One of the things that I like best about how my business and ‘job’ is set up is that I really get to know many other woodworkers and painters. Not only do I regard these people as customers, but also as friends. Woodworkers and painters alike are they type of people who like to share information with each other and enjoy seeing others benefit from the things that they learned themselves, and part of why I like working in these fields so much is hearing the stories and seeing how generous people are with their knowledge and the things they learned along the way.
The other day, I received two packages from a customer. His name is Lewis Riggins and he lives in Washington state. Lewis doesn’t have internet, but has subscribed to Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine for several years (as well as the ‘other scrollsaw magazine’) and really enjoys scroll sawing. He also likes making his own versions of the patterns he receives in the magazine.
A couple of months ago, he got his issue with my Rocking Reindeer Pattern in it.
While Lewis liked the pattern, he didn’t like the fact that the deer were on rockers. He thought it would be nicer if he put them on a base and set them in a more naturalistic environment. As a result, he made some really nice dioramas that others could display on a table top, fireplace mantle or even on a shelf. Here is the result of one of his creations:
I loved the way this looks and I wanted to share it with everyone. In talking to Lewis on the phone, he told me that he has made about 70 (Yes! That’s seventy!) of these reindeer in different scenes such as this. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture, but he even put lights to shine up from the ground and there is also room on the base of the platform where you can have a drawer for jewelry or something similar. I think it is just wonderful!
In the second package that he sent me was a really neat tool for stripping wire.
While I have had different wire stippers before, I haven’t really seen one quite like this. On this tool, the cutters are actually squared off, instead of round.
At first I didn’t really see the difference in this and any other cutters. But when reading Lewis’ note and talking to him, I soon saw the value of using this type of tool. You see, in order to secure the delicate antlers on the deer, I drill a hole through the head and embed a toothpick into the base of each antler to give them a post. First I glue the toothpick into the antler base, then I cut it to length and glue it onto the hole in the head. This helps a great deal with keeping the antlers from falling off.
While this does work well, there is only a small area to work with. One of the issues that occur is that the hole has to be kept quite small because the base of the antler is also small. When you put glue into it and push the toothpick in, it seems that you lose most of the glue, as it comes oozing back out.
By using this square stripper to ‘square off’ the toothpick, you are allowing more of a hallow area between the toothpick and the pre-drilled hole and more room for the glue to remain, making a stronger bond.
I can really see the value in using this when building items that need this type of post.
Lew told me that he was able to find this at his local Home Depot – not in the tool section, but in the electrical section of the store. He said that some automotive suppliers may have it too, but not all of them that he looked at.
I think it is a great idea for those of you who do joinery of small projects using toothpicks as small dowels and I thought I would pass the information on to you. Thank you so much, Lew!
As I said, I really enjoy working in an area with so many people who are willing to share and exchange ideas. It makes it fun for everyone else, as well as helps us make new friends. Learning from not only our own experiences, but also from others is a valuable tool in the creative process and helps eliminate lots of the stress of not knowing how to do something and blindly trying to figure it out for ourselves. I am glad that so many of the creative people I come in contact are willing to share their ideas and thoughts with others. In these times when everyone seems to be struggling to survive, it is nice to see people working together to achieve a common goal.
I hope you all have a great day today. I am just about finished with my painting and I have some cutting to do to get the kits out to Artist’s Club. My day will be full, but I am really enjoying the journey.
Have a great Sunday.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"