The last Monkey Talk was back in March and as usual I have waited too long to post an update. TONS of stuff has happened and I’ll try to only cover some of the more interesting aspects.
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Woodworking at the Renaissance Festival
Shortly after the last update my brother came to visit from Idaho and we all went to the local renaissance festival. I wanted to take him to something that he can’t experience in Idaho and that is always a very interesting place to go and people watch. I was surprised to see that one of the shops was a woodworking shop displaying and selling a whole bunch of neat stuff. Needless to say I got a bunch of good pictures for my Instagram feed.
I’ve been preparing for a few large projects such as my metal fence and casting blanks. Because of this I have gotten quite few metal working tools such as a nice Millermatic 211 welder, DeWalt cold cut saw and pretty much everything needed to stabilize and cast turning blanks. I’ll have more on this later in the update.
IN THE SHOP
I’ve made a few more pens since the last update and have slowly moved more into bowls. I kept my first successful bowl around the shop and sold my second one to be used as a yarn bowl. I also started turning some of the mesquite pile in my back yard and found that some of those logs contain a few bugs. I figured it out while turning a bowl and my turning tool hit a beetle larvae which promptly exploded all over my face mask, up my wall and onto the ceiling. I am now starting to evaluate that particular pile of mesquite so the beetles don’t spread. (Evaluation mostly consisting of sealing the good stuff and burning the rest.)
Sandbox With Cover & Benches
My wife’s birthday was in March and I always have a problem with her giving me any hints to what she wants. This year she kept saying that she really wanted a sandbox for the kids so I decided that I would deliver. I already knew the exact style I wanted that would provide both a cover to keep the cats out as well as benches that would give us somewhere to sit. I’ve seen plenty of examples and plans for this sandbox on the internet and didn’t make many modifications. I did increase the size to 6×6-feet and used 2-by material. I also decided to put it on a raised platform due to our flood irrigation that we get bi-weekly during the summer. This way the sandpit doesn’t get submerged every time we water the grass.
Taper Cutting Jig
There’s been a few projects that have required tapers or weird shaped cuts and I’ve always squeaked by with creating ways of holding material. I’ve always known that a taper cutting jig was the correct answer so I finally ordered a set of quick-release clamps for when I got around to it. I’ve recently seen some carpenter beers flying around and I don’t want them to get into my wood stacks out back so decided I needed to set out to make some carpenter bee traps which require tapered sides. I finally got out the clamps and spent a few hours making the jig. (I’ll have a video out for this eventually..)
A friend of the family runs an Etsy shop called LilyandMaze and needed a necklace display rack for a craft fair she was preparing to do. She asked if I had time to throw something together for her and of course I said yes. I know she was expecting something quick like a piece of plywood with nails and some way for it to stand up but I had something else in mind. I ended up surprising her with a necklace display made out of solid alder and with a burnt, painted and sealed finish. The finish ended up really neat because as you walk past you’ll see hints of a dark blue mixed in with the black.
Stabilizing & Casting Wood
I’ve recently gotten some neat wood that looks really awesome but is pretty much worthless like mesquite pen blanks full of wormy holes, rotten palo verde full of carpenter bee holes and a bunch of old dead cholla cactus. To make use of these awesome pieces of wood, they need to be stabilized and the holes & voids filled with resin. Over the last few weeks I’ve been slowly collecting all of the pieces needed for a vacuum chamber and pressure pot so I can start putting these pieces of wood to use. So far I’ve finished the vacuum chamber and fully stabilized the mesquite and am waiting on more stabilizing resin to be able to get my larger pieces done.
OUT OF THE SHOP
I’ve finally got started on the metal portion of my fence. I started off by getting enough material to build and install two panels of the fence for more of a proof of concept before spending the money for the other 24 panels I’ll need. Good thing I did because I found that I needed to change the size of my posts and will need to get a large generator for welding in the very back of my property. I squeaked by on the first two panels by using power from my neighbors chicken coop but he just couldn’t provide the amount of juice needed. I have now ordered the rest of the material and plan to weld all of the panels together in my driveway while searching for a 7KW generator on Craigslist that won’t break the budget.
The local sawmill, Wine Glass Bar Sawmill, had me come over for a day to help slab up some material they had that was beyond their capabilities. They had a large piece of pine that was 48-inches in diameter and nearly 10-feet in length. Each cut used nearly an entire tank of gas and the whole process took close to 8 hours including setup & tear down. This is by far the largest thing I’ve ever milled and it took nearly the full capacity of my mill.
A friend recently called me up and told me about a giant palo verde tree that fell over in his neighborhood. Palo verde normally has a smooth greenish blue bark and isn’t known for its large size. However, this piece was on land that had flood irrigation and was much larger and older than normal. After many years, the bark goes from the greenish blue to a normal brownish grey. When we went out to collect the wood we found that many parts of the tree were rotted out and we had to be selective of the material we brought home to mill. The largest section we took had some rot but we were hoping that we would only miss out on one or two sections of the most interior slabs. We ended up with some very neat looking spalted palo verde which is something you don’t see very much of.
While I had a couple of friends over to help mill up the palo verde, I also had them help tackle the rest of the eucalyptus that I picked up last year. I already milled up the base of this tree but still had a 5-foot tall crotch section that split off to the 4 main branches. We came up with a game plan and ended up with some very large slabs of crotch wood. We actually had to cut one section off so it would fit in the mill. I think this will make for some very interesting table tops in the future.
Videos to Edit
- Tapering Jig
- Necklace Display
- Monkey Moment #2 – Transferring Large Designs
- Monkey Moment #3 – Quick Bench Vise W/Out a Bench
- Vacuum Chamber
- Stabilizing Wood
Projects to do
- Pressure Pot
- Casting Wood
- French Cleat Tool Storage
- Clamp Rack
- Carpenter Bee Trap