Woodworking in the great white north.

Archive for May, 2010

Wood Talk Online last night and The Woodwhisperer live feed today.

Aside from the occasional glance at a woodworking magazine’s website, until relatively recently, I didn’t look for WW content on the internet.  It was when I stumbled across the Wood Talk Online podcast that I started to realize the amount of stuff out there and how awesome and supportive the community is.  I’ll give credit to (ie blame) Matt and Marc for planting the seed to get me started in this online community.

After a couple of failed attempts to sit in on the live chat for Wood Talk Online I was finally able to make it on last night.  As much as I love listening to the podcast, this was a totally different experience.  Looking up the things being referenced throughout the show and reading the banter in the chat made for a must more participatory experience.  Though…some of the chatting did take me back to a uhhhh highschool?  Well…in a good way, sort of.  I got my fix of guy humour.

As fun as that was, I saw that Marc was turning the cameras on in the shop while he’s working on a build for a client.  Today, while pretending to work very hard at my desk, I vicariously watched Marc work away at this chest.  Given that I work in an office and have limited time in the shop, this was a very cool way of getting my woodworking fix (without the dust.)

I’ve got to commend Marc for this.  This is an awesome way to share the work that he’s doing and just the act of watching someone doing woodworking (unedited) lets you see how other people work and see the time and patience that goes into doing this work for the work’s sake.

Now…if I can balance the time between wanting to do woodworking and wanting to finish up home renovations I”ll be in good shape.  So far…home renovations are winning out.


Workshop = a shop that requires work

I have this vision of having a workshop that is neat, clean, organized with everything close at hand when I need it and never having to search for anything.

My vision is kinda blurry I guess.  I do wear glasses! 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I find it incredibly satisfying to go out in the workshop and see the need to reorganize something.  Usually this happens when I add something new to the workshop but sometimes happens when I realize that I’ve moved something at least a dozen times in my last three or four trips to the workshop.

I’m beginning to realize that this is something that I’m probably going to have to live with on an ongoing basis.  I get some sort of perverse enjoyment out of pulling everything out of a cabinet and putting it back in a ‘better’ order.

Recently this got somewhat out of hand (and I swear that tomorrow I’ll finish cleaning up and get back to doing woodworking). 

First…I’ve been working on dust collection.  Not hoarding dust…just trying to get it out of the workshop.  With a new dust collector in hand, I wanted to build a separator and rig things up so that I would actually use it! 

While doing this, I inherited a small base cabinet from the laundry room that would fit nicely where that pile of miscellaneous stuff currently sits.  This just meant cutting down a new counter for it and clearing some space.  This meant finding a home for the other stuff that I probably don’t need anymore.  No room in the shop, so it migrated to the garage where I’ve tripped over it twice so far.

Just before I could cut down the counter top for it, my table saw died.  It was old and cheap…so the opportunity to upgrade set upon me like a plague.  So now I have to modify the bench/outfeed to accomodate a new big Ridgid table saw.  This is fine, but the fence rails stick too far to one side, so I have to do a quick modification for that.

So, now I’ve got my bench/outfood partially deconstructed, a big new saw in the middle of the floor, a half integrated base cabinet and a partially installed dust collection system.  Oh ya, along with the actual project I’m working on…and the project my buddy is working on.

Slowly but surely these things are getting back to normal and I’m getting closer to having the shop slightly better than it was before. 

Maybe I’ll get a chance to work on some woodworking this weekend rather than working on the workshop….but then again, I did want to get the glues and finishes out of the boxes they’re in and into a more permanent place in the workshop….


Canoe – part 8

With all of the assembly in place we were down to getting the final finish on it.

Just as it is all looking like it’s “this” close to being done, we get to revisit our friend the random orbit sander! I had thought that sanding the hull was a lot of work…but sanding the epoxy was an entirely different experience. Not only is the epoxy that much harder, but you can’t go too hard at it or you’ll get through the epoxy to the fiberglass. Once you hit fiberglass you end up with ugly white crosshatching that won’t go away. Ok, so I had just a little bit of it on the outside of the stern….caught it in time that you only see it in certain light, but it’s there!

With the sanding done…the magic really starts to happen. The epoxy gave us a really good look at what it was going to be like when it was finished…but doing that sanding and throwing on a coat of spar varnish just blew me away.

The decks and handles just popped with the varnish.

But the real test was the outside of the hull. There’s something inherently artistic in the look of a glossy canoe flipped upside down. For me, this was the ultimate reward in the entire project. Even more than the maiden voyage, seeing what this canoe looked like with it’s final finish on it just took my breath away.

There is that sweet spot when the varnish first goes on and is still wet where everything looks like it’s shrouded in glass. I think I stood there and looked at it with sticky varnishy hands for a good 20 minutes. Of course….the fumes from the spar varnish might just have had something to do with that.

To be honest, all these years later, I don’t recall how many coats of varnish we put on it. I think it was 3, but may have been 4 with successively lighter sanding between coats. I have heard that you have to be careful about not doing too many coats or as the varnish weathers it will delaminate and come off in big flakes.

The only things we had left were to mount the yoke, seats and stem covers. I was impatient at this point and chose to buy the premade yoke/seats (in cherry). Someday I may make my own…but for now they work fine and look good.

The stem covers are strips of brass to protect the stems from bumps and dings. These were bent around the stems and up onto the decks. We secured them with brass screws. Note to anyone doing this….get some steel screws the same size as the brass and install them first so that the brass screws don’t get stripped off and break. Once it’s all in place, replace each steel screw with a brass one very carefully. Putting a drop of epoxy into the screw holes also adds a bit of extra protection.

Here it is at home. My wife and daughter were very excited and even decorated the house with streamers and had mock champagne. We Christened her ‘Hope it Floats’….and thus far, it does!

Shortly after we took her up to a lake and here is the maiden voyage, across the lake and back.

Thanks for following along…it was a great project, very satisfying and something we can keep enjoying for years to come.


Canoe – part 7

With the fiberglassing complete, we finally get to add some of the detail work.

First up, we have to install the inwales. In order to allow water to pour out of the canoe easily, you need to install the inwales with a space between them and the hull. The spacers are called scuppers. I love nautical terminology….you call that a what???

I wanted a contrast, but not so much that it took away from the cedar. I found that a strip of mahogany that I had kicking around would be just slightly darker than the darkest parts of the cedar so I used this in making some of the accents. This also nicely contrasted with the ash gunwales and maple I was using in other parts.

We had to mark out and predrill all the holes from the outside in to attach the scuppers and the inwales with screws. The screws would later be hidden by the outwales. The scuppers also got a bit of glue to seal up their edges. On the bow/stern ends, the final scupper was a long tapered strip that brought the inwales to a point in the bow/stern.

I had the option of using some stock cherry decks, but I really wanted to add some personality to it, so I fabricated the decks out of maple and mahogany.

Once these were in place, I added some accent pieces to the inner edge as well as adding maple carrying handles in both ends.

The outwales were next to go on and were screwed through the hull into the inwales to secure everything in place. In order to get this right there was a bit of fiddling around that had to go on when we sized the inwales and outwales. The hull was ultra flexible at the time, so we had to get the yoke in place and temporarily clamp it in place when we fit the inwales, but once they were in place we put the yoke in it’s proper place with brass carriage bolts through the inwales, stabilizing the hull for the placement of the outwales.

To plug up the screw holes from the outwales being attached I made up some mahogany plugs and glued them in place, giving the final bit of accenting…hopefully not too overboard. (Pun intended)

Next up, the final finishing and maiden voyage!