My name is John Morris, and I am the founder of The Patriot Woodworker. Our community was founded on the principles of sharing, mentoring, and learning from fellow woodworkers, and above all, we have one thing in common, we all support the men and women who serve our nation. And we pretty much take on any task or challenge for our veterans that is asked of us, with the help of our sponsors.
Recently I was asked by my own daughters (Patriot Tigers) if The Patriot Woodworker's could support their high school club efforts to host a dinner for the faculty of their school disctrict, of whom are also veterans. I asked them what can we do for them, contribute funds to help offset the costs of food? Or possibly myself and some fellow local Patriot Woodworker's could stand at the entry way and welcome the veterans to the event? How about a valet? None of the above! DUH! Dad, build us some plaques, your a woodworker! "That's right!" I stated, I almost forgot!
Thus the project began. We are building 32 each, 7" x 9" x 3/4" solid hardwood plaques. Sounds easy right? Well it is, but there is a good amount of time it takes to construct simple squares of wood that feel perfect to the touch, and are flawless to the eye.
To start off, one of my daughters and myself took a drive into town to pick up some lumber for the project, we ended up at Reel Lumber of Riverside CA. I like the store, it's a small mom and pop outfit in appearance, but it has a pretty big backing in the actual company. We go there frequently for our hardwood and exotic purchases, and the staff is tops.
With a very keen eye on the part of my daughter, we spent about an hour at the store looking for the boards that were "just right" for her. And we came away with some nice 4/4 walnut, figured maple, and birch. We had the gentleman cut the boards in half so we could fit them in our small Toyota Corolla with the rear seats folded down. (Note: Last year our neighbor totaled my pickup truck, and we have not been able to replace it, as luck would have it, the driver was uninsured!)
We came home and stacked the boards on my workbench and let them set for a week before I commenced the project.
To the right is Walnut, center is the Curly Maple, and left is Birch.
I was able to get out to the shop and get the boards cut and sized, edges chamfered, and all the plaques sanded to 150 for now. Later I'll work through the grits up to 600 in preparation for wipe on varnish.
I used a 45 degree 1/2" shank chamfer bit chucked up into my router table. My table is made by an outfit in Canada who sell the RT 1000 series router table, you can't beat the price, and the table is built very well, I have had mine for about 10 years now. The following image is the stock photo of the exact table I have.
When I route any edges on any project that involves routing all four edges of a board, the long grain, and the end grain, I always start by routing the end grain first, the reason is it is possible that you may have some kick out at the tail end of the pass as you rout the end grain, and if that happens, you can always clean it up when you shape the long grain edges. It's just a simple process that gives you a second chance instead of destroying a perfectly good board by not planning ahead for mistakes. The image below does not show the board in the proper position for end grain routing, I took the image as is, but when I fired up the router table I rotated the board 90 degrees to hit the end grain edges first.
After a few passes with the 32 boards (plaques) I now have something resembling a stack of plaques, ready for sanding.
Whenever possible I gang sand boards, just as I gang plane boards, the more the merrier, and it cuts down on the work considerably, not too mention it's just better on your sanding pad as well, it's always better on the sander pad when you can sand a flat area instead of sanding on edge, it's less stress on your sander and keeps your sander pad from wearing on the edges.
After a couple hours of sanding to 150 grit, I finally have some fine looking plaques that are shaping up to be something special, for some very special people. Later I'll take the boards to 600 before I use my wipe on finish.
A word about our supporters:
I'd like to thank our sponsors for helping us offset the costs of the lumber, our sponsors as shown on our home page, they pay money to have their advertising displayed in our community, and we in turn use those funds for projects like this, and much more, such as helping disabled veterans acquire machinery, tools and supplies for their own workshops, but this time we are leveraging sponsor's funding to fabricate some wonderful awards of appreciation for some men and women of a Southern CA school district, who served their nation.
For this project we also have a new helper, Anady's Trophies and Engravings. They are a top notch outfit, and they adore our military and veterans as do we, so we are a perfect match. Anady's has come waaaay down on their costs to help us procure some wonderful engraved brass plates to mount on the plaques, the plates will have a thank you message, and the name of the veteran. Anady's is instrumental in making this project a success, and we'd love to thank them for their support. I'd also like to ask anybody who needs trophies, engravings, or supplies, to look up Anady's, they'll ship to you. Their name has a lot of history in our valley, and they are a top notch outfit to work with. And the staff is so polite and professional.
The Club who asked us for help has their own website, please see them at Patriot Tigers Club.
The school district that employs our veterans, and who the event is being held for is San Jacinto Unified School District.
The Pastor’s Table or I Think My Sister Is Trying To Buy My Way Into Heaven -
(borrowing a title concept from Rocky and Bullwinkle)
I think my sister believes my past transgression’s slate can be, at least in part, wiped clean by building furniture for the church she attends. The latest installment is a kitchen island/work table for the church’s kitchen.
The pastor emailed me a picture of a table he thought would work but wanted something larger and with slightly different construction techniques.
Using Sketchup and the free Sketchup viewer, we worked through the major details of the build and ended up with this concept-
He chose to use poplar for the frame (which would be painted), soft maple for the two shelves (polyed) and hard maple for the top (oil/bee’s wax). The overall dimensions were 72” long x 30” wide x 36” tall. The top was to be made as a butcher block style using edge grain (rather than end grain) and 1.5” thick. He also wanted the top pieces to be random lengths scattered through the field. We originally thought about 1” “wide” field pieces but then went with approximately 1.5” wide pieces. That reduced the overall number of strips across the top. The legs were a full 4” square glue ups. All of the frame joints are mortice and tenons. The only hardware used was to secure the top to the frame (lag bolts/washers) and the shelves to the stretchers (wood screws/washers).
