


    One more dry fit to make certain everything fits

    final dry fit clamps.JPG

    final dry fit clamps 2.JPG

    final dry fit corners.JPG


    Set the top in place to locate and thread the lag bolt holes.

    final dry fit top.JPG


    While I had the top in position, I did its’ final sanding and oiling. The top is sanded through 320 grit. I used two applications of mineral oil; allowing each to soak in about a day. Then, I used one application of hot “Bumble Bee Wax”- a blend of mineral oil and bee’s wax. Once that cooled, I buffed it out with an old towel.

    oiled top 6.JPG

    oiled top 2.JPG


    A final dis-assembly; the maple shelves sanded through 320 grit; the poplar pieces sanded through 180 grit. All of the hardware was pre-drilled and pre-threaded using bee’s wax to lubricate the holes.

    The minister set a time and date to pick up the table and transport it to the church. It has to make the journey from south central PA to Ithaca NY. The day before he arrived, Mimi and I carried everything- except the top- to the carport and I did the final assembly. Due to the dimensions, the shelves had to be set in place during the assembly/glue up. That really added to the weight!

    The minister arrived right on time and we loaded the base and top into his van. The church members are going to do the final assembly and finishing on site.

    It was a long process and I was relieved that he was satisfied with the work. Even though we communicated via email and pictures, it is difficult to know what something is really like.

    Several days later, I received this picture

    Table at church2.JPG



    I think the church members did an outstanding job painting and finishing the table. It looks right at home there in the kitchen.

    If you made it this far, thanks for following along. Also, thanks to John Moody for the advice on the butcher block top.

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  5. So I'm down to making gifts for the nurses at my doctor's office. I rarely visit the office for a "Sick Call" but I do take care of their computers. It's always an inconvenience for the nurses when I have to interrupt their routines, so I try and make up for it by making each of them a little something every year. 


    My sister gave me this idea a couple of years ago when she gifted me a turned scoop and I've been meaning to make some ever since. I had some walnut and maple boards left from previous projects so they got glued into turning blanks.



    Some were all walnut and some were walnut and maple combinations. Mounted between lathe centers, I turned a chuck tenon on each blank.



    Over the years, I got tired of measuring the calipers every time I turned a chuck tenon so I made this quick little helper jig to make the measurements. One side is for the tenon, the other side of the jig is for measuring for the outside of the chuck mounting.




    Sizing the tenon



    As I was making a bunch of these, I do each operation to all of the blanks before moving on to the next step.



    Next, removed the drive center and replaced it with the chuck and prepared to drill out the bulk of the material for the scoops. The first hole was just under 2" in diameter (my largest Forstner bit)



    this hole set the depth of the scoop. Because I wanted the "back" of the scoop to be more rounded, I needed to also set the depth limit of that portion as well. I used my shop made drilling gauge to finish out the settings.





    Finished drilling



    The blanks were then remounted in the chuck in preparation for completing the insides. To assure the blanks get centered properly, I made a cone adapter that fits over the tail stock live centerIMG_6013.JPG


    Once securely chucked, The cone is pulled out and work can begin enlarging and shaping the inside. Each of the square blanks were slightly different dimensions, so every scoop was unique.



    I did sand the inside of each blank as it was shaped using my shop made ball sander. The ball sander is from Mr. David Reed Smith. You can read the free instructions here- http://www.davidreedsmith.com/articles/foamballsander/foamballsander.htm.



    Once the inside was sanded, the outside of the blank was rounded, using the cone for support. I have several of these cones- of different sizes- and they really come in handy.



    To be able to shape the outside of the scoops, I needed to reference to depth of the rounded "back". A simple depth indicator does the trick.



    (Notice the black indicator mark near the chuck end of the blank. I have gotten into the habit of marking my blanks with a reference mark that aligns with a reference mark on the chuck. This assures the blanks are always remounted in the same orientation in the chuck.) 


    The depth of the recess is transferred to the outside of the rounded blank.




    The blanks are all marked and read for shaping.




    Set the overall length, and shape the scoops







    When I finished the shaping and sanding, I had 9 "bells" of which I forgot to take a picture.


    Anyway, To convert the "bells" into scoops, I needed to cut each one on the bandsaw. Problem here was trying to safely hold each one and to be sure the cut was vertical across the scoop opening. To accomplish this I made a jig to hold the scoop. The following pictures describe the process-





    This hole was drilled almost through the blank and then enlarged to match the average diameter of the scoops.








    A piece of 1/4" plywood in tacked to one of the jaws of the wooden screw clamp and one half of the drilled block is also attached to that jaw. The opposite jaw with attached half block is free to move.





    The jig and its' base made it easy to cut the curved profile on the scoop opening.



