Thursday, December 31, 2015

My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #1672: Looking Back/Looking Ahead

I have always like New Year’s Eve. Not necessarily for the parties (I am too old and boring for that!) but more so for the chance to ‘start over’. It is kind of like Monday. A clean slate. New goals. Fresh beginnings. 

Over the years I have learned to let go of things. The older I get, the more I realize that hanging on to mistakes and things that didn’t work out quite like we planned can be somewhat detrimental to us. It seems the time we spend dwelling on those errors in judgment or behavior could be better spent planning out wonderful things for our future. I have decided that I would rather look ahead than back. 

This doesn’t mean that we disregard our memories. Hopefully we cherish the good memories and learn from the not so good ones. Experience is something that only comes with time and sometimes brings some pain with it. But that is why it is such an effective teacher, I believe.

As I look back on 2015, I think I had a good year. I think I made some good decisions and I also made some not-so-good ones. The business did well and is growing – even in this fragile economic state that we live in, so that is a huge plus.

Some of the mistakes were more costly than others. Not necessarily in terms of dollars, but emotionally. To me, that is far more important, as when we are draining ourselves emotionally, it effects our entire being. But nothing happened that couldn’t be rectified and once again chalked up to 'experience’.  The good thing is that in most cases, I was able to recognize these things and therefore able to rectify the issues that they caused. That is huge.

I’ve done a lot of thinking over these past couple of weeks and during the holidays. That is always good, I believe. This time 'off’ has allowed me to take a step back and really look at things and figure out some of the steps that I want to take with my business and life in general. I think that one of the things that we forget to do most when we get too busy is to take time to unplug and just 'be’. We forget how important that is to our well-being.

If I were to make a vow or a resolution for the year 2016, it would be to try to 'unplug’ more often. I think that in the past, I have underestimated the importance of allowing myself this kindness of  just 'being’. Without thinking of what needs to be done or what I should be doing. To sit quietly and contemplate things around me and my life. To enjoy what I have without feeling the need to add more.  To appreciate. 

The more I get into the habit of doing that, the happier I seem to be. The feelings of longing and want are replaced with feelings of satisfaction and contentment. And that (for me) leads to true happiness. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

So for this last blog post of 2015, I wish you all the best. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all the love, friendship and support you have shown me throughout this past year. It is because of you my friends and customers that I am able to spend each day creating, which is what I believe that I was put on this Earth to do. It is a charmed life really, and one that I am sure is envied. It has been built on hard work, mistakes and most of all support from all of you. For that, I am grateful. 

Both Keith and I wish you all the best in 2016. May you enjoy your triumphs and have the strength and means to face your obsticles. May you seek new challenges and accomplish all you set out to achieve. Most of all, may you find peace and happiness.

 May 2016 be your best year yet. I hope it is mine as well. 

Happy New Year to you All! 

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Use a framing square

Use a framing square to draw a perfect circle:

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A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (22)

Post 22 in a continuing series…


Nice to have had a few days off over the past week. Winter has finally arrived with a 5~7 cm snowfall yesterday.

Working still on the miter joints for the support stand’s cornice assembly. After an initial trying up of the joint, I could initially feel some slight surface discrepancies which needed a little attention:

This is the miter after first fitting -essentially as it came off of the table saw:

Not too far off, but not what you’d call a good fit yet.

I made up a simple angled paring jig so I could give the miters some attention with a chisel:

Slicing and dicing:

Well, maybe not so much in the way of dicing actually.

The Kiyohisa spear-tip paring tool is a pleasure:

Working from corner to corner to trim and adjust the miters, followed by the fitting of the mortise and tenon connections for the intermediate pieces:

A little more clean up of the faces yet:

 After that process, the frame connections were 95% there. Here’s one:



And four:

One final bit of attention on those mitered connections and they should be good to go.

A look now at the angled mortise for the wedging key, shachi-sen:

Another one:

Frame assembly number 2 makes it to the same point, completion-wise:

A look at the miters - one:



And four:

The next step with these assemblies will be fitting them to the already-fabricated assemblies of inverted-T beams and pillow block corners.

In other news, the bronze foot castings have made it back to my shop:

The black one on the left is the wooden pattern, still in excellent shape.

