13 Things Learned In The Shop Last Weekend   3 comments

Short CutsI am awash in shortcuts, offcuts & endcuts.

The problem is that hardwood (once you stop going to the big box stores) does not come in standard sizes. It generally does come in 8, 9 or 10′ lengths, but sometimes I buy boards that are 40″ long. Or 5′ long. Plus, when I buy lumber, I’ve discovered its most efficient to have the guys at the yard cut the boards into 6′ lengths. My shop isn’t made to handle 10′ boards … and if you’ve ever lifted a piece of Jatoba that’s 8″ wide, 2″ thick and 60 pounds long, then you know what I’m talking about.

In any event, boards are many different lengths, and many different widths when you bring them home from the store. No matter what you’re making from the lumber, you always – always – have small boards left over that don’t fit into your current project. And since I make a lot of projects, those boards pile up over time.

When I entered this weekend, I had 3 large containers of cutoffs under 12″ long. Boards that were somewhere under 2″ wide and 24″ long filled 2 storage racks, 1 storage cabinet, 4 portable containers, 1 trash barrel and many nooks and crannies in the shop that we won’t discuss.

I am awash in shortcuts, offcuts & endcuts.

Therefore, this last weekend was designated for addressing the problem head-on. I would use those small boards to make small pieces, such as sous chef boards and magic bottle openers that can use boards under 16″ in length. And that was just the beginning.

Here’s what I learned this weekend.

1. A job that needs doing is a job that’s worth doing. After all, what choice do you have? The job needs doing.

2. Don’t put an overflowing, open container of shortcuts on a shelf above your head without expecting to come away with a bloody forehead.

3. Safety comes in many forms. Sometimes … sometimes … you must remove the blade guard on the table saw to make a safe cut. Just don’t tell Velda.

4. The shop is so much more pleasant with the upgraded dust collection system & the portable dust extractor that I can use to vacuum the floor. Yes, I do that on a good day, and it’s wonderful. When I cleaned out 2 sections of my biggest shortcut rack this weekend, I could not believe how much dust was in, under and behind the rack. Good thing I have a tool for that.

5. Throwing away bad wood is essential. Discerning which wood is bad is a constant challenge. Anything shorter than 12″ is not usable in my world. I’ve got no time for 8″ x 1-1/4″ x 3/4″ offcuts.

6. I can’t claim my cutting boards are “Made In The USA” according to preliminary research done by the soap maker. Since all of my parts are not made in the USA, then the cutting boards that I make cannot be “Made In The USA.” Maybe. I will keep saying that the boards are made in Valencia, CA, which may not be an international marketing term, but it is true. For that matter, I could probably claim the boards are made in the USA, just not “Made In The USA.”

Grrripper7. Safety can be destructive to tools. Luckily, the GRR-Ripper that I used this weekend is made to have the saw blade go through the heel of the tool so that you can safely cut boards as small as 1/4″ wide. Which I did this weekend (as you can see with the cut-up yellow heel in the lower right corner of the tool, right). Safely. I don’t need a new heel yet – but I bought a pack of 6 for pocket change. Now that I have them, I can use the tool with a clear conscience. Safely.

8. It does no good to own a tool if you’re not using it properly. See # 7, which has been used sporadically, and not for the reason I bought it, because I didn’t want to “ruin” the tool by sawing through the heel. This weekend, I got braver, then got smarter & then got safer.

9. Patience is a virtue. Sorting through piles (and piles and piles) of shortcuts is time-consuming, and does not seem as efficient as just grabbing more lumber out of the rack to make the next piece. In the end, though, I got quite a bit done this weekend by not going to the lumber rack for every piece. At the end of the weekend, I had only gotten 2 boards out of the rack, and both of those were for a very large cutting board I allowed myself to make as a treat.

10. I have an odd self-reward system.

11. When you embrace using shortcuts, sort them by size and make yourself use them, many great pieces can be created.

12. At the end of the weekend, I had not touched 5 storage locations, and barely touched 2 others. Miles to go before I sleep.

13. 52 pieces are now ready for glue-up, and that’s a good weekend’s work using any size of lumber – which is something I need to remember!

  • 1 chess board
  • 1 pig (so I’m back in the pig business. Almost.)
  • 1 routed cheese board (new design, and I now have 2 to make)
  • 3 small boards
  • 3 cutting boards
  • 3 Lazy Susans
  • 3 large cutting boards
  • 4 cheese boards
  • 5 large sous chef boards
  • 8 small sous chef boards
  • 9 magic bottle openers (the smallest piece I make, at 5″ x 10″ x 3/4″)
  • 11 clipboards (5 legal and 6 letter size)

Species used:

  1. Hard Maple
  2. Birds Eye Maple
  3. Curly Maple
  4. Cherry
  5. Black Walnut
  6. Purpleheart
  7. Yellowheart
  8. Bloodwood
  9. Teak
  10. Hickory
  11. White Oak
  12. Red Oak
  13. Honey Locust
  14. Canarywood
  15. Goncalo Alves
  16. Padauk
  17. Jatoba
  18. Jarrah

Picked

 

3 responses to “13 Things Learned In The Shop Last Weekend

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  1. Dear Henry: Why not say your boards are handcrafted in the USA? That’s a true statement!

  2. Pingback: My Favorite Posts From Year 4 | MowryJournal.com

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