Friday, March 31, 2017

Bricks are Heavy

From time to time I find myself scouring the workshop looking for something clean, compact and heavy. Even more so, now that I have been doing wood working. With increased frequency, I need to weigh something down, usually while glue is drying. Usually I drag out the old used bolts bin, and the large chisel box, and maybe a few large blocks of wood that we use for cribbing. But I would prefer to have something that is cleaner and more easily stackable.

Coincidentally, I have several bags of old cement products (mortar mix, floor leveler, concrete, etc). I'm sure some of them are no good any more. The only way to be sure is to test them, but then they are almost certain to go bad once opened. Anyway, I really just want rid of them. They take up space, and who knows when I will need them again, or if they will be any good when I go to use them. I would prefer to just buy new when I have a need. But I don't just want to assume they are all bad and dump them, so I am testing them, one bag at a time. if it is bad, I dump it. If it is good, I am turning it into bricks.

I found an old plastic shoe box that is a good size and shape for making cement bricks. It looks like a plastic bread pan. First I mix up a small cup of the material and let it set overnight, just to be sure. If the material sets up OK, then I mix up a batch in the plastic pan.

Solid cement blocks are decently heavy, but to make them even heavier, I am adding pieces of scrap metal. I have a bucket where I throw anything metal that needs disposed of. When the bucket is full, I usually just set it out on the curb with a sign. Within a day, one of the cities scrap collectors will nab it. Well, I decided to make use of some of the smaller bits, like broken bolts and hand tools, to add to the cement mixture to make the blocks heavier.

I leave the blocks to dry overnight, and then I de-mold them. Pretty simple. I might paint the blocks at some point, or even wrap them in some cloth, to protect my work piece. I have some regular clay bricks that I covered in cloth at my store workshop to use similarly. But for right now, they are just plain cement bricks that I can stack on wood pieces while the glue dries.

I'm not sure how I'm going to like storing these, or how often I will use them, but this cement was basically going to be thrown out anyway. And the bricks will probably be easier to store than 60lbs. sacks of cement. If I end up not liking using or storing these bricks, I will just smash them with a sledge hammer, pull out the metal scraps, and throw the crushed cement out into the gravel driveway.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Double Wide Rack

Some years ago, I bought out the remaining stock of a small shop that was going out of business as my local mall was dying. They carried a brand of incense that is traditionally displayed in glass jars on a wooden rack, called Wild Berry. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it. It is made here in Ohio, and it is very good.

Although the incense is very good, and I still stock it, this post is actually about the wooden display racks that I inherited from that little shop that went out of business.

I don't prefer to display my incense in open jars, because of the overwhelming smell and because of people who don't know how to put incense sticks back in the jar where they found it, and because I'm not interested in selling sticks one at a time. I pre-bag my sticks and hang them on a spinner rack.  So I ended up re-purposing my two wooden racks to display other items. I scraped off the Wild Berry logo decal and stained them a darker color, to better fit with the store's decor. They are very nice little racks, and I like them a lot, but I needed one more. I like using one over by the window sitting on the main counter, but I need two over at my new incense station across the room (as it turns out, they also fit the cartons of HEM brand incense really well too). I could have bought another one from Wild Berry, but they are a little expensive. They seemed to be a fairly simple design, so I decided to see if I could replicate it.

I actually have room for two and a half of them over at the new incense station, so I figured, if I am going to make one, I may as well make an extra long one, then use one of my existing racks at the window, leaving me with a spare!

I don't have a lot of pics from this build, because I didn't really plan on documenting it. I took most of the  pictures after the things was built, and was being stained and finished.

The side walls and rear brace on the originals were made of solid oak. I used 3/4" cabinet grade plywood for my side walls and a piece of 2-by scrap for the rear brace. The vertical faces were made from 1/4" Luan plywood. I don't remember exactly, but I think my shelf bottoms were also made from the 3/4" plywood. I used pocket holes to lock the shelf bottoms and rear brace to the sides, and I used wood glue and pin nails on the rest.

The fabrication of the parts went pretty smoothly, but the assembly and glue-up was a bitch. I probably needed to make some sort of jig to hold the shelves in place as I put it together. I know that doesn't make much sense to any of you, since you can't see the assembly method, but, take my word for it. It needed a jig.

I also had a bit of trouble with the stain. I made the mistake of applying a coat of shellac before the stain, thinking I needed a sanding sealer (which is just dewaxed shellac) to help get even absorption. What I actually needed was pre-stain, not sanding sealer. Oops! Afterwards, the wood didn't want to take the stain at all! I couldn't get even absorption on all the pieces so it looked kind of ridiculous. I ended up basically painting it with stain mixed with shellac to get some color on there. At least no one will really be able to see it when it is in place and loaded up with incense.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Pendulum Board

Here is another one of those items that I thought I had posted about, but that I can't find on the blog. I made this pendulum board a few years ago.

It is made from a piece of 1/4" hardboard, about 12" square. It has several coats of black paint on it, to give it an old lacquered look. Then I used sand paper to weather the corners a bit.

The design was made on my computer, partly from elements lifted from the Rider Wait tarot deck, and arranged in a significant pattern for use in reading the perturbations of a hanging pendulum. It is a form of divination.

The design was printed out and then photocopied onto 11"x17" paper. I hand tore the edges around the design to make it fit onto the board and so it would have a deckle edge that would blend seamlessly with the wood.

I coated the board with gloss polyurethane wood finish, which served as finish for the board and also as an adhesive for the paper. Then more polyurethane on top of the paper. The paper was thoroughly soaked with polyurethane, which is what made it turn an aged yellow color, and also how it is decoupaged to the board.

Once dry, I drilled small holes near the four corners and inserted upholstery tacks into the holes, using CA glue and friction to hold them in place. Lastly, I added some thin cork pads to the back side.

I made about a dozen of these in my initial batch, and I sold about ten of them in my shop. I have a second batch in production.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Turning an Acorn Pendulum (First Project Video)

Well, I said I was thinking about doing it, and now I've gone and done it. I've published my first video to YouTube. I can definitely say that videos are not going to be replacing my regular blog posts any time soon. A blog post takes me anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours to write and publish. Just the editing of this first video took me over 8 hours!

Clearly I need more practice at, well... everything. But especially video making and editing. The original raw footage was a little over fifteen minutes, and the final video was just over five minutes. Of course, I do expect that things will go a little faster when I am more familiar with the editing software, but from everything I've seen and heard, video editing will always be a slow process.

As a bonus, I have also embeded the very first video I shot, which was just an editing test. It's pretty bad.

If I do continue making videos, I will most likely embed them here on this blog, just like this. But you can always subscribe to my YouTube channel, so you won't have to sift through all the blog posts just to watch videos. If you have any comments or feedback on the video, post it here or in the video's comments. Enjoy.