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Blog entry by Blake posted 01-12-2008 10:39 PM 1783 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I just thought I would share some of my recent wood-related adventures.

Yesterday was the first day off I’ve had in a long time. Last weekend I only had one day off from my regular job but I was kept busy all day and night by the fire dept. because that huge storm had just hit California. So I spent the day directing cars around downed trees and power lines, filling sand bags, and keeping an eye on the river around the flood planes.

So anyway, my wife and I felt like going “over the hill” and into the Silicon Valley for a change of scenery. This gave her a chance to walk around Ikea and dream about refurnishing our tiny house, and visit her favorite art supply store. It also gave me a chance to visit the Woodcraft Store and Southern Lumber, which is like the Home Depot of hardwoods (the biggest dealer of exotics near me).

We are on a tight budget at the moment so I didn’t spend much but I was actually pretty excited about my small purchases.

Southern Lumber: Now this place is fun to walk around even if you don’t buy anything. The isles are as big as the big box store but its all hardwoods. They have dozens of species and they even have bins full of individually priced small cut-offs from each of the exotic species. One of my favorite bins to dig through is the burl bin, where I found this:

A small (affordable) chunk of maple burl which I can’t wait to turn into a bandsawn box…

Also pictured is a piece of Spanish cedar which I needed for my buddies travel humidor.

Woodcraft: Again, I am like a kid in a candy store. I spent about an hour, my wife swears it was longer, though (But she is so patient!). I found a few things which I didn’t even know exist! The first was a 2 ½” blast gate, which I couldn’t find anywhere on the internet:

I needed one for my router table so I can shut off the suction at the fence when I need more under the table.

Another thing I have been trying to figure out is a good way to clamp boxes. I like the idea of a band clamp. But I bought these ($18 each) and they are crap (don’t buy them):

And these, the “high torque” versions, are way too expensive ($40 bucks each and I would need two!). Probably worth it but I don’t got the dough:

So another alternative I have found, which I really like, are these:

But again, they are $20 bucks and I would need at least two for clamping the top and bottom of the sides of a box. It really doesn’t seem like a good deal. I was thinking about making my own corners out of hardwood and then buying some threaded rod, which is cheap.

But then I saw these in the Woodcraft store:

These are just the “extra” corners from that same set and they were only $2.99! So I bought three sets of them.

Then At my local hardware store I bought a bunch of “allthread” in different lengths. Now I have a whole set for clamping boxes, frames, etc. and the whole thing cost me about $20 bucks. I can also get longer threaded rods for bigger projects if I need to:

So, since I am working on building this travel humidor for my buddy, and I now have the Spanish Cedar, I thought I’d better pick up a cigar so I know how big to make it. So I stopped by a smoke shop and got the cheapest cigar I could find ($2) and also a small, disposable humidifier ($1) which I might incorporate into the design of my humidor.

I also bought the following online the other night:

(the gold one:)

I may return “the tube” if I decide to use the disposable type.

Other Ramblings: My Shop:

I have also been re-arranging my shop lately. It looks a lot bigger!!! I added some great storage (nothing home-made, thought) and moved some of the large machines.

I got a small metal toolbox with several drawers from work and thought it would be perfect for under my drill press. It’s just right for drill bits and sandpaper. I also moved the drill press so that it has a better view:

I also moved my huge stack of craftsman tool chests (they were blocking this window) and put the belt sander under the window so I could actually see out of it:

Keep in mind my shop has a better view out of these two windows than any other building on the property. So I thought I’d better keep them clear. Now I can look at the trees and river while I work at my bench.

I also finally got around to installing a large metal drawer under my bench which I picked up at the Flee Market several months ago (I love all the new storage!!!). I don’t mind showing you this picture of the messy bench because it is a “before” picture while I am still organizing. I plan on taking updated photos of my whole shop soon:

Other Ramblings: It’s the small things which make such a big difference sometimes, isn’t it? Well I finally took all of 20 minutes to build this simple shelf near the door of my shop for the phone, keys, wallet, FD pager, and radio (to talk to my wife). I have always needed a place for these things so I can empty my pockets but never had anywhere good to put them. Just Thought I would show this off:

Thomas’ Shop Tour: I also just thought I would let you know what’s coming next on my blog… I have a friend who I met though our Used Tool Store who is an amazing woodworker.

His name is Thomas and he has got several decades on me but is one of the nicest guys you’d meet. He mostly builds traditional Windsor chairs with traditional methods (all hand tools from log to chair).

He has a small, all hand tool shop behind the antique store he owns with his wife, where he does most of his chair making. But he also has a large home shop with a full compliment of power machinery. He also has one of the most amazing collections of hand tools I’ve ever seen. We are talking a MUSEUM QUALITY collection. I think he has just about every tool Stanley ever made, as well as Japanese tools, etc.

I am planning to take you on a virtual tour of his two shops, his work, and his collection of vintage and contemporary tools. My appointment was for yesterday but unfortunately he had to cancel due to his wife not feeling well. I believe we will reschedule for next week and I can’t wait. I plan to take tons of pictures for you and ask lots of questions. I’m not sure if I will try to do video or not. I will if I can. So stay tuned, and look for that.

Other future blogs: Since I’m on the subject, another thing which I have been meaning to blog is a photo tour of our Used Tool Store. It’s such a cool place for woodworkers, tool enthusiasts, etc. and I just thought you might like to see it. There is a lot of interesting things which you just wouldn’t see anywhere else.

Thanks for listening, I’m gonna hit the shop!

-- Happy woodworking!

15 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4016 days

#1 posted 01-12-2008 11:08 PM

Sounds like you’ve gotten a lot acomplished in a short time. Clamping boxes I like plain old band clamps.

Less than $5 each at rockler and they work pretty good.

Nice rambling. It sounds like you got a lot off your chest.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3966 days

#2 posted 01-13-2008 12:01 AM

Somebody’s been a busy boy. Movin’ stuff, shoppin’ and gathering parts to finish projects. While your shop time may have been down, it looks like you still got things accomplished. By the bye, I have the same band clamp that Gary shows and I’m really pleased. Sometime simple is good.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3990 days

#3 posted 01-13-2008 12:22 AM

You been having way too much fun, young man!!! Now you’d better get some work done!!! LOL

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4428 days

#4 posted 01-13-2008 12:45 AM

Great to see you are at work. Improving the place. thanks for the tour.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4104 days

#5 posted 01-13-2008 12:50 AM

I like ramblings. Keep em coming.

-- BLOG -

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4091 days

#6 posted 01-13-2008 01:20 AM

Blake, I’m not sure if it would help, as these only work on 1/4-20 allthread, but Lee Valley has excentrically bored speed nuts (a set of four) that slide until they engage against the corners for $9.50.,41306,41311

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4018 days

#7 posted 01-13-2008 01:40 AM

I like the drawer Blake. I’ve got a Bessy VAS23 band clamp that I bought for glueing up an octagonal frame. It worked real well. Think I paid around $20.00 for it too. The “allthread” clamps work good too unless you’re trying to glue up a long piece (like a full length mirror). The rods tend to warp at length. I’ve seen a setup though that uses wood but cannot remember where. Bummer. That don’t help. Guess I’m just “rambling on”. LOL!

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3923 days

#8 posted 01-13-2008 02:48 AM

Hey Blake——wow you’ve been busy. I appreciate the time you took to help with the storm stuff to. Volunteering is a wonderful way to spend a day off. My Dad and brothers were volunteer firemen in our little town and I know from that, the sacrifice it is of personal time. So thanks!

Keep up all that shopping to. I wish I had your view of the woods and river. I look at a bush!

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4064 days

#9 posted 01-13-2008 03:00 AM

Sounds like a good day, Blake. I’m always on a quest to organize my shop.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3902 days

#10 posted 01-13-2008 10:41 PM

Douglas, Thanks for the speed nut idea. 1/2”-20 is actually the right size. I might go for that.

-- Happy woodworking!

View RAH's profile


414 posts in 3904 days

#11 posted 01-14-2008 02:36 AM

I forgot about Southern Lumber, what street are they on and where is Wood Crafter in San Jose? I use to live in the Los Gatos area.

-- Ron Central, CA

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3902 days

#12 posted 01-14-2008 05:21 AM

Southern Lumber is off First st. about a half-dozen-or-so blocks from hwy 280. The closest Woodcraft is in San Carlos near Redwood City right off hwy 101.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4024 days

#13 posted 01-14-2008 06:28 AM

That made for a fun read – corner clamps, humidors, drawers…oh my. Think Oz.

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4188 days

#14 posted 01-14-2008 09:01 PM

kid in a candy store… haha :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3902 days

#15 posted 01-14-2008 09:06 PM

Debbie stole my thunder. I was reading about the hardwood store, and the first thing I thought of was “candy store.”

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