As the build progressed, it became obvious this could be another china cupboard fiasco. The final assembly would have to take place outside of the basement shop.
So… if you are up to it, follow along…
The work space in my shop is so small that I needed to build this project in stages. With the top finished, it was time to move on to the legs of the base. The entire base frame is made from poplar and the minister is going to paint it white. His specs were for full 4” x 4” legs. I suppose I could have gotten 16/4 poplar boards but those pieces would have been so large and heavy that I don’t think I could have manhandled them through the milling processes. I started with 5/4 boards and milled enough stock for a 4 x 4 glue up. I finished out the planing/ripping the boards a little over sized in thickness and width to allow for shifts in the glue up process.
Gluing up the blanks was straight forward
Space and number of clamps dictated gluing one leg assembly at a time.
Once all of the legs dried, the jointer and planer brought the blanks square and to the correct dimensions.
Cutting the legs to length was up next. I opted to use the table saw for this operation. I have a chop saw but it is one of the very early models with a 7.5” blade- it wasn’t going to make the cut in one pass. The table saw wouldn’t make the cut in one pass either but I felt I’d have a little more control using it.
I set up my cross cut sled and squared one end of each leg. Next, I added an extend stop block set for the leg length. One pass, roll the blank over, second pass- done.
At this point, it was time to layout and cut the mortices in the legs. To make certain the mortices were properly oriented, I labeled everything.
Some practice slots with the hollow chisel morticer.
Twenty-four mortices later.
The minister added the chamfer detail around the top so I thought it would look OK to continue that detail throughout the build. I would have added the chamfer around the leg feet anyway to prevent tear out if the table was slid across the floor.
Some sanding left but the legs are finished.
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!
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.
Planed everything to ¾” and used biscuits to help with alignment during glue up. I made these shelves full width during the glue-ups
A card scraper brought everything smooth.
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.
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
One more dry fit to make certain everything fits
Set the top in place to locate and thread the lag bolt holes.
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.
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
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.
Have 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
After 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.
Having that hole creates a stabilization problem for turning which is solved by using a cone center in the tailstock.
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.
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.
This was a stupid idea.
Sorry, that was wrong of me. What I should have said was...
This was a REALLY stupid idea.
OK, in all seriousness, it is not THAT bad. It is only about 200 segments the size of my pinky nail that have to be cut, sanded, and glued into 10 rings...per koozie. I honestly found that I could get into a rhythm. I would cut one 1.5x.5x24 strip of oak into 3 strips, then cut those int segments. Once the segments were cut I divided them into piles for rings. I sanded down the cut edges of one ring, which was about my breaking point for handling small pieces on sandpaper, then I would glue the 18 segments into a ring...
Side note: Bad Husband tip #1. If you want to do a project like this go right now into the kitchen and swip your wife's silicone baking mat. Seriously. Promise her you will buy her three more when the Pampered Chef rep comes back (yes three, you will likely want to swipe one of those too!). I tried gluing these on both brown paper and wax paper and both were an epic, frustrating fail. Those silicone mats are awesome. Get one (or two) now.
End Side Note. Gluing the rings was fairly simple. The sled makes sure the angles match, I will trim the inside diameter and turn the outside diameter on the lathe. So my only concern was thickness of the ring itself. As I get better cutting on the band saw the segments get closer to identical, meaning less sanding. Once glued I zip tied each ring as the dried. I hammered the ring flat so I had one side close to even when I sanded. Once dry I used my Ryobi combination 4X36 sander and sanded each side flat with 80 grit. My biggest concern was sanding one area of the ring more than another causing the ring to be lopsided. So I constantly checked ring thickness with my digital caliper.
Side note #2: It dawned on me many times during this project where the separation between a hobbyist and craftsman lies. This was one of them. I really want to do a good job on every project I undertake, but I am also limited on time. I like finishing projects, and therefore I tend to make some allowances in my work. Case in point, I made sure each ring thickness was close (within 0.02") but really stopped trying to shoot for perfection. It may come a time later where it shows I was wrong and needed more attention to detail but at the time I could not justify the extra time at 9pm.
End Side note #2. The rings each sanded down to something slightly larger than 0.4" It took about 10 rings, considering I used 2 rings that were smaller than 0.25" as accent rings. I made the bottom ring with a smaller inside diameter so the can has a lip to rest on.
Now that rings are glued and sanded flat we finally get to turn something!!! I do not have the experience or tools to smooth the inside of the koozie after the rings are assembled so I chose to trim the inside rings individually. The issue with this is I have no real control on accuracy here. Each ID may end up slightly different in the end. I minimize the risk of this by 1) the original ID is the exact size of the OD of the can before trimming so cleaning up the ID of the ring creates room for the foam koozie insert I plan on using, leading to 2) I am assuming the foam koozie will absorb any differences in ring size between each ID.
I picked up a set of large jaw plates to mount on my Barracuda 2 chuck. This allows me to hold the outside firm and flush against the face allowing me to trim the ID of the ring. I tried using a parting tool but it was too haphazard, it kept bouncing all over. I ended up using the square cutter to trim most of the ID before flipping the ring in the chuck to trim the last bit. I figured it was a pretty dumb idea to trim to the plate in one go since there was a chance the tool might catch a gap and fling it across the shop. Yes, this was another 'hobby vs craft' moment but I usually default on the side of safety when I can. Flipping each ring takes more time, but overall less time than removing my carbide cutter from whatever wall it may get lodged in.
