Cholla and epoxy bedside lamp, unlit and lit

After the first bedside lamp with its wooden base, I wanted to try making one with a cholla and epoxy base. I started by pouring tinted epoxy into a 16 ounce cup from the dollar store, with some cholla pieces jammed into it. For smaller molds like this, I may need to start using partial pieces of cholla, as there ends up being a lot of empty space that needs to be filled with the epoxy. And pouring large amounts of epoxy can lead to a runaway exothermic reaction which causes the epoxy to foam and bubble and set very quickly, which generally isn’t usable.

Epoxy and cholla, fresh from the snowflake-adorned mold

With a successful pour, I pulled the blank from the mold and rough-turned it to a shape I thought would work. The only dimension I was really worried about was the top, which would have the top of the lamp meeting it.

Rough turning of cholla and epoxy

Looking at the rough blank, there wasn’t enough room for a battery, so I glued on a round piece of cherry, which I thought would look good, then I poured a small pour of epoxy to make sure the base and the lamp body were stuck together real good.

Wood round glued to bottom of cholla and epoxy blank

Next I turned the base, aiming to leave it as wide as possible, giving me the most flexibility with the battery.

Wooden base rough-turned

With the base turned, I bored a hole into the base of the lamp body. The largest diameter at the bottom was 2½ inches, but I stepped that down to an inch to make sure I didn’t make the inside of the lamp bigger than the outside.

Boring the hole in the bottom so I can assemble the parts and insert the battery

With the hole bored and the top of the lamp assembled, I carved out an opening for the battery and glued on some feet to give a little clearance for the battery, so the lamp wouldn’t rest on the battery.

Bottom of the lamp, showing the carved space for the battery, feet, and signature

After signing the lamp, I finished it. The epoxy portion is polished with a plastic polish. The wooden base was finished with multiple coats of Tried and True Danish Oil. After the finishes have had a chance to cure, I’ll probably add a coat of furniture wax to make it easier to dust.

Completed cholla and epoxy lamp, unlit

Completed cholla and epoxy lamp, lit

#woodworking #project #lamp

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Unlit lamp

A while back, my sweetie expressed a desire to have a bedside lamp and a night light. I worked with a few different ideas for the lighting part of it before finding the Lanterna 3-Stage Battery Powered Lamp at Lee Valley. It’s just about exactly what I want, except it takes 3 C-cells. More on that later.

So I started by making a twisted tangential turning roughly the shape I wanted for the lamp base.

Taped-together wedges which will form a twisted tangential turning

I also went searching for a rechargeable battery for the lamp. Turns out our door cameras have a battery which is just about perfect. The battery has charging circuitry built-in, and the terminals are on one end of the battery, and the charging jack on the other, so I ordered a spare battery. The only question was whether the 3.7 volt battery would drive the light circuit which was expecting 4.5 volts (yes, yes it does).

Then I disassembled the Lanterna and figured out what I could use. It was pretty easy, as there is a ⅜ inch threaded rod down the middle of the lamp holding everything together and carrying the wires from the head to the base. All I needed to do was cut off the battery holder, shorten the rod to fit my base, and then solder the wires onto the rechargeable battery terminals.

Lit lamp

Then because my base was a little short, I cut a piece of walnut and carved out a battery-shaped hole in it, leaving the hole just large enough to slide the battery through, but tight enough that the battery won’t fall out when you pick up the lamp.

Lamp base, showing micro-usb charging port

With the walnut base glued to the twisted base, finishing was just a matter of a few coats of danish oil, a coat of shellac, followed by two coats of violin varnish, and then a thin layer of carnauba wax so the lamp should be easier to dust.

My sweetie thinks it’s wonderful.

Technical notes: the battery charging circuit may not support operation of the lamp while charging. I don’t think this is a big problem, but that’s part of why the charging jack is on the bottom of the lamp. It’s less tempting to try and use the lamp while it’s charging this way. Also, Ring doorbell batteries are about half the price of the TP-Link batteries, but the charging jack and battery terminals are on the same end of the battery. Depending on your design, this may be good or bad.

Finally, the three stages of the lamp were chosen fairly well. The dimmest is slightly too-bright for a night-light, but putting a colored lens in front of the LEDs would solve that. And would be easy given the way the lamp screws together. And the current draw is low enough that the lamp should last 10-20 hours at full power, and almost a full week in nightlight mode. I think that’s a pretty decent life.

#project #lamp #woodworking #woodturning

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I recently had our HVAC guy out to clean my shop mini-split. He commented that it really needed the cleaning, and he was surprised it was still working well. And that I really ought to keep it cleaner. So I decided I would built a box to hold some filters to clean the air going into the split, so it would be happier in the future.

First step was building a frame to hold two of the filters I’m going to use. These are the filters I already use in my Rikon 62-450 air cleaner, so I generally have them on hand.

Frame to hold two filters

With the frame built, I measured the mini-split and the space between it and the ceiling. My goal was to put the filters sitting vertically, rather than the horizontal filters built into the mini-split, which sit horizontally at the top of the split, and catch dust even when the split isn’t running. I figure the filters will last longer if they’re only collecting dust when the split is running.

Everything looked as though it would fit, so I built two frames for the box. The one in the left had to work around the mounting system for the post for my post drill, which I needed because it was impossible to buy a straight 6x6 during the early COVID days, so I got a twisted one and figured a way to make it work.

Two side frames for the filter box

With the side frames built, I cut panels to fit on them from a scrap of MDF I had. Then I used more scraps to connect the two side frames together and provide an opening for the filter holder.

Completed frame for the filters

Next up was to seal up the large gap between the mini-split and the filter box. But I couldn’t build anything rigid here, since the front of the split pivots up when it opens so you can clean the filter. My solution was to tape in a piece of ¼ inch MDF. Hopefully the tape will remain flexible enough that I don’t need to remove it, but can simply flex the piece out of the way.

Taped-in insert between the filter box and the mini-split

With that, it was time to put the filter carrier in place. I had hoped that it would stay with no attachment, bu it wanted to tip forward, so I put a single screw in to hold the top of it in place.

Filter carrier placed in the front of the filter box, secured by a single screw at the top

And with that, everything was done except inserting the filters. With them in place, it’s done. The filters don’t seem to hurt the airflow from the split when they’re clean, but I’ll need to keep an eye on things as they get dirtier. It wouldn’t do to burn out the fan in the split.

Completed filter box with filters

#project #woodworking #airFilter

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Carving skew

While working on the Altai Project Logo carving, I discovered I needed a narrow skew in order to get down into some of the corners. I have a handful of ½ inch wide unground blanks I got from the Mountain Woodcarvers clearance page, so I got busy.

Carving blade blank

Carving blade blank

First step was grinding it down to 2-3mm wide. Then I skewed the tip, and put a rough edge on with the grinder. That’s the rough outline of the tip made.

Then I had to re-harden the steel, as the grinding had wrecked the temper. I heated it bright glowing red with a MAP gas torch, and plunged it into a jar of canola oil I keep for hardening tools. Then the blade went into the toaster oven to temper it. I’m aiming for a hardness of 60 or so, which will work well for a carving tool.

With the blade in the oven, I turned to the lathe, and converted a small piece of granadillo into a handle. I also drilled a 3/16 hole for the tang. Because it’s a tapered tang, I drilled a short bit wider with 7/32 and ¼ inch bits. Then I added a ferrule from some ½ OD brass, and filed it smooth.

By this time, the blade was done cooking, so I pulled it out and let it cool, then pounded the handle onto the blade. A bit of hand sanding and a couple coats of tung oil, and it’s ready to go.

Carving skew

#woodworking #tool #project

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I’ve been needing a single place to store my files, rasps, and floats for a while now. They were stored in two older tills, one of which had been repurposed from a saw till, and another which used to be something else that I don’t remember. Plus I had a number of files laying loose on various flat surfaces around the shop.

File, rasp, and float till, filled.

I started by building three racks to hold the files of various lengths. The largest holds 12 files, the middle holds 15, and the shortest rack can hold 20 files, though only the shortest in length will fit.

The racks are made of ⅜ inch thick oak, either 1 or 2 inches wide. Each rack has a bottom piece with indentations drilled in it, and a cross piece with magnets embedded to hold the files in place. They all pivot on the dowels that mount them (though this isn’t an especially useful feature) so they can be tipped forward or backward to access the files without knocking the ones in the rows in front. The racks were treated with iron acetate to ebonite them, though the solution was a couple weeks old, which is, I suspect, why I got a dark brown rather than a black finish.

Empty file till

The carcasse is built of ¾ inch thick pine, and dovetailed together, with the shelf above the drawer resting in a pair of ¼ inch deep dadoes. The drawer is also dovetailed, with half-blind dovetails holding the drawer front in place. This is the first time I’ve built half-blind dovetails, so it was good practice. The drawer-front is also carved with a design I made up over a few days of carving.

Carved pine drawer front

The pine is all finished with a coat of kakishibu. It’ll get a few coats of tung oil once it has had a little time to darken, unless I decide it needs a second coat of kakishibu first.

The drawer hold spare file handles, file cards, and needle files. A couple weeks of construction, the added carving on the front of the till makes it feel a little special and I also got to practice barrel and bead moulding which came out nice.

#woodworking #project #woodCarving #shopFurniture

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This is a moulding for the edge of a piece of wood that livens it up, and is fairly quick and easy to do. Working in pine, I can create a linear foot of beading in about ten minutes, including time for stropping my gouge.

For reference, here’s what I’m referring to as barrel moulding.

Barrel moulding

The barrels in this case are three times as long as they are wide. Beaded moulding is typically the same length as width, and bead and barrel moulding alternates the two, but the technique is the same for all of them.

First you need to make a bead on the edge of a board. I generally do three beads, and then cut the interruptions in the middle one to make barrels, which I think looks pretty good. I make these using a Lie-Nielsen #66 beading tool with an appropriate blade, which in my case is a double reed profile, set up so one of the reeds is right on the edge of a ¾ inch board. I repeat the profile going both directions on the board to make a total of three reeds, with one in the center of the board. Note that multiple manufacturers make beading tools, but you can also make a scratch stock that will do the job.

Beaded boards

With the beads or reeds on the edge of the board, mark off the length of your barrels. As I said earlier, I like a 3:1 ratio if I’m going to make them uniform length, but other ratios work. Just set up your dividers and make marks a consistent distance apart down the length of the board.

With your marks made, you’ll need a #11 gouge the same width as the beads or reeds you’ve made in the board. This is also known as a veiner and has a u-shaped profile. My ¼ inch veiner that I use for making these beads has been modified with rounded wings or edges so that it doesn’t cut as far into the wood as it would with square edges.

Modified veiner

I start with the gouge almost flat on the bead, with the cutting edge about a sixteenth of an inch (or a millimeter) back from the mark for the edge of a barrel.

Veiner at the beginning of a cut

Then I rock the gouge forward and into the wood, ending with it fully vertical.

Veiner partway through a cut

Repeat this down the board, and you’ll have something that looks like the following.

Cuts completed in one direction

Now go back and do the same in the other direction. As you rotate the gouge up, you’ll get a small amount of wood pushing to the sides. If it’s too much, start a little closer together for the two cuts. After you’ve gone both directions, use a #1s or #2 gouge (also known as a skew) to clean out the waste.

Here’s a photo showing all the stages from start to finish of making the barrels.

Steps of cutting barrels

From left to right, that shows: cut one direction; cut both directions; cleaned out the corners with a #2 (skew) gouge; cut the second time from the left and right; and finally, cleaned out the second time.

I find that I have to go along the length of the board twice. If I try to do it all in one pass, the edges will be rougher because I was taking “too big a bite” at once.

Once I’ve been up and down the length of the board twice and cleaned out the waste with a skew, I use a chip brush I chopped shorter so the bristles are fairly stiff. This one has also been used for applying kakishibu, which further stiffens the bristles and gives them a reddish tint.

Shortened chip brush for cleaning beads

Once all the waste is brushed out, you’re ready to finish. Thanks for looking!

#woodworking #techniques

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A friend wanted the dimensions of handscrews of various sizes. I took measurements of the four I have, and photos to show what the dimensions measure.

The dimensions are the following measurements:

Handscrew with labels for dimensions

And the four handscrews are shown together:

Picture of four handscrews

Beginning in the top left, an unknown Chinese handscrew, all measurements in inches.

Tall: 1¾ Thick: 1⅝ Long: 10 Jaw: 5 Screw: 9½

Top Right, a large Miro Moose handscrew

Tall: 2¼ Thick: 2⅛ Long: 14 Jaw: 7 Screw: 14½

Lower Left, a medium Rockler handscrew

Tall: 1¾ Thick: 1½ Long: 8 Jaw: 4 Screw: 8

Lower right, my smallest Miro Moose

Tall: 1⅜ Thick: 1¼ Long: 6 Jaw: 3 Screw: 5½

The free jaw measurement is, in every case, half of the total jaw length. The height and width of the jaw are nearly equal, but the measurement I have labeled “Tall” is always slightly larger than the jaw width (or thickness). And the free length of the screw is typically about the same as the total length of the jaw.

The Miro Moose clamps are a brand of Dubuque Clamps, and are made in Iowa.

#woodworking #tools

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I’ve been needing a strop that I can use to touch up my gouges for a while, and have been mostly getting by with a flat strop. Last week, I grabbed a piece of ash from the scrap pile, and shaped it with the bandsaw, gouges, and spokeshaves. Yesterday I formed a piece of leather to it (but forgot about the clamps marking the leather). Today I contact-cemented the leather in place. It works pretty well for sweeps up to a seven.

concave face of the strop

flat fed of the strop

curved edge of the strop

end-view of the strop profile

I’ll probably wet the leather again and see if I can get the clamp impressions out of the leather, but it’s working well enough that I may not bother.

#HandyTools #woodworking #leatherworking

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A while ago I read about kakishibu, a traditional Japanese finish mostly used on softwoods.

Since the one English-language book on kakishibu is out of print, and the author doesn't have any more copies, I decided to order a bit of the fermented persimmon juice and see what I could see.

I had a small box I had built to hold some clamps. The box was made with poplar sides and a birch top, and the poplar had an unappealing shade of green that I wanted to modify. I left the bottom of the box untreated, so I could look back to compare that with the sides that I treated.

untreated poplar bottom of the box, showing the greenish cast of the poplar

Immediately after painting the box with a layer of the kakishibu, I noticed two things. One was that the reddish tint did a great job of modifying the greenish cast. I like it! The other thing is that, being water-based, it raised the grain of the box.

box immediately after treatment with kakishibu

So I sanded the box lightly with 400 grit sandpaper, then applied another coat of the kakishibu, and set the box outside in the New Mexico sun for a couple mornings while I worked on other things in the shop.

box after two mornings of sunshine

That was quite a difference! They say that kakishibu will continue to darken for a month, but after just two mornings (about 6 hours) it looks a lot more appealing than the plain poplar (scroll back to that first image...)

box after four mornings of sunshine

And after two more mornings of sunshine, the color of the box has darkened a bit more, but it seems to be slowing down. I'll keep an eye on it for a couple more weeks, and maybe add another photo, but I'm sold on kakishibu, at least for covering up the green that poplar shows. And it looks pretty good on the birch top of the box, as well.

#woodworking #finishing #techniques

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Originally written 1. September, 2018

apple tankard, with copper wire wraps and elm handle, glistening with its epoxy finish

apple tankard, with copper wire wraps and elm handle, glistening with its epoxy finish

For the beer swap this year, I had decided to build a tankard. I'd seen tankards in Woodworking in Estonia and thought “how hard could it be?” That usually leads to an interesting build.

A page from Woodworking in Estonia showing some tankards

I had a chunk of crab apple from a tree from my yard. It came down four years ago in 2014, and a friend had slabbed it and had been air-drying it. It was ready to go.

A piece of apple wood, with a saw taking a small board off

The first few cuts were a little ragged, but I soon found my rhythm, and cut off a dozen nice and fairly even pieces of apple wood. The grain in them looked pretty.

A piece of apple wood, now smaller, with a number of small boards next to it

Two book-matched pieces of apple with interesting grain

Not wanting to waste the apple, I also started building a pine prototype. I had picked up a 1¼” by ¼” piece of pine, and that seemed like a good way to figure out exactly what I was going to do.

I started by tapering the pieces of pine. I looked at a stein in my cupboard, and for a 1 liter stein, it looked about an inch narrower at the top than the bottom. I figured that was a little more slant than I wanted to work with, so I decided that ten sides (a dozen pieces of apple, minus a screw-up or two), tapered by a quarter inch would give me two and a half inches, divided by 3 would mean the top would be about about ¾” smaller in diameter than the bottom, which seemed pretty good. And since I'd decided on 10 sides, that meant 72 degree angles on the sides of the staves, so I set up a protractor. I did the tapering in both dimensions freehand with a block plane, but checked my work frequently as I went to make sure I was getting things right.

A piece of pine board, with an out-of-focus protractor showing the edge at 72 degrees

planing the edge of a small pine board with a block plane

Once I got all the sides tapered, I cut out a circular piece of cherry from a 4/4 scrap I had laying around, then resawed it into two ⅜” round pieces. Taping the sides together with gaffer tape, I tested the fit and saw that I was close.

Ten pine boards almost completely encircling the round piece of cherry

I cut a groove on the inside of the bottom of each of the staves for the bottom to ride in, then slowly took wood off the round bottom until everything fit pretty well.

A view of the pieces completely encircling the round piece of cherry with only small gaps at the corners

I also put holes in one of the staves to push dowels through to hold a handle on. I was thinking that maybe I would carve round tenons onto the end of the handle, but it turned out to be much easier to clamp the stave and handle together then drill holes in both and push in a dowel, so I did that.

I cut a couple handles from a scrap of elm I had, and shaped one with rasps, and the other with spokeshaves and knives. I would have rather made the handle entirely with edge tools, but the one finished with the rasps looked nicer, so that was the one for the swap-tankard.

a roughly-shaped handle for a tankard, made from elm

With the help of a few hose-clamps and gaffer tape, I tested everything one last time to see how I was doing. It didn't look half bad.

the pine, prototype tankard, held together with gaffer tape and hose clamps

I used 14 gauge copper wire from the hardware store to wrap the tankard, and it was just strong enough to pull the staves reasonably tight before it snapped. I used a chain-saw file to make a small groove for the wire to ride in so it would be less likely to slip up the side of the tankard (remember the taper) while I was assembling things. I didn't need that in the pine, since the wire could compress its own groove in that, but in the apple, I figured it would make life easier.

pine tankard, held together with copper wire

That was enough experimentation, and it was time to get started on the apple tankard for the swap. I went through the same steps, tapering the sides, cutting grooves on the inside, fitting it to the bottom, and realized that I would also need to plane the sides to a more consistent thickness. That hadn't been an issue with the factory-made pine, but with my hand-cut apple staves, the varying thickness would lead to an uneven looking tankard.

the staves for the apple tankard in the order I would assemble them

apple tankard, showing the uneven thicknesses of the staves

thinning a stave using a block-plane

I also needed to round the inside of the staves before assembling them to make a nice-feeling top on the tankard.

rounding the end of a stave with a rasp

All that done, it was time for a test-assembly.

apple staves surrounding a round cherry bottom, showing a few small gaps

the apple tankard, test-assembled with gaffer tape and hose clamps

Things were looking good. The last step was putting a coat of epoxy on the inside of the staves and bottom so I wouldn't have to worry about getting a nice finish there after things were assembled. I also had glued the dowels into the stave that I picked as the “handle stave” and cut that flush, so the epoxy would help seal up any gaps around those dowels.

pine and apple staves, laid out for finishing the insides with epoxy

It took three coats of epoxy to seal up the insides of the apple. There were just enough punky bits that it wouldn't have held liquid very well without the epoxy, so I was really glad I'd done that before assembly, especially when the first coat almost entirely soaked into the wood.

Once I had the insides coated, it was time for assembly. I hoped I would be able to get almost watertight without massive amounts of epoxy, but the fit around the bottom wasn't great, and it took some sawdust and CA glue filler, plus another three coats of epoxy to seal up the bottom completely.

pine and apple tankards, assembled and held together with hose clamps and gaffer tape - the insides of the staves now appear finished

apple tankard with epoxied handles next to it

With all the pieces together and a few coats of epoxy on the outside (I had initially thought of a varnish finish, but decided the epoxy looked pretty good), it was time to wrap it up. I shaped the outside of the top of the tankard with rasps and sandpaper, applied another two coats of epoxy, sanded lightly with some wet-dry 200 grit paper and put on a final coat and hoped no bugs would land in the wet epoxy (the brand I used has 30-minute open time, but isn't gnat-safe until about 90 minutes – it's fully cured after 36 hours).

I think the finished tankard came out looking okay.

I wrote up the traditional note that accompanies a swap item and got it ready to ship off.

Note accompanying the apple tankard

#project #woodworking #tankard #stave

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