Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Photocopy Rubbings

So I tried to do a photocopy rubbing on the wood chest of drawers that we purchased for my son.  He is a big Harry Potter fan so I wanted to do one of the Hogwarts crest and one of the Gryffindor crest.  The Hogwarts was in color while the Gryffindor was in black and white.  Looking online they suggest lacquer thinner or acetone.  I purchased lacquer thinner and I had denatured alcohol at home.

My results were, denatured alcohol does nothing.  Lacquer thinner worked a little bit but it was tough to rub out.  I still need to try acetone to see how that works.  The color did not work at all.  I might try the wax paper and inkjet printer if I want to try color again.  If you want to find out more, there is plenty of information on YouTube.  As things work I will continue to update.

Build and Grow

So I tried a build and grow series.  It did not go down in flames but I realized really quickly that I was not going to mass produce them.  It is a pain to line up all the nail holes and predrill everything out.  I understand a little more what it takes to make the build and grow projects.  I would not be able to compete with the product already on the shelf.  I was not a total waste of time though.  Here are some of the key things that I did and learned.

I wanted to make three sets of each.  I created a parts list and listed out all the rips that needed by thickness and totaled how much I would need in each rip.  Sounds difficult but excel and pivot tables make it very easy.  Each piece was cut to the correct length before I even started putting the pieces together.  If my cuts were off then it would not go together.  It was interesting how little lumber it took to make fifteen of these cars.

      Planning and design was also a factor in making these.  I needed to make sure that kids would be able to put them together.  In the end kids are not putting them together because I don’t want to drill all the pilot holes.  I had to think about where the nails would go and could they be pounded in in the location they were in.  There were a couple of instances in the design where I had nails running into each other.

      I used experiences and job knowledge to make these cars more production friendly.  A little note about my work, I work for a cabinet manufacturer.  I did not want to mix my hobby with work which is one of the main reasons I make toys not cabinets.  The cabinets we build are good quality for the price and I would and have put them in my home.  However, I build to a higher quality in personal projects.  So I have tried to keep work and hobby separate as much as possible.  My goal was to produce a fair amount of them and it still is.  When looking at the break down of parts I noticed I had several rips that were an 1/8” apart and all were short lengths.  So I went back through my designs and reduced the amount of rips by a third.  This meant less table saw set ups and longer lineal strips to cut parts out of.

      The last thing that I learned is that I need to follow my plans as well as pay attention to test before drilling everything.  The first front end loader’s shovel is not flat to the ground because I did not put the holes in the correct location.  I thought they were the same as the bulldozer.  The biggest mistake was with the fire truck.  I marked and drill all the holes using the wrong drill bit.  I used 7/32” bit.  I could not fix them and had to remake all of them.  I had to remark and drill 36 holes.

The plan is still to make a lot of them.  I am going back to glue and dowels.  The nice thing is that my kids should be old enough to help me assemble them.  That is what I am looking forward to.

Thursday, February 1, 2018


I think that people either love Ikea for the product that they make or they hate it because they see it as temporary and cheap.  I started building furniture because I did not want the cheap furniture that was in the stores at the time.  Over time I have developed a respect for their business and the product they bring to the market.  Here are a couple of things that I have grown to respect and they might be surprising coming from a woodworker.

Quality – Ikea is consistent.  Their product looks decent for the price.  When I buy something from them I know what I am going to get.  I know where they have used a cheaper part to cut cost.  I know that I am not spending money on the parts that are going to be immediately thrown away; packaging, instructions, guides.

Cost – They have gone to great lengths to cut out cost.  I know that I am not going to get it anywhere cheaper for the quality that I am receiving.  Even the items that are not furniture related.  I remember when coating the scrap blocks to give away, butcher block oil was expensive.  Then walking through Ikea, I found it for a quarter of the cost and double the size. 

Convenience – If you don’t live near one it is not all that convenient.  I have found I will cost compare what it will cost me and what I can get at Ikea.  I now look at projects and ask a couple of questions.  The first is do I want to make it?  How long does it need to last? And how much is it going to cost me to make verses buy?  Here are a couple of examples.  We were looking for a smaller bookshelf in for the family room.  It was a temporary item because we hope to buy a home sometime (not soon).  It was an easy choice to buy a $25 unit than make a $50 one for a couple more inches and better joinery that would take 2-3 weekends.  

