Category Archives: Shop

Blue Tape and Sharpies

In the wood shop, blue tape has a million uses. Yes, literally a million. One of these is to make a quick list of things I need to pick up next time I’m at Home Despot. I tape it to the wall in a handy location so it stays in my mind (with luck) and is ready for additions. Sometimes on wood I’ll use blue tape to layout hole or joinery locations. And pencil is very hard to read on blue tape, so I usually use a Sharpie. So yeah, sometimes I make a shopping list using blue tape and Sharpies, reminding me to pick up blue tape and Sharpies.

Blue Tape and Sharpies

(click to view larger on Flickr, if you think that’s really necessary in this case)

My Dust Collection (A Cautionary Tale)

My Dust Collection, originally uploaded by rgdaniel.

Call me naive (go ahead, I’ll wait) but I always thought “dust collection” meant having a lovely collection of dust. For woodworkers, this is fairly easy to accomplish. And this particular dust collection is archeologically, or maybe geologically, quite interesting. It’s like examining the strata of an exposed canyon wall, to learn what has happened in the past, and in what sequence. In this case, the interior of my Delta X5 Jointer reveals the history of my surfacing several species of wood, notably cedar, maple, walnut, cherry, and purpleheart.

Seriously, it seems that even with a big-ass dust collector in use, you still have to periodically clear out the insides of your woodworking machines… who knew?

Miters Well

TV Stand Artist RenderingBefore I could continue working on the much anticipated TV stand (see artist’s rendering) I knew I had to make something else first. Not as a distraction or delaying tactic, though you might be forgiven for immediately suspecting that, but as a necessary step towards completing the project. I needed to build a miter sled.   The exposed edges of the walnut-veneered particle board are to be covered with solid walnut trim pieces, which I have mostly milled and ready to cut to length. (Still deciding on final profile, I will probably do the round-over at the router table while I still can…

The idea of the miter sled is to allow the cutting of these trim pieces with sufficient accuracy that they will not show any gaps at the 45-degree joints at the corners. This is  difficult using the standard table-saw miter guage.

IMG_1197 MitreSled-1-OverviewThe first photo shows the finished sled, in place on the table saw. I used Baltic Birch Plywood for all the parts, because I just love the stuff and it’s perfect for this kind of thing. I only use Home Despot plywood for catching glue drips, or similar demeaning tasks that are all it’s good for…

The eagle-eyed will have noticed that my outfeed table is actually my wife’s  Honda Fit. It’s at a bit of an awkward angle, but in its defense it does get great gas mileage…

IMG_1193 MitreSled-2-First CutThe reason for the numbers is as follows: rather than depend on the angle being a perfect 45 degrees, which is difficult to find in real life and prone to inaccuracy, the sled depends on the two angles being part of a perfect 90 degrees, which is found all over the shop… In this case, the factory corner of a piece of Baltic Birch Plywood (accept no substitutes) was found to be a perfect ninety, and formed the pointy bit on the sled, the bit with the very attractive visible screws. So long as you cut one half of the joint on one side, and the other half on the other side, you KNOW it’s going to add up to that perfect ninety. Or at least, I HOPED it would.

IMG_1194 MitreSled-3-Second CutSo I tested by cutting a piece of scrap (expendable Home Despot crappy plywood as it turns out) in half, then mitering one half on side #1 (left) and then the other half on side #2 (right). These should result in a perfect ninety-degree corner with no gaps.

IMG_1195 MitreSled-4-Finished Joint

Yay! Looks like it worked! Okay, no excuses, gotta get that trim glued on… Well, after I mill it to final profile…

Exotic Woods

Exotic Woods

Originally uploaded by rgdaniel

My haul from a trip to the exotic wood store, which is actually called “Exotic Woods” ( )
I have no idea what many of these are like to work with, but this is how you find out. I was strangely drawn, disturbingly even, to the “She Oak”. But I think that transgendered trees could use our support and understanding…

Something is askew with my woodturning

Googly-eyed Pen Barrels

Why are they looking at me like that? And how is this even possible?

Today was, in some ways, an important day in my development as a woodworker: it was the first time I fired up my lathe.  And while momentous, it was not entirely successful…

The plan was to prepare a few pen blanks out of some lightly-figured curly maple I had on hand (done), build a jig to drill the blanks at the drill press (done), glue in the brass tubes (done – still got the CA glue on my thumb to prove it), and commence the turning!

Turning done too, technically, but here’s where I get confused. When I drilled the holes for the tubes, I just “eyeballed” the centre point, figuring that the turning process would centre everything up, by definition. And the turning did go reasonably well once I got the hang of the roughing gouge.

But by the time I got to the point we see in the photo, it was clear that something was amiss. Sorry, askew. The holes are well off-centre: on one side the wood is down almost to the barrel, while on the other side there is still a good one-eighth of an inch of material left…

I though that the basic premise of woodturning would make this impossible.  How could it be so eccentric? Not that I’m one to talk about being eccentric. But sheesh, what’s the deal here? It’s not like it was wobbling around, it seemed to be going well… I’m using all brand new stuff, and had some instruction (in conversation, and in video and books) in exactly this setup, so I was fairly confident in my process.

And yet it all went horribly wrong… well, not horribly, but still…  I’d like to figure out what the deal is here before I waste another blank.  That curly maple don’t grow on trees you know…

NOT impressed with my new Delta Table Saw (Update: FIXED)

I’ve been trying to stay positive as I assembled my new Delta Hybrid table saw but I’m just about out of patience now…
I was looking forward to the upgrade from my little Ryobi, but I’m beginning to wish I’d invested elsewhere. Anywho, here’s the deal:
(1) Cast iron extension wing could not be made flush with centre table, I had to bore out the holes by about 1/8″ to allow sufficient play to bring it up flush.
(2) The scale on the front wheel, showing the blade angle, is useless, since when the blade is at a perfect 90 degrees, the scale shows 2 degrees, even with the limited adjustment of the pointer all the way over.
(3) And now the final insult – the blade is not parallel to the miter slot, my first little test cuts (2×4 crosscut with miter gauge at 90) caused burning of the wood. The front of the blade is a full 1/16th” to the right compared to the rear. Apparently I’m supposed to loosen the 4 trunnion bolts (“in the rare event that this difficult adjustment should be neccessary”) only two of which are accessible enough to illustrate in the manual. And I’m not the most “flexible” person for this kind of work. 🙂
This is very disheartening. 🙁 I didn’t sign up to be a table saw repairman, I just want to make some sawdust, maybe a birdhouse or two. I wonder if Welbeck Sawmill will take it back, or whether I’ll just have similar grief with another brand.
Update: The local Delta authorized repair and warranty people, “Murray’s Sharpening and Tool Repair”, were able to take the thing apart in their shop, and re-assemble it the way it should have been assembled at the factory, i.e. in perfect alignment. Murray himself picked it up and dropped it off. So I’m a happy camper.