Pragmatic Woodworker

别急今晚妈妈都给你The blog side of Great Lakes Wood Shop.Unlike most woodworking blogs, this one is primarily meant to show my foibles and successes as I continue to develop fine woodworking skills.Suggestions are welcome.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018.A Year.

The blog does not reflect it, but I did manage some shop time through the year.  The title is a comment on the bland blurry year in the shop I've had.

The bulk of my free time has been spent on getting the house up to snuff for future listing.  The world is full of enough folks posting badly done landscaping and crap carpentry hidden by drywall so I didn't feel the need to add to the noise on the blog.  I'm sure I'll post when the sign finally hits the front yard in the mercenary desire for a buyer.

I wanted to continue the tradition of posting my annual places of woodworking purchases. I never try to do an exhaustive list of everything bought.  Sometimes notes are added when something particularly interesting stands out.  The list is as bland as the title.  Maybe something more interesting will happen in 2019.

First, the big names:

Highland Woodworking
Home Depot

Then, the not so common:

CU woodshop in Champaign, IL
Owl Hardwood Lumber, Chicago, IL

Other online sources for the year

Peach Tree
Penn State Industries.
Brusso Hardware
Lost Art Press
Mortise and Tenon Magazine
Rude Mechanicals Press
Abe Books
VXB Bearing

There are two notable absences:  Lie-Nielsen and Lee Valley.  I even surprised myself when I went back through the files.  I guess this means I have all the tools.  :)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 A Tale Of Two Cities, And All The Stuff I Bought In Between

It has been my custom since starting this blog to list every (most?) vendor that sucked the yearly woodworking budget.  Even though I have not posted since February 2017, a lot has actually happened.

Let us digress for a moment.  Why haven't I been posting?  Two excuses come to mind.  First, it is time consuming and I seem to have less time for spend.  Second, the world has gone to video.  Everyone expects a Youtube channel and/or hours of live streaming every week.  Woodworking is an enjoyable hobby for me.  I want to keep it that way.  Also, I have the perfect face for radio and the perfect voice for print.  This blog about me growing in woodworking (and my other hobbies).  I do not believe I have anything interesting to actually teach people if I go to video.  Most of the footage would be of me sitting on a saw bench figuring the next problem.

Let us regress? Ingress? Ungress?  Mow grass?  Whatever.

Back on topic; where my money went in 2017.

By far, most of my money went to attending Handworks in Amana Iowa, and the Lie-Nielsen open house in Warren, Maine.  Warning to anyone from a big city:  All roads not an Interstate in Maine are two lanes (or less).  The residents all ride burros and Volvos--slowly--along those pathways.  That is a humorous way to say that it is a different pace of life in Maine.

We made a vacation of the trip to Maine, stopping at Niagara Falls on the way.  I Thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Here is the list of vendors that caught the remaining pennies.  As usual, no attempt is made to quantify everything spent, but I often add tidbits I thinks might be interesting.

The big five:

Lie-Nielsen  Picked up the honing guide, and a big arse pair of scissors as an impulse buy.
Lee Valley

Below outfits are probably familiar to most woodworkers:
360 woodworking
Lost Art Press
KlockitMortise and Tenon Magazine

Off the beaten path:

CU Woodshop
Hovarter vx20 Bought a second one.  Will detail in a future post.
Peter Galbert spindle caliper  Used it for the first time before writing this with great success.
Acme tools
Albany County Fasteners  Great price on some solid brass fasteners!
80/20 Inc.

The Garage Sale of the decade.  HUH?  Of course this begs an explanation.  A man died this year.  He was not known to me.  He lived a dozen  miles up the road.  None of this is remarkable.  What is remarkable is that the man lived into his nineties, and was a life long woodworker.  Over 70 years he plied our hobby.

I dearly wish I could have known this man when he was alive.  What a glorious opportunity it would have been to stand at his side and soak up whatever he cared to share.

I found out about him when the town had a garage sale weekend event.  My phone slowly blew up as word spread about the woodworker whose shop was being liquidated for crazy prices.  The man's retired daughter was trying to clean out the house and garage.  Things were going for a song--and she knew it.  But she wanted the stuff gone so she didn't have to deal with it.

All the really good stuff was gone by the time I arrived, but I managed to score some small finds.  An Atkins saw sharper than the day it was made, a full set of drill bits taped together in a coffee can and some other oddments.  I spent a lot of time walking around his shop, trying to get an idea how he worked.  All the big stuff was still there, bright SOLD tags on all of it.  I talked to his daughter to get some story.  Eventually I offered to help her heft and tote whatever was left; she turned me down as a plethora of neighbors had already stepped up to help.

