Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

Keeping My Assistant Busy   3 comments

One of the challenges in a 1-man shop is how you can get more efficient. When it’s just you against the world, you can’t afford to waste time.

I decided some time ago that I would not hire an assistant … so I bought one.

My CNC router is a computer-controlled carving machine that will do what I tell it to do, generally. It will work on one project while I’m doing other tasks. I’m now doing some processes for many of my products on the CNC. Magic Bottle Openers, Trivets, Coasters and Pigs all go through the CNC now.

And in this case, “more is better” is definitely a true statement. I’m slowly adding more products. Wall plaques are now happening, along with some 3D carving. As I gain more skills there, you’ll see Cribbage Boards (I promise!) and new Cheese Slicers make it to the finish line.

For now, here are some of the ideas I have delivered sing the CNC.

Getting Clippy   Leave a comment

It’s been too long since I’ve made a batch of clipboards. So, once I cleared the shop time, I made sure I made enough to last a while. We’ll see how long!

I have a wife that tells me they aren’t needed in our modern paperless society.

At the same time, 2 of our kids have an open ended order for clipboards from me.

I’m pretty sure I’ll vote with the kids customers on this one. After all, I worked for a newspaper for over 20 years. I believe in paper … and I still do.

Electrons have their power, but they’ll never have the feel of newsprint. For that reason, I’m a clipboard maker.

Three of these clipboards are special orders; the other 16 go on sale Saturday morning at the Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival.

Hearts   Leave a comment

I enjoy making these hearts.

Can they be cutting boards? Of course.

Most people, however, view them as either display pieces or cheese servers. Works for me.

What I know is that every heart has Bloodwood in it (wouldn’t you?) and no heart ever has Yellowheart or Black Walnut in it (because those do not belong in hearts).

I trust that you’ll agree that those are good decisions to make a nice heart.

If you’re out and about this weekend, come see us – Mrs M is finally joining me! – at the Montrose Arts & Crafts Festival. We’ll be there 10-6 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. Hope to see you there!

Trivets   3 comments

Last week, I was on a crash course to finish this batch of trivets. The inventory was too low for our big event this weekend, the California Strawberry Festival.

So, one crash later, I was done with 23 new trivets. I put them in a prominent position in the booth’s outside corner, on a temporary pile of containers and in a crate … which invites people to flip through the pieces as they look for the right ones.

I learned two things:

  1. Many people have no idea what a trivet is. The word doesn’t translate into Spanish, I’m told, so a large number of people with a Mexican or Central American heritage have no idea what the sign means when it says “Trivets.” Of course, there’s a large number of people that are Americanized that have no clue, as well. “Trivets.” A mystery. Who knew?
  2. People love flipping through a crate of trivets. Oh so many people did that on Saturday.

And that’s a good thing. Some of the flippers even bought one or two.

The flipping continues today at the California Strawberry Festival in Oxnard. Come and flip some, if you please. I would truly appreciate it: load out starts at 6:30pm, and I hope I have a lighter load to come home.

And that, of course, will begat a new crash course for next week … a problem for another day.

Cutting Boards And A Pair Of Serving Trays   Leave a comment

The 4th Annual Spring Fling is in full throttle and, yes, I’ve been busy.

Here’s a collection of cutting boards I’ve finished over the last few weeks. As you’ve seen, I’m making many other things, as well, but I need to make cutting boards all of the time, or I’ll have problems.

That’s particularly true of the end grain boards, since they take a minimum of 2 glue-ups, so they take twice as long to make as the edge grain boards (the “stripey” ones).

And, of course, the serving trays are all stripey. These 2 have been languishing in a cabinet for a couple of months waiting on me to take them over the finish line. Clearly, they were worth the effort. What took so long?

If you find yourself out and about in Southern California this weekend, you will find Mrs M and I at Oxnard’s 35th Annual California Strawberry Festival. It’s quite the thing, with crowds in excess of 50,000 annually. You’ll find the fine art & craft section has been moved to the other side of the festival … near the Green Gate. We are in booths 254 & 256.

Hope to see you there.

The Coasters   Leave a comment

This one appears to be working.

I started making coasters at the end of last year, and sold a few immediately. Then I went to Fresno, and sold them all.

Funny, that.

Coasters are a bit of a pain to make, really. Lots of steps. Lots of sawdust (that’s the fun part). And, anytime you decide you’re going to make 80 of something, it’s a significant undertaking. Especially since, in addition to the 80 coasters, I also made 20 holders.

We’ve said it for years: go big or go home. And, apparently, I’m going big.

Because, this Saturday, I’m not at home. If you’re in need of some coasters, come see me at the Simi Valley Street Fair. It’s in a new location this year, on Simi Town Center Way.

