Sunday, February 26, 2017

Pencil Box Plans - W

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Trinket Box Plans an

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A Ming-inspired Cabinet (86)

It’s been more than a month since my last post. The reason for the absence is simple: I’ve been sick as a dog.  In truth, I can’t really say how sick dogs might get or why we even have that expression, but I’ve been sick with some kind of virus for a full month. This is highly unusual for me, as I almost never catch a cold, however this illness has been widespread in the Northeast it would appear with many folks getting sick. My wife and son have also had it bad, but I have had it the worst. I spent a solid week in bed, then another week staggering around and seeing stars, losing weight, and filling snot rags with all kinds of interesting things. In the third week there was a glimmer of a feeling of getting better, and I even made it to the shop for a few hours here and there, but by the weekend I slipped back and came down with a brutal fever of 103.6˚F (nearly 100˚C) for a whole day, which was a day spent more or less shivering, or alternately sweating, in my bed. Quality time with family, as they say.

I’ve been to the doctor twice during this time, but no antibiotics, fortunately, have been prescribed. As I wind my way towards the end of week 4, I can say that I am definitely on the mend, maybe back to the 50% mark as of today.

Anyway, when I did make it into the shop a couple of weeks back I got to work on milling and drilling the ends of the bifold door hinge stiles for their mounting pins.

As per usual, the mill was the tool of choice, initially just for marking out the centerline of the drill holes, where the ease of fixing the stick to the flat table was a help:

The crossed lines were then dimpled at their intersection with a Starrett centering punch:


The process was repeated on the other end, and then again on the other three hinge stiles.

The holes which get drilled into the ends of these stiles have to be well aligned with the axis of the hinge rod. The better the alignment, the more perfectly the hinge will work.

Then the vise was mounted on the table, trammed into alignment, and then the right angle attachment also mounted, and aligned to the vise. I used the Starrett centering punch in the drilling chuck to align the spindle to the mark, and then fitted a drill and got to work:

A closer look:

Three steps were required to get to the required size of hole, starting with the brad point bit above.

Then the same alignment to spindle allowed for the self-tapping threaded insert to be fitted using a bolt with its head cut off, and nut and washer placed, as the driving tool:

The mill’s chuck should mean that the insert gets fitted in correct alignment from the get-go. I slightly loosen the chuck to allow the bolt to spin, and then use a wrench, or spanner as the Brits like to call them, to get the insert on its way:

Once the insert fully seated, the mounting tool is easily removed:

That takes care of the upper end of the stile. On the lower end, a different arrangement is realized, and a counterbored hole required. I drilled the outer one first with a 0.75" Forstner:

Then I use an end mill to bore the main hole (a different stick is shown below than in the previous picture):

Here’s the brass mounting pin being fitted up:

Strangely, the flanged portion would not fit in the counterbore:

I checked the flange diameter, and it was spot on. That left the Forstner:

I hate it when a tool like that is not correctly sized. I have had that Forstner set for many years, so it is possible that when i had it resharpened at some point the sharpening shop decided to dress the outside of the cutter, for some reason, and that left it undersize (?). Or maybe it was always undersize, right from new?

In any case, I went over to a neighboring shop and borrowed a Forstner which was the correct size:

The counterbore was cleaned up with the correctly-sized bit, and then the brass hinge pin was then able to be fitted all the way:

These pins are not an off-the-shelf item, but were rather designed by me and fabricated at a local machine shop to my drawings.

After the brass pin is slipped into a place, a countersinking drill is run into the end of the stile, with the pivot pin as a guide, and then an assembly screw with Square Drive head was placed:

Assembly screws are coated with a lubricant, and unlike a decking screw do not have ridges under the screw head to aid in seating into wood, so they will fit cleanly to the brass.

The completed assembly:

However, while the party just seemed to be getting started, save for the mild sidetrack with the undersize Forstner bit, I started to notice a problem with the 3rd one of the brass inserts. Look at the picture above, and you’ll perhaps spot the issue: the brass part is not centered on the mass of the wood. It had been marked out on centerlines to start, but something had happened during the various cut out steps.

Somehow the hole had gotten drilled off center, and that was vexing. This was not the worst of it though. I investigated and discovered that the right angle attachment on the mill was no longer aligned with the jaws of the vise. So, while I could center the spindle with the centering point to the tick to start, when I chucked in the tools to follow, which were shorter, they drilled off the mark, and worse, they drilled holes which were not axially aligned with the stick. And what’s the most important thing with these holes? That’s right, that they be axially aligned with the stick.

I was a tad cranky to find that this was the outcome despite many precautions and careful work. I took some time to realign the right angle attachment and cinch the allen head bolts down about as tight as I could. I started telling myself that perhaps I had not tightened them sufficiently the first time around….

I plugged the long drill holes in the lower ends of the stiles, which was a pain as I do not have bubinga dowel stock -not something widely available - and besides, most commercial dowel stock isn’t cylindrical, regardless of species, at least not by the time you find it at the store. So, I made my own, and without a lathe, this is a tedious task. At last though, the three holes were plugged and I re-drilled.

