Archive for November 2014

The Rainbow Over The Grand Canyon   Leave a comment

Photo by Peter Coskun. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior 11/18/14.

Photo by Peter Coskun. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior 11/18/14.

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Grand Canyon National Park

A Grand Sunset

Bright Angel Trail

Inversion

13 Lies People Tell Me   Leave a comment

HandcraftedI admit I’m a bit obsessed with cutting boards these days. In my defense, I have actually done research into what makes a good cutting board. I know what the government requires for cutting boards in restaurants. And, I’ve made more than a few of these kitchen tools, as well.

So when people lie to me, it gets me riled up. And when I talk to a lot of people at holiday boutiques … people lie to me. I need to get people to stop lying to me, and lying to themselves.

Please, help me stop the lies.

1. It doesn’t matter what cutting board I use.

Yes, yes it does. Different kinds of boards do have different advantages (or, in the case of glass or marble … not). If you’re looking for information about which board might work best for you, check out the link below for Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

2. Bamboo makes great cutting boards.

Hard Maple, Cherry & Black Walnut. 16" x 12-1/2" x 1-1/4". End Grain.

Hard Maple, Cherry & Black Walnut. 16″ x 12-1/2″ x 1-1/4″. End Grain.

Bamboo does indeed make cutting boards that are inexpensive. However, those boards are made overseas. They’re made with a great deal of glue by workers in third world countries. Bamboo grows quickly, and is a renewable resource … but doesn’t reach maximum hardness until the Bamboo is 5 or 6 years old. If the wood is harvested earlier (and how would you know?), the wood is softer. In addition, the bulbous nature of the wood means that it will dull your knives more quickly than boards made from traditional wood like hard maple or walnut.

3. Bamboo boards are harder than “rock maple” boards.

(This was stated by a seller of bamboo boards). This is simply untrue. “Rock Maple” is a nickname sometimes used for Hard Maple or Sugar Maple. That wood is harder than bamboo.

The hardness of wood is measured by something called the Janka scale. Higher numbers represent harder woods, and here are the scores of the woods that I use for cutting boards … and some that I don’t:

  • Purpleheart: 2,520
  • Jatoba, AKA Brazilian Cherry: 2,350
  • Osage Orange: 2,040
  • Bubinga: 1,980
  • Goncalo Alves, AKA Tigerwood: 1,850
  • Hickory, Pecan: 1,820
  • Yellowheart: 1,790
  • Padauk: 1,725
  • Hard Maple: 1,450
  • Bamboo: 1,380 (one species of Bamboo)
  • Ash: 1,320
  • Bamboo (carbonized): 1,180
  • Teak: 1,155
  • Black Walnut: 1,010
  • Cherry: 995
  • Mahogany: 800
Commissioned piece. 16-1/4" x 12-3/4" x 1-1/2". Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart. Edge Grain.

Commissioned piece. 16-1/4″ x 12-3/4″ x 1-1/2″. Hard Maple, Black Walnut, Cherry and Yellowheart. Edge Grain.

The hardness of Bamboo is further complicated by the hardness of boards varying between the knuckle or node of the bamboo shoot (which is hardest), and the rest of the plant.  In addition, if the wood fibers of the bamboo shoot are scored (which is something that happens on cutting boards!), then the wood loses more rigidity … so it’s softer.

Bamboo is cheap, which does give it one real advantage over other types of cutting boards.

4. Plastic boards can be sanded smooth to extend their life.

(This was stated by a seller of plastic boards.) Simply, not true. Plastic boards will develop cuts and grooves in their surface over time, and a used board is a better habitat for bacteria. Unfortunately, sanding a plastic board just makes MORE cuts and grooves in the plastic surface. When the plastic board shows wear, replace it.

5. Glass boards are more sanitary than wooden boards.

Absolutely not true. You can read the research studies that are linked in the cutting board article at the bottom, previously referenced.

6. Your boards are at the perfect price point.

End Grain. Hard Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart, Padauk, Cherry. Cutting Board # 13.

End Grain. Hard Maple, Walnut, Yellowheart, Padauk, Cherry. Cutting Board # 13.

A lady actually said this to me … and then she bought 5 boards. So, what am I saying??? If she likes the price point, then good for her. Me, I think prices should go up.

7. These boards are too expensive.

One guy said this to me … and then his wife asked if I made the boards. When I said yes, she then told her husband that the reason the boards are more expensive is that “the artist is on site.” I had nothing to say to that. And the couple didn’t buy anything, for the record.

8. These boards are too pretty to use.

People that say this to me are just inviting an argument. I wonder if their stoves are too pretty to use, too? Or how about their dishwashers?

9. Wooden boards are not sanitary.

Not true. This is not backed up by the science. Wooden boards – with all wood types being shown to be roughly equal – actually have natural anti-bacterial properties.

10. You dye these woods different colors, right?

Never. I only use natural woods with their natural colors.

11. It’s best to treat cutting boards with salad bowl finish.

A fully restored board. The padauk is once again a vibrant orange.

Edge grain. Purpleheart, Canary wood, Padauk, Cherry and Hard Maple.

Nope. Salad bowl finish is fine for, uh, salad bowls. However, this finish is a varnish, and that’s not something that should be applied to a cutting board … and then cut up and served with the food prepared on the board.

12. It’s best to treat cutting boards with olive oil (or walnut oil).

Organic oils are not recommended, as they will eventually turn rancid. Food-safe mineral oil is recommended.

13. I made a board just like this in high school when I was in shop class.

Respectfully, no you didn’t. You may have glued boards together and called it a cutting board … and I’m sure your mother loves it! … but I humbly submit that the work done in a high school shop may not be up to the standards found in Mr M’s Woodshop.

Humbly submitted. And since I’ve now referred to myself in the third person … I’m done.

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Cutting Boards: What Kind Do You Want?

 Wikipedia: Janka Hardness Test

North Twin Lake   7 comments

North Twin Lake at Yellowstone National Park flashes pink during sunrise. While this photo was taken a couple weeks ago, the weather at Yellowstone is quickly changing. North Twin Lake is already covered in snow for the season. Photo by Neal Hebert, National Park Service. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/16/14.

North Twin Lake at Yellowstone National Park flashes pink during sunrise. While this photo was taken a couple weeks ago, the weather at Yellowstone is quickly changing. North Twin Lake is already covered in snow for the season.
Photo by Neal Hebert, National Park Service. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/16/14.

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Yellowstone National Park

How Wolves Change Rivers

Old Faithful

The Animals Of Yellowstone

Traffic Jam

Twin Lakes

Uncle Tom’s Trail

Stoneman Meadow   7 comments

Joseph Taylor captured this stunner of the endless Milky Way galaxy floating above the granite monoliths — Washington Column and Half Dome — in Yosemite National Park’s Stoneman Meadow. “To be a part of a beautiful moment on Earth like this one is always breathtaking, but to capture it with my camera was incredible,”says Joseph.

Joseph Taylor captured this stunner of the endless Milky Way galaxy floating above the granite monoliths — Washington Column and Half Dome — in Yosemite National Park’s Stoneman Meadow. “To be a part of a beautiful moment on Earth like this one is always breathtaking, but to capture it with my camera was incredible,”says Joseph.

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Yosemite National Park

A Double Rainbow And The Half Dome

Fire!

Right Place, Right Time

Sentinel Dome’s View

Sunrise + Milky Way

The Serenity Of Yosemite

Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Center

Yosemite In The Snow

Bullfrog Lake   3 comments

Kings Canyon National Park in California testifies to nature’s size, beauty and diversity with huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns and the world’s largest trees. The park lies side-by-side to Sequoia National Park in the southern Sierra Nevada. This Veterans Day, you can visit to all national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands for free. Pictured here is Bullfrog Lake by David Palefsky. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior on 11/14/14.

Kings Canyon National Park in California testifies to nature’s size, beauty and diversity with huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns and the world’s largest trees. The park lies side-by-side to Sequoia National Park in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains.
Pictured here is Bullfrog Lake by David Palefsky. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior on 11/14/14.

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Kings Canyon National Park

California Black Oak: Quercus kelloggii

Dead Giant Loop

Grant Tree Trail

Lookout Trail

Panoramic Point

Round Meadow

Sunset Trail

Red Fox   Leave a comment

Winter is coming! This red fox at Kanuti Wildlife Refuge is ready. Are you? Photo by Mary Frische. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/13/14.

