Archive for the ‘Valencia’ Tag

Coasters Are Back!   Leave a comment

2020 has been an adventure so far, have you noticed?

Making these coasters, I embraced the chaos. Not one set of them is symmetrical. That’s very unusual for me.

Like 2020.

So, you can get chaotic sets of 4 similar coasters … or you can go for it, and get 4 coasters, all with different designs, that just belong together. You get to choose!

I launched the new & improved MrMsWoodshop.com yesterday, and have been very encouraged by the compliments and, frankly, the sales generated. You can now buy directly from the website, and these coasters are available there.

2 special offers are happening through the end of May: free shipping for any order over $50, and a first-ever promo code that gives you 20% off of your purchase. Just enter “MrMsLaunch” as you check out. Both of these offers expire on 5/31 … and I promise I won’t offer the 20% off site-wide discount again.

If you would like to go directly to the page with these coasters, here’s your link. Enjoy!

MrMsWoodshop.com: A Fresh Look   Leave a comment

I’m relaunching MrMsWoodshop.com as a shopping site, so you can now buy the things I build in the woodshop directly.

But wait, there’s more!

As I relaunch the website, I’m offering free shipping on all orders over $50.

Free shipping is free.

Plus!

I’m offering a discount on the things I sell for the first time ever. You’ll save 20% off *everything* with this discount code: MrMsLaunch.

Here’s the link to MrMsWoodshop.com. Enjoy!

But, don’t dawdle! The discount is only offered through May 31, and I won’t repeat this offer. Ever. Promise!

On this site, you’ll see several posts over the next several days with a LOT of new pieces that have just made it to the finish line. I’m headed to the shop today to photograph the 270 new pieces (!) that have just been finished.

And, there’s more to come … I have 100+ Magic Bottle Openers that are just waiting for me to add that bit of magic for them to be done, too. Oh, and I’m not going to stop there. Much, much more to come from the Woodshop!

Thank you for your continuing support & interest in what I do. I appreciate it!

Posted May 15, 2020 by henrymowry in Selling, Woodworking

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Signs: A Big Batch   Leave a comment

Before the world went to hell, I got an order for a bunch of signs. There’s a small string of west coast galleries that likes my work, and they’ve placed a few orders in the last few months, which is great.

Then, as I was saying, the world went to hell. The galleries are now closed, of course, and these signs are waiting … for the world to want to go out and find a cute little boutique that has some great stuff.

That won’t be tomorrow, I’m sure. But next month? I hope so.

The majority of these signs will ship to those boutiques when they’re ready for them. Since I was making a batch of signs anyway … I added a few and made a BIG batch. 78 signs. That’s the biggest batch of signs I’ve made.

How long will they last? No clue. After all, I got notice from another event today that it will not happen. Maybe events will start up over July 4th? That’s my new target for people to want to go out, bump elbows, and see some fine arts & crafts in an outdoor setting.

That’s my target dream.

What’s yours?

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)

102 Tequila Gift Boxes   3 comments

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 annex 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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