    All cut and ready for finish sanding



    With the hot bee's wax/mineral oil finish



    I think the presents are done for this year. A few extra scoops in case we need a quick present- or I forgot some one! Thanks for following along!


    I've mentioned that to take advantage of the potential of one of these little laser engravers  there are some software programs to know. One of these is an open source program called "inkscape". To someone who has never used it, inkscape can be intimidating as there are so many menus, options, controls, etc. etc. With a little effort it all starts to make sense and a person begins to understand what is going on. This is a little step-by-step to create a name tag file that can be used with a cnc laser or cnc engraver. Once the main template is created it's a simple matter to change the name to rout or engrave several different tags.






    The picture above is the main screen from inkscape. As you can see there are menus and tool bars all over the place. The only one that concerns us just now is the one on the right of that picture and the close up just to the right of this text. This dialogue defines the size of the document we're creating. One of nice things about inkscape is the ability to create a working page whatever size is needed. For a name tag that's about 3.5"X 2.4". The laser software is written in millimeters so the document will be created in millimeters. In this case, 90X58 millimeters. Inkscape will work in mm, inches, feet, or even pixels. The document page is outlined in the above picture.




















    oval frame.png

    After creating the page three items were added to it. First, a rectangle slightly smaller than the document. This defines the actual size of the name tag as the laser will engrave this box and provide a guide for cutting out the tag. These small lasers aren't powerful enough for actually cutting wood, not even thin veneer. By engraving the rectangle I don't have to measure to cut but can just follow the line inscribed by the laser.

    Then, two decorative ovals were drawn. There are menu boxes to size, position, and manipulate the ovals or any other object. A person can even determine how thick the drawing line is. At this point the file is saved in inkscape as an SVG file. That is the inkscape default format. SVG stands for scale-able vector graphic. That type of graphic can be made larger or smaller without losing detail or resolution. This is now my master template, From now on the only design changes will be different names as required. When a name is added  Steve.png

    it probably won't be exactly where you want it. For this example I'm going to center it on the page which is also the center point of the ovals. Incidentally, the rectangle and the ovals were centered on the page using the same method. Notice in the example the "name" is selected. It can be moved around, rotated, enlarged, or made smaller.








    centering.pngCentering an object on a page couldn't be easier with inkscape. Simply open the "alignment menu and choose what you want to do. Again, only because the program is so powerful there are many options. Looking at the menu to the right you can see I've chosen to align my name relative to the page. The two symbols I've pointed out represent vertical centering and horizontal centering. Simply clicking on those center the name perfectly on the page. A person can also choose to center items relative to each other or a dozen other options.




    At this point it does get a little tricky. Its important to keep in mind a laser engraver is basically a plotter and not a printer. A printer moves the print head back and forth. As the paper advances the printer makes a dot in the right place, connect the dots and you get a picture or text. A plotter actually follows a path, much like writing in cursive. So, a path must be created that the plotter can follow. Two more steps and the file will be ready to send to the laser. First, all four objects, the rectangle, the two ovals, and the name must be selected.








    group.pngYou can see a selection box around all four objects and I've chosen the option "group" in the drop down menu. That will make all of the objects one entity as far as inkscape is concerned. If I enlarge one, they will all be enlarged the same amount. After grouping them the selection boxes morph into one box as there is now only one object.

    At this point there is one more operation before the file can be saved and that is to add the object to the "path" After, the file is saved in "DXF" format which is a "desktop cutting plotter" file.









    This may seem a lot of steps but in reality it takes about five minutes to do this start to finish. Once the master template is created the name can edited in about a minute. This is a very simple example of creating a file that a laser or cnc engraver can read. The next step is to open the laser software and load the dxf file for engraving.














  7.  We left a very perfect size shop where we retired from. A  40x60  with a concrete floor.

     So in thinking ahead with my lovely we won't need that much shop cause in our visions every road and highway is the U S was going to be our work shop.

        Wild thinking but hey the very first 8 years of our last business we were open 7 days a week. Every day and even when it rained, we had many things to do. 

    From experience, so believe me when I say build a shop for 20 or 30 years down the road. It will eventually get to where every tool and piece of machinery known to man and a few gorillas will end up in your shop. And lots of those just got to have, I can't work another day with out those new inventions never gets touched again. They are there taking up room and yes you will smirk and brag to every one who enters your shop. I almost have to pay someone to come in my door anymore cause all the people I know has learned their lessons. Once I finally get someone inside the door they claim I lock it so every one who enters has to go through the long sermons everyone has learned word for word over the years...

       Side tracked from my story already and not even talking bout the size of a shop. Men know size matters. In less than six months after I finished my shop I was tearing out the north end of the building fixing to add 12 more feet so now it would be 30x62. A motor home came into our life and I didn't want any part of it fading...when parked at home. But with all those highways, and some of them are even free to drive down but in a round about way still cost a bundle. Every trip we took a new map and a different color of Marks A Lot was used was to show every road we drove down... A new map and the marker thing was a results from the very first trip we went on right after we got married. This was before any kids showed up on our doors. We still argue how we got to Florida from Texas. Now every trip is recorded in color. I wounder if the markers fades like sales receipts? 

