Life as an Amateur Woodworker

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Blog series by PhilBello updated 03-29-2015 11:52 PM 48 parts 47423 reads 160 comments total

Part 1: UK to Colombia, the ups and the downs.

10-14-2013 11:02 AM by PhilBello | 4 comments »

I retired from the UK Police in 2006 after 30 years, and I think I only survived that period of time, because of my love of woodwork, I class myself as a late starter, I used to tinker with bits and pieces, but it wasn’t until I was 21 and my first Father-in-law who was a Chippy, gave me lessons and a few tools, that I decided that woodwork was definitely the hobby for me. In July 2006 I left the Police, and immediately moved to Spain, where I had had property for a number of years, ...

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Part 2: The problems of a 'Micro Workshop'

10-14-2013 12:55 PM by PhilBello | 0 comments »

The problem I am finding with a ‘micro-workshop’ is space, I was spoilt with my last workshop, and I have gone to the opposite extreme, which means I have nowhere to lay things out. I suppose I could stray out into the kitchen area, but I don’t want to impose my hobby on my Wife, so I remain behind a closed door, cursing away merrily to myself. Nothing gets left out, there is no space to put out tools, so it comes out of it’s toolbox or shelf-space under the bench, get...

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Part 3: Not everything goes to plan!

10-21-2013 11:53 PM by PhilBello | 7 comments »

It’s been a somewhat hectic week, so the workshop has had to take a back seat, however not all has been sweetness and light!! I thought I had found the plans for the perfect Router table to fit into a micro-workshop, as I had previously reported, I drew out all the parts on a 3/4” sheet of Ply, spent a day or two, cussing like mad, trying to make space to do the cutting, and then fortunately did a dry-fit of the main parts… Router table Mk1 was abandoned! there was no way...

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Part 4: Making a Bench Disc Sander

10-25-2013 01:23 AM by PhilBello | 4 comments »

A Disc Bench Sander was next on the list, something simple, but effective was needed. There are some excellent ideas on here, YouTube, and other sites, but my criteria, was that it could be run using my drill, and took up as little space as possible. Well the final build could not be more simple, six pieces of wood, (1/2” ply to cut out the Disc, using my scrollsaw, and 3/4” ply for the Base, the Disc support, the Drill support and the two side pieces, one 8mm bearing ( an i...

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Part 5: Sawdust everywhere!

10-29-2013 12:12 AM by PhilBello | 0 comments »

Today, I have spent my time covered in sawdust, I decided that it was better to be prepared, rather than scratching around for scrap to make parts later. A few projects coming up require dowels, and others require star/clamp knobs, therefore it makes sense to have a supply ready to hand. For the dowels, I used Izzy Swan’s method, cheap and easy, and at the moment, both those qualities come top of my list, if you haven’t already seen his dowel making in action, you can see it...

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Part 6: Back to Basics

11-11-2013 12:54 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

The last couple of weeks, I have learned how lazy I had become as a Woodworker, having had a workshop which had just about every tool a hobby Woodworker could wish for, and then going to nothing and having to start again, has made me realise how lucky I was, and also how blasé I had become. The last couple of weeks, I decided to ‘improve’ my table saw top, by putting in a second dado rail, fitting inserts for the saw blade, and making a cross-cut sled, simple you might think! ...

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Part 7: Dust free at last... well almost!

11-13-2013 11:58 PM by PhilBello | 6 comments »

The main problem with having a ‘micro-workshop’ in the apartment, is that dust does not stay there, and it is the one thing that annoys my wife! (especially when I run my finger over the furniture, and asked if she has dusted today! :) ) So I thought it was about time I did something to ease the problem. I decided to use an Vac hose support devised by Jack Houweling you can see his video Here , it is ideal for the small workshop, where you haven’t got space for dedicate...

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Part 8: Wood has such a calming effect!