Finally, rings are flat and ID is round. Time to glue. I feared this step more than any of the previous steps. The number of variables here are difficult to manage all at once. I wanted the gaps to overlap resulting in a layered brick type of pattern. However, we all know that wet glue tends to slide a bit here and there while wet. My fear was that I would set up all rings exactly how I wanted them, then try to clamp them down only to see each ring shift slightly resulting in a bad 4th grade art project. Yet again I find myself in a 'hobby vs craft' moment. The right answer is to glue each ring separately making sure each one is in exact position before moving on to the next. Of course that means about 6 days of gluing and drying to finish this. So anyway, I decided to go for it and assemble all at once (hobbyist!). What I found out is that my fears were mostly unfounded. I was able to glue a ring, put it under pressure for about 30 seconds (in this case a 25lb kettlebell) and then I could make slight adjustments without it moving freely. I could independently glue and press each ring without affecting any layers below it. I plan on letting it sit overnight to completely dry, but first glance it looks pretty good. Tomorrow I will need to figure the best way to mount on the lathe for turning. Once again, thanks for reading.
OK, so on to working the segments. As I said, my goal is to complete a can koozie using segmented rings. The best way I found was the 'wedgie sled' concept created by Jerry Bennett. It is basically a 3 part sled. I thought I could get away with just the adjustable arms and quickly figured out why the parts are there. It is really a simple concept. You adjust the 2 bars on the sled according to how many segments you want per ring. You can do math (360 degree circle divided by 18 segments per circle = 20 degree angle. Divide by 2 since each wedge has 2 sides making it a 20 degree total angle or 10 degrees from center on each side) or you can have a predetermined wedge to drop between the two adjustable bars (hence the wedgie sled name).
Each segment has 4 critical dimensions. We set the side angles in the first step. In this step we determine the outside diameter of the ring. The inside diameter was established earlier in prepping the wood. In this case I purchased 2 strips of dimensioned wood from Woodcraft (1/4" x 3/4" x 16" purpleheart and yellowheart). So in this case the 3/4" width will make a ring 3/4" wide. I wanted to set my outer diameter at 3.5". Now I will be totally honest here, I didn't do this math. I could have, and I did earlier when I made the original koozie. But why? I found an app, put in some numbers and it spit out a length of .619". You cannot see it in the photos, but there is a way to calibrate the stop, then using digital calipers I can set the exact length of each segment.
The third part of the jig is a simple 45 degree strip with magnets on the bottom to keep the cut of segments from riding the blade and getting flung across the shop. Didn't think it was necessary until one smacked my safety goggles (safety first kids).
You can see the segments below. It goes pretty quick. I made 36 segments in less than 5 minutes. Basically trim the square edge off the end, then move the wood to the stop and cut. Switch to the opposite bar, move to the stop, and cut. The way the sled is designed it eliminates any error in the angles by moving between bars vice trying to make multiple cuts on the same bar where errors are compounded. Each 16 inch strip of wood made 24 segments which is more than enough for two rings, seen below.
Some of you who are good at math probably see the error already. "Uh, Joe? If your outside diameter is 3 1/2", and each segment is 3/4" (x2 is 1 1/2") then that hole in the center is only 2" across. You making Red Bull Koozies?"...And you would be right. In my hurry to show off how the sled works I skipped a step. I should have ripped the 2 strips down to 1/2" wide before running them thru the sled. I went back and ripped some oak down to 1/2" x 1/2" and made the segments again. So now I simply glue and zip tie in a circle to dry. They fit around the can well. I will need to trim the center to round which will give me a little room around the can. I plan to use a cheap thin foam koozie to insulate the inside and that will make this a snug fit.
So for now it is simply cut and glue, cut and glue. If my math is good I should be able to get more than 6 koozies from a single 2"x6"x24" block of oak (2 BF). Assuming around $7 per BF for oak, it looks like I am in for $2.50 in wood per koozie plus glue and time. My initial temptation is to price these at around $10 except that there is likely a ton of man hours in this. $15 might be better, but not sure if that is pricing myself out of the market.
So I am already seeing a few issues that I will have to overcome. First, I was able to dimension down the large block of oak into 24"x1/2"x1 1/2" Strips. Using the band saw I ripped these into 1/2 inch strips, but they were not ripped in a straight line at all. So now I have a 24 inch x 1/2 inch x a wavy 1/2 inch strip. Not a big deal except the top of the rings once formed is not flat. Since the rings eventually have to be glued together, and need to be parallel to each other I have to figure a way to flatten the rings out. The strength of these segments comes from each ring supporting the other. The individual rings are end grain glued together and provide some structure but not a ton of strength. The strength comes from the edge to edge gluing between rings. So I guess I will sand the rings with my Ryobi combo belt and disc sander.
Thanks for reading, as always comments, questions, and recommendations are welcome.
Before I roll into today's update please allow me to fill in the background story and update my tool list as per Mr John Morris' request.
I caught the woodworking bug back in 2014. I have always wanted to be creative, but in all honesty I do not have that gene. If you sat me in front of a canvas and asked me to create content I would fail. I simply do not have the ability to take something from imagination and turn it to reality. What I have found though it that I can reproduce things very well. There was an old commercial from many years ago whose logo was "we didn't invent the _______, we just made it better". BASF or 3M perhaps? Not sure. Anyway, I have found that I can watch a video or sit through a class or follow a decent set of instructions to reproduce quality items. So I started taking classes at the on base hobby shop in Pearl harbor. First was pen turning, then a cutting board, and finally keepsake boxes. Within a year I had picked up most of the essential tools for my garage and was in full blown addict mode. In April of 2016 I bought a house in Jacksonville FL and have been actively preparing to turn my hobby into a retirement project. I have 2 years of active duty time left, my kids are all grown and the last one is finishing her Junior year of HS. By the time I retire it will just be the wife and I. So the plan is to start a business, build up inventory, then get in the RV and drive from Craft Fair to Craft Fair for a few months selling our wares. Likely do that twice a year, fall and spring. Not looking to make millions, but if I can support the habit and pay for gas and food while we are out then I would feel it is a success.