More

From The Shop: Replacing a Table Saw Motor, Craftsman 152.221240   2 comments

The saw has certainly earned its keep. After I purchased what was then the most expensive tool that I’d ever purchased – at about $1,000 – I’ve built everything on this saw from our kitchen cabinets to my office desk to, oh, a few thousand cutting boards.

Here’s my office desk … can you tell that I’m a reader?

Busy, I am.

I bought the saw in 2004. All was well until a couple of months ago, when the saw started, uh, not starting.

I would hit the switch, and the saw would just sit there, hum, and blow the breaker.

For the uninitiated, when a major tool chooses to blow the breaker rather than starting the motor, it is a bad thing. A very bad thing.

Most of the time, the saw started, albeit slowly. (ed. note: I start slowly, these days, too. Just sayin’.) If the blade didn’t turn at all, I could quickly turn the saw off, rotate the blade by hand, turn the saw back on, and it would usually start. Eventually. It was in that condition that I limped along while I figured out what to do. I didn’t really want to buy a new table saw, not really. The new saw I had my eye on – which would be a huge upgrade – would require me to rewire the garage woodshop, and spend several times what my original saw cost on the new model. Great idea, but the bank account said now was not the time to spend that kind of money.

I reached out to some wise people, and they agreed that I probably needed a new motor for my saw, or at least a rebuilt one. No problem, there was a motor shop locally that was recommended … but they would not touch Craftsman tools.

No problem, I just went to SearsPartsDirect.com, and researched a replacement motor. Called customer service, who told me the motor was discontinued.

Sears Craftsman Professional Tablesaw, 152.221240.

I turned on the Google machine to search the interweb, and eventually found that this Sears “Craftsman Professional” Table saw, model 152.221240, was actually built by a company called Steel City. They were out of business.

Except, maybe they weren’t, as I continued my searches. Some indicated they were in business, but were operating out of Canada exclusively (and that’s out of business?). I called Steel City, and found that they had the replacement for my saw’s original motor in stock. Happy to ship. Fabulous!

So, $400 later, the new motor was on the way. I scheduled the Engineer to come help me do the install, and hoped the old motor would see me through in the meantime.

It did. The big day finally arrived, and I cleaned the shop in anticipation of some big doings.

The biggest problem was that we had no idea what we were doing. There were no instructions from Sears other than “discontinued.” Steel City had no instructions. You Tube. Google. You name it, no one had instructions on how to change the motor on this cabinet saw. There were plenty of videos for other saws, but this one … no.

I did reach out to a woodworker on one of the forums I monitor who had posted about replacing his motor, and asked if he had any tips, and he was most helpful. So, with the original owner’s manual describing the original assembly, and as much knowledge as I could gather from the web, we set off to install the new motor. Here are the step-by-step instructions, as accurate as I could make them. Your mileage may vary.

1. Unplug the saw from the power source. Unplug the saw motor from the power cord inside the cabinet.

2. Remove the blade, blade insert, blade guard, miter gauge and rip fence. Set them aside.

3. Set up a folding table so you have plenty of space to put the parts as you remove them from the table saw.

4. Get cups, plastic bags or whatever so you can place hardware into labeled containers so you can easily keep each set of screws, bolts, nuts & washers separate and identifiable. You will thank me later.

5. Remove the on/off switch from the front rail, and then remove the Guide Tube (it’s what you lock the rip fence to).

6. Remove the Outfeed Table.

7. Remove the Rear Rail. Be careful with the laminated “Accessory Biesemeyer Extension Table,” which is only held on by 2 bolts through each of the Rails.

8. Remove the Front Rail.

9. Remove the Extension Wings. Label them “Right Wing” and “Left Wing.” Avoid political discussions at this stage, though we did observe that we were Making the Table Saw Great Again.

10. Remove the Motor Cover (the big, red plastic thing on the right side of the saw).

11. Remove the “Table Surface,” as it’s referred to on page 15 of the Owner’s Manual. It’s the center table top. It’s held on by 4 bolts, 2 of which are outside of the cabinet on the left side, and 2 of which are the center-most just inside of the right side of the cabinet. BE CAREFUL. There are shims between the cabinet and the table surface that are easily misplaced. Save them in their original positions. Use masking tape to secure them so they don’t move.

12. The motor is mounted to a bracket on a spring-loaded hinge pivot. The weight of the motor keeps tension on the belt; you can lift the motor to remove the belt.

13. Lucky 13. You can now remove the motor from the cabinet. 4 bolts. We lifted the motor with ropes around both sides of the motor to take the weight, and then removed the bolts.

14. Note the position of the pulley on the motor shaft. Dimensions are important: the pulley most be directly parallel to the Arbor Pulley for the belt to track properly. Remove the hex set screw from the pulley. Gently pry the pulley off the motor shaft, and remove the key from the shaft.