        Never having gone to any kind of construction or building classes, the library was my best friend. Having lived in the Lubbock area after I got out of high school another learning place was in the area where new homes  was being built. I never talked to any carpenters on the jobs but would sit around and watch. I bet they all thought , that is the youngest inspector we ever saw. I might have been responsible for their doing better work when I came around..I did witness a few guys who had picked up  hand full of nails for the other side of the house and had to put them on the ground and get some for the side they were working on.... 

       After having put up the forms for more concrete for the extension and waiting for the concrete trucks to show up it dawned on me this adding to another existing building was going to be somewhat harder than building one out all by itself.. So this is where I will show wife how exact my style really is, bowling or horse shoes or building a building a person should be at his best for all the world to see. 

      I used oil field up set tubing for all the up rights and had welded flat 6x6 plate steel to the bottom and top of three foot long 2 7/8 tubing burried  in the footing before the concrete was poured. So after the concrete set up I welded the steel studs on to the foundation.

     The building structure is ridgid and will be there after a tornado comes through. They might be bent all the way to the ground but will still be there.

        So how do I get the same exact roof slope and wall sides exactly in line so they will match up like it was all built at once. Quick and easy to say>>>>>>>>>>>>>

     I think I ended up with thirty different string lines going all kinds of directions and the metal siding and metal roof panels were not hardly faded in the six months or so they were up so hey, it all looks like one unit..

       When you work by your self you do things differently and make helpers using other methods. A really old fork lift that would only reach 8 foot high was my best helper.  I built an addition that would allow me using a chain hoist to lift up the pipe trusses to more than 16 foot in the air so I could let them down on 9 foot tall  2 7/8 pipe uprights and rest there while I jumped down off the forklift and weld each truss every ten foot  on the wall pipes. The old Perkins motor of the fork lift smoked like a mosquitoe sprayer but as long as I run it at an idle it worked great. Make the trusses stay sitting on top of a 2 7/8 " pipe I used 2 pair of Vise Grip chain wrench's locking two pieces of metal on to each side of the up right pipes. Thus making a saddle and the fork lift keeping them in the air, I could go in an get a cup of coffee while the trusses sat there..

     The only help I got was one day after I had put most all the sheet metal up on the walls a brother in law drove up and said looks like you might need some help. Well I could have used some the three previous weeks but yes today finishing up I could use it.

       The trusses I built one on top of the other laying down on the concrete. My reasoning, if one truss was crocked they all would match and would make the sheet iron all lay flat and pretty.

       I knew after all this extra extending would not get the motor home a place to park inside for the motor home clearance is 12'4" and the shop has 9 foot walls. I would get the extra clearance by cutting out the inside of the pipe trusses but first I would have to drill holes in the concrete installing new pipes under the end of each truss I would  have to cut out.  This was I would still have each end of each truss welded in to the ground through the concrete.IMG_8505.JPGIMG_8510.JPG 

     This area was a trailer paint room last week.


    Then after I got each pipe buried in the concrete and welded under each truss I could go ahead and using a cutting torch cut the inside of each truss that was in the way. The motor home just barely fits but I have walking room beside it and I still have working space on each side of the shop and still have a 30 x 20 insulated with heat and air plus the shop area for wifes stained glass  8x20 heated and air.

      Oh and I was smart enough when putting up the concrete forms to lay pipe and drains for bathroom  and sink which saves lots of walking.

       I have more nonsense on shops but gotta wire my trailer right now thats it warm out.


  8. So with the koozie glued, there really isn't much left but the fun part.  I threw it on the lathe in my new oversized jaws and went to work.  I started slow, about 500 RPM because I didn't know how fast I could go with something this size.  Eventually I bumped it up to 800 and settled at about 1000RPM.  I used my Sorby roughing gouge to get it round (mainly because it is my favorite tool) and finished smooth with the circular carbide tip.  I also slightly rounded over the top lip and flattened the bottom with it as well. 

    After turning I prefer to 'wet' sand with some stuff I picked up at Woodcraft.  I saw it on YouTube and have used it on my finished wood ever since.  It is the combo of Doctors Woodshop of walnut finishing oil and pens plus.  I use the walnut finishing oil to wet sand at 80, 150, and 220 grit.  It keeps the dust down and makes quick work of sanding.  I finish with the Pens Plus friction polish.  Gives the wood a nice shine and is durable.


    I did not do much work on the inside of the cylinder.  Instead I cut the bottom off a neoprene koozie and layered it with 300 level heavy duty spray adhesive.  I gently slid it inside the koozie then inserted a can to hold it in place while the glue dried.


