Archive for the ‘Valencia’ Tag

102 Tequila Gift Boxes   Leave a comment

I got a significant order last month. It was another collaboration with my engraver … and her client, as well. The cable network Starz wanted to do something nice – very nice – for the makers of their series Vida, which premiered its third and final season this week.

Clear Image Printing produced a lovely book about the show. Lavene & Co, my laser engraving partner, produced custom shot glasses, sand blasted & personalized bottles of Patron, and then laser engraved the lid of the custom wooden box that I made to hold it all.

The boxes I made were custom designed to tightly hold 4 shot glasses, the bottle of Patron and the commemorative book. I worked through 5 different prototypes, tweaking the design with the client to ensure it would be precisely what they wanted.

This was not a small order for my one man shop. I started with 600 board feet of 1/2″ Hard Maple. Now, typically, I have no way to store that much lumber at once. Fortunately (?), however, I was on an event break due to the Corona virus while working on this project, so I used the cargo trailer for temporary lumber storage as I was working on machining the 19x parts each box required!

The first thing to do is to break the lumber down from 12′ lengths into 6′ lengths that are easier for me to manipulate in the shop … and store in the 10′ trailer, for that matter.

I start with lumber.

Once the lumber was in the trailer – and protected from the rain that was on the horizon – then I was ready to start machining the parts.

102 boxes times 19 parts each equals 1,938 parts.

It’s all about the parts.

102 boxes times 4 shot glasses each equals 408 holes to be drilled.

Thank goodness for the CNC, which did these shot glass holders in groups of 4.

The box lids needed to be assembled first, so they could be engraved. That meant building them, then staining them, wiping them dry and getting them to the engraver.

Mrs M made a rare appearance in the driveway shop to help with the staining. That gives you some indication of how far behind I was when the deadline was breathing down my neck.

Then, I could start on the boxes themselves.

It was during a late session that things got, uh, exciting. That’s not good in the shop. Ever.

I was cutting the Patron bottle holders. They fit under the bottle neck to cradle it and keep the bottle from moving. I ran 10x at a time on the CNC, then had to cut them apart. That’s when I screwed up.

I made the cut, which was open faced (translation: no blade guard possible). The off fence side was not pushed through with my push stick; only the fence side was supported.

I’m not sure what happened … but I do know that one of the pieces was kicked back. That’s what got exciting.

Launch angle: about 30 degrees

Exit speed: 102 miles per hour

Elevation: about 5 feet

Throw distance: about 12 feet

Impact: spectacular

Here’s the piece:

You can see where the blade grabbed the workpiece, and then the straight line where the sawblade propelled it upward, forward, and straight into the light fixture at the rear of the table saw. It bent the metal fixture, and then exploded both of the flourescent tubes.

BANG! Glass rained down on the shop. She said, while standing in the driveway shop annex, “WHAT HAPPENED?”

That’s the dent in the fixture, with one tube now replaced.

Like I said, it was exciting. All my fault. So, clean up that mess, correct my Grrr-ripper so that both sides of the workpiece are supported, and get back to work.

Come to find out, I had to build and stain the box carcass, then stain the individual inner pieces (the bottle neck holder, the 1/4″ divider, and the shot glass holder) before they were mounted in the box. This was the only way to get an even stain coating on all visible surfaces.

Once the boxes were assembled, my least favorite part was upon me: installing 214 hinges and 107 latches.

After one very, very long night and a couple of long days, I was finally done. The boxes got picked up … and the client was very pleased with how it all turned out.

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.

Hot Stuff Needs An Air Gap   1 comment

I’m often asked if a Cheese Board can be used as a Trivet. Or a Cribbage Top. Or a Cutting Board. The answer, sadly, is no.

Not without risk of the heat from the dish melting the glue in the laminated piece, and, uh, deconstructing it. That would be a bad thing. A very bad thing.

So, I make Trivets.

Trivets are designed with air gaps so the heat can escape without tearing the laminated wood piece apart. That also makes them very light, unusual … and interesting to look at.

Or so I’ve been told. Some people like to hang these trivets on the wall. That works for me!

Chrome Or Black?   Leave a comment

I didn’t sell out of Cheese Slicers at my last event … but I only had one left at the end.

Honestly, at that point, it’s almost as if they were sold out. Only one means no selection was available: it was strictly take it or leave it. Variety is a primary driver of the Woodshop, from every perspective.

