Archive for the ‘Cutting board’ Tag

The Board Chronicles: Prescott Rodeo Days Arts & Crafts Fair 2020   Leave a comment

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

The long darkness lifted a bit.

I went to an event. I sold stuff. It was almost normal. Except, you know, for the masks & health checks & threats & such.

This was my 4th trip to Prescott, AZ, and I was going for their big 4th of July celebration that centers around the World’s Oldest Rodeo. The Rodeo happened … limited to 25% capacity. The Arts & Crafts Fair happened … with all of the booths socially distanced. The very popular parade … canceled.

But I was back in business, if only for a moment. I had to leave California & drive 400+ miles each way, but I had an event!

New Ideas

  • Geez, it was all new. I hadn’t had an event in 5 months. I hadn’t set up this canopy in 6 months.
  • New products, made during the pandemic:
    • 2x sizes of Dip Servers
    • Magic Bottle Openers returned from a 2 year hiatus, both wall & fridge mount
    • Cutting Board selection was deep, with highlights to include several charcuterie boards like a live edge Black Walnut board (sold), a Dough Board with Hooks, and many traditional boards.
    • Also returning from being sold out previously: Hearts, Coasters, Ampersand Boards, Cracker Things, California Bears, 5 Section Servers & a wide array of Handled Boards on a new display stand.
  • The Mowry Cookbook made a rare appearance for sale, as I had the space.
  • Mrs M stepped up and made “Keep ‘Em Clean,” a Waterless Hand Cleanser. This new alcohol-based product was offered for free so everyone could clean their hands before/after entering the booth, or even just as they wandered by. Everyone appreciated that.

