Making Stuff Part 8

9F55648E-C851-4F7E-9E6E-DC70671321E7_1_105_cHaving successfully created a clock out of a sheet of perspex, I thought I’d have a go at creating a sign that I could stick on my desk at work. I managed to find some recycled pieces of white melamine MDF and thought it would be an ideal canvas for making a sign.

Using the VCarve software, I created the view I wanted and sent the instructions to my Workbee. Pleasingly the results were excellent and the final sign looked very professional. I then knocked out further signs for my colleagues at work so they didn’t feel left out. When I handed them out, they loved them. I neglected to mention that the wood was recovered from my old shoe rack I salvaged 🙂

F0B676F5-8BAC-4713-9CBD-AB4EFEA3E10F_1_105_cAs well as the signs for work, I also designed a Virgin Media sign using another piece of Stephen’s worktop (those off-cuts  are definitely a gift that keeps on giving for sure!). It now has pride of place beneath my work screen and has received many positive comments.

5585D326-5A7F-4D42-8460-3384256DB82C_1_105_cNext, was a more ambitious project which really did show the power of a CNC machine. Using an off-cut of sapele hardwood and another slab of the oak worktop, I created a crib board that I will be giving to my dad for his birthday next week. The template for this was created by the people at Vectric but I had to adapt the settings in order for it to be produced on my machine. I firstly cut the lid and VCarved his name, but when I came to turning the piece over to cut the reverse I misaligned the timber and when the machine cut out the circle it was not perfect. As it was going to be a gift I started again and the next attempt was much better. I then started the main b57D2D319-F1C7-47D6-A1EA-8566F4A6C75D_1_105_coard. Preparing the slab of worktop took some time as I had to make sure it was absolutely flat to so that it carved correctly. Fortunately, the many machines I’d gathered over the past year made this task fairly easy and I soon had it sized and screwed down on the machine bed. I kicked off the instructions from my laptop and watched in amazement as the crib board slowly started to take shape. It is fascinating to watch the CNC follow the tool-path exactly as instructed and I was in awe when it started to drill the 245 holes, all in the correct place and spaced out exactly as it was shown in the software.IMG_1025

Having had some success with making wooden and acrylic clocks, it was inevitable that I would get a request to make a bespoke one. So when my brother visited a couple of weeks ago, he mentioned he wanted a clock for his ‘shoffice’ with a picture of a fish on it. A quick Google and I soon found an ideal jpg to use and was designing his new timepiece in next to no time at all. Thirty minutes later and he was holding his new pine clock.

d37c5be3-a0b4-4d4a-96d2-275c879b842f 2He was so impressed he suggested that the clocks would be very popular with his fishing mates and easy to sell online too. I wasn’t so sure until Alan sent me a picture a few days later of the clock that he’d painted and now has pride of place in his home office. He said he’d easily sell more of the same so I got to work making a few more, with different fish designs. I’ll share the results in a later post, once they are fully cut and painted.

I also had a request from our neighbour Nick, who informed me he’d just got engaged to his long time girlfriend and suggested I make him a sign to commemorate the union.

IMG_2296Again, I got to work on the design and soon cut a version of the sign out of MDF. Unfortunately the design was a bit intricate and some of the smaller bits broke as I tried to sand it down. Version 2 and I tried using a piece of sapele but this time the text didn’t carve correctly. Version 3 was better as I used a larger piece of MDF, but I was not pleased with the outcome. I tried painting it but that didn’t improve it either so I’m not going back to hardwood and attempting to make it in oak. Watch this space to see how I get on.

EC05B215-873D-4B62-B532-5F75A335651C_1_105_cLast week I got a text from Matt’s girlfriend Chloe saying that her mum’s boyfriend’s daughter had just had a baby boy and could I make him a sign to celebrate the birth. I soon found a teddy bear picture to use as a template and knocked up a plaque with his name, date of birth and birth weight. I have just had a text from Chloe saying they loved it. Phew.

So my exploration into CNC machining is turning out to be very fulfilling and even my family are pleased with the results so far.

Making Stuff Part 4

892F166C-124D-400A-A31D-E694964C3A27_1_105_cJust before Xmas I’d been given some oak worktop from a colleague at work who had some left over from his new kitchen. These tops were perfect for making cutting boards so soon got to work planing a couple down and presenting them to him as a thank you for donating them to me. I had rounded the edges over and gave them a coat of cutting wax and was pleased with the outcome. Apparently his wife was really pleased too. I’m planning to make more of these in the coming months and will also try to do some fancier designs too.

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During the Xmas break I decided to put my new plunge saw to good use by building a shoe rack for our under stairs cupboard out of a couple of sheets of MDF. Whilst my table saw is great for cutting down timber, it’s not so great for large sheets so the mini project would be an ideal test for the new Erbauer saw.

Firstly I created a design using AutoDesk free 3D modelling app Fusion 360. The software can be a bit daunting at first but having watched a few YouTube videos and completed some training I soon got to grips with it and managed to create a scaled drawing of the planned shelving unit.

I E3FC27D9-A677-407A-9BDA-95DF246672A7_1_105_cordered two sheets 18mm MDF and a similar sized sheet of 12mm MDF and once delivered starting cutting them down to manageable panels. I decided not to do any fancy joinery and ended up building the unit with screws and glue.

I found some white paint and the shelving unit soon started to look the part. I gave the walls under the stairs a quick paint and then installed the new unit along with some coat hooks, made from re-purposed wood I had left over from another project.

 

As seen in previous posts I’d started to make signs for my family and whilst they had turned out OK, I was never really happy with the accuracy of the hand routing so started to investigate other ways of creating similar effects. I had always been interested in CNC machines and so started to do some digging to understand what options were available. And of course how much worbeeone would cost me.

In the end ordered a WorkBee from Ooznest, based in Essex. I did look at cheaper units from Amazon but having read the reviews, I noted how limited they were and felt if I was really going to make things to a good standard I needed to spend a decent amount of money.

My next post will detail the fun I’ve had building the unit and some of the projects I intend to create.

Making Stuff Part 3

Having got to grips with making wooden things again, I started to look around for some gifts I could make for my family and friends using some of the small off cuts of timber I had accumulated over the months.

IMG_1809Following on from the success of the key holder that I engraved I decided to have a go at making some wooden signs, which I could personalise depending on the recipient. The idea actually came from my sister-in-law who had seen a wooden sign of our favourite holiday place, Kalkan and suggested I could make her one too.

I had already bought a hand-router, and worked out that if I printed out the words I needed and stuck them to a wooden blank I could then trace through, leaving a neat finish. Painting the letters black made the them stand out and I was pleased with the final once I’d finished the sign with a coat of wax. IMG_1793

I refined the process and was soon coming up with ideas for other members of my family and even made a couple for secret Santa gifts for people at work. To finished them off I drilled some holes and threaded a piece of hemp rope which could be used to hang them from a wall.

 

I even knocked one up for Matt & Chloe’s tortoise.

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Whilst making signs was fun, it was quite fine woodworking and so I got to think about a bigger project to challenge me. 20 years ago, one of the projects I enjoyed making was a pine coffee table, a simple design but very sturdy and still in use today in Tina’s sewing room. As I had some larger planks and long lengths of oak I decided I would attempt to make another table; this time a little more refined and fancier features. I researched online and got some ideas that I could adapt.

IMG_1776Firstly I cut down two wide planks, planed and then glued them up, using biscuit joints and clamps to keep them level. I then got to work on the legs and skirts. I had liked the look of tapered legs so wanted to incorporate these in my design but wasn’t quite sure how to achieve it. After watching a few YouTube videos, I stumbled on a technique using a table saw and soon had four legs shaped in exactly the style I wanted. IMG_1778

Once the top was dry and cut to the final size, I then used a 45 degree router bit to edge it. After lots and lots of sanding and a coat of wax finish the table was complete and too be honest I was rather chuffed with the outcome, especially as it was something I’d designed from scratch.

With Christmas now looming fast and colder temperatures in the workshop, any thoughts of new projects were few and far between but knowing I had some time off over the festive period I was determined to utilise one of my new tools, namely an Erbauer plunge saw that I’d purchased from Screwfix. Cutting large sheets was always a challenge on my table saw and having some ideas on projects using MDF and plywood, I decided a dedicated circular saw would be a good tool to have.

