Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dear Friends, Fellow Woodworkers and Program Directors:

For some time I have wanted to write and bring you up to date on all the happenings with 'My Grandfathers Lathe' and 'The Broken Clock Woodworking Shop'.  Its been a busy and exciting year.

New Web Address: 
I have developed a new site at:   http://www.WoodArt.Biz

This web address is the new home of My Grandfathers Lathe (for all the round work) and The Broken Clock Woodworking Shop (for all the flat and generational work). This site is dedicated to empowering amateur woodworkers with easy and fun projects.

At this site you will also find a page for program directors, clubs and guild's to easily find and schedule a woodworking lecture. 
Also, I have dedicated a page to the sale of unique items needed for generational work that  I found hard to come by which can be purchased at discounted pricing.
Please visit the site and register for updates and emails, as I will be using that email list primarily.

Upcoming book:
Look for information regarding my up-coming book, published by Schiffer Publishing. This first volume will be an introduction to the multi-generational method of wood design and should be out sometime this fall. 

Open Shop Saturday:
I have been asked for something more hands on. Something in which processes, jig making, difficult cuts, general shop questions and the like can be seen first-hand. My response is the Open Shop Saturday. Specified Saturday mornings will be on the web site schedule and available to drop in at no charge. Just bring the coffee and donuts and I will supply the sawdust.

In closing I would like to thank you. Whether we met at a lecture or off the web, whether you are a fellow woodworker or have purchased one of my pieces of wood art or we have known each other for years, your support and patronage has kept me going through the years. 

I look forward to sending you email updates off the new web site   http://www.WoodArt.Biz   and hope you will respond with comments and pictures of your projects and ideas as well.

Yours always in wet glue and sawdust


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Schedule for lectures and misc.

Hello there friends
I wanted to give you the heads up on my last presentation until the fall.
I will be at the Epsom Public Library on April 2nd at 7PM.
My displays will be there begining the 20th of March.
I would love to see you there.

If you are thinking of scheduling an evening lecture in the fall the schedule is filling fast so I recommend getting a jump on things. Also I have already scheduled a number of double headers for the fall, a children's program just after school lets out at 4pm ish for ages 10 to 16 and the adult program beginning at 7pm. It makes for a very full day , but is lots of fun for everyone and a big bang for your buck in terms of wood working programs. 

I will be coming out with a post in the near future on another variation on the 180 degree multi-gen concept. The sunrise or phoenix pattern is easy and a wildly versatile design. Here are a few pics to wet your interest. This design is applied in the pics to what are called 'spoon saddles' or a cradle of sorts that sits on the counter top next to your stove. They are to place a large spoon or ladle on once you have taken it out of the chilli or stew pot.
    Always in wet glue

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wood Finishes

I love it when folks write in with questions.
Paul from NH writes:

Hi Steve:  I attended one of your presentations at the Stratham Library last fall.  I couldn't believe the beautiful work you do. I had just inherited my father's lathe.  I have subsequently taken some lessons in how to turn bowls and am enjoying that a lot.  I remember one thing that impressed me was the finish you had on your wood. Someone asked you about that and you said that you put sanding sealer on and then sandpaper it off and that you do that five times.  And  then you use bees wax.  My question is, am I remembering that correctly, and if so, how do you apply the bees wax? Do you mix it with some kind of oil? And what do you use to apply it? Do you polish the work after applying the bees wax? And do you use fancy polishing systems like the Beall buffing system, or something more simple?  And during the five times that you sand, do you start with say 80 each time, or do you start with a higher grade each time, like 220, 320 etc? 
I guess what I am asking for is a lot more detail about how you finish your work.  Eventually my goal is to gain the skill to produce segmented pieces similar to what you do and multi generational laminated work as well. 
I just joined your blog using Yahoo because I had an account set up with them.  But I use for my e-mail. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me. And if you ever decide to give lessons in how to do what you do, count me in! 
Yours, Paul

Dear Paul: 
Thanks for the great questions.
Although I feel my expertise is not finishes I am glad to pass along what I use an what I have learned. 

