Time to reflect on your achievements.

The year is drawing to a close once more, and it’s time to reflect how I spent my time. I sit back and ponder on how rocky and trying this year has been for me. Besides battling life’s daily challenges, I’ve accomplished in starting up a hand tool woodworking magazine. This was for me a most difficult and rocky journey. So many hurdles to jump and brick walls to smash. I did what some said couldn’t be done.  Someone higher up in the food chain of corporate slavery said with a smug look on his face as he eyed me up and down. “Who are you to start-up a magazine?”  My reply was simple and truthful without an ounce of arrogance in it. “I am me.” So I did it and it proved to be very successful. The feedback I got was it’s informative, educational, inspirational and unbiased which is what a magazine should be.  I am not a journalist and therefore cannot write like one, but I’m still able to get the message across and thousands of readers are gaining the benefits in terms of knowledge and mental stimuli, which is what I hoped for.  I have many great ideas and projects I would like to make and publish in future issues, but as always I’m struggling with finance and even when I do charge $5.00 for an issue it still won’t be enough to leave my job.

I designed the HANDWORK t-shirts, they are 100% cotton, very comfortable to wear and is of good quality, but the black is expensive.  Not much I can do about that. Even though I got no interest in them and that being due to not having a fan based following, the response I got from people in the streets was astonishing. People eyeing the words “handwork” looking at the wooden jointer with curiosity and a sense of pleasure in their stare. This was an eye opener, and I did not expect it nor was I doing any marketing research. It proves that people are are sick to death of this plastic, mass producing society and are yearning for a release from it. They want to return to the simpler way of living, but have no clue how physically demanding that life is.

I also bought my last book I will ever buy again. I’ve realised I have a lot of books and I can’t fit anymore in my bookshelf and my drawer, besides I really don’t need anymore. I’ve read through most of them and will reread them all again because reading a book once is never enough to gain a true understanding.  You will be surprised how much information you miss and it’s a good refresher.

Materialistically I haven’t done so well, but in terms of knowledge and skill I have gained more in these last 12 months than I have in 25 years.  I’ve chosen this craft for myself as long as God permits me to continue down this path. I will continue to pass this knowledge onto others as long as they’re willing to listen.  I always wanted to keep the magazine free, but I just don’t have the income, resources to cover it all. I don’t lust after wealth, I just need it like you do to survive. If heaven dropped a mountain of gold in my lap, I would spend my days researching and doing, but most of all helping others in need.

Merry Christmas to you all, be safe these holidays and have a very happy and prosperous new year. God Bless and take care. Peace.

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Project-Shipwrecked Pen Box

My friend William’s 50th was coming up, and he was also celebrating his graduation. Huh, graduate at 50? Yup. He has several degrees and among them masters. Now he can add a law degree to that list.

So, as we all do I “Binged” the net for inspiration. I looked for boxes and a judges hammer and Gavel. I wish I had of taken photos of the hammer, next time when I go around I’ll take it and post it on Instagram. Anyway, I stumbled upon none other than the wood whisperer’s jewellery box. He took this design from someone else while he was still learning the craft. I thought this is great and settled on that. I didn’t make too many changes as I was pretty happy with it.

I have plenty of scrap lying around as I’ve recently become a hoarder of wood due to increasing costs. I used Silky Oak for the lid and base and American Black Walnut for the sides. This Walnut hasn’t been Kiln dried properly and is the biggest SOB to work with. But since I have it and paid through my backside for it, I might as well use it despite all the difficulties of working with it.

The box measures 9 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. The lid’s thickness ranges from 3/4” to 1″ and this is dependant on whether you want a curved lid or flat. The sides of the box are mortised and the inside of the base routed or in this case chopped out.

Mark used machinery to make his box while I, as always, will only use hand tools. I had to make only one slight adjustment to make up for any hand inaccuracies. Mark would use a table saw to cut a large dado where the item would rest and he would then clean up the bottom with a straight bit router. This meant that the floor of the dado would be flush with the tenon. So, what I did after sawing the sides and chopping out the bulk of the waste was to stop short about 1/16 above the tenon to create a small shoulder with my router plane. As long as the shoulders are crisp and square this would eliminate any unsightly gaps that would have been sticking out like a saw thumb had I followed Mark’s machine methods.

Mark used barrel hinges I had none and used in its stead brass 1/8″ rods I have plenty of and inserted them both in either side.

