Hello everyone, I cannot believe it’s been over 5 weeks since the last update, but you know how life goes…
Sadly, the major event the past month for us was watching the passing of one of our elderly cats, named Leo.
He was 18 years old, and finally succumbed to end stage renal failure. Leo was an awesome friend who lived a sedentary life, sleeping on the couch most of His time. He weighed close to 20 pounds most of His adult life, but was scared of His own tail! :) If we had company, Leo would hide for nearly a day…in fact, He took years to get accustomed to living with me!
In the end, I built him a pine box, and we buried him on the mountainside behind our home. I’m pretty sure Leo is still nearby.
Since my wife has been travelling so much this past month for work, I’ve made extra time for the shop to occupy my mind. After more hard core cleaning, I’m preparing to build another 12’ wall on the opposite side of the shop as earlier this year. I’ve also added more sheathing and white paint to the wall which will be between the two new walls, directly behind my bench. The plan is for more french cleats all the way around!
Still adding cleats and tools to the first wall…
My lathe has essentially taken over this area of the shop near the doors, and claimed quite a bit of space on the wall. It’s amazing how such a small lathe can require so many tools and accessories! But each is important during some phase of turning.
Some of the hand tools already hanging will probably be moved closer to my bench soon. And, I’ll continue to add more finished artwork…gourds for example.
Speaking of crafty art…I spent a fair amount of time coiling pine needle baskets recently. Maybe it’s the summer heat, but making baskets is a great way to spend the time inside near the A/C!
I don’t think I’ve shown them much on LJ’s, so maybe I should explain what they are? I take long leaf needles and form them into a 3/8” diameter coil, then stitch that coil to itself as it winds around the center. Extremely simple…and very time consuming! Yet the finished product it so unique and earthy that many people are drawn to the baskets! I’ve sold dozens of them to men and women; spanning every age group. And I find them very relaxing to make.
That’s probably the nicest basket I’ve made in a while; spalted Maple for a center and walnut slices from our property form the handles. I use wax-coated nylon and linen for the stitching since it’s very strong and abrasion resistant. Also a finish coat of melted beeswax adds stiffness to the baskets as well as protection from moisture and use. Yes, these are intended for use!
The above basket is already in Boston…a gift for my wife’s parents.
Next, I shaped a couple of smaller baskets…
The guy on the left has a stamped leather center, and the other is from Maple Burl. These are quick, little baskets…taking a mere 8-10 hours to complete!
A basket with this much stitching takes closer to 14 hours:
Spalted Apple highlights the colorful stitching above…
In addition to the many hours of coiling, this form of basketry also demands time for preparing the materials! The pine needles must be washed and rinsed, then the wooden ends are removed as carefully as possible in order to keep the needles in bundles. Plus, slicing walnuts isn’t quick by any means. I use the bandsaw to get two slices from each nut, then the belt sander to pretty the faces up after removing the meat.
However, if you price out walnut slices, you’ll find them at close to a dollar each! That makes this small pile worth the same as a Lie Nielsen socket chisel:
So, it’s certainly worth my time to process them!
In the above photo, you can also see a small coiling gauge I turned from a pen blank this month. As I shape the baskets, I insert needles into this gauge to help manage the loose pine needles, and the inner diameter keeps the coils roughly the same size.
While dealing with baskets this past month, I also learned how difficult it was for me to build a simple folding easel…
My first attempt was just stupid since I decided to cut the bevel LAST on the scroll saw, and clean it up with a disc sander. Somehow, I lost all squareness using that process! Of course, using the table saw to cut that back bevel first was the solution, but I forgot to flip my pattern, so ended up with 2 right legs! Bollocks!
Eventually, I got it right. But soon discovered all my hinges are way too large. A quick trip to the Borg provided me with smaller hinges and some crappy screws that disintegrated when I applied torque with my smallest screwdriver…in a pre-drilled hole! So, an online order for hinges and screws gives me more time to consider this build. I just don’t want $3 easels from China to display my work, so i’ll keep trying to build them.
I suppose you guys noticed the new till on the french cleat photo?
I needed to get my chisels OFF the lathe table a long time ago, but have put off a till for an unknown reason. This one is fairly ugly up close, but works great! Since my chisels vary so much in length, I came up with this layout to save space. The small shelf helps hold jam chucks and a few wooden blanks…which threaten to take over my shop.
The carcase is built from 1/2” Oak ply, rabbeted together, but the Oak trim is just scabbed on with glue and finish nails. Man, I wish I had a brad nailer now that I have a small air compressor in the shop. I’m actually pretty good at driving framing nails and fencing staples; but have never learned the skill of using finish nails.
While on the subject of lathes…here are a handful of rough turned bowls from the past few weeks…
I’m beginning to get a routine for roughing out green wood into bowls. That helps speed the process greatly; in fact, I turned FIVE of these in a single day! Now that we have unlimited high-speed internet, I’ve been studying woodturning on youTube quite a bit. Luckily, some of the knowledge is starting to make it’s way to my shop.
Here are a couple of boxes I turned recently…
That one is about 3×4” and turned from Claro Walnut and Holly. The oil finish really darkened the Walnut…I may try spray shellac next time to prevent the dark oil from hiding the yellows and reds?
Oh, that phallic thing on the right is a new handle which locks down the tailstock with greater ease than the stock one. Looks funny, I know, but after seeing dozens on youTube I can now attest to what a great addition it really is! I’ll try to keep it out of photos when possible…
And a simple box from Tamboti around 3×5”.
A weird shot after turning some Osage Orange:
And, as last minute entertainment, I started back on my bench’s endcaps…For too long now, the left end of my bench has looked like this:
I cut out those finger joints and tongue in the Pine months ago, but dropped the project. Just a few days ago, I cut a chunk of Black Walnut slightly oversized, and resumed work. The massive finger joints were all cut by hand, as well as the tongue and groove joint which will serve as a breadboard. Pinned with 3/8” beech.
I would rather have DT’s, but they weren’t practical since the aprons have been assembled long ago…plus an end vise will cover the opposite end soon. Next bench gets DT’s facing the front!
Eight hours of mallet, chisel, and saw time…and roughly 30 dry fits gave me the results I was looking for! The gaps appear larger in the photo since the Walnut is still oversized. Here, I trimmed it within 1/16”, but was too exhausted to perform nice work, so quit for the night.
A cool logo shot during the day:
Till next time…
-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...