Monday, December 23, 2013

Shop Tips - DIY Inspection Cam

I had a need to peek inside the tiers of Angle Madness tonight when marking out the cuts for the top panel.  In this short video, I'll show you 3 different DIY inspection cam ideas that you can likely use with things you already have.  The first time I used one of these ideas was to dig into a long wall cavity to locate some wiring; worked very well!

Top panels are dry fitted into the drawer tiers of Angle Madness. The next episode will cover a number of odds and ends before some interesting stuff I'm eager to get to!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Finishing, Simply Put"

I recently received "Finishing, Simply Put chemistry degree required" by Charles Neil in the mail. Weirdest thing happened: I read the first 120 pages right after sitting down with it. Finished the book the next night.  Not often a book on finishing keeps me glued to a seat.

What I liked about this book is the volume of photos to show what's going on. I've included some scanned pages here to give a feel for it (the grey shadow to one side of the scans is due to my scanner).

I've followed Charles for a number of years so some parts of this book were review of some of his own techniques. That said, though, having things I learned from him here and there all in a compact reference with photos is well worth it.

Other chapters included new ideas, like using water under oil to control blotching, or very old ideas, like the use of asphaltum over dye to create rich Mahogany colors.

Most finishing books fall into two categories: details on the chemistry of finishing, and cookbooks.  Both are very useful; certainly I have a couple in each category.  This book hits a practical stride between those two explaining how the parts build to the finish you want to achieve.

There's considerable coverage on how to avoid common pitfalls (with photos), how to recover if you didn't (with photos), and common repairs (with photos).  I love books that cover "when things don't go as planned".

The volume of photos and easy text make this a fast read. Since formulations for stains, dyes, and clear coats are different for every vendor, this book specifically references many products by name and even shows their differences in photos.

Oils, varnishes, and shellac are all covered along with water-based products with discussion of special issues with water-based products.

Here's a link to a PDF of the table of contents.

This is a self-published book so you won't find it popping up on your usual woodworking radar so I thought to give it some attention.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Angle Madness! - Drawer Webbing

Putting together drawers is like putting together mini projects in the middle of a bigger project :) At least it feels like it when you get little bits of time here and there to work on a project!

In this episode, which is noticeably lacking in action shots I'll warn, we go over how the drawer webbing goes into the drawer tiers. Webbing isn't very complicated, but there are a few considerations made for this particular project due to the angles and due to the lack of support directly under the lower panel.

Leaving the sanding of the drawer front to last as I do here is the best way to get a perfectly-matched front that is flush with the surrounds when doing an applied drawer front. I haven't gone through to sand those yet since I'd rather take advantage of this last day of the long weekend to get the top panels cut along with some of the glue blocks that will go inside each tier to strengthen the lower panel (all using offcuts that already have the correct angles!)

Not sure where the next episode will go yet; I have some materials to order for the metal rods that interconnect the tiers as well as some inlay material. While awaiting that, I can wrap up installing the top panels, glue blocks, and getting the base done.

The base?!?

Yes, waaay back in the design episode, I showed a square box as a base; all three tiers are supported over that box with the metal rods.  Yeah, that base...

Well, so much for more progress on the last day of the long weekend... neighbor came over with beer, but I had a growler of fine Winter Warmer. No touching tools after that!  Especially since I was in the middle of rabbeting the top of the diamond so I could install panels... it was back to the triangles and cross-cut sled with a 5/8" dado on an angle.  That can wait; yup...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hand-cut Dovetails on Compound-Angles - Tidbits

A couple days after posting the previous video on compound-angles for hand-cut dovetails, someone wrote me wondering why they couldn't use one of the two bevel gauges for determining the horizontal line on the last joint, the one with both boards inclined off 90º.  As the first video tried to show, the stolen angle for that horizontal line didn't match either reference bevel gauge, though one was close :)

In this short video, I show you a faster way to get the angle for the horizontal edges on the pin board; it's what I used when I did the drawers for Angle Madness.  I'll also try showing you what happens with the miter angle on the pin board as the pin board's inclination changes. You don't need to know this to cut the compound angles -- the procedure remains unchanged -- but it will help visualize the changing function.

I originally recorded this as a private video for Etienne to clarify things, but later realized it would likely be useful to others.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review of Valfor Tools' GrooveCenter and 2-axis Depth Gauge

Awhile ago I saw some posts about Valfor Tools on a forum. Their GrooveCenter caught my attention because it works similarly to the Bridge City KM-1 and TM-1 in that it configures itself directly off your stock to "compute" an offset; no measuring involved.  Some time later, Sjoerd the CEO contacted me to give it a spin along with the 2-axis Depth Gauge.

The GrooveCenter works especially well for the daunting-to-configure locking miter bit; never used a locking miter where I could dial in the fence and bit height easily and have it dead on.  Its primary function is to provide a fence offset for your router table to center the router on the stock.

In this review, I talk about both products then show you how to use it for the locking miter bit. If you like using a locking miter bit, skip the bit vendor's configuration blocks that only work for certain thicknesses as this tool will work for any thickness (though a locking miter requires both pieces being joined to be the same thickness... they are not yet afflicted with angle madness).

In the video, I show a different procedure for the one-time calibration of the GrooveCenter than the one presented on their web site.  I did this because the unit I received had backlash; any gearing mechanism will show backlash without expensive per-unit processing so this is not a product problem.  The procedure shown here compensates for the backlash, which is always my preference.  In discussions with Sjoerd, he made a change to the design to virtually eliminate the problem and changed all the existing stock himself.  Very cool.  I haven't played with the new design; it will look the same as the change is in the internals.

This was recorded awhile ago, but we wanted to wait until the units were ready.

