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! http://www.blakeweber.us