First my method for finishing continues to evolve and is very different than the one I used a year ago, and I trust next year it will be changing also. Your method of finish work is a journey in which you are always looking for new ways to get the best look and adapting to apply those new techniques.

One book well worth getting that helped me is 'Wood Finishing 101' by Bob Flexner. 

My fall back tried and true is 3 or more coats of sanding sealer fallowed by 2 coats of a wipe on poly.
Finish is as much about feel as it is about look. Sanding sealer fills in and gives it that smooth feel. Sand between each coat starting with 120 up to 320 or a fine steel wool. 
On the lathe I will use a friction polish for smaller vessels. The friction polish 'cooks' into the wood giving you a wonderful long lasting finish. I will apply bee's wax to a spinning piece on the lathe for the final finish. the speed of the lathe melts the wax as you touch the wax to the lathe. Fallow with a clean rag and get it as hot from friction as your fingers can take. The larger vessels I use the 'tried and true' method of sanding sealer.

I like the polyurethane's also. I would never use it right out of the can but thin it with paint thinner. I have mason jars labeled 50/50 and so forth.

Recently I have discovered OJ Shine juice.

This is a wonderful easy to use and make finish.

Regarding lessons, I have been thinking of starting a 'open shop time'. Say a Saturday in which I will be in the shop and it is open to anyone to come by and talk about wood and ask questions. If enough folks are interested that sounds like it may be fun. 
I will be lecturing in Epsom on Tuesday March 2 and would love to see you there.
Thanks for your support
Always yours in wet glue

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pin Wheels or a new take on the 3D Multi Generation Diamond Lamination Design

Pin Wheels
a new take on the 3D Multi Generation Diamond Lamination Design

For some time now I have wanted to try this design. This 'pin wheel' is simple and lots of fun with one exception (a very dangerous miter cut of 67.5 degrees) which we will get into later. It is a spinoff of the Multi Generational Diamond Lamination technique demonstrated in my last post. All the basics laid out there are essential. Please do not take this post independently. Use the previous one and graduate up. As with the other it is simple but not easy. Be willing to get it wrong a couple of times before you take it to your critics.
With that in mind let's get started.....
Oop's, almost forgot, as with many of these projects, variations yield a wide variety of patterns and designs that are surprising and delightful to explore. As it happens, I had left over from another project some previously laminated material. A 1 by 1 Brazilian Walnut laminated with a 1/8th Brazilian Cherry and its opposite. Going into this project using these materials I felt might be a fun exploration. 

You be the judge.

So let’s get back to it.
The most important aspect of this technique is without a doubt the jig. With this design you need the ability to cut at 67.5 degrees. This cut is very dangerous. Most miters go to 45 maybe 50 degrees but you need the full 67.5 to make this work and it needs to be accurate. (Also pay special attention to the vertical 90 degree angle of the blade to the bed of the saw or you will be making a shallow bowl). I feel the table saw is your best bet.

Here you can see my jig. You will have to come up with your own but be aware you will need stops on the front and rear to keep the jig from moving too far into the blade. Also keep in mind your fingers are very close to the blade so spend the time to make a jig that protects them, slides even and true. Also, be sure and stop the blade from moving before you move the material forward to load up for another cut. Nothing can move, not the material that is loaded or your cut-off. Make sure everything is clamped down tight, and be sure and count your fingers before you start and write down the number. If the number is different when you are finished you may have to go upstairs and tell your wife she was right. Humor aside, there is nothing more confidence building than the proper jig which gets you and your fingers away from the blade.

This is the goal. Nice clean half diamonds made by flipping the material for each cut.

Now we feel more comfortable and will move into the more expensive material. Notice the jig holds everything in place, even the cut-off, and uses an oak stop block so each cut-off is uniform in length. When making this jig be sure and use 3/4 inch ply for a base. I have had problems with less than that taking my material out of square simply by the force of the hold down clamps. Substitute more clamps for less pressure on them to avoid this.

