Saturday, June 16, 2018


Early this year, I decided to make a bunch of puzzles.  I had a lot of ¼” and 1/8” ply wood so the plan was to put them on boards.  I painted 5/8” thick poplar on one side with the primary and secondary colors.  On the other side I painted them black.  Anyone that has done a wood puzzle knows that it is a pain because there is no real indication which side is the top.  Then I adhered all the patterns to the colored board.  I cut them all apart making sure that I need not cut on the lines.  I needed to tape them on to the ¼” plywood to cut out the negative space. Once the negative space was cut out I took a piece of 1/8” ply and painted the puzzle color on that and then glued the ¼ and 1/8” pieces together.  In the end I had a puzzle that had a place on board with its matching color.
The main lesson that I learned is never trust only double sided tape.  Sometime it moves and my double sided tape left a residue.  I fixed that by putting painter’s tape where I taped it.  I also taped around the part to make sur  Over all I did not screw up on too many.  I think I did around 90 puzzles on 34 boards. 

e it did not move.

Monday, June 11, 2018


So I just completed a lot of projects.  My wife came up to me after the second day of finishing and asked, “So are you now done with working in the garage?”  My response was, “Yes, I am going to be assembling all these projects for the next month.”  She responded asking if I was done, done like never going back to woodworking.  I guess she fears that one day that I am going to just burn out and never want to do this again. She is afraid that I am going to burn out.  I can see her point of view.  I just spent two 16 hour days finishing projects.  These projects included 70 cars, 10 trains, 20 tug boats, over 30 puzzle boards, 11 Christmas ornaments, two boxes of donation cars, and miscellaneous projects for friends and teachers.  It was a tough couple of finishing days and it used an entire gallon of shellac.
The question of burnout is real.  I don’t ever want to be done with woodworking.  There is going to be a time when I am going to need to take a couple of years off from the craft show circuit.  I find that more grueling than the woodworking itself.  When that is going to happen, I don’t know yet.  Here are some of the things that I do to keep from burning out on something that I love to do.
·         Keep learning – Don’t be afraid to try something new.  I find challenge keeps the passion and the enjoyment alive.  There are a lot of times that I have projects that just sit around because I am not sure how it will turn out or if I can even perform the task.  If it does not work out then I have created artisanal firewood.  I also find that it is not as bad or tough as I had imagined. 
·         Thinking ahead – Have a new idea being generated as you are working on a project.  It keeps away the idea that there is nothing to do or what to do next.  Some of these ideas will never come to pass but the idea is still there.  I have a notebook where I keep my ideas and I usually have a couple of projects being drawn while working on others
·         Bring it to a new platform – There are now many ways to share your passion.  I have chosen to blog and put items for sale on Etsy.  Last year, I took my projects to local craft fairs.  It was a blast meeting people and talking to them about what I love doing.  There are groups on social media.  Open up and be venerable to comments and critique so that you grow.  
·         Set goals – make sure there is something you are reaching for.  They don’t have to be great just something that you want to do.  Reward yourself when it is reached.  This year was my “build and grow” series and I have these jewelry boxes from last year that I want to get done. 
·         Focus the work load – Don’t take on too many projects or have several going at once.  I know I listed off a lot of projects at the beginning.  These were done over a four month time.  I did the scroll saw work on the week day and the other stuff on the weekend.  Once it was complete it was set aside in a box to finish.  I know now that I need to have more finishing days
·         Engage other people – I have a club that I go to.  There are people that inspire me to do more and improve my skills and there are those that I can help improve and inspire.  Passions don’t become dull and lost when there is a support team helping you and others learning from you.
·         Give – Donate either time or product to others.  Nothing is more inspiring than seeing the joy, awe, and gratitude from someone that you have shared with.  I may be an extremist to this, but I like helping people.  It is part of my woodworking business model.
Burnout is real.  I hope this have given some ideas.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Teaching People