Minimal Risk – I know that I am not going to have Ikea furniture forever.  I figure it will last 3-5 years depending on the use.  I do not plan on moving with it.  If it works great if it does not make it so it does.  I don’t have a problem experimenting with their stuff.  Recently we purchased a dresser for my oldest.  I was looking online at taking prints and rubbing them on wood.  I used this furniture as an experiment piece.  Color came out bad black and white did all right.  I was not thrill but my oldest was happy.  I would never try something like this on something I had made.

I have a respect for what Ikea offers and value revere them has a great business.  They set the standard for RTA cabinetry and have a great design and marketing group.  I see them as a valuable source of information and ideas.  Just for the record I do glue in the wood dowels even though they say I don’t have to.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Year in Review

What a year.  It has been crazy, fun and at times down right stressful.  We will start off with the brag sheet.  This year I entered in three online competitions.  There were two on the instructables site and one for Triton tools.  I got a participation shirt for the Triton tools competition.  My son also entered the Triton completion and won the Kid project division.  His won the work center with the table saw and router table modules.  Included is also a router.  We have not seen these prizes.  I think he was happy with the shirt.  The prizes are nice but the best two things about the project are:
1.       Working on a project that my son designed
2.       Having him read the letter from Triton and seeing the grin and excitement come across his face when he read, “I am delighted to be able to inform you that your entry “Toy Car Launcher” has won in the Kids category.”
Next big accomplishment is my plans are now for sale in a catalog.  Scroller now features some of my plans in there online and catalog.  It was interesting feat trying to get into a catalog and find different avenues to sell my plans.  Of the six that I tried this was the only company that was willing to take a risk.
I did four craft fairs this year.  That is three more than I originally planned.  Two of them I was invited to show at.  This is nothing special because there are at least two to six people passing out or getting vendor information at each craft fair.  Sold some items and learned a lot.  I had the honor to sell with a couple of ladies at work one does metal clay jewelry.  She does really nice work.  Please check out her shop here. The other is a talented stain glass artist. You can find her shop here.  I will do more but probably not four of them.  The group will still show together.  We really did have a fun time.
Looking back, I was surprised that I did not complete as many projects as I had thought.  I completed most of the projects that I wanted.  The first half of the year was making projects for competitions, the cradle, small car and the car launcher.  Then I did the high chair which was a skill builder.  First time hand cutting mortises.  Then I made the rocking chair just to complete the series.  The last few months was dedicated to craft fair items.
Favorite project this year was the cradle.  It is not like I made 6 of them.  I really like the look of resawing the blank and cutting out the design and then gluing it back together. My least favorite was the camping box.  I had envisioned greatness and it came out as an anchor.  It is heavy and awkward to move.  I am back to the drawing board on that one.
This year I actually purchased some tools.  This year was all hand tools.  I purchased a set of chisels, a shoulder plane and a low angle jack plane.  I also purchase a couple of sharpening stones to sharpen the tools.  It is amazing how nice it is to work with sharp tools.  There is some odd satisfaction when there are thin curled shavings on the floor after hand planing some boards.  I am not at all good at it but I am learning to set up a plane.  I will admit I was sore after planning a couple of boards.
On to next year’s goals.  My kids are growing up and starting to do more creating.  I am hoping to involve them more.  I am working on a kid building projects.  I have a couple of plans right now that I hope to start on in the first part of the year.  I also want to let others learn more about wood working.  I have offered to teach.  No takers yet.  I have several projects that I need to do and some of them are just maintenance items.
I just wanted to thank a couple of companies that have help out this year.  Uneeda Enterprises produces high quality sand paper.  They donated several sheets of sand paper to an orphanage our club was gathering tools and supplies for.  RSI also donated 1000 board feet of 6/4 poplar for making toys to the club. 
It is will be very difficult to top this year.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Lots of Ornaments Craft Fair

So I have been cranking out Christmas ornaments for the past month in hopes to have some sort of inventory for the two upcoming craft fairs I have.  Putting a deadline to something is nice but I have to admit it took a little bit of the fun out of it.  So I put a little fun back into it.  There are two Ladies that I have had the pleasure of working with on this craft show circuit.  I have learned a lot from both of them so I added a couple of ornaments that are for them.  I learned about another Christmas tradition from another part of the globe; forget elf on a shelf.  I also did some ornaments that I would not typically do.  Glad that I am ready for the craft fairs.  I hope they go well.