When I do my wood working lectures one of the most liberating aspects I talk about is safety. A little bit of safety goes a long way toward enjoying and having fun in your shop. The opposite is also true. If you are unsettled or unsure of your new jig or equipment - Do not use it. Just stop. Take the time to increase your confidence level by getting a friend involved or taking a course through your local wood working store. Do whatever it takes to turn this liability into an asset. Remember this is supposed to be fun, so if it isn't, stop, reevaluate and get the help you need. You can always send me an email and I can help point you in a direction.

Here is the pinwheel pattern proper.

Here it is forming diamonds. For me, the previous post on MGDL diamond technique is safer and easier, but this one affords you the possibility of including vertical runs of laminate within the diamond. Also notice how the grain orientation is better with this 67.5 degree cut, running fully with the length of the triangle.

The different orientations and designs with these 'half diamonds' are also fun. I have fun with all these shapes before I commit myself to a particular look and bring out the glue bottle.

Here is another look you can get by simply sliding everything to the left or right. When I was making many backgammon boards I had lots of leftover elongated triangles so I glued them up. The more pressure I put on them the worse it got until I had glue on me the dog and a 2 foot diameter mess that sloped to the left horribly. So I let it harden up only to find one of the most curious and wonderful pieces I have ever produced. I turned it into a clock whose hands turn clockwise but the wood oriented counter-clockwise. Believe it or not the more I stare at it the more my hair grows back.  Do not be afraid of making mistakes as they sometimes are the gateway to unique and wonderful creations and ideas.

Still working on ideas and patterns before glue up.

Look at these last two pictures closely and see if you can pick out the subtle differences in design.

Now we are ready to get the glue out.

When it comes to clamping these, less is always more. If you do not have a tight fit do not force it. Stress in wood is a lot like stress in people, it will find its expression like water flowing through the path of least resistance. Work on better joinery rather than forcing a bad fit. Forced fits, generally speaking, crack within the first year or so. I use a lot of rubber bands. You should not need more than that. If you do, try hose clamps, they work great. Graingers sells them in the 16 in diameter but lots of smaller ones put together also work, in some applications even better because you have multiple tightening positions around your circle rather than just one.
You will be putting together the stars in one glue up so be careful not to damage the points with your clamping. One way to protect the fine corners of the diamonds is by using caul blocks cut from scrap to distribute the clamping forces to the broad faces of the diamonds rather than the sharp points (see picture below). Also using rubber bands as clamps gives you a bumper so to speak if you choose to use other clamps. Whatever you choose be sure and keep them nice and 'pointy'.

 Then try a dry fit.

After the star we begin to add on the walnut triangles. The great thing about this project is the design possibilities are endless. You could use squares or 2 separate colors of triangles in both a horizontal or vertical orientation as you build out around your central pinwheel design.

It is important to remember you are adding as you go. If you let glue dry in the trough of the diamond it will act as an obstacle to your next fit-up. I use a tooth brush as you see here to remove any wet glue so that when it dries I have a nice fit for my next piece.

Rubber  bands act as clamps for the accenting black locust triangles.

Cherry triangles on top of the walnut  ones.

A close up of the pin wheel project.

So there you have it, another fun, fun, fun 3D-ish design that has many different applications. Weather a lazy Susan, cutting board, trivet, hot pad or wall decoration, it will get you lots of Oooohs and Ahhhhs through the years.

Yours in wet glue,

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Multi Generational Diamond Lamination (MGDL) or Fun with Diamonds

Fun with Diamonds
Diamonds may be a girl's best friend but the wood worker's among us can have lots of fun with projects using diamonds to make dynamic wood art. 

Multi Generational Diamond Lamination (MGDL) is the process of gluing multiple first generation laminations into both vertical and circular design patterns.

Believe it or not these designs are made with the same material and with the same construction method. The diamond orientation differs, but the parts and pieces are the same. On the left you see the vertical or linear orientation and on the right a circular design. The difference from top to bottom is simply different finishing techniques which can be employed. These 4 designs represent a small fraction of what is possible in variation and expression in the endless array of designs possible using this technique. While working on one design I am taking notes on the next 4 projects I want to try.

