Boston, MA, US

Recent comments

Re: This mitered box is perfect for...what?

There's more than one way to skin a cat, but all of them get the job done. Some might be better than others, but there are reasons for that. Someone might do it just to get it done. Then think "there, what's next"? Others will have something in mind for the end product. "Now, this will work perfectly for...." I have a few tidbits to perhaps help you with your craft.

Now that you have a box, let's think outside of it. What's wrong with it? The problem is the opening is too large for such small items. If you want to store pens, how can you make that happen and still be pleasant to the eye? Did you really take a moment to think about it or give up and pose the question here? Pascal quickly came up with a solution. Woodworkers need to think about function. How can I make that work? Well, how about you partition the inside so that your pens, rule, letter opener etc. stay upright and organized?

I understand that you are new to wood working and practicing. I have seen men at the driving range "practicing". They get up and start swinging away at the golf ball and go through a bucket in 5 minutes. There is no thought in their mind as to what they are doing, so essentially they are exercising. To learn, which is the whole reason to practice, you must organize your thought process. How can I take the skills I have now and improve them to do something at a higher level.

You are practicing with pine. Why? There is a big difference working with soft and hard woods. My recommendation: practice with a wood you will want to use. You could start with the partitions. The contrast might be nice. But, bare in mind that the two species will expand and contract differently with changes in the climate. How might you overcome that? Well, you could make the partitions look like Swiss cheese. That would help with expansion, but what about function? What direction will you need to have the grain so expansion will not hurt the structure?

Leads to my next recommendation. I suggest you read up on wood, how it reacts to humidity, how to use grain to your advantage and how to "display" the grain in your work. I spend just as much time examining a piece of lumber as I do working it. The end result however, is worth every moment. Study some antique furniture for grain patterns. How did that wood worker bring out the natural beauty of the wood? Ask, why did he/she use that type of joint. The more questions you ask, the more you think and reason, the better your results.

Finally, I suggest to practice making something with utility in mind. Why build a box with no practical use? That's going through the motions, not using all of your senses and both sides of your brain to "create" something with significance. The flag case for example... This will be the most significant container/piece you will ever make. I can't think of anything that could top it. How can you get from where you are, making a box with no dimensions in making a box to store a specific triangle? How can you make a case that will "add to" the immense significance of the American Flag..., a soldier's burial flag? That's your goal. It's a big one and you need to make planned steps to get there.

Hope this might help you take on the important task.

Tom Sawyer


Re: Retirement Flag Box

Nice. Fellow builder Seabee. NMCB 133, Gulfport, MS. I'm trying to get inspiration to build a case for an old friend who just passed. I promised his wife I'd get it to her by Labor Day weekend. I want to make one for my dad at the same time. I don't want to wait for him to pass and not see it. I like the addition of the photographs and other memorabilia. Where did you get the Seabee emblem etched glass?

Re: New Program Aims to Honor Fallen Soldiers

A very noble cause. I would be happy to help. I'm not retired so time is minimal. But, I could pump out a few. I'm from VT and have been seeking a way to pay back my fellow vets or VT fallen. Although I hope I never need to make one, I know it's inevitable that I will. Vermont has many men and women in the forces. Are there plans or measurements for burial flags? It's been some time since I've folded one, so I'm not certain of the dimensions. Also, I assume the cases are nice, with a glass cover, but not so much to over shadow the focal American Flag inside. Count me in.

Re: UPDATE: Turning Wood with Richard Raffan, 3rd edition

I have been a woodworker for 40+ years. I used a lathe in high school shop class, but haven't touched one since. For years I have bragged about not having the need for a lathe and got great results with a spoke shave, rasps, files and sharp chisels and scrapers. As I'm writing this I am waiting on the arrival of my newest purchase: a new Jet 1220 lathe. It will be interesting to read Raffan's book to learn what I have been missing all these years. I'd also like to write my own book on how to get by without a lathe to compare the two techniques.

Re: It's impossible to cheat at woodworking

I don't understand the issue. It was a hand tool event. You just happened to come up against someone who was very outspoken and opinionated. You did not sneak in a belt sander or some other power tool. What you did is not cheating...if there is such a thing in woodworking. I make my own hand planes and tools and use jigs in the same way to guide my paring chisel to finish off a critical surface. My hands are steady enough to not use a jig until I get to the last passes. I believe my tools are "hand-made".

I worked wood for 20 years and then went back to school. In the beginning when doing presentations, I would use notes. I'd actually write out verbatem what I'd say. This crutch never allowed me to become a fluid speaker. I finally tossed away my notes, and spoke freely about the topics. Much better. My advice is to hone your skills so that you don't become dependent upon them, knowing of course, you can still bring them out in a pinch.

Re: Behold, the Speed Tenon

I have used this technique for years without issue. Similarly, I have used the table saw to make cove molding. Aproaching any piece of equipment requires safty precautions. I wouldn't recommend these techniques to just anyone, but anyone familiar enough with machinery and a with high comfort zone around power tools. It's not for everyone.

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