Author: Rob

  • Box Joint Jig

    After I enjoyed making the Box Joint Box for Jeff, I decided to make a more permanent box joint jig for the workshop. I wanted a jig that didn’t depend on clamping it to a miter gage on the tablesaw, that would accommodate different thicknesses of wood and that would be easy to make very fine adjustments with. Borrowing ideas for box joint jigs from several different sources, I designed my own jig in SketchUp.

    The most informative video I found was William Ng’s YouTube video, Make an Accurate Box Joint Jig, Simple and Fast. I’ve linked William’s video below. William runs the William Ng School of Fine Woodworking an Anaheim, California and based on his videos, I think he is an excellent instructor with a good sense of humor, too!

    I also borrowed some concepts from Phil Huber’s YouTube video, The Ultimate Adjustable Table Saw Box Joint Jig! I’ve also linked this video below. Phil is Executive Editor of the Woodsmith Shop, the video extension of the woodworking magazine, Woodsmith, which I’ve had a subscription to for many years. While William Ng used a quick box joint jig clamped to a crosscut sled, Phil Huber’s jig had it’s own integral runners that fit into the miter slots of his tablesaw.

    The photos and captions in the gallery below will give you an idea of the box joint jig I came up with!

  • JOY Yard Signs

    After almost ten years after making the first two sets of JOY yard signs, Stephen requested another joint effort to create two more sets. One of these sets would go to Andrew and Megan, and the other set would go home with Stephen, as a surprise early present to Katie. The plan was to finish them in time to present them after our family Thanksgiving dinner.

    Stephen and I worked for nearly a whole Saturday, from acquiring the plywood at Chelsea Lumber through getting the first coat of red and white paint on all of the components. This time, Stephen brought his own jigsaw, so our cutting out time was literally cut in half! The signs ended up being completed in time for the Thanksgiving day presentation!

  • Table Saw Cabinet

    Sometimes, projects in the shop are simple and quick, often to answer an organizational need. During a major shop cleanup and re-organization, I took down the shelves on the wall to the right of the tablesaw, as they were difficult to access and accumulating scraps that were hardly ever used. One function of a small part of the lowest shelf that I lost was keeping my tablesaw pushblocks, featherboards, angle jigs, etc., within easy reach.

    Using plywood and a drawer slide reclaimed from my former office cabinetry and taking advantage of unused floorspace under the extension table, I built this small cabinet in an afternoon. Now, my most often used tablesaw accessories are back within easy reach!

  • Mary’s Mesquite Log

    Mary was saddened when a sudden Arizona storm blew down a mesquite tree in her yard. Not long ago, Mary’s husband Boyd had passed away, and that particular mesquite had always been his favorite tree. As Mary’s friend, Deb asked me if they sent me a log from Mary’s fallen tree, would I be able to make some small item from it for Mary to keep. I replied that I would certainly try and that I would be honored to help preserve a small part of Boyd’s favorite tree for Mary.

    It would be my first time working with mesquite, and I was a bit concerned that the wood, having recently fallen, would be green and require some time for drying. Once I received the log and started breaking it down into smaller pieces, I learned that mesquite is a very dry wood, even alive. This was confirmed by a bit of research, with my moisture meter and by the fact that the wood soaked up both oil and film finishes like a sponge.

    As this project turned out, I was able to make five small items out of that small mesquite log that arrived in my workshop via UPS. Deb presented Mary with a pen, a rustic bowl, a small box, a rustic bud vase and a card / photo holder. I received a lovely email from Mary, who has experienced nearly ninety trips around the Sun, expressing her appreciation for the special mesquite keepsakes.

  • Rob’s Music Studio

    With my MIDI controller keyboard at the center of a temporary recording studio in the basement and my Kawai synthesizer in the living room, I just wasn’t playing the piano as much as I would have liked. Linda and I talked about this on our trip to Jack Lake in Canada in the late summer, and we brainstormed on possible solutions. We decided that having both keyboards and all the recording equipment upstairs and in the same place would be ideal, but there was just no place we could think of that would accommodate that setup. It became apparent that my office would be the best place, but there just wasn’t room to add any more furniture.

    I think Linda said, “You really don’t use your desk very much, do you?” And the light came on. I had recently updated my computer setup with a cool standing desk, and if I repurposed some of my old desk into a music studio, there would be plenty of room to have everything neatly in my office.

    The most challenging part of this project then became designing a music studio desk to hold two full-sized keyboards, a laptop, a display screen, an audio interface and two monitor speakers and all the accompanying power and signal cabling … and still have everything organized and tidy. The 3D modeling in SketchUp started with full scale mockups of the two keyboards and I was off tho the virtual races. The photos below, along with their captions, will lead you through the execution of this project.

  • Katie’s Little Stools

    Katie asked me if I could make two little stools, based on the one she already had. She also pointed me to a plan for them online. As always, well almost always, I created a 3D model of the stool from the plan, along with a few corrections and “improvements.” From the SketchUp model, I also produced dimensioned drawings and a full sized template for the stool sides. Conveniently, the template fit on a single sheet of paper.

    After building the first two with square, mortised stretchers between the sides, I updated my SketchUp design to use round dowels for stretchers. This simplified construction, which came in handy when I learned that Megan might like one, too! So I made another one for Megan, and one for Makayla at the same time.

    From the big smiles on the little ones’ faces as they sat on these kid-sized stools, I bet more of them will be coming out of the Marietta Wood Works workshop!

  • Smartphone Amplifiers

    Inspired by the walnut inlaid amplifier that Kyle made for Beth for last year’s Christmas name exchange, I decided to make a simplified design, taking advantage of the lessons learned from Kyle’s build. I also took advantage of a piece of 2″ thick white ash left over from Kyle’s Platform Bed build.

    One of the lessons was the difficulty of holding all the pieces in perfect alignment for the final glue-up, so I incorporated 1/8″ dowels at the glue joint interfaces, using holes drilled before the side pieces were cut away on the bandsaw. The dowels just had to be strategically placed so they ended up in the sections left after the internal sound chamber was sawed away. Plus … who knew you can buy 1/8″ dowels at the local Ace Hardware?? Instead of filling in the dowel holes on the outside of the amplifier, I decided to leave them as a “feature.”

    With a few coats of MinWax Water Based Oil Modified Polyurethane and a little branding iron work, these amplifiers came out looking good and they really pump up the volume when a smartphone is inserted!

  • Box Joint Box for Jeff

    Two things: I love wood with a story, and if you give me wood, you can almost always expect to get some of it back in a different form. One of Jeff’s customers requested Vertical Grain Douglas Fir (VGDF) for window parts, a species he hadn’t processed in the past. He gave me a few boards to play with and I decided to make him a piece that could sit on his desk as a representative sample of this new product.

    A box is a common woodworking project to use a small amount of an interesting species, and to try out different joinery techniques. Box or finger joints have been around for a long time and make a really strong joint because of the large amount of gluing surface the fingers provide. I decided on a sliding lid to keep this box design simple, incorporating the 1/4″ spacing of the fingers. A tiny piece of walnut made a contrasting pull on the lid. A few coats of tung oil really brought out the beauty of the Doug Fir, and highlighted the end grain of the alternating finger joints, as well.

    Note: Machining VGDF proved a little tricky, as the grain structure and orientation makes cross cuts quite spintery. Some painters tape for the cross cuts and a backer board for the finger cuts kept splintering to a minimum.

  • Discs for Ruthann

    With an upcoming wedding in the family, Ruthann asked if I would cut some logs from trees that came down on their property into discs to use as table decorations for the wedding reception. When I learned that the diameter of the larger logs would fit on my bandsaw, I agreed to the project.

    With a little trial and error (and one bent bandsaw blade), I found that attaching a carrier board to each log was needed to prevent the log from rolling or twisting under the cutting forces. I also found that the logs still had a high moisture content, so a bit of drying time was needed once the discs were cut to their one inch final thickness.

    After cleaning up any loose bark and applying a couple of coats of tung oil, about 35 large and 35 small discs were ready for the celebration.

  • Eddie the Blacksmith

    After forty-some years in the family, an unfortunate encounter with the vacuum cleaner left Eddie without his hammer … and without his arm! Our friend Chris and her husband found Eddie on a Caribbean beach on the last day of their honeymoon. Eddie’s creator told them that he used shoe polish as a finish after he had carved Eddie.

    The biggest challenge to this type of repair is coming up with a method to clamp the pieces back together while the glue is curing. Several elastic hair bands proved to be the ideal clamping solution for Eddie’s predicament.