I finished the box off with Antique Oil, I’ve become very fond of this oil recently.   All in all I enjoyed the project thoroughly and am currently making more. One for my mum, my little one, then my niece, my brother in law, friends and so forth.

So in the few past days I’ve taken an interest in box making. You don’t need a lot of materials on hand to work with, which means it’s not cost prohibitive. You work with various exotic pieces learning and understanding the temperament of each species. You also don’t need a lot of tools nor shop space to make boxes. You most definitely don’t need machinery to make them either.  However, besides all those materialistic things, for me the biggest draw I have towards them is the challenge. You may look at a box and say wow that looks beautiful and simple to make, but looks are deceiving. The challenge is, there is high levels of accuracy involved, one mistake and that’s basically it, it’s over, you’ve ruined your box.  The pieces are small, so some clamping can be challenging. Your tools must be super sharp as it should be with any project, but in this case you need to keep them super sharp, so there is no mishaps when working with your joinery.

I think making boxes is a teacher and a test of skill. Without a doubt you will learn to hone them to much higher levels. Imagine taking those newly honed skills on every project irrespective of what the project size is. Imagine this new high level of accuracy and insane cleanliness you have developed in your work becomes second nature and all this gained just from making boxes.  I think I will explore this some more. This may be the training I have been looking for.

 

The t shirts have arrived

I came home from work and was welcomed by a nice surprise. The t shirts have arrived and they turned out pretty good. The ink didn’t run and they feel comfortable to wear.

I know with any printed shirts you cannot put an iron over the label or they will simply melt off.

All in all I’m pretty happy with them. Except for the price of the black shirt. I don’t know why they charge extra for the black.

If anyone would like one, the price for the white is AU$29.90 plus shipping.

The black AU$49.90 plus shipping.

If I get 30 orders then I can order in bulk from another printing company and price it the same as the white.

I haven’t set the blog up for e commerce so you will need to shoot me an email with your colour choice, name and full address and I’ll send you an invoice via PayPal. Once it’s been paid I’ll place an order with the printing company and have it shipped out to you as soon as it arrives.

A New Discovery!

A small tin of Prooftint Stain sprung a leak and coloured a portion of my shelf, awe how considerate. The little bugger over the years slowly ate its way through the bottom of the can. Not really sure how though as it’s not possible, but the evidence is in the pudding.

As I was cleaning and cursing away, you know the usual shop talk with yourself, I noticed this beautiful brass or bronze like patina on another tin the stain leaked on.

Elm-can

Once more poor photographic skills have let me down, I wish you could see what I see. It reminds of the old infill planes Bill Carter still makes by hand.  BTW, it was Elm that leaked. I did try another stain on another can to see if I could replicate it but no go.  I guess a particular metal type matter, but I’m unsure about this. What type of metal is the can made of? Probably tin, but I’m not a metallurgist to say for sure. Either way it works and looks great. You could probably do this to screws to give it an antique look.  Just so you know that methylated spirits will wash 90% of it off. But I think a little bit of lacquer will protect it for many years.

Exotic Woods to Try with Your Next Project

I received an email this morning randomly from Lord knows who. The Woodworking forum advertised doesn’t appear in the search list. The business address advertised also is non existent, so I’m just taking it as spam.  However, it’s not useless information and I thought I’d share it with you. I’ve also provided a link to a website I discovered this morning who sells exotic species in the US.  I thought Australia was the only country with high priced timber, I guess the US has decided to follow our poor example.

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Pine, oak, and maple are perfectly serviceable woods for most woodworking projects, but sometimes you want to create something a little special. Even the most basic design can be transformed into high-end pieces with the right kind of wood.

Most exotic woods are harder and denser than basic pine or maple and they contain more natural oils, which allows you to create beautiful glassy finishes on most exotics. Exotic woods are generally heavier than basic woods and can be much pricier, but they make great choices for smaller pieces and accent or inlay work. One thing to keep in mind while working with exotic woods is that the dust from sanding many of them can be hazardous to your health. It can cause rashes to your skin or problems when inhaled, so wear protective clothing and eyewear when working with it.

Brazil Nut Wood

Made from the tree that produces the food of the same name, Brazil nut wood is very dense. Best used for projects such as furniture making, boxes and musical instruments, its beautiful reddish tint is lightly striped with golden orange. The wood is moderately smooth-grained and can take a very high polish, making it a great wood for showpieces.

