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Latest update: 03.05.2018
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03.05.2018 Some "new directions..."

Sorry... it's been a while... too long. Here's an update or three

I've obviously modified the Woodshop page a lot to try to make navigation easier. I hope it helped.

In the past months, I've gotten interested in some new turning techniques... fascinated by clear or colored-acrylic epoxy casting with embedded objects.
There is such a wide range of things you can do with that medium and I've got some great ideas in the planning stages.
That direction, of course, required hundreds of dollars of new hardware such as a vacuum chamber for stabilizing punky wood and a pressure vessel for squishing embedded bubbles in acrylic castings.
... which, of course, required the addition of a small toaster-oven for the stabilization chemistry and a vacuum pump for the casting process.

Which, of course, led me to realize that a vacuum chuck was sorely lacking in order to reverse-chuck bowls with natural/bark edges and other shapes that just don't work with other kinds of gripper chucks.

So, lots of new hardware and other stuff for the casting and stabilization processes, too.

Late last year, I made some interesting earrings for my wife and for a November craft fair. They were well-received and relatively easy to make, although each one probably requires more than a half hour of work from the first cut to the last polishing step. We'll see how attractive they are 'to the marketplace.' Since there are quite a few 'copies' of the screwdrivers and earrings, I may take another shot at Etsy to see how those items do.

07.02.2014 New workbench update and some 'inventory'......

The new roll-about 'bench' is now full of sanding tools, drills, jigs and more...

And behind and surrounding it, there's some "inventory" I've collected over the years...

...And these photos don't even include the rack in the garage... Time to Get Turning!

Which, fortunately, I've been doing,
as shown in the Burled Cherry-wood stoppers recently added to the "Gift Shop" listings.

(See Stoppers #72 through #94, so far ...)

06.24.2014 Sorry, it's 'been a while.'

No biggie, just bariatric surgery, knee surgery and a bleeding ulcer, all peppered around last winter and spring. But I'm fine now and more 'back in the shop' than before, and more than 100 pounds less of me than last March.

That bench now has drawers, full of sanding material, drilling tools, some jigs and more. (And is right-side up on its own casters, too.)

The 'rack in the back' is now pretty chock-full of wood I've collected over the past year, from friends, neighbors, raffle winnings at the Club, plus trees I've pruned around the house and from a kind neighbor who let me have a bunch from one or two of the trees he thinned out of his back yard.

And then some burled cherry became available at a somewhat-nearby lumber yard, so I scarfed up a few of those. Sold off a few of them and was gifted with two nice off-cuts which I band-sawed into candidates for many bottle stoppers. The big pieces are drying in my shop, looking forward to becoming bowls or other items.

I have reached the point of 'turn or else don't get any more wood!' All of my indoor storage areas are full and I suspect the few pieces outdoors are lost to splitting or insect damage. One nice piece of birch looked like it would produce nice spalted patterns but ended up so punky that I just had to toss it after rough-turning two pieces from it. Maybe better luck with the other three logs still weathering outside my shop door, but more likely to be recycled back to nature in the forest behind our back yard.

I also tried reshaping some turning tools and ended up with several that need re-re-shaping.

02.27.2013 Lots more done...

Wheels on, nearly straight and level, too!

Started mounting drawer slides into the unit...

Then enjoyed fun figuring out how to find nice wood for the bottoms, backs and fronts of the drawers. Discovered that two so-called 1/4" Baltic ply sheets come close to the thickness of the "sort of 5/8" " melamine sheets I got to go with the Blum slide kits, and unearthed another sheet of melamine that took care of two drawer fronts. Added a total of five drawers to the bench and discovered that, when snuggled up against the new wood rack in the back of the shop, I can still slide the band saw between it and the table saw! Wheels are great.

Filled up several of the new drawers with sand paper boxes, drill bits and accessories and the like.

Scabs finally came off my shins in the shower the other day. Healing is progressing well.

"Discovered" that the "tiny bowls" I've been turning are "actually" Salt Dishes, so now I've got to rename and remodel those pages and parts of the catalog accordingly. That, by the way, was after I'd finished three small bowls like them.

01.16.2013 Got the wheels on the workbench and hauled it up onto the table saw to put drawer hardware in... Only skinned some shins in the process.

01.15.2013 Here's the new storage rack in the spot the old bench was in...

Now all I need to do is figure out what to do with the stool that lived under the bench
and what to do with the bench itself.

I'm thinking of putting wheels under the workbench
and putting it in the place of one of the storage benches on the right side of the shop.

"We'll see..."

01.14.2013 Some remodeling for my shop, and about time, too ...

This is a "before" photo of that back corner...

I moved boxes and boxes of various kinds of wood and other supplies I've bought and collected over the past two years or so "out of the way" from the back corner of the shop.

Then I dragged the second workbench I'd built a few years ago out of the corner and assembled the second metal shelving unit (like the one I'd assembled in the garage... see below... into that corner.

Finally, I schlepped the many boxes of wood and other stuff back and arranged it on the metal frame shelves. One thing I discovered is that, YES, I DO have a LOT of wood ready for turning, and outside of accepting gifts, should not buy any more wood of ANY kind until I process a LOT of my "raw materials inventory."

Which should be good for many months of turning...

This also let me rearrange some other stuff on the closet-type shelf above the new wood rack and empty a dozen or so cardboard boxes as well as several plastic storage bins. After I clean them out, the plastic bins will be great for future "finished goods inventory" and porting it to craft fairs.


01.11.2013 Workshop wood storage migration and testing the new log-slicer ...

Spent some cardio time moving the shelving unit box from the garage to the workshop, followed by moving some of the large sliced logs from the shop back to the garage.

The large logs I'd sliced lengthwise long ago were much lighter than I'd expected. I guess they'd done a good job of drying in the shop over the last year or more. They also were trapped on top by boxes and on the bottom by the cement floor, so their drying was kind of plugged up by those layers and lots of fungus or mold developed on the ends. That should provide some good spalting!

Here's the corner where the logs lived, and that's where the metal storage rack, like the new one in the garage, will go.
You can see the Big Logs at the bottom center of the photo.

With those two moves done, next on the list was to give the log slicer "holder" a few trial runs. The first few were so easy that I ended up slicing a bunch more pieces lengthwise... two that had been sitting on the trailer outside due to insect infestations, then a bunch more from the new rack in the garage.

Here are a bunch of photos of logs "before and after slicing" plus the holder, again.

Here are some more before and after shots of logs I sliced today...

01.06.2013 Garage Wood Storage Cleanup! ...

For several years, I've been stacking turning wood that I've gathered from neighbors and neighborhood curbside discards in my garage.

At first, loading them onto a cart I got from Lowe's some years back. Just sitting there, squashing the tires.

Some more months ago, I picked up two storage rack units from Lowe's and they, too, sat in the garage taking up space. Well, this past week I moved some of the wood around the garage and having tossed out some junk crowding that garage bay, I realized that I had room for the storage unit!

Even better, using one of my lesser-known super-powers, I estimated that all of the wood piled up on the cart and on the floor of the garage would neatly fit onto the shelving.

And, as usual, I was right. Only thing I missed was the "before" photo of the cart piled up with and surrounded by my "garage-wood collection."

Here's the now-empty cart and the rack with the collection loaded on it ...

A second project I put together in the past week was copied in concept from a magazine... a holder for large logs so you (I) could chain saw them lengthwise.

Next steps, started Saturday, is a rearrangement of my shop itself so I can assemble and install a similar rack in the back corner to store the mass of wood I've bought over the past two or so years (!) for turning! I carted boxes of blanks and rounds to the "balcony" in my shop; next will come schlepping the unassembled rack box to the shop and moving some of the LARGE pine logs to the garage (or fire pit). Then move the table currently in that back corner out of the way to make space for the rack. Then refill it with the really good turning "source materials." That should keep my muscles and joints aching for several weeks, at least!


12.30.2012 Happy Impending New Year! ...

I've found a new design and construction technique or two for wine bottle stoppers and out of one of them created a new way to assemble and laminate up contrasting woods for stoppers. And maybe for the "icicles," too. That will probably entail creation of another new "Family" selection on the Catalog page.

Looking around my shop, I also found a plastic funnel-mouth attachment for my big dust collector which I thought might mount well on my lathe table. By positioning it behind the lathe, it should be able to suck up sanding dust as I finish items. A few innovations and it passed its shakedown cruise with flying colors. It will mean that much less dust floating around the shop for the overhead dust collector to try to trap. And hopefully less settling down on everything else around!

I may try connecting it to my small shop-vac, too. If there's enough suction, the shop-vac combined with the Dust Deputy cyclonic collector/separator might even replace the wall-hanging "central vacuum" dust bag system, and the added wall space would be greatly appreciated, too!

12.26.2012 Happy Holidays! ...

A great demonstration at the monthly meeting of our local Woodturners' Guild showed how to make some VERY interesting bowls. In a week or two, I tried my hand at a difficult "flat-square-cornered bowl."

Here is the result: Bowl 39!

Not bad for a first try, and I learned a lot about the challenges of making a turning like that "come out right."

Also delivered a bunch of gifts to some of our neighbors, including my famous chocolate chip cookies from my Mom's wonderful recipe plus some turned "Holiday Icicles" ornaments for the folks with Christmas Trees.

After a lot of procrastination and inertia, I also finished and shipped a corked bulletin board, commissioned as a Christmas gift by and to one of our wonderful grand-daughters. Dropped it off at UPS on Saturday and was a little puzzled by the forecast January 3 delivery date. A closer perusal of the shipping receipt showed that the planned shipping date was to be today, December 26! I guess they wanted to manage their "inventory" so earlier shipments wouldn't be impacted by us late-comers. I'm sorry I didn't take a photo of that board, since it was probably one of my best corner-mitering jobs as well as embodying a simple wall-mounting system inspired by the Z-Bar ® type mounting system.

I'd also created a simple jig to make it fast and easy to cut the wine corks in half, lengthwise, with my band saw.

