Monday, September 30, 2013

Iron Pour cast iron tile

Hi Everyone,

I got my iron pour casting back:

Ok, it's a frog.

Anyway, I'm going to make a wooden frame for it and display it on my coffee table.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ft. Road Federation-Schmidt Brewery Iron Pour-Yeah!

Hi Everyone,

Well, I went to the Iron Pour this evening at the old Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul and it was a lot of fun.  I entered a sand tile and it's probably full of molten iron at the moment and cooling down.

Enough chatter-here are the photos:

It was an overcast day but by evening, the weather had cleared. Here is a photo of the sunset over the brewery:

This way to the iron pour!

Iron pours involve melting a lot of scrap iron until it's liquid enough to pour into a mold. Here are two photos of the mold I created. This one is the design sketched out on the tile surface with a felt marker:

And this is what it looks like carved out:

Here is the general set up and a shot of the smelter. It's portable and it's set up specifically for the pour:

And here is one of "Vulcan's assistants." There are about 10 people who manage the smelter and help to set up:

Here is a photo of all the tiles and molds that will receive iron:

The iron is scrap iron-mostly broken up auto engines:

Here's more scrap to be used:

And buckets of coal that feed the smelter:

The smelter is being revved up in this photo and you can see one of the assistants in protective clothing:

These are molds that will be filled with molten iron and cooled. When the molds are removed, there will be a 3-D sculpture:

The fire is roaring! Iron melts at 2800 degrees and it becomes a pourable liquid the consistency of milkshake. The iron and coal are dumped into the cylinder and stirred around. As soon as it becomes liquid it pours out of the bottom into a superheated bucket and then it's poured:

Here you can see the tiles being filled up. The B-52s song "Rock Lobster" is blasting away in the background. It really adds to the ambiance:

And here is a whole line of freshly poured tiles:

Tomorrow I'll go and pick up my tile. I'll break away the sand mold and if everything goes well, I'll have an iron tile in it's place.

See you tomorrow,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Red Cedar Headboard-continued: Legs and finish

Hi Everyone,

With regards to the legs for the headboard: I've made a change from Ana White's plans. Since I used 2x2 lumber for the frame, the thickness of my head board is greater than the one in her plans (she used 1x2 lumber). Ana specifies 2x4s for the legs. I've decided to use 4x4s instead.

Since I had some lumber left over from my purchase several days ago, I went and cut 4 2x4s 48 inches long and screwed them together:

Since the surface that contains the screws will be facing a wall, I simply drilled and screwed them into the wood. I used 2 1/2" #10 wood screws for this. If appearance would have been an issue, then I would have countersunk and plugged all of the screws:

And here they are assembled:

And I gave the headboard a coat of polyurethane and this is what it looks like:

Later today I'll come back and sand the legs and give them a coat of polyurethane as well.

Tomorrow, I'm going to bring the headboard and legs upstairs and fit  the whole thing to the bed frame. I'm planning on bolting the legs to the headboard and then bold the legs to the metal bed frame so that's what's planned for tomorrow. I hope by Sunday to have it installed in my son's room.

The weather here is absolutely beautiful right now-clear skies, warm temps and the leaves are just beginning to change color. In short, it's spoon carving weather!

See you all tomorrow. I have a date with some spoons.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Red Cedar Headboard-continued

Good Morning All,

Ok, I'm back. I've assembled the headboard and here are some photos:

In this photo I'm about to begin attaching the panel boards to the frame. I carefully checked each board with a square and clamped it down. I countersunk all of the screws. The screws will be hidden by another board that will serve as a boarder:

Here is a photo of all the panel boards in place. I sanded it with an orbital sander and 150 grit paper and removed all the splinters. This smoothed the face of the panel and evened out the appearance of the boards:

Next, I cut some 1x4 cedar for a boarder that goes on top of the panel and all the way around. Ana White's plans call for a 2x6 but the 2x6 that I have is just too rough for this so I changed the plan. After I cut it out I carefully aligned it with the frame and glued and toenailed it all the way around to attach it to the panel:

And here it is with the boarder in place:

Ana's plan calls for a cap on the top of the frame that over hangs the front panel by about an 1". I used a 1x6 for this. I screwed it down as well and countersunk all the screws and then I covered them with an oak plug to hide the screw heads:

And here it is at present:

Tomorrow we will attach the legs and drill them so the whole thing can be attached to the box spring frame.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Building a Headboard for a full-sized bed-Discussion and Plans

Hi Everyone,

I hope you're all having a good week. I'm recovering from the teeth extraction and feeling better.