Variety it is. Not only do I have a wide array of new wood designs, I once again have 2 colors of slicers: chrome & black. It only seems right!

Once again, you get to choose!

I Did Bad   Leave a comment

It’s a common morning greeting among vendors … “we’re going to sell out today!”

I never think that. I know that if I sell out … I’ll have nothing for my next event. I don’t want to sell out, I think to myself.

Which is not right, of course.

However, at my last event, I certainly did sell out of Cracker Things … and that was bad. I could have sold several more: I actually had customers coming to the booth and asking for them by name.

I did bad. Very bad. I sold out of Cracker Things.

So, nothing to do but get to it. Dr H visited a couple of weeks ago, and he helped me make a bunch of bases for a new batch of Cracker Things … I actually had 95 bases in process! Only a fraction of that number made it to the finish line, though.

That’s OK. I’m no longer out of the item that customers ask for by name!

For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, that’s OK … here is a Cracker Thing, properly appointed with a wide array of crackers:

Each Cracker Thing is about 10-1/2″ long, and will hold quite a number of crackers, as you see. The sides are 2″ wide, so your typical Milton’s cracker (one of my favorites) fits very well, indeed. Most of the Cracker Things have a chaos base. The pieces that hold the crackers are often mismatched woods.

What would you expect from a Cracker Thing?

Doing Less Can Be Better   Leave a comment

I’ve got 6 sanding machines I regularly use. I know the woodworkers wanna know … so if you are a civilian, just hang on for a bit.

The six machines are:

  1. A Jet 16-32 drum sander, which allows me to smooth wide pieces like the Lazy Susans
  2. A Jet 6″ belt sander, perfect for smoothing rounded edges … I thought
  3. A Jet Benchtop Oscillating Spindle Sander – the only good way to work on concave curves
  4. Festool ETS EC 125/EQ … a Random Orbital Sander (ROS) … the 5″ model for edge sanding
  5. Festool RO 150 FEQ … another ROS, the 6″ model for sanding the tops and bottoms of boards
  6. Festool DTS 400 REQ, a triangular sander for reaching nooks & crannies
Here are the hand sanders I use, all by Festool. When I use them, they’re connected to a Festool “Dust Extractor” which absolutely minimizes dust in the air. When I bought these, my air got cleaner and my life got better.

Lazy Susans are cut on the CNC, which means that I screw down the work piece to the sacrificial board, then have to remove the tabs that hold the piece in place as it’s cut out. That’s done on the band saw … and then I have to sand the tab stubs smooth. Typically, I’ve done that on the belt sander.

And that was wrong.

With this batch, I’ve confirmed that I can avoid the belt sander altogether … as it leaves vertical scratches around the entire circumference of the Lazy Susans. Instead, I used my 5″ Festool ROS (Random Orbital Sander, or the ETS EC 125/EQ), and that removed the tabs nicely … and I didn’t have to then clean up the entire circumference of the Susan. That’s 4″ of sanding, instead of 55″ of sanding.

Oh, I still had a bunch of sanding to do, and I still sanded the entire circumference – twice – before these pieces reached the finish line. However, by avoiding the belt sander, I had an easier time of it.

Less is better, in this case.

Posted February 24, 2020 by henrymowry in Woodworking

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The Board Chronicles: Winterfest 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.

I’ve got a history with this event, so I begin cautiously. After all, this is where the Flying Dry Soup Canopy took flight … and crushed Mrs M’s Handmade. That was in 2018.

But I came back in 2019. I note Mrs M declined the opportunity; I was solo.

So, this is year 3. Once again, Mrs M has declined the opportunity to join me in Arizona. Something about her “job.” As if that could be important.

So, what will Lake Havasu City have for me … and in my first event in 2020, our 7th year as vendors?

New Ideas

  • The weather forecast for this year is (at last) wonderful. Blue skies & highs in the 60s on Saturday, with more of the same on Sunday … until a storm blows in late in the day. About time we have good weather for this event!
  • I feel like everything is new at this event, since I haven’t done any event in 60 days. And, I haven’t done this physical setup with 2 pop-up canopies & me solo since … the Simi Valley Street Fair in 2019, and that was 8 months ago. I feel like I have no clue what I’m doing.
  • And, yes, that is new.

Observations

  • The load in at 6am on Saturday was just like last year: chaotic. I was yelled at for being in someone’s way by 6:10am. And … I was parked partially IN MY BOOTH. She just didn’t like that I narrowed her path to the width of a bit more than a parking spot – that was clearly marked, and unobstructed by me.
  • Such is the chaos that is Winterfest load in. I emptied the trailer ASAP, and moved my Jeep & trailer out of the line of fire.
  • Set up, unfortunately, takes as long as it takes. These days, my full set up in a double booth takes about 4 hours. I had walkers after about 2 hours. Fortunately, they were primarily dog walkers, and they are not my buyers.
  • The event started hot, and traffic was significant a bit before my set up was complete. When I was done at 10am, traffic was good. Very good.
  • This event has 2 kinds of people in attendance: snow birds that winter in Arizona, and residents of Lake Havasu City … which are definitely weighted towards retirement age. Both have issues with my offerings: snow birds often have a need for me to ship to their home, because they are limited by the airlines for suitcase weight. Local residents don’t have that issue, but older people that are downsizing are not my crowd. People that cook & people with families that cook … those are my people.
  • I nearly had a fight break out over a Garlic Dipping Board that 2 ladies had their eyes on at the same time. It got a bit confusing, but eventually lady # 1 decided on something else, so lady # 2 got the GDB that she wanted. Meanwhile, lady # 1 changed her mind 4 times before finally making her selection. Eventually, her buddy asked me a question mid-transaction, causing me to lose track of where I was … and lady # 2 left, with me still having her credit card in the machine.
  • Oops.
  • She came back on Sunday to retrieve the card. And bought something else.
  • Last year, I met Mesquite Mary. She was an LA resident that was in the process of retiring to Lake Havasu City, where she and her husband have a 2nd home. There was a wonderful mesquite tree that they had to cut down … and she offered me the wood if I could use it.
  • Of course I could. She only asked that she get something that I made from the wood.
  • Of course I would.
  • But, come to find out, I couldn’t. The wood had laid out in her backyard for 2 years, and was just too old for me to use. Too many cracks.
  • I did give the wood to my buddy Charlie, and he was able to use the wood for turning, with cracks adding to the character of the wood. Charlie gave me a bowl he turned … and a year after I met her, I returned to Lake Havasu City with the bowl for Mary.
  • She was on the moon! So happy. I got a hug, even. Saturday was a happy day.
  • A young lady saw my Cracker Things, and didn’t think they were cute. Or clever. No, she thought they were bad ass. That’s good … but she didn’t buy one. That’s bad.
  • I met Rob Cook, who published Popular Woodworking in the ’90s. We had a great chat, and he complimented me on my work. Much appreciated from a real pro!
  • I started Sunday going walk about, and saw about half of the vendors. This is a chamber of commerce street festival … and it is *very* buy & sell. There is some handmade merchandise there, but not much. That can be a bad thing … a very bad thing … but in this case, the attendance is high enough that the event still works for me.
  • Thank goodness.
  • A Cracker Thing went to a party, I’m told. Don’t know anything about the party … but I do know that 3 ladies came to the booth on Sunday wanting to buy a Cracker Thing. Unfortunately, I had none. Sold out.
  • Sorry.
  • A couple looked at my Lazy Susans. We had a long conversation about the event, what they wanted … and how the event ended at 4 o’clock. The lady asked what my 4 o’clock cash price was for the Susan she wanted. I told her the price doesn’t change … still $80. She walked away.
  • Buy bye. My prices don’t change.
  • A couple wanted a custom cutting board for a wedding in a month. I turned it down … I have no time. No. Time.
  • T-shirt of the weekend: “I may be old, but I saw the great bands.” Made me laugh.
  • The event ended at 4 o’clock … and the weather began to turn. Clouds rolled in. Temperature dropped. Winds picked up a bit … and I knew I was in a race to get everything into the trailer before the storm hit.
  • I didn’t make it.
  • I was close. I was doing well, but I got to the part when I take the signs down when the wind started gusting. Signs hang on the walls … part of the weight that holds the canopies down. Wind. Gusts. I’m in a race. It got exciting at 6pm.
  • I won’t say I lost.
  • I won’t say the canopy flew … but it did hop. At the time, I had the signs down, but the mesh walls were still up, so there was a bit of a sail making the booth catch the wind. Luckily, I had some nice neighbors that leapt in to help, and with them holding things together for me, I quickly – well, as quickly as possible – dropped the mesh walls & collapsed the canopies. No more incidents.
  • I ended with 3 helpers, 2 broken fingernails (how did that happen?), booth hardware in 3 pockets, and a trailer finally loaded at 6:55pm. Finally.
  • The weekend was a success. In 3 years, this was the best one yet. That’s a great way to start off 2020.
  • Requests were for a TV tray, a custom counter top, shoe horns, smaller Lazy Susans (2 of those), Pegs & Jokers (on my list, honest!), a stamp dispenser, an English pub game called Shut the Box (?), and a wine rack.

The Food

  • Best Meal: Saturday night pizza from Rosati’s. Recommended.
  • Worst Meal: Saturday breakfast was 2 hardboiled eggs. I don’t love eating immediately after I wake up … and once the set up started, that’s all I did.

The Facts

  • Total miles driven: 612
  • Booth cost: $350
  • Food cost: $95
  • Travel cost: $505
  • Total sales: $2,590
  • # of people we met during the event from the producer: 0
  • Visits in our booth by a promoter’s representative: 0
  • Saturday alarm: 5:00a
  • Sunday alarm: 7:00a
  • # transactions: 34
  • # soap & lotion vendors: none that I saw in the half of the event that I walked
  • # woodworking vendors: none that I saw (!) in the half of the event that I walked
  • Returning next year? Yes. I left my first deposit for 2021.

Boards sold: 48

  • Cutting Boards: 3
  • Garlic Dipping Boards: 4
  • Trivets: 7
  • Serving Pieces: 3
  • Signs: 8
  • Cracker Things: 7
  • Charcuterie Board: 1
  • Lazy Susans: 4
  • Cheese Slicers: 5
  • Cribbage Board: 1
  • Pizza Server: 1
  • Bread Saws: 2
  • Sous Chef Boards: 2

Cribbage Is My #1 Game   Leave a comment

Cribbage boards are a top seller for me. That’s a wonderful thing … but it created a problem over the holidays. I sold too many.

So, I had to make more.

That solves the problem, pretty much.

The problem is that my inventory needs to be broad, my time is precious … and I’m yet to catch up with anything. I’m still behind with cribbage boards: I have 3 special orders to do, as well as holes in my existing inventory that need to be filled.

It’s always something. And that, my friends, is a wonderful problem to have.

In Search Of New Signs   Leave a comment

At most events, people tell me about signs that I SHOULD make. Usually, they’re wrong.

I make signs about Food. Family. And, Wine/Beer/Liquor.

That’s it.

I don’t make signs about pets. I don’t make signs about politics. I don’t make signs about how awful my wife is: I don’t lie. My signs are truthful, from my perspective. My signs are family friendly … because they should be.

I will custom make a sign for people; no problem. But the signs that hand in my booth are about food, family, & drinking. Good times. Good people.

That’s it.

These signs are replacements for those sold late in the year, plus a couple of new ones: the quotes from George Carlin and Ernest Hemingway.

All of these signs will be at my next event … in 3 weeks, at the Fresno Home & Garden Show. I hope to see you there!

The Rest Of The Stuff   Leave a comment

When the shop is humming, I make a wide variety of things.

Oh, I do most of my pieces in batches … I might make 24 cheese slicers at once, or perhaps 6 large cutting boards. But when I start a new batch of things, I typically do 50 or so glue ups (which takes a couple of days). Since some glue ups (what I call “blanks” before they are cut to final shape) are cut into 2 different pieces, I often end up with about 75 pieces being worked on in the shop at the same time.

One blank makes 2 Cheese Boards. One blank makes 4 Coasters. One blank makes 6 Cracker Things. Cutting Boards are always made one at a time, as are handled boards (“Sous Chef Boards”), Cribbage Boards, Signs….

I always like to take what the lumber gives me … which means sometimes I’ll find a board that tells me exactly what I have to do with that piece RIGHT NOW. That’s how the Black Walnut Charcuterie with live edges got made: I found the unusual and perfect board, and I had to make that singular piece.

Other times, something will happen that makes a piece fall out of the production cycle. Perhaps it has a problem that has to get fixed, I run out of time to get everything to the finish line, or maybe it just gets forgotten amidst the chaos.

It happens.

In any event, here’s a collection of recent pieces that made it to the finish line. To quote Bill Murray in Groundhog Day: “I’m versatile.”

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