The cast pieces appear to be true to form - the foundry out near Boston provided a good service:

These pieces will be receiving further work on the milling machine in coming days. I’m still mulling over the best way to proceed with the sequence of milling cuts, and what cutter I will use, and how I will fixture the pieces.

All for today -  thanks for your visit to the Carpentry Way and all the best to you in 2016! I’m looking forward to a lot of exciting new developments this coming year, and am thinking it likely that 2016 will be a watershed year on both carpentry and personal fronts.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How to build a DIY w

How to build a DIY writing desk. Free plans and tutorial. Looks pretty easy to build! #DIY #desk #homeoffice #freeplans #tutorial #howto #writingdesk #buildit

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Monday, December 28, 2015

My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #1671: Slowly Getting Back to It

I do admit that the past several days have been nice. I made it a point to gear back and I actually stuck with it as much as I could. It seemed odd at first, but it really made a difference in my attitude and level of stress.

I love posting my blog here every day. I think it not only helps others with questions and helps get word out as to what new things I am doing, but it is a big part in my own motivational process. I can’t tell you all how many nights I was ready to wrap things up and quit for the evening, only I wanted to have something finished to show in the blog the next morning. It is a good way to keep me on track and keep me from being distracted as so many of us who work from the home can be. I think it is a great tool.

But as with many things, there are times when a rest is needed and the routine needs to be changed up a bit. Even though I am a creature of habit, I felt that taking a couple of weeks off of writing in the morning was something that I needed to do so I could fully enjoy the holiday. I still don’t know if I am ready to start up with writing every day again, but I thought today would be a good time to check in. 

As I woke up today, we had our first real dusing of snow for the year. It has been much warmer than ‘normal’ in our area, and it didn’t really feel like Christmas in that respect at all. I know it made many people happy, but it made me a bit sad. It just didn’t seem 'right’. 

But I suppose I will get over it and move on. There is always next year  …

Our Christmas was quiet and nice. We spent Christmas Eve here at home with Keith’s mom. We had snacks during the afternoon and our traditional dinner of rappie pie for dinner. Here is a photo of Pancakes admiring our snacks. He discovered he really, really (really) likes shrimp:

On Christmas day we headed to my friend in Digby’s house and had a wonderful meal and visited a bit. It was a great day. 

With everything closed over the weekend (and still closed today for some things) it was a nice time to catch up on movies and work on some of the personal projects that I have wanted to do. While I am thinking ahead to my next designs, I wanted to at least have the weekend to make some things for myself. 

I am working on these lovely “Christmas Crows” by Lynne Andrews.  I have so many of her lovely patterns that I want to make, and I thought that these would be a nice start. They were very relaxing to do and I changed the colors so that they would be a bit more “Winter Crows” than  Christmas. 

Of course, I had my favorite helper (Pancakes) by my side. As I was dotting in the snow, he decided he wanted to smell the end of the stylus and wound up with a couple of white freckles on his nose:

He is so funny and always needs to be 'involved’. :) 

I finished up the ornaments before dinner and I was thrilled with how they turned out:

They will look lovely on my winter themed all season tree. 

You can purchase Lynne’s pattern for the Christmas Crows here:

Christmas Crows

I will be offering the mitten surfaces for those who are interest. Just email me if you would like them for now until I get them on the site. 

Today I will be back to drawing. I am working on some new scroll saw patterns and also some painting patterns. I have lots of ideas in mind and can’t wait to get back at it again. The time off did me well.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and holiday. As we close out the year, I feel good about what we accomplished. We are still growing as a company and with all the new ideas we are coming up with, we hope that trend continues throughout 2016. 

I look forward to the weeks ahead. As I start to draw again, I am once more getting excited about creating. I think the short break really did me good and I can’t wait to make new things. I am very grateful for you all. 

Have a wonderful Monday!   (I’ll be back soon!)  

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #1670: Warmest Holiday Wishes to All

It has been a little over a week since I have posted here on the blog. After over five straight years of blogging nearly every day, it felt strange not to wake up and do so first thing every morning. But it was something that I felt was needed for me to step back and get hold on things, as everything seemed like it was becoming a bit overwhelming. 

