Thursday, December 27, 2012

New puzzles and a new year

I finished a couple of new puzzles.The first is a motorcycle.  I realized is it is very hard to cut straight lines and oak is not my favorite to scroll saw with.  The blade is thin and oak does not have a very consistent density so the blade likes to bend.  This makes it so the puzzle does not come apart.  The first was in oak and it failed so this one is out of alder.

The second is a star that will never come apart because it will be a pain to put back together.  Each point is almost cut the same.  I had a hard time putting it together when I was cutting out each piece.

The last is a puzzle I made for my wife for Christmas.  Yes, she like pigs and I found the pattern off of the Internet.

This past year is one where I never had enough time.  I didn't get some of the things I wanted done and several unfinished projects still sit on the shelf.  However I never have enough time and there are always new projects that keep coming up.  I am satisfied with the things I was able to accomplish.  I have a couple of furniture pieces I love. My kids have not destroyed the bed yet, and they have tried.  I still have two may poles that I wanted to finish along with a couple of trucks and planes.  I love the construction equipment that I have made so far.  I just wish the kids were old enough so I do not have to worry about them destroying it when they play with it.

This year was a lot about puzzles.  I will be focusing on toys again in the future will a little bit of a twist.  I am looking to buy a lathe, not sure where I am going to put it.  So what does than mean, I am not going to be giving away as many toys this year and my prices will start to reflect labor.  I am thinking I will try the craft show route this year.  This should be a good year and at least I will learn a little about being in business.  If you would like to just donate to my lathe fund, check or cash is fine.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rocker template

I promised I would post how I made the rockers on the kids rocking chair.  Basically it is an arch that I cut out with a router and circle cutting jig.  I bored holes for clamps.  There are three important things to remember with this jig:
1. Put tape, either packing or masking, on the top of the fixture.  The thin strips are then put on top of the tape.  This allows you to remove the part once the glue dries. 
2. Have one of the thin strips protude a little more than the others.  This allows for a clean edge to cut off the excess glue and clean up the edges.  Make sure you allow to cut about 1/4-3/8" off the width for this.  I also use the top piece to be my larger/off set piece because glue does not drip over the edge.
3. Use plenty of glue.  Once the thin pieces are laminated they can not be re-laminated if they separate.

I used 3/6" thick strips and and laminated five of them together.  They bent just fine.  there was about a 1/4" spring back so this needs to be accounted for in the fixture.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Gerbil

This will be the first puzzle that I created.  I stole the basic design from a picture on the web and then put the letters in.  If you would like to take the design, please do.  Copy the picture and print it out.  Trace the lines with a black pen and enlarge or reduce to the size you want.  This one is about 7" long. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A little out of my league

This is not a post about wood working but about my life.  Yesterday I did a 10k trail run in the Chino Hills state park.  It was a little chaotic start because there was at the same time a 50k, marathon, and a half marathon all starting at the same time.  As I was warming up I was looking at the cars in the parking lot.  The bumper stickers and license plate frames told me this was not the same group who do mud runs, color runs, or zombie runs.  These people have ultra marathon finisher (78.6miles), iron man finisher, 100 mile Tahoe finisher. This was a little more extreme then I will take my running.  I have a goal to run a marathon next year, now I am not sure I am going to make it after this 10k.
The run was not my best performance.  I do realize that I cannot compare to my high school and college days but 1:01was not what I was hoping.  This is roughly 10 minute miles.  As for the course, not easy.  There was about 800 feet of elevation gain over the first 2.5 miles and a sharp decent in about 3/4 of mile.  So the climb killed my quads and the decent killed my knees.  When I came off of the decent there was 3 miles of relatively flat and I was in fifth place at the time.  Over the next three miles I fell to ninth, not because I wanted to but because I physically could not run any faster. I tried to pace myself off the people that passed me but could not keep the pace.
I realize I have to do some work on the hills.  I do not have any in my neighborhood so I have to look elsewhere.  My tactic is three miles 3 times a week and stepped mileage on Saturday (plus one mile each week)  Is there any way to improve my speed on road road running or am I going to have to go back to intervals? Can I train for a marathon like this?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Taking Care of a Baby Doll

