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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #276: Finding a Way

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 1264 days ago 2208 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 275: Anticipation Part 276 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 277: Another Milestone »

Some say that necessity is the mother of invention. I tend to agree. Need is a great motivator. Needing something has a way of pushing us to think outside the box and perhaps be a little more innovative than we would normally be. Especially if we have limited resources.

Many of you know that I live in a fairly small place. I don’t have a real shop, per se, but rather do most of my own work in my kitchen and living area. My bedroom doubles as a storage room for most of my beautiful exotic wood, with all of it neatly stacked inside or on top of my storage cabinets. When I think about it, the wood stored in my bedroom takes up more square inches of real estate than my clothing. I suppose that shows where my priorities lie.

Many people view spring as a beautiful season. We often hear songs of trees blossoming and love blooming in the spring and everything is sunny and green. Call me an old poop, but I tend to look at spring as a muddy mess. It is certainly my least favorite season of the year. Even here in the country everything is wet and grimy and dirty. There are remnants of winter in the form of dirty piles of snow scattered here and there, but for the most part, there is wet mud everywhere. I realize that it is part of the cycle, but I honestly can’t wait for it to pass.

Why should I care, you may wonder?

With living in a small place such as I do, a great deal of my messy woodworking is done on the front deck. Although I have been known to route in the bathroom from time to time, it is usually only occasionally when it is too wet to do so on the front porch. I try to work around doing things like that as much as I possibly can.

But with only about two weeks left until I leave for the woodworking show and having to cut out over 400 1/8” birch plywood ornaments to bring with, time is of the essence and I can’t really afford to wait until things are nice outside. Cutting the ornaments with the saw really isn’t an issue. The tiny blade brings up very little dust and even though there will be quite a quantity of them, there is no way that they will all be cut in one fell swoop so the mess is minimal and easy to clean between sessions.

What I am talking about is the preparation of the wood for cutting that was the issue. I recently picked up five pieces of 1/8” Baltic birch plywood from Bernie’s for just this purpose. I use this type of wood frequently for painting projects, such as ornaments and the skating pond and although I realize that I won’t be using it all for this particular set of ornaments, I will be using a great deal of it. The wood come fairly smooth, but in order to make a good base for any type of painting, it needs to be finish sanded prior to painting it. There in lies my issue.

Sanding is messy no matter what. Typically, when doing a project such as this, I would spend an hour or so on the porch and sand out there. As I look out my window, however, not only is it windy, but also wet and somewhat muddy. It isn’t really a great environment for sanding.

With the recent purchase of my Rigid oscillating belt sander, I came to the realization that when attached to my new shop vac (which I call “the monster”) I can actually sand inside the house with virtually no dust. Now I know that many of you are shaking your heads in disbelief, but it really is true. It sucks away just about every bit of dust the sander throws out. I was highly impressed when I saw this in action, although my cats were not quite as much so. (They are becoming quite stoic though, and Richard even has been seen bravely walking by the monster when it is on and coming within about a foot of it. I think he just does it so he can look tough though!)

In any case, after cutting the necessary plywood pieces (approximately 45) down to size, they needed a quick sanding on both sides with my Makita 1/3 sheet orbital sander. Now the sander has a little dust bag on it, but the filtration on the bag is not what I would call “really effective” so until now I have only considered using it outside. But with the recent acquisition of “the monster” we got the feeling that anything is possible. We pulled off the dust bag from the Makita sander and used the adapter and hooked the little hand held sander up to the monster.

In testing the results, we are very pleased to report that it did a wonderful job of collecting the dust from the sander. There was nothing airborne that we could see and no thin film of grit apparent anywhere. This was great news and we proceeded to sand all the wood necessary for the ornaments. When we were finished, we barely needed to vacuum the floor near where we were working. There was no dust on the tables or counters or anywhere. I was very happy that we were able to do this without a problem.

Now I know it isn’t the most optimal situation, but it isn’t the worst either. This was an unusual situation for me to have that much stuff to sand at a time and it certainly won’t be the norm. It just feels good that it can be done inside without much of a disruption or cause that much mess.

I often get letters or private messages that question that I am even scroll sawing in such a place. Many people don’t want to believe that it is possible to do so and still have a clean environment. Many times non-woodworkers and friends don’t believe it until they come over and they can see that it is clean here and there isn’t dust all over the place like most shops have. I think that the key to keeping things nice and livable is taking the time after each session to clean up whatever mess you make. It takes only a few minutes and it really makes it possible to use the space that I have for woodworking.

One day I will have a ‘real shop’ to work in and build things in. But until then, I will keep trying to find ways to make what I have work for me. It helps a great deal that I only build smaller projects. That means less dust and mess all around. But keeping up with things is really key in making things work.

Today will consist of continuing to cut the ornaments for the class, as well as finish up on the second pattern. I got all the photographs prepared for the second pattern and only have to assemble the packet into a usable format to be done.

It is time to really begin making a physical list today of what needs to be brought. We have been making mental lists, but as the time gets closer it is time to really start writing things down. We are coming to the home stretch and don’t want to forget anything.

I hope everyone has a good day today. Enjoy your Sunday!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



9 comments so far

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1463 days


#1 posted 1263 days ago

Well girl, I admire you. My house is full of dust. Dust from wood burning, dust from 32 dog feet and 44 puppy feet and yes, dust from using a sander with no dust sucker and a circular saw and a drill etc. etc. IN MY KITCHEN. So, there you have it. My front porch is covered with sawdust and wood chips. And now a pile of paint/stain/urethane cans that were kindly delivered to me from a friend (he was cleaning out his garage.) So, I wish I had a clean/dust free house. But I don’t. LOL

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7557 posts in 1545 days


#2 posted 1263 days ago

I got to say, RG – You WIN! I had trepidations about posting this because I thought I would get yelled at for sanding in my kitchen, but I see I am in good company so I feel lots better about it! LOL (Who needs bread crumbs in your meatloaf when you sand in your kitchen? Fiber is fiber, right?)

I was over at my neighbor Lee’s house yesterday (he has the five cats) and he said to me “your sweater has cat hair all over the back of it.” Well, thank you Captian Obvious, I thought. Gotta love our pets AND our lives! :D

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1463 days


#3 posted 1263 days ago

All hail to fiber! And Captain Obvious needs to get out and make some sawdust. Then maybe he will begin to see cat hair as the condiment that it is. :)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1740 days


#4 posted 1263 days ago

I wont bee long before Richard is stepdancing and have his little Morfar nap on top of the monster
while you are sanding all day long ….. LOL
(Morfar nap = mothers father and nap is a ½ hours sleep on the sofa after dinner )

great to hear you have so good use of the monster , just bee little observant when the bag is going to
be over half full to see wh en it starts not to suck so good and can start to send fine dust out in the
air again depending on what filters you have on it

if you think the monster is too noisy there is a solution for that allso :-)

have a great day
Dennis

View William's profile

William

8972 posts in 1467 days


#5 posted 1263 days ago

I’m with you on spring. I hate spring. Of couerse, I hate every season except full summer. I used to not worry about the seasons, but ever since my wreck, you know my health went to the crapper. Well, summer is the best season for my health. Mississippi summers, for the most part, are HOT. At least it’s consistantly hot though. Consistant weather, no matter what kind it is, means my pain level stays at a more tolerable level.
Now for your sanding, I have noticed on some of the few photos we’ve seen (for example when you built shelves here a while back) of your home that it is clean. I’ve never commented about it because it amazed me that it was. My shop is a mess. Even when I clean it, I will leave and come back later to a fine dusting of sawdust all over EVERYTHING. I commend you for your cleanliness. You must be so careful to do so. How do you keep dust from getting everywhere while scrolling inside your house. When I scroll, especially for long periods of time, I wind up with a lap full of very fine dust. Most of that dust falls off when I stand up. Some of it usually makes it to my house though.
My wife is constantly aggrevated with me about my side of the bed. Because of the bits of dust and tiny bit of scrolling cutouts that make their way home with me on my boots, in my pockets, and elsewhere, my side of the bed, there is a spot on the carpet that stays about as bad as my shop.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7557 posts in 1545 days


#6 posted 1263 days ago

Well William, I just vacuum every day and keep stuff in its place. It isn’t that I am that neat, but it is a matter of survival for me. I have dark gray marbled looking formica counters in the kitchen and I keep them pretty bear. No cutesy stuff cluttering all around. I have a couple of things, like a little toaster oven, but no knick knacks to speak of. I don’t like clutter. It is really easy to just wipe everything down when I am done and run the vacuum. We have all pergo type floors here too and ceramic in the bathroom. That helps to keep it clean. The only rug I have is a 5’ x 8’ dark brown area rug in the living room. The dark brown shows everything so it keeps me at it every day. But it is small and fast to go over.

You see we have mostly dark furniture, so I have one of those magnetic feathery dusters that gets the fine stuff up really quick. After several hours of work or cutting, it only takes about 5-10 minutes to clean up.

This comes from years of living in smaller places with no real sizable shop. It seems I have always been scrolling anywhere from my family room to my kitchen and when I had my apartment in Chicago, I used to use the floor of the walk in closet. I wonder what I would do with a ‘real shop’? LOL Maybe one day I will find out.

That monster really is great and makes even quicker work of the mess. It holds a LOT and probably won’t need to be emptied until summer! Remember too, I make smaller things. When we did our project, we got a taste of what doing big things is like and I think we are best to save them for summer when we can go outside to do the dirty work.

Thanks for the nice thoughts! :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile

William

8972 posts in 1467 days


#7 posted 1263 days ago

I do small things too. They are just usually glued together with more small things to make large things.
What kind of “monster” do you have. I have an old Craftsman wet/dry vac that I bought at a yard sale a while back. It works great, when I can keep the filter clean on it. I have found out the hard way that fine dust like from my scroll saw clogs the filter up pretty quickly. At $20 a piece for the filters, I can afford new filters very often either.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7557 posts in 1545 days


#8 posted 1263 days ago

It is a Rigid 14 gal 6.0 peak HP vac. Truly a “mother of all Monsters” as far as the cats are concerned! I have to be careful or I will vacuum one of them up if I am not looking!

As long as we keep things dry, the filter seems fine. It does get cat hair wrapped around it, but that kind of just peels off. We check it after a full day of work and just take the filter out back and give it a good shake and it is good to go. It rolls right along too, and lives in the closet right next to the scroll saw. Very convenient. I will post a pic tomorrow.

:)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile

William

8972 posts in 1467 days


#9 posted 1263 days ago

Thanks Sheila. I’ve been thinking of getting the cash together to buy a Rigid. They have some good sales on them here from time to time.
Also, after reading your response, it made me think what actually may be wrong with mine. I did get the filter wet once right after I changed it. It seems to me that that shouldn’t make a difference after it dries, but maybe it does. I may try a new filter and save this one for only when I need to vaccum upp something wet.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

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