Last month, I had the opportunity to help teach a carving club about the scroll saw and how to use one.  There were several members of my club there also assisting.  It was interesting to interact and help people with their questions.  It was an open forum and there was some practice pieces to cut.  I learned a lot and re-evaluated the woodworking class I would like to do next year.  My wife got to learn a little on the scroll saw and may even take it up.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Since I got a Hand Plane

Last year, I decided to purchase a couple of hand planes to help me understand how they worked and to allow me a little more flexibility.  I purchased Lie-Nielson low angle jack plane.  I honestly did not think I would use it as much as I do.  I built a storage cabinet and put it, with my sharpening tools, in the back.  It is a rolling cart, so it is not a big deal to get back there, but it is an extra step.
I am amazed how much I use it and how much easier it has made certain tasks.  Just recently, with making a smaller version of a train, I needed to add a flat to the boiler.  Last time I did this I mounted the dowel to a board and cut it on the table saw.  This time I mounted to the table saw and used the fence as a guide.  With a few passes I had a nice flat on the dowel to glue to.
I was making several cars to donate and I had some re-sawn board that had a warp and twist to it.  I did not think much of it because I was cutting them down to about 2” wide by 8” long.  After roughing out the parts I realized I did not run the board through the planer to clean up the band saw marks.  It probably would not have done well because of the warp and twist in the board.  The parts were now too small to run through the planer.  With a couple of passes on the plane and the boards were flat and ready to be cut out on the scroll saw. 
One of the best things that I did was go to a show and get hands on experience with the planes.  I was shown how to set them up and how to take care of them.  I was shown how to sharpen and what the edge of the blade should look like.  I learned some tricks and what to look for.  Best of all, I felt what a tuned plane should feel like and what to expect when using the tools.

Triton Work Center Table Saw TWX7 Contractor Saw Module

Part of my son’s winnings was the table saw module for the work center.  This was the first piece that I tried out. Overall, not bad.  I have my opinions and I was comparing it to my 20 year old Dewalt contractor’s saw.  I will start out with my issues and move on to the things that I really liked about it.
This saw is meant to be a portable contractor saw.  Triton does a good job on the specs on their website, so I am not going to give all the specs.
Disappointment: The only thing that I really had a problem with was using the riving knife making blind cuts or narrow rips.  The blade guard and anti-kickback pieces can be removed and the riving knife can be lowered.  However the riving knife interferes with the dust port so the blade sticks out about 2” at the interference point.  So I have to take the entire assembly if I want to rip thin stock with my gripper push block.
Concerns: I was ripping a lot of poplar for toys and noticed the quality of cut was getting worse or down right awful.  One reason was the set screw on the fence became loose.  In general, the quality off the saw was worse than what I experience off the Dewalt.  It took more than a few passes with a plane to clean up the saw marks on the edges.  I am still going to remain optimistic and try a new blade rather than the one that came with the saw.  I will continue to adjust to see if I can get a better cut off the saw.
The saw was also a little tricky to install the first time.  It is not a big deal but I thought it was put the pins in the groove and the lower the saw down onto the table.  The motor needs to go in first and then put the pins in the groove.  From a design standpoint, I get it.  It was a “oh the saw doesn’t fit” moment to the realization on how it is supposed to go in.
The fence has two sets of marks on the plastic sight.  One red and one black.  This is because the saw can be set up for both right and left handed users and there is no reduction in capacity depending on how the saw is set up.  That being said,  I had to be very careful that I made sure the same color mark lined up to the mark on the other side.  I did screw that up once.  The other minor concern is the default setting for the sight is all at one end instead of centered.  Not a big deal but could become a problem if I need to adjust.  The fence system is also problematic if slight adjustments need to be made
The throat plate on the saw is beveled into the saw.  This does not great a problem if cutting larger pieces.  It will be a problem doing dust cuts and veneers.  The taper can make small pieces wedge into the blade and get stuck.
Limitations:  This saw does not accommodate for a dado stack and blind cuts are out of the question.  Most contractor saws do not accommodate a dado stack.
Surprises: The fence system was a surprise to me.  I went in very apprehensive to it.  I did not think it was a very good idea to have a fence that can be installed very crooked.  I even cut out strips to the size I was going to cut so that I did not have to measure front and back of the blade.  I stopped using them after two sizes.  The fence system was accurate and worked well.
It was easy to set up and most of the parts came assembled.  It wasn’t awkward to move around and was lighter than I expected.  Adjusting the blade and angle were less cumbersome than I thought.  The handles are a little deeper then I was accustomed to. 
The miter gauge was the best one that I have seen come with a piece of equipment.  I currently own an incra miter gauge and was excited to use it in a t-slot.  The Dewalt does not have a t-slot (at least 20 years ago it did not).  When I saw the miter gauge that came with the saw I was equally excited to try it out.
The assembly instructions are bad.  They are wordless and have multiple steps in one picture.  However their YouTube instructions are amazing and thorough.  They even go through and show adjustments and fine tuning of the product.  Customer service is also very helpful with questions.
Overall Performance: The saw has good power and solid design.  I was please how it worked and for a contractor saw.  I was able to cut several linear feet of both 4/4 and 6/4 poplar.  The setup and changing of rips went smoothly once I trusted the fence system.

I do like the ease of removing the guard and anti-kickback system when it interferes with a cut.  I told my wife that I will leave these on when I can.  The Dewalt guard was a pain to take on and off and ended up in the recycle pile.  

Friday, April 6, 2018

Wen Drill Press

 A spring on my drill press broke a couple of weeks ago.  I was hoping that I could replace it.  It would have been an inexpensive part with a little bit of difficulty to replace.  However, the part is no longer stocked and cannot be replaced.  I thought I would just deal with it.  I quickly learned it is not smart to use a drill press where the chuck lowers by itself.  It makes adjustment difficult and setting the depth stop even harder.  Not to mention it is not very safe.

I really wanted to upgrade but could not justify it.  While looking online I found several that would work.  The WEN 10 drill press at Home Depot stood out.  Not because some of the new features that my old one did not have but because of the spindle travel.  It was 2 ½” while all the similar drill presses were 2 3/8”.  I know it is only 1/8” but that makes a big deal when a lot of my toy chassis are 2 ½”.  The other neat features include laser cross hairs and an LED light.  Not something I was looking for but a nice to have.

The drill press shipped to my house quickly and was undamaged which was a good thing.  The laser cross hairs line up with the hole.  They become a “V” when a drill bit is put in them.  It is also fairly accurate. The LED light worked.  At first, I was frustrated the LED light did not have an on/off switch.  I found it a couple of days later.  I was impressed how quite the machine was wen used.

Overall it was a good purchase.  We will see how long this drill press lasts.  The last one was almost 15 years.  No complaints from me except for the timing.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Arrow of Light

I was asked a little while ago to produce some Arrow of Light plaques for a local cub pack.  I thought about many the different ways and styles I could use.  There was scrolling out the image.  I also thought about making a template and routing it out.  Then my laziness kicked in and decided to go the easer way, CNC. 
I have access to a CNC router and since I was making 4 of them it would be a fast way to batch them out.  Programing proved to be a little more challenging than I thought.  By programing I mean drawing it up.  For some reason I could not get the parts to constrain correctly and it kept failing to constrain.  Once the drawing was done to my satisfaction the importing into the machine was relatively easy.  One test sample and then four more were completed in about 20 minutes. 

The painting is something that I have done before.  It is paint slightly over the lines and then sand it off.  There is a coat of shellac and that is it.  Sometimes it is nice to have a quick project even if the drawing part was a pain.  In the end I learned more about the drawing program and how to import a drawing into the machine.  Usually I just program the machine.