Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Glue: The only fastener REAL carpenters use

Usually I post about what I have made or current projects, but today I think I will talk about one of the major non-wood products I use.  Glue is a very important part of a project because I rarely used mechanical fasteners on toys because they inevitably loosen or come off.  There are several different kinds of glue.  I will go over the glues that I use:
Wood glue:  There are many different types of wood glue and for the most part the general wood glue will work.  There are water proof and stainable wood glues also.  I have never used the stainable one but I can't imagine that it is very "stainable".  The problem with glue is that it does not finish well. The good thing about the basic wood glue is that it is nontoxic.  I was asked once what the difference between Elmer's wood glue and the glue used in schools.  The answer is a little bit of dye.  This glue has about a 5 minute open time and will set in about 15 minutes.  After about an hour it will have reached 90% of its strength.  The cool thing is the glue bond is stronger than the wood itself.
Spray adhesive:  I use this to attach my patterns for scroll saw work.  The important things to remember about spray adhesive is that it is flammable, fumes are not healthy and to read the directions.  Most spray adhesives must be sprayed to both sides and let dry for the bond to be permanent.  I don't like my patterns to to be permanently adhered to the wood so I only spray one side.
Epoxy:  This is used to adhere non wood parts to wood parts.  It is usually in two parts and once mixed it will dry and can not be used again.  The microwave trick will not work on epoxy.  I don't use epoxy a lot because I don't like it and it is relatively expensive.
A little note on a couple of other glues:  Super glue is great for a quick bond but it is very easy to destroy a project because there is not a lot of open time.  Meaning once the two pieces touch they better be in the right place.  Gorilla glue is another super strength glue that cures with moisture.  Don't let it touch your skin.

Here are a couple of tricks that I have learned:
When you are ready to glue up a project, dry fit it together first.  It is never fun to have glue on all the parts and realize you forgot to cut a part or a groove is too small.  It is also a good time to find out how many and what size clamps are required.
Clean up the excess glue with a wet towel before it dries.  I don't care if the glue says it is stainable.  It will not stain the same as wood.  Cleaning up excess glue makes sanding a lot easier.
Since I work with a lot of small parts this next trick has come in handy several times.  Put a little bit of glue on the parts and gently rub the other part on it spreading the glue evenly over both surfaces.  After a little while the parts will become harder to move around.  slide the pieces in there correct location to each other and let dry, no clamps needed.  This only works with small parts so don't try it while building a cabinet.
Glue is a fantastic fastener, however if you need to use a nail or a screw sometimes to hold things together while glue dries use it.  The title is in reference to what some one told me when they saw I was using nails.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The tug boats

Well I have made enough of these tug boats I should probably write about them. This is the last set I made. I am working on some scroll saw puzzles that are proving to be more trouble than I imagined. The cool thing is I was able to purchase some exotic lumber. Yes, I did cause some deforestation.
The exotic woods are displayed above: purple heart, lace wood, lypus, yellow heart, and walnut (not an exotic but my wife likes this wood). I will probably never buy this wood again, except the walnut. They are all really nice looking woods with good color. My favorite is probably the lace wood. The yellow heart was definitely yellow but kind of plain, but had an interesting smell. Yes, woods have distinct smells. The yellow heart smelled like pepper when cutting into it. This wood is also very hard. It actually destroyed the template and bushing guide I used to cut out the center of the tug boat. Now I have to make another template.

The story of the Tug Boat
This was one of the first projects I made from the Making Heirloom Toys book. It was a pine base with a poplar scrap header from work planed down to 3/8". I made three and I don't think I have any of the originals. I have had several people come up to me and ask how much they cost and to this day I have not sold one. I think my price is too expensive or too cheap. For the most part you have to go though child birth (it is received at the baby shower). Or I have given them away - right place right time sort of thing. They are usually made out of scrap wood or planks that are too short to be of any use. I have been having fun making them and will continue to do so. I also put an extra coat of polyurethane on them so they slide really well on carpet. They are not balanced or finished for the water, but sand is ok.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The microwaves saves me again

I have a couple of projects in queue that people would like me to build for them.  It is nice to see that people appreciate the work I do.  I hope to complete my current projects before I start on the others however time will tell.  This past weekend I was working on the trains and I glued the cab on the chassis completely crooked.  I was completely upset and then my wife said "Why don't you microwave it?"  45 seconds in the microwave and the parts came a part with a little TLC.  I think this is my new favorite trick.

The other story of my life is that I am trying to earn enough money for a band saw.  I need re saw capabilities and be able to cut gradual curves for some toys.  This is one of the main reasons I am selling my toys.  I know which band saw I want and I am about half way there.  Well my wife through in an interesting twist.  I now have to make room in my parents garage for this band saw.  Most of my tools are at my parents because I only have a single car garage.  I had just cleaned out may parents garage and had plenty of room for a couple of tools.  Then my father found an excellent deal on a hybrid table saw and bought it.  I would have done the same.  However I have no more room in the garage until some of the stuff that was not planned to be in the garages is moved out. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

And the answer is.....

20.  My wife actually won, but I told her "You can give the blocks to the next closest person or you give our set of blocks to the next closest person."  She is going to pass the bucket of blocks to the next person which happens to be my mother-in-law.  I will have to say that I am disappointed in the response I received from the contest.  I guess I will do one more bucket of blocks and then start donating them to a local charity because no one seems to want them.  Interesting couple of weekends of wood working.  If I have time I may share.