Work has been busy this year. Our little business is growing by leaps and bounds as we continue to offer new kinds of patterns and surfaces and head  in many different directions. We are happy about that, as it means that people really enjoy what we are doing and we always feel honored that you all choose our designs for you projects and gift giving. I don’t think that feeling will ever change or go away. 

But growth also brings changes, and it is sometimes hard to stay on top of things when those changes come too quickly. My grandmother used to say that we were like a pie. The more pieces we cut, the smaller they become. That analogy has stuck with me my entire life. 

So as things continue to change quickly, it sometimes is a challenge to for us to stay on top of things. We still want to be able to offer the personal services and attention that our customers have come to expect from us, but some days it gets more difficult because there is just too much pulling on us at once. So what are we to do?

Taking this little step back has helped. My blog here usually takes an hour or more to write, and I found that using those hours helped me get a little better hold on the day. I once again felt that even though we were busier than ever, I had a good head start to the mornings and it helped me keep up with things better. But I missed my communication with you and sharing what I was working on. For now though, that was OK, as most of what I was doing was working on gifts for my own family and friends. It was increasingly difficult to spend the day doing that and not being able to share it with everyone here. I wanted people to be surprised, and many of my family and friends read my posts here often. 

But now the day is upon us. As we start this Christmas Eve morning, I realize that all the work that needed to be done for my own gifts was finished. Things were mailed on time and those who I sent things to had began to receive them. My gifts that I sent to friends and family are for the most part arriving and all is well. My own gifts that I will be giving in person are either delivered or will be tomorrow, at Christmas dinner. Everything got done. 

We had our ‘glitches’ though… 

Our landlord was supposed to finish up our front closet which had a leak from the roof in it, weeks ago. It is dry walled now, but the sanding and final coat of paint isn’t done. Living in a small place as we do meant that there was nowhere to put the things in the closet (all of our jackets, coats and other things that one uses a front hall closet for) so we just put them back there. I was waiting for him to finish the messy sanding before I decorated, and as a result I had two boxes of decorations in my small living room for the past several weeks. I had a feeling that as soon as I resolved to him not doing things before the holiday as promised and put them up, he would walk in and begin sanding. So I waited.  

By the beginning of this week, I realized that it wasn’t going to happen. But it was rather late to hound him about it anyway. It really didn’t matter. 

My little tree here is happy enough. As I receive gifts from my friends in the mail, they immediately are put into place on it. Having a small tree means it doesn’t take much to fill it up. And each time I look at it, I see something that reminds me of the wonderful friendships I have forged with my online friends.  It makes me smile. 

So the theme of this Christmas is “simple”.  To me, it goes with my mood and desire to slow things down just a bit to take a breath.  Everything that needed doing got done. I had some time to 'putz’ around the house here and do a bit of sorting, planning and even some personal painting. I may still do some baking this morning before Keith’s mom gets here for the day. It is all good. 

I feel very good about this holiday and the upcoming year. I actually practiced what I constantly preach to you all – “Enjoy the day today, as you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”  While it is difficult for someone like me who lives to work, taking a step back and enjoying the good things in your life is something that I feel is imperative to a happy life. 

So from Keith and I, we wish our Christian friends and family a Merry Christmas. For those of you who follow other faiths, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season. We hope that 2016 will bring you all the love, comfort and prosperity that you desire, and wish you good health as well. 

I’ll be back to writing more regularly soon, as the time I have taken has only helped me think of more wonderful designs to create. My biggest problem will be where to begin. (What a good problem to have!) 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday to you all!  Thank you all for your friendship and support! 

With love, Keith and Sheila,

(And also Pancakes, Coco and Richard… )

We wish you the best Christmas ever and a wonderful year ahead in 2016!

Enjoy your family, friends and the days ahead! :)

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Ming-Inspired Cabinet (21)

Post 21 in a continuing series….


Starting out today with some of the following pieces staring me in the face:

After the joinery is completed on the cornice pieces, I will profile them. To that end, I spent the first while working to set up my shaper with a very nice Aigner accessory I happen to have, the ‘dickenanschlag’ or back fence:

Amusingly, Google Translate says 'dickenanschlag’ is a dick stop. Hah!

