Thursday, April 9, 2020

Self-Isolation Accessory -- Kindle Holder

The mornings pass passably well, but the afternoons can get long.  Time then to pick up a good book without cricking the neck or tiring the arms.  The hand not changing pages can either rest on the base or wrap around the bottom of the upright.  The Kindle is held by light compression, the side supports adjustable tighter or looser.  The angle can be changed and the whole assembly flipped over to position the upright on the left side instead.  A set of holes in the upright allow the Kindle to be raised or lowered.  It can also be moved up or down on its platform to obtain the perfect reading height.  The side supports can also be expanded to fit a tablet.  Without access to the "shop," this was a fairly easy garage project, for a happy wife is the secret to true business success.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Mirror Box/Desktop Vanity

How many the ways to lid a box?Let mecount:oh, really, only a handful.Certainly love has more variety. Little boxes do come in an absolute myriad of forms, of woods, ofshapes, but when it comes to the lid all are just themes andvariations on the basic handful of methods.So my twist to thesliding lid, a popular method for pencil boxes, fine liquors, gamepieces, jigsaw puzzles, was to replace the wood with plate glassmirror.This must be pretty novel as the first ten pages of Googleimages for sliding lid box have nary a single sliding mirror lid. The edges of the plate glass are seamed (relieved) to prevent cuts,and the glass locks in place by virtue of a slight squeeze in thedado groove thus requiring no catch.The mirror lid can standindependently or be positioned upside down in its receiver. 

I call this the “desktop vanity” orperhaps the “oh-very-small secretary” or perhaps the “reflectivetreasure chest” revealing the only true treasure.

The unstained box with its deep, almostcherry-like tone is made from Brazilian Pine,Araucaria brasiliana,related to the Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana, the national tree of Chili (above in Butchart Gardens).It isso named because the configuration of its limbs would make itimpossible for a monkey to climb (maybe).A whole set of such boxes were made from the cutoffs remaining after fabricating this thick and heavy exteriordoor, thus adhering to my career-long precept ofutilizing scraps from large projects to make unas pocas cosas. (Sorry, couldn't help that reference to my favorite Tucson restaurant CaféPoca Cosa)

P.S. Please note that this is a quite vintage Flying Circus Studios piece, the wood amazingly failing to fail tothe mistaken joinery.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Bike Cable Lid Support - Woodworking Tip #23

For a cyclist a broken brake cable justmeans longer stopping distance.For a pilot a broken elevator cablemeans landing, look mom, “no hands,” using flaps, power and trimfor pitch control.For my lady a broken jewelry box lid supportcable meant holding the lid with the left hand as the right handsought the day's adornments.Really, not bad:after 29,251 cyclesthis bike cable lid support broke, though not the cable itself.Thecable pulled out of its crimped ring connector on the lid.It waseasily replaced with a fresh piece of bicycle brake cable and a newring wire connector.

Using Soss hinges, as I did, on thiswalnut and cherry jewelry box with a full-width earring tray andmusic movement, the hinge itself provided no lid support. Furthermore, the full tray under the lid allowed no space for ascissors lid stay.  A light cord or chain tends to either get kinked or ends up draping outside of the box.  The solution was found in of all places mycycling ditty box.Taking a brake cable I cut the nipple end down toabout 6 inches, threaded it through a diagonal hole in the support dowel for the earring tray and crimped the end to an uninsulatedring wire connector. The ring connector was then screwed to theunderside of the lid.The clearance of only 1/16” between the trayand side of the jewelry box still allowed the cable to slide by,though during this recent repair I relieved the side of the trayslightly to permit even easier movement.  If you use a rail instead of dowels to support the tray the diagonal cable hole would go through it.

The barrel nipple at the end of thecable hits the bottom of the box when the lid is closed and neatlyslides forward along the bottom of the box.The real beauty of this system is that the bike cable is rigidenough to have no tendency to fold or kink. Surprisingly, little pressure must beexerted on the felt as it appears completely unmarred even after 29,251 cycles.  There you have it:  a synthesis of two of my loves, cycling and woodworking, for my love.

To view all previous Woodworking Tips just type "woodworking tip" into the search box at the top of the blog's first page.  Unique woodenwares made from saved wood are available at our eco-friendly Etsy shop:  FlyingCircusStudios

Thursday, January 17, 2019

New Needlepoint Collaborator

My wife's lifetime role of educator has taken a new turn with her granddaughter Amelia as student in needlepoint.  Much love and patience were injected into this lovely still life, though ofttimes the progress of the piece suffered its own still life.  Nonetheless, our six-year-old Amelia, turning seven just at completion, persevered and accomplished a fine first needlepoint, a gift to her parents.   Readers of this blog might realize I fabricated the accompanying frame out of cherry wood as I have done with my wife Sara's needlepoints, ten framed pieces so far.  Amelia also helped out some with the framing, bringing out the rich cherry wood color with applications of Watco oil.

A hearty congratulations to the artist and also to her dad Josh whose birthday is today!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Southwest Christmas Tree 2018

Our Southwest Christmas Tree aka Yucca flower stalk has re-emerged this year albeit with only a couple new additions as we steadily replace the ornaments made in China with ornaments handmade by our friends and family members.  This year a fine hummingbird carved by Tom McDevitt of McWidget Studios joins the throng adding song, crackle and movement amidst the yucca flowers.  Also, a family heirloom, yes, handmade, though by whom, unknown, hangs now.  It's a cut glass crystal that once graced the family dining room chandelier.  Other handmade ornaments can be seen in the background:

The Baltic birch scroll saw cut angel mentioned in last year's Southwest Christmas Tree blogpost was fabricated in a limited number for Etsy with two finishes even.

Happiest Holidays to all and best wishes for a great year ahead.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Twin Hungarian Shelves

The wedges must scare people.I findit unbelievable that the best shelf system out there, to my mind, isstill not, as of this date, available even at IKEA.The wedgessatisfy me:nothing like tapping in the wedge, the last step ofmounting the shelf, and seeing the shelf align rigidly 90?to the vertical standard.Hungarian shelves are dynamic andinteresting with elements of simple machines:wedges, fulcrums,levers.It's almost as if Hungarian shelves are busy working rightin front of you supporting their loads.

Thesetwin Hungarian shelf units were designed to fill the voids on eitherside of a large fireplace and chimney as well as provide both libraryspace for books and display space for artifacts, sculpture andartwork.Though the eye wants desperately to make these shelves appearsymmetrical they are not, every shelf width and vertical spacingactually different.The lowest shelf is 12” wide, stepping down1/2” per shelf until the top one is 10 1/2”.The height betweenshelves also decreases 1” per shelf.  Compare to the pillars, not really parallel, at the Parthenon. All the shelves are solid redoak, one of the 12” shelves actually a single piece of wood, quitea rare find at a lumberyard these days.

Thejoint that joins the shelf to the upright standard is technicallycalled a cross lap joint.Because the notches or slots in eachstandard must be exactly in line I cut all the notches simultaneouslyby clamping them together, then clamping a guide at right angles tothe set and running a router with a straight bit through all thestandards.Typically I do the same thing to the shelves by standingthem all together on their long front edge and routing notches on theback side.Alternatively, I've clamped the shelves together, placedthem back side down on a table saw sled and pushed themthrough a dado blade.In this case, however, their large size andvarying widths made this difficult.Thus I opted to cut the shelfnotches with a tenon saw and chisel, thus proving two things:thatHungarian shelves can be made with just hand tools and that retiredguys have more time on their hands.

Ishould add that SketchUp helped give birth to these twins, my firstforay into using this 3-D CAD program for furniture design (dimensions removed for clarity):

Iwant to thank my fellow Columbia alumnus David Heim, a SketchUp forwoodworking expert, for his generous advice and even a littlepersonal YouTube tutorial critique of my design.I used his extremely well-written and helpful book SketchUp Success for Woodworkers every step of the way.

Ialso want to thank Tony Fuhrman of Summit Woodworking in Tucson foruse of his shop facilities, as well as thank my favorite mechanicalengineer Kyle Colavito for first introducing me to Hungarian shelves many years ago.  Find pics of my other Hungarian shelves by searching this blog or on the very first page of Google images.

Thank you so much to these and all my other patrons...
, of course, Happy Thanksgiving!!

Find useful wooden objects including wedges for Hungarian shelves at: 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Meyers Collaboration X

Clearly there's some tomfoolery goingon here.Or is it teddy-foolery for this turkey with inflated vest, spectacle and oversized pocket watch is a bit reminiscent of President TeddyRoosevelt, well noted, you know, for his bullying, braggadocio andbluster.But note the red tie:did Teddy wear those? Of course,this turkey is really a pilgrim, and all these references are likelyconnected. Anyway, quite a neat bird, a lovely product of Sara'scraftsmanship, a perfect complement to our Thanksgiving celebrations.