My issue right now is I have to figure out what to sell. I enjoy making pens but not sure they sell well enough to rely on those alone. Same with cutting boards. So I am spending the next few months making new and different things to see what I can mass produce in good quantity, have them be useful and desirable, at a low cost. This week my focus is on Segmented turning and specifically making a soda (or beer) can koozie. I also want to try making a few resin cast spinning tops (cheap gift for kids trapped with parents at a craft fair). I have shifted focus in pen turning to making sets, a matching pen and pencil set for Father's Day and/ or Graduation. I have made some bottle stoppers and cheese knife sets, and I plan to knock out a few of the wine bottle/ glass carrier planks later this year for the holidays. I feel that right now is the best time to learn all of these techniques so that when we actually get rolling with sales it will not be bogged down with any kind of learning curve. I can just batch and go.
Second issue is finding a decent source of material. My parents were able to find a decent batch of walnut and cherry a few months ago but I cannot rely on that kind of luck. Woodcraft is too expensive for me to try and turn around any decent profit, but I have no where to dry wood on my own. Cypress seems abundant around my area so I think I will start there, but I think that means cutting boards are off the sales list.
As far as tools go, I think the list is better highlighted with what I still need (want) vice what I have. I am still trying to get either a decent sized drum sander or small jointer, preferably both. With what I have i am able to get from rough lumber to decent large dimensions, but I repeatedly run into times where I have pieces that need to be flattened but are not safe to run thru my planer. You will see later in the segmenting blog that I have strips of oak that are a perfect 1/2" on one side, and a variety of sizes on the other edge. The result is 18 wedges that make a perfect ring, flat on bottom and a stair case effect on the top. If I had either a jointer or sander I could flatten the stock to 1/2" square before cutting segments, but I am just to chicken to run something that thin thru my planer.
The foundation of my shop is the Delta 36-725 10" table saw. It is a workhorse and has done everything I have asked of it.
Turning will be done on the jet mini lathe, non-variable speed. I guess it would be nice to have VS, but I have never used it so I don't know to miss it. I have too many turning tools because I cannot decide what I like. I started with the generic small 3 piece set from PSI with the oval skew, gouge and parting tool. From there I found a Carbide cutter set on Amazon where you get 1 handle and 3 bars (round, square, and diamond). I like them but I think I am too aggressive with them. With the square cutter I blow out acrylic pens at the tip (about 15 seconds after I think that is close enough and should sand the rest), where the circle cutter does awesome on wood but is uncontrollable on acrylic resin. So for Chrismas I received a 3/4" Sorby roughing gouge and have used it extensively for all my turning work. So much so that I wanted to get back int skew work and bought the Harbor Freight $70 set. I cannot figure out why but this skew will not work for me. I think the grind is different from what I expect and is causing issues but it is likely operator error. I sharpen tools with the PSI knock off of the Wolverine sharpening system.
I purchased a Harbor Freight 14" Band Saw. I know many people dislike HF tools, but I could not afford big tools such as this without them. It does well for me, but it did take some time to iron out a few issues. I am not proficient at resawing but I am developing the skill as best I can.
I was able to get a steal on a Craftsman 13" planer from Sears. I happened to walk in and one was on the floor, open box for half off. Looks like someone used it for a weekend project and brought it back. It also has been a champ.
If I regret a major tool purchase it is probably the Harbor Freight 2HP dust collector. Don't get me wrong, it does a great job. However, it is big. Very big, and takes up more space when you add the second stage separator to it. I also did not realize that NOTHING in my shop has a 4" dust collection port. Not my table saw, band saw, planer, none of it.There was a period of time where I had tried to mount 4"adapters to everything so I could use the fancy 4" collapsible hose Rockler sells before it dawned on me I was wasting time and effort and ditched the 4" hose for a 2.5" hose.
Other than that, just your typical random tools to fit a specific need at some point. Ryobi combination sander, big HF air compressor, HF pressure pot, Ryobi router table and various plunge, fixed, and hand held routers.
Probably too much for this post, hope you enjoyed the read. I will get back to segmented turning in the next post.
I moved this post here, figured it was more appropriate as a blog vice a random post...
I figured this would be a great place to document my path down segmented turning. That way we can all look back years later and laugh...
Today I will start with why I am looking at getting into segmented turning in the first place. Last Christmas I was trying to figure out what to get my dad for a gift. He is at the stage where there isn't much he needs, and I had already made him a dozen or so pens. In the end I came up with the idea of a beer koozie. Strips of wood cut at an angle on each side glued together with one of those thin foam can insulating things spray glued to the inside (example in pic 1). Surprisingly, it came out well. My dad received many compliments on it an I had numerous offers for purchase if I made more.
So I did, or at least I tried. Imagine trying to glue Popsicle sticks together on the long edge to make a cylinder. Yeah, I am stunned the first one went together at all. You can see in both pic one and two some of the issues I ran into. Really what it came down to was the material was too thin to turn, and there was no great way to get it into my lathe to turn it in the first place. I could make a round bottom, but 12 Popsicle sticks glued together does not actually make a circle but more of a circle-ish dodecahedron. So a circle bottom would leave many little gaps, or provided zero support when turning if I simply glued it to the bottom. I failed four times before I realized that this was probably not the best way to go about making a wooden cylinder.