Hey! Whaddayaknow! There are lights in that corner of the shop now :) Had to install two more lights in there... after the dark grainy guiderail splinter guard video, I needed the MFT better lit.  Then, right after I closed up all the drywall, I face-palmed as I looked at the dark dingy router table area.  It's okay, I like doing drywall

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hand-cut Dovetails on Compound-Angles

Before dovetailing the drawers for Angle Madness, I wanted to work through a procedure to easily "calculate" the compound angles I'd need for the drawers.  I say "calculate" in quotes because I wanted a procedure based exclusively on the use of bevel gauges reading angles in-situ.  This will be useful if you don't have your slide-rule handy...

For the drawers, I need two types of angles: the rear has inclined tail boards with a vertical pin board. The front of the drawers has both inclined tail and pin boards.  Ultimately, they are the same thing since a "vertical" board still has an angle, but there are some shortcuts we can take when only one board is inclined.  Things get only marginally more complicated for a joint with both boards inclined.  Seriously! Only marginally more complicated.

Even if you never plan on doing compound-angle dovetails, the portion of the procedure used to determine the projection of the boards on each other would be useful to make a simple butt joint between angled parts.  But don't stop at the butt; the dovetail is easy!

This episode repeats the procedure 4 times for the different joints. Hopefully that reinforces the procedure without being a snoozer.

Two years ago (already?!) I did a short series of videos on hand-cut dovetails. I'm the first to admit I'm not a great dovetailer, but the methods are there for the ho-hum pins-first/tails-first decision, but also for houndstooth dovetails, mitered dovetails, and others.  This blog entry is the first for the series; the table of contents at the top will show you the others.  Uhg, it was 104ºF in the shop during those videos. There's a reason for wearing all black!!

The next episode of Angle Madness is also partly recorded so I hope to not disappear for a month again :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Shouldda Done It 2-Years Ago" - Drill-Press Tray

I'm certain some of you will identify with this problem: any available horizontal surface gets filled in my shop. The handiest one is the drill-press table as it is the first thing when I walk in and I don't use the drill press that often. When I do, oh, big chore emptying it for one or two holes.

This was one of those "I should have done this years ago" ideas. You don't need fancy scrap for it; I just happened to have found some nice stuff when the temperature broke a bit and I cleaned the other side of the garage.  That's the side where things get thrown in summer because nobody wants to be in that kiln to place something properly.

Oh, and you read that correctly.... one minute, twenty one seconds. Crazy.

In other news, I'm working on the drawer boxes for Angle Madness; these are required to properly place the drawer runners and kickers as you'll see in the next Angle Madness video. It's finally getting cooler and I'm eager to spend a whole weekend in there making progress with the garage door open!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Angle Madness! - Box Glue-up and Panel Cutting

Bet you thought this project found its way into a dumpster :) No!

The idea for the Tim Burton table popped into my head and I put this project aside since I was at a point where I needed to decide on a few things before being able to proceed.  I'm not good at having a big design laid out at the start although this project has had to force that a few times, including now!

In this episode,we'll glue-up the drawer tier boxes and show how you can easily clamp ridiculous compound angles... a method that's equally useful for regular mitered corners.

I cut the panel to the lines with the tracksaw and have a few tips on how to make lining it up easier.

Lastly, there's prepping the panel for installation into the box, which delves into the design of the drawer a bit and why a chamfer into a rabbet is a good idea.

Not an action-packed tool-cam video, but hopefully some take away.  Next episode of this project build will make the drawer webbing on the inside.  ...and I haven't forgotten about the 3 remaining episodes for the Tim Burton table (No Comment #2).

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Refreshing a Guiderail Splinterguard and Dimple Marking Technique

A bit of a quickie video. I'm working on Angle Madness again and needing to cut the panels for the tapered octagonal drawer boxes. For that, I really need the splinterguard on the MFT to be dead accurate. It always has been, for years, until I needed to quickly cut something on the MFT during the Tim Burton Table build while I had the Panther blade in the TS-75. Unlike the TS-55 blades that all have the same kerf width, TS-75 blades sometimes differ.  Now, my splinterguard is about 0.5mm off.

The first part of the video, though, covers something I often do anyway with the saw: dimple marking (my own silly term :)  With the saw on the rail, it's easy to use the ATB blade to mark exactly where the cut will be. Great for verifying and occasional adjustments. For 12 panels, I want the splinterguard accurate...

Second half of the video shows how to bump the splinterguard over so you can recut it accurately. Seems easy enough, but it comes up on forums all the time. Usually people are trying to peel it off and reuse the aged adhesive. I'll show you a better way that works quickly and has no peel-off problems.

After posting this, some people asked about the turners' tape mentioned in the video. It is essentially a double-stick tape. A good one is this one from Lee Valley.  The one I used in the video is from, but I can't find the woodworking store that sells it now.

I used a different brand that I have handy. Many woodworking catalogs will call this type of double stick tape "turners' tape" since, I guess, turners use it (I don't turn yet!)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Festool Cordless Carvex PSC-420 Review and Demo

I've been playing with a Festool cordless Carvex PSC-420 jigsaw for over a month now; a very nice saw made nicer with the accessory kit.

The corded model will be released September 1st, 2013.  The cordless model I use here does not yet have a release date in North America.

In this review, we'll start with a high-speed demo of a number of cuts in wood and other materials.  We'll then go over the saw in more detail pointing out any special features of the saw as well as each of the accessories in the accessory kit.

If you are familiar with the Festool PS-300 Trion, some of this saw's anatomy will be familiar, but there are a number of improvements and differences.  We'll also discuss any appreciable difference between the Carvex and the Trion so you can decide between the two if you are looking at Festool jigsaws.  Note that this means the Trion is not being discontinued.  The Carvex is an addition to the jigsaw line.

There's also a video discussion of the pendulum action of the Carvex and Trion.  I captured some good slo-mo video to better demonstrate the differences in pendulum settings and discuss why certain settings are better than others for different materials.