Asian Satinwood

This exotic hardwood has a deep curl that penetrates through the wood. The reddish-orange color combined with the curl creates a board that looks like it has enclosed flames. Popular in Southeast Asia for floors and cabinets, it’s also a beautiful choice for smaller projects such as pool cues, duck calls or knife handles.

Black Limba

This west African species is a wonderful wood to work with, being slightly less dense than American walnut. The warm brown background has prominent black stripes throughout, making it a striking choice for larger pieces. Use this wood for guitar bodies, fancy boxes or turned pieces.

Monkeypod

Also known as Pacific Koa, Monkeypod wood is an excellent choice for furniture and turned pieces. Warm gold and dark chocolate brown swirl together with black stripes to create a beautiful design. Pacific Koa is light in weight, relatively hard and very strong. It finishes absolutely beautifully, making it the exotic choice for many who love woodturning projects.

Pernambuco

Pernambuco is also known as Brazil wood. This rare, exotic hardwood is burnt reddish brown in color. The name is significant because the burnt red and vivid orange colors of the wood resemble the colors of Brazilian soil. This is a very stiff wood that works well in box making, but its primary use is for instrument bows. You can create a glass-like finish on this wood, making for some absolutely striking projects.

Australian Murray Red River Gum

Truly an extraordinary wood for extraordinary projects. This hard, dense wood ranges in color from creamy white to a brilliant, deep red. It glues and works well, but its figural inclusions are what makes it really special. Black swirls and random shapes show up throughout the pieces and occasionally even a checkerboard design will occur. This wood has a silky smooth grain, giving you the opportunity to craft some very special pieces.

Brazilian Tigerwood

This wood grows on the east coast of Brazil. The color is light gold fading into a red, with dark streaks that resemble a tiger’s stripes. Tigerwood is naturally oily and dense, which means it can take an incredible polish. This wood is great for smaller pieces and fancier applications such as pepper mills, knife handles. inlay work or bowls.

Movingui

A gorgeous wood that’s ideal for stringed instruments as well as smaller pieces. Movingui is so sought-after than most great pieces are cut into veneer, but occasionally you’ll find some sawed into lumber. It has a medium to fine grain and is a soft golden yellow with a darker golden grain that can look like stripes, mottling and even bees’ wings.

Sourcing

The problem with many exotic woods is that they’re rated as vulnerable or endangered. Legitimate dealers collect their wood from naturally dead trees. The sale of exotic woods creates strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Whether you feel uncomfortable dealing in exotic and rare woods or you love the unique features they bring to your projects, you should always support dealers who follow import laws and practice sustainable customs.

Cook Woods-Exotic Species

Reading the grain

Having the ability to read grain on wood is one of the many most fundamental critical tasks a woodworker should have competency in. Some timbers are easy to read while others are not.  Let’s look at this African Tulip I’m working with to have a better understanding on the subject.

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If we look at the board, you’ll see the grain is a cathedral or one could even describe it as a ripple in a pond. It appears to our eyes the grain is pointing from left to right, so if planed from left to right, you’d be planing with the grain or would you.  If we inspect closely, you’ll notice the grain is layered from right to left so, our planing direction is right to left.

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I know it looks deceptive. Another way of reading the grain if it’s difficult to read on the surface is by feel.

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Running your finger along the edge of a board in both directions will most of the time give you a clear sign of where the grain is running. Press lightly when you do it and be careful of splinters.

Most grains can be read, but some just can’t and when you run into the one that can’t, set your plane to take a light shaving. If you feel it snag then stop, even with a plane set to take a little more than a 32nd you can still feel your planing with or against the grain.  If it’s tearing on both sides of the board, then hone a higher bevel angle.

The more you work with various species the more you’ll learn what to look out for.

Take care and enjoy your craft

 

T-shirt Design

I’m going to make a few t-shirts for the shop. My wife has thrown out most of shop shirts and I bought some new ones, but none of them are tax deductible and as the magazine’s name is a registered business why not make a few shirts and a mug with its name on it.  It’ll be great to show the world that there are some of us who won’t allow themselves to be replaced by robotics. The world is so eager to move in that direction and of course the sheep will always be lured by the wolves.  But anyhow here are two colours I’m going to order, not to forget the mug, we can’t have work without tea.

I’m not sure what they will cost me as I haven’t yet placed the order, but if you wish to order one shoot me an email and if you agree with whatever the price is plus shipping and I’ll place an order for you.  All proceeds would go towards buying lumber for upcoming project articles.