Oxygen

Had a young fella visiting with his family today.  I know it was a waste of breath, but I had to ask him “Do you like dinosaurs?”

It’s like asking a human if they need oxygen to live.

So the answer was a given.  But he wasn’t expecting what came next.  I handed him a set of about a dozen different dinosaur plans, and suggested he choose one.  After a meticulous sort and selection (he’s all of about 4!), one was chosen – a triceratops.  Has big horns for hunting I think was the rationale.

No problem, let’s go make it.  So first, camped out on the lounge floor we loaded the plans into the computer, fitted them to the board size (nesting), and set the required tabs.

Then it was off to the shed, with a small entourage in tow.  While the kids watched, I set the CNC up for the job, explaining what I was doing each step.  There was a board placed on the ground a short distance from the work area, and strict instructions that only I could step over that board.  A small step ladder placed on the other side of the board was a very convenient lookout, and it was duly manned for pretty much the entire time.

As each board was completed (this particular pattern required three 900x600x6mm MDF boards) (and yes, dust extraction and air filtration were on), the entourage were involved in popping each piece loose, then each piece was duly handed to me one at a time so I could sand off the tabs on the disk sander.

The young fella was funny.  He couldn’t get over that we were making ‘his’ dinosaur.  Nor that it was going to be ‘big’.  After all, what does ‘big’ mean to a 4 year old?  A big toy is perhaps a foot long? Maybe?  You wonder what they expect, although they are already processing the concept of limiting their expectations so as not to be disappointed.  So ‘big’ is relative, especially when compared to all the other toys that receive the same description.  He kept asking what I was doing now (or more specifically, what the CNC machine was doing now).  He was confused that even after a number of parts were cut, we were still making components for his dinosaur.  Again, you could see it was already exceeding any preconceived notions of scale.

With the pieces cut out, we traipsed back into the house, where the dinosaur was assembled.

That is when eyes got really wide.  Followed closely by a most impressive grin!

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All up, took at most an hour and a few sheets of MDF, and that was about it.  Sure beats those tiny 6″ long models made in China that keep appearing in pop-up shops in the various malls.  Nothing is better than a ‘serious’ dinosaur.  Especially one that redefines the concept of “big”.  Better than oxygen.

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Plans from MakeCNC

Recycling Timber

I’m a big fan of recycling timber.

Not specifically for that distressed look (although timber that still reflects some of its history is not necessarily a bad thing), nor as a cost-saving measure.

I really hate seeing perfectly good things getting thrown away, and timber has such a longevity, it will often easily outlast its first, second, even third use.  There are plenty of examples of antique furniture showing that timber can last hundreds of years – really is an amazing product when you think about it, and how it is produced.

My own example is some timber that was being thrown away at work, destined for landfill.

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They were old ceilings, made from Tassie Oak and 90x35mm, and around 1800 long.  Whole corridors of them.  They are about 40 years old, and were nailed in groups between 3 and 6, and by looks, all nailed together by hand.  (Not surprising given the age, but the amount of work involved!!)

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They were dirty on top, stained by water and time, and a varnish on the bottom and sides.  Many, I suspect, would have discarded it, or turned it into firewood.  But with a little imagination, the quality of the timber can still be seen, and easily extracted.  It is perfectly dry – 40 years inside will do that!  It is exceptionally straight.  After taking them apart, removing any fittings, fixtures and nails, this (and another few stacks like it) are all sitting in my wood store, ready for use.  Or should I say, reuse!

This dirty, dusty, stained, unwanted and unloved timber is finding new homes in my projects.  It is good to work with, and finishes very nicely.  And best of all, is being appreciated for what it is and not propping up landfill.  The fact that some of my projects have the occasional odd hole in a funny place does not cause any issues – it only goes to show the timber has lived a previous life.

Monarch Clock

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Multiple Layer Inlay Stencils, from Tarter Woodworking.  The Monarch Butterfly is just one of a range of designs available.

The design is an absolute show stopper.  I took the completed piece in to show my wife and daughter, and during the ‘countdown’ to the reveal, “3, 2, …. ” well they never got to 1. As the work was revealed, they were stunned to silence.  I have never gotten such a reaction to anything I’ve ever made before!  Even having seen the work in progress, the final result was even more incredible than they had imagined, and, well, I’m pretty pleased with the result too :)

For the full writeup, including all the in-progress photos, check out the next edition of ManSpace Magazine (Feb 2015).

 

Hail to the Chef

Had a busy weekend out in the shed, madly making sawdust (which is always a good thing!)

In this case though, it hasn’t generated much content for this site, as it was for the next edition of The Shed magazine.

Here are a couple of the images from the build, but if you want the full article, it will be in the next edition of The Shed (NZ/Aus edition).  If previous writeups are anything to go on, it gets about 9 pages which is pretty awesome!

A fun build – took a weekend to complete, and that is with lots of on the fly design decisions and problem solving.  I quite enjoy building without plans, and just designing as I go.  It throws up all kinds of interesting issues, and solutions that would not have been seen if it had been a sterile, plan-following build.  I’m not saying there isn’t a place for pre-build design, in fact that is the recommended route 99 times out of 100.  I just happen to enjoy the challenges of working with that 1%!

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The unit was even thrown into action before I even had had a chance to finish it!  Needless to say, that has been resolved now, using Ubeaut FoodPlus mineral oil.  Came up a treat, and really useful to boot!

Episode 105 Freeform Router Bowl

Using the Amana Tool bowl bits from Toolstoday.com, I create a freeform double (interlocking) bowl

One hundred and eighty

This is what I spent my weekend making. It features dovetailed joinery, wooden hinges, and shaker-style panel doors.

For the full blow-by-blow, check out the next edition of ManSpace magazine.

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Stu & Jess’ Shed .com

Spent much of the day in the workshop, finishing off the kitchen I gave Jessica 18 months ago. Nothing like promptly getting jobs done!

Edges were rounded over using the Festool laminate trimmer (OFK500) I bought for the task 17 months ago. Sides were sanded, and the big (outstanding) job tackled- remaking the wooden hinges for the cupboard door that had broken while carrying the unit into the house for that Christmas all those months ago.

The door, finally attached, and it was onto giving both units (sink & oven) an oil (Danish). Took a lot – lots of surfaces! I really need to prefinish more!

However, despite the long list, I didn’t do it all myself. For almost 5 hours, Jess was a constant companion, and helper. She oiled one entire unit, and sanded much of it as well with the ETS150/5. And had a ball doing it. It was her suggestion that the shed needed the name alteration!

I’ve created a monster! (Awesome!!)

Woodworking inspiring the next generation.

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