As before the word collaboration isused loosely as the handmade frame of oak takes so little time toconstruct compared to the exquisite needlepoint stitching.I did,however, help out in one other way:spending near an hour goingthrough dozens of bins at Ace Hardware until I found the exactlysized set of washers which compose all the circular forms here, eachthen painstakingly wrapped with thread.  The gold chain was found in a flea market in Sierra Vista.

Find our online shop at:

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Pipe Clamp Supports -- Tool Tip #20

One of the old saws of woodworking isthat you can never have enough clamps. I will attest that this iscertainly true despite owning a fair number of them, relying mostlyon the inexpensive but powerful pipe clamps by Pony, Bessey, HarborFreight, etc.If you've done more than two glue-ups with theseyou've already run across the issue of the tail end of the pipefalling and the jaws bucking up off the workbench.This is not afrustration, of course, when the clamp length is appropriate tothe width of the glue-up, but during multiple glue-ups one migratesinevitably toward clamps too long for the job.

To control this little bucking bronco Ialways put a long strip of wood about 7/8” thick underneath all theends of the hanging tails.This does the job nicely of keeping allthe pipe clamps level and in a single plane so the boards can belaid in with no difficulty. I've thought of using pipe insulationplaced on the tail for the same purpose, but such insulation is notthick enough.Too recently it occurred to me that your typical poolnoodle would provide exactly the right thickness to keep the tailfrom falling.So now instead of a bunch of bucking broncos, wecorral a well broke line of Ponies.Hope this helps.

(The astute observer will observe thatthe photos show a situation where the noodle was actually not needed,but I was nonetheless eager to share the use of my other noodle.)

Find the online shop at:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Lotion as Hand Cleaner -- Tool Tip #19

One of the neatest things about my 1970 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40 were the convenient repair kits that Toyotaprovided.Packaged in their individual red boxes were everything youneeded to rebuild, say, a universal joint or a brake assembly or themaster clutch cylinder.I think the idea was that if you filled amodest satchel with a bunch of these kits you really could head outin the boonies and fix most anything on the run.I, however, workedon our FJ40 in the driveway, used quite a few of those little redboxes and got my hands mighty dirty.Back then I used Goop or Gunkor Gorp, whatever, to dissolve the grease and grime, pretty nastyproducts actually, maybe a step away from washing your hands ingasoline.Took quite a while before I incidentally discovered thatmost any ordinary hand or body lotion also works well as a handcleaner.Frankly, for myself, those expensive balms and creams thatare supposed to do magic for working hands are mostly hype.

Ever since this discovery, severaltimes a day, I slather lotion on generously as a hand cleaner, andusing no water (reduce cracking!) just dry my hands on paper towelingor a terrycloth quite well. The dirt and grime transfers to the toweling.  Plus your hands don't end upmarinated in petrochemicals or dried out by soap and water. Those little lotion tubes and bottles turn out to be perfect to drop in atool bag during installations.  Alas, I've come up with a fairly lame excuse to post a couple pics of my favorite vehicle, but on the otherhand certain individuals in your life may appreciate hands that feel morelike 220 grit than 40 grit.  To see all 18 previous tool tips type "tool tip" into the search this blog window.  You might find something you can use in your own shop.

Useful wooden objects including hand carved teaspoons at: 

Friday, June 1, 2018

Meyers Collaboration IX

As with all our previous collaborations, in which my wife Sara does the needlepoint, and I make a custom frame, 98% of the labor is hers and about 2% mine.  We are particularly fond if this particular piece for its lovely colors and simple symbolic elements.  Take the heart to symbolize our love for one another rather than a heart perched over a handlebar moustache symbolizing my love for cycling.

I finally abandoned using biscuits to secure the miters in small frames as they inevitably interfere with the rabbet cut for the glass and mat.  Discreet brads secure the corners instead in the black walnut frame.

This beautiful work is photographed with the glass intact, the reduction in reflectivity due to the use of non-glare glass, something we should have used all along.

Useful wooden objects including hand carved teaspoons at: 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

SketchUp Success for Woodworkers -- Woodworking Tip #22

The 22nd woodworking tip is:  buy this book and use it to learn SketchUp!!