My next blog will cover how I turned some large sheets of MDF into a shoe rack for our under-stairs cupboard.

Making Stuff Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post, whilst making tea light holders, cutting boards and coasters helped me get to grips with my new machines, I was keen to have a go at making something a bit more substantial and stretch my woodworking skills and fully utilise my new machines.Screenshot 2020-01-24 13.55.43

On researching online for some small projects to undertake, I saw a couple versions of a stool which I thought would be useful in my new workshop. With no plans to go on, I drew up a rough sketch and went about ripping and sizing the oak planks I’d purchased. The timber was all rough sawn so I had to use my new Makita thicknesser, a great piece of kit and very versatile.

IMG_1182With the wood cut to size I then glued up the seat, leaving it overnight to dry using my new sash clamps. For the legs, I decided I would use floating tenons, a simple but effective way of joining two pieces of wood together. I had to do a bit of research on the best way to make them and ended up building a jig to use with my handheld router to create the mortise and tenons. Once cut, I dry fitted the seat and surprisingly it all fitted together with little adjustment needed. I then glued it together, screwed the seat on to the legs and then sanded and finished it off with some beeswax polish. I posted a couple of pictures on a woodworking forum I had joined and got some positive feedback and for a first attempt at making a stool I was rather pleased with myself. 013d4230-3302-4437-b5f8-2e4025df3cc1

During the  summer months, I found that working in the garage was a challenge, especially on warmer days so had to limit any activity to the cooler parts of the day. I also had some house decorating to do which took me away from my workshop but I did manage to squeeze in small commission for the downstairs toilet, namely an interlocking shelving unit. Again I was pleased with the outcome and was asked to make Abby one for her flat in Jersey.

IMG_1723Next on my list was a wedding present our next door neighbours son Ben, who was getting married to Sam as both are mad on dogs I decided that it would be a nice touch to make something with that theme. I eventually came up with the idea of a key holder, made from oak with ‘his and hers’ routed out along with some paws. Again I was pleased with the results and I believe it went down well with the newlyweds.

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I really enjoyed the process of making the key holder and this gave me some ideas for Xmas presents for the family but more of that in a later post.

With the summer turning into autumn I found I could spend more time in the garage so decided  to make some more coasters, coat racks and key holders that could be sold at work to raise money for charity. These small projects, whilst not very challenging are easy to knock out in batches and I soon had a bagful of bits to take in for the fundraising stall.

IMG_1580When I designed my workshop, the hope was that the large extraction unit would be sufficient to keep a check on the dust and shavings created from my new hobby but alas it wasn’t the case and I soon realised that I needed to install a method of keeping the airborne partials down to a minimum by installing a permanent extraction system. I watched a few YouTube videos and found a solution someone had designed using 42mm pipework. Whilst not perfect, using some homemade gate valves I’m now able to direct the vacuum towards the machine I’m using at he time and so far it’s worked well, with only a couple of blockages to sort.

In my next blog I’ll share details of the wooden signs I made for presents and also how I made a bespoke oak coffee table, which now has pride of place in our conservatory.

Making Stuff Part 1

IMG_0502One of the first projects I undertook in my new workshop was to make use of the pine table that my son had donated to me (this new table had been damaged in transit so the company sent him a replacement and told him to keep the faulty one).

I immediately got to work ripping the wood down using my new table saw, creating a few planks for the task I had planned for it…to build a run for Matt and Chloe’s new tortoise Zoom. 4C31038E-C195-4E76-AD3E-BD4B1A6A6D69I bought some wire mesh and a found some roofing felt and soon knocked up a run fit for their special one. I even managed to add his name to the side using my router.

Pleasingly Matt & Chloe loved the run and throughout the summer Zoom spent many a happy day sunbathing in his new surroundings.

IMG_1204For my next project I got inspiration from a YouTube video, making a pine version of the Adirondack chair. This was more practice piece rather than a useful addition to the garden furniture, and although it is still on the lawn, it’s looking a bit weathered and will need a cleanup if it’s going to be used again this coming summer. I did add the extension later on in the year which makes it a bit more comfortable to sit in, but the seat is very low and Tina does struggle to get out of it. The mark 2 version will be made out of wood that is better suited for outdoors use and easier to get on and off it.

IMG_0436My first commission was something Tina asked me to build for her…a cotton bobbin holder for her sewing room. Again I investigated online to find a suitable version and eventually found some that I could enhance to meet the exacting requirements of the wife 🙂 For this project I also managed to make it out of recycled wood; this time I broke down a wooden bathroom shelf unit we no longer required. The holder came out pretty well and helped me get to grips with accurate drilling.

Having seen how simple it is to re-purpose and recycle wood, I realised that with the right tools and a bit of thought you can recreate lots of things easily.

Next I wanted to have a go at creating something from hardwood so ordered some planks of oak online and also managed to pick up a job lot of timber from eBay for a very good price. The latter was such a bargain, it’s actually kept me going in my return to woodworking. I’ve made quite a few tea-light holders, cutting boards and coasters from reclaimed beech, sapele, oak and maple.

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My next post will cover some of the finer pieces I’ve built in oak I purchased; this is part of woodworking I’ve really enjoyed, especially as the furniture was designed from scratch.

Building my new workshop

It was around this time last year that I had the notion that I wanted a proper woodworking workshop, with all the fancy machines I’d ever dreamed of owning but never could afford. So when I got wind of a favourable bonus coming my way I got to work on planning how I would spend a sizeable chunk of it.

57AC8EBF-321F-4628-A6F0-2A8433A4D84EFirstly I had to address problem of creating the space; the garage had accumulated so much crap over the years there was very little room to walk around it let alone site a new table saw or router table. IMG_0319The rafters were full of boxes containing kids school books, toys and loads of old training manuals and paperwork from work and the floor had garden furniture, a cross trainer and a bicycle taking up vital workshop space.

Having decided there was far too much to take to the local recycling depot, I ordered a 6 yard skip, confident it would be big enough to cover all my needs. Yeah right!

IMG_0349IMG_2051Eventually though I did manage to reduce the pile of things to keep and set about storing the many boxes back up in roof space above the garage. A quick paint job of the floor gave me a lovely canvas and space to start filling with some machines. Phase 1 completed.

Next job was to tackle the garage doors. The existing doors were the up and over type but over the years had become more and more difficult to use. In fact the right hand one couldn’t be opened due to a fault spring so had to be screwed shut. So the first big spend was to replace them with two roller shutter doors.

I found a local company that could change them out at a reasonable cost and soon had new doors.

IMG_0441And so to start filling the space. I’d researched some of the machines I’d want; I’d always fancied a proper table saw and so went for a 8″ cast-iron model from Charnwood along with a sanding station and dust extraction system from the same manufacturer. This was then followed up by a Lumberjack bandsaw supplied by Amazon and a router table. It wasn’t long before the garage floor space was starting to fill up again, but this time with lots of new toys to play with 🙂

Another part of the workshop build was to create a wall that could be used to hold all my hand and power tools so I set about erecting a french cleat system, using my new machines to rip down the timber and sheets to the right size. I then built an outfeed table for the new saw, which gave me storage to keep other tools. Phase 2 complete.

My next post will continue to run through the evolution of the workshop along with highlighting some of the projects I have undertaken so far.

I’m back…for a while anyhow

Can it really be 3 years since I last added a post…wow!

Having had a bit of a break from blogging, I’ve decided it’s time to get back online again and start covering my woodworking exploits from the past 12 months as well document my impending dive into the world Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machining as I’ve ordered a WorkBee from Ooznest, which arrives (in kit form) next month.

Ooznest WorkBee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve read so much documentation, watched loads of YouTube videos and done lots of CAD tutorials, I’m certain it was be a very straightforward hobby…not!

My next blog will cover the journey of turning our former storage/dumping ground of a  double garage into a state of the art, 21st century, woodworkers dream of a workshop and post some of the projects I’ve completed so far.

I’ll then cover the trials and tribulations in getting the WorkBee up and running and hopefully showoff some of the things I subsequently make (assuming I do get the machine working of course).

So what this space for more updates (and I promise it will be sooner than in 3 years!)