Onward and forward-I'm making a headboard for a full-sized bed. And here's the discussion and plans for this:

My youngest son has come to enjoy the wood stuff that I make (he's a welder-we argue about the merits of woodworking vs metal working all the time) and he liked last week's table so I'm building him a headboard for his full-sized bed. His mattress and box spring sit on a metal frame and we'll be bolting the headboard to this frame.

I'm going to use a set of plans from Ana White's website ( She lives in Alaska and has built a ton furniture and other things and has a lot of really simple but well done plans on her site. I'm going to construct the headboard in the plan called the Fancy Farmhouse Bed (’s-fancy-farmhouse-bed). I'm only going to make the headboard part of this and I'm going to use more red cedar for it. I'll be doing this in easy stages

Photos-Panel section

I've purchased enough lumber for the headboard and I also purchased some angle brackets from Simpson Strong Tie. I also used 2x2 for the panel frame to make it a little stronger (Ana specifies 1x2 lumber for the framework). Here is a photo of one of the corners:

And a photo of the frame:

Next, the face of the panel is made out of 10  1x6 cedar boards:

This is a photo with all the boards in place. Tomorrow I'm going to screw them down to the frame underneath it and then sand it smooth.

Also tomorrow, I'm going to cut the remaining pieces for the headboard and attach them to the panel section. Once that's all done I'll sand it more and then finish it with polyurethane. So more about that tomorrow.

And, I finally got some new shop shoes and you can see why they needed replacing!

See you tomorrow.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

The TV console out of red cedar and construction brackets-Comment

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who have been following the TV console project, I've deleted my previous two postings about it and I'll explain why: it turned out that I made a lot of mistakes with it and had to completely re-do the whole thing. Here is a photo of the first effort several days ago:

It looked terrible. The parts didn't fit, the top didn't lay flat on the frame, I screwed up the bottom shelf and tried to improvise a solution. It didn't work.

So the next day I took it apart and completely disassembled it. I cut the legs down by 5 inches and very carefully with assorted wood working clamps and a square, completely re-assembled it. I also replaced the improvised shelf and went and purchased more lumber for the top and re-did that from the original plan I was going to start out with.

Here it is now:

Discussion and Further Plans

I still think the concept of construction brackets for use in household furniture is a good one and I'm going to attempt another console next week. Here are some caveats however before I do this again:

Wood-the cedar looks really nice but it's just too soft for furniture use. It dents and tears easily and if this were a regular table, it would not hold up to daily wear and tear. So next time I'll use pine or poplar. Also, no more construction grade lumber. It's not seasoned so when you get it home, within a day or two it will begin to twist and crack. It's also too rough. Next time I'll use a higher quality wood.

Brackets: the brackets work well. I primed and painted these and they don't look half bad. It does give the piece a more finished look. But next time I'll use smaller brackets so they're not so prominent in the design.

Assembly-the devil is always in the details and very much so with the assembly.  The brackets have to fit the lumber very snugly in order for this entire system to work properly and all the part to fit together correctly. It's imperative that you proceed slowly and carefully and clamp the brackets to the 2x4s before you screw them together. Also check the squareness with a carpenter's square as you proceed. This will give you a much nicer appearing piece at the end and the parts will fit together better.

Design-You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear-remember, this is fundamentally a dressed up construction piece. You can make it look nicer by taking your time and carefully considering just how this will fit inside your home and what it will look like along with all your other furniture. It's never going to be fine furniture no matter what you do. My furniture is a little more rustic in appearance so this will fit in but it's going to reside in my bedroom with a tv, a dvd player, lots of other stuff, and a cat or two on it and for this it's adequate. 

I am going to make another console as I really need some furniture at the moment and I'll carefully post about that. That will probably happen next week so stay tuned.

Now, I need to turn my attention to the fall art show so that's what we'll look at next.

More later,

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Still Recovering and Tracking a Balloonist

Hi Everyone,

Well, I'm still recovering from the extraction and I've got a cold so I'm not back up into the shop just yet. So to entertain myself I've been doing a lot of reading online.

One of the news stories that has caught my eye is that of Jonathan Trappe, an American from North Carolina who is attempting to become the first person to cross the Atlantic by floating over with a set of cluster balloons. He is sitting in a specially designed gondola that looks like a small boat and this in turn is attached to the balloons.