I did not make the jump directly from needing a cylinder to segmented turning. As with most breakthroughs, I put the idea down for a while and went on to other things. I follow a ton of wood people on YouTube and one of the videos that went by in my recommended feed was Kyle Toth and watching him turn a massive vase (if you have not seen it I recommend taking a look). So of course I start going down the YouTube rabbit hole and found one where he made a segmented wine bottle...click...I could do that with my koozie!
So that started my research into segmented turning. In my earlier post I discussed how most of my searches took me to a place called Seg Easy. Next post I will discuss what I built, what I learned, and what I would do different with my first few rings.
Please feel free to let me know what else you want to know, any questions you have, or if this simply does not interest you and move on.
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.
Once the legs were completed, I started on the aprons and stretchers. The stretchers are to be mortised and tenoned into the legs. The long stretcher needed to be securely fastened into the side stretcher but their thickness was only 3/4 ". That meant a very short tenon (1/2") on the ends of the long stretcher. I decided, mistakenly, to use a fox tenon and a dovetail style mortise, with tapered sides and wider at the bottom.
It took a little work to get the mortises chopped. I even had to make a small measuring tool to determine the width of the bottom. My inside calipers were just a little too big.
Next, I calculated the wedge size and then modified the tenons to accommodate the wedges.
My mistake here was failing to take into consideration the amount of spreading vs. the hardness of the wood. Fortunately, I had the foresight to try a test piece and discovered as the tenons halves spread, they cracked at the shoulder. Insert a long string of Navy language here.
Back to the drawing board. Early on in the project I had considered using a sliding dovetail for this connection. Hindsight being what it is, that's what I ended up using.
The other failure, at this stage was when I ripped the materials for some of the aprons. The wood was plenty dry but internal stresses caused the some warping and twisting of several pieces. Allowing the pieces to set for a couple of days only made matters worse.
I ended up ripping more pieces and then creating the tenons.
Used a stop block/miter gauge to create to shoulder cuts
Then the old Delta tenoning jig for the cheek cuts
And finally nibbled away the remaining material to complete the apron and stretcher pieces.
I cut all of the tenons a little over sized so I could trim them to get a really snug fit during assembly. The minister said this table would serve multiple duties. I wanted to be sure nothing would work loose over time.
All that's left for the base, I hope, is a final dry fit and then a glue up.
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.
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.
For such a simple table, this thing has run me through the funnies big time.
Everything started out pretty good. The walnut trim, for the top, was made by multiple passes over several different router bits to get the desired profile.
It'll take a little sanding to smooth things out but I am happy with the results.
Next I turned to the legs. I milled down some 1 3/4" maple into 1 3/8" square blanks. Then laid out the locations of all of the mortises for the aprons and stretchers. Cut an extra piece for testing, too. I was really please as to how straight the legs were off the saw. Usually there's some twisting/warping but these stayed straight.
Using the hollow chisel mortiser to create the openings
Prepped the legs layout
Punched out all of the holes-
For me, it is so easy to get confused as to the orientation of parts. I need to label everything to make sure I don't mix them up.
I thought I was on a roll at this point but fate had something else in store. From here everything went to "you-know-where" in a very big hand basket.
Next part- the failures.
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.
Next is how to make an ornament with a cross for the windows. Here is the blank mounted in the lathe.
Here it is turned just round where the window will be and the cross upright length, one and a half inches, is marked out.
Everything turned away now will open the window double the depth of cut. The upright of the cross is going to be a quarter inch wide so a groove one eighth deep needs to be cut the length of the upright.
Each side of the horizontal part of the cross is to be a quarter inch long so a groove that deep a quarter inch wide needs to be cut next. To make it round seven sixteenths measured from the corner had to be removed plus two sixteenths for the upright and now four sixteenths for the horizontal arms comes to thirteen sixteenths leaving just three sixteenths of meat left to hold it together. Good to go.
Here it is broken apart to check the window.
Didn't care for the top and bottom of the upright so it was put back together and the sharp corners were blended in and the finish put on it. Be careful not to get finish on the glue surfaces.
When the finish is dry it is time to knock it apart and turn the inside to the outside and glue it back together. Then mount it in the lathe for the finish turning.
Turn the whole thing to just round again. If turned deeper where the window is the window will get steadily wider as wood is turned away. There is plenty of meet above and below the window to shape as desired. Just watch where the inside cavity top and bottom are so they are not cut into.
Mount the blank in the lathe and turn it just round in the area the window is to appear.
With it turned just round there will be no windows when turned back to finish as shown here.
Anything turned away from here on will open the window. This was put back in the lathe and small grooves cut into it to show result. Notice how any cut made is automatically doubled.
Inside out turning starts with a glue up of four sticks cut perfectly square and glued together to make a square twice the size of the cut pieces.
There are limits to how deep a cut can be made and not have the turning ruined because the cut was too deep. One inch square pieces will be glued up to create a two inch blank in this case. When the blank is mounted in the lathe the first order of business is to turn the area where the window is to appear to the max diameter which in this case is two inch diameter or a one inch radius as seen on the right. On the left is what it would look line if it was turned inside out now. The center diamond would be air space and the points of the diamond are where the windows will appear when more turning is done. This shows that a one inch deep cut measured from the corners would be too far. The maximum cut has to be at least one eighth inch short of one inch and that may be pushing it. So if two inch sticks are glued up to make a four inch square the cuts have to be less than two inches deep measured from the corner. Depth of cut mystery solved.