Observations

  • I have no expectations for this weekend. None. I mean, how can you? Who knows who will show up, or if they will have money in their pocket?
  • I found this event because my original event for this weekend in Morro Bay, CA was canceled on June 1. I scrambled & followed my friend Delinda back to Prescott because Arizona is open. Delinda had been there for Memorial Day; I stayed home then. But, no more.
  • I was very fortunate that some good friends had recently moved to Prescott, and invited me into their home for the weekend. Not only was the lodging free, but they cooked for me, too. This was not only incredibly kind, but allowed me to do this event with much less financial risk.
  • Vendors were required to wear masks. Vendors had to pass a health check at set-up on Thursday, and had temps taken daily. We were warned that if we were non-compliant with the masks, we would be required to close our booth. We were told that if the event was found to be non-compliant, it would be closed by the county. We live in an era of threats.
  • My local friends connected me to a recent high school graduate to help with set up. He had a buddy … so I had a crew to set up. I love it when that happens.
  • In spite of the help, we didn’t get set up done on Thursday evening. A quirk of events on the courthouse square in Prescott (which is *lovely*) is that you can’t begin set up until the last judge leaves the courthouse. That was after 6p … we worked until dark, and then buttoned up. I had an early morning on Friday.
  • Friday, I couldn’t sleep so I got to the booth at 6a. Set up continued, with a brief pause at 7a for a mandatory vendor meeting where the threats were repeated. I continued with set up and was ready for customers at 9a.
  • Here’s a truth: dog walkers aren’t buyers of my product. They are out to get exercise, see the sights, and share with other dog owners. They never buy cutting boards (Oh, ok, there was this one lady … in six years.). Not my people.
  • One dog walker met another dog walker in front of my booth. The dogs were the same species. Or something. They chatted. They talked. One of the dogs pissed on my table cloth.
  • The dog owner, deep in conversation, barely turned her head for a pro forma “sorry” and kept talking. My table cloth now serving as a territorial marker for the rest of the weekend was unimportant to her.
  • Not. My. People.
  • It began to sprinkle about midday on Friday, and it eventually worked itself up to raining for 30 minutes. I had to tarp over my exterior displays and wait for the blue skies to return at 2p or so.
  • My biggest sale of the weekend was during the rain. I feel sorry for the vendors that close up when it gets wet outside. They just don’t get it.
  • Saturday was the 4th, and Prescott traditionally has a parade that’s a little slice of Americana in this rural town of 40,000+. The parade was canceled this year due to the virus, though, so no one knew how large crowds might be on this holiday weekend. They were good, but perhaps not great. There was a steady flow past my booth all weekend which had both locals and tourists.
  • The morning of the 4th saw some convoys of vehicles cruising through town with many American flags & much honking. The town leaders might have canceled the parade … but there was still a parade.
  • People carried flags around the square as well. It was very red, white & blue on the 4th. I appreciated that very much.
  • Masks are hot when you wear them for hours.
  • The vast majority of shoppers were masked. Some were not, certainly, but most people were following the directives that the governor of Arizona had given.
  • Did I mention masks are hot? I took to alternating between my various masks: I brought 5x styles with me. I preferred the gaiters, though the paper masks were good. I did discover that if I was setting up – working – I felt the mask limited my oxygen. I didn’t wear a mask when I was doing the physical labor required to do what I do.
  • New at this event were the Dip Servers, which were prominently displayed, front & center. I heard the Dad joke twice and was embarrassed I hadn’t thought of it myself. “Dip Servers … oh, this is for me?”
  • I did see a lot of hats & shirts promoting President Trump. Through the whole weekend, I only saw one Democratic sign. Truly, 99+% were pro-Trump. This is a conservative area, but I was still struck by the absence of visual Biden support.
  • Two ladies were wearing Q t-shirts, which caused a bit of a stir. People were asking to take pictures with them!
  • I can’t believe I saw more Q than Biden.
  • Please note: my selling of cutting boards is 100% non-political. So is this blog. I am reporting on what I saw, nothing more.
  • My handled cutting boards were again compared to paddles (sigh). I was asked if I had one engraved, “Make Kids Great Again.”
  • I do not.
  • I will not.
  • Definitely saw some price resistance this weekend, but, honestly, no more than I typically do. I wondered if there would be more due to the large unemployment numbers, virus damage to the economy, etc. Things seemed pretty OK for those that were shopping. And, I did sell the most expensive board in the booth, so there is that.
  • Saturday afternoon, I was processing a credit card transaction when out of NOWHERE, water started running down the roof onto my front table. Did somebody launch a water bottle onto my roof? Squirt gun war. HUH??? My table was soaked.
  • Come to find out, there was a pool of water trapped on the roof from yesterday’s rain. 24 hours later, the wind must have caught it just right, and I suddenly had an ill-positioned cascade. No boards were damaged, but it was freaky to have water just appear.
  • My worst day of the weekend was … Saturday, July 4th. That wasn’t typical of most other vendors according to my informal survey. My best day was Sunday. Weird.
  • But what would you expect from 2020?
  • Taking everything down was speedy, as I had 2 helpers + my hosts help me. I was more manager than worker, and we got everything back into the trailer well before dark.
  • On the drive home, I thought I would stop in Barstow at the Black Bear Diner … closed. Back to the reality of living in California.
  • In the end, I broke even on the weekend. The booth cost was relatively expensive. Event promoters are not giving a Covid-19 discount. The attendance was clearly lighter than prior years, I was told by many. There were fewer vendors, too … but sales didn’t rise as a result. But, I got out of the house, remembered how to set up the Trimline again, and went a-vendoring. I’ll take that as a win.
  • Request included a larger Cracker Thing, a Cheese Board/Cracker Thing combination, and a Cutting Board display stand (sigh). Maybe someday.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Pot Roast. Home cooking for the win.
  • Honorable Mention: Creamy Shrimpy stuff.
  • Worst Meal: Friday bagels that tried to get eaten after set up. They didn’t age well in my gear bag.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 882
  • Booth cost: $950
  • Total sales: $2,695
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 2
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 4
  • Friday alarm: 5:15a
  • # transactions: 35
  • # soap & lotion vendors: no clue
  • # woodworking vendors: no clue, but I know at least 2 others were selling similar things. The guy selling cheap, shaped boards made from Corian was there, too.
  • Edge grain vs. end grain: 36:3
  • Returning next year? probably not, if California is open

Boards sold: 39

  • Signs: 8
  • Cutting Boards: 4
  • Trivets: 4
  • Charcuterie Boards: 4
  • Dip Servers: 3
  • Cracker Thing: 3
  • Handled Boards: 3
  • Magic Bottle Openers: 2
  • Bread Saws: 2
  • Lazy Susans: 2
  • Garlic Dipping Board: 1
  • Surfboard: 1
  • Cheese Board: 1
  • Special Order: 1

Odds. Ends. The Rest Of The Batch.   Leave a comment

Most of these are single items that got finished after the main batch was done for some odd reason. The MBO just got misplaced. The Cracker Thing needed another end cut. The sign (I actually made 6) was one that didn’t get made when I “completed” the rest of my inventory of signs.

For whatever reason, here are 8 different kinds of items that just finished.

