Two New Yew Cribbage Boards

Orders have been coming in steadily and I have just completed two new cribbage boards in time for Christmas orders. Both are made of Pacific yew and feature very unique live edges. Each board has three full tracks and a scoring field, and comes with a set of metal cribbage pegs.

Click on either image for more details, or for information on how to purchase one.

Cribbage Board 16b

Cribbage Board #16

Cribbage Board 17b

Cribbage Board #17

Cutting a 3D Jigsaw Puzzle

18-Piece Puzzles

18-Piece Puzzles

People have always been fascinated by my 3D wooden jigsaw puzzles. “Wow! Is that ever cool?” they marvel. “How on Earth did you make this?”

“They are little gems.  I dared to unlock a few pieces from one puzzle and was pleasantly surprised to find that they are unexpectedly puzzling!  Devilish and nicely done!”

- Jonathan, a recent buyer

Well, I decided to turn on the video camera to record the process of cutting one while making puzzles for Port Moody Art Centre’s current exhibition, Winter Treasures. The process basically involved making a series of cuts, rotating each segment on edge, making another series of cuts, then rotating each segment again to make the final series of cuts. Cutting these puzzles took a fair amount of hand strength, dexterity, stamina and patience. I also needed to be able to put the pieces back together when I was done cutting!

The result was somewhat of a hypnotizing video. The soundtrack I chose was Colin James’ Far Away Like a Radio, one of my favourite tunes to get me in the groove for cutting puzzles. Enjoy. (Duration – 4:27)

Links:

January-April 2014 Seminars at Lee Valley Coquitlam

The next season of seminars at Lee Valley Tools Ltd. Coquitlam begins the day after New Years Day with Make Your Own Smoothing Plane taught by yours truly. Together, we will be making wooden, laminated smoothing planes while I regale you with tips, theory, options, alternate techniques and stories of goofs that I’ve made in my early attempts.

Later in January, I will be teaching the ever-popular Fundamentals of Hand Tool Joinery. This class will be a great introduction to cutting joinery by hand. I will teach and demonstrate core techniques for cutting clean and accurate joinery before you cut your own joint using tools including a hand plane, marking gauge, square, marking knife, saw and chisel. As you work, I’ll share some of my own tips and alternate methods of accomplishing the task, as well as insights into why certain tools might be preferred over others.

Cross Lap Joints

Can you think of a better way to spend a cold Saturday in the middle of February than in a climate-controlled workshop with me as you Make Your Own Veritas Wooden Spokeshave? Neither could the folks at Lee Valley, so this Valentine’s Day, you have the opportunity to be one of the first to take this class. Starting with a Veritas Spokeshave Kit and a fine piece of hard maple, we will work together to produce our very own adjustable wooden spokeshaves useful for all sorts of shaping tasks (including twisting table legs!).

The toned-down version of my Make a Monstrous Mallet seminar is scheduled for March 5. In Make a Mallet, we will each build a medium-sized mallet useful for normal tasks such as driving chisels or adjusting planes, or shelling pecans (mmm… candied pecans!). I’ll bring in some samples of mallet styles and sizes and you will be able to customize your mallet to your liking (sorry – no Monstrous Mallets will be made in this seminar!).

I really enjoy teaching seminars and they are fun for all involved. Come and learn some new techniques while meeting other passionate woodworkers, or bring a friend or family member for a fun and memorable learning experience!

Pre-registration is required and can be done by calling Lee Valley Coquitlam at 604-515-8896. Details of the aforementioned seminars can be found at the bottom of this post.

Links:

Make a Monstrous Mallet

Part of my work as a seminar presenter at Lee Valley Tools Ltd. is to develop new seminar ideas. In the soon-to-be-released January to April 2015 season of seminars, I am teaching four seminars, three of which are brand new. This one didn’t make the cut.

