Posts Tagged With: Wood


One of the reasons I got into woodworking originally was the beauty of the material itself.  I remember making simple things in shop in 7th grade and being completely blown away by the wood after it had been sanded, stained and shellacked.  Today was a frustrating day at work, so I stopped on my way home at Global Wood.  They have some amazing stuff there, most of it rough sawn and and a lot of it in flitches.

I spent a long time wandering the aisles looking at all different kinds of wood.  They have giant slabs, exquisite lutherie sets, exotic and rare turning blanks (buckeye burl?  Camphor Burl?  piles of both, and tons of others).  All the usuals like hard maple (in plain, fiddleback and birdseye), quilted and plain western maple, cherry, pine (boards and slabs) and more.

Probably 50 flitches of California Claro Walnut, including this monster here.  It’s every bit of 5′ wide and 4″ thick, maybe 10′ long.

In the end I bought $8 worth of interesting off cuts.  A small piece of claro with an interesting bit of figure and grain, and a small piece of fiddleback mahogany.  I’m thinking of making a new handle for a beat up saw I got on ebay recently, but that’s another story.

Here are a few more gratuitous pictures of beautiful wood.

This is about 4″ thick, with an amazing lace burl figure.


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Woodworking With My Son – Making a Bird House

Hopefully this is the first of many posts on making stuff with my son. We’ve done a few projects together, the best was when we forged a knife together.  I had a few scraps of O-1 round bar, my son forged this to shape, ground it flat, cut out the brass guard, glued it up and shaped the handle.  I helped with the heat treatment and hollow grinding of the blade, Kolya did all of the finish work.  It came out great and sees regular use in our kitchen.  Not bad for an 11 year old kid, he was very proud of it.

So, on to woodworking.  I Googled for kid-friendly projects and found some plans for a bird house.  I picked up some cedar fence boards at the local big-box store, some nails, glue and a bit of 3/8″ dowel rod.  The boards are 5.5″ wide, .5″ thick and 6′ long – with clipped corners on one end.  They were also soaking wet, it must have been a tree still within the last week or two.

The instructions are pretty straightforward.  I helped Kolya and his friend Alec mark out the lengths to cut and they went to town with handsaws.  They both did a great job sawing and there was only a little clean up needed.  I shot the ends square (square-ish…these are rough sawn boards and there isn’t a true surface anywhere).  Mostly I just wanted to make sure things would line up for nailing.

We used Titebond III waterproof glue and some 3D finishing nails to assemble our birdhouses.

Now this is funny.  Anyone who know me has seen my hammer collection — without exaggerating I bet I have at least 50 hammers.  Old auto body and sheet metal shaping hammers, mallets and slappers.  Silversmithing hammers.  Inexpensive body hammers that I’ve ground to a special shape for some particular job, semi-rare Pexto hammers I’ve tracked down on eBay, even a custom-forged hammer made to my specifications.  Ball peen hammers in every size.  Blacksmithing hammers, blocking hammers and plannishing hammers.  But I couldn’t find a nail hammer.  Seriously.  I know I own one that I’ve had since I was a kid, and I know I have a framing hammer somewhere too.  Maybe they were out on a date together somewhere.

Instead we used a cheap autobody hammer to drive the nails.

The boys sanded their bird houses with 100 grit paper.  Since this is rough sawn wood we just wanted to knock off the splinters and sharp edges.  A bird with a splinter is a very sad thing.

They enjoyed glopping on a coat of gel stain.  I rubbed the excess stain off and we put a coat of danish oil on them.  They came our nice I think, and they boys had a great time doing it.

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The Studley Caliper

This is a short story about the Studley Caliper.  No, this isn’t a caliper for “men regarded as virile and sexually active”, it is a small caliper contained in the elaborate tool chest that belonged to H.O. Studley.  Christopher Schwarz blogged about this in “My Favorite Tool from the H.O. Studley Tool Chest“.

First, the tool in-situ, look just to the right of the middle hinge.  Kind of a tool-addict’s “Where’s Waldo”.  The tool in question has bowed legs and a fan shaped top.

Here is the little devil:

  For whatever reason, this caught my eye.  Generally this leads to problems.

A normal person would have thought “interesting” and moved on with their life.  Hell, a normal person would have probably not given it a second thought.  Instead I decided I had to recreate it.  I imported a photograph into my CAD software, SolidWorks, and scaled the image so that the part was the correct size.  Then using straight lines, arcs and splines I traced around the part and created my own digital version.

Finally, I created a CNC program to cut out and engrave the parts.  The original tool appears to have been stamped out of steel and nickel plated.  I made these from brass, starting with .125″ thick material I machined the finished parts to a .100″ thickness.  I added small embellishment on the legs and outfitted them with a brass thumbscrew and sex bolt from McMaster-Carr.  After machining I hand sanded the face to remove the milling marks.

These came out nicely.  Of course I couldn’t just make one or two, so I made a double dozen.  A few have been given away as gifts, but I have plenty left.  If you have to have one and don’t want to make it yourself I can help you out with that problem.  If you have to have one, and have to make it yourself I can’t help you, I’m struggling with that one myself.

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