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.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Rocking Chair

This in not my first rocking chair that I have built, but the first one I designed.  My first ricking chair was from pallet wood and ended up where pallet wood should go: in the fire.  The second was the design my grandfather made.  This one was designed similar to the high chair I recently made.  My seat joiner was a little better on this on one and I did not do mortise and tenon joints.
Overall the rocker is 17 1/2" wide X 22 1/2" tall x 23" long.  It is made out of poplar and the rockers are made form bent lamination.  Bent lamination is taking thin strips of wood and gluing them together.  before the glue dries forcing them into a mold.  When the clue dries the piece takes on the for with a little bit of spring back.  It does not require steam and heat.  I have don this before.  It usually makes a mess so I take clear packing tape and put it on top of the form so the bent piece and form do not stick together.
This go around I was a little more careful on the joinery.  Still not great but better.  It is also helpful that I have a set of nice sharp chisels.  I also cleaned up the dado with a shoulder plane.  I have to justify why I purchased it, right?  The doweled joinery was just for speed.  It still took me forever to make.
I am working on the drawings and procedure now.  I had to make a change to the height because it was too talk.  When doing the dry fit I had my son sit in it.  His feet were three inches off the ground so I took 2 1/2  inches off.  He is almost four so there is the age reference.  That was the only design change on this project.  It came together really well.  My kids want to keep one, my wife says it is defective and I can't give both away.  I was not planning on keeping either.  One is going to be donated to a toy drive.  The other I am not sure yet.

Monday, October 16, 2017

First Craft Fair

So one of my goals this year was to do a craft fair.  I wanted the experience.  I am not very good at it.  I went with a couple of coworkers to a craft fair that is put on as a fundraiser for a high school in Placentia.  I am glad I did.  Seriously, my booth would have been an EZ up, chairs, a couple of tables and I might have thought about table cloths.  They did the design and I helped setup.

The booth, in my opinion, was one of the nicer booths in the fair.  We had a fair amount of people in the morning but it got pretty hot by noon.

I learned a fair amount about having a booth at the craft fair.  First is that it is a lot of work.  It took more preparation than I was planning.  Displays need to be prepared.  It is not easy to wing it.  There is a sale that is needed to be pitched.  I am not very good at talking to people but I did meet a lot of interesting people.  I learned that the large items do not sell well.  There is probably a market for them but it is only certain people.  I did not sell any of my more expensive items.  I think the highest item I sold was $25 dollars but I had a few tickets in the $40 range.  I sold out of all my nativity ornaments within the first couple of hours.  There was a lot of interest in the more decorative pieces but no buyers.  I also learned there are people that are really good at doing these shows.  There were some pretty elaborate set ups with a lot of stuff.

I have two more planned for this year and I don't know if I will do them again (maybe one).  Lots of fun.  I realized I enjoy working for myself and when one does craft shows they work toward the show.  Right now I am madly cutting out more ornaments to sell at the next two shows.  I am not doing my next design and I did not take any Christmas orders this year.  I am still doing what I like, I just feel like there is a deadline.

I am grateful for the friends and coworkers that showed up.  They made the day.  They also were a great support.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Opps! Mistakes

Sometimes it is refreshing to see that people are human.  We make mistakes, errors and our lives are not as perfect or horrible as we post online.  I make mistakes, and want to share a couple of mistakes I recently made and what I learned from them.
I am working on a child's rocking chair.  Everything was ready to be assembled and doweled into place.  I laid out the first assemblies and glued and clamped them together.  After I had doweled them, I realized that I had switched the two back legs.  With them glued and doweled, I would not be able to take them apart without cutting them.  The good thing is that I only lost two parts and with the dowels in place, the holes were already filled.  It was refreshing to be able to fix a mistake.

I was recently cutting out ornaments to see if I want to make them for next year ornament.  When I cut out thin pieces I stack them so I can cut multiple out at a time.  I also recently ran out of my first big purchase of scroll saw blades.  This meant that I started using the new blades that I had purchased.  These were crown tooth which means that I cut on both the down and up cuts.  They are to give a cleaner finish cut and when they dull, I can flip them over and use the other side.  I am learning that these are good for some applications but not all.  I was cutting the center section of the ornament and about halfway complete when the parts exploded.  I lost for ornaments.  I concluded that I did not have sufficient pressure holding the pieces down so as the blade was cutting upward, it hit a soft spot and broke the piece.  This may have been avoided if I had used a skip tooth blade.

I recently purchased some simple compound patterns.  I have always wanted to try these but did not want to invest in the books at this time.  I figured the patterns were simple enough that I should not have any trouble cutting them.  I did not have the recommended thickness of wood for the pattern.  I was too anxious to wait to pick up some board I reduced the patterns down to the 1 1/4" material I had.  This made the parts really thin and small.  They came out ok.  My blade warped during the cut and the the piece was not as consistent as I had hoped.  After some investigating, I discovered a couple of things.  First was that the blade I was using (crown tooth) does not clear the dust away very well on thick materials.  This would cause a build up in heat causing the blade to warp.  The consistency was cause because I did not clamp the cut parts to keep them in the same place as I was cutting.  I was confident that I could make these cuts easily but there were some things that I needed to learn first.  With a little bit of information I am able to get back to cutting.
Mistakes happen and the best thing that I can do is learn from them.  I hope to continue to post my mistakes so that others can also learn from them.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

