davepolaschek

woodworking

Rack holding a number of spokeshaves

I collected all (?) my spokeshaves yesterday and built a rack to hold them. Cut a piece of ¾x⅜ maple into two pieces, then turned it to make ⅜ inch dowels on the lathe. Glued them into a board and stuck a cleat on the back. Nice quick project. I should probably put some oil on it one of these days, but… mañana.

From the top, here’s a quick description of each, how it’s set up, and what I use it for:

  1. Veritas, set up for general purpose, fairly thin, general use;
  2. Lie Nielsen Boggs with curved base, set up a little thick for concave curves;
  3. Veritas low angle, set thin for end grain;
  4. Home-made low angle spokeshave set up thicker for quick stock removal;
  5. HNT Gordon small, general use, but thin for tricky grain or finishing;
  6. HNT Gordon large, as the small, tricky grain;
  7. Millers Falls cigar shave, not yet tuned, but I hope to get it tuned up and usable, since the round blade is nice for tight concaves;
  8. Kunz travisher, curved base side to side, which is set to hollow chair seats and smooth out adze marks;
  9. Kunz adjustable mouth spokeshave, set relatively thin, generally for use against the grain and sharpened to behave almost like a scraper;
  10. and finally the Stanley spokeshave, which was the first I bought, and showed me all the ways a shave could be wrong.

A shave set for “general use” is usually set for a thinner cut on one side, and a thicker cut on the other, so depending on where on the blade I’m hitting the wood, I can control the depth of the cut. Some are thicker left and others are thicker right, and I have to give each a try to find what’s best for a given job. The two low angle spokeshaves and the two HNT Gordon shaves are generally for end grain or reversing grain.

In all, I probably have twice as many shaves as I really need, but half of them were packed away in a box I didn’t unpack until earlier this week (since we moved almost 4 years ago). So I bought a few more while I was not unpacking that box. The HNT Gordons are completely unnecessary, but they’re pretty and feel nice in the hand (they’re made from gidgee wood), so they have rapidly become favorites.

#woodworking #project #shopFurniture

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A friend who lives up by Taos gave me some juniper last year, and I’ve been slowly milling it into usable lumber (or microlumber). Here are some of the latest pieces, fresh off the saw.

freshly milled Rocky Mountain juniper

As an idea of how this will age, here’s a bowl that I turned from some similar juniper in December of 2021. Note how the reddish-brown heartwood has darkened, and the whitish sapwood has yellowed a bit. I suspect the stuff I’m currently milling will end up aging similarly.

lidded bowl turned from juniper in December 2021

I’m excited about getting the rest of this juniper milled. I’m aiming for pieces that will finish at least ¼ inch thick (6mm), but no more than ½ inch thick (12mm) so I get a goodly number of finished boards. Most of them will square up between 2 and 3 inches wide (50-75mm), and when I get to pieces smaller than an inch wide (25mm), I generally start milling them into pen blanks.

#woodworking #milling

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closed box, from front

I recently acquired a set of the large (12 inch or 300mm) cole jaws for a Nova chuck, and as I do with new tools, I built a storage box for the jaws and chuck, as well as the associated accessories.

closed box, corner view

The box is dovetailed pine construction with quarter inch plywood top and bottom and holds the jaws on the chuck, and has places to hold the jaw extensions which I bought with the jaws (allowing it to hold a bowl up to 15 inches in diameter.

open box, showing cole jaws and accessories

The lid is hinged with a piano hinge, and has a small latch to hold it shut, and the box is finished with French Toast milk paint and a coat of tung oil.

open box, showing accessories and cutout for chuck

#woodworking #project #storage #shopFurniture

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Periodically, I’ll make a piece and decide I want to fiddle with milk paint a bit, working with colors and how they change between wet, dry, and then oiled, which is close to the final color the piece will be (I typically add either a finishing cream or shellac over the oil).

I started by painting some drawer boxes with persimmon milk paint, and the carcasse that will hold them with a wash of black iron milk paint.

drawer boxes with persimmon milk paint

carcasse with wash of black iron milk paint

I then put two thin wash coats of persimmon over the black on the carcasse.

carcasse with persimmon washes over black wash

Then I put tung oil on everything.

carcasse and drawer box with tung oil over the milk paint

I’m very happy with the way the grain of the wood is still pretty obvious in both cases. I was worried even a single coat of full strength paint would hide the grain more than I wanted, but I forgot how adding oil afterwards (and rubbing off the excess oil) makes the milk paint more translucent.

After assembly, this is what it looks like. Note that I forgot to paint the end of the runners that keep the drawers from tipping forward, so I’ll do that next time I get a little milk paint mixed up. I also had to trim the pieces that sit between the drawers, which left them paint-free, so I “finished” them with a Sharpie.

assembled box of drawers

#woodworking #finishing #milkpaint #project #shopFurniture

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I’ve had a couple people ask me my technique for filling the open grain of wood with a contrasting color, so here it is, with a few pictures.

First, grain filling is usually only necessary when working with a wood with very open grain. Ash and oak are good examples. But sometimes you will want to fill the grain on a wood like mahogany or khaya. It’s the same technique in both cases.

First is to get the wood sanded smooth, and then to thoroughly wipe off the sanding dust. If you’re filling the grain of the wood with a contrasting color, having that grain partially filled with wood dust from the same wood will lessen the effect. That doesn’t mean that’s not an appropriate technique in some cases, it’s just not what I’m describing here.

an ash pen blank, turned and sanded to 400 grit

If you see that some of the pores still have dust in them, or perhaps even if you don’t, brushing (with the grain) can remove even more of the dust from the pores, leading to a better fill. Both a nylon brush and a wire brush will work, though the effect is different. Thanks to @bento@tinnies.club for suggesting using a brush, which I forgot to mention here on the first edit.

Next is to mix up the grain filler. I use either black or white Wunderfil by Rockler, and then add dyes to the white if I’m after a colored fill. I dilute the Wunderfil with water 50-50 so it’s fairly thin and will flow into the pores of the wood. Some wood fillers need to be diluted with oil, which isn’t as easy to use. Today I used blue milk paint mixed with white Wunderfil. I mixed up the milk paint normally, then mixed that with white Wunderfil with about equal parts of each. Then smear the grain-filler on the wood. I generally put on blue gloves and use my hand, but if you’re working on a flat surface, you can use a squeegee. The important thing is to go across the grain so the fill is pushed into the holes and not wiped back out.

first coat of blue grain fill applied to the pen blank

In many cases, after you give the fill a few minutes to dry, you’ll notice that the grain has opened back up, and can take more fill. If that’s the case, apply a second coat over the first. I almost always need a second coat, but it really depends on the wood and what kind of fill you’re using. Safer to apply a coat you don’t need than to leave some pores unfilled, though.

second coat of blue grain fill applied to the pen blank

With the second coat on, you want to wait for it to dry. A half hour is generally enough with Wunderfil, but more time won’t hurt. Once it’s dry, you sand back to bare wood, but be careful not to overdo it and sand away all your fill, too. I generally will sand with 400 grit sandpaper, but finer will work too.

pen blank sanded back to bare wood, leaving blue grain filler in the grain

At this point, you can begin finishing. I’m going to use a homemade friction-finish made from shellac and tung oil on this pen, so I’ll apply my first coat of tung oil and then wait overnight before moving on to the friction finish. This will give the fill and oil a chance to cure a bit, and makes it less likely the finishing process will pull the fill out of the pores.

pen blank with the first coat of oil applied over the grain filler

You can see how the oil brightened up the colors. If there are spots that aren’t filled completely, you might need to apply more fill at this point (and then sand it back again later), but I generally try to do any more filling before putting on the oil. Sanding back will be messier and the fill may not adhere very well to oiled wood.

Once the blank has had time to cure (at least overnight with tung oil), continue with your finishing regimen. For me, that’ll be two or three coats of an oil and shellac mix, applied at the lathe, and buffed with a cloth so the heat speeds the curing of the oil. That finish will get another day or so to cure before I handle the piece too much.

#woodworking #technique

Techniques

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Four pictures of the same bedan so it can be seen from all sides.

Originally written 16. January, 2022

A friend is building a lathe from scraps and I wanted to make sure he has something to work with when he gets it working, so I made a bedan for him.

The handle is a sandwich of cherry and sycamore. I had enough of this sandwich for four handles for lathe tools. The ferrule is a piece of .50 BMG cartridge I had laying around. And the tool itself is a 10mm square HSS rod I got from China.

The picture above is just the one bedan, but four views of it, so you can see all four sides at once.

Steps to build this:

  1. Set up the blank between centers and turn a tenon as large as possible on one end.
  2. Put that tenon in a chuck and turn the opposite end to fit the ferrule.
  3. Back off the tailstock and put the ferrule on.
  4. Put a drill chuck in the tail-stock and drill a ⅛ inch pilot hole, making sure the chuck is holding the handle straight.
  5. Drill a half-inch hole about ¾ the depth of the ferrule.
  6. Drill a ⅜ inch hole to a total depth of two inches.
  7. Put a live center into the hole and finish turning the handle.
  8. Trim the ferrule and wood with a hacksaw, remembering to back off the live center so you don't saw the point of it off.
  9. Bring the live center back in, and finish the handle (I used a BLO and shellac friction finish), then part it off from the tenon.
  10. Grind about 1.5 inches of the piece of HSS to a round ⅜ inch in diameter.
  11. Grind the corners down on the piece of HSS for another half to ¾ inch The tang of the bedan, ground roughly round
  12. Put the piece of HSS into the handle, first by hand, and then pounding it in until it's home.
  13. Mix up some epoxy (about 7.5ml, or ¼ oz) and pour that in around the HSS, getting it slightly domed in the ferrule. You'll probably need to pour a little, then wait for it to run in, then pour a little more.
  14. Clean up any spilled epoxy.
  15. Let the epoxy cure overnight.
  16. Finish up the handle with some paste wax.
  17. Grind the end of the bedan to 45 degrees and sharpen it up

A bedan tip, showing the 45 degree bevel from the side.

The tip of a bedan, showing some discoloration from grinding it aggressively.


That's it. Took me about three days elapsed time, but only a few hours of work. I was working on other projects at the same time.

I made a second one for another friend, using 1 inch diameter brass for the ferrule. I think this is a better fit for ⅜ and ½ inch bedans (9 and 12mm).

a bedan, held in a vise, showing the epoxy poured into the ferrule

#project #woodworking #woodturning #tools

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I’ve turned a number of pens over the past couple months (starting in mid-February, 2023), and haven’t posted any of them until now. I guess it’s time to catch up with them.

These pens are either based on the Anvil EDC Pen Kit or the DuraClick EDC Pen Kit from Penn State Industries, both of which take a Parker style refill, which means I can use my favorite refill, which is the Uniball Jetstream, a gel refill available in black, blue, or red in various widths. If a pen doesn’t say what kit it was based on, it’s based on the Anvil.


First pen was a piece of greenheart? with the aluminum hardware.

Click pen with greenheart body and aluminum hardware


And an elm pen with gunmetal hardware.

Click pen with elm body and gunmetal hardware


Next was a piece of maroon and white resin with brass hardware.

click pen with maroon and white resin body and brass hardware

click pen with maroon and white resin body and brass hardware


A friend sent me a pen blank of some dark green wood which turned almost black when finished. I chose the gunmetal hardware for this one.

Dark-colored mystery wood with gunmetal hardware

Dark-colored mystery wood with gunmetal hardware


I had a scrap of ash, and filled the pores on it with some black grain-filler. The black anodized aluminum hardware seemed like a good match.

Ash pen with a black grain-fill and black anodized aluminum hardware

Ash pen with a black grain-fill and black anodized aluminum hardware


I had some ipe left over from other projects. The photo is taken just after it was turned, and I suspect the wood will darken up considerably after exposure to air and light. Gunmetal hardware again.

Ipe click pen with gunmetal hardware

Ipe click pen with gunmetal hardware


Birdseye maple got blue stripes (need more practice on that so I get nice crisp edges) and black anodized aluminum hardware.

Birdseye maple click pen with blue stripes and black anodized aluminum hardware

Birdseye maple click pen with blue stripes and black anodized aluminum hardware


A piece of mimosa got gunmetal hardware.

Mimosa click pen with gunmetal hardware

Mimosa click pen with gunmetal hardware


Some more Birdseye maple with brass hardware.

Birdseye maple click pen with brass hardware

Birdseye maple click pen with brass hardware


I paired another piece of mimosa with stainless steel hardware

Mimosa click pen with stainless steel hardware

Mimosa click pen with stainless steel hardware


And finally, a pen of cholla cactus with green and red resin and brass hardware.

Cholla and green resin click pen with brass hardware

Cholla and green resin click pen with brass hardware


Those were the first ten pens I made. I’ve given away four of them so far. Friends seem to enjoy them, so I’ll probably keep making them.


Edited to add on 4/4/23, a white oak pen with black grain-fill and gunmetal hardware.

White oak pen with black grain-fill and gunmetal hardware

White oak pen with black grain-fill and gunmetal hardware


Edited to add on 4/5/23, a bradford pear pen with brass hardware.

Bradford pear pen with brass hardware

Bradford pear pen with brass hardware


Edited to add on 4/6/23, an ash pen with violet grain-fill and brass hardware. I need to use more violet dye in the grain-fill next time, and sand to at least 220 grit before filling the grain (I only sanded to 120 this time, and sanding back the excess grain-filler left me with the grayish color).

Ash pen with violet grain-fill and brass hardware

Ash pen with violet grain-fill and brass hardware


May 30: A DuraClick EDC pen in burnt bronze with juniper wood

Juniper wood with DuraClick EDC Pen kit in burnt bronze

Juniper wood on a DuraClick EDC pen in burnt bronze


May 30: A DuraClick EDC pen kit in black anodized aluminum with a piece of juniper showing both the redder heartwood as well as the pale sapwood.

Juniper sapwood on a DuraClick EDC pen in black anodized aluminum

Juniper heartwood and sapwood on a DuraClick EDC pen in black anodized aluminum

I like the assembly of the DuraClick EDC, but the fact that the click doesn’t match the other metal parts isn’t great. Also, an 8mm drill leaves the wood very tight around the mechanism. Both of these pens have a microscopic crack in the wood due to the hole being just a hair too small.


May 30: A DuraClick EDC pen kit in brass with pine wood. I got the tip of the wood a little too small. Turns out, pine is softer than most of the woods I turn.

Pine wood with brass DuraClick EDC pen hardware

Pine wood with brass DuraClick EDC pen hardware


June 1: A DuraClick EDC in aluminum with juniper wood. I had a little tear out on this, but the DuraClick is a thick enough kit that I could almost recover by making a small waist in the wood.

Juniper with aluminum pen hardware

Juniper with aluminum pen hardware


June 1: A DuraClick EDC in stainless with pine. This pine blank had a knot and crack which I filled with sawdust from the same piece and some CA glue. I like the way it turned out.

Pine pen with stainless steel hardware

Pine pen with stainless steel hardware


June 2: An Anvil EDC in gunmetal with ipe. This isn’t the prettiest piece of ipe I have, but the grain should get a little more interesting after it gets some sunshine.

Ipe pen with gunmetal hardware

Ipe pen with gunmetal hardware


June 2: An Anvil EDC in brass with apple wood from my yard in Minneapolis. I was worried there wouldn’t be much contrast between the wood and the brass. Plus I had an incident when trimming the blank to length, and almost threw it away.

Broken pen blank with the tube already glued into it

After gluing the wood back together and waiting for it to dry, I discovered a small knot buried in the blank, and other cracks. It took quite a bit of CA glue to turn this blank into a pen, but it was well worth saving, I think!

Apple pen with brass hardware.

The figure in this piece of apple was some of the best I’ve found while using the pieces of tree I moved from MN. This is the first pen I think I would be happy selling for the kind of prices some other woodturners charge for pens.

Apple pen with brass hardware.


June 8: An Anvil EDC Pencil in black anodized aluminum with a birds-eye maple body. I had planned to take a longer break from pen making, but needed a completed pen in the shop in order to make a box to hold a pen, so I knocked this one together.

Birds Eye Maple pencil with black anodized aluminum hardware

Birds Eye Maple pencil with black anodized aluminum hardware


June 12: I got a Vesper Starter Kit a while back and finished the three pens today. I don’t think I’ll be buying more of that kit. They look pretty good, but they’re a little fiddly to assemble, and I don’t think they’re as good looking as some other pens.

First is the chrome kit with a juniper barrel, which was given to my doctor’s nurse/admin as a retirement present.

Juniper pen with chromed hardware

Juniper pen with chromed hardware

Then the gold kit with a white oak barrel.

White oak pen with gold hardware

White oak pen with gold hardware

And finally the gunmetal kit with a juniper barrel, which was given to my doctor as a retirement present.

Juniper pen with gunmetal hardware

Juniper pen with gunmetal hardware


June 24:

I made three mechanical pencils using the Anvil EDC pencil kit and a scrap of cherry I found in a pile of sawdust and shavings while cleaning. Pretty nice looking for scraps!

Three cherry mechanical pencils with black aluminum hardware

Three cherry mechanical pencils with black aluminum hardware


July 29:

Three Anvil EDC pens, red resin with gold glitter (boy, is that a mess to turn!) and brass hardware; dark-green-dyed buckeye burl with gunmetal hardware; and a blue-dyed ring-porous wood with brass hardware.

Three pens, red and sparkly pen with brass hardware, buckeye burl pen with dark green (almost black) dye and gunmetal hardware, and a blue-dyed wood with brass hardware.

Three pens, red and sparkly pen with brass hardware, buckeye burl pen with dark green (almost black) dye and gunmetal hardware, and a blue-dyed wood with brass hardware.


#Woodworking #PenTurning #WoodTurning

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Originally written Aug 8, 2017

Finished workbench, sitting upright on a pair of sawhorses

It all started back in February, when I went down to Minnesota Milling to get a slab of elm. I picked out one that had been outside and was “nicely spalted” and had it squared up, then headed home. I planned to make a low roman workbench, as Chris Schwarz talked about. There's a video here from the Mortise & Tenon guys explaining.

"My" piece of elm, where it had been carefully stored, in the middle of a pile of other wood

February, March, April, May… I spent a lot of time repairing cracks in the elm as it dried out, putting in a dozen bow ties and filling many cracks with sawdust (usually elm, but sometimes whatever was on hand) and super-glue. I also tried epoxy (didn't like the texture) and a mix of wood glue and sawdust (that wasn't as nice for sanding). I also spent a lot of time planing the bench flat with a jack plane, usually taking much smaller cuts than I should have, but I was learning as I went. I'm much better with a plane now.

Elm slab, resting against the wall as it dried

a cherry butterfly being clamped into the face of the wood, to stop a crack from spreading

In May, I started to make better progress. I cut the ash legs to size, and cut 1.5” tenons on them. Started drilling 1.5” holes in the bench-top for the legs, and after I had finished five holes, broke my drill bit, snapped the power-cord on my electric drill, and tore up the bench a bit. Not sure exactly what happened, but the bit bound into the wood, snapping the drill out of my hands, and somehow it kept running, wrapping the cord around the now-spinning drill. I bored the last two (and a half) holes 1” with a bit and brace and cleaned up the messy one with a knife and chisel.

Slab of elm with a few holes drilled in it, and eight legs with tenons on them leaning against the bench, with a pair of sawhorses

Holes bored, I needed to reduce the tenons on two of the legs so they'd fit the smaller holes. That was okay, as my tenon-cutting technique (using the now-defunct electric drill) had been a little sloppy. I picked the two smallest tenons and reduced them from roughly 1.3” to 1” using a spokeshave and rasp. Took me an afternoon, but I now had eight legs that all fit pretty well in their respective holes. I numbered the legs and holes at this point so I wouldn't get confused at some point in the future. I also marked orientation so I'd have the grain running the same way as the bench-top (roughly) so staking the legs would be less likely to split either the leg or the top.

Bench, resting upside-down on a pair of sawhorses, with seven of the eight legs fitted in place

Everything marked, I pulled the legs out one by one and sawed a kerf in them with a backsaw. That gave me a 2” deep kerf in a 3” tenon. Once they were all cut, I made some wedges using a scrap of red oak I had on hand, hit the legs with glue, pounded each one into the bench, and then flipped the whole assembly to put in the wedges. On the first wedge, I discovered that the red oak I'd used wasn't the best idea, as it broke off partway into the leg. I dug into my parts bin and grabbed a dozen walnut wedges I'd made back when I was putting together my shop stool and used those. Glue the wedge, hold the leg securely, drive the wedge into the leg, repeat.

sawing a kerf in the tenon on one of the legs using a backsaw

A leg, with a walnut wedge holding it in place, sawn flush with the bench-top

Some of the legs didn't reach the bench top at this point, but I wasn't too worried. The whole 3” tenon was in the bench, but because of the angles (which weren't all the same), some of the legs ended a little short of the top. After everything dried, I sawed off the protruding bits, then went back to filling in the holes with sawdust (this time using a mix of oak and macacauba left over from building the planes for the tool swap) and super glue. In one case, I actually used a macacauba coin to fill the last 1/8” of the hole in the bench-top.

Hole for the leg in the bench-top, filled with wood shavings

Hole, with a coin of darker color wood inserted

Bench almost done, it was time for some holes. I had three holdfasts made by a co-worker back in March, and they had 5/8” shafts. I have a nice 5/8” wood owl bit, but a hole drilled with that was too tight for the holdfast. I left that first test-hole as-is, and will make a bench-dog / planing-stop to fit it. I drilled other holes with a cheap Chinese 11/16” auger bit, and the holdfasts work great in those.

Holdfasts and bench dogs resting on the bench

The last thing was making a few bench dogs. I took a piece of ash that had initially been slated to be a cane, but the grain in it wasn't cooperating with me. But I managed to cut a couple 1” x 5/8” x 6” pieces out of it and then turned them down using a tapered tenon cutter (by hand) to make 3” long 5/8” diameter tenons on them, with a couple inches of conical section leading to a rectangular top. They seem to work pretty well, and I'll make a few more from oak or ash or whatever's handy as I need more bench dogs and put more holes in the benchtop.

Elm bench, with three holdfasts, a different piece of wood, and a mallet, top view

The bench has been working really well so far. With a couple holdfasts, I can position small boards for ripping or resawing. If the board moves around on me, I sit on the bench and throw a thigh over the board and now everything's held very solidly. I haven't done any planing on the bench yet, but that'll be soon, and I expect it'll work well once I put in a few more holes for work-holding.

Elm bench, with three holdfasts, a piece of wood, and a small saw

There were also a number of offcuts I used for other things, including my shop stool, a bowl, and some spoons.

elm bowl

Pair of elm spoons


When the bench was a year old, a friend asked for my thoughts on the bench. Here's my reply.

For height, about knee high. Width should be narrow enough that you can put one leg on each side of it while sitting on a board on the bench. Length should be 1.5-2m. For thickness, 7-10cm is a pretty good minimum, as that will give enough thickness that a holdfast will hold properly. The eight legs are staked in with 2.5 or 3.75cm round tenons. The legs were 5cm square ash stock planed to octagons.

Can I do everything on it? No. It would be hard to cut dovetails on it. Or do assembly. But I cut and plane wood to size on mine all the time, both standing and sitting. It's very handy for that, and on a nice day I move it outside so I have less mess in the shop to clean up afterwards. I move to a higher bench for cutting dovetails or assembling pieces. I'm very glad I built it and I use it a lot. I still use a high workbench too, though.


I also made a pen from one of the offcuts from the bench in February of 2023. I'm still getting use from that slab I bought six years ago.

pen made from an offcut of the spalted elm bench

#woodworking #project

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Originally written Dec 18, 2021

miter box bench side view

oblique left view of the bench

I bought a miter box from another woodworker a while back, and needed a place to set it up, since my main workbench is a bit… chaotic most of the time. I also had scored four 92 inch long 4×6s from a neighbor, who had planned to use them as the corners of a pergola he never got started on.

First step was cutting down the 4×6s to 30-ish inch lengths and taking off the rounded corners, giving me nine 4×5s. Then I started building.

I started by cutting a recess for the Veritas small inset vise into the top of the bench, and cutting a line of ¾” square dog holes along the edge of the “front” board of the bench. With those two boards glued together, I attached a couple legs.

close-up of the inset vise

I also glued up the back of the bench, three 4×5s and a couple legs.

The bench in two pieces

My joinery wasn't great, but I had a couple ½×10” carriage bolts, so I put one of those through each of the front legs and tightened them down. Much more sturdy! For the back legs, they got three 4” long deck screws each.

Gluing the two halves of the bench together

That done, I glued the two assemblies together, aiming to get the top of the bench as flat as possible. Then I braced the legs with a tubafor, mortised into the legs (with more deck screws).

Bracing the legs with two-by-fours

A little flattening of the top, then leveling of the legs later, plus a few coats of BLO, and it was time to wrap things up.

The miter box sits on two ¾” thick scraps of pine left over from my bookcases. This makes the deck at the same height as my main workbench, so I can use that to support a long end of a board.

miter box installed on the bench

I also made a deck for my Stanley 77 dowel maker so I can mount it on the front of the bench when I need to make dowels.

Definitely not the prettiest construction, but I find myself using the small vise very often when working small parts. I've got two pine-scrap dogs to go with it that are enough for now.

Stanley 77 dowel maker held in the inset vise


Update February 9, 2023

I'm still using the bench on a regular basis. The only thing I've changed about it is that I painted a bunch of it with leftover paint from other projects, and I added a Veritas Universal Vise to the left front corner of the bench to hold things I want to carve.


Update March 12, 2024

Miter box bench with carving vise and small inset vise holding a board I made grooves in with a Luban 043.

This is a recent photo of the bench in use. The green carving vise is to the left, and in front is a board which will be one of the long sides of the box that’s going to hold my pen-making supplies after I put in some grooves with the Luban 043, which is sitting on top of the pine board.


#project #woodworking #HandyTools

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Originally written Mar 3, 2021

No poop on the loop sign with dogipot bag dispenser

We live on a street that's called a “loop” and which actually is a loop. It's one mile around, and a lot of people walk their dogs. Beginning some time last fall, either someone new moved into the neighborhood and never learned to pick up their dog poop, or one of the existing residents stopped picking up, but there's been a lot of poop both in the ditches and on the street.

So back in January, after I went into our ditch to pick up some recycling that had blown out of a neighbor's bin, and stepped in some (fresh, not frozen) dog poop, and then tracked it into the house, I decided it was time to take action. Rather than standing in the ditch with a sand wedge and “blasting out of the bunker” every time someone walked past with a dog, I decided that maybe a nudge would suffice. So I bought a Dogipot Bag Dispenser and got permission from the neighborhood HOA to put that and a sign on the corner of out lot, near an intersection on one end of the loop.

I also had bought Chris Pye's Lettercarving in Wood: A Practical Course and got busy learning. Mostly I needed to learn to carve Os that looked good.

First was finding a piece of wood. I had a fairly clear piece of alder, and from carving my previous sign I knew that alder worked pretty well for me.

Next was carving the letters. I did the smaller script letters with a V tool, just tracing along pencil lines, but the larger letters were incised with gouges at a 45 degree angle. I ended up using 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 sweeps to get the Os looking the way I wanted. Probably could do it with fewer tools, but that would've taken more time for learning…

Then I painted the letters with Real Milk Paint Aqua paint, which looks like a nice turquoise, which fits, since we're in New Mexico. I think there were four coats altogether.

Poop on the Loop, Please pick it up sign

Then I carved the circle and slash with a #7/14 gouge.

Circle and slash carved over the letters

I used some 1Shot Bright Red lettering enamel to paint that.

The circle and slash are now red

Then I put three coats of Cabot Satin Spar Polyurethane on the sign, hoping to lock everything in.

Sign with polyurethane on it, which brightened up the colors a lot

Today, the post went in the ground, and the sign and dog-poop-bag-dispenser got attached to the post. Done!

Irish wolfhound checking out the new box

I've already gotten compliments on it from a couple neighbors. Hopefully it'll encourage folks to pick up after their pooches, but time will tell.


After almost two years, we've had almost zero poop left in our ditch, in spite of other neighbors on the opposite side of the loop have many problems.

The one thing I would change is that rather than using polyurethane, which is already peeling and looking bad after just two years, I should've finished the sign with tung oil, which is easy to renew. As it is, I may have to strip the paint off in order to remove the rest of the polyurethane.


#project #woodworking #LetterCarving

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