And yes, here I thought I was the onlywoodworker graduate from Columbia.Turns out I was wrong, for David Heim, oneof my fellow alumni, is not only a fine fine woodworker, specifically wood turning, but also one of the country's leading experts on the use ofthe 3D modeling program SketchUp as applicable to furniture making,cabinetry and all the other lovely objects made from wood.SketchUp is a complete drawing program, useful not just to woodworkers, but to interior designers, architects, landscapers, city planners, etc. What David Heim has done in his excellent book SketchUp Success for Woodworkers recentlypublished by Spring House Press is extracted and tuned the aspects ofthe program which enable woodworkers to produce attractive, realistic3D models of their ideas, designs and projects.  (At thispoint I have finally stopped my word processing program's constant urge toturn SketchUp into ketchup.)

If you stop reading here, my advice to you woodworkers is get David's book and learn SketchUp! While you're at it also visit hisonline shop at Etsy:  to see some of his beautiful turnings.  You can also buy his book through his Etsy shop.

So how does design happen?Starting tolearn SketchUp got me reflecting about the evolution of the designtools I've utilized throughout my woodworking career.Now pleasedon't ask why I still have this, but it all begins here:

Back in the day, while the girls weresewing and muffining in Home EC class, the boys were combatingSputnik by taking Mechanical Drawing.I don't think this was anelective either; it was a manly skill.  The main object of the course was converting somefanciful 3D object, often resembling the parapet of a Medieval castle, into front, top and side views.A lot of your grade depended onplacing a dotted line where superman's Xray vision would havedetected a change in form on the opposite side.

Years later when I took upprofessional woodworking, home computers, let alone drawing software, had notyet been invented, and thus dredging up this old junior high school skillproved most useful.At this point we call it "drafting."  I foundmyself even building drafting tables for myself and customers as well as gathering a nice collection of those green plastic Staedtlertemplates.  These templates helped me learn such important things as curves are French.  Still the plans did not appear all thatdifferent from those in 8th grade:

Continuing on:thanks to the urging ofour son Josh we were one of the first families on the block to own acomputer, a handmade XT.Fast forward years later Josh has openedhis bicycle trailer and accessory business BikeShopHub and required aCAD-CAM program to operate a ShopBot CNC tool in the manufacture of his novelbicycle travel case the Cello.The Cello amazingly converted a BOB one-wheeled bicycle trailer into a travel luggage box for not onlyitself but also the bike that pulled it!The chosen program was bobCAD-CAM (ironic, but no relationship to the trailer company), andthus thanks to my son I myself moved to the next stage in design: computer aided drafting using BobCAD-CAM.Without question thegreatest benefit of CAD was what I call “dimensional integrity,”no more struggling with finest line on a triangle scale to extract aparticular dimension or carefully adding up a series of dimensions toverify sums.Any part of a plan could be measured, and the numberswere precise, perfect, always added up!

So now I have reached the latest stagein the evolution of my design career:starting to learn SketchUpusing David Heim's excellent book SketchUp Success forWoodworkers.My firstrecommendation and his too is to pass over the online programand download SketchUp Make 2017 (still available free as of this posting).Then with program running followDavid's clear step-by-step instructions:from choosing a template to setting up your firstfile to learning the basic tools to creating your first board.He iseasy to follow.The centerpiece of the book, his four rules forsuccess, makes enormous sense to anyone who has ever encountered atable saw and attests to his major investment in both mastering andadapting SketchUp for fine woodworkers. What I particularly likeabout David's approach is that he walks you so very carefully throughthe SketchUp learning curve.I would not expect to become adeptovernight, but you could not have a better guide.

Perhaps only secondto the joy of creating, for a custom fine woodworker, is the joy ofworking directly with your clients, getting to know them and theirvision of the environment they desire to inhabit.Yet with fewexceptions the difficulty has always been offering a clear picture ofwhat exactly they were commissioning.Shop drawing and blueprintsare generally insufficient in this regard.Once I even had to builda piece completely over again because I could not see the “picturein the head.”

I only wish I hadhad a tool like SketchUp throughout my career.I could have thenoffered to clients a fully 3-dimensional model, built in the chosenwoods and with the right stain color, something they could “walk”around.In the later chapters of his book David explains how you canimport any wood grain or texture to your model or even render itrealistically.Clients are always finding photographs of some pieceor environment they like, and you will even learn how to initiateyour design using one of these.Both client and creator benefit. You will be able to push, pull, stretch, shrink, reshape,add components, subtract components until the picture in your ownhead is achieved.