High Chair

This year I have been trying to improve my skills in joinery and bring in hand tools into my skill set.  With this goal I have purchased some new equipment.  The first was a sharpening system so I can have sharp tools.  After this project I have upgraded my set of chisels to better steel and longer blade for ease of sharpening.
The skill set on this project was hand cut mortises for mortise and tenon joints.  I usually do not use this type joinery because it means hand cut mortises (I am not going to buy a mortising machine) and I have not really been very good at them. I have only done them twice before and both were machine made.  The high chair had 16 mortises.  I attempted to make two.  Only one made it to the end.  Here are some of the things that I learned and took away from the experience:
I set myself the best I could for success.  I watched videos and read information.  I created jigs to make sure my measurements were all the same.  This was a simple block with a groove so I could mark the location to all the mortises and they would all be the same.  All the mortises were the same and only four were in a different location.  Just as I started pounding nails in a 2x4 with my name on it I had 32 mortises that were all the same to practice.
I had sharp tools.  I have previously used chisels and have a set.  They were only sharpened recently for this project.  This is why I had purchased a sharpening system.
I learned that mortises could be cut crooked.  That was the fate of the second one.  I could not square to save my life.  So it turned into blocks.
I understand now what a marking knife is for.  It creates a small cut in the wood that allows the blade of the chisel to sit in.  I am sure it has other purposes but this is the one that I realized.
I learned that a wobbly table is not the best to chop out mortises.  I would love a work bench but I need something that can get out of the way of a car.
This was a challenging project and took a longer than normal time to make.  The plan will not be up for sale at this time.  I will be making one with doweled construction to put on my plans page.  I am glad I did it and a little more confident in making and cut mortises.  I might use them a little more often now.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Plan Sales

A couple months back I contacted a couple of plan vendors to see if they would carry my plans on their website and catalog.  The Winfield Collection was the only one that contacted me back.  It took a few weeks to work out an arrangement. Then I never heard from them again until I asked if the plans had made it into their catalog.  They did make it.  I checked on their website and they were not there so I was a little confused. 
The next day I received a check from them.  They had sold 18 of my plans.  The most popular was the car carrier.  It appears their website is not updated. 
I am grateful for them trusting my plans and I hope that I can get more published.  I am waiting for there catalog so I can actually see them in print.  Now I have to make more plans.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

AWFS Las Vegas 2017

This year I was able to go to AWFS again but there was a twist.  Normally my company sends me and I am working with to see new innovations and machinery.  This year they did not send me.  This was not entirely a surprise to me.  I had said when we had the discussion that I would like to see some of the new engineers go even if that meant me not going.  Well I didn't make the list.  I secretly still wanted to go and then I won the Triton contest and found out that April Wilkerson and Matt Cremona were going to be there.  They are two content producers that I follow. I decided to go.
We left my kids at my parents and my wife and I took a day trip to Las Vegas.  The  drive was kind of boring, but uneventful.  The show was interesting for the following reasons:
  1. I was not going for work.  Yes there there were things that was looking at for work but the primary meetings were ones that I wanted.  Work was secondary.
  2. My wife was able to interact and see some of the woodworking community.  It is a side that she does not usually see.
  3. I did not "walk the show" row by row like I would have normally done.  I targeted areas of what I wanted to see.
The first area that I hit was Lee Valley.  I wanted to up my skills and that next step was some hand tools.  I was warned to use a properly adjusted hand plane before trying to restore one to working order.  This is the reason I went there.  I tried out a couple of shoulder plans and so I new how they felt.  Right now I am looking at cleaning up  rabbets, tenons and grooves.  I realize that I will need to get a more versatile jack plane.  I also wanted to look at chisels.  I need to upgrade my bench chisels I bought from a box store.
I then went over to Triton tools and talked with April and Matt.  They are both very nice and had a lot of encouraging things to say.  My wife commented that is was nice to see younger people in the craft.  I had a brief look at the tools that I had won.  They are a lot bigger then went  than I had thought.  We also looked at the Festool booth.  Looked at their new line of battery operated sanders and there dust collection system.  They do have some really tools, still a little outside my price range.
We then headed over to Uneeda.  They are a great sandpaper supplier and have been very generous and helpful.  I have to say "Hi" and talk about new projects that we are each working on.  There was also several vendors that I went and visited.  Largely because I like talking to them.  They are beneficial to the community and they always have something new to show off.
This year I found I was more vocal and able to talk to vendors about projects and tools that I would normally not visit because work was footing the bill.  I was able to talk about my hobby and where I was in the skill level and where I was going.  My wife also found it interesting when I would change from my hobbyist hat to the "I work for one of the largest manufacturers of retail cabinets in the US."  Depending on who I was talking too and what I was looking at I would change.  I didn't really even know that I was doing that.  I was also talking to vendor that had connections to my father.  Not really any connections to me.  It was their first booth at AWFS.  Their feedback on the show was positive.  They mentioned that the right people were there to do business, sourcing agents to owners of companies.  I  never thought about who attended and who I talked to. 
It was a good show and I came out with a lot of information.  We did it a day but did not see all of it.  I saw and did what I wanted to.  I am glad I went.