Sunday, December 29, 2019

Making a Hydraulic Clamp

With 2 tons of pressure, it does a very effective job of clamping

Recently I wanted to try my hand at turning some bowls on my lathe using some hardwood scrap pieces that I had leftover from other projects. I wanted to create the bowls that had an alternating layer of different wood types in order to give the bowl an interesting appearance. 

With my first couple of bowls, I created the bowl blank by layering the wood pieces on top of each other and clamping everything together as tightly as possible with standard wood clamps. 

On the whole, everything glued together so I had a relatively solid piece of wood to work with, 

However, I did find that I sometimes got fine little gaps between the glued layers.  The downside of this was that when I turned the bowl, I would sometimes see daylight shining through those gaps in the bowl's side.   

While it is something that the typical person would likely not notice, and I could "cheat" by using wax to finish the bowl (the wax would fill in the gap), I really wanted  to be proud of my projects, and seeing a flaw, no matter how minor, always seems to bug me. 

I think the issue with the gaps is that no matter how hard I clamp the wood, I do not seem to be able to apply consistent pressure along the entire surface of the piece that I was gluing together. 

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Making a Wood Stove Fire Starter

This fire starter makes starting a fire in your wood stove a snap

Other than getting splinters in my fingers, the other most common by-product of all my work in the shop is compiling a rather large collection of sawdust and planer chips that eventually piles up on the floor around my saws and other tools that I use to nibble away at wood with.

For me, this is a waste product, something to be swept up and dumped into the garbage can to be recycled or composted.

Occasionally, some of my shop waste has been used as mulch material around some of the flower beds around the house here. But for the most part, the woodchips and sawdust were mainly looked at as trash.

For the past few years, I have been volunteering with our local Scouting group. A little while ago the group did a project where they made a campfire starter out of some wood chips, candle wax and a small paper cup that you would normally use for mouthwash. I was actually pretty amazed at how simple it was to make one of those things, and was even more amazed at how well they worked in starting a campfire. 

My parents primarily heat their house and as long as I can remember, they were always commenting that they sometimes had to put in a bit of effort to get the fires burning in the mornings.

Thinking back on what the Scouts did, and looking at another pile of sawdust on the shop floor, an idea struck...

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Making a House Number Sign

The sign is out, and swinging in the breeze

In my last post, I did some playing around with a new CNC router that I had purchased recently. As I mentioned in that post, I had a very simple but practical project as my first creation with the router - an address sign for my house.

In the rural area that I live in, the post office delivers the mail to a mailbox that you would install at the end of your driveway.

While it is usually pretty easy to figure out which mailbox belongs to which house, the post office has a requirement that you post either your name or your house number on your mailbox.

I suppose this makes sense since while I have had the same postal carrier delivering my mail for a few years now and they are pretty familiar with me and where I live, when it happens that I have someone new delivering the mail, I can see where they may have trouble if the boxes were not marked.

Most people simply run down to the local hardware store and buy some stick-on letters for their mailboxes,, on the other hand, I did want to have something a bit more unique for my mailbox.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Robot Router - Trying out a 3018 CNC Router

3018-pro CNC router

I'm not sure how I arrived at the notion that I needed this thing.

I suppose it really stemmed from the fact that I needed a new "For Sale" sign for the collection on wooden wonders that I had sitting on my front lawn.

In the past, I had used one of those cheap plastic signs that you can pick up at the hardware store for a few dollars, but the one that I had been using blew away in a wind storm recently.

While the old sign did serve its purpose, I have been wanting to class things up a bit and have my sign be more in keeping with what I was selling.

Now, there are a few ways to make a sign out of wood.

The easiest way is to just slap some paint on a wood board, but let's be honest, my free hand lettering abilities leave much to be desired.

Alternatively, I could also cut in the letters freehand with my Dremel Trio, which is something I had done before and was seriously considering before a chance encounter with an ad that popped up on Facebook one day (I swear Facebook has some sort of app that reads your thoughts).

The ad was for a small CNC router that could be bought for only a couple hundred dollars.  Previously, I had always assumed that CNC routers that were large hulking things that could only be bought for the few thousand dollars, so seeing one for a tiny fraction of that leaped out at me.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Installing a Key-less Deadbolt Lock

Entry into my home is now a simple matter of entering a code

Recently the deadbolt on my back door gave up the ghost.

One of the pet peeves that I had about my old deadbolt was that that it was the old school type that required a key in order to gain access to the house from the outside.

While that is basically the purpose of a deadbolt, I had found it a bit annoying whenever I found myself in the backyard after mowing the yard, trying to get into the house only to find the back door locked. After a fair bit of pounding on the door and yelling, one of the other occupants of my home would eventually amble down to let me in.

Granted it was a very minor problem, but it did bug me.

So with the demise of the old deadbolt, I figured that this would be a perfect opportunity to find a way to eliminate my pet peeve but still maintain the security of my home.

At my local hardware store, I had noticed that they had deadbolts that could be unlocked by entering a user-defined code on a keypad. The particular deadbolt that I was looking at also was on sale for a decent price.

Excited about trying out this marvel of security, I grabbed a box and headed back home.