11-16-2013 09:35 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

The last couple of days have been to put it politely, a bit frustrating. I am gathering tools together slowly, so that when we find the right house, I will be able to get up and running in the workshop, reasonably quickly, and from listening to the Locals, and my experiences of living in Spain, power cuts out in the Campo are something you learn to live with, in my case, I like to be prepared, and a Generator, to keep both the house and the workshop ticking over is a must. Before moving t...

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Part 9: No Spindle Sander?...

11-18-2013 05:39 PM by PhilBello | 1 comment »

A spindle sander is something I have never had in my workshop, although I can see the benefits of having one, in the past I have used a multi-tool with the drum sanding attachments, but at the moment, I haven’t even got one of those, and needed to make a circular cut, just a fraction bigger. It is all too easy to set to, and find that you end up with a misshapen circle, but there is a simple option: all you need is a length of dowel (slightly smaller than the circle), or in my...

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Part 10: Remove those loose cables from the floor.

11-25-2013 07:47 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

I’m not sure why it is, that those simple things that make life easier always seem to take a back seat, I am in the enviable position that because I only have my micro-workshop, I can spend my time making some of the things I would probably never get around to otherwise. One of the things that surprised me here in Colombia, is the apparent inability to be able to buy a reel cable, they only seem to sell extension cables ‘loose’, you can buy a reel separately (a small vers...

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Part 11: Picture Frames

11-27-2013 12:31 PM by PhilBello | 5 comments »

If there is one thing I dislike doing, it is making picture frames, but when needs must!... Following my six year old Colombian Nephew’s ‘passing out’ from Infants School last week, there were obviously a raft of photos, and unfortunately the next stop, was my door, so I had to do some quick thinking, because I no longer had my framing equipment. It was back to my old friend, YouTube, to get some ideas, and the easiest was a video by George Berry, which showed a simple an...

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Part 12: Grinder Stand or Piece of Furniture?

11-30-2013 01:36 AM by PhilBello | 0 comments »

Having a shortage of bench space, I decided that I needed to create a space for the bench grinder, and not wanting to damage any walls in the apartment, I decided a dedicated Grinder Stand was called for, but not away floor storage space. After hunting for a while, I found what I was looking for on it hardly reduced the floor space at all. To make this you only need half a sheet of 3/4” plywood, I used pine, as it was cheaper, and some scraps of birch ply for the top...

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Part 13: E-Reader Stand

12-15-2013 04:58 PM by PhilBello | 3 comments »

My wife and I both use E-Readers, myself, because there are a limited number of paper books available, and my Wife, because books in Colombia are horrendously expensive. Anyway I digress… My wife wanted a stand for hers, so she could read it comfortably in bed, without having to hold it all the time. So I came up with a simple design, made of scrap wood lying around the workshop, in this case, some 3/4” ply for the back support, 6mm MDF for the backboard and front strips, and s...

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Part 14: Table Saw Taper Jig

12-17-2013 02:12 AM by PhilBello | 1 comment »

When it came to making wooden wedges, my efforts were always hit and miss, however because hopefully, in the New Year sometime, we will finally be in the position to buy our own place, and one that needs a bit of work, I thought I had better start getting prepared. One of the things I will need, will be shims for putting in door frames, I have to be honest when it comes to finding tools or accessories you need, here in Colombia, it is very hit and miss. The reason I keep being given is,...

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Part 15: Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year to One and All!

12-22-2013 12:50 PM by PhilBello | 1 comment »

I decided to make some last minute stocking fillers for family and friends, this year it was Cheese Boards, I bought some hardwood sheets from HomeCenter, unfortunately there was no description as to what wood was used to make up these sheets, but it had a nice grain.To make the process easier, I decided to make a another Spindle Sander which could be used on the Pillar Drill, or as is described in ‘The Family Handyman’, a drum sander. The idea being this is clamped on the ...

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Part 16: A belated Happy New Year to Everyone!

01-06-2014 10:10 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

I hope that everyone, enjoyed their festive period with Family and friends, I have to say, getting back to normality from tomorrow (Today is another Public Holiday!) will be a pleasure! I am afraid that Woodwork has had to take a back seat for a while, the sale of my House in Spain went through, between Christmas and New Year, at the moment I am busy trying to get the paperwork correct, in order to transfer the funds to Colombia, and due to the anti money laundering laws, that is no easy m...

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Part 17: The next stage...Pros and Cons

01-26-2014 07:03 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

We have finally bought a house, unfortunately it hasn’t got a workshop, but there is room to construct a small workshop on site. So the plan is to have the work completed on the house, which should take two months, we should be able to move in after the first month, at which stage I will use a bedroom as previously, but when work is completed, I am having a 6m x 4m workshop built, the advantage in my case, is the weather, which should allow me to move the work outside whenever I want...

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Part 18: On the Way!

02-16-2014 01:39 PM by PhilBello | 3 comments »

The work on the house is coming to an end, and then the work begins to build the workshop, they are already digging out the footings: Unfortunately, I have had to reduce the size of the Shop to 6m x 3.5m, however the intention is to cover the parking area, which will give me an area three times the size, so the Shop itself will become the area for machinery. Getting there…slowly!

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Part 19: Work is underway

02-28-2014 11:01 PM by PhilBello | 4 comments »

The work on the workshop came to an abrupt halt as a more pressing problem with the house reared it’s ugly head, however that has now been sorted, and work is now back on schedule… more or less! It doesn’t help that only large National Companies in Colombia have any machinery to help out, locally everything is done by hand, including bulk concrete mixing. I am told there are two reasons for this, one that it keeps more people in employment, and the second, anyone wit...

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Part 20: It has taken a while and still not finished!

06-02-2014 03:36 PM by PhilBello | 1 comment »

Well…I have to admit that I didn’t think I would be away from the site for so long, it has taken a while to get the workshop up and running, and there is still work in progress, I need to organise an area for wood storage, and at the moment, I am looking at the roof area for that. However it is still going to be some time before I can spend quality time in the workshop, I am still working flat out on the house, and unfortunately also having to redo some of the work done by the ...

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Part 21: Getting back into a routine

07-09-2014 04:03 AM by PhilBello | 1 comment »

Having taken my Wife over to the UK for a couple of weeks to meet the family, it has been hard to get back into a routine, I have done a couple of small jobs, one of our neighbours had been helpful, and let our Builders work from her garden, so I had promised her a new house name plaque, when I was straight, it has only taken three months!... I haven’t a clue what the timber is, it is a hardwood, but I am still getting used to the different wood types available, in Colombia, it d...

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Part 22: Now for the serious stuff!

08-11-2014 02:41 AM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

I have been full of good intentions, but something always seems to crop up to stop the bigger projects getting under way, however I think I am clear to get started on rebuilding the kiosko / gazebo. It was my intention to get under way last week, but we had to have a couple of Mango trees removed, one at the front and another at the back of the house, for fruit trees they were big, taller than the house, and that was a worry, because I didn’t want any damage done to the house whilst fel...

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Part 23: Kiosko phase 1

08-14-2014 03:01 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

Last night the timber finally arrived As soon as I can get, or make the broken part for my table saw I will be underway, I have a lead on that locally, so may have some idea later today, in the mean time, I need to sort out the timbers and number them, so I know what is for where, otherwise I know I will end up cutting the wrong piece! Some of the timber posts are for another project, I will probably complete first to give me more room on the kiosko, and that is to erect posts and p...

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Part 24: Slow start

08-17-2014 02:23 AM by PhilBello | 3 comments »

I thought I had built up enough tools to complete most tasks, as I said in my last post, I am starting, by erecting fencing, to make more room in the workshop to work on the Kiosko roof, I have been brought to a grinding halt by the lack of a 5/8” drill bit, I have a masonry one, but also need one for wood. However some of the cutting got underway, I used my sliding compound mitre saw to cut the posts, but I haven’t got a mitre station, so what do I do, to be honest I haven...

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Part 25: Main Project on hold!

08-28-2014 02:10 PM by PhilBello | 3 comments »

It appears that our beloved President Santos has given us duff information, a couple of months ago, we were warned to expect El Niño, nine months of dry arrid weather, the last week has seen the return of the rainy season, and that is not just the odd shower, so I think our second winter of the year has arrived, which is not what I need at the moment. Unless the weather breaks and we have a decent spell, I am going to have to put the kiosko roof replacement on hold, I haven’t got suf...

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Part 26: Project or Blog?

09-02-2014 11:39 PM by PhilBello | 11 comments »

I debated where to put this, then decided to stick with my Blog! I had a makeshift lumber rack made out of an old prison bunk-bed frame, it did it’s job, but it took up too much space, then last week I watched Jay Bates from Jays Custom Creations, construct a simple lumber rack made from 2×4s and metal conduit on YouTube, and that spurred me on to build a new rack. I hitched up the trailer and went off to Homecenter, bought a stack of 2×4s and some other timber for othe...

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Part 27: Pipe Clamps!

09-19-2014 02:12 AM by PhilBello | 7 comments »

Our second winter of the year is definitely here, just as warm, but plenty of storms! So the Kiosk roof is on hold now, probably until November, when we are back to summer again. In the mean time, all woodwork came to a halt a little over a week ago, with the arrival of a new family member, a four legged one, we wanted a companion for our schnauzer, so took on a rescue dog, that had been abused, the first three days we thought it was the biggest mistake we had made, he is only a small coll...

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Part 28: Carport

10-14-2014 12:41 AM by PhilBello | 4 comments »

I recently decided that I would retire gracefully from motorcycling, I bought a new bike in March and have only done 500km due in part to the weather, and probably more importantly due to the horrendous standard of driving in Colombia, there isn’t a day when I am out in the car that I don’t pass at least two accidents involving motorcycles. So the bike is being sold, and I have purchased a 1982 Suzuki SJ, which I am more than happy with, but it came with it’s own problem...

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Part 29: Tip of the Day!!!

10-20-2014 05:41 PM by PhilBello | 3 comments »

The weather seems to have gone from bad to worse, at least the cars have stayed dry! So the only work I have been doing is reclaiming some mahogany timbers that were left in the garden by the previous owner, to rot, and after cleaning them up, they turned out to be well seasoned usable timber, which only needed a few nail holes filling, after which I have used them both for making window sills and shelving. All of which I have left natural, and used my home made beeswax polish to bring out bo...

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Part 30: Recycling

10-31-2014 09:26 PM by PhilBello | 7 comments »

This last week or two, my time has been severely curtailed, whilst supporting my Wife who is starting up a new business, but without some form of woodwork, I would go nuts, therefore I have been using up some of the reclaimed mahogany, I collected from around the garden when we moved in, it had been disguarded like firewood, an absolute waste…well it was, until I came along! I denailed it, stripped the paint off and put it into store, now it has come out, and some has been used to make...

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Part 31: Time to think about Christmas!

11-04-2014 06:49 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

Christmas, a time we all feel the strain on the wallet, but I’m sure there are plenty of us who can ease the strain, just a little. This year I decided to make a Height Growth Chart for my six year old nephew, something new to Colombians, they have never thought to keep track of their childs growth in this way, I know my own mother just stood us against the kitchen door frame and placed a mark there, but I wanted to do something different, and having seen one on YouTube in feet and i...

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Part 32: Christmas Present to myself!

12-01-2014 10:35 PM by PhilBello | 5 comments »

I decided that it was time to make something for me, and what better than a new Workbench, I have been making do, with the bench I made when living in an apartment, and had a micro workshop in a spare bedroom, now it was time for a man size bench. The pile of mahogany to the left of the saw horse leg is my bench (that on the right is still the Kiosko / Gazebo roof!) this arrived on the 19th. I then sorted the timber and cut the parts The planks on the left are the top at 2.5...

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Part 33: My Gazebo Project is well underway!

01-15-2015 10:16 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

Two weeks ago, I finally got underway with the Gazebo / Kiosko, the three month wait for summer to arrive was over, my Father-in-law had come to stay for Christmas and New Year to give me a hand. First we had to demolish the old gazebo, being careful to leave the corner posts standing We managed it, But Henry enjoyed himself a bit too much, and had to be reined in, which is easier to do, when he is only one year older than me! But we ran into a major snag, one of the posts wa...

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Part 34: Nearly there!

01-23-2015 01:36 PM by PhilBello | 5 comments »

The Gazebo is nearly finished, the first layer of roofing was T&G pine 1/4” thick planks, which I nailed with my air nail gun. That wasn’t so bad, as I could do most of the work from a ladder, after which I fitted the barge boards. Then I had to felt it, and this took some time, because I had to do it when the sun was in, as soon as the sun comes out the tar melts and seals the felt to whatever it is in contact with. I battened the roof as I felted it, to avoid having t...

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Part 35: Brads are stronger than you think

01-24-2015 12:00 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

When fitting the pine T&G planking, I made sure that all the T&G was properly inserted, before using my nail gun with 1” brads. OK, I had the problem of the two planks imitating a banana, but that was my fault, however last night I noticed that a number of the planks are trying to twist, and come apart from the T&G, but the brads are holding. Some people tend to think that brads are more for tacking wood together whilst glue dries, but this has proved that there is some s...

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Part 36: Gazebo finished!

01-25-2015 10:15 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

After an early walk with the dogs, and fed them, it was 6.30am, it was just light enough to see, so I got cracking, I couldn’t believe it by 7.30am I was just fitting the second sheet, and the sun came out! I made a decision to keep going, and hope that any damage to the bitumen felt was minimal. I was sweating like a trooper, both through fear of being up there, and the heat of the sun, I just kept going until it was done, no major damage was done to the bitumen felt, the only snag ...

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Part 37: Time for an upgrade

02-06-2015 01:16 AM by PhilBello | 5 comments »

I think I have said previously that my second hand Craftsman (315 28462) has been a problem I could not adjust it sufficiently to get a perfect or near perfect 90° cut, and I now have a couple of projects coming up where I want to be able to make decent cuts, without then having to plane or adjust the timber after cutting. So today was spent searching for a new table saw, it seems that I only had one choice (unless I went for another ‘table top’ type), although there were two o...

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Part 38: Table saw Accessories

02-15-2015 09:19 PM by PhilBello | 6 comments »

You buy a new table saw, and think…Great, can’t wait to get going, then you realise it isn’t quite that simple! The first job was to do something about the pathetic mitre gauge that came with the Craftsman 21883, it was smaller than the one on my old Craftsman table top version. I wanted a mitre gauge I could use to the left or right of the blade, without having to dismantle it, or have two to interchange, the answer was to make a sliding fence. The existing gauge has ...

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Part 39: Bar Clamps

02-23-2015 02:34 AM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

They say that you can never have too many clamps, in my case I have a distinct shortage, so decided to do something about it this week. I only have one clamp of any length, and that is a pipe clamp I made some time ago, I decided to make some wooden bar clamps, but storage is at a premium, so some of the sturdier, heavier clamps were out before I started. I reviewed a number of YouTube videos on the subject, and ended up taking ideas from two or three of them. One alteration from the...

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Part 40: Current project put on hold... for today!

02-25-2015 09:56 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

I am in the process of making a Router Table to fit in my Table saw extension wing, but it came to a stop today, I was going to cut some more parts, and the collar on the know of the mitre gauge shattered, I had only lifted it to move it, no undue pressure. Upon closer examination, the collar of the knob is only thin plastic, molded around the nut head, so it had to be the weak point. I had a number of options, the obvious one being to claim under the Warranty with Craftsman, but wh...