Purple heart and birch plywood.  I figured I needed some fancy
ribbon for the hanger.
Two new Nativity ornaments.  I am going to have to take off
the hat that baby Jesus is wearing on future ones.
Just wanted a little variety.  Thought these looked fun.
It is fun to have friends that inspire.  These are not for sale
for copyright reasons.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

2017 Toy Drive

Each year the Inland Empire Scroll Saw and Woodworking Association puts on a toy drive for hand made toys.  It is always fun to see what other people make.  This year is no different.  I had fun building this year's projects and hope they find someone that will take care of them and use them.  This year, my donations include the Tanker and Box trucks, two cradles, the street sweeper my son designed, a high chair and rocking chair.  I also made several toy cars.
The toy cars were unexpected this year.  The company I work for donated several board feet of 6/4 (1 1/4") poplar for making toys.  These are my city and small car plans blown up 165%.  This makes the design have 1 1/2" wheels.  These cars proved to be a challenge in a couple of different ways.  The first was the thickness of the material.  I tend to cut 3/4" and below  That extra 1/2" makes a big deal.  I started using #7 blades and they would over heat and bend and make cutting a nightmare.  I settled on a #11 blade.  This still presented problems, not because of the blade, but because of my expectations.  I was pushing too hard and trying trying to go to fast.  I even sped up the saw to see if I could cut faster.  This had the same results as having a less aggressive blade.  It would not cut straight and would over heat.  It took some practice and slowing down to cut these cars out.  In the end I still was able to make 25 of them. Next year I might try the pattern at 1 1/4" wheel size.  I have too many of that size wheel.
The club this year donated over 1400 toys.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Do you want to learn?

As this year comes to a close I am looking forward to next year and what I would like to accomplish.  This year was more about the business aspect and it was a very interesting year.  Next year is going to focus more on teaching.  Lowe’s recently (last year) decided not to continue with their Build and Grow series so next year I am going to hopefully have six designs that kids can build.  I will get into this project on a later post.
I wanted to share an idea that I had last night.  My club recently received a load of wood for making toys.  The idea last night was to allow others to the experience of making toys for charity on the scroll saw.  It would be a good year to try this.  The lumber, the wheels and axles, glue, and sandpaper are all donated.  I figure the cost would be for the blades, painters tape, and finish.  I would also like it if they would join the club because they are donating the wheels and axles. I figure the cost of everything including dues to the club is about $50.
The project would be making toys for the charities that the Inland Empire Scroll Saw and Woodworking Association work with.  I figured each person could make between 10-25 cars, a couple of puzzles and a couple of tug boats.  All toys would be donated at the November meeting.  I imagine it would take about 60-80 hours of work to make 25 cars, a couple of puzzles, and tug boats. 
I would supply all the plans and the equipment.  I only have one scroll saw so it would have to be shared. At the end of the year/process, the individuals would know the basics of a scroll saw and have the plans for the cars and tug boat.  They will also have brought smiles to kids.  I don't think I would have scheduled times individuals would have to meet. It would be more of an open shop during certain times and people could comes when they could.
The tools that we would be using are the scroll saw, drill press, belt sander, and palm sander.  These are safe machines if used appropriately.  I would open my shop so that tools can be used and projects completed.  Each person is responsible for their own protective equipment.  Safety glasses are a must and hearing protection is recommended.  A respirator is recommended, but dust masks are strongly advised while sanding.
This is still a developing idea but this is how I think it would go.  There would be an orientation class on the basics of a scroll saw and a practice board.  The first project would be the tug boats, then cars and then conclude with the puzzles.  Age group would be 12 years and up.    Please let me know if you are interested.

The donation meeting this year is on November 21 at 5:30 if you would like to see what the group does.  The location is 16850 San Bernardino Ave., Fontana 92335. It takes about 45 minutes from Pomona due to traffic.  Please let me know if you are interested.