With these lamination projects we are focusing not on making something in particular rather, we are 'making something to make something'. To create the above material is a wonderful beginning to a beautiful .....  whatever. Whether lazy Susan, cutting board, platter or a vase, bowl or plate all would be fitting uses for this wonderful, colorful material. For all woodworkers whether you have a lathe or not, this type of project is nothing but fun. For our purposes we will focus on the making of these blanks above and allow the wind to carry your application of it where it will. I beg you though, comment and let me know how you were able to apply these techniques.

First we need to determine how many varied colors and wood types to involve. I have chosen 6 for this project but 4 is a better number to start with as with my first try at this seen above. Here the diamonds are larger and easier to work with but it uses 4 types of wood with the same basic circular 8 pointed star pattern.

 As with all these types of projects its success is centered on all the material being the same width and thickness. Also best results come from using wood with a similar density and relative hardness. Combining poplar or pine with Iron wood or purple heart is not recommended. The material must be spot on in dimensions and be sure and make up twice as much as you think you'll need.

Above you see I have milled up cherry, ash, walnut, black locust, Brazilian cherry and Brazilian walnut. The more contrast in the wood the better the woods augment each other and the designs stand out.

With the material milled we can begin to make the first generation lamination. These six are laminated together as below.

Notice here that each lamination is different. Each one in sequence moves the top most wood to second position and the bottom wood to the first position. Thus you are making six sequenced laminations. Follow the darkest wood and you will see that with each of the six glue-ups it is in a different position. They are ordered in a step fashion.

Now that our material is ready let's get started.

What is a diamond? 
There are many ways to answer that question but for our purposes, diamonds share a common length along each of its 4 edges, like a square whose top has been pushed over by the wind. Now this sounds easy but it is not. In order to accomplish this you need to pay close attention to the width of the material because the width will determine the length of the 2 edges which are along the cut or mitered sides.  
Your project will be determined by the center set of diamonds in the round. Like building any round object we begin from the center and work out. Here we are looking at 8 diamonds all pointed to the center. 8 divided by 360 degrees is 45. So each piece will contain 45 degrees. Since each diamond has 2 sides which connect on the edges moving towards the center we will divide the 45 degrees evenly for a diamond with all its edges at 22.5 degrees. That is pretty much the end of the math. This math can apply to any number of center pieces. For example , 10 center pieces at 36 degrees each with cuts at 18 degrees. The difficulty is in getting a perfect cut from your table saw miter jig or your miter saw. Practice and cut scrap until you have a perfect 8 pointed star with no gaps or spaces on the interior or exterior. Remember , cumulative error is to be avoided, so the time you spend getting it cut just so , pays off down the road.

Once our miter is ready we can begin cutting diamonds 6 at a time.

Weather table saw or miter box this process must be precise and consistent. Uniformity is the key.

 Notice here the 6 laminations sequenced to form the linear design. The circular design is simply a different order of the 'Tags' (what I call each cut section of 6 diamonds).

that we are more comfortable with the design we can get the glue bottle out. We begin with a diamond of diamonds. With all projects like this it is always best to glue in stages and steps. In this case, larger diamonds.
Notice the rubber bands and glue boards. Because the shape of a diamond will not support glue pressure on its pointed ends these 'outriggers' so to speak are necessary
Above the finished diamonds form the linear pattern
 Beginning to take shape
And here you have it. It is important to trim the unfinished 2 edges to make these stars come together perfect. A miter or table saw jig work well for this as will a disk sander.

Care must be taken maintain the exact 22.5 degrees and not to remove so much material as to disrupt the overall design pattern.
In the interests of time and space and knowing a picture is worth well over a thousand words, especially to a wood worker I will show more and talk less.

 A dry fit up showing both finishing techniques. One with a continuation of the linear pattern and the other with a simple section of material cut to fit.

I have found the best way to finish and flatten these is to use a belt sander.
I hope you have found this posting helpful in opening up new dimensions in woodworking. It is one of the most fun projects I have enjoyed for some time. Remember if you try it be sure and let me know how you did.
Always gluing something: