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Building a Prototype Dust Hood for Sliding Mitre

sliding mitre dust collectionFor those of you who have chop saws or sliding mitre saws and are not happy with the poor (if any) dust collection capabilities of your system, this article is for you. For other information related to this topic, and to see where I got my inspiration for this project, check out the Forums on woodworkweb.com - Dust Collection section, to read and see pictures of what others have done.
For my saw, I am for ever cleaning up the dust, and even though it has one of those "industry standard" dust collection socks, that actually do (barely) work. I did not want to build a honking large dust collection hood around the saw, but rather something small that would be efficient in dust collection. I have seen the pictures and read the reports from others who have made similar adaptions so this would be my prototype to see if, and how well something like this would work on my saw.

One of the great things with doing prototyping is that you learn things you might not have otherwise discovered and confirm other things you suspected  ...

Building a Project Assembly Jig

assembly jigFor most of us who work alone in our workshops, having another set of hands to help hold things would be a pleasant addition. A short time ago I saw a picture of something called an assebly jig, then I looked for more and found all sorts of different versions and most of them looked like a great thing to have in the workshop to help hold projects when you need to work on them and you already have both hands busy.
I alwasy like to try and make jigs that can be worked in more than just one configuration and this version is no exception. I decided that a jig that could work standing up and on it's side would be ideal for almost any occassion, so rather than put a side on the jig, I left it open, knowing that if I needed to make the base more stable, I could easily add a piece to do that at any time, and remove it quickly and easily if needed.

The first thing to find was the lumber and I have lots of scraps around that are perfect for this. I used 1/2" baltic birch for the base and for the uprights. It's very stable and nice to work with. There really isn't too much to say about the cutting and the assebly that it's pretty straight forward in the video and the project is a simple one to make. I think I took me about 4 hours and much of that time was setting up machines and routers to make sure I had perfect corners, edges and that the slot I was cutting for the center would fit the T-Bolts snugly. I'm looking forward to using this little jig in the future ... it should make woodworking much easier going forward.

Working with Laminated Colored Woods

lamiante woodColored, and laminated woods have been on the market in one form or another for quite a number of years. They are often used by wood turners for making high quality colorful pens, wine stoppers, pool ques and other smaller items. If you think of colored plywood, that is what would describe colored laminated woods. The difference is what is used to laminate them together and there are a few products, some of these lamination or glues allow much of the natural characteristics of the wood to remain unchanged. This means these laminated pices are water resistant, but not really water proof. If you submerge them in water, the wood laminates will absorb water, expand and essentially come apart. Other version use more water-proof methods that means the woods are more water proof, but there is always the element that we are dealing with wood and even the best coatings are still covering wood that can absorb water ... eventually. I was excited to get stated on this project, something I have wanted to do for a long time and when my order arrived from webbwood.com I was all ready to go.

Because these laminate woods are similar to plywoods they are not ideal for those of us who prefer to use flat wood, as in cabinet, box, chair, shelf, table and similar kinds of flat, square projects. These laminate woods look best when they can be integrated into curved, rounded or coved kinds of cuts. It is only in this way that the true colors and laminations can be seen an appreciate, not unlike what wood turners do when they make round things on their lathes. For some time I have wanted to see what kinds of projects can be made that we can use to as features or other elements in our flat wood projects. Things like door handles, door knobes, hinges, design elements in chairs and tables, curved edge in fronts and other similar ideas.

Having never worked with this kind of wood today, naturally I jumped into something I have never done before - make a knife handle ...

Making A Kitchen Knife Block using Bamboo Skewers

kitchen knife blockI love innovative ideas, especially when they can enhance our lives, and what better place to do this than in the kitchen. I wish I could take credit for this neat idea, but I suspect it has been around for many, many years it countries where bamboo grows quite prolifically, and has been in use for a variety of building needs for centuries. Building this knife block has been on my list of things to do for about 2 years. So much so that I even went out and purchased (what I thought) would be more than the correct number of packages of bamboo skewers to build this unit. That shows you how wrong I can be sometimes - I had to go out 2 more times to purchase more. The block that I made has take about 20 packages of bamboo skewers. Next time I will be a bit more careful on the size.

To start off, I search through my somewhat extensive collection of cut-off pieces of wood and came up with a few likely suspects. One piece that I like was both figures and somewhat spalted, and it was even a live edge piece. I decided to plane it down enough to see the grain and then to determine if I would have enough wood left if I were to split it into 2 halves, which in fact worked out fine.

Finishing Tips and Techniques

finishing woodFor new woodworkers, and even some of the more seasoned ones, finishing their woodworking project can be agony. It certainly was for me for many, many years. It seemed no matter what can of varnish I purchased, the projects that I worked so hard to make them as perfect as I could, ended up looking like crap after the finishing was done. I always read the directions but never really had much success, in fact sometimes woodworking got very discouraging when I seemed to be able to predict that the end project would look like.

Then I met someone who began to give me some finishing tips and techniques. I started to realize that my impatience with the finishing step was part of my problem. I could make a furniture piece in a few days, then it would take a few more days just for the finishing. Waiting for anything to dry ... for me ... is pure agony, but as I started to see some real changes in my finished, I began to have much more patience.

He taught me a number of steps that I still use today, steps that help me not only in the build, but also in finishing. Here are the steps that I learned

#1 - Think about what you want your project to look like when it is done and what will it be used for. Knowing what I want my project to look like was a big step for me. Often I would pick a species of wood at random and build something with it, then think about what I was going finish it with.

Building and Arts & Crafts Style End Table

 I have always loved Arts & Crafts (A&C) style furniture. I love the dark colors and the bold, simple designs. I am particularly fond of the Gustav Stickley furniture and especially like the designis of one of his workers who, sadly, left us at an all-to-young age of only 51, of heart disease, and that was Harvey Ellis. He only worked for Stickley for 7 months but during that time he was clearly in his element of design and produced some timeless furniture creations are are still being duplicated today.

The piece I am making is a more modern re-creation of what and Arts & Crafts piece in what the 21st century would create with the addition of the storage / magazine rack under the table, making it far more useful while still retaining the design elements of  A&C. I have had the good fortune to see a very few original pieces of the Stickley furniture and have been able to do some reading about their methods and have a bit more knowledge in how the factory made their furniture and what methods they used.

 

My version of this table is 21 inches high, by 14 inces wide and 20 inches long. The legs are 5.5" x 1.5" laminated boards for both strengh and stability. The storage area is 1" off the floor and is comprised of dado lwer of 2" x 3/4" and a dado upper of 1.5" x 3/4"  and pickets are 1" wide by 1/3" thick a,d 5" high.    Apron pieces are 3" x 3/4"