    Done.  That is it.  In total it took about 10 hours, but this was just a single koozie.  I am pretty sure I can batch them out with little more time added to production.  The backlog would likely occur when trimming the inside diameter of each ring.  Turning the outside diameter was quick, barely needed to remove more than corners.  Sanding was also quick.  So in all fairness if I could find a better way, or simply ignore the ID it would speed the process up.


    Concerns or things I would change:  The neoprene insert was probably not the best idea.  I did it because I was not sure how well plain wood would resist moisture and temp change like this repeatedly.  It also provides insulation and makes up for minor errors within the koozie I have difficulties correcting.  However, with those advantages it is still the biggest detractor.  After multiple inserts and removals of a can the koozie begins to roll, peel and fray.  It generally looks like a hot mess.  I will probably continue to use it until another option presents itself but it is the thing I dislike the most.

    The sled concept worked amazingly well.  I would never have attempted such a project without it.  Making my first project with such small segments probably wasn’t a great idea but it performed flawlessly.  If I had a complaint it would be in ‘trapping’ segments once they are cut.  The 45 degree wedge worked to keep the segments away most of the time, but there were still many times where I had to stop cutting and figure out where the segment ricocheted off to.  My saw blade probably could be a little sharper, and cutting Oak may also contributed to it.  However one in five segments was launched to various parts of my shop and it became frustrating and time consuming to find them.

    That is it.  Not sure what I can add or what I missed.  If there are questions, concerns, or recommendations I would love to hear them.  I can go back and try and recreate various points if you feel there was lack of explanation on how I got there, or just to clarify something that didn’t come across well.  I would also appreciate inputs on writing style.  I tend to me a slightly sarcastic person by nature and that tends to get lost sometimes in translation to paper (screen…see, there it goes again…). 


    Finally, thank you for reading.  The internet is vast and unending and you chose to spend a few minutes here with me on this silly little project.  I appreciate your time.





  9. With the base finished, all that was left to do was trim out the top with the walnut edge trim. Glue, clamps and some pin nails.


    I forgot to take photos of the top to apron mounting system but this Sketchup drawing should explain what I did. These are simple wooden clips with their tabs captured in slots that run around the perimeter of the inside of the aprons. The slot is 1/4" wide by 3/8" deep. The clips are cut from 3/4" thick maple and the tabs sized of a snug fit in the slots. Screws are used to secure the clip to the top. The hole is slightly over-sized and the screws are the type used for pocket holes- nice large heads.



    The finished table is awaiting pickup-





    The church members are going to apply the finish. If they send a picture, I'll add it here.


    Thanks for following along and the very kind comments that have been posted along the way.

  10.  dscn0897c


    It may be easier to buy those plastic handled pumpkin cutters at your local mart store for this project, but where is the woodworking fun and challenge plus an opportunity to go to your favorite woodworking store and talk shop at Woodcraft! We have all the items required to make these tools in case you don’t already have them in your shop.

    Here is what you will need. For a roughing cutter we used a jig saw blade, and for finishing and finer trim work we used a scroll saw blade. Add a couple of dowels, your choice of adhesive, some assembly and you’re ready to carve.


    First we cut a couple of 1/2″ dowels, 3″ – 4″ in length, but you can decide what diameter and length is the best fit for your hands. Second, drill a hole to fit the end of the blades into the dowels. Smooth the ends of the dowels by sanding a chamfer to the edges.  If you want to make a point on the end of the blades, do so by cutting the scroll saw and jig saw blades at your desired angle using wire cutters or a grinder can be used as well.  You may want to cut the blades to 4″ in length or at your specific length choice depending upon your pumpkin design.

    We used CA Glue on the square end of the jig and scroll saw blades and affixed them by drilling a round hole and cutting a slot in the dowel piece. You can also use E6000 Adhesive, Titebond Quick and Thick Multi-Surface Glue or System Three 5 Minute Epoxy. If all you have is thin CA Glue, that will work with a larger application amount.


    You now have a set of rough and detailed cutters for pumpkin carving.  They are safer to use than a kitchen knife and you can create more imaginative designs.  Treat your Halloween guests to some LED lighting effects in your pumpkins by using flashlights like these that you can also find at Woodcraft.com or your local participating Woodcraft stores.  If you wish to do some detailed or caricature pumpkin carving, check out our Realistic Pumpkin Carving Books at Woodcraft too!


    This pumpkin carving adventure is brought to you by our own VP of Distribution and Purchasing, Jerry Van Camp. After he crafted the carving tools, our pumpkins were carved by our local Geppetto’s Woodcarvers in Parkersburg, WV which meet every Thursday at noon at Woodcraft.


    Afterwards, we had a little Trunk or Treat for the families of Woodcraft employees and their children! Enjoy our Woodworking Adventure in this video…

  11. These were all done with one inch square six inch long configurations.  So this




    broken apart, turned and glued.  Looks like this.




    Turned to just round, looks like this.




    Shaped and finish applied.  Anything that fits through the window can be hung inside for added effect.  Some beads are hung in this one.




    Two smaller ornaments made from one glue up.
















  12. Jesse-Par_US-Marine.png

    U.S. Marine Veteran Cpl. Jesse Paredes (above)


    Time and time again, I have found that woodworkers have the biggest hearts in giving back when it comes to helping others. Assistance comes in many different forms, sometimes sharing their wisdom in the shop with projects to opening up their shops for education. But when it involves another human being who has been compromised by a misfortune in health or disability, woodworkers are the first to knock on the door to offer help, or come to the rescue with aid.  I have found woodworkers building shops for the disabled, helping them to acquire tools, picking their fellow woodworker up, driving them to and from an event, physician, rehab or hospital and just being there with their families. Many of these involve our returning service personnel who have faithfully served their country, and have come back with injuries, disabilities, and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). This is the case for U.S. Marine Veteran Cpl. Jesse Paredes.




    Jesse was in the NWSS (Nuclear Weapons Support Section) ground support division, flown into Central Iraq with the Osprey MV-22 helicopter/plane which has the ability to takeoff and land horizontally and vertically. Although his expertise is being a professional chef, he along with his division were trained in the infantry QRF (Quick Reaction Force) to Al Asad FOB (Fowarding Operating Base).  Jesse explained, “There are many great people in Iraq desiring peace, but also needing and wanting our help as they welcomed us into their villages.  Some of the Marines got together and donated toys to the children while stationed in Iraq.  He mentioned that the media sometimes paints a picture that all things are bad where we end up serving. That is not the case.  There was more good going on working with the people here.”


    tanks the-chapel cimg0156




    According to Jesse, “This area has small pockets of insurgents which not only strong arm our troop divisions, but also bully the peaceful communities living there.”  During the operation in which their main mission was to build water wells for three villages, they were driving back when they hit what turned out to be an old IED (Improvised Explosive Device).  Jesse was thrown from the vehicle and was injured. He has since finished his contract with the Marines, and has been honorably discharged.




    Jesse returned home to his small 2-bedroom apartment located in a complex in Southern California.  With nerve damage and internal injuries to his lower back, arms and wrists, he tried working for a while as a pro chef with some VA compensation. However the pain was too much to continue standing for long periods of time and the VA compensation was not enough to live on.  Jesse tries to work in his shop as much as possible every day, trying to get past the pain.  Usually 3-4 hours per day is all he can handle, as numbing, cold, pins and needles from nerve disorder sets into his fingertips and up his arms.

    Jesse also has PTSD, or as the Veterans prefer to call it, the “Lieutenant Dan Syndrome” where harboring a plethora of feelings involving dislocation, hatred, shame, non-usefulness and being unneeded is a constant issue.  Additionally, “Fear of and in your own life from things you had to do, but didn’t want to do is an internal daily battle”, said Jesse.  He also remarked, “Some can handle it, and others can’t due to their upbringing as they fight to understand their internal moral and ethical compass, some end up taking their own lives.”




    After reaching a settlement for his injuries, Jesse decided to get back into hobby woodworking that he loved so much during his shop classes in school.  He turned one of the 10′ x 10′ bedrooms in his apartment into a workshop.  To ensure safety, he padded the walls and floor with fire retardent underlayment for safety and materials to protect the room interior.  In addition Jesse added sound absorption materials for noise reduction in respect for the neighboring apartments.  Buying some cheap hand tools he began to create small boxes. His “shop” was not equipped with any high end or power tools tools, machines or even a workbench that he could perfect his skills with.  He began looking on YouTube at various woodworking videos to further educate himself, and came across Rob Cosman’s Online workshops.  Jesse stated, “I was drawn to Rob because he reminded me so much of my Uncle.  I admire him for his woodworking education, skill level, intellect, confidence, personality and just the way he carries himself, all attributes that my Uncle had.”




    Jesse decided to email Rob and asked if Rob might have some reconditioned, flawed or less than perfect tools at a lower cost.  Rob emailed back a couple of weeks later during a week in which Jesse learned that a couple of his Veteran friends had taken their lives due to PTSD.  It was a real “emotional boost” for Jesse to hear from Rob.  Jesse immediately recognized Rob’s voice from all the videos he had viewed on YouTube and Rob’s site.  During those two weeks, Rob had already put together a plan of action to help Veterans like Jesse.