Afterword:SketchUp and computerassisted manufacturing (CAM)

Though in most cases I did not use theCAM side of bobCAD-CAM, occasionally it came in very handy especiallywhen both precision and duplication were required such as cutting thetriangular solid oak countertops that formed this 15-sided customerservice center.The screen shot of the bobCAD-CAM file used to cutthese on ShopBot is pictured above along with the finished product. SketchUp Success for Woodworkers doesnot cover using SketchUp files (.skp) to operate CNC machinery, but aquick look on the web indicates that conversion to CNC files ispossible.I am no expert on drawing programs, but I do know a goodguidebook when I see one.David Heim's book is the first place to goif you want this powerful tool in your tool bag...happy sketching!

I would be remiss not to mention that Flying Circus Studios is also on Etsy.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Double-Sided Sandpaper -- Woodworking Tip #21

I'd say at this point in my woodworkingcareer I've folded 17,635 pieces of sandpaper for the purpose ofhand-sanding.By hand-sanding I mean just that, nothing more thanhand and sandpaper.Technically, of course, using a sanding block ishand-sanding, but so often more precision is required for such tasksas smoothing a joint, removing a blemish or scratch, especiallysmoothing curves or contours, etc.Nothing like fingers and a littlepiece of folded sandpaper does the trick.Doubling the sandpaper byfolding it in half seems natural and provides better purchase.Yearsago I thought wouldn't hand-sanding be easier if the two smooth sideswere not always slipping and sliding about?This could beaccomplished merely by gluingthe fold together.As is often thecase with our own best interests this fine approach to sanding wasdefiantly deferred. Until last week.I finally took the typicalquarter sheet strip of sandpaper (2.75”x 9”) used on a standardsanding block, cut it in half, creased the pieces in two, sprayed the backsides with light duty adhesive and then folded the tackysurfaces together.  Voilà!  Using three sanding block strips I made a halfdozen of these all at once.

The grip provided by the well-attacheddouble surface allows use of every bit of the sandpaper right to theedges and corners.Five of these double-sided sandpapers provedsufficient to rough sand very effectively 10 of my wooden teaspoons. Even the hardest part, sanding the bowl of the spoon, went quitesmoothly.While this specialty type of sandpaper is producedcommercially, it is not commonly available.Gluing your own isquick, easy, inexpensive and right out of your own stock ofsandpaper.In this case I am using Norton ProSand 180 grit, one ofmy own favorites.My regret is not doing this with piece #1 vs#17635.Try it yourself; you will be pleasantly pleased!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Southwest Christmas Tree 2017

The earth has spun around the sunanother year, carrying us all reliably through the winter solsticeplace on its orbit, caring not a jot about the tumult of theinhabitants on its surface:   the holidays arrive.We have livedanother year, such a good thing, certainly another year wiser and whynot happier too, yes, let it be.For the fourth year our SouthwestChristmas Tree has traveled its short orbit from Arizona room toliving room, and once again is festooned with many handmadeornaments, some of which are displayed in the Southwest Christmas Tree from 2015. Special this year is the lovely needlepoint ornament made by mylovely wife and pictured close up here:

Another ornament made of Baltic birch and using a stock scroll saw pattern was being considered as an item for our Etsy shop, but never made it into production...perhaps another year, angel with bugle:

Happy Holidays to all, and as my fellow Columbian said it, "to all a good night!"

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ultralight Coffee Table

If we reckon the coffee table the truckand the TV tray table the car, then the ultralight coffee table mustbe the crossover. Light enough to pick up with one hand but justlarge enough for a nice spread of hors d'oeuvres, this small tablewas designed to accompany my side tables called Three Easy Pieces. Just five pieces of wood, the coffee table is assembled in the samemanner as the side tables with the black walnut legs embedded intomortises routed slightly more than halfway into the underside of the top. The tripod design make these side tables just precariousenough to be interesting and keep one alert.

The tops of the side tables arestraight grain old-growth California redwood salvaged fromarchitectural shelving in the home of an early Northern Arizonaranching family, a gift from them to me.The top of the coffeetable, however, is actually old pine salvaged from a kitchen doorjamb in my son's home by the Arizona Inn in Tucson.The jamb was cutinto thirds, glued up and then stained to match the redwood usingMohawk Wiping Stains, one of my favorites.All the many nail holesboth in the redwood and pine were filled carefully to make themmostly disappear.Finish for all four pieces is multiple coats ofsatin Waterlox, which provides an even wine-resistant coating.