Winter is coming! This red fox at Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge is ready. Are you? Photo by Mary Frische. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the fox is digging for his lunch. He began his approach by leaping 10′ to this point, where he nose dived down to his prey. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/13/14.

Devils Tower   1 comment

America’s first national monument, Devils Tower is a geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie in Wyoming. David Lane captured this amazing 16-image panorama of the monument illuminated by the Milky Way and green airglow. Of visiting Devils Tower, David says: “From ancient stories of the Pleiades taking refuge at the top to the generations of Native Americas that held it sacred, it had a deep sense of age and a stoic nature that impressed me. It’s so unexpected, so large in person, so steeped in traditions.” Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/13/14.

America’s first national monument, Devils Tower is a geologic feature that protrudes out of the rolling prairie in Wyoming. David Lane captured this amazing 16-image panorama of the monument illuminated by the Milky Way and green airglow. Of visiting Devils Tower, David says: “From ancient stories of the Pleiades taking refuge at the top to the generations of Native Americas that held it sacred, it had a deep sense of age and a stoic nature that impressed me. It’s so unexpected, so large in person, so steeped in traditions.” Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/13/14.

Kicking Back   4 comments

Kickback 01

Side note: the glue that I use is stronger than the wood that it connects together. Note the 1/4″ hard maple piece on the right, which is broken unevenly across the maple board. The glue held. Same is true of the much smaller hard maple piece on the left: the glue held, the board broke. This is a victory for my craftsmanship!

I was in the zone. I was pushing to get more boards done (sounds normal, right?). I was in the second table saw phase: cleaning up the boards after the glue-up. The boards needed the ragged ends cleaned up, and then each board needed to be cut to length.

And then it happened.

I was cutting off a ragged end … and the board caught on something. I pushed with a little more force … and then the broken pieces in the picture, right, caught the edge of the blade at an angle, CLANGED off of the blade guard, and then were launched into the back wall 30′ behind me.

The table saw: the most dangerous tool in the shop.

Luckily, I was working on the left side of the blade for this cut. My whole body, my hands, my arms … all were on the left side of the blade, and the end cuts launched from the right side of the blade. Missed me. Thank goodness.

My Sears Craftsman has a 10″ blade, and the motor runs at 3450 RPM. I did the math … and that’s a blade speed of over 100 MPH. That is nothing to mess with … and when something launches off of that blade, that is called kick back.

And that can be a very serious problem.

Whenever something happens unexpectedly in the shop, I take a step back and make sure I’m doing everything I can do to to work safely. It’s just me in the shop … so I have to look after myself. If I’m going to work safely, I need to know what I should do … and what I should not do. In every situation, every time.

What did I do wrong? I pushed. I didn’t clear the blade of the offcuts, I just tried to push through a problem. The result: kick back. Lesson learned.

Kickback 02I hope.

Some of the boards needed their sides to be cleaned up as well: I had a couple of end grain boards in the production process, and they needed to be squared up. No problem. For this cut, I used the fence on the right side of the blade, and I pushed the 12″ wide board through the blade with my right hand.

The result: I was standing directly behind the blade when the small 1/16″ cut off chips caught the left side of the blade, and launched directly back into my stomach.

Ouch.

What did I do wrong? Nothing. It really wasn’t a big deal, but it did smart. Wood chips flying at 100 MPH will do that when they hit you, y’know?

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The Table Saw

Posted November 13, 2014 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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Centennial Mountains   Leave a comment

This 28,000-acre Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area, which forms the boundary between southwest Montana and Idaho, is some of southwest Montana’s wildest country. Designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern in 2006, it is considered an important corridor for wildlife movement, providing an east-west trending mountain range connecting the Yellowstone Ecosystem with the rest of the northern Rocky Mountains. Abundant wildlife in the Centennial Mountains include moose, elk, deer, wolverines, badgers, black bears, a wide variety of birds, and occasionally wolves and grizzly bears.

About 60 miles of the 3,100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail runs through the mountain range. Photos by Bob Wick, BLM. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 11/12/14.

Sunrise In The Badlands   1 comment

Badlands National Park. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior on the 36th anniversary of the Park's designation as a National Park, 11/10/14.

Badlands National Park. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior on the 36th anniversary of the Park’s designation as a National Park, 11/10/14.

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Badlands National Park

Posted November 11, 2014 by henrymowry in National Parks

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