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Sketchup: My Bluntest Tool.

Here’s the rough idea for rebuilding the arbour of our broken dreams.

Arbour 2014

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Sketchup. It’s in a world of its own, interface-wise, and not entirely in a good way. My pattern seems to be as follows:

  1. Decide to use Sketchup for something.
  2. Realize I have an old version.
  3. Install newer version.
  4. Spend half an hour trying to re-learn how to pan, zoom and rotate at the same time.
  5. Spend another half an hour re-learning how to draw a damn 2×4.
  6. Re-discover that’s easier to just delete an entity and draw it again rather than try to re-size it.
  7. Get more or less up to speed and eventually finish a primitive drawing that’s accurate enough to generate a Home Depot shopping list.
  8. Ignore Skecthup for another 8 months of so.

For accuracy, there should be a probably be a step 4a: Walk away in disgust, come back later when I’ve had more tea.

Anyway, this will do for my purposes. I can estimate the number of 2×6’s to buy, and have a good visual in mind when knocking this thing together. There will be bracing and blocking involved that’s not shown here, and the shaped ends of the rafters (if that’s what we call them) will either be more elegant than shown, or else just a straight taper as I did previously.

Myrtle Bowl

Here’s a bowl I just finished turning, made from a wood called Myrtle, probably the North American version. (There’s also a Tasmanian myrtlewood, apparently).

(Click photos to view larger on Flickr)
Myrtle Bowl

It’s a decent looking wood, but I did have some issues with it being a bit tear-out prone. In fact there are a couple of spots I just couldn’t get perfectly smooth, despite a brand new carbide blade and lots of sanding. Not sure I should blame the wood, but I will anyway, at least rhetorically.

Myrtle Bowl

I am happy with the overall shape. Once again, I could have gone a bit thinner in the walls, but I’m sneaking up on that goal, one bowl at a time.

Don’t Get Cocky

I’ve been making a couple of small trays for holding salt and pepper mills (for example). I made a prototype in pine, which went pretty well. Then I made one in walnut with my trademark racing stripes, and it went well also. So midway through the third one, I decided to pause and take a photograph of the work in progress, showing the process of removing the central material with the dado blades.

Trays in Progress

Trays in Progress



The idea is that after I get the 15-degree bevels on all four sides cut, defining the outer shape, I can then start defining the “inside” shape. What I decided to do to make that easier was to slice off a quarter inch strip from each side of the solid piece, allowing the inside material to then be removed as shown in the photo.

One small problem: right around the time I was taking the photo, I got that sinking feeling that I’d overlooked something critical. It seems that I only sliced off ONE of the two sides. Oops.

I could cut and shape another piece of walnut, but the odds of it being a perfect match are slim to none. That’s why you slice it off the sides in the first place, so when you glue it back together it looks like one piece again.

So I decided if I can’t anticipate a perfect match, I will just celebrate the mismatch and make the sides out of a contrasting material. Since maple was already featured, and I had a hunk of maple sitting right there, from which I had prepared the racing stripes, that’s what I went with. ┬áStay tuned, but as it sits waiting for the glue to set, it looks not bad.

But anything can happen. I won’t get cocky.

Front Hall Table

Finally finished finishing the finish on this small table for the front hall entry area of the house.

(click photos to view larger on Flickr)

Front Hall Table 1

The table is made of walnut with maple racing stripes for speed and agility. Standard mortise and tenon joinery was used. The finish is about 4-6 coats of Minwax Wipe-On Poly (more on the top).

Front Hall Table 2

The shape of the top is kind of a modified octagon. Octagons are a bit of a theme around here: there’s a small octagonal window above the front door, the front garden bed is octagonal. There’s even an octagonal planter (or small umbrella stand) pictured on the floor there in the corner.

Front Hall Table 3

I’ve been dawdling over this one all summer, nice to see it finally done.

Front Hall Table 4

Hall Table (Unfinished)

A small table for the front hall, this has not yet had any finish applied, and the top is not yet attached, but otherwise it’s done! Finally. I’ve been dithering over this one, both design and execution, for many weeks. This is its last stop in the shop before coming inside for final cleanup and finishing.

Hall Table Unfinished (1)

Lynda suggested the stripes would look better at the front, an idea I’m warming to. Don’t have to make that decision until I attach the top, though, which will be the very last thing. I do think the legs at the back in this view look a bit better facing forward.

Hall Table Unfinished (2)

(Click photos to view larger on Flickr)

Padauk and Holly Box

I made this small box (about 4.5 inches) from padauk and holly. The circle pattern was done on the lathe, then I spray-painted the whole lid. When it dried I scraped off the paint that wasn’t safely down in the circle grooves. Some paint stayed in the small pores of the wood as well, but that looked cool to my eye, so I went along with it.

Padauk and Holly Box

Padauk and Holly Box

Bubingapalooza

Bubinga and Holly Grinder
This is a small spice grinder, the last of the kits I got a while back. Saving this one for me, I think. I changed the shape a little from the other ones, seems to work for my hand. It’s made from some of my dwindling stock of figured bubinga, with a holly stripe.

Four Teeny Tiny Bubinga Bowls
I didn’t want to waste any of that lovely figured bubinga, so with offcuts from preparing the blank for the bubinga spice grinder, I made these teeny tiny bubinga bowls. I like to say “bubinga”.

Tinier and Tiniest Bowls

Three Teeny Tiny Treens
I just made these three little tiny things. I’m calling them “treens” here, but they don’t have lids, so maybe they’re bowls. They kinda look like shot glasses.

Tiniest Bowl
Okay, this is as small a bowl as anybody would need, outside of the dollhouse market I guess. It’s just under an inch high, and about an inch and a quarter across. Just BARELY holds two small earrings. The earrings belong to my wife, who came out with a rare “can I have it?” Another happy customer, especially as I gave it to her for free.