Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Turning Pens and Making Small Crafts

My friend Jeff Fleisher and I signed up to sell our wares at two craft shows this fall.  Both are at the Fairfax County (Virginia) Government Center.  Ever since I completed the Winchester desk class in July and a subsequent vacation, I have been almost totally occupied with turning pens.  That will be, for the most part, what I'll be selling.

I decided to concentrate on turning wood rather than acrylic.  So to make them better than ho-hum, I've been working with burls--especially elder but also buckeye--which give the pens a more distinguished look.  I've got a pretty good stock of pens that will retail in a range from inexpensive to expensive.

But after more than a month of turning pens, I'm getting worn out and so have turned to making business card holders and small clocks.  The business card holders are surprisingly easy to make.  You take an approximately 2X2 board (I used cherry and walnut) and cut out the inside with a dado blade, making several passes until I got the right depth.  Then I took the length of wood to the router table and routed a shallow groove 1/4 inch wide in the face.  I glued a strip of 1/4 inch patterned inlay into the groove, then sanded the boards before cutting them into 3 inch lengths.  They look pretty good!

The clocks are only just started.  Guess I'd better get busy!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Tale of Two Holes

I'm building a new workbench.  Since I've gotten deeply interested in hand planes, and since I need to cut a good many dovetails on the Winchester secretary I'm building, I need a bench with a solid hardwood top, bench dog holes and good side and tail vises.  So I've taken that on as an interim project.

I got a supply of 8/4 hard maple and, with the help of a friend, jointed and planed it square and smooth.  Then I ripped it into 3-inch widths, which I stood on edge and glued together to make a 3-inch thick top.  More planing followed to even out the edges, leaving me with a 2-3/4-inch thick top, more than heavy enough.

Now I'm installing a Veritas twin screw vise on the left front side of the bench.  The first step was to drill 1-1/2-inch holes in the front and back faces of the vise to accommodate the screws.  The front face I drilled with a Forstner bit on my drill press.  But the back face is an apron that runs the approximately seven feet length of the bench.  No drill press for that!  So I clamped the two boards together in their proper relationship and, using a device that holds the drill vertically (see photos), I began boring out the holes.

The first hole went fairly well, though the going was slow.  But the second one seemed to take forever.  Was the Forster bit too hot (it was hot)?  Was I drilling too fast for the bit to bite into the wood?  Had I dulled the bit beyond usefulness?

I'm not sure which of those explanations works, but I did eventually finish the hole without having to spring for another bit.

There's still more to do, but I'm at least making progress.  With any luck, I'll have the vise installed and the remaining parts glued together and ready to install by next week.