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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Life happens

Well, I certainly intended to post something before now, but sometimes as they say, life happens.  Not much progress to report on the project. I haven't had much chance to work on it. My wife had minor surgery last Monday, so she's been recovering. This has understandably left me busy with things other than woodworking.

I did get a bit of shop time in before my wife's surgery.  I was able to remedy the mistakes I mentioned last time. It did involve making a new piece, but it will work.  Much of the project is glued up, but there is still quite a bit to do.  It most likely won't be ready for my anniversary, but Stacey will certainly understand why.  I'll just get it done as quickly as possible.

I did have some requests from friends and family on Facebook to post some pictures of previous projects, so I'll take this lull as an opportunity to do so now.

This one is the doll cradle I made for my niece, Sadie a while ago.  She'll be 5 this summer, which should tell you how long ago it was.  I actually just winged it on the design.  A bit of bandsaw work for the head, foot and rockers, and rounded everything over with the router.  Since I was in a hurry, the whole thing is put together with butt joints and screws.  The wood is red oak, stained with an oil based stain, and finished with water based poly.  I did research child safe finishes before finishing this because, as you can see here, Sadie was pretty young at the time.  My research led me to conclude that any finish is perfectly safe for children, as long as it's cured.  Thanks to my sister-in-law, Stephanie Misner, for the picture.

These are pictures of my son Danny when he was an infant.  The cradle was made using a plan I acquired from my wife's grandfather.  He had apparently built a version for my sister-in-law and my wife when they were babies.  I used red oak again on this one.  The head and foot boards were glued up and cut on the bandsaw.  The cradle actually mounts in a stand, which doesn't appear in these pictures.  I was more concerned with being the doting dad when I took these.  The finish is Minwax Polyshades, which, in case you're unfamiliar with it, is an oil based stain/ poly combination.  I really liked how it was able to bring out the grain of the wood, and create a good film finish at the same time.  I used pretty simple joinery on this piece, too. Screws and glue, with plugs to cover the heads of the screws.  I am looking forward to getting into some more complex, and possibly decorative, joinery in the future.

Well, that's about all I have for now.  Once things settle down a bit, I hope to get onto a more regular schedule of shop time, as well as posting.  As always, feel free to leave a comment.  Until next time...

Friday, May 17, 2013

My name is Dan Ball, welcome to my slightly skewed version of things. I got interested in woodworking when I was a young buck. My dad was never into woodworking, but I- like a lot of others- grew up watching Norm and Roy. When I was in Cub Scouts, one of the requirements for a badge (I think it was Bear) was to build a project out of wood. I was fortunate that my uncle, Ken MacMaster, was a woodworker. Together we built a small step stool out of pine, and so a passion was born.

It was probably twelve years later that I actually built my next project.  I had gotten a circular saw from my parents for my birthday, and bought a Skil plunge router (which still works well 20 plus years later) and a few bits. I went to the home center and picked up some red oak and built myself a CD storage case. I was pretty proud of it at the time, but looking back...

Over the years, I have accumulated more tools, but haven't had a great deal of time or money for woodworking. My last project was completed almost 2 years ago. It was a cradle for my not yet born son. The finish actually went on while my wife was in the hospital after giving birth.  I would spend the day at the hospital with them, then come home and work most of the night on the cradle.

Now that my boy is a year and a half old, he is showing an interest in tools.  He has a plastic Home Depot workbench with a bunch of toy tools which he just loves.  Because of this I have decided that I really should start doing more projects.  I hope to hone my skills, which are still pretty rough, so that when Danny gets old enough, I can pass my passion on to him.  Even though I have learned quite a bit over the years from magazines, television, and more recently the internet, I haven't been able to get into the shop to practice what I've learned.

My current project is going to remain a secret for now, as it's an anniversary gift for my wife.  I can talk a bit about the process I've gone through so far.  First let me say, you should ALWAYS unplug your router when changing bits.  I have an old Stanley Rout About which I got from my wife's late grandfather.  I love the router, but it wasn't really designed with safety in mind.  The other day I was changing bits.  While I was pulling out the bit that was in it, the top of the router bumped the top of my workbench.  Now I have heard Tom Iovinno talk about his "little voice," and I apparently have one also.  It told me I should unplug the tool.  I ignored the voice.  Well, when the router bumped the bench, it turned on. Bet you didn't see that coming.  I was lucky that the bit only danced across my fingers a little, but boy was it scary.  I came out of it with a few nicks and a couple of band aids, but it could have been much worse.  Believe me when I say that the irony of being only a few days removed from Woodworkers Safety Day was not lost on me.  Perhaps Marc should consider going back to a full week.

The other boneheaded thing I did was I neglected to label my project parts.  This led me to glue drawer runner on the wrong side of the workpiece.  I tried my best to remove the runners with a chisel and router plane, but this only ended up shredding the face of my board.  My current headache is trying to cut dadoes in a new workpiece to match up with the other side, which is already glued in place.  I know, I know, dry fit, dry fit, dry fit.  Like I said, still a little rough.

At any rate, I decided to start a blog in the hopes that I can give back to the woodworking community.  I'm not sure how often I will actually post, but I'll try to keep current with what's going on in my shop.  I'll definitely post some pictures of the completed project, after I give it to my wife.  Whit only a couple of weeks until our anniversary, I should head for the shop.  Please feel free to post comments with kudos, constructive criticism, tips, or whatever.