A great summary of the year 2017 is experience.  The experiences in woodworking I've had this fine year are my valuable treasure.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

It Still Counts As Woodworking, Dammit

I'm part of Rustoleums Creator's Studio.  A recent challenge consisted of volunteering to test some Testor's products in a Valentine's Day themed craft.  Above is my humble submission:  The Love Train wine holder.

The assembly was done out of the scrap bin using pocket screws and dowels.  I won't go into more detail as the picture should answer most questions.

I'm now going to chew down a large tree with my teeth and then change the oil outside in the snow wearing only swimming trunks.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Nearly a Year in the Making

Last Spring I did a post about how the blog was not all I naively hoped it would be.  I have done a lot of woodworking and other stuff since then, even though the blog does not reflect it.

About the time of the above referenced blog entry, I started painting miniatures for gaming.  I was quite the gamer as a kid, but funds, and life got in the way of it for a couple decades.

I thought I would post a picture of a creature I finished painting a couple nights ago.

The woodworking isn't going anywhere, but as I said nearly a year ago, I'm going to include other maker type stuff I work on.  I can't wait to start my Steampunk rifle this Spring.

Without adieu, here is Spike, a troll:

Spike Saying Hello.
Here are a couple pictures with the flash engaged to really feature color and texture:

Start Before Stop Against Stop Before Start:A Blind Cohort Study of Woodworking Projects

First, I must apologize for the title.  It will (somewhat) make sense by the end of this post.  The purpose was to confuse Google to see if I'll ever be indexed in a scholarly article search.  Call it my intellectual rage against the machine for 2016.

The question posed is valid:  why do we, as hobbyist woodworkers, often start the next project before the current project is done?  To make matters worse, there are often several starts, before the first stop!

In a production environment it only makes sense to have all assets utilized to their fullest potential.  The constant flow of projects requires constant management to get all the square pegs confused with round holes (dark, cylindrical, 1 ech.) on the widget line.  Let's call that sentence my second intellectual rage against the bureaucratic machine for 2016.  Moving along.  The hobbyist is supposed to enjoy the process, not the product, or so the conventional wisdom says.

Too often I find myself getting into ultra efficient production mode (that's what it looks like in my head--the shop, not so much) when planning shop projects.  I recently had another one of those moments causing me to be more reflective on the approach I take toward this 'hobby'.

My main project is currently a Jefferson book stand, like the one appearing in the Woodwright's Shop.  The project has about eleventy-gazillion mortise and tenon joints; I'm closing in on about half of them.  So, to celebrate that milestone, I went and purchased more material:  Ambrosia Maple to do a modern version of the book stand, MDF to do a giant shoe box to store shoes (duh!), Cherry to do a high smallish side table, and some regular maple to do a large bookcase.

I had to save a draft of this post for 'later'.  In the interim I also bought some Poplar to make another six board chest because there is enough Ambrosia Maple left to make a cool lid for a chest.  As of right now the first Jefferson book stand is where I left it, but in the interim I did make the giant shoe box, the six board chest (sans lid, because, you know, the 'real' project with the Ambrosia Maple is not done yet), a glockenspiel, and several other little things.

Back to the original point of stopping, read finishing, projects before starting other projects.  I have to wonder if I'm alone in this, or is this behavior germane to the subspecies of human known as woodworker?

I have re-re-re-resolved to finish projects for which the material is on hand before starting other projects.  Right now that includes two Jefferson book stands, a large bookcase, the lid for a six board chest, step stool, a high smallish side table in Cherry, and containers to transport and store miniature figures.

If you stumble on this blog post in your net quest for better woodworking, please drop an opinion on the best way to handle projects in hobby woodworking.  Maybe someday we'll accumulate enough anecdotes to qualify as data, and thus a real study.

2016 Damage Control

Every year I make a post about where I spent my woodworking money for the year.  This is just a list, sometimes with comments; it is not meant to be a budget report, or purchase advice.  Simply stated, this is a yearly look at where my hobby money went.

The top of list this year is Acme Tool.  I purchased a drill press from them.  That is all I will say for now.

The rest of the list:  This year I purchased a lot of accessories from them.

Lee Valley.  I purchased more times from them this year than any other vendor, though all the purchases were in the 40-80 dollar range.  This is odd mainly because Highland Woodworking fills this niche for me.  I just needed more hardware this year and Highland is light on that.

Champaign/Urbana Woodshop.  They go by CU woodshop; neat double entendre.

Crucible Tool.  I purchased the dividers and have been using them quite a bit.

Both Rockler and Woodcraft were off the list last year.  However, Rockler opened a new store (Bolingbrook, IL) near my local Woodcraft (50 plus miles away) giving me incentive to hit both when I'm in the neighborhood.  I actually purchased sizable quantities of wood from both this year.

Highland Woodworking.  A perennial favorite.  Any Lie-Nielsen purchase not at a Lie-Nielsen tool event is made through Highland.

Penn State Industries.  A new entrant on the list.  Last year, from Acme Tools, I picked up a lathe.  Now I'm actually buying stuff to use with it.

Knew Concepts.  I know I have been remiss is keeping the blog updated.  I just don't feel the imperative to write often when there isn't much of an audience.  I got the 5" fret saw, I believe they call it.  I'm not exaggerating in the least to say this little tool has been a game changer for me.  I never knew coping could be so good.  I intended to write extensively about the saw but never got around to it.

Patrick Leach.  Pat is a bit of a victim of his own success.  He now does so much volume that the quality of every item cannot be vouched for.  My advice is to look carefully at the merch if you are buying at a show.  By all accounts I've heard, contacting him directly on his site is the same quality it always has been.

Store Supply Warehouse.  Long story involving a lot of hats and a need to store them.

Fastenal.  Another new entrant to the list.  I needed special metric parts for my band saw.  Fastenal and McMaster-Carr were the only places that carried what I needed, and Fastenal had them in stock.

And now a mention for the places where I get most of my 'instruction' in woodworking:

Mortise & Tenon Magazine.  I took one for the team when I bought issue one.  Who'd a thunk I actually would love this yearly rag?  Well, I do, and already ordered issue 2.

Though I have not listed it before, I again renewed my subscription to Popular Woodworking.  

I'm sure I have forgotten a person or two.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A Night Playing Free Mason

The following is basically a reply made to a post entitled Crucible Dividers on the Lost Art Press forums.  Why waste a good bit of writing?  EDIT:  Lost Art Press discontinued their forums the day after this post.  As far as I can tell the referenced thread was deleted before they archived the forum here.

Start here to read about the acquisition of the Crucible dividers.

I used my Crucible dividers last night in my design book to draft plans for an outdoor announcement board.  I normally use a set of miniature dividers in my design book because the scale is tiny compared to real furniture.
Crucible divider on top, my tiny drawing divider on bottom

What follows is my initial impression after the first real use of the Crucible dividers.

First off, when you close the legs together completely, they are closed tight.  I guess this is a feature after reading a comment on the Lost Art Press forums.  The only downside to the positive lock feature is that opening the dividers one handed from 'home position' is difficult.  I never carry dividers around in a pocket, so they are rarely closed all the way in my practice.

Once open, and the tension adjusted to your preference, the dividers are a joy to use.  Trite, but true.  For me, a 'joyful' use of something means it works without having to think too much about it.

The heft of the Crucible divider is just right for my grip.  Not too flimsy, nor too weighty; you will know reflexively when the weight is in your hand, or on the work.

Using the dividers is free from obstruction or distraction.  This deserves some explanation.

I have a few dividers with the wing swinging off to one side.  Flipping a wing divider to step out some measurement requires some fairly dexterous hand movements to account for the wing.  In short, you have to think about moving them.

[Note to self, edit this post to include pics of the other divider styles.]

I have another style of divider with the stem on top, like the grade school pencil compass.  They have a lighter mass than the wing compass, and the stem is handy to hold on to when you flip them.  However, the lower mass and round stem means that this style is almost always over rotated to the next step.  At least for me.  I'm sure stem compass experts will call me a dumbass and move on.

The Crucible divider does not have a stem, nor a wing.  The top of the compass is almost too easy to flip end for end and land on a straight line.  I had to teach myself to under think it.  A simple flip with three fingers is all that is needed for precise placement of the compass; two fingers in a pinch (pun so intended).  I believe with more practice only two fingers will be needed to effectively use this tool without thinking about it.

So, now you know why I say the tool is easy to use without obstruction, or distraction.

Now, for the downside.  Precise setting of these dividers is a tad more difficult than I'm used to.  I should note that I have the tension set fairly high on the tool because it is more important to me to keep the setting once arrived at than getting there to begin with.

I inevitably need micro adjustments when dialing in on half of something.  A wing compass with the micro adjust knob does a great job of this.  I'm sure I'll figure out a process with the Crucible dividers before too long.  Remember, this was written after one evening's use and I do not have any dividers of this style already.

Compared to mega-store stamped steel crap, and the flush used market, the Crucible dividers are a pill to swallow at $120.00.  For a high milling tolerance American made cottage tool, the price is a reasonable balance between Crucible keeping the lights on, and reaching as much of the wood working market as possible.  In fact I'll buy another one if the tool works out as well as expected.