Friday, December 31, 2010

Year End

It has been a good year and I have learned a lot.  There were several projects that I completed and others that I am still working on.  Some things that I have learned:
  • Make sure you read the directions.  I am very much a novice at this and cannot assume that I know the best way to do it.
  • There are several ways to do the same thing in wood working.  Do not limit one self to just one way.
  • I could make money doing this but not enough to support a family.  My family is more important than my hobby.  On the other side I can fund my hobby.  I did earn enough to buy my band saw.
  • I don't make a very good business owner.  I tend to give away more than I charge.  
  • Fixtures make a task much easier and there are several fixtures that I should make.  Now where to store the fixtures.
Here were some of my favorite projects:
  • The desk.  Even though it was green and I did not like the way the finish turned out, it is still one of my favorites.  It is these projects that keep my mind sharp and thinking.  This is a project that I designed and had to work though design problems.  If you want me to make something, I love a challenge, but I don't buy the wood.
  • The dominoes were my favorite toy this year.  Fun to build and paint and finish.  Maybe some day I will make the box that goes with them
  • The model T series was also fun.  It was this project that convinced me I needed a band saw.  I am just pleased how they turned out.
Tools aquired this year was just a band saw. I think I am done for a little while (don't tell my wife).  I will still need odds and ends and bits but as for major tools, I think I am good.  The last thing that I think I would use is a lathe.  If any of you have any suggestions let me know.  I always like adding to my wish list.

Goals for next year:
  • I was given a book called Marvelous Transforming Toys.  I want to make everything in this book this year.  I think my skills and accuracy will improve with these projects.  It is going to take a lot of time and some money.  I am open to monetary donations to fund my wood working addiction.  
  • There are three other toys that I would also like to make this year.  Those will be shown when they are finished. 
  • Over the past year I have learned that kids really like to play with the toys I make.  I am humbled by this and also feel sad.  I would like more kids to be able to enjoy these unique toys.  I hope to be able to open my house to let more kids play with these toys.  I don't plan on giving them away, I all ready do a lot of that.
  • I would like to do another major scroll saw project even though I am not finished with this years.  I am still learning and have become more proficient.  I can almost stay on the pattern line some of the time.  
  • There should be at least one design project again this year.  I do not know what it is, but it is something I enjoy doing.  Any suggestions?
  • I plan on spending more time with my family.  There are several things that I can do at my house and don't need to go to may parents garage every weekend.  I might even take a few more tools home with me.
This year was fun and I hope that next year will be better.  I hope that all who read this blog has a happy and prosperous year.

By the way,should I keep the scrap block give away?  Sometimes I think it is the only way to get people to read this blog.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Desk Gone Green

It is done. I have completed the two projects I needed to get done before the end of the year. This last project was a desk for a friend. She wanted a big flat area with some storage that she could sew and do craft projects on. With her assistance we came up with this design. The internal pull out shelves were added later after I realized, and it was pointed out, that the pillars were very deep. The desk measures 50” wide 30” deep and 33” tall. The wood is birch construction with maple facing. The desk is finished with shellac and the green accent is Rit® fabric dye. Some of the key features are:

• Storage for large sheets under the table top

• Adjustable pull out shelves

• Completely modular (top detaches from the sides easily and assembles easily)

I already told my friend that I was going to do this problem/wish I did better section and she understands what I am going to talk about. I have to admit that this is her desk and this is what she wanted. Here are some of the things that I wish would have been better. First is the green. I was not a fan of it from the beginning because it is not me however it is her. I used Rit® fabric dye and will probably never use it again to dye wood. It probably would work well on soft woods but there was no saturation in the hard wood and I sanded some of the dye right off. I used shellac to finish which is oil based to seal in the water based die. I picked up eco-friendly paint thinner to clean my brushes. It said it works just as well as normal paint thinner but with less fumes. I was all for that. It didn’t work, gummed up the brush and I had to immediately get baby alcohol to clean the brush which did a fantastic job. I also tried some of the new finishing techniques I have learned. With toys I just wanted a smooth coat to protect the wood but on this desk I wanted to get a mirror finish on the top. Well, I need more practice.

I may have had problems with this desk but I am really pleased how it turned out. There are two adjustable pullout shelves! All the pull out shelves are on full extension ball bearing glides (two different sizes due to availability). It was one of those ideas that just click and made sense. I think I am going to keep the adjustible shelf design to myself though. Even though I did not like the green the finish came out really good. It is smooth and even. I was worried because I was using shellac. The reason I used oil based was because I used a water based dye. I was told that the water based top coat could mix with the dye and not completely seal the dye. I used a 3 pound cut of shellac and it worked fine. I just had to be careful to make sure I had plenty on my brush because it dries in an hour (15 minutes dry to the touch). It made finishing really quick. I am also proud that this is completely modular. I can make furniture tanks and super sturdy so they don’t fit into a door. The challenge becomes making a piece that can be moved easily and is still sturdy. It is a fun design challenge and it is this that makes a project fun.
To finish I put child latches on the doors.  Kyle was so confused when he could not open them anymore.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Another Train

It has been a little while since I have posted a completed  project.  I have been busy doing a lot of things, however I have been asked to build a couple of trains for Christmas.  I just completed them after 4 months.  I can't say they were all that easy even though the design was fairly straight forward.  In all there are seven cars and and and engine.  Three of the cars are "learning  cars", pictured below.  There is one train in walnut (shown) and the second is in oak.  I was hoping there was a little more contrast between the oak and the maple but it still came out nice.  The plans came from Making Toys that Teach.  I have done a couple of projects from the book (my favorite the dominoes).
The first car is a fraction car.  This consists of four dowels: one full length, one cut in half, another cut in thirds and the last cut into fourths.  The shape care has three shapes that fit into cut-outs.  The last car is the color car.  This car consists of ten slabs of five different types of wood.  Each wood is a distinct color.  I am proud that I could do this without any stains or dies.  The woods in order are: Purple Heart (Purple), Walnut (brown), Poplar (green), Oak (light brown), Maple (white).  
I learned a few things on this train that I would not have expected.  First, I love my airbrush I bought a couple of years ago.  It made finishing these trains less time consuming and easier.  In the past I uses a 1/2" paint brush and finish toys because of all the small parts and crevasses.  Very tedious and a pain in the neck.  Second, wood swells in humidity.  I knew this, however while making these trains I drilled axle whole 1/32" larger than the dowel.  I was assembling them this past weekend when it was rainy.  To my horror the axles had expanded so the wheels would not spin.  Cars are no fun if the wheels do not turn.  Since I only had one set of wheels on, it was easy to re-drill all holes.
My son also helped my assemble the trains. 
There is a better video but apparently it does not want to load.
He also had fun carrying around the hammer and eat glue.  He is also apparently vary afraid of my cordless drill.

And as always, leave it up to the 18 month old to find the flaw in the design.  Who even said a round peg doesn't fit in the square hole.  After that discovery, the square peg didn't have a home and the round peg took up residence in the square hole.  It even looks like he is saying, "Dad, this is not suppose to work!"  Got to love kids.