One of the Christmas requests I received this year was to make a cradle, high chair and rocking chair.  Here are the three.  Here is the cradle.  I have made a couple of these before to use up some lumber I had laying around.  It is a birch plywood with a walnut stand.  You can read about the original project here.
The high chair came from this blog.  Interesting blog.  Since I built one of her projects I am supose to release her from liability.  What I find interesting is that she is from Alaska and she posts all her plans for anyone to use.  There are some good plans that she has done.  This one is pretty basic.  I changed the joinery a little bit.  I used dowels and biscuits and she used screws and caps.
The chair is made from maple and walnut.  I doweled all the horizontal pieces together and biscuit joined the sides together.  I wanted to dowel the sides together but I used the fixture incorrectly and screwed up a side.  Learned a lesson on that one.  Doweling is not that easy to do.  The neat thing about the chair is the picture below.  This is the seat.  Not very often I get excited about a board that I see and have to have it.  Let me rephrase that.  A board that I see and can afford.  I saw this in the lumber yard and the grain was pronounced and looked great.  I try to make the entire project out of the same or similar board so it matches.  Fortunatly for me all the other parts were cut and I just needed  the seat.  I don't know what I am going to do with the rest of this walnut.
The rocking chair was patterned after the one my grandfather or great-grandfather made for for my mother. I did make some changes but the original construction is all the same  This is another maple and walnut piece.  The center is glued up and all the pieces were cut from that glue up so the grain seams to continue.  I did cut the bottom rail last so the mineral streak does not continue on to that piece.

 Just for your enjoyment, my son in the rocking chair. He is 18 months to give you an idea of the size.
Here is the cool thing about this board.  I lucked into this one.  I was not really looking for this character but after it was finished the tiger stripping came out, pictured below.  Yes I also tried to make this look like it was book end pieces of material between the walnut. 
The only change I did to my grandfathers construction was the rockers.  He put a steeper radius on the the rockers which allows it to rock more.  His rockers were also cut out on a band saw.  I chose to laminate mine with thin strips of wood. This allowed me to make a pattern and it is also stronger.  If I remember I will take a picture of the fixture and my mother's child rocking chair and post them.  Mine do not rock as much for safety reasons and the reason for the larger radius.  It is very easy to have a child rock themselves backwards.

Friday, October 19, 2012

I wish I would have known

A few weeks ago I lost my lass grandparent.  It was kind of expected, but he always had a funny remark or did something to brighten your day.  He was a good father and grandfather and friend.  He was also the jack of many trades. 
Among his personal belongings was a box that he made while he was a Trail Builder.  Now I didn't know what that was or what they did.  Apparently before the 11year old scouts, (Which I am the scout master for now) and before the Blazer Scouts, (which was the program I was in) was the Trail builders.  In my Grandfather's box was his log of things he had to do to receive the various patches.  Some of them were quite funny like, bushing teeth and hanging up his hat.  I was fun to see his writing and his mothers writing.

Here is the instructions on how to build the box
My grandfather penciled in "Trail Builder" on the top.  You can actually see the pencil marks because of the flaking paint

Here is one of the trees he stenciled in.

Part of making the box was understanding the wood used and how it was manufactured.  He also signed his name under the lid.  Unfortunately the box has been weathered and the paint is chipping off. I hope that I can put a clear coat and save what remains of the paint job.  There will have to be some minor repairs also.  A lot of the glue bonds have deteriorated.  It is amazing how much time and care he put into this box and it is one of the few things he saved through his entire life.  I don't know if I can say that I have something from when I was 10 years old that I have made.  I take that back, my mother has several ornaments that I made much to the dislike of my siblings. As they fall apart we get rid of them.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Transforming Trucks

This is the first of several designs in the Transforming Toys book I received two years ago.  I thought I would have more done by now but I am happy to have one.  The basic concept of this toy set is a bunch different size blocks with various patterns cut into them.  They all have the same center hole drilled into them big enough for a 3/4" threaded dowel to go through.  There is a wooden nut for each end of the threaded dowel to hold the vehicle together.  My eldest son helped me put some of them together.  It is age appropriate for him but not for the youngest.

This is the pick up truck
 The wheels attach like a tinker toy.  The book said to use a thin kerf table saw blade and a jig.  I used a band saw.

 Here is the Coupe
 Tanker truck
 Log truck
Think of all the possibilities with all these pieces.  I would say the possibilities are endless but the threaded dowels are only so long.
It was not a difficult project, but it was a good project to learn some things about the precision of the transforming toys. It also got me use to the lay out of the book.  I am not one abut following the instructions much but on the more complex toys I tend to be following the instructions more.  For those that are interested the main wood used is Poplar. The accent wood is walnut  and the dowel and nuts are maple.  Now on to to the lessons:
  • When centering a hole on the block measuring from one side does not cut it.  I was off by about 1/32 of an inch.  Just enough to offset the blocks when they are put on the dowel.
  • Dowels at the local hardware store are not the dimension they say they are.  They are about 1/32 -1/16 of an inch over sized.  This is enough to not work in my treading tool.  Very frustrated with this because it means that I have to go to Rockler to buy the dowels.  Here is my feeling on Rockler:  They really like their stuff.  It tends to be on the pricey side especially their lumber.
  • Double check the dimensions in the book.  For the most part they were right.  One critical one for the length of threaded dowel was too short for the tanker.  The other was the length of the wheel axle.  More of a frustration than a show stopper.
  • Making threaded dowel is more work then just turning a tool around a dowel.  The grain on the dowel is also important.
Kids are having fun with in and that is what counts.

On the "sand it till it looks right" toy, here is the next step:
Does it look good? 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Who Needs Geometry?

Schools is just a waste of time, right?  Everything you see in the picture I learned in my 9th grade geometry class.  Yes, I am a geek.  Yes, I aced the construction chapter of geometry which is the mess you see in the the circles.  For those of you who were wondering, geometric constructions are ways to divide, make angles, copy, and make parallel and perpendicular lines with a compass and ruler. Sometimes it surprises you what you use from school.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

IWF International Woodworking Fair

One of the perks of working with a cabinet manufacturer is being able to go to a couple of woodworking shows.  This year I was able to go to IWF in Atlanta, Georgia.  This is the largest wood working fair in the world and hosts exhibitors from the person selling an idea to the established large scale machine manufacturers. In addition to hardware, wood mills, tools, lumber and anything else pertaining to the woodworking industry.

Before I get into the show I am going to rant on airlines for a second.  Now it is not their fault that the person in front of me constantly hits his head against the back of the seat like he is fluffing up his pillow.  No matter how hard you try there really is not a comfortable way to sit in coach.  So, please, stop smacking your seat so hard that you are hit me in the head while I am trying to read a book on the tray.  To the guy behind me, no matter how much and hard you dig your knees into the back of the seat I cannot move forward or I will be knocked out by the guy pulverizing his headrest.

Airlines, you have a gauge that measures carry-on luggage, please use it and enforce it.  Two carry on pieces should not fill up an overhead bin.  If the piece of luggage, no matter how it is turned, makes it so the door does not close it is too big.  I carry on a back pack that is it.  To be asked to put it under my seat so that some one else can put their over sized carry on and their "personal" item up there is a little annoying.

I know that I have some experience in process flow.  I don't know whose brilliant idea was the number loading groups but they missed one key part: Fill the window seats first then move to the aisles.  It makes no sense to fill the aisles first so that everyone has to climb over them.  Yes this is who the loading groups work: aisle first then window.

Now onto the the fair.  It was a lot of fun and there were several companies I work with there.  It was nice to be able to put a face to the name.  The other interesting part was how well known, for good and evil, the company I was representing was.  About 80% of the booths I visited knew some one in the company and had worked with them.  We had some interesting conversations and talked about different ways we could accomplish tasks.

The other fun part of the show was meeting with vendors before and after the show.  It was nice to get to know them outside of the work setting.  Some of them are a lot different outside of work. 

Then of course there are the freebies.  I brought my kids home several souvenirs.  I had a lot of fun the three days I was there.  I hope to go next year to the one in Vegas.

Finally, since no one knows anyone who would like a bucket of blocks I will donate to a children's group.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Spooky Old Tree

If you are wondering where this title came from, it is the title of one of the short stories of the Berenstain Bears.  My oldest has the story almost memorized or he can read.  So this puzzle was cut.  It is another pattern, but I can honestly say my scroll saw work has become a lot better.  It is out of walnut.  I cut the pieces out of a number 2 blade which is the smallest blade that I own.  There is no binding in the pieces and I am happy with it.

The next puzzle was something that I wanted to make out of poplar.  It was easy and shows the thickness of 5/4 material.  It goes in my board library at work.

I have another bucket of blocks to give away.  So this is how it is going to work.  I am taking nominations on who to give them to.  You cannot nominate yourself or a member of your immediate family.  You can email me or put the name in the comments a long with why they should receive the blocks.  In two weeks I will create a poll on this blog and viewers will be able to vote on the nominees for one week. The person who nominated the winner is responsible for shipping.

Please remember these blocks are from scrap lumber.  They have a coat of mineral oil.  If they are thrown they can do some serious damage.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Work on it until you like it

I am working on some trucks.  I have the cabs rough cut out and followed the directions and pattern.  The next step is to sand and file the cabs until they look good to me.  What is that suppose to to mean?  I am good at following a pattern and design but be artsy, that is not me.  So yesterday I took out the vice and files and went to town.  I think I am going to be making more sawdust then product.  I am not the person to say something looks artistically correct or balanced.  So here is my first pass.  I have the rough out block and the good enough version next to it.  What do you think?

I also completed another puzzle.  This one is an Elephant.  I am getting better at the scroll saw.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

More puzzles

 I have completed some more puzzles.  The first has been done fora while but needed to be sanded. This is is the dinosaur one. It is very similar to the barn and safari puzzles done earlier.  This is also a Wood Magazine plan.
This is the complete set.
The brontosaurus and the two trees
This is the Triceratops and one with the fin like back
 Then the background
These are from the puzzle book I received this year.  I am having a lot of fun with them and I can do these at my house because the tooling is there.
Yes it does say "MOOSE"  It was not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
Big dinosaur and little dinosaur

An elephant. not particularly interesting but it is made out of aspen
This next one is the alphabet snake.  The hardest part of making this was finding a piece of wood that was wide enough.  It was an easy cut out. The instructions said to paint the pieces several colors.  I was told not to by my significant other.  I had a problem getting enough ink on the stamps for the first part of the upper case letters.  Other than that it turned out nice.
The reason I decided  to do stamps was because they were clean and I can use them again.  The book suggested stencils but I have not had good results using them.
The nice thing that these puzzles are teaching me is:
  • I can not rush them.  Too  much pressure or faster blade speed tend to break blades and burn wood
  • There are major differences in the size of blades.  A lower number blade in the puzzle makes for tighter fitting pieces but it takes longer.  While the outside of the puzzle can be done with a higher number blade with out sacrificing the detail
  • I have to push the wood straight into the blade.  When doing curves and tight radii it is very easy to push from an angle.  This causes the blade to bend just slightly.  Even though it is slight it causes the pieces to come apart in only one direction.  I have to be more aware of how I am pushing the piece into the blade. 
As a side note I am working on a wood library for work.  They do not realize it but I feel it is going to be useful as we start talking about substitute wood species for oak and maple.  I am doing this through puzzles.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Completing a few long time projects

This past week I was able to complete a couple of projects and a puzzle.  Remember the Alien Nativity?  Here is the stable that goes with it.
 The pieces were cut a forever ago and then put together last year and finally finished and hinges added this week.  It was not hard but it was a lot of parts that are just glued together.  Then to add to the problems, the parts are only 3/8" thick.  The screws are for 1/2" material.  Yes, they went through.  I backed them off so they don't show as much.  It will be interesting where we put it up this year for the holidays.  (It will probably left up year round.) It is a decent size Nativity.

Here is another installment of the the construction set through Wood Magazine.  Now I am only two trucks and a skip loader behind. The other parts can be found under the trucks label.  I did finally finish the bulldozer.  It was complete just needed to be finished in the last post on it.

This is not my favorite in the series.  I really like the movable parts on this series but I do need to get some Loctite Red to weld the nuts on the threaded rod.  Kids have pulled off a couple of them.  The blade rotates and moves up and down.  If I make another one I will probably make the back wheels bigger.  I think that is my problem with this grader.

Last of all is the shark puzzle. It came out of my last scrap of yellow heart.  Thank goodness.  I hate the stuff.  It is too hard for me to work with.  I burned three scroll saw blades with it and it still came out with all the inside edges burned.  The puzzle also does not work well because the blade curved inside the wood while cutting.  It is done.  I wanted to use the yellow heart for something and now it is gone.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Motivation has been on my mind for some time.  I have needed to find out for some time what motivates me.  Recently my company held a weight loss challenge.  It was a biggest loser style competition and this was the second that they held.  I did not participate in the first one due to project load, stress and a general lack of interest.  So what convinced me to participate in this one?  The simple answer money. There was a $100 gift card to the winner.  The last winner lost about 12% of his body weight.  I figured I would have to lose around 25lbs match the percentage. I figured $100 dollars was worth the effort.  So I signed up and was ready to go.  My first weigh in was a 201 lbs.  I never wanted to be over 200 lbs but there I was.  So the competition started.  My wife and I planned the meals a little better, cut out snacks and I started running again.  It also helped that the mud run was in the middle of all this.  It was a good motivating factor to start running again.
Long story short, I won.  I am the biggest loser at work.  Yes there are a lot of things you can comment on in that sentence. I choose a $100 gift card to Wal-mart.  I think they allow you to buy other gift cards with them.  I was going to purchase Visa and by wood.  They gave me a Target gift card and Target does not allow you to do that type of thing.  So we bought things we needed for the house and clothes for the boys.   But I did get this nice little plaque:

So now what?  I ended up losing about 28 lbs.  My pants don't fit and I have the need to continue being healthy.  I have found out a few things about me that I have forgotten.  I have more energy and I feel lighter.  After completing something like this I find the question is "Now what?"  Does it end?  Many times it does.  What is the motivation to keep going?  With the weight loss I like how I feel and that I can now run two laps around our table chasing our sons before getting tired.  I can fit in some clothes that I have had for a couple of years hoping that I would fit in them again.
What motivates me to to continue at work, continue at woodworking, self improvement, religion, being a friend.  These are just a couple of things that I have been thinking about.  The motivation is different in the different areas however there has to be something driving one to do things.  I have also thought about is there better types of motivation.  I would have to think yes.  I could have lost weight to be healthier but my initial drive was the money.  It has been interesting to reflect on the motivations in my life.

Yes that was a little to abstract, not about woodworking but I needed to get it out.  I have been working a lot with some puzzles.  Here is my latest one.  It is a unicorn on hard maple.  It turned out nice.  I am getting better at the scroll saw.  My wife said it looks mean, so it is at work.
 On a side note, I just purchased a mattress for the bed and found out it is the same size as the other one.  The internet lies, but the bed still looks great.  My son loves it.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My view on Toys

Now that my boys are being boys, the toys I have made are getting a little more abused and showing wear.  It is a lot of fun to watch them play with the toys.  Unfortunately there are times where the play is a little too rough and the toy breaks.  Here are some of the casualties of being a toy:

There have been others.  I knew that toys would be broken.  The nice thing is that most of these can be repaired.  I do not have any yet that have to be thrown out.  My pride and joy is not, nor will it ever be, the completion of a perfect toy that looks too good to play with.  My joy comes from seeing kids play with and enjoy the toys. 
Here is a warning to all those how have received or will receive a toy from me either through purchase or gift.  If I see it on a shelf for display not for play you will never receive another wooden project from me again.  This would be an insult to me and I would take it personally because the toys are meant to be played with.
I do not nor will I ever make a model for display.  It does  pain me to see these toys broken however it warms my heart to see kids happy and smiling because of them.
 My furniture is purely functional.  When it has lost its function it needs to be replaced.  As in the post with the desk, I do not have a problem throwing stuff away that has outlived its usefulness.  Now I did keep the hardware.
I like what I do and I love the smiles I receive.