Make a Monstrous Mallet

Are you currently considering clobbering your crappy computer? Then, you need a Monstrous Mallet! Alongside Chris Wong, you will have the opportunity to use solid construction techniques to make a Monstrous Mallet. Made of solid hardwood, the hooped hornbeam head is heavy enough to flatten a Fiat or smoosh a Smart Car. Choose the standard-length handle which provides formidable flattening force or opt for the oversized handle for peerless pancaking prowess. Students must sign a wavier acknowledging that neither Chris Wong nor Lee Valley Tools Ltd. is responsible for any damage caused as a result of owning a Monstrous Mallet.

Note: these descriptions did not make the final cut: “ample annihilation ability”, supreme smashing swagger”, “puddin’-pounding perfection”, “peerless pancaking proficiency”, “a doubly disfiguring disposition”, “enviable elongating expertise”, “marvellous misshaping mayhem”, “covetable crushing capability” and “magnificent mashing mastery”.

A, um…, related video segment:

Links:

Come See My Work at Port Moody Arts Centre’s Winter Treasures Exhibition

I just signed a contract with the Port Moody Arts Centre to participate in their Winter Treasures exhibition, their holiday exhibition and sale!

The exhibit starts on Thursday, November 20th and runs until Thursday, December 18, 2014. It takes place at the Port Moody Arts Centre (2425 St. Johns Street) in the Canadian Pacific Gallery, 3D Gallery, and Suncor Gallery and offers a great opportunity to find a special gift for somebody on your Christmas shopping list.

I’ll be at the Opening Reception on November 20th from 6pm – 8pm and hope to see you there, too! My challenging 18-Piece 3D Jigsaw Puzzles, Dogwood Screwdrivers, spectacular Live-Edge Cribbage Boards, mysterious Anniversary Boxes, and sculpted shelf, Reign, will be on display.

18-Piece Puzzles

18-Piece Puzzles

Dogwood Screwdriver 1

Dogwood Screwdrivers

Cribbage Board 12b

Live Edge Cribbage Boards

Chris and Anniversary Box

Anniversary Boxes

Reign

Reign

Links:

Review of My Grizzly Sliding Table Saw (G0623X)

A few years ago, I was in the market for a new table saw. My decision was between a sliding table saw or a SawStop table saw (you can read more about my decision process in the three articles titled Why a Sliding Table Saw with a Scoring Blade?, Why Not a SawStop? and Benefits of a Sliding Table Saw – links at the bottom of this article).

In June 2010, I drove down to Grizzly’s showroom in Bellingham, Washington and had a good look at the G0623X 10″ Sliding Table Saw before ordering one for delivery. By the way, the sticker price on this saw was right around the $3,000 mark.

My New Sliding TablesawI have had the saw for four years and have been really happy with my purchase. The saw was larger than my contractor’s saw with a 30″ fence, but the sliding table saw used space so well that I barely noticed a difference.

What’s So Great?

The saw was nicely made and easy to assemble and adjust. Blade changes were a snap with the arbor lock pin.

The sliding table has proven to be very useful for large crosscuts as well as making straight, accurate cuts in both normally- and oddly-shaped parts.

On the occasion when I’ve had to work with sheet goods, the 60″ sliding table has been a clear advantage for material support (no infeed or outfeed support required for most cuts).

The five horsepower motor had plenty of power to rip thick hardwoods or cut dadoes and the scoring blade produced perfect cuts on the bottom of fine plywood and melamine. When done with the scoring blade, I simply removed it from the arbor, which was much easier than lowering it and resetting it for the next time.

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When dealing with many small parts such as when I made a batch of Time Warp Tool Works Moulding Planes, I was again able to benefit from the sliding table. I piled the uncut parts on one end of the sliding table, made the required cuts using the middle section of the table, then stacked the cut parts on the other end of the table itself. As I worked, all parts remained on the table which traveled back and forth as a whole, so parts were never in the way or out of arm’s reach at any point.

There were two T-slots in the top and one in the edge of the sliding table that allowed the attachment of the outrigger, mitre gauge, and other accessories such as a hold down or handle. They were also useful for storing pencils and rulers (and sawdust!).

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Because the sliding table extended to within a fraction of an inch of the blade, I could clamp even a small part in place for cutting, then push it through the blade without even being near the part or the blade. Furthermore, the long sliding table encouraged the user to stand to the left of the blade – out of the way of the path of kickback. And yes, the saw has a riving knife too.

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The outrigger was clamped to the table and could be slid forwards or backwards as desired. A pivoting arm attached to the back of the saw cabinet supported the far end of the outrigger and a threaded adjustment allowed it to be levelled.

The crosscut fence offered ample support for almost all cuts, and a pair of flip stops made breaking down stock efficient.

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The fence could be mounted at either the front or back of the outrigger, and a set of adjustable flip stops ensured that the fence could be set square time and time again.

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The blade tilt and height were adjusted with two well-made hand wheels with folding handles and centre knobs for locking their setting. They felt nice and worked well.

Handwheels

What’s Lacking?

The mitre scale on the outrigger was a decal with fat lines, so I couldn’t rely on it for accurate angles. Instead, I would use a bevel gauge to set the crosscut fence to the blade.

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Some of the higher-end sliding table saws had some useful features that this saw did not have, such as the option to lock the sliding table all the way forward for loading, or a switch on the sliding table.

Dust collection was fair. There was an additional provision for collecting dust in the blade guard, which I elected to not use. One thing I did find out was that if sawdust was allowed to accumulate between the blade access door and the blade shroud, it prevented the door from closing properly and contacting the microswitch which allowed the saw to run.

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The saw came with a mitre gauge which could be clamped to the sliding table. I always preferred to use the larger crosscut fence and the only time that I used the mitre gauge was if I had removed the outrigger for some reason. This wasn’t really a negative, just a “do I really need this?” accessory.

Modifications and Additions

When the saw arrived in my shop, I couldn’t figure out how to lower the riving knife below the crown of the blade, so I ground some metal off of the back top of the riving knife to allow me to perform non-through cuts.

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My shop was quite narrow, and the crosscut fence was long, with an extension to allow even wider crosscuts. I decided to cut the aluminum crosscut fence to end where the outrigger ends. When I needed to make cuts between 37 and 74 inches, I could use the extension. (When I cut off the end of the crosscut fence, I also removed the tapped hole for the knob that locks the extension in place, so I needed to drill and tap another hole.)

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The extension came with a ramped stock support, but since I never cut stock long or flimsy enough to warrant it, I removed it.

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The crosscut fence was secured to the outrigger with a long, threaded bolt and was tedious to wind in and out when I wanted to install or remove the fence. I solved that by making a simple locking device with a lever-action clamp that fit into a T-slot in the bottom of the crosscut fence.

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I was glad that I bought a cam-action hold down with the saw. The saw didn’t come with the hold down and they were not sold separately. However, the hold down was included with another saw which has the same size T-slots (1-1/4 x 1/2 inch) so I ordered all the parts and assembled it myself. It wan’t cheap, but it sure was worth the price!

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Additional resources about this saw are provided in the links below. If you have any other questions, please feel free to submit it in the comments box at the bottom of this article.

Links:

Hole Boring Bits with a 1/4″ Hex Drive

The Vancouver area is a great place to be a woodworker. There are literally dozens of quality lumber suppliers, a handful of big box stores, a scattering of specialty woodworking stores, and even toolmaking companies.

One of those toolmaking companies is MEGAPRO, which specializes in making screwdrivers and bits, including three very unique bits – two gimlet bits and one square (birdcage) awl.

Megapro Bits

The bits have a standard 1/4″ hex drive, with a groove for a quick-release chuck and a sprung ball to help hold the bit in place. They work nicely in my dogwood screwdrivers.

Dogwood Screwdriver & Bits

You can find my current selection of screwdrivers available on my Screwdrivers page.