A few notes on the bread saws, as I made a very large batch of them:

  • There are 7 different kinds of woods here – Sapele, Hard Maple, Padauk, Purpleheart, Goncalo Alves, Cherry & Osage Orange.
  • My biggest injury in months was when my driver slipped and the bread saw blade went into my thumb. I actually used a band aid. These blades are sharp!
  • These pictures have the blade guards installed on every saw except for the one featured in the picture of the Purpleheart Bread Saws. Safety First!
  • A few of these Bread Saws have cord tied around the bow holding the saw blade. That’s how I identify left handed models.

The 900th Cutting Board   5 comments

I have a plan. I STILL have a plan. Pandemic, be damned.

The main way that I sell my cutting boards, serving pieces & such is by vending at craft fairs, street festivals, holiday boutiques … and even an occasional foodie event.

Until 2020 hit and all of those events – all of them – canceled. I haven’t had an event since January.

However, the nation is ever-so-slowly beginning to open up, and I have an event next week.

The plan is coming together.

When events started canceling, I just went to the shop & made more stuff. I always intended to build inventory in the first part of this year: I had big events scheduled for the 4th quarter. Last year, I had my biggest event ever, and sold 100 pieces at a single event. This year, I’ve already booked 5 additional, similar events with the same promoter. Plus I’m returning to the great event from last year, as well. Hope they stick.

The plan was simple: get ready. Build a LOT OF STUFF & put it on the shelf. Make it so replacing inventory is as simple as opening another container. That’s why I’ve built 105 Magic Bottle Openers. 68 Cracker Things. 147 Coasters … the list goes on.

Today, I add 15 cutting boards to the inventory, and that puts me over 900 pieces in stock. I’m ready to sell 100 pieces at an event … for a few weeks in a row.

Now, if the events will come back as they plan to in the 4th quarter, things will get a bit better. And, if they don’t … well, part 2 of the plan was the launch of the website, accomplished last month. If you haven’t checked it out, please visit MrMsWoodshop.com.

Now, here’s the newest eye candy. Or premium kitchen tools. Or, just perhaps, both. You buy one, you get to decide.

More

The 800th Cutting Board (6/12/2020)

The 700th Cutting Board (5/19/2020)

The 400th Cutting Board (1/28/19)

The 350th Cutting Board (8/16/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round (4/27/18)

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)

New: Tear Drops & More   Leave a comment

I’ve got this thing for boards with holes in them. They should hang on a wall, I believe.

Or perhaps not. I do understand I don’t get a vote on a cook’s kitchen decor.

At least, not in my home. But I digress.

I felt the need to make boards shaped like tear drops. Water drops. Whatever. They have a work surface that’s about 8″ in diameter. These boards would be perfect for appetizers for 2, I’m told. I think they are perfect for smashing & chopping the stinkin’ rose: garlic.

Can’t wait for people to buy these and tell me how they’re going to use them! I’m just the maker here….

Also at the finish line this week are a stash of handled boards. The larger ones have a 9″ x 12″ work surface, and a 6″ handle. The first 2 pictures are of smaller, squarer handled boards that have an 8″ x 10″ work surface.

The 800th Cutting Board   1 comment

Another milestone.

This pandemic has been good for almost nothing, near as I can tell. When all of my scheduled street fairs & craft festivals canceled beginning in March and continuing through October, at this point … I kept going back to the shop.

Every day.

When you’re a maker … it’s what you do. So, I did.

My total inventory is now, for the first time, over 800 pieces. And, for the record, I’m not stopping. I will take a pause soon, however, as I have an event over the July 4th weekend. The only problem … is I have to leave California to do the event. California is still closed, but luckily, Prescott, AZ, is my destination. To see all the current schedule of events for Mrs M’s Handmade & Mr M’s Woodshop, click here.

But, this post is the story of this board, which was actually a special order through MrMsWoodshop.com: a Father’s Day Gift! The order was for a large cutting board, made from Black Walnut.

There is nothing like Black Walnut; I love working with it, every time. Unfortunately, though, Black Walnut can be a challenge to work, as it’s very difficult to get good Black Walnut lumber in Southern California.

I’ve found.

I actually set out to make 2 of these large Black Walnut cutting boards, which would require about 12 board feet of clean stock. Unfortunately, to get the 12 board feet of finished lumber, I went through 20 board feet of lumber. Here are the boards for the 2 cutting boards that I’ve “picked & processed”, ready for glue up:

Those are good looking boards. The problem is the waste. For a cutting board, I need clean boards, free of knots, voids, bark inclusions, shakes and cracks. Here’s what that the process waste looked like:

The very thin pieces are normal waste from the edges of the boards; they get recycled. The larger pieces with knots in the middle will get cut into smaller pieces to remove the knots and will eventually be used … after I store them long enough to gather enough small pieces that I can make something with. Unfortunately, that saving process can take years, and I end up chasing buckets of small cut offs around the shop until I’m ready to start that process.