So the question is: why get a cordless jigsaw?  In my case, I have a corded Trion and was curious about a cordless version.  If I need to use a corded jigsaw, the Trion will work well.  If I want to breakdown stock in the driveway, I'd prefer the cordless Carvex.  Of course a cordless saw can be more convenient in the shop, although it is diminished by the lack of a "hose-less" dust extractor.  In fact, I found that I'm so trained to see the extractor hose on the tool and think the extractor will start when I start the tool that I often started a demo with the extractor off.  Fortunately, you can't read my lips in high-speed video :)  So, please, someone invent a hoseless dust-extractor!

28 minutes for a jigsaw review?!? By now you know I'm detailed; if you just want to see the saw in action, that's the first 5 minutes.

Popcorn-ex ready?  Okay!

I left a joke unfinished in the video... feel free to finish it in the comments :)

Festool-USA provided the Cordless Carvex PSC-420 and accessory kit for pre-release feedback and review.  And that said, I wrote the product manager with a number of questions and got excellent detailed replies, some directly from the engineers in Germany!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Gryphon C-40 Wet Bandsaw - Demo

Awhile ago, I posted a video review of the Gryphon C-40 wet bandsaw, but didn't really cut glass or curves.  I didn't have the right stock on hand to cut up for curves then posted it too quickly.  Mea culpa.

This video is the missing demos; we'll cut 8mm thick glass, porcelain tile, and natural travertine tile.  All stock will get a straight cut, soft curves, then more aggressive curves.  For the glass and porcelain tile, each cut is separate. On the large travertine tile, I made one long cut composed of the three segments.

Remember that I'm pretty new to this bandsaw and I could see how practice especially with a particular material would make for better tracking.

Friday, July 19, 2013

No Comment #2 - Onyx Cap for the Tapered Octagon

Getting back to the Tim Burton table build (No Comment #2), today we'll look at cutting and polishing the piece of Onyx that caps the tapered octagon.  We'll also go over making the molding that became a frame around the bottom.

While I used the Bridge City Jointmaker Pro for cutting the molding, that's actually a pretty trivial use for that tool (but I like to use it and it's right there!)  No Jointmaker?  No problem, I show a technique at the end of the video that you may find useful for cutting miters in small molding without a Jointmaker and without a tablesaw or bandsaw.

As a warning, there's some easy geometry in this episode... bisecting the angles (which are the miters for the frame) can be easily done with a compass.  You learned it in middle school, but in case those neurons were fried in some college hazing incident, we'll go over it quickly.  In the original build video, I used a Bridge City CT-4 (Angle Divider) and BS-5 to do without the geometry, but these nice layout tools are hard to come by.

Have to apologize for going dark for over a month! Life, work, and 120ºF+ heat waves kept me from the shop.  Yes, folks, we have canceled flights on account of heat out here!  That said, though, two other videos are in production with another review being recorded this weekend.  Of what? It makes a cameo in the background near the end of this video :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Domino DF-500 or Domizilla XL DF-700?

It's a common topic since the Domizilla came out: which to get if you could only get one?  It's also a very valid question since they aren't inexpensive.

With the recent offerings from Seneca Woodworking along with their new prototypes I reviewed recently, the choice becomes more muddied.  So let's go over the differences, what they mean in real use, and comment on how each machine stacks up to different common projects so you can better identify with a certain machine's capabilities.

The first thing to point out is that nothing suggests the 700 is a replacement for the 500; they are distinctly different machines; both will be around a long time.

Here are the specifications we'll look at:

Specification500700with Seneca
Routing Depth12-28mm15-70mm
Cutter Diameters4, 5, 6, 8, 10mm8, 10, 12, 14mm4, 5, 6mm
Mortise Widthsexact, +6mm, +10mmexact, +3mm
Fence Height5-30mm10-52mmdown to 1mm

Let's look at the specifications individually...


For some, the weight of the machine can be a big deal. The 700 is 62% heavier than the 500. Generally, I care less about the weight than other specs on a tool, but I could see a reluctance to want to lug a tool 62% heavier than another that can do the same job. This is especially the case with a Domino where you are mortising many holes on different project pieces. Contrast this to a heavy router where you put it down and do a lot of work without lifting it again.

Routing Depth

This is a big difference between the machines that often goes overlooked. Well, partially overlooked...

The 500 can plunge to 12, 15, 20, 25, and 28mm depths.

The 700 can plunge from 15 to 70mm in 5mm increments. While this can seem the same, remember that you don't have a 12mm equivalent. Sometimes you need a shallow plunge in one piece and deeper plunge in the mate to keep from piercing a side. Not a big deal, but something to consider.

Now the 700 ships with a plunge lock; it is a piece of plastic pushed over a plunge rod for shipping. Keep it; slice off a 2mm wide piece and keep it as a stop as explained in the 700's supplemental manual. With it, you can set your plunge to, say, 30mm and slip on the 2mm spacer to get an effective plunge of 28mm. If you created a 3mm wide spacer, you could set the plunge depth to 15mm with the spacer for an effective depth of 12mm. You've now used these jigs to duplicate the two mortise depths the 500 has that the 700 doesn't directly have.

With the depths provided with the stock 700, you could use any of the 500's tenon lengths since they are all multiples of 5mm in length (30mm, 40mm and 50mm).

Cutter Diameters

Prior to the Seneca accessories, this specification was usually the deciding factor for people to choose one over the other. Now it is fuzzy. Gee, thanks, guys...