    Through the student woodworkers at Rob’s Ontario based workshops, including a special “Santa Claus” who shall remain anonymous,  also Col. Luther (retired) from Seattle, Tony from Australia, have all donated thousands of dollars, which have intern been used for tool purchases, and donated to Jesse and others.  The tools include one of Rob’s Sjobergs workbenches, used only one week during the class, packaged back into it’s original box and shipped to Jesse with the help of Barb and Ann at Woodcraft‘s customer service department.  Tools donated to the cause were various WoodRiver hand planes, a WoodRiver Block Plane, a Scrub Plane, a set of Rob Cosman Hand Saws, educational materials and many other tools, all of which you can see in the photo above.  Jesse commented, “I love all my new tools, but especially the WoodRiver Planes!”




    Rob and Jesse are now on a mission to give wounded/disabled Vets an opportunity to try hand tool woodworking as potential therapy for a path to peace from their injuries and PTSD.  It’s working for Jesse, and may work for others.  Putting the hands and mind together to woodwork and create takes their thoughts to a positive world.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Jesse’s story struck Rob’s heart, and Rob has initiated a new program for all Wounded Warriors, with a FREE Lifetime Membership to Rob Cosman’s Online Hand-Tool-Workshop.  In addition to the free training and motivation through Rob’s Online WorkshopRob will also donate 10% of all Hand Saw sales to put tools in the hands of these Veterans.  Listen closely to the details and story about Jesse, Rob, and the secret Santa.  We hope you’ll be inspired to help these Vets too!





    As shown in the video, Jesse has attended Rob’s Workshop Program and demoed along with Rob during our Woodcraft of Boise class.  A big thank you to Monte Eldfrick, owner of the Boise store and all of the crew there for welcoming and assisting Rob and Jesse.

    Going forward, Jesse’s goals are to teach graphic design/plan classes, make small boxes, tool chests, cabinets, workbenches, specialized dressers that fold out to a workbench for other Veterans/woodworkers with small or apartment workshops.

    To apply to the Hand Tools For Vets Free Lifetime Membership, go to this Registration Page: http://robcosman.memberlodge.com/vets, and pass the word on to the Veteran’s you may know.

    In the woodworking world, Rob is known as “Your Hand Tool Coach”, but like the Osprey bird named for the Osprey MV-22 aircraft which carries our troops to help others; Rob, Jesse and the host of workshop students, I name, “Your Osprey Veteran Woodworking Warriors”.  Together with these warriors, you can make a difference in helping Jesse carry the flag to help beat PTSD for our returning Veterans.  Help give new meaning to life for all injured and disabled Veterans through woodworking.

    If you wish to help Jesse and/or Rob in this cause, email Jesse at azraelreedeemed@gmail.com and rob@robcosman.com.

  13. Turn a pen to thank an American service member!

    On the weekend of Nov. 11-12, hundreds of woodturners will gather at participating Woodcraft stores across the country to make special thank-you gifts for military personnel during the 13th Woodcraft Turn for Troops National Turn-a-Thon. To participate in this national event, contact the nearest Woodcraft store  for more details.




    Volunteer turners will craft one-of-a-kind wood pens for military personnel on active duty or recovering at rehabilitation centers. Woodcraft will provide tools and supplies, and turners are encouraged to include a personal thank-you message with each pen that may also include details about the pen such as the wood used.

    Since the turn-a-thon began, volunteers of all ages have turned 132,398 unique handcrafted writing instruments for military men and women in recognition of their service to their country. Of that total, 12,909 pens were turned in 2015.



    “It may just be a pen to you and I, but for Soldiers going to or just surviving a combat zone, your small gift tells them that people still care.” – US Army Chaplain


    Woodcraft continues to sponsor the Turn for Troops event because many Americans are still serving in harm’s way to protect the United States,” Woodcraft president Jody Garrett said. “Woodcraft recognizes the tremendous sacrifices they are making, both in time away from their families and in instances where injuries have resulted in time spent in rehabilitation centers.”

    The handmade pens may be small in size, but a U.S. Army chaplain who handles distribution of many of the pens, made this observation: “It may just be a pen to you and I, but for Soldiers going to or just surviving a combat zone, your small gift tells them that people still care.




    That message has been repeated in the many thank-you notes sent to Woodcraft over the years, including the two below.

    A sailor serving on the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier in 2014 wrote: “We are embarked on an extended deployment and still have a few months to go. Receiving a gift like this means more than you can imagine. Thanks for supporting the men and women of the armed forces. It’s great to know that people like you have our backs.”

    In 2012, this note came from Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan: “I just wanted to say thank you for the work, dedication and craftsmanship that went into making the pens for us. I received my pen a couple of days before Christmas, and it is great to know that Americans took time from their day to make and send us such a great gift. I never thought the words ‘Handmade in the USA’ would look so good!  Thank you, Merry Christmas and God Bless America!


