Sunday, June 30, 2019


A few months back, I made two batches of wooden planchettes in an effort to use up some scrap wood. The first batch was only about four or five planchettes, with open holes. The second batch was maybe a dozen planchettes, about half of which got glass viewers inserted into the holes. Then I got kinda burnt out on making them, so I put the project aside and tried to sell the ones I had made, both in my Etsy store and in my shop.

Well, it took several months, but the Etsy store finally started gaining traction. I sold about ten or so planchettes through the Etsy store, and stock was starting to get pretty low, so I knew I would have to make another batch. Well... I think I may have over done it a bit.

This, my friends, is a stack of Ninety Four planchettes being rough cut from a variety of milled planks. Ninety - Four. And that is after I put one large sapele board back on the wood pile, and set aside two large planks from the stack I had milled for the project. I have no idea why I am making so many. It honestly didn't seem like it was going to be that many when I was picking out the wood for the project. I had to order more glass cabochons, and I still don't have enough. I'm going to have to order more still!

I think I may have to start thinking about making a line of ouija boards just to have any hopes of selling this many panchettes.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

1.5" Candle Holder

At my shop, we sell a line of pre-made spell candles that are 1.5" in diameter. These candles are hand made (not by me) and the bases are not perfectly flat. The odd diameter and the imperfect bottom make finding a holder for them a little challenging. To combat that problem, I have custom made some quick wooden block style holders designed especially for these candles.

The cat's name is Luna ;)

The holder is just a square block of solid walnut with rounded over edges and two holes drilled in it. I made the prototype batch of six holders in about an hour (not counting finish drying time).

I got walnut from the scrap bin at my favorite hardwood dealer. I just measured the width of the board and set a stop block to that same width to cut the blocks off at the chop saw. Then I found the center of the top and the front face. I used a 1.5" forstner bit to drill a hole in the top to accept the candle, and a 1-3/8" forstner bit to drill a shallow hole in the front face to accept a maple inlay cut on the laser (1.38" diameter, 0.18" thickness). The top and side edges were eased over with a 1/8" round over bit at the router table.

As it turns out, the little aluminum cups that tea lights come in fit perfectly into the top hole, and so that will protect the wood from the burning candle. Hopefully. Never leave a candle burning unattended, kids. Especially in a WOODEN candle holder!

The finishing was a bit of a hodge-podge. I started out using danish oil, but I didn't want to wait for multiple coats to dry, so after the first coat I switched to shellac. But even after two coats of shellac (and sanding in between) they didn't have a nice shine, so I then gave them a quick spray of clear lacquer from a rattle can. Maybe with the next batch I'll try just one or two coats of polyurethane.

So, these are just some production notes, mostly for my own benefit.

After finishing the prototype batch of six candle holders, I started a production run of about sixty. I had a small stack of walnut boards of the same dimension, so I decided to use them all up and make a big batch so I wouldn't need to make more for a while. Sixty is just a bit too much to work on in one batch. I found myself very tired and bored by the end of each step. Forty would have been a more managable batch size.

In the prototype batch, I only rounded the edges of the top and sides. In the production run I also rounded the bottom edges and around the top hole where the candle fits in. My router bit is starting to get dull, and I should have spent more time hand sanding these rounded over parts. They tend to snag the cloth when I am doing finishing.

One mistake I made that didn't become apparent until after the fact, was the order of operations. I drilled the top and face holes in the block before routing the edges, just like in the prototype batch. I discovered that the router bit wanted to dip into the front face hole, especially when rounding the bottom edge, which caused a noticeable divot in the edge. I should have marked the centers for the holes first (and definitely use an awl to make a divot for the drill bit to follow), then routed the edges, then drilled the holes, and then go back to the router to round over the edge of the top hole.

The sides were sanded to 500 grit on the disk sander. then I tried a new approach to finishing. I mixed 1/3 BLO, 1/3 oil based polyurethane and 1/3 mineral spirits. I dunked each part into a bath of the mixture and let it drip dry a few seconds before setting it out on a piece of cardboard. After about 15 minutes (about halfway through the batch) I wiped off the excess finish with a shop towel and set them to dry. Do NOT use the shop rags, they leave lint like crazy. Use paper towels or a blue shop towel.

After letting the finish cure for 24 hours,  lightly sanded each face by dragging it two or three times over a piece of 1000 grit sandpaper on a flat surface. Not really sure if this step helped.

Then I repeated the oil bath finish a second time. I did not repeat the sanding after this second coat. I could have left them here. They looked nice, but had a satin finish. I wanted more gloss, so I decided to do a few coats of wipe-on poly. I probably should have just left them as-is, or maybe done one coat of spray top coat. After two coats of wipe-on poly, the finish was patchy. I'm hoping a third coat will be the end of it. [some of them were good after the third coat. some could have used one more, but I just polished them all with paste wax and made an end of it.]