My Woodworking Blog
Archived blog entries are still available here:
Nov 27, 2006:
I also processed a truckload (literally) of sugar maple logs into turning blanks. I used my new sawbuck which made life much easier and safer - check it out here. A couple fresh coats of Anchorseal on the endgrain, and they're now neatly stacked at the end of the driveway waiting for me to rough them out.
Nov 17, 2006:
I also spent some time doing a little carpentry type work to build a sawhorse/sawbuck for chainsawing logs into turning blanks. I'll be documenting that with pics and a new web page this weekend (if the weather permits). I'm also starting to look at new chainsaws since my Craftsman 16" saw is showing its age and is a bit limiting in size. Chainsaws sure are expensive (not to mention they scare the bejeezus out of me in use).
I should probably build another web page to document some of the work I recently completed on a set of el-cheapo Harbor Freight turning tools. You can find a set of 8 tools on sale for under $40, and they're decent for a beginning set of tools. Since I'm lucky enough to already have a very nice selection of high quality spindle and bowl tools I used the HF junkers to fill holes in the collection. I ground the scrapers into shapes I didn't have (a side cutting box scraper, a double-dovetail scraper, etc). The small spindle gouge was ground into a nice detail gouge. I'm not sure what I'll do with the skews yet, but I'm eying a couple more scraper shapes. It's well worth the time to sand the rough lacquer handle finish to get a smoother feel for the handles. In the end they're going to be a servicable set of HSS tools that will compliment my other tools nicely with only a couple duplicates - all for $5 per tool!
Oct 23, 2006:
Since my last update I also managed to get the shop deep cleaned, so I snapped a bunch of new pics and updated my shop tour page. It's been a while since the last update, and quite a few things have changed. Since the place was clean my wife and I did a new inventory of all my tools so that we can update our insurance policy tool rider. Not exactly a fun task, but certainly a necessary one.
Oct 3, 2006:
On a more enjoyable note, I recently took a day-long bowl turning class with David Marks. You can read about it and see a few pics on this page. Twas a good time, and it got me even more excited about advancing my turning skills.
I also finished the book Turning Green Wood by O'Donnell, and I'm now working to get through about 50 old FWW issues I recently purchased. In reading these old mags it's readilly apparent how much "recycling" of tips, topics, and projects is done over the years. One good example is this sharpener from issue #1 in 1975 which clearly refutes that the new Jool Tool sharpener is an "innovation".
Sep 22, 2006:
I have noodled around a bit on the lathe. I got a few old bowling pins from a friend and turned a mallet. Quite fun! Read about it here, with pics too. I also managed to completely ruin a nice big spalted beech bowl blank. It ended up being very punky and cracked in a jillion places. Just couldn't salvage anything with my meager skill lever, so I used it to practice various cutting techniques. Created a bunch of shavings, and had a lot of fun even though nothing tangible came from it.
Aug 28, 2006:
Next on the list are a few picture frames. Not my favorite project, but they'll go quickly and they're generally easy to build. I think two will be painted and one will be made from leftover cherry. Details to follow as progress is made....
Aug 14, 2006:
The new lathe continues to be a distraction in the shop. I couldn't resist finishing a few bowls I had previously roughed out (see pics at the bottom of this page). I'm happy with the bowls, but I'm very excited about the lathe. I'm hoping to spend some more time with it when I complete the blanket chest, and I'm sure it's going to help me improve my turning skills.
I've finished Flexner's 2nd edition, and I also quickly got through the Beeksvoort Shaker book. Beeksvoort's book is a great reference for authentic Shaker pieces, and I was surprised how much decoration was present in the later Shaker furniture (apparently an influence from the Victorian age). Next up is Raffan's "Turning Bowls" book.
July 31, 2006:
I've been getting distracted by the new big yellow thing in the corner of my shop. I've turned a couple spindles for a windsor chair our club is working on, and I've finished 5 bowls that I had previously roughed out. In a word the lathe is awesome. I'm not sure my skill level justifies such an impressive lathe, but it's such a pleasure to turn on and I know that my skills will improve with more practice.
I finished the new edition of Flexner's Understanding Finishing book, and I'm trying to get through a stack of magazines before jumping into the Beecksvoort Shaker book next.
July 17, 2006:
I was able to get dados in the box routed, and the box is now glued up. I spent a bit of time cleaning up some of the dovetails with wedges and glue, but thankfully most of them were nice and tight and didn't require any repair. The carcase is also planed and sanded, and I patched a small knot that bugged me a bit in the interior. Next up is to make the base, trim moldings, and to dimension and profile the top panel. Oh, and a drawer too - drats, more dovetails!
I also twiddled with a few shop rearrangement issues that resulted from squeezing in the new lathe. Just the usual DC duct tweaks, moving a few things on the wall, and general clean up. I'm going to like the new shop layout, but I'm not quite happy with the new placement of the drill press. I moved it over between the dust collector and bandsaw, and it's new location is a bit close to a drain pipe from our upstairs bathroom. I'll need to address that space issue and also relocate the bit storage cabinet to be closer to the drill press. Details, details. It's funny, I'm still not quite recovered from the last shop re-org from when I built the Twin Twin Bench, and now I've got a similar issue once again.
July 10, 2006:
One of the reasons I'm not further along with the chest is that I finally managed to sell my old lathe, and so I took delivery of a new one - a Powermatic 3520b. Wow, what a monster! I picked it up from the terminal in my truck, and getting it downstairs was quite an event. I took it down in pieces, and the beds and headstock were still incredibly heavy even by themselves. Getting it assembled was equally fun, but I managed to get it together without throwing out my back or crushing anyone or anything. Running power to it was an exercise in frustration just because nothing seemed to go my way, but I finally got it powered up a few days ago. Having the variable speed is amazing, and the sheer mass of this lathe is such a big benefit. Believe it or not, the first thing I turned was a small spinning top about an inch in diameter. I had no bowl blanks prepped and I wanted to continue to focus on the blanket chest, but I couldn't resist making a few shavings. Can't wait to really test it with a big bowl. Pics and a full "review" will follow as I get more time with the lathe.
© Copyright 2006 Chris Billman