    If you have never turned a pen but would like to participate in the turn-a-thon, check with your local Woodcraft store about whether first-time pen turning instructions will be provided the day of the turn-a-thon.


    We hope you’ll be inspired to stop by and show your support of our US Troops! 




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    Recent Entries

    IMG_2776.thumb.JPG.038a46e86c2d28ee0d06a466a8fd112e.JPGHave to start with a glue up . Did not think I could find 6 x 6 dry pine so here we go with 3 pieces of 2 x 6. Tried to get the knots toward the surface outer edges as these would be turned off. Remember you can never have too many clamps



















    IMG_2780.thumb.JPG.f9691888c86c339b9c76c202c1ee3441.JPGAfter squaring the blanks on table saw we will need a centered hole to assemble the two parts of the post as this lathe is not long enough to turn as one piece.

















    IMG_2783.thumb.JPG.db4e9dbb25a5fcf19e69c329d2b72960.JPGHaving that hole creates a stabilization problem for turning which is solved by using a cone center in the tailstock.
















    fluting jigfluting jig top














    The left picture is the fluting jig cutting the upper post . The right picture shows a closer look at the the jig cutting the post.















    These are the finished post parts with fluting done on one. Right picture shows the connection for the parts of the post.



    This round turning and finial go on top of the headboard and footboard.



    This shows the incomplete mortise and tenon to join the posts to foot and head boards. The raised panels are installed and at this point are prestained.



    The complete project. Not exact but a close similarity to a bed we lost when our house was flooded over 30 years ago.

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    Recent Entries


    Cherry Entertainment Towers

    Posted 8/25/2007 11:36 PM CDT

    Had been encouraged by the wife to build these for some time now. Spent maybe a year checking other designs an making plans. Tracking my time and will give it when finish.

        The towers are 6 ft tall X 22 inch wide and 24 inch deep.Caucus began with making raised panels for the sides. The sizes basically echo the interior.

    P3251650 (Medium).JPG

    The panels are prefinished with BLO and Garnet Shellac for base color. Will cover all with varnish on exterior when complete.
    P3311651 (Medium).JPG
    Glue up of a panel this size and number of panels was a challenge and provided several lessons in how to get the panels and rail in evenly.
    P6221888 (Medium).JPG
    Dados cut into rails to fit plywood shelves and make for a more secure joint.
    P7101911 (Medium).JPG
    Caracas glue up using blocks cut to ensure square. Sides are rabbited to give more glue area for face frames. Face frames are joined together with pocket screws.
    P7101914 (Medium).JPG
    Caracas with face frame attached now ready for base of 2X4 lumber with covering of cherry with simple molded edge
    P7191930 (Medium).JPG
    The crown molding was a 4 piece made at the router table (top plate, crown and cove) and tablesaw (dentel)

    P8221998 (Medium).JPGP8221999 (Medium).JPG

    This is what the build on the molding looks like.

    IMG_0430.JPGPB252125 (Medium).JPG


    After a few years we got rid of the old tv for an LED so needed a stand.. Made this to fit the existing spot and placed wheels on it for ease of wiring. Shelves made to fit existing equipment . Was expecting to place the bass in the large hole and place a door on it but changed my mind after reading about magnets and tvs.


    Used pocket screws for a hump over the wheels so that they do not appear to the eye,


    This almost makes the shlf look like it is floating . Once trim was added to front wheels are covered.



    Forgot to take a pic of the completed stand so had to stop and do that. The top is beaded and has a beaded molding added plus a cove.



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    Recent Entries

    When it comes to sustainability, Warren McKenney of Marinette, Wisconsin, practices what he preaches. Warren believes in the 3 R’s: recycle, re-purpose and reclaim – and he shares that philosophy wherever he goes.

    Playing guitars as a youngster, Warren also became proficient at fixing them when they broke, as they often did. These days, he uses materials he saves from old homes or finds in dumpsters to create unique re-purposed wood guitars.


    A part-time construction instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Warren (who bears a passing resemblance to musician Neil Young) uses his pallet guitar concept as a way to get at-risk youths to use their hands in a productive way. He also teaches guitar building classes at his workshop, a converted 1904 two-story grocery store in Marinette. Oh, and in his spare time, he is a sustainable residential building contractor who has worked  in the construction field for 35 years.


    “People don’t realize the talent they may have buried. They’re just afraid to try it. Try something.” – Warren McKenney, guitar builder



    The guitars built in his classes can range from acoustic, semi solid electrics to electric guitars, depending on the student’s preference. His students are all ages and backgrounds, but one thing remains the same when Warren teaches – “Everything has to be re-purposed,” he explained. “That’s the object of it.” Class meets 1-2 days a week for 6 weeks, and everyone is encouraged to bring in donated or re-purposed materials to use. One gentleman brought in his old walnut cabinets and made a beautiful guitar from the wood. Generally the only things new on these instruments are strings and fret wire, although Warren has been known to strip an old guitar for parts. Most of the students have never worked with wood before, so Warren finds it particularly appealing to teach to those who feel they can’t do a little woodworking or be creative with their minds and hands.