Okay, time to get the table saw tuned up to cut perfect square and install a smooth cutting blade. Start by cutting four sticks the same length and perfect square. I used one inch square by six long pieces here.
Decide the best looking orientation of the end grain and put a rubber band around them. Mark the four inside corners and number the pieces.
Keeping the same orientation turn the inside corners to the outside and glue them together. A quarter inch line of glue on the ends is about all that is necessary as they will need to be split apart later.
Let it dry and wrap the ends with tape. Heavy plastic tape can be as an added insurance that the blank will stay together. The tape is also a reminder to not turn that area away. It needs to remain for gluing later.
My sister's Pastor asked if I could make a communion table for their church. In the past, I've made a lectern/pulpit and a kitchen work table. This seemed like it should be an uncomplicated build.
The pastor supplied me with his original thoughts and an image-
He picked this particular image for it's size/proportions, however, the "arts and craft" style was not his first choice. That style didn't really fit with their church's other furnishings. He said he didn't really want a drawer. He wanted the materials to be maple, walnut and birch to coordinate with other pieces of furniture.
My furniture building/designing experience is limited. Some research on the Internet lead me to believe that most all communion table designs lean towards the more massive proportions. When I mentioned this to the Pastor, he agreed but said their church is small and they felt a "lighter" piece would fit into their space.
We worked back and forth thru Sketchup making design changes. His original image morphed into more simple, final design-
The base will be made from maple, the top from birch ply and the top trim created from walnut.
The top trim/banding will overlay the plywood slightly. The pastor supplied a profile of what he wanted-
I think I'll start with the trim piece first.
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.
The panels are prefinished with BLO and Garnet Shellac for base color. Will cover all with varnish on exterior when complete.
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.
Dados cut into rails to fit plywood shelves and make for a more secure joint.
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.
Caracas with face frame attached now ready for base of 2X4 lumber with covering of cherry with simple molded edge
The crown molding was a 4 piece made at the router table (top plate, crown and cove) and tablesaw (dentel)
This is what the build on the molding looks like.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
You 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.
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.
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 center
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!
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.
While it may not seem so at first glance, a laser engraver is much like a table saw, a lathe, or even a router. Now that you have it, what can you do with it? Not much as it's a "core" tool. With a table saw, an add on might be a dado set, or molding heads. A special sled or jig. A lathe is very dependent on other tools to prep stock. Different operations on a lathe require different accessories. A hollow vessel requires completely different tools than a spindle. Of course, a router or shaper must have bit's or cutters to be functional at all. Not to mention a fence or sled. A laser engraver? Well, it must have graphics and/or documents to do what it does.
That may seem a simple matter, after all, there are thousands of images just waiting to be downloaded. While this is true, many of them are copyrighted and water marked. What if a person can't find the "just right" image to download? What if someone has a special request, like a graphic of a specific scene or pet? How to add text to a picture? How to make the picture fit on what is to be engraved? What if only a part of the image is to be engraved?
Let's address image size and making it fit the project first. It's fairly easy to enlarge or shrink an image. Windows paint can do it as can any number of programs. The problem is, enlarging or shrinking an image often results in loss of detail and crispness.
This is an image called Odin's triangle, printed, or burned it will be about 3" tall and 3" wide. The lines that form the triangle are fairly crisp and sharp. This is what is called a "raster" image. That means it's made up of tiny dots of different color arranged in a pattern. What if I wanted the image to be bigger? Say, 3 times as big.
You can see, the enlarged image isn't nearly as sharp as the original. This will happen with any raster image, that includes image files like bmp, gif, jpg, to name a few different types of raster images. The answer is to convert the picture to a "vector" image. A vector image is drawn according to a mathematical formula. No matter how big or small the image is, the formula remains the same. What that means is, the image always remains sharp and crisp.
What if a person had a picture of a leaf they wanted to use?
Easy enough to do, but what if only an outline is needed? What about using more than one leaf? What about overlapping them? That way it would look like one leaf laying on top of the other. That would be great for wood burning, painting, carving, etc. etc. So, let's use the leaf picture at the right, copy it and paste it to look like one leaf is on top of the other.
It will look something like this.
Hmmm, not exactly what we had in mind, is it? Why didn't it work?
Well, because a bitmap, ie, jpeg, gif, bmp, can only have one layer and there has to be a back ground. Normally the background is white and on a white page you can't see it, it's still there and will make it's presence known at the worse times.
Wouldn't this look much better? This isn't the best job of editing as I still have a little back ground showing but that is easily addressed. The programs that manipulate images like this are the tools or accessories a wood burner or a laser engraver needs to be much more flexible than it would be otherwise. These programs are also very useful to a wood carver or pyrographer.
So, what are the programs that work this magic and how much do they cost? Probably the most well known is Adobe illustrator. To the best of my knowledge, illustrator can only be leased at this point. Licenses start at around $10.00 a month. Not a lot of money but for a now and then user not a good value either.
Fortunately, there are completely free alternatives. The two programs I use are "Gimp" and "Inkscape" Both are open source and completely free for downloading, although I recommend only downloading from their official websites.
These are two powerful, full featured programs for manipulating images. Because they are so powerful, there is a steep learning curve associated with either of them. This section of the blog is not meant to be a tutorial on using these programs, but rather just to introduce them to someone who may not be aware they are available. While there is a steep learning curve with either, there are also dozens and dozens of tutorial videos on youtube about them.
Since my brother and his wife retired, they are spending more time experimenting with various cuisines. I though I'd get them a micro-plane/grater for the kitchen. Rather than just buy the completed item, I ordered the planer/grater and made the handle. In the past, I sent them various kitchen/serving utensils so this handle would reflect the previous designs.