But I digress.

This is the story of one of my favorite boards: a large, end grain Black Walnut Cutting Board. This beauty is 16-5/8″ x 21-1/4″ x 1-1/2″.

And the normal finishing touches, of course:

  • Non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws for long life
  • Routed finger holds for easy pick-up
  • Finish is mineral oil, with a topcoat of Mrs M’s Board Butter
Cutting Board 20 – 508. Black Walnut. End Grain. Commissioned Piece.

More

The 700th Cutting Board (5/19/2020)

The 400th Cutting Board (1/28/19)

The 350th Cutting Board (8/16/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round (4/27/18)

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)

Custom Work   1 comment

I get all sorts of odd requests when I’m out rubbing elbows with people at craft fairs.

Ah, memories.

Some of those requests I bring to life, as you can see from the unique projects below. Some are personalized, some are just personal.

Boards can be engraved with names as gifts for yourself, for weddings & anniversaries, for real estate closings ….

If you would like to order a special item for a special someone, email me and we’ll develop the idea. Some projects can be accomplished relatively quickly (like the board with “Hall” on it; that can be delivered in a very few days as I keep the blank boards on hand). Some boards require me to buy specific species of lumber, glue it up, smooth it, carve it, finish it … and when I’m busy that can take weeks. Months, even. But whatever the time frame may be, I’ll give you an estimate in advance and will always keep you informed of where I am in the process.

So, what have you got in mind?

The Rest Of The Batch   1 comment

By the time I was to this part of my flurry of finishing, my hands were tired of vibrating.

Even with the best of hand sanders – which I have invested in – hours of sanding results in me, uh, feeling it. And as much as I don’t like that, I absolutely love getting to a glass-smooth finish on my cutting boards.

It’s one of the most satisfying things I do in the shop, truly.

The end grain boards are smoothed first with a drum sander that sands across the entire board in one pass, giving me a flat surface. Each of these boards was smoothed, top & bottom, with the drum sander. Then hand sanding began on both the edges and top & bottom surfaces of each board. 5 grits of paper are used: 80, 120, 180, 220 and 320. After the wood is smooth, then it gets oiled & waxed with Mrs M’s Board Care Kit.

There’s nothing like a hand-rubbed finish.

And, don’t forget … it is my pleasure to re-finish your board as needed. A cook will leave a knife mark or three over the years, and I’ll restore any board you get from the Woodshop to like-new condition. No charge. It takes me about 8 minutes, but you may have to wait for the right day when the shop is set up for finishing.

All of these boards are now available on the newly improved MrMsWoodshop.com. In the month of May, there are 2 special offers:

  1. Free shipping for all orders over $50
  2. 20% off everything, site-wide, when you use the promo code “MrMsLaunch”

Thank you for your kind attention. Now, with the boards finished, the photographs taken and the websites updated, it’s time to get back to the shop!

The 700th Cutting Board   Leave a comment

When the enormity of the “Shelter in Place” mandate sank in, I decided it was time to get to the shop & get to making.

And making.

Lost my head for a bit, I did.

When I begin to make a batch of things in the shop, I cut boards from several different species of wood into the right sizes, and then lay out the wood design for each piece. I call this picking and processing. That’s what I did.

And I got stuck there … so I did it a lot.

I actually had over 400 pieces in the shop in process at one time. And I know from all of the times that I’ve tripped or said a bad word when I had to move that pile of stuff AGAIN … having just 70 pieces in process at one time is a pain. 400 pieces … I’m in a small garage Woodshop. There’s only so much room.

Closed in, it was.

Difficult to move, it was.

Undeterred, I was.

So, now I’m on the other side. I’ve finished over 300 pieces; still have 100 Magic Bottle Openers to finish this week (which is a several day process, with multiple drying times required for each MBO).

Today, though, I can celebrate the rare air of accomplishment that has not been seen before.

I have over 700 pieces in inventory right now. My previous record was 400, which I first touched a little over a year ago.

The cutting board that I’ve just brought to the finish line in the flurry of finishing 300+ pieces in 3 days is a simple end grain cutting board made of Hard Maple. It’s 12″ x 16″ and is extra thick at 1-1/2″.

