Friday, March 24, 2017

Doll Cradle

I know that I only have boys in the family.  I wanted to make some different things than trucks and construction equipment.  This year I am challenging myself to do other things.  The first is the cradles.  I made four of them because I could.  Each of them was different for different looks.  I would say that I like them all but I do have my favorite.  So in order from my least favorite to my favorite.

The Butterfly Sides

The image came from the web and I thought it would look better than the cutouts on the other design.  The butterflies were just too small.  I like the detail it adds but it does not create enough negative space to make it look good. 

The Girl and Boy Fairy

This is only ahead of the butterflies because of the design.  I like the curve on the side over the straight sides.  The cutout does not add to the design.  It looks plain, more like a decal.  It looked good when it was printed out but it did not translate well on wood.  I think I envisioned something not like a silhouette.  This is the first attempt at adding color to some of my projects.

The Slots and the Rose

I liked the negative space the slots added and the rose just adds to the back of the cradle.  It was how I thought the cradle would turn out.  I did make an adjustment to the side panels of this cradle.  I grooved them and attached them to the edges of the ends.  This is a stronger joint and I think it looks a little cleaner.

The Hibiscus Flower

Hands down, this is my favorite.  The flower is large and adds to the cradle.  The painting behind it is not great but not bad for my first time blending colors. Over all it is clean and looks good.  The next time I build it I will use the joinery of the slotted cradle. 
This was one of the challenges that I wanted this year.  I wanted to add a little of clean color to my projects.  This is probably the easiest but it is a step.  The hibiscus flower got a lot of attention at my scrollsaw meeting the other day.  The glue line is not very visible and the detail was too fine for a router.  I had to explain a couple of times how I did it.  The sides are one complete board.  I resaw it in half and plane out the marks.  This is why the sides are only ½” thick.  I do make sure I have identified the top edge and front and back of the board.  When it is glued up again the glue line blends in with the grain.  I take the front half and cut out the shape, in this case is was the hibiscus flower.  On the other half I paint the color(s) that I want in the background.  I made sure to be careful not to paint where the edge was.  The paint will show thru the glue line.  Then glue the two pieces together.  Make sure to line up the tops and insides.  I used a make shift press to make sure I had even pressure. 
A little note about gluing these pieces. I wanted to make sure the pieces of the cut out did not break off.  So I put a little bit of glue on parts keeping away from the edges to avoid squeeze out.  It still happened and it was a pain to clean up.  I figured out later that should have used wood glue with a long open time on the large sections and used super glue on the smaller more delicate sections.  The super glue can be more precisely put on and has less squeeze out.  I also highly recommend the gel formula of super glue.
The project itself is made out of beech wood.  It tore up by scroll saw blades but it cut well.  The bottom panel is solid wood.  I would usually use ply but I don’t that beech ply.  When I started the project, I thought this was going to be an easy design.  I forgot some important factors.  The first was end grain is not a good bonding surface.  So I changed the side panel to the one with the slots.  It was too late for the others to change.  Then the rockers to end panels have the same problem.  I doweled them, but if I rotated the end panels 90 degrees I would not have to add the dowels.  The paint was the one thing that I was dreading and kept putting off.  In the end, I was worrying about nothing, I just needed to start.
The slotted cradle is going to be donated to charity.  The reason is because it is the design that I am submitting to  I donate one of everything I design to a local toy drive over Christmas.  The plans are free on  I have added it to a contest on instructables so please vote for me.  The remaining cradles are for sale.  These are prototype cradles so I am selling these for $100 apiece plus shipping.  It is a first come first serve.  If you want me to make another one you have the option of choosing the style and the cutout image (providing it can be done).  They will be sold for $175 shipping included.  If you are interested please email me.  Please allow a couple of months to make.  I make to order.

Monday, March 20, 2017

A Couple More Puzzles

This month's challenge in the woodworking club was to cut out a puzzle.  Kyle took my puzzle book and highlighted just about every puzzle for me to cut out.  Most were just pictures of some pretty intricate designs.  I made copies of two to cut out.  One was of a stack of cats and the other was a wizard. My oldest is into Harry Potter and wanted to make it a mix of Harry and Dumbledore.  What you get is the reason I do not paint my projects.  I cut it out and as a family we painted it.  we each picked a color and painted different pieces.  The youngest (3) did the best job painting.  The puzzle is not bad. but it did not look good plain.

 If anyone knows me, they know that I do not like cats.  Obviously I did no pick the puzzle out.  This one I stained different colors making it not child safe.  The colors came out ok.  I probably should have put a second coat of stain.  Not a bad project. 
It was nice just to get out and do a couple hour projects.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Traditional vs Modern Movement

The topic isn’t new nor will it go away anytime soon.  I have had a couple of conversations about this topic and put some of my opinions on paper.  The conversations typically flow around the idea of traditional craftspeople, the maker movement and occasionally how capitalism is affecting these areas.  Please note that my opinions are based in the woodworking community.
The club that I am is heavily dominated by retired community and has a very traditional view on the craft of wood working.  There are some that that have played in the CNC programing but most have not.  We do have a couple of vocational teachers that come to the club.  They are starting to show off some of the things that they are playing around with on the 3d printers and laser cuter.  The comment was made that this in not art. The reply was noteworthy.  It is not in the traditional sense.  However the person using a CNC machine to cut out the project still has to program the machine.  They still have to design the project and make sure it works together.  That piece, that project, is a person’s art, their achievement.  It is getting people off their games and social media to create.  Where I see this moving to as people create and as the projects grow more complex they will move into more collaborative work.  It maybe through online forums, but I hope it will move into more associations and physical groups.
There is concern more and more products are being made using CNC and cheapening the product of the “true craftsperson.”    It is true that items produced on a CNC can be mass produced faster and at a less cost than those done using power and hand tools.  I don’t think this is as big of a deal as some are making it out to be.  There will be a group of people that want the traditionally crafted projects.  I feel that this group of people is dwindling in numbers.  There are more people that change with the styles of the times.  Instead of investing in expensive furniture to last for generations, they want it to last 5-10 years and then they change their style.  This is an expensive and maybe a wasteful trend.  This is where I see the upscaling movement int.  People take someone else’s trash and change it in to something they need.  When they don’t need it anymore it goes to someone else to change to their needs.  It pays tribute to the craftspeople of the past.  They truly build pieces to last, maybe not in the way they had hoped.
Where do I fit into all this?  After talking to several people, they assume that I like the entire package of woodworking.  The truth is that I like the design, problem solving and the assembly.  I really do not like processing the parts.  I like some sanding but there is way too much of it in woodworking.  I appreciate the labor involved and enjoy the time making sawdust.  My excitement comes from the design and from the all the dry fits to final assembly.  I am currently working on some cradles.  The ends have stopped grooves in them.  I have the ability and knowledge to set up a router and make these grooves.  The entire process for all eight parts would take about four hours.  I have access to a CNC milling machine at work.  It took ten minutes of programing and ten minutes to run the parts.  I am going to use the CNC because of the time and I don’t have to worry about accidently screwing up the part.  I am also working on a truck and want to do a little inlay.  I will be cutting the inlay but I really don’t want to cut the recess or the blank that goes in the recess.  I can do it but don’t want to spend the time on the set up.  These parts will also be done on the CNC.  I am all about making things more efficient while still maintaining the craft. 
I am happy that kids are using technology to design, create and discover.  I think this is more important than traditional methods and ways of doing things.  Will it affect the craftsperson bottom line, it will.  More and more craftspeople are turning to content production rather than living off the craft.  I believe it is a good thing that more people want to try things themselves.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The new camping box

 I have been working on this project for over a year now.  It was a Facebook find and so I built one.  I am not sure were original concept came from because it was a while ago. This project tested my skills on grooving parts on a router.  Lots of setup and time was spent on the project.  When I realized that I was not going to make it for last year’s camping season I put it in the corner to work on something else.
Now I am trying to finish up past projects this year and this was one of them.  It isn’t quite complete but I don’t know if I am going to put the table top on it.  It is really heavy as it is.  It uses about a ½ sheet of ¾ ply and a sheet of ½ ply.  That alone is heavy.  The goal was to put all the cooking and setup things in one box.  And they all fit which makes it even heavier.  I am sort of happy how it turned out.  This was one of the projects were the vision was much grander than the finished project.  I put a lot of the gimmicky stuff together without a real plan and I think it shows.  It is a camping box.
I was not looking for finish quality on this project so I did not remove excess glue and the parts are really not sanded.  It is going to be fun to see how it works out on our first camping trip of the summer.
Sorry this was started long before I got into instructables and I was not really planning on sharing the plans for this project.  Most of the stuff needs to be custom made any way.  It is tough to fit all stoves and all plates and all bowls etc.  for individual needs.  If you want the carcass drawings I will be more than happy to provide them, just email me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My New Sawhorses and Table

It has been a long time since I have completed a project and I really need to get something done.  The saw horses were to fit two needs and a desire to try something.  Our coffee table/ kids table has been pretty well destroyed.  For some reason my kids think it is a trampoline and are shocked when they get hurt jumping on it.  I needed a new one but I wanted to function as a homework table also, maybe a serving table, coffee table, and just a general purpose table.  My wife and I were walking though Ikea and I saw this adjustable height table leg design.  I knew that is was the design I wanted.  I had to make some small changes because it was not very adjustable once it was set up. 
I do not have a workbench in my shop; it is a folding table from my Grandmother.  Although it is very useful it is starting to wobble pretty badly and it is a good height if I am putting equipment on it to machine parts.  The top is starting to show its wear and I should probably replace the top in the near future.  So the adjustable sawhorses would be great.  They would also be a lot easier and lighter than the metal ones that got rid of a few years ago.
One of the main reasons I wanted to do this project was because I wanted to do compound angled legs.  This should not be a hard process and it wasn’t once I figured out how to do it, but getting to that point was a mess.  It started out with the drawings.  I could not get my model to come together, probably because I was doing it wrong so I started to cut and machine parts before I was done with the drawings.  That was my first mistake.  Just to ruin the story, this project was a complete failure from what the intended purpose.  However they work and I like how they turned out.
The first of the major mistakes was cutting the angles wrong.  I thought for some reason I thought I had to make mirror images of the legs with opposite angles.  Apparently, all the legs are the same, it just depends on what is top and bottom.  This is the reason I wanted to make angled feet.  I lost about an inch of length on the legs because of this mistake.  This compounded the fact that I did not account that the angles would also reduce the height of the project a few inches.  I thought it was going to be less than an inch.  The next design flaw that I had, which I fixed before machining a bunch of parts, was locking the extension posts in place.  I was just going to let them float which means any horizontal force would cause the table to shift of the bottom assembly.  It was a good thing that I decided to push through the design after I cut the legs wrong.  Things did go much more smoothly after the design was complete.
After both sets were complete, I was kind of disappointed that they were not as tall as I thought they would be.  Then I checked the model and realized why.  My other design fail was not allowing enough room for chairs to fit between the legs of the table.  There are a lot of easy solutions, and I think it will work.  The kid’s table is now very strong and heavy.  I don’t think they will be knocking over all the time.  The saw horses are a couple of inches shorter than I want them to be, but it is nice to have the ability to raise the table when doing assembly and finishing work.
The table has a kitchen island top on it.  This is another one of the perks of working at a large cabinet manufacturer.  It is quite heavy and a very good work top.  The top for my garage table is particle board with melamine.  There are reasons for the holes.  One main one is the handle holes.  The second is that I have 36” bar clamps that will mount to the top. However, the top is 42” wide.  I will be putting beech around the edge of the board to protect it.
I am putting the plans up on instructables for free.  I hope to be using this site a little more.  If you have not seen what my plans look like please take a visit here.  My plans for purchase will also have instructions and a bill of materials.  Instructables is forcing me to take more pictures of the process which is nice.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What I have been Doing

I have been a little silent on the internet lately.  It has not been because I have not been busy.  I have been working on some repeat items that have already been documented along with some designs that are just for the shop.  For some reason I still have Christmas on the mind.  I have been working on this year’s ornament, so I will be basically complete in February.  I also received a bunch of reclaim material.  I am making boxes out of this material.   I have some other things that I am working on and need to finish. 
Work has also contributed to the lack of presence online, both my day time job and trying to make a little money with woodworking.  I am trying to get in contact with some of the larger plan retailers to help sell my plans.  I do not know what I am doing.  Asking and marketing is not a strong point for me, but there is one thing that I try to keep in mind when asking a question: What is the worst thing that can happen; they say “no”.  Then move on.  I have been working on cleaning up my pictures and update my materials list to feature the different companies that I am presenting to.  It was one thing to be ready for Etsy, this is taking a little more time.
The other thing that I am looking into is a website called  I was notified of a toy contest on the website, so I entered. The website seems solid.  It is a DYI website for various areas of crafting and repair.  I entered one of the small car designs.  I did not win anything, but the contest was run differently.  The first part is for everyone to vote on a project.  The projects with the top votes move into a finalist round which is judged by select members of the instructable community.  This year I think that I am going to put more on this website.  It is free and all the content is shared, so I am not going to be putting my plans that I sell on the site. has shed some light on how detailed I need to be in documenting steps.  This is causing me to slowdown more and take more pictures.  I am currently working on some saw adjustable saw horsed for table legs and my shop.  They are designed off of Ikea’s design with some changes.  It would have been cheaper to buy it but I wanted to change some things about them.  The other thing I wanted to do is make compound angled cuts.  The project has been a total mess but I have learned a lot.  Most will not see the design or execution flaws in the product.  I am in process of finishing this project and putting on instructables.