09.13.2012 More Catch-up ...

Well, finally some recent happenings. Been busy with wife's situation and blogging, unfortunately, but now I'm getting back to the shop.

And some other activities, too. I recently visited Alan Leland to buy a lathe bed extension from him. "All" I need to do now is widen my turning bench to fit! And remove part of the top of the bench to keep the lathe at the right height. The total length of the lathe plus extension would hang over the ends of the current bench by a few inches. This will take a little engineering...

Then, just a few days later, a morning at Frank B. Penta's shop to learn about how to make turning tools and depart many dollars lighter but with a small treasure trove of items which will become hollowing tools, gouges, scrapers and such.

All that helped inspire me to actually molest some wood in my shop, and the new bowls and several other pieces were the result. Gotta vacuum up the shavings again!

07.19.2012 Sorry-- Lots to catch up on...

See the News Link for just some of the "Family Goings-On..."

Yep, it's been "busy" here for a few months and I've had just a few hours in the shop since it all started with my comment, "WTF is THAT?!"

In the interim, I met a wood-turning neighbor, Jeff, and he invited me to a meeting of the Wood Turners Guild of North Carolina.

It was a blast! Great people and a monthly lecture by knowledgeable and expert people in the field.

They have a raffle of donated wood, tools, etc., and a critique by one of the members for anything anyone brings in. I've won a raffle twice and brought some items for critique. One of the members even thought some of them were very interesting...this one for example...

At the last meeting, a member demonstrated some bowl-hollowing techniques. I ALMOST felt like I could give it a try based on what he showed. Another slide show displayed what happens to a LARGE hollow-turning piece when a "catch" happens and the work piece explodes in front of you. (Before and after slides, only, no "during." And then he glued it all together again and finished the piece!

Somewhat inspirational, plus wife feeling better and me getting on a sleep schedule that permitted some actual shop time for a change, and I finally finished off several pieces that have been hanging around for weeks, and started and finished several more. Back to the "What's New" page for those...

Winning some new wood at the auctions reminded me of how much I've collected over the past year or two in my shop, in the garage and under the deck. I feel like I will be actually turning more in the weeks ahead and learning more as I practice the skill and attend the meetings and lectures.

This is a Good Thing.

02.29.2012 Installed a real air cleaner yesterday!

All by myself. And here's a challenge... How the heck did I do it without anyone else's help?! The ceiling is about 9' off the floor. Almost ALL of the tools and items I used include:

  • Hammer
  • One small nail
  • Stud Finder
  • Chains like you see holding up the filter
  • Ladder
  • Pencil
  • Two pair of pliers: one "gas pliers," one "channel-lock" type
  • Electric Drill
  • Drill Bit (for ceiling anchors' holes)
  • Four hooks.
  • Ornamental chain links
  • What else did I use to get it up there?!

Hint: no ropes, chains or pulleys were used, although I did use a modified trick the ancient Egyptians used to set the Obelisks...

12.05.2011 First two orders ship out today! I'm thrilled!

I shopped Michael's Arts & Craft Store for things to decorate stoppers. I found some nice items that you'll see on the New Items Page soon.
I even might be able to offer a selection which could be added to a finished stopper. That should be interesting... and a challenge. We'll see.

I finished CH 39 and added photos to the Catalog Page. Then I realized I hadn't sanded it first, so I backtracked up that process tree and then polished it again. Much nicer.

Recently I discovered something about wood, too... or had it slapped upside my head: wood shrinks more sideways, or cross-grain, than it does "lengthwise," or with-the-grain. This showed up when the inlays on several candle holders like CH 23 and CH 24 aged a bit and the cross-wise inlays began to "poke out past the edges" !

I sanded the appropriate sides down flush and re-polished them. Much nicer, now. And a lesson learned about inlay work: keep the grain parallel or let the item "age" a while before final finishing.

12.02.2011 Orders are starting to arrive! Back to the workshop, quick, or my inventory will be gone!

11.30.2011 A few days ago, my next-door neighbor took down a large tulip tree (I think) in his front yard. While I slept in.

He moved all of the cuttings to his back yard wood dump, from which I'd rescued quite a few logs for my shop in the past. I discovered where he'd put them and fired up my trusty Husqy chain saw and got my aerobic exercise for November and at least half of December.

It went well on the stacks under my deck, including a lot of maple, oak and pine from when he cleared out a lot of his back yard's forest to make room for a large play set for his kids. Our agreement: if I want it and I can move it, I can have it.

I collected quite a few nice pieces that may become bowls, including several nice, large crotch-wood samples. I think what I'll do is rough-turn several of them and store them for spring. The rest will age under the deck where they're not exposed to direct sunlight but do get wet from rain, creating what I hope will be a slow-curing process for them. I also still have a lot of large pine and maple pieces from his last-summer clear cutting stacked on a garden cart in my garage. They seem to be drying very nicely with little cracking in that environment. Maybe I should bring more up from under the deck...

Have Questions?      Want to buy? email me:

Mail-to Encoder by Tyler Akins.

First rev. 11.30.2011