    “We as protectors of our environment need not waste.” – Warren McKenney


    Warren’s classes allow beginners, after safety training, to gain experience using various power tools, including 12” planer, oscillating sander, edge planer, router, table saw, palm sander, belt sander, and drills. They also use hand tools like chisels, cutters and carving tools to create the final look they are after.



    “People don’t realize the talent they may have buried. They’re just afraid to try it,” he encourages. “Try something.” And by following Warren’s three R’s, you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get started. “It’s pretty much your imagination and your hands. If you can do that, you can make it work.”

    One of Warren’s younger students, teenager Max, built this “Ax” guitar made completely with recycled and reclaimed materials. It has three layers of mixed wood species and aluminum fret marks inlaid into the hand-made fretboard. “Not bad for 14 years old,” Warren beamed. “Plays well and it’s got that wicked look.”



    To build a guitar with Warren’s method, he said he starts with the wood. “It depends on what I have around,” he explained. For the main body, he often uses pallets, which he can generally get for free from a local trucking company. “Pallets are made with beautiful wood, once planed and sanded,” Warren said. “And they have to be strong so you know the wood is good.” In a musical sense, stringed instruments need good, durable wood in order for the tones to resonate. He also reclaims flooring, stadium seating and other items, saying “I’m not afraid to dumpster dive if I see something.”

    He often mixes species of wood in order to have enough to complete the project at hand, sometimes using various pieces of scrap wood artfully added into the design. “We as protectors of our environment need not waste,” Warren stated. “Use those small pieces of wood and incorporate them into works of art.” One example of this is the “Monarch” guitar seen here, which is a 12-string hollow electric concert size guitar. The monarch’s body in the center is made from a piece of a flowering crab-tree that was hit by lightning. All other pieces were made from leftover walnut and ash flooring, and cut and shaped by hand. There are no dyes used; what you see is all natural coloring in the various wood types.


    “I’m not afraid to dumpster dive if I see something.” – Warren McKenney



    The entire body of the “Here’s to Ireland Guitar” is made of cedar logs, which were reclaimed hand rails and posts from the Menominee Tourist Lodge after it was remodeled. The hollow, bowl-shaped body makes for a mellow sound when played. The neck is a combination of cedar and walnut, and the fretboard markings are an old, well-used, cymbal. The white binding came from the strip peeled off a 5-gallon pail lid. “It served the purpose,” he laughed. Warren painted the colorful design using kid’s latex art paint, followed by clear latex floor finish, left over from a job and applied with an HVLP sprayer. “We use HVLP spray paint systems for spray finishing and all low VOC products. Less environmental damage,” Warren stated. “I’m a tree hugger at heart.”



    Another unique creation is the “’47 Roadmaster” guitar, inspired by Warren’s antique Buick and his passion for restoring old cars. He used the Roadmaster with the car-inspired guitar to get young people interested in his classes. “Kids love to play it,” he said. The hickory and cherry instrument is a hand-carved acoustic/electric guitar, finished with water-based materials. It is housed in a case modeled after a ‘50s/’60s gas pump and made from an old floor model radio.


    Warren’s latest class was a group of men and women from the Marinette Senior Center. Although they had no previous experience, the students all left with beautiful guitars they built themselves. Nick’s musical-themed piece (second from right) is a tribute to his singing days when his band, The Overtures, opened for The Four Seasons. Medical issues make things a little more challenging for him, but Warren was pleased that he was able to adapt in order to create a keepsake he plans on handing down to his grandchild.

    The happy campers pictured here are: Gene (acoustic), Mary (electric), Nick (electric) and Greg (acoustic). Not pictured Diane (acoustic/electric).


    Warren said he will continue to share his message as long as he can. “Never throw away if you can use it. I guess that’s my concept,” he said. “I want things just to keep moving. They don’t have to get thrown in the garbage somewhere.”

    Watch this short clip by Warren’s good friend and fellow musician, Marc Golde, to learn a little more about Warren and his mission.

    For more information on Warren’s classes and his work, email him at macsguitars@yahoo.com. And remember his 3 R’s: recycle, repurpose and reclaim!

    To find classes on making musical instruments at a Woodcraft near you, check out class schedules here.

About us

We are a woodworking community with an emphasis on sharing and learning the skilled craft of woodworking and all of its related disciplines. Our community is open to everyone who wishes to join us. We support our veterans and active duty both here in the United States and in Canada, being a veteran is not a prerequisite to join. So please, join us! Please click on Join The Patriot Woodworker's.


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