15. Seize the moment and fully clean and lubricate the trunnions and gears that control the tilt and height of the blade.

16. Install the pulley on the new motor’s shaft using the key and hex set screw.

17. Install the motor on the bracket on the spring-loaded hinge pivot.

18. Install the belt. Check the alignment of the pulleys to ensure proper tracking. Adjust as necessary.

19. Re-install the Table Surface, making sure that the shims are in the proper place once the masking tape is removed.

20. Re-install the blade, blade insert, blade guard and miter gauge. Reconnect the motor to the switch and the saw to the power. Adjust the blade to be vertical from the table. Do a test cut to make sure the blade and table have the right orientation to each other.

21. Unplug the saw.

22. Reassemble the table saw, doing steps 10 – 5 in reverse order.

We got it right the first time, fortunately. Test cuts were perfect. The saw now sounds great. I can’t wait to rip some 8/4 Hard Maple to see how my famously under-powered table saw performs with its brand new motor.

 

End Grain Is The Best   Leave a comment

End grain cutting boards are the best … as long as you don’t have some innate fixation on stripes, requiring your cutting boards to be edge grain. If you do, no worries, I make those as well.

But they’re not as hard as end grain boards. They will show more wear than end grain boards. And they’re just not as much fun. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I just finished a large batch of end grain boards, in time for the Spring Fling. This weekend is my first 2018 hometown event, sponsored by my hometown radio station: the KHTS Home & Garden Show.

Drop by, and you’ll find me in a double booth (1401 & 1438), right beside the Arbor Day free tree giveaway. Mrs M is beside me, of course, in 1402. We’ll be there on Saturday, 10-5, and Sunday, 10-4. Come see us, and you’ll see these brand new boards!

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round   Leave a comment

Here I go again, flirting with inventory growth. I’m back over 300 pieces in inventory – if only for a day or 2 – so it’s time to commemorate the best of the cutting boards I’ve just made.

Sometimes, simple is the best.

I’ve made this design for a few years now … but I never have them in stock. I make them about once a year for some unknown reason.

I’m an artist. I make what I want. Deal with it.

No one said I was in this for the money, or I’d be smarter about what I make. Maybe.

In any event, this board is made with basic American hardwoods: Black Walnut, Black Cherry (AKA American Cherry, or just Cherry), and Hard Maple.

This is a classic design. I think I need to make it more often!

Cutting Board 18 – 715. Cherry, Black Walnut & Hard Maple. End grain. 12″ x 17″ x 1-1/4″.

More

The 300th Cutting Board, 2nd Time ‘Round (4/4/18)

The 300th Cutting Board (2/9/18)

The 250th Cutting Board: Back In The Pig Business (10/13/17)

The 250th Cutting Board (4/8/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

From The Shop: Restoring A Cutting Board   Leave a comment

I say it at every event: yes, a steel knife will mark wood. That is true, even though I make boards out of hardwoods. My boards will not mark as easily as plastic or softwood boards that many people are used to. With proper care, my cutting boards will last for decades.

Also said at every event: restoring a cutting board takes me 5 minutes. In this case, though, it took me 8.

Here’s the board, as it looked when presented, Christmas ’13. This was one of the first 5 cutting boards I made:

Cutting Board 13 – 08. Goncalo Alves, Black Walnut, Jatoba, Cherry & Honey Locust. Edge Grain. 14″ x 21″ x 1-1/4″.

Here’s the board, as it was returned to me after a few years of use. This was the 2nd time the board has come back to me in 5 years:

So, nothing to do but get to it.

To restore a board, I use the same 5 grits of sandpaper that I used to smooth the board originally. I progress through each grit, removing the knife marks to reveal the smooth wood beneath. Each piece of sandpaper is ruined in the process, with the grit quickly clogging with the oil-laden wood that I’m removing. Typically, each grit gets about a minute of work … in this case, the first 2 grits got about 2 minutes due to the deep marks that I needed to remove.

The grits: 80, 120, 180, 220, 320.

And just like that, the hard work is done. I did use my 5″ sander, the lightweight Festool ETS EC 125/3 EQ Random Orbital Sander to clean up the 4 edges … THEN I was done. Brush off the sawdust that the dust extractor didn’t remove, and here’s what the almost-raw board now looks like:

 

Applying mineral oil to an unfinished board is about as close to pure joy as a woodworker can get. Finally revealed: the “new” board, looking glorious.

Once the oil has soaked in, only 3 steps remain:

  1. Apply a topcoat of Board Butter, which is my mix of locally-harvested beeswax and mineral oil, and
  2. Practice Mr Miyagi’s “wax on, wax off,” and
  3. Take a picture for posterity!

Cutting Board 13 – 08, as restored in 2018. 2nd restoration. It took 8 minutes.

More

From The Shop: Just Like New

%d bloggers like this: