Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Iron-On Veneer

Here's a simple technique for applying veneer to flat panels. I have used it with bandsawn veneer I made myself, with paper-backed commercial veneer, and this week I'm doing it with some camphor burl veneer purchased from an online supplier. 

These particular panels will be

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Foot-Actuated Shutter Release: My Take

Another post, another jury-rigged photography doohickey.

(Uh, that's not my foot!)

A few months ago, I bought one of these. I did it to speed up the process of taking photos for this blog. If I could stay by the bench and keep squeezing off shots as I photographed a woodworking process, it would dramatically cut the time I had been taking to frame a shot, set up the timer on the camera, trip the timer, run to my marks, strike a pose, wait for the shot, then run back to the camera to see if I got what I wanted . . . then to repeat all those steps for the next part of the process that needed illustrating. A year or so ago I calculated that photographing a process took 5 times longer than simply doing it.

The remote button works great! This particular model can also be used as a flash trigger, so if I start using a flash, I'll be able to move it off the camera. WAY off the camera, like up to 30 meters or more! I consent for you to upbraid me for buying a cheap, generic Chinese version of something for which the pros, who need the good stuff, pay much more. As William Hurt says towards the end of The King, "I deserve your rebuke."

My only complaint with the new gizmo was that I needed to perform the woodworking task to be documented one-handed, so the off hand could manipulate the camera remote. I vaguely thought about duct-taping the button to the back of my bench so I could lean in and trigger the shutter with my hip, but that didn't feel like a real solution. 

Then I saw this video by Frank Howarth. If you've seen any of Frank's stop-motion videos, you've been entertained. More than entertained; his stop-motion work is flat-out enchanting. I don't always appreciate his autodidactic approach to woodworking. This foot-actuated shutter release is a case in point, and to his credit he points out one or two of the problems with his approach to building the pedal. And hey, Frank, are the roller bearings in your radial arm saw too tight?

However, the basic concept appealed to me, so today I got around to making my own version. Rather than CNC-carved plywood with a piano hinge and polyethylene foam spring, my version is made out of paper birch scraps from my last project, and the spring is a thin, flexible piece of birch mounted at an angle, so that the remote isn't squeezed or touched until my foot presses it. It worked like a charm on my first try, and I don't think I'll be changing anything about it until I have to.

The rest of this post is a sequence of photos showing how I made it. I endorse this little trick; it's a lot better than my light-mounting jury rigs.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Pruning Works!

These photos were taken yesterday as I split potential chair parts from the butt log of a northern red oak. The tree had just been felled, and had grown up in somebody's yard. It was almost exactly the same age as I (slightly north of 50), and in one of the short pieces I split, I found a branch that had been pruned off when the tree was about 25 years old. These pictures tell a story (I hope)!

The photo above shows

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Trees With Personality

I love trees. It doesn't strike me as incongruous that a woodworker would love trees, although some of my non-woodworking, tree-loving friends have commented on it, and some of my woodworking associates are at times taken aback by my enthusiasm. You see, I don't just love trees in the abstract, as most woodworkers do. Who wouldn't love the very idea of huge plants that make a material like wood to hold their leaves up in the sunlight so they can photosynthesize: a material that we can use to make furniture, utensils, tools, paper, houses? Yes, that's wonderful.

But when I say “I love trees” I also mean individual trees, as individuals. Walking in the woods of northern Wisconsin yesterday I ran into a bunch of trees with great . . . personality is really all I can say. Some of these trees I have known and loved for years; others I encountered for the first time on yesterday's walk. So I tried making a few portraits. Click through to see some of yesterday's images.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tormek On Sale at Highland Woodworking

EDIT: As of yesterday, February 21st, these are SOLD OUT

I make no secret of my longstanding connection to Highland Woodworking. Since 2000, I have taught classes there, and for a while I wrote some of the copy for their catalog. I have an obvious financial interest in their continued success.

So with that big, clearly-stated proviso, I am going to share this: Highland is clearing out their last few Tormek T-7's. They have been selling for around $650 and they're getting rid of them for $499. 

I have had Tormeks on and off since the 1990's. I have an on-and-off relationship with them. Currently I'm "on." 

I won't make this into a pro-con essay on the Tormek's merits and flaws. I'm just passing on the information that this machine, which is very seldom discounted, is on sale until the stock runs out.

I'm also passing on this information: when I bought mine, the diamond stone-truing jig and the horizontal tool mount were sold separately. Both are included in the package with this deal.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wall Shelf Build-Off

I think of Chris Wong, of Flair Woodworks and Time Warp Tool Works, as one of a very few people I have interacted with online whom I feel I'd consider a real friend if I met them in person. Lots of folks I've only encountered online provide valuable information, or giggles, or inspiration. In addition to his design sense, industry, and craftsmanship, Chris conveys a strong sense of humanity, kindness, and likeability with his online presence. 

So I was delighted to see this on my Twitter feed:

I participated in #SSBO two years ago and had a great time; in the process I built myself a piece of shop furniture which is not only supremely functional, it's also the envy of my woodworking buddies. In fact it's out on loan right now, in the shop of a budding young carver.

Here are details about #WSBO:

As luck has it, Ms. Lee and I are updating the master bath at Chez Lee, and we could use a wall shelf as we button things up. A wall shelf to coordinate with a frame we need around the wall mirror . . . so there's a chance I'll participate in this Build-Off, too. We'll be brainstorming this weekend, to see if we come up with anything worth entering. Ian Kirby comes to mind; we'll see what Ms. L. thinks.