Links:

Coffee Table Build-Off

Just last weekend, I announced a new box build-off hosted by Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement Magazine.

Today, I’m writing again to tell you about another build-off coming up in the near future. Neil Cronk of The Cronkwright Woodshop (and winner of the Shop Stool Build-Off) is hosting the Coffee Table Build-Off from November 1 (five weeks from today!) to 22. I am compiling pictures for inspiration on my Coffee Table Build-Off Ideas Pinterest board.

Neil Cronk with Shop Stool

The following information is from his website:

The premise is quite simple – design and build (or build from a pre-existing plan) a coffee table that strikes your fancy. There are no rules regarding size or materials, though at least one material used should be a wood or wood composite. Officially the projects should be started and completed between November 1st and November 22nd, though we obviously can’t stop you from starting sooner. This rule will not be enforced and will be based on the honour system. The idea is to challenge yourself to build the best project within the given time constraints.

We would love it if you Tweeted/Instagrammed/blogged your progress using the hashtag #CTBO. One of the biggest reasons for these build-offs isn’t just to make a great piece of furniture, though that’s definitely a perk, but to foster community among online woodworkers which is the big reason we’d love to see everyone blog and tweet about their work. We also have a communal Pinterest Page where people will be invited to share images and ideas for coffee tables.

Registration is not mandatory, as this competition will be open to anyone who submits an entry by midnight on November 22nd, 2014, however if you pre-register you will get your information listed on our participants page so people can follow along with your build.  Pre-registration will only be open until the contest starts on November 1st, 2014, so if you want folks to visit your sites and follow your progress, sign up today!

Links:

Woodworking In America Recap (The Chris Edition)

The weekend before last, I was in Winston-Salem, NC for Popular Woodworking’s show, Woodworking in America. It was a great weekend with lots of opportunities to learn and connect with other woodworkers (named Chris or otherwise).

I was there to represent my other company, Time Warp Tool Works. I showed and talked to attendees about our moulding planes and other products. Many people were surprised at how simple it was to cut a moulding by hand. Of course, it helped to have the right tools!

Photo by Megan Fitzpatrick via Popular Woodworking

Photo by Megan Fitzpatrick via Popular Woodworking Blog

Outside of show hours, there were plenty of opportunities to socialize with other woodworkers. Christopher Bowen was a big fan of #Woodchat on Air (hosted by Scott Meek, Matt Gradwohl and myself).

Finnigan's Wake

Myself and Christopher Bowen, aka @abysmaljoiner (right).  Photo by Megan Fitzpatrick via Popular Woodworking Blog

Here are some other gents named Chris. Krishen and Chris Atkins represent the Modern Woodworkers Association, Chris Vesper is the man behind Vesper Tools, and Chris Kuehn is from Sterling Toolworks.

Chris etc.

Krishen Kota, Chris Vesper, Chris Atkins, myself, and Chris Kuehn

One of the many highlights of the show was seeing the Fred West Commemorative Tool Chest (FWCTC) in person. Carl C. Hein was the lucky winner of the chest.

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From left to right: Eleanor (daughter of Fred West), Andrew Gore (maker of the chest), Carl C. Hein (winner of the chest), Randy Weber (contributor to FWCTC), Maggie (Fred’s sister), Scott Meek (co-facilitator of FWCTC).

I took these detailed photos of the chest and its contents.

Scott explained to Carl the significance of the chest, and briefly talked about each tool in it.

IMG_20140913_123133433Oh, and I also used moulding planes to shape a twisted moulding.

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Big thanks to Mark Hicks of Plate 11 for letting me use one of their benches at the show!

Links:

Some Basics About Wood

While I feel like I’m near saturation point for reading about wood, tools and techniques, I still enjoy perusing articles with useful information and interesting ideas.

This “fun fact” sheet about woods from around the world caught my eye (from Furniture UK).

Woods The Difference

Here’s another helpful graphic about wood identification.

Hard & Softwoods

I hope you learned at least one thing.

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