Juice groove? Check.

Non-skid rubber feet held on with stainless steel screws? Check.

Hand rubbed finish with mineral oil & Mrs M’s Board Butter? Check.

The unprecedented characteristic of this board are the the wedge-shaped ends which make the board easy to pick up. Traditionally, I make routed finger-holds on all of my cutting boards, but I’ve been wanting to do a board like this for some time. Will there be another?

No clue, I have.

Cutting Board 20 – 107. Hard Maple. Juice Groove, End Grain. 12″ x 16″ x 1-1/2″.

I’ve just launched the new & improved MrMsWoodshop.com, and there are 2 special offers that apply to the month of May. You can get free shipping for any order over $50. Plus! There’s a site-wide discount of 20% off when you use the promo code of “MrMsLaunch”. Don’t delay though, as the offers will expire on May 31.

Here’s a direct link to where this board is available.

More

The 400th Cutting Board (1/28/19)

The 350th Cutting Board (8/16/18)

The 300th Cutting Board, 3rd Time ‘Round (4/27/18)

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)

An Upgraded Display: Mr M’s Got It Handled   Leave a comment

I’m now going a-vendoring solo more often than I’m out with Mrs M. I normally double my booth to a 10×20 now. And with more space in the booth … that means I need to up my creativity to maximize each opportunity.

After all, I can’t just show up.

I have no clue what this year will turn out to be – for any of us. But I do know, when craft fairs, art shows, street festivals & such are once again happening, I better bring my best ideas to market, because I expect customers will be very choosy. Resources will be precious. I need to respect that.

When I set up my “standard” double booth these days, I put a 6′ table front & center, and then a taller 4′ table behind it. That results in good things for the look of the display.

That configuration, though, creates a 2’x2′ space behind the 6′ table that is wasteful. After all, I pay a lot of money to rent that space. How to fill it?

This is a common problem for vendors: how to fill the booth with a pleasing display. I’ve gone through several iterations for Mrs & me. Want to see our incredibly humble beginnings? Here’s booth # 1, from March 2014:

Mrs. M and Mrs. M, before they opened on their first day. Smiles on faces, and that is a very good thing!

Only one direction to go from there!

But, on to the task at hand … how to fill that 2′ x 2′ space in 2020.

After a lot of thinking, I had the idea. For me, that usually results in a high-faluting, incredibly complex plan on paper, and here was this one.

That’s 4 pages of planning! No wonder it took me months to get this built.

Note that I custom build all of my display pieces. I believe that reinforces what I do as a craftsman: customers appreciate that I make everything they see. It’s how I get the best possible display for the boards & games & such that I make. Your mileage may vary.

The final result is that I took those 4 square feet of booth space, and will now effectively display 36 handled boards! That’s far, far better than my old display for handled boards, when I just put them in a crate on a table, or hung them from the rafters so people bumped their heads on them.

Yes, it happened. More than once. And, I’m sorry.

Clearly, I needed an upgrade.

I actually have 5x different shapes that will hang from the display. For pictures of my current inventory, go to the links at the bottom of this page. For brevity, here’s a picture & description of each of the 5 boards that I have now produced for this display. Note that one shape comes either with or without juice groove … though in this shape, I view these groovy boards as having crumb catchers, not actually juice grooves. But that’s me.

OK, OK. I know. One of the designs just has a hole, not a handle … but work with me here.

So, now, to the design of the display. I had a few criteria:

  1. The display has to come apart for transport.
  2. Signage must be integrated.
  3. Flexibility is a must!

The display piece stands well over 6′ tall. The base is 22″ square and is on wheels. The tower rotates on a Lazy Susan bearing, and is built (probably over-built) to reliably hold more than 100 pounds of boards. Hangers are removable, of course, and secured to the tower with french cleats. 4 bolts attach the tower to the base, and 3 attach the sign on top.

3 boards are displayed on each of the 12 pegs. 4 boards will fit, but I’m keeping the display to 3 each for both brevity and to make sure nothing will fall while customers are fondling the boards.

These pictures were taken on a windy spring day (on the patio!), and the 36x boards cards were fluttering in the breeze. I’m going to tuck those cards behind the boards when I set up the display, just to improve the look. My customers appreciate the cards, the identification of the woods and the care instructions attached to the boards … but with a breeze, they proved to be a distraction.

Lessons Learned

  1. The tower, even with the holes cut into each side, is heavier than I had hoped. It’s primarily made from 3/4″ plywood … I should have used 1/2″, I think. Cutting the weight by 1/3 would have been good. I am debating whether to build a shelf in the trailer to transport this piece and other tall display pieces.
  2. The Lazy Susan bearing works, but the assembly is too heavy for people to turn it comfortably, I think. That’s OK. I’ll either assist the customers, or simply let them pull the “hidden” boards from the other side of the display to see them.
  3. Love the sign. Mrs M takes credit for the slogan. After 41 years of marriage … I let her take all of the credit she wants.

More

Getting It Handled

A Charcuterie Board

Handles Are A Good Thing

Mr M’s New Booth # 4 (Part 2): Going Vertical

Mr M’s New Booth # 4 (Part 1)

Mrs M’s New Booth: # 4

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×24 (# 3)

Mrs M’s Handmade: The Booth, 10×12 (# 3)

Mrs M’s New Booth (# 2)

Things I Learned At The Street Fair (# 1)

From The Shop: That Glue Problem   1 comment

It’s my least favorite job in the shop. I hate glue ups. Lamination. Whatever.

It’s a sticky, wet mess. And, glue flies everywhere. It ruins shop clothes. It’s all over my hands. It builds up on clamps … and that’s a problem. Get enough glue residue on the clamps, and they don’t work properly.

What’s a woodworker to do?

My solution for the past several years was to apply masking tape to the metal bars of each clamp for the width of the boards being clamped. That does protect the bar, pretty much, but does nothing for the clamp ends that build up glue deposits. When those glue deposits get mixed in with some wood splinters that come off of the work pieces, then you’ve got a real problem.

Plus, the bottoms of the metal bars are left unprotected. Wet glue flows downhill, and eventually glue will accumulate that will have to be scraped off. Or something.

My normal approach now has me “picking & processing” 50+ pieces, or “blanks,” at a time. I’ll generally do gluing for 2 days to get everything laminated … then I take all of those pieces to the finish line. I’ve currently got 44 clamps that are 2′ long, so I can typically do somewhere between 14 and 22 glue-ups, depending on how wide the work pieces are. When all of the wood has been “picked and processed,” and is taped together ready to be glued up … I will fill the available clamps in about 2 hours.

And, no, I don’t have enough clamps. Nor do I have enough space to store the ones that I do have.

An alternative to taking the glue off … is not letting it get stuck on in the first place.

Bates Glue Release won’t let glue stick to a surface, once applied. You wipe the watery, glue-looking stuff onto the clamps. If feels a bit waxy, and the clamps are definitely more slippery once the Bates is applied.

And the glue can’t stick.

At all.

I’ve used Bates for a few months now. Some clamps have gotten 3 applications, some just one. What’s clear is that the new clamps still look new. The Bates application doesn’t affect the glue already on the clamps … but no new glue will gather if Bates is on the clamp.

Bates is highly recommended. You can buy it here.

Tools for doing the actual glue ups:

  • Clamps, of course. I prefer Jet parallel face clamps
  • 1-1/2″ masking tape (I buy factory 2nds by the case for $2.68/roll)
  • A false top for my workbench so most of the glue gets left on the replaceable, melamine top. Glue will wipe off of melamine … but the build up will inevitably start!
  • Titebond III (my glue of choice; I buy 2 gallons at a time from HomeDepot.com) in a Fast Cap “Glu-Bot”
  • A rubber roller to spread the glue
  • A bowl of water
  • A kitchen scrub pad (I buy big packs from a kitchen supply store and cut them up for a usable size)
  • Paper towels

I follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on how to apply Titebond III:

  1. Apply it generously to one surface being laminated
  2. Spread a consistent thin layer over the entire joint
  3. Apply clamps
  4. Wipe off the squeeze out with a wet kitchen scouring pad
  5. Wipe off the watered down glue on the board with paper towels
  6. Leave the board in the clamps for at least 60 minutes
  7. Don’t machine the board until the glue has cured a minimum of 24 hours

Note that I have found that letting end grain cutting boards cure for 72 hours is actually better. Otherwise, water-swollen wood fibers will remain expanded while you sand. When they dry and shrink, your glue line will be left proud of the new, sunken wood surface. Better to go slower and let the wood shrink to it’s normal size.

And, one more pro tip: removal of dried glue from woodworking clamps can be done by soaking each clamp in vinegar for a few hours, then scraping the softened glue off. Just don’t leave the clamp in the vinegar too long, or you’ll take the chrome plating off of the clamp.

You can guess how I gathered that knowledge.

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