Prior to Seneca's bit adapter, the minimum 8mm diameter bit could be too large for some projects. Certainly for 1/2" (12mm) ply, that's gluing the tenon to basically the outside skins. Even for 3/4" (18mm) ply, 6mm is a better size though 8mm will work. Length-wise, you'd have a minimum length of 40mm for the pre-cut Dominos. Naturally cut-to-length stock (or home-made) could be made to match the 30mm minimum tenon length (using the 15mm minimum depth on both sides without any spacer).

With Seneca's bit adapter, all the 500's bits are available for the 700. Excellent news for dealing with thinner stock or when you just want a smaller tenon like the 5mm tenons for alignment of panel parts. Granted, the adapter does not extend the plunge depth of those bits: they are still limited to 28mm plunges, which with the 700's "multiples of 5mm" plunge depths means 25mm (using 30mm, my bit bumped the outside of the mortise and didn't achieve full depth). I don't see this plunge-depth limit as a problem since I don't see a case (for joinery) where you'd need a longer tenon of those smaller thicknesses. Now for non-joinery uses, of course you could use it!

Mortise Widths

The 500 has three widths vs the 700s two widths. The extra widths allow for slop during assembly and is usually used for panel alignment so one 'anchor' pair of Dominos are exact-fit mortises with the rest allowing for some drift during mortising.

I rarely use the wider mortise widths; I did when I first got the 500, but not so much anymore. A single wider setting is about all I'd require in a machine and both have it.

Fence Height

The height refers to the fence distance to the center of the mortise. Nominally, the 500 should be able to get to 5mm from the center although some fences require a bit of filing to do that (mine for example, but mine is an original first-gen fence). If you have a problem lowering your 500 fence to 5mm, give this article a read.

A limitation of the 700 is that you can't get that close to the center. With a 10mm minimum distance, you can only center the mortise on 20mm or thicker stock. Personally, I've never had a problem putting a mortise slightly off-center and actually encourage that for easier assemblies. However, the 10mm distance means 3/4" ply is about the minimum you can use even with an off-center mortise.

The Seneca DomiShims (or even your own shims) can apply a certain offset to the fence making that 10mm setting be, well, 0mm if you had a 10mm thick plate. The DomiShim for 1/2" stock is 9mm thick so you can technically set the fence to 1mm from the center, but then you'd ram your bit into it. But the point is it effectively gets you a lot of range on the fence height. Granted, installing the DomiShim isn't the fastest thing and, currently, the final version of the shim and fence height gauge are in some flux. Ultimately, you'll be able to use it or some shop-made shim to center your mortises on thinner project stock.


I find the 500 a comfortable size and easily maneuvered. Some people find the top-mounted button awkward, but I've never had an issue with it; use your index finger :)

The 700, while ergonomic in use, is heavy. It begs two-handed use whereas I do a lot of work with the 500 one-handed freeing up the other hand to better hold the stock.

Miscellaneous Comparisons

On large projects, people will often go for the thickest tenon that fits the work. Sometimes, though, two smaller tenons are ultimately stronger and much more twist resistant than one larger thicker tenon. Consider that a pair of 8mm Dominos have nearly double the long-grain glue surface as an equivalent length 14mm Domino. Further, two 8mm tenons stacked (with some stock between them) is enormously more twist resistant than a single 14mm tenon; you may not have room for multiple 14mm tenons.

So, which one?

Prior to the Seneca accessories, there wasn't as big of a fuzzy grey region as there is now.

The 500 can do the vast majority of my projects; it does medium to large tables, small boxes, panels, face-frame joinery and attachment. The 700 is now capable, with the bit adapter, to do all those same projects plus those that need the larger tenons; for example, the thick and long tenons mortised through the table top into the legs of the No Comment #2 (Tim Burton Table) build. I often hear that outdoor gates or doors are a prime candidate for the 700 although I'll go back to the discussion that two stacked tenons can be better than one thicker one.

The 500 is still cheaper than the 700 plus some people moving to a 700 are selling off their 500 so you can get a great deal. If 99% of your projects could be handled with the 500, it might be a better investment; odds are that 1% project can still be done with the 500, but maybe with a bit more thought to achieve what can be more easily done with a 700 in that project. If you occasionally do larger projects, the 700 with the bit adapter (or reground 6mm bit) might be a more versatile tool, but at a higher cost for the machine plus the Seneca accessories mentioned.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


An update and a fun statistic...

I busted out Angle Madness again and have been recording parts of the box assembly; hope to mix in a little of that build again while continuing on the Tim Burton Table build episodes.

As a software engineer by "day" (my circadian rhythm has a "day" shifted quite a bit...), "1e6" means a million, which is what we hit for page views earlier today:

Pretty happy with that; it's a milestone.  It means there's an awful lot of you who fell asleep on the refresh key! :) just kidding... thanks for reading!

A funny story about "1e6": for non-software types, it's how we write "1x106" in programming languages.  In high school, I was taking a test in a math class and everywhere I was supposed to write "x10n", I used 'e' notation.  Instructor could have failed every answer, but instead brought it up as a problem with computer jargon.  Never once looked wrong to me :)

So, again, "thanks a million"

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Seneca Woodworking Domino Accessory Review and Preview

Ron and Ryan of Seneca Woodworking have been making some great accessories for the Domino; they're the ones who made the DomiPlate that production cabinet shops using the Domino really love.

The DomiPlate was for the DF-500, so they've since come out with DomiShims for the DF-700 XL Domizilla as well as a bit adapter that allows the Domizilla to use the smaller DF-500 bits.

...but they are also up to some other things, and that'll be the preview portion of this review.  The preview products will be useful to a lot of users besides changing the way DomiShims are sold.  Good stuff.  Ryan will be keeping us updated on the prototype releases on Seneca's blog, so read that one (after mine! :)

These accessories blur the already blurry line between a "500 project" and a "700 project" as the 700 can now make mostly the same holes the 500 can.  But there are still significant differences you'll need to consider before picking one or the other, the biggest factor being your current projects.  I'll be posting an article early next week reviewing those differences.

For my email subscribers, here's the video link.

Here are some handy links to the other relevant reviews mentioned in this video (uh, the video work wasn't as good back then :)

The original DomiPlate review.  The Domizilla XL DF-700 review.  The Domino DF-500 review.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Great Norm Clip

The Norm made a surprise appearance at the Festool Connect 2013 event and gave a nice long talk about how he got into carpentry, where that moved to, where the show started and all the people surrounding his shows.  I caught it live from the event stream, but they have posted his talk to YouTube.  Clip is below... well worth the listen!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Random Tidbits

A couple random things before going into the shop to record a review of a lot of great things from (yes I had to wait for the A/C to bring it down a few degrees... 108º+F today!)

First, Mark Harrell of Bad Axe Tool Works let me preview an article he wrote for a magazine on how to tune your saw.  Loved the article since it explained everything you need to do for 99% of the fixes he does as a Saw Doc.  The article assumes you're not into posturing by chatting about saw fleam angles over coffee, which is great because I could never learn the secret handshake of that social group.

The article isn't published yet and I can't tell you where or when it will be (I was sworn to secrecy over a table of fleam angles), but he followed up with a great article about re-tensioning a backsaw's spine posted to his site.  This may or may not be similar to part of the secret article <wink>

If you score a nice backsaw at a fleam-arket (ah I get it now...), this article will walk you through re-tensioning and straightening out the plate.  The right margin on his site lists other DIY articles including one on unlocking a frozen nut; handy for our Canadian readers.

Next up, a magazine article I was behind on!  My friend Rutager West wrote an article for Popular Woodworking's December 2012 issue (this is for the print issue, which may no longer be available when you read this).  In the article, Rutager shows you how to inlay a checkerboard pattern on a curved radius.  The plane in the lower-right photo is the HP-6v2 mini multi-plane I love; that profile is the corner bead although the corner cove (or any of the corner profile!) would look equally exciting on a box.

The article is a "corner bead" version of a well-documented thread Rutager did on the Bridge City forum where he put the inlay on a face bead (this is the profile I used for the Onyx frame in No Comment #2).

Other good threads on using the HP-6v2 profiles for inlays include revealing a wood under the multi-bead; I've used this many times after reading this; an excellent effect.

Last of the OPT ("other people's tidbits"), Scott Meek makes nice wood-bodied planes. He's decided to auction off this smoother with at least 50% of the proceeds going to the Moore, Oklahoma relief fund.  Might be a great way to get one of these for less than retail!  I have a watch on this.  Hopefully the bids will be out of my range so I don't have to do that nervous last-minute-of-auction sniping.

EDIT: Here is the updated eBay link; eBay had erroneously deleted Scott's auction since they are being cautious of any auction for "Moore charity" since so many were false.

For me, my list of videos to roll has grown almost too fast this past week.  That said, over the next two months, I should have 4 new Festool reviews along with the very interesting Seneca Woodworking reviews I'll be rolling after hitting publish.  This without forgetting to finish the No Comment #2 build videos and get the drawer assemblies in place on Angle Madness.  I need to quit my day job!

Speaking of videos, thanks for letting me hit 3,000+ subscribers on YouTube!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Liogier Hand-Stitched Rasp Review

Awhile ago, I saw a great video of a French craftsman shaping a deer-hoof leg; he was using Liogier rasps pretty much start to finish.  Mostly what caught my eye was that these rasps seemed to work...  my previous experiences with rasps were with Nicholson #49 and #50 rasps (American made, pre-Brasil) along with some likely low-quality rasps and overall, they never became a go-to tool for shaping.

So I ordered a few Liogier rasps to give them a try and really enjoyed using them to shape the 5 legs of the Tim Burton table demi-lune (the No Comment #2 build).  These are definitely now in my first-choice pile of tools to shape wood.

While shaping those legs, if I had a lot of stock to remove, I'd often play with rasps to get a better feel for how they work at shaping a curve (that I'd ultimately be removing anyway).  There is a learning curve to them, like every tool, but mostly a lot of muscle memory for how to switch sides of a project and still push the rasp in the correct orientation.

I cover a few basics of a rasp like grain and "handedness" so people new to rasps better understand the choices and how they work.  If you're an avid rasp user, that part will be -yawn- review for you, but not too long.

Note that this is a review of the Liogier rasps.  I do not own any Auriou rasps to compare; if you want to lend me a set, I'll do a comparison :)


A viewer wrote me about these rasps quite awhile ago.  One thing he found useful was a list of what I bought to use as a starting place to sift through the options.  Here's a photo of my order.  You'll notice I added some additional handles and storage boxes.  Those were for some of my other rasps and files; hey! these handles are maple-syrup colored... doesn't get any better for someone of Canadian upbringing :)

(Click image for a larger more legible size)

I rolled this video while making the Tim Burton table back in early January.  As I sit here avoiding going outside to do concrete and paint in 100º weather, I was jealous of the winter weather in the video.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Gryphon C-40 Wet Bandsaw - Review

In the "No Comment #2" build video around timecode 39:40, I processed a large piece of Onyx I scored from a local granite shop's dumpster, I mean, showroom.  The first email I received after releasing the build video was "what's that wet bandsaw all about?"

The next build video in the "No Comment #2" series (Tim Burton Table) will cover all the Onyx work for the top cap.  Since that relies on this Gryphon wet bandsaw, I thought to review it first so I don't have to do that part in the build video.

This saw is popular among artisans since it is so well designed and fits well in a studio.  Cutting tile, stone slabs, rough stone, and glass is all very easy to do.  Its glass-cutting ability would make it a fantastic tool for stained glass work.  In my case, my interests were in being able to add stone accents to projects and possibly moving into some Pietra Dura, which is marquetry with stone.

The version I have is from Paul Schürch, who modifies them to have a beveling table on the deck for the bevel cuts needed to inlay stone or do Pietra Dura; he uses one for his work as well as for teaching Pietra Dura classes.  First chance I get, I'll take that class!  They are special order from his store; if you get the saw from another distributor, it won't come with that addition, which may or may not interest you.

Part 2 includes demos with thick glass, porcelain tile, and natural travertine tile.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

No Comment #2 - Bandsawing the Tapered Octagon

Cutting the assembled tapered octagon was a lot of fun during this build because I got to use the bandsaw in a way I hadn't before.  Certainly a technique I'll be exploring more in future builds!

Basically, we built a sacrificial jig to hold the tapered octagon "spatially" in the correct orientation for the bandsaw blade to remove planes.  While we could have computed the compound cut at the top of each triangle for the octagon to get a level top, to do two more cuts on each triangle to then remove the part for the table top would have been a lot of error-prone work... any deviation in length would have to be sanded out later (end grain!).  Then add the work of triple the glue-up.  Cutting the plane on the bandsaw, especially with a smooth-cutting Laguna Resaw King, left nothing to sand (sure there were tool marks, but those surfaces were perfect for gluing in this project).

Ah, the mysterious holes in the jig are explained, too.  Had some questions about those :)

Do remember the design episode where I explained how the top part of the octagon changed.  Originally, I wanted the octagon to continue through the table so the top piece needed to be exactly positioned so Dominos could go through the octagon top, the table, and into the octagon bottom.  In the video flashback, I explain that cut that ultimately we didn't keep (but did use).

However, properly cutting off that top piece does have an importance that we'll see in a future episode on the assembly.  As a spoiler, I'll tell you :)  That top piece was used as a template for where the Domino holes in the table top were needed in order to get them to go smoothly into the octagon bottom.  Without that template, it would have been long and messy to position those Dominos; with that template, it was as simple as tracing the revealed mortises.  But you'll see that in more close-up detail in the assembly episode.

I think the next episode will be another bandsaw episode; editing all this old footage with some new narration mixed in has me busy in the video editor, not in the shop.  Not a good thing.  The next planned episode will at least have me running a tool or two!

Here's a link to the video for my email subscribers:

Monday, May 6, 2013

Technique - Matching Existing Compound Angles

When stacking up compound cuts to make an octagonal cylinder or other multi-faceted object, the minor error in each cut also compounds making the last piece fit less than well.

A better method I used for the tapered octagonal column ("tapered octagon" for short!) was to glue up the first seven facets then measure the exact part I needed for the eighth.  Matching the miter angles of the part is easy, but usually there's confusion on how to measure the associated bevel angles.  This short video (no, really! under 7 minutes!) shows how I did the measurement.

I'll also discuss an animation at the end that shows a bit of how the bevel angle relates to the included angle and stock thickness.

No math is used or harmed in this video; safe for all ages :)

(Here's a link to the YouTube page for my email subscribers; sorry I've been forgetting that lately: Technique - Matching Existing Compound Angles)

Over the weekend, I renumbered all the videos (and renamed my local copies to match).  Generally, a new video gets the next number, but videos that are in a series get point numbers.  For example, #82 is the No Comment #2 series so each video is #82.1, #82.2, #82.3 etc to better know the order of the videos.  A viewer on YouTube suggested numbering them all since he found one mid-series by chance and didn't have an easy way to see where he was at. Hopefully this helps, although I understand it can look confusing on, say, the Sculpted Mahogany Vanity build where the last video was #38.12 released after one of the Domino crib-sheet videos #56.  I'm thinking the order in a series is more important than strict chronological order over all of them.  Might be wrong; do that often :)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

No Comment #2 - Tapered Octagon

The tapered octagon piercing through the shaped demi-lune top of the Tim Burton table (formerly known as No Comment #2) involves the nemesis of most woodworkers: compound angles (the stair builders are laughing right now...)

True, compound angles are more complicated than square cuts with a square blade by a square woodworker :) ("triple square cuts"), but some techniques can make them really easy to work with and get great results.

In this episode, a large part deals with cutting and Domino-ing the triangles that make up the tapered octagon along with some tips on eye-balling the cut with an angled fence and how to recover from Dominoing with a less than perfect bevel angle setting.  The Domino trick actually comes in really useful in the triple-square arena as well.

There was a lot of interest in the new-to-me technique of using the Domizilla to mortise through multiple parts simultaneously; the process is really easy (though I over-explain, I know), but saves on a lot of awkward calculation of other compound angles.

Next up will be a short video on how to measure a compound angle off a project; this is really useful when you are making an n-sided object... make n-1 sides according to your formula and tool settings then calculate the last perfect-fitting piece directly off the rest.  The savings in caulk alone make this worthwhile to learn!

The video refers you to the Angle Madness Jigs video if you want to know more about cutting miters with triangles.

Sorry it's longer than I expected... jeez, it's just a tapered octagon!

As an aside, apparently all my friends had very very bored parents in August because we just had a string of 12 birthdays to celebrate.  Nice full social calendar; completely bumped video editing :)  Hey, at least it was for very pretty, I mean, very good reasons!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hilariously Funny - The Shed of Doom

It's difficult to explain what this guy's goals are in building this "shed", but the thread about it on a Canadian motorcycle forum it is hilarious.  I've been reading all 21 pages of posts off and on all day.  Thanks to Charles Neil for popping it in my mailbox.

This, folks, is the Shed of Doom!

The thread is long so if you don't want to read all the hilarious replies, just scroll through each page for photo updates and a few time-lapse videos.

The whole thread is going viral on construction forums literally throughout the world.

The first two pages of forum posts have a lot of photos so flip through those.  If you can keep from reading all the funny replies, jump to page 17 to get the grand finale.

Note that there's some colorful language... oh who am I kidding, you've all done glueups before! :)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No Comment #2 - Table Top

Normally a panel for a table is pretty trivial to put together: surface, joint, glue, done!  While that's not always the case, it would be the Cliff Notes version.

The table top for the Tim Burton table is another story with all the shaping on the underside, scalloped edges, and that it is a demi-lune pattern fanning out from a center.  In this build video, I'll talk about why Dominos were used (not actually needed on a Cliff Note panel), how the ramp for the router works, and some of the aspects of laying out where the wedges come from.

This episode doesn't cover the finishing as that will be covered in another episode.

As always, thanks for watching...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

No Comment #2 - Design Overview

In fussing with these design videos, I decided to break them down into small areas of the build so you could surf the ones that are of interest and skip the others... but you won't, right? :)

This first post-build video is of the design and where some of the ideas came from and some of the changes that happened along the way.  Also shows the table where it will go and what the onyx cap is for.

Subsequent build videos will cover each part in more detail, like the table top, the tapered octagon, the legs, a special video on just the stone shaping, coloring and finishing, and ultimately something on assembly since there are some interesting points to that as well.

After putting you through an hour-long video, this one is just a bit over 8 minutes!

Thanks for watching and welcome to the new subscribers... seemed to have gotten a lot lately!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

No Comment #2 - Pre-build Videos Odds 'n' Ends

Thanks for the good feedback on No Comment #2, both the video and the project.  It was a fun project and the compliments on the video make that effort worth it.  I've also made a list of things to do better for #3, whenever that happens!

If you haven't watched it yet due to the hour length, most people said it went quickly and didn't feel like an hour.  If you are impatient and want to see the final product, cue it up to get through the 3 minute intro up to where the build starts then jump to the 1 hour mark and watch from there out.

I'm taking this weekend off of video editing and will edit the first design episode next weekend.  Had some parties and hockey this weekend plus if I import more footage into my machine right now, it's so full it'll ooze out!  Friday, though, more storage arrives!  Thank you thank you to the viewer who greatly helped out with that!

The photo above is my 'mission control' desk at home; guess if I wasn't so nocturnal, I could have taken it with daylight lighting it up.  The left is the preview monitor to see what you're doing, the right the timeline.  Usually there's a glass of red wine between the monitors; I need wine to be able to watch myself while editing...

What stole the show for one viewer was that tape dispenser.  I bought it awhile ago to hold 3/4" and 2" rolls of blue tape while doing marquetry because you don't want to drop everything to use two hands to take a bit.  Works great!  When not doing marquetry, I put packing tape in as the second roll.  I use both non-stop it seems.  Very handy and not really expensive.  There are three 1" wide wheels on the back so you can load it up with many combinations of widths.  All metal!

Off in Sweden, a forum thread started wondering why I use the jigsaw upside-down.  Funny to read where the thread wanders through Google Translate :)  (BTW, forum registration is broken! I was going to reply in English but apparently "question #3" is missing!)

So, I'll answer here and later in the build video.  With the jigsaw upside-down, I get these advantages:
  • Clearly visible blade for better tracking to a line and safety
  • Most blades pull chips into the body of the jigsaw; upside-down, this pulls them away from you and gravity helps with the few chips that try getting away
  • If you hang on to the board with fingers below the board, using a jigsaw right-side up risks you clipping your fingers; with the jigsaw upside-down, if you run into those fingers, it is the base of the saw, not the blade.
  • As a corollary of the above, I find that I have more control since I can see the blade tracking so easily instead of peering into the chipguard.
Admittedly, the Trion's barrel-grip and knob up front makes this really nice; I often use the knob to pull the jigsaw toward me upside-down under the stock.  If you have a D-handle, I can imagine it would be more awkward.  If you have a barrel grip, draw a curvy line on MDF or other scrap and try it out, twice.  First time to get the feel for it, second to see your accuracy.

Another common question is what type of stone that is (it appeared as the second clue).  It's Onyx, a form of marble.  You'll see more of that in the build videos.

And now, a "forest for the trees" moment while editing the Guitar Edition v11.0 of No Comment #2...

When making the music credits, I took a list of songs by each artist and sorted them alphabetically. Song titles would fade in and out in pairs below the artist name.  Only after re-watching the preview version for the umpteenth time did I notice this ironic pairing of song titles:

If you don't immediately get the joke, uhm, don't google it at work...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

No Comment #2 - The Full Build

Finally!  There, thought I'd say it for you since I've been saying it all week :)

I had a lot of fun with No Comment #1.  Enough that I'd thought to continue the series with a small but fun build aptly named No Comment #2 (clever, no?).  Like No Comment #1, I won't tell you what I'm building.  This video is a full project build from start to finish in high-speed sections and multi-cams to keep you busy watching instead of snoozing!  Guess as you watch it what I'm making.  Some clues have appeared on this blog to, you know, build intrigue.  My version of foreshadowing!

Unlike No Comment #1, I'll be following up this initial build video with videos detailing different aspects of the build.  There were some interesting techniques used in this build that can be applied to many of your projects.

If you write a comment on this video here or on YouTube (which I'd appreciate!), please don't put a spoiler in there as to what the project was.  Latest comments appear on the homepage so someone not trying to see the comments may see "hey, nice grain elevator!" and it'll just ruin the effect :)

The video is an hour long although my test victims who previewed many early versions never thought it too long; hopefully it'll be as interesting for you.  Maybe go pee before you hit play!

There are two versions of the video!  It wasn't enough to drive myself batty with all this video editing that I mixed two soundtracks.  One uses the songs you've heard many times on previous podcasts.  The second uses new music!  It's all progressive guitar and rock instrumentals.  It is very much what you'd hear in my shop, especially the newly-found favorite Daniel Bautista.

Since the video is all music between a short introduction and final conclusion, you could always hit mute and play your favorite hair bands if you prefer.

I shook the dust off the walls listening to the guitar edition after rendering it tonight; the middle three songs might be a bit much if you're not into the guitar as much but fear not as the songs after those three are very melodic; modulate with the volume control!

Here's the version with the sounds you've often heard on this podcast:

Here's the guitar version: version 11.0!

While sometimes the scene is messy in the video, what's behind the camera is usually piles of whatever I wanted out of the scene.  Here's a panorama of the shop during some of the shooting (the project was in the house so no spoiler here):

A secondary goal of this video was to get better at video editing, lighting, etc.  The biggest thing I learned is that for the total time of this project, easily 9/10th (or more!) of it was video work, whether it was setting up cameras, correcting clips, editing clips, or figuring out some silly thing I wanted in the video for no other reason than I didn't know how (at the time!) to do it!  This really wasn't that long of a build if you don't have red record lights pointing at you :)

For the curious, here's the info for my dedicated video drives:

Crazy that two 4Tb drives are full of the raw and optimized footage for this thing.  As I render the build videos to follow this one, I'll get to delete some footage.  At one point, I found myself drooling over an 18Tb raid stack.  Someday... (no, Friday! :)

Angle Madness, my other project in process, will continue, too, while I put out detail videos for No Comment #2, as I've recorded a lot of the content for those videos already.  The slow pace of Angle Madness needed an intervention for myself and for you.  Now you know why I was in the dark for so long :)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Laguna Ceramic Guides and Blade Wear

In a YouTube comment on the video about the Laguna ceramic guides for the Italian LT-18, someone asked if the ceramic guides abrade the blade.  The blade does show scuffs and scratches where the ceramic guides touch, but don't really dig in or anything.  For example, the rear "thrust bearing" equivalent is a ceramic rod pressed up against the blade.  You should rotate it more often than I do or you get a groove in it suggesting that though the ceramic is hard, the blade still wears the ceramic.  I have a pronounced groove now, but you simply rotate it to a new flat spot.

With some of the goofy resawing I did for No Comment #2, my blade finally needed to be changed after 22 months.  I'm not a pro so I don't use it daily, but I do use it a lot especially resawing wide stock so 22 months is a heck of a long time!  Before shipping the blade for sharpening today, I took closeup photos of the blade to show the wear after 22 months (it was a new blade):

This is a 1.25" Resaw King and should get 5-6 resharpenings before it's dead.  That's 6-7 "between sharpening" times you get to use it so the cost starts going down.  When I got the Italian LT-18, I bought 2 Resaw King blades as they had a special for new bandsaw buyers so at least I can finish this project while the blade is out.

The crud in the kerfs is indeed MDF.  Evil that stuff...

Monday, January 21, 2013

No Comment #2 - Clue #2

This week had many unexpected fires... none of them mine, but people I know like to share their fires :)  What's the quote?  "Your lack of planning doesn't constitute an emergency on my part"?  Something like that!

Anyway, someone made an interesting guess as to what No Comment #2 is based on the first clue: something to do with the TV sci-fi "Stargate".  Guess it looks like the chevrons from the show.  Hey, I'd probably like that show; I may see if it is available on download.

It reminded me that I took a clue photo earlier this week (pre-fires...), but I needed to wait to post it in case it wouldn't get used in the project.  No need for red herrings!

It's getting used and it looks fantastic.  If you guess the material (not too difficult), the obvious use isn't how it is getting used.  The piece was actually a lucky find and changed the design of the project.  The commentary videos after the initial build video will describe the other options; the build video will only include this piece.  I learned a lot working with it, too.

At this point, everything is ready for stain and finish before final assembly.  Spraying some of the components outside wouldn't have been possible the past two weeks as our highs were just 47ºF.  Hard to believe that today the high was 74ºF... I guess the past two weeks were our winter.  -groan- need more winter... (send some! please!)

Clue #2:

I'm eager to release this video!  I hit a major road block on it: I ran out of royalty-free music!  Yes, the same instrumentals you've heard in other episodes except with the video at 40 minutes currently, that's a lot of music to find.  Found a nice source tonight; not cheap, but not too expensive either.  Will post details with No Comment #2 if it works out that I use it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

WIA'12-Pasadena: Pilgrimage to Eagle Tools

This is a bit late... while looking for free space on my video drive, I found some footage I took of Eagle Tools I hadn't edited! D'oh!

To a power-tool woodworker, this video could be considered "NSFW"; you've been warned!

My friend Roger introduced me to Eagle Tools about a year ago on a trip out to LA.  You saw a bit of them when I toured the WIA'12-Pasadena marketplace floor.

This clip is basically Chris and I wandering the store with a few stories from Jesse re-told; Jesse is the owner of Eagle Tools.  He's a great guy with a lot of knowledge of his product line.  Though Chris and I were just there to browse, we got a lot of show-n-tell on the Agazzani bandsaws, Incas, a variety of bandsaw blade guides, and the Festool room.

I know Inca has a big fan-base and rightly so based on what I saw and learned.  Eagle's the place for Inca.  If I didn't have a scroll saw, I swear I'd have taken one of the smaller Inca bandsaws home to use as a scroll saw!

There's some camera motion I tried to compensate for in editing; I was either too close to things or just too excited to hold the camera properly :)

Here's the video link for my email subscribers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

No Comment #2 - Clue #1

Did a very interesting cut for No Comment #2 today; at the risk of completely giving away what it is I make in that video, here's a photo of the offcut:

How that cut is made and how you can easily alter it will definitely become part of future projects I've jotted down since this afternoon.  The accompanying video that explains the cut should give you ideas for your own project.

But not until the project is complete and No Comment #2 is released :)