He's currently over the Gulf of St. Lawrence having taken off from Maine. You can track him at:

I read somewhere the journey is expected to take between 3 to 5 days with a hoped for landing in France.

I'm going to keep track of him while I'm out of the shop.

More later,


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Updates and New Rockler Store in Maplewood

Hi Everyone,

Well, I survived having my wisdom tooth removed. I should back up a little: I've been struggling with an infected wisdom tooth for the past several months and after considerable pain and filling sick all the time, I had the tooth out on Monday. So far I'm doing really well and I'll probably get back to the shop next week.

The blog has gone over 19,000 views worldwide! Woo Hoo! Thanks to everyone for dropping by and reading my posts.

In the mean time, for those of you in Minnesota, there is a new Rockler shop in Maplewood. It looks like a really big one too. Here's a link to their website:

I'm going put my feet up and watch a movie. See you next week.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Art Show Project-Finial turned for the Ash Wood Box

Hi Everyone,

Well, I put the lid back on the lathe this afternoon and turned the finial on the top and that went along without any problems. Here are a couple of photos:

I also took off the red wood stain from yesterday.  I think it looks better with it left in its natural color.

Ok, this whole thing needs a lot of sanding and finishing but I'm satisfied with it. Not ecstatic mind you but ok.

I'll work on this off an on over the next several days and post finish photos when I'm done.

I have to have a tooth pulled so the shop will be closed and I won't be actively posting next week.

I plan to return to the shop on September 15 so stay tuned.  There's always something going on the wood shop so grab a coffee and your computer and drop by.

See you all soon,


Fall art show/black ash box-lid construction continued, and Additional Projects

Hi Everyone,

Well I went down to the shop and took a look at the lid and decided that it needed a finial. So here are the process photographs for this part of the construction:

I think bubinga wood will look the best as the finial:

I put it back on the lathe and turned a small tenon onto one end:

And drilled a corresponding sized mortise on the lid:

And glued them together. I'm going to let this set for the rest of the day and probably will turn it late tonight:

Other Projects

Another art show project involves a box made from a linden tree branch that fell in my neighborhood in late June. Here is a photo of the top:

And here is the bottom. I wanted to add some exterior adornment to the box but as I'm not a trained artist and I don't know any thing about color, painting, etc, I was hesitant to try this and possibly ruin the box so I've gathered some thing birch bark from a tree in my yard and I'm going to glue on some pieces of it back on to the sides of the box. More about this in a separate posting:

This is a box that I made out of applewood. It distorted while drying and I'm unable to finish the insides so this one is going on the shelf until I can come up with another use for it:

And here is a small dried flower vase out of the same linden tree branch above. I need to get ready for the annual Blue House Sale in December and this year I'm going to sell flower vases and salt cellars. More about this in a separate post a little later:


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fall Art Show-Box lid, continued

Ok everyone,

I had a late breakfast, some coffee, and I thought about the lid. And as they say in that great Jim Carey film Mask, "Hold on to your lug nuts, it's time for an overhaul!!!"

Here we go,

When last we met, I had just finished roughly shaping the lid out of hickory. Now it's time to do some intermediate shaping so back on the lathe it went:

First I narrowed the diameter:

Next, I began to shape the top of the lid:

After several minutes of turning this is what the lid looked like. I could have stopped there and had a perfectly acceptable lid but I decided to take it further so I turned it more:

And this is where I stopped. I added a second rim and got rid of the button in the center:

And then I sanded it smooth:

 I was going to stain it red, but I remembered a had a cabernet-colored stain left over from a project last year and so I applied the reddish purple stain to the lid after I applied a sealer to it:

This is what it looked like from the side. I decided to stain it again:

And so I put it back on the lathe and applied another coat of stain:

The next question to answer is does it need a finial? Is the top too flat for the box? I'm not sure so I prepared the purpleheart and bubinga blocks by turning them both to a cylinder shape. This is the purpleheart block:

 And this is the bubinga block on the right side.

Which one will I use? Well if I decide to attach some wood and turn a finial, first I'll put the lid back on the lathe tomorrow after it has dried and flatten the top. Then I'll attach a piece of one of the blocks onto the top with glue and a wood screw and then turn it into a shape of some sort.

So come back tomorrow and we'll see where this goes.