Singular wooden ware + hand carved teaspoons:

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Meyers Collaboration VIII - Framed Needlepoint

Marriage is often described ascompromise, but why not collaboration?Our husband and wifecollaborations of needlepoint and woodworking allow us to labor quite easily together without gettinginto one an other's hair.In this eighth collaboration it wasnecessary to turn the typical flat 2” cherry molding sideways inorder to keep the overall frame size down due to location space constraints.In order to add interest to the perimeter two 1/4”square black walnut strips were embedded into the cherry.If anyfuture refinisher wants to sand down this frame they will certainlynever go through such so-to-speak veneer:

We are currently using a somewhatunconventional method of matting needlepoint.Our first collaboration, however, was mounted in the typical fashion of stretching theneedlepoint canvas over a masonite board with heavy thread.Franklywe found this very difficult and required extreme care not to distortthe canvas.Since then we have developed this cheating method whichis much easier:

  1. A sheet of thin cotton batting is attached to a piece of mat board, the same dimensions as the exterior of the cut mat board, using spray adhesive.
  2. The canvas is then “stretched” flat over the cotton batting using one's palms.Interestingly the cotton acts as a type of weak Velcro and adheres to the canvas keeping it in position.Also the white color is an excellent background for visible holes in the canvas.  Furthermore the thickness of the batting (about 1/8") prevents knots behind the canvas from telegraphing to the front.
  3. Lastly a couple of continuous strips of double-stick tape are attached to all sides of the back of the cut mat which is then placed carefully in position, centering the art piece exactly in the cut hole.

In none of our pieces using this method has the needlepoint slipped out of place or sagged. No promises, though, as to how long this will last.  Stretching with thread is still probably better.

I continue to be impressed by the enormous number of hours stitching a piece such as this still life demands.All things considered the extra detail inlaying black walnut intothe frame may have raised the proportion of my work for one of thesecollaborations from the usual 2% to maybe 3%.

Notes: As usual the mat wasexpertly cut at Sarnoff Art Supplies & Framing in Tucson.  Theglass was removed for the purpose of photography without reflections.  The frame is finished with multiple coats of  Waterlox Sealer Finish.

Singular wooden ware + hand carved teaspoons at: 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

21 Indelible Comments

They are like tunes stuck in your headbut, instead, stuck in your life.Surely dear reader, you tooremember comments people have said to you that are still with you. Can you at this very moment recall any? Yet these comments were not especially poetic, notnecessarily aphoristic, not notably brilliant, not always true, not,in fact, even "memorable," but nonetheless they remain indelibly.I have searched for some commonality that unites them but findnone:  not speaker, place, time, circumstance, age, etc.I can say,however, with some confidence, that they number no more than theedozen or so.By opening myself up to their remembrance they havecome back to me quite easily over the course of only a week or two. If I ever come up with 21 more I'll post a further collection.

Yes,indeed, a few tool tips are included for those of you handy with your hands,which turns out to be the case with me as I did follow my collegeprofessor's advice in the very last comment:

1)Washing Hands
To really clean your hands, washsomething else. (J.M.)

If you are impressed with the size ofyour turds then you're getting enough fiber.(M.K.)

3)Marking along a Template
For real accuracy don't hold thepencil upright but keep the cone against the guide. (N.L.)

4)Spray Cans
Always ignored the cleaning adviceabout spraying upside down, and they work just fine.(M.D.)

Look first to your left on accountthat vehicle will hit you soonest. (J.M.)

Lucky to have them move in as theywill sing their little hearts out for you. (K.C.)

Don'tworry about not sleeping...just rest.(F.A.)

Spend some time in the buildscharacter. (F.A.)

Broken cookies are healthier.(O.M.)

10)Early Days of Windows
I love how you can go in first thing inthe morning and open all your windows.(B.C.)

11)Mental Agility
Avoid the calculator; doing mathlonghand preserves mental agility. (J.A.)

Ear protection, of course, for theloud tools, but try it for ordinary hammering. (T.K.)

You know you're getting old when youmake noises rising from your chair.(N.B.)
14)Advice from our XT Builder(1984)
Just remember the first rule ofusing a computer: always back up your work.(J.H.)

15)Right Color
Kurt, you don't look good in blue. (D.G.)

For the perfect cup pour coffee andcream simultaneously.(D.K.)

Sights arewithout end; a true vacation is dolce far niente.(F.A.)

18) Olives (Eyeballs) and Children
As soon as you eat ten, you will like them.(J.M.)

19) Speaking Your Mind
Now that I am old I speak my mind, a freedom I lacked in youth. (J.A.)

20) Meditation
Awakenyourself each morning at 3:00 AM, the ideal time for meditation. (A.L.)

21) Academics
Kurt, don't go into academics, it's a nasty business.(L.T.)

Readers are offering a few of their own "indelible comments" which I include below.  As with my own I am not providing a context, leaving that to the imagination, the important thing being that these words have stuck with the person:

22)  You can always go to the bathroom if you try.   (from D.&L. D.)

23)  Because I said so!  (from D.&.L. D.)

24)  Stick to theoretical work.  (from M.N.)

25)  Gotta eat.  (from S.T.)

26)  Has it changed?  (S.H.C. debating the merit of a second visit to the Grand Canyon)

Singular wooden ware + hand carved teaspoons at:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Tapering Legs with a Miter Saw -- Woodworking Tip #20

To an open mind the woodshop is a cornucopia of novelty.  A new approach, an improved jig, a shift in methodology all provide considerable joy.  Tapering, as an example, is typically accomplished witha sliding jig on a table saw.  I would usually make a quick jig outof 3/4” plywood for the required angle...never did own one of thosenew-fangled adjustable tapering jigs.Given the commission, however,of making short solid maple tapered legs for a couch, the thought ofpushing a small block of wood into a table saw blade set 4” highdid not seem appealing.The idea occurred to me of using a miter sawto cut the tapers as shown below:

Rather than rotating the blade to the desired angle, cut a guide board to the correct angle.  Use thehorizontal vice to hold this piece firmly.The saw blade is simplylocked on a 90? cut (see above photo).Theleg stock is then placed against the scrap wood angle and securedwith the vertical vice pressing down upon a wooden bridge between theleg stock and another scrap piece of such a height that the bridge isroughly horizontal.  With this set up cut one of every pair of tapers for however many legs you need.

The next step is to rotate the blade toward the left the number of degrees of the taper angle.  By flipping the guide board forward to back you can use it to set the blade precisely.  Clamp the guide board back in its original position adjusting it left or right as necessary.  Place the cut side against the guide board and cut the opposite side of each pair.  Really, this is not as hard as it sounds and becomes obvious when you do the set up.

Voilà...youhave a short tapered leg.  Do realize that a sharp blade on the miter saw really helpsas your machine struggles to cut through some 8” or so of hardwood!

Singular wooden ware + hand carved teaspoons at:

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tool Bed Polishing -- Tool Tip #18

My clearest early memory of siliconcarbide sandpaper, if such is the stuff memories are made of, is inthe hands of a lovely female luthier as she gently hand rubbed thenewly lacquered surface of a gourd-shaped Neapolitan mandolin.Sheused the tiniest piece of very fine grit black paper following theround curve of the instrument's back perfectly with her fingers untilthe entire surface was uniform powdery white and ready for yetanother coat of lacquer. Few of my furniture commissions over theyears required this type of mirror finish, and most of my uses forsilicon carbide sandpaper, typically 400 grit, have nothing to dowith finishing wood itself.I have already written about itsexcellent application in sharpening chisels when glued to a plate ofplate glass:

Read more about this particular use at:  Fast Sharpening

Another blog post suggests silicon carbide sandpaper in order to prevent slippage between the surface of a miter gauge and a pieceof wood:  Anti-Skid Miter Gauge

Today's tip is about yet another excellentapplication.Use 400 grit silicon carbide sandpaper attached to ahard rubber sanding block to clean, smooth and polish machine toolbeds and tables as well as other machined metal surfaces such as the sole of ahandplane. The block can also remove gunk, grime, high spots and burrs from the base plates of jigsaws, circular saws, plate joiners, etc.  Expect the sandpaper to load quickly and have extra sheets on hand.

You have a machine shop in your hand. Move with the grain of the factory machining. The few first passesimmediately reveal low and high spots on a tool bed, such as at thethroat of a jointer where you definitely don't want any miniature skijump.Do stop short though of trying this on the cylinder head ofthat old Chevy V8 engine you're rebuilding.

Singular wooden ware + hand carved teaspoons at: