Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Year in review

So did I get everything done this year that I wanted, no.  Did I reach the goals I wanted to do this year, no.  Is this disappointing or unexpected, no.  There are always things that I want to do but I do not get to because something more interesting comes up.  So here are some of the highlights:
  • I had a goal of making enough money to buy a lathe.  I did not even come close.  I did have some sales but as most hobbies, I lost more money than I spent, but I almost broke even.  My wife says I will never get a lathe because there are more important tools that I need or want.  To be honest, she is probably right.  I am going to need another belt sander.  My current one is starting to jump the belt and I feel it is going to die soon.  I also need to build a router table and get a plate for it also.  I am also going to need a miter saw.  I will someday have to return my father's saw, but right now it works where it is at.  In fact I have his planer also.
  • I still want to make the Marvelous Transforming Toys from a few years back.  I even have some of the patterns attached to blanks.  There are just other things that came up.  I did catch up on all the construction equipment in the Wood Magazine publication and then another one came out a couple of months ago and there will be another piece in a month.  It never ends.
  • I never did any of the craft shows or online sales.  It is not that I cannot do it, it is the fact that I am scared.  I have a firm belief that if I commit to something then I fulfill the commitment.  These toys and projects take a lot of time and I want to make sure they are safe.  I want to have the toy complete before it is sold rather than take orders in fear that I will miss a child's birthday or Christmas.
Enough with the things I did not accomplish this year and on to the stuff I did do.
  • The biggest thing is that I now have a garage. I can go out there when I want (and if it is ok with the wife) and spend a few hours and then come in to spend time with the family.  I have a decent set up and I like how it all came together.
  • I have switched to shellac.  Not a huge thing but it is a pretty drastic change for me.  I am glad I have all the equipment to use it.  
  • I finally finished a bed that fits a mattress.  I love it.  Beech was very nice to work with and it came out great.  I have one more to make.  I do not know if is going to be a bunk bed or not.  We had a recent addition to the family so I have a couple of years to plan it all out.
  • I have become a lot better at the scroll saw, evidenced with the last Christmas project.  I am starting to lean more that way.  The projects tend to take less time and setup is a breeze as long as I do not change the angle of the blade.  I do not believe I will ever get into intarsia.  It seems a little too precise and a lot of "sand until it looks good" projects and all the pieces have to fit perfectly together.  
  •  I am listening to the Wood Talk podcast and realize there is a lot of stuff that I do not know about woodworking.  One of them is strictly hand tools and so I am not even in the same league.  It is interesting the things that I am picking up and they have the same problems that I encounter.  So I am moving into using some of the technology that I have had at my fingertips. 
  • I also learned there is a difference in sandpaper.  I am in love with the Ekoforce by Uneeda.  I am getting smoother finishes, the paper is lasting longer and it does not clog up.
Goals for this year:
  • Finish the monster trucks! I am almost done but the handwork is killing me.  I also have some planes I need to finish.
  • Of course catch up on the Wood Magazine construction equipment.  It is a fantastic set.  Maybe I will design one that is more toddler friendly.  The acorn nuts keep coming off despite super glue and they are a choking hazard.
  • We just got a CNC milling machine in the sample shop I manage.  I am planning on learning it.  I will not abuse my responsibility but I do have some access for personal projects.  This is not the CNC machine that will carve ornate figures or designs.  It is meant for sheet goods.  The smallest tool I have on it is a 1/4" ball end mill.
  • Of course there is a Christmas project I have one planned.  I don't think it will out due this year's.  I am open for more.
  • Last but not the least, not to accomplish anything but have fun doing it.
I am amazed at the traffic my blog gets.  It isn't that great but it is interesting.  I will occasionally see the traffic that comes through, where it originated and what they were looking at.  To my surprise the most popular post is the "rocker template".  I do not know why.  There are a lot of hits also on the construction equipment and scroll saw projects.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas presents and decorations

I guess I can post this now that these have been opened and given away.
In the grocery store I was looking at the hobby section and there was a scroll saw holiday issue.  I found some things that looked interesting and so I purchased the magazine.  This is the first of a couple of projects that will come from this publication.
The picture does not do it justice: "O Night Divine" with the star and a dove
Each side has a depiction of the the nativity.  The top does come off so things can be put in it.  I cut the notches in the side panels on the table saw.  It would be impossible for me to cut a straight line that far into the wood on a scroll saw.  This way the sides fit together snugly.  I made four boxes so I stacked them all together to give me a good stable base to cut the grooves.
Mary, Joseph and Christ
Shepard and sheep
Camel and Angel
Three wise men
The blue tape was a life saver.  I would have never been able to sand off the pattern without damaging the project.  There were a couple of areas that did not come out as I had hoped but they still came out.  I made four of them.  I thought my wife would like the maple one but she opted for the figured oak one because maple did not have the color for a Christmas decoration.  The cuts were really not that difficult when I had a sharp blade.  I knew when the blade was getting dull it would walk all over the place, especially in the figured oak.  There were a lot of holes that needed to be drilled.
 The interesting  part of this project was all the sharp cutouts.  I though I would have a lot cutouts all over the floor.  I did but not as much as I had thought, most were really thin or the cutout completely turned to sawdust. It also was neat to discover the blades can go through very small holes.

The second project came from a project that I did 25 years ago.  It was made in leather.  This was not a good medium for me.  I am trying to redeem myself and make them out of wood.  The leather ones have slowly fallen apart and are being thrown away this year.  My grandmother had ornaments with all of her kids, their spouses and grandchildren.  I am doing the same for my mother this year.  I have plenty to add to the family still.

Here are the original sleds that were made 25 years ago, what  is left of them anyway.

Here are the new sleds.

These were my design.  I had fun building and figuring out how to make the fixture to put them together.  They are still a little more fragile than I would like them, but I think they came out nice. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Projects

So I have been making a couple of Christmas gifts this year.  My wife says one of them is her favorite thing that I have ever made.  Unfortunately for you, the reader, I am not going to post any pictures of the finished projects because they are gifts.  I will go through the set up.  The first project is a scroll saw project.  I keep hearing to use painter's tape to protect the wood and it is easier to remove the pattern.  I think I will be investing in painter's tape from now on.  Sanding these patterns off would have been a nightmare.
The other part of the scroll saw is that designs can be cut inside of the wood.  Starter holes need to be drilled to to put the blade through.  There were a lot of holes on several parts.  My sons did help drill the holes on some of the parts so their initials also appear on the project.  I cannot take all the credit. 
One thing I did learn about the scroll saw: Don't use it to blow off steam.  It will be even more frustrating.  The blade comes loose, or the board is not cutting where it should be cutting and is all because forcing the board on a thin blade does not make for a good combination.  There is much more finesse and art when using the scroll saw and it does not like being pushed around.

On to the second project.  I am diving more into smaller scale things.  This project I wanted to make several and so I build a jig to make repeatable assemblies.  These things are not as easy as I thought.  The first one I cut with the parts that were going to fit inside the jig.  I assembled the jig with the proper spacing and found out that the parts were too tight to even fit in.
The second attempt I got the spacing right and the first one came out just fine.  I would call this beginners luck. The second, third, and fourth I broke the parts trying to remove them because I was not pulling them straight out.
The third time is a charm, right? well at least it is in this case.  I drilled large holes in the bottom to push the low pieces out.  This proved to be a better way to remove the part without breaking it.  I thought better of drilling all the way through the first time.
There are the setups for my Christmas projects.  Pictures will follow later of the finished projects.