The biggest disappointment, with this particular grater, was that the handle was designed to be permanently attached to the grater using epoxy. In my opinion, handles should be detachable so that the metal portions can be adequately cleaned without damaging the handle. Fortunately, the threads on the grater were standard 3/8 x 16 so creating a better solution was pretty easy.
I started with a piece of maple, squared into a turning blank. Then drilled the end of the blank to accept a 3/8 x 16 brass threaded insert- this will allow the grater to removed and placed into the dish washer. The insert was installed on the drill press using a shop made bottle stopper mandrel. The insert can be seen in this photo-
The handle blank was then prepared to receive contrasting walnut inserts. The insert slots were cut on the table saw using a simple angle jig to hold the blank in the proper orientation.
The blank is cut four times, using a single pass thru the blade. The depth of the cut is arbitrary but between 1/4 and 1/3 the thickness of the blank produces a nice pattern.
The inserts are glued into the saw kerfs. the inserts are 1/8" thick and just long enough to extend past the end of the kerfs at either end.
Once the glue dries, the inserts are trimmed to be flush with the blank sides. I trimmed these on the band saw. They don't have to be perfect. Trimming just makes the turning process a little easier.
Now it's just a matter of turning the handle. I used the bottle stopper mandrel and a Jacobs chuck to mount the blank in the head stock.
The inserts create a "twist" pattern as the blank is rounded
Shaped the blank
Finished with a bunch of layers of wipe on poly
And the grater screwed into the handle
Now I need to make something for my Mom.
I started senior high school in 1961. Somehow, fate steered me into the vocational program of building construction. My teacher was Mr. Lester Ostrasky. Most of us have had that one teacher that we never forget. The one that had the greatest influence on our lives- Mr. Ostrasky is that teacher. Starting in my sophomore year, I gave him a Christmas present and have done so every year since. After the Navy and a few years at the Letterkenny Army Depot, I started my teaching career at the new Vocational Center. Mr. Ostrasky was teaching there also. Now we were teaching partners but he still offered guidance to the "new kid". Though we are both retired, we still exchange gifts.
This year, I've made him an optical illusion cutting board. Although the illusion isn't as pronounced as I had hoped, I think he will be pleased.
The board is made from walnut and maple and is an edge grain design. I started by milling and gluing up the alternating strips. Then planed the blank to the final thickness and cut it into strips.
Unlike most of the checker board type cutting boards, the alternating squares needed to radiate out from the center and the finished board has each corner the same color square. To accomplish this, I made an extra row strip that would later be removed.
The illusion is created by alternate colored inserts strategically placed within the squares. Some of these boards use round inserts (dowels) and others use square inserts.
I decided on square ones. Square holes were relative easy as I have a hollow mortiser. The problem was that the "throat" depth was not nearly deep enough to reach the center squares. To overcome this problem, I delayed gluing the strips together until after the square holes were made.
Accurate spacing of the inserts is essential for the illusion so I dry assembled the board and clamped it securely.
Once the pieces were secured, I scored lines to help locate the square holes. Then added black dots to further identify the hole locations.
Because the holes were equal distance from each edge of the strips I set the mortiser fence to provide consistent placement. The center of the holes were on the scribed lines.
Now it was just a matter of punching the holes into each strip and then reassembling the board with glue.
Once the board was assembled, a couple of passes through the drum sander to smooth the surfaces.
I also needed to clean up the holes so the pegs would seat correctly. A sharp chisel took care of that.
The pegs were made from long 1/4" x 1/4" sticks. A simple bandsaw jig made for quick cutting.
Pegs were glued into the holes.
The extra peg lengths were cut off and the board sanded with a random orbital sander.
A liberal coating of Bumble Bee Butter to protect the surface.
In hindsight, I should have created the square pegs differently. The pegs are positioned with the end grain showing. The end grain of the maple plugs darkened more than I had expected. They look more like cherry. If the plugs had been created with the edge grain up, I think the contrasts would have been greater and the illusion more pronounced. But just to prove the checkers are all perfectly square, here's the back
. Next up will be Terry and Dian's chip and cheese platter.
After assembling the machine it's time to install the software. I have to say before I get into that, assembling the machine is well within the scope of most any wood workers ability. It's kind of like Lincoln logs. If a person takes it in small steps and doesn't look at the overall picture, it's not too daunting. Like my brother's wife always says, "it's hard by the yard, but it's a cinch by the inch" she is right.
Now, what can I say about the software? A lot, and not much. It's important to keep in mind, for myself, as much as anyone. This is a bare bones, entry level, hobby machine. It will engrave an area approximately 11" X 14" and will cost 2-300 dollars depending on the time of day, literally. Any of the name brand machines, like Epilog, will cost a few thousand for their entry level machine. I'm not comparing my machine to those at all, they are more refined, more powerful, more capable, etc. etc.
Like the instructions, the software must be downloaded from the banggood website. Its kind of confusing just what to do once it's downloaded and there is zero technical support. Once again, I knew that going in. And like before, I spent several hours googling, researching, watching video, reading instructables and struggling to install the software and get it working. One big problem is that most virus software doesn't like it, so it won't allow the package to install. A person basically has to disable virus protection during the install process, something I didn't care to do.
After the software is installed, the computer must be configured to communicate with the laser, guess what? Back to youtube, google, instructables, etc. etc. to find out how to do that. Again, hours were spent figuring it out. In fact, I never did get that first software package to work but downloaded a different package from gearbest.com and finally I could communicate with my machine.
The engraving program included with the software is called "benbox". It is a very, very basic setup. To give an idea how basic, it always loads in Chinese, so every time a person starts the program they must choose a different language, unless of course, they speak Chinese. Basic settings must be restored every time the program is started, such as laser speed, power, etc. etc. You can't save a profile, like if you find settings that work well with maple, they must be written in a notebook and re-entered each time a person would burn maple. A person must also go through the steps to connect with the machine every time it starts. None of this is a big deal but it's not what most of us are used to with a program.
Even so, eventually I was ready to try to engrave something. The first several times I tried, mostly what I made was a black hole in whatever I was using, It seemed no matter what, that was the result. At the risk of repeating myself, once more, google, youtube, etc. etc. etc. After much research, tweaking, setting up and testing I got to where I could get the black hole to move slightly and make little square boxes that kind of resembled charcoal, frustration was beginning to set in and I began to wonder if I'd wasted both time and money.
Back to the web, finally I thought, maybe there was a benbox forum? Guess what, there is. benboxlaser forum All I can say is, forums are a gift, in only an hour or so I had learned enough on the benbox forum I was able to engrave a simple gif of a horse.
Not the most impressive bit of laser engraving but hey, it was a start. The next few days I spent a lot of time on that forum. I have to say it again, a good forum, like this one, and from my limited experience, the benbox forum is one of the best things about the net.
In just a short time, I learned much about the capabilities of the software and the machine. I also saw, there are people who own this machine doing some very nice work with it. I also learned the machine is capable of much but is limited severely by the included software. For instance, with benbox, the laser itself only knows on or off, there are no degrees of power. In a nutshell, what that means a person can etch dark or not at all. There is no gray scale. That's kind of a big deal. For outlines, silhouettes, or something like a Celtic knot, black or white is just fine. For a picture of any kind, gray scale is a must.
As I was browsing the forum one thing I noticed was many of the members weren't using the benbox program but instead a program called "t2laser". As I started reading more I discovered one of members had gotten frustrated with benbox and was smart enough to develop t2laser, which according to many who post there is a much better option. It didn't take much to convince to download a trial version and after a few tests, buy and install the registered version which he sells for $39.00. At this point I have about $250.00 in this venture. Well, after using the new software I am seriously impressed with it. Very user friendly, easy to configure and the gentleman responds to questions in a few minutes most of the time.
I am still very early in the learning curve with this machine and this software but also very encouraged with recent results.
One of the items I make quite a few of, are decorative lids for mason jars, and/or honey dippers for mason jars. One of the main things I wanted to do with this machine was to embellish the lids to increase the value of them. I did a couple test lids today using the t2laser software and I'm really pretty happy with the results. One of these is maple and the other is walnut, same settings on both. The nice thing is, once the setup is made, the little laser can work on it's own while I'm doing something else. So, that's where I am at this point, still lots to learn but that's part of the fun isn't it? If someone were to ask me if the machine is worth the cost, I would say it is to me without doubt, just for the learning experience, the rest is all gravy.
I just noticed this thread and thought I'd chime in with my two cents... When my son moved out in early 2017 I set his room up as a lightweight photo studio. It's nothing fancy but the advantage is that is stays set up and ready to use. I can walk in with an item, flip on any combination of lights and natural light from the window, snap the shot and walk out. In and out in a couple of minutes. When I need to I move the lights to the kitchen for cutting boards, out into the shop for certain things, etc. Exposure in the shot below is set more to show the lights than the cutting board. Most of my photos are for posting on forums and for Etsy so I don't spend a ton of time on them.
Sometimes just a clean background and your flash bounced off a white ceiling will work...and shooting up close with a shallow depth of field.
For a lot of us, that is easier said than done. An uncluttered background is difficult for me to achieve when I am working on a project. So, I try to shoot tight and crop tighter. And if possible, add a vignette to darken the surrounding area so the subject stands out. I do all of my post processing in Adobe Lightroom. It is left over from my high school sport shooting days.
Hey Gerald, thanks so much. The size of the backdrop would be better if bigger no doubt for chair shots.
Reading your blog the idea is to not use flash correct? As it's better to use stable lighting, and set the camera on a stand to avoid shaking, and perhaps set the camera on timer? So I an hit the button, and stand back.
@John Morris I presume you are wanting to do shoots of chairs or furniture so I would say the UL9004 . Simply because you would have a larger backdrop stand. Some reviewers say backdrops are cheap and I prefer gradient for backdrop and then you can replace that or buy in different color. Price looks right but I am kind of a build your own type, but I can see that being more difficult shooting furniture. Also remember the bulbs can be changed if you so desire..
The only photo lighting I ever bought was a light bulb (giant thing) over 30 years ago and yes it still works. Changing white balance in modern cameras is easy so color temperature is not was critical as it used to be.
@Gerald, this is a great resource, I came back to this today as I am going to jump into the world of photographing my work for digital display (website).
I read this again with great interest. I have very little time to make my own light diffusing accessories, so I am looking at ready to go lighting kits as seen here https://www.amazon.com/HSA/pages/default?pageId=56A4202B-4D7E-4D68-B43A-310402725072
I also read another great article about the differences between soft-boxes and umbrella's. I read this article at https://www.adorama.com/alc/0013566/article/Softbox-vs-Umbrella-Which-One-Should-You-Use
Again, I don't want to build my lighting accessories, I want to purchase them and be done with it, and start photographing my work. Given the links I have displayed above, can you assist me in making a good decision in what to start with or purchase? I am working with a budget around 150 to 200 bucks, and it looks like I can get a decent kit of lighting and backdrops within that budget.
The set below comes with three muslin backdrops, green, black, white, I would not use the green perhaps, but the white and black most definitely.
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