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Part 41: Mosquitera Needed

02-25-2015 10:05 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

The nights are still hot here, but we can’t have the bedroom window open due to mosquitoes and the risk of dengue, a fan is not sufficient, and I am certainly not going down the road of Air Con, so it was time to make mosquiteras. I thought I would start with one, and see how it went. I did make some when I lived in Spain, and they worked, so no reason why not here, This version only works with sliding windows. I cut some 4×2s to 1/2” x 1 1/2”, for this window I w...

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Part 42: Lever Router Lift...Done!

03-08-2015 12:05 AM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

Two weeks ago I started preparing the parts for Jay Bates, Lever Router Lift Extension, I had a pile of plywood and some bits of metal, then went down with the flu, (thanks Mother in law!), which brought it to an abrupt halt for a week. It isn’t often I follow a plan, I’ll use it and adapt it to my own needs. However on this occasion, other than changing some of the dimensions to fit on my saw table extension wing, which is a couple of inches shorter than Jay’s, but t...

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Part 43: Router table extension wing fitted!

03-10-2015 03:29 PM by PhilBello | 5 comments »

I thought having built the router table and lift, and maybe it might be a good idea to fit it. Work had come to a halt for a few days, I have been having trouble with my legs, and my Doc said that if I didn’t go to the specialist, I could end up without them, which spurred me into action, as a result I am now having one set of tests after another, until they find out what is causing the constant pain, yesterday was Veins, they are all still there and functioning normally :) , so now ...

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Part 44: It's not only Women allowed to changed their minds!

03-14-2015 11:58 PM by PhilBello | 9 comments »

I said my next project was going to be the mobile Mitre saw stand, but as I am having trouble sourcing some parts, I decided I would make a wheelbarrow Planer Stand, I had seen it on Popular Woodworking and decided it would be ideal for me, as I often have to cart my Planer to various parts of the property, so a fixed one in the workshop was not for me. It only takes a couple of hours to make, and although it is slightly bigger than I envisaged, it is sturdy and the right height, it will g...

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Part 45: Box Joint Jig

03-22-2015 10:13 PM by PhilBello | 6 comments »

My joints have been basic to say the least up until now,dowel, pocket hole, mitre, butt, lap and half lap… you get the idea! so to extend on my repertoire, I decided to go with Mario Cappellano (thewoodfather) and his basic jig, I won’t be doing them often, so don’t need anything fancy, but not having a dado set up was the decider on choice. It only took a couple of hours to make, from scraps, and an angle bracket I had lying around, the latter acting as the guide pin. I ...

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Part 46: Parqués

03-22-2015 10:26 PM by PhilBello | 5 comments »

Parqués is a Board Game peculiar to Colombia, although it has variations around the world, in the UK it is Ludo, elsewhere I don’t know. The problem is that unless you want to buy something that you would need a microscope to see, they are damned expensive…well by our standards, and I have now lived here long enough to believe in local values so with the family coming for Semana Santa / Easter, I decided I would try to make one, it’s not hard,. just time consuming. I ...

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Part 47: Parqués...Cont'd

03-23-2015 08:36 PM by PhilBello | 3 comments »

It may be basic wood burning, but as I haven’t done any for a while, that is fine, and although it kills my back, bending over a large piece, I find it very therapeutic, and come away quite relaxed. This morning I finished the burning on the first side I just have to decide what I am going to put in the circles, if anything, I will probably iron on a laser print, but of what, I don’t yet know. Then it was time to get on with the four player version, this time making s...

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Part 48: Parqués finished!

03-29-2015 11:52 PM by PhilBello | 2 comments »

It’s amazing what you can do with masking tape and a few cans of spray paint, once that bit was done, I tried stencilling the words onto the board, but you wouldn’t have been able to see them at night, especially those family members who had had a snifter or two!! So I printed address labels, stuck them on the board, and sprayed varnish over them to seal them, before applying a few coats of brushing varnish. That done I applied the mahogany trim and voila! we are ready to play,...

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