Also aiding in this process, though concealed largely behind the feeder, is another Aigner product, the 'druckbacken’. This is a device with a pair of acrylic plastic 'springs’ which surround the cutter head and which push the wood away from the main fence and into the back fence. Of course, the feeder is also aligned so as to drift the stock over to and along the back fence.

The back fence allows a profile to be conveniently shaped on the edge of a board without worry that any offsets from the front face may occur along the fence, causing an uneven molded surface.

Here, I’ve put a piece of scrap material through to check the cutting depth on the edge of the board, after having made previous passes with other test boards to get the cutter dialed in to the correct height:

After this first pass, you can see the ink that is remaining on a portion of the edge, indicating that the cutter hasn’t totally cleaned the face off:

I planed the sticks themselves so that they are only about 0.0250" over finished dimension, so I had only a sukoshi of material to remove and therefore needed to approach the milling carefully.

The second pass, after a slight adjustment of the back fence distance was performed, molded the entire face:

The knives for shaping this profile were designed by me and made by CGG Schmidt. These HSS knives are of the corrugated type and fit into a 2-knife holder.

At this juncture, the edge is fully molded however the dimension overall is slightly fat of the target value of 3.375":

The molded face was cut cleanly, though as usual the camera work failed to capture the surface sheen:

Another slight adjustment of the back fence and pass through of the piece revealed that I was within a hair of target dimension, so that’s where I decided that the machine was set suitably:

Aiding in the precise setting of the Aigner back fence, which is very sturdily made and will not deflect in use, is its digital depth gauge:

Here you can see the molded test piece alongside one of the cornice pieces:

I’ll save the molding work for later as I want to complete the joinery work on the cornice first. The shaper is set up and ready to go as soon as the sticks are.

Here I’m laying the cornice pieces out to see if one arrangement or another might look the best:

The other set of four in the same process:

* The wood was placed carefully and temporarily upon the jointer tables and removed shortly thereafter. No jointer infeed tables were damaged or marked in any way during any part of the temporary positioning process. (This note is for a certain regular reader -CM- who has expressed previous concerns).

Once the arrangements of the parts relative to one another were established to my satisfaction, I marked the joints so i knew what was supposed to go with what.

The cutting of the angled and tapered trenches for the shachi sen was the next step to undertake, beginning with a round of layout and on into the chisel and saw work:

These angled trenches can only really be cut by hand, given their complex shape and awkward access:

Another view:

Sharpen, then chisel, then sharpen some more, rinse and repeat:

I spent most of the day with chisels and saw, staring very intently as these joints. The staring continued through today as well:

The shorts are done:

Another view:

Another view:

Rinse and repeat…the long cornice pieces now done, including the mortises for the intermediate members:

Another view of one end:

The joints are pretty much there, though a little material will likely need to be shaved yet.

The other end:

Checking as always to see that the abutments - here with the short end cornice pieces - were close to the target dimension, @15"(381mm) shoulder to shoulder:

A preliminary assembly shows things going together just fine, with a little fettlling awaiting yet at each intersection:

Another view:

Of course, I quickly removed those pieces from the jointer table, not wanting to damage the equipment*

Here’s the other set:

A closer look at one of the corner joints partway together, main abutments not yet trimmed:

I estimate a full day of work ahead to fit those joints up.


In other news, I acquired some more bubinga, namely 4 planks at 9/4 thick, 12" wide, and 94" long:

These are all rift-sawn boards, and were milled in Africa - note the chainsaw marks:

They look to have a mottled-to-ribbon-stripe figure, and I’ll get a better idea of how they look when I give them a jointing and planing sometime down the line.

The material is the perfect grain orientation, as far as I am concerned:

In other news…

…I thought readers might want to see some of the shavings of off the cornice pieces:

More evidence that these super surfacers just don’t work very well on hardwoods, by all accounts:

Seems to get me where I need to be despite how unsuitable it is supposed to be for the task.

*Private joke for Chris M.

All for today, thanks for dropping by the Carpentry Way. Have joyful Christmas if you choose to celebrate, otherwise continue in your efforts to leap from triumph to triumph.

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