But, to my considerable chagrin, by the time I was again working on the third one I noticed, during a double-check, that after I removed the centering point and chucked in the end mill, that the end mill was clearly not meeting the end of the stick centered on the same point. I had that feeling like I was starting to lose my mind - how could this be?! I also checked the metal threaded inserts with their associated hinge pins, and also found they were not properly aligned.

Everything was going sideways and pear-shaped, as they say. I’m not sure what the expression exactly refers to, but I was in a world of misery.

Re-checking, I found that the right angle attachment was again out of alignment. Grrr…. I checked the mounting bolts and they were still plenty tight. Hmm…. What is going on here?

I loosened the bolts and re-aligned the attachment, and then after cinching down again, did a test, turning the spindle on and off a few times. I discovered the from the first start up the angle attachment went out of alignment by a slight amount, and with each start up, the effect compounded. Basically, the torque of starting, when transmitted through the right angle attachment, caused it to go out of alignment. It was a bug not a feature, and certainly not the type of bug that could be lived with or be optimistically called a feature.

I realized that having modern soft start on that motor would be really nice, as I’m sure that would solve the problem, but I don’t have that feature at this time. I called it a day and slinked off home to lick my wounds.


It’s a drag that the right angle attachment on this mill doesn’t work seamlessly. It is a 46-year old machine, so I guess I can cut it some slack. It might have worked great at some point and now simply be worn to the point that it no longer will hold position. I’m speculating. It’s a pity the attachment does not index to the quill somehow, or could be more rigidly locked in place.

I thought it over, considering the carnage, and decided that I needed to remake the hinge stiles from new, from raw stock again, despite the considerable number of hours I had into them. This was not an easy decision in some respects, mostly due to existing bubinga supply issues in my area. The place in Connecticut where I had bought sticks from in recent months seemed to have material a bit prone to more movement than I would like, which I think relates to how the wood is dried, and their stock was low anyhow. The local hardwood dealer in Greenfield hasn’t had much bubinga for months. Berkshire Products, a 2.5 hour drive away, specializes in wide slab lumber and doesn’t have much in the way of 8/4 S4S stock.

I did have one last stick on the shelf, a 96" long, 4"x8" beam that I have been hoarding for a few years. Though I was loathe to cut into it, I felt it was my only option really. Ugh! It’s not completely irreplaceable, but getting more 4" thick stock in bubinga likely means going to Germany for it. So, the term ‘irreplaceable’ isn’t so far off really.

A few days on now, I have prepared 4 new hinge stiles, just barely squeezing them out of the portion of the beam I crosscut. Here’s three of the four:

They still need a couple of things done to them, but they are at the point where they can be drilled for the hinge hardware, so that’s the next step.

A couple of days ago I did a test on the mill, dropping the speed down to 2800rpm in the thought that this would mean less start up torque, which hopefully would preclude the angle attachment from further movement. No such luck. After 10 start/stop cycles, the centering point had shifted over 1/16". And I couldn’t tighten the mounting bolts much more without risk of thread galling or bolt snapping. It just didn’t seem like the mill was going to work for me in this way.

The rest of that afternoon was spent exploring various alternate solutions to the challenge of drilling a straight hole, such as working the stick vertically off the end of the table (however the stick is too tall and would actually require a hole be cut in the floor, or the 5500lb. mill raised in the air, to make room under the drilling chuck), tilting the head of the mill over (spindle ends up too high relative to the work table and there is not enough room left on the table to support the stile), seeing if a router jig could be made to work (however not all the cuts are done with router tooling). It was a head-scratcher, and after several hours futzing I had accomplished nothing.

A slot mortiser would be handy to have for this job, but I don’t have one. I’ll put it on the Christmas list I guess.

A phone call to a friend later that evening was productive however. He suggested finding some way to rigidly fix the right angle attachment to the column of the mill. I had considered this solution previously, but had discounted it, largely because I was thinking that the right angle attachment had to be free to move in other directions - a conceptual error on my part. In this work, the table moves, and the angle attachment stays in a fixed relationship to the machine column.

I had a glimmer of hope.

So, yesterday I headed into the shop to explore this solution. First off, I stopped at the hardware store to pick up some longer bolts with which to tighten the angle attachment sleeve clamp, along with a 10mmx1.5 tap to clean out the threads. After the thread holes were done, I wiped the inside of the sleeve and the outside of the quill with solvent to remove any lingering lubricants. Then the angle attachment was set aside.

Re-tramming the mill head was next, since I had previously explored the idea of tilting the head over to horizontal. The tramming is a tedious task and took about an hour to complete. Then I mounted the Kurt vise to the side of the work table and aligned it to the x-axis. Finally, I mounted the angle attachment and lightly clamped it. Using a transfer punch as a

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Wooden Floor Lamp -

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Step Tansu Plans - F

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1823: Hello, Painting My Old Friend

One would think that with me having a full-time business as a designer, that the majority of my day would be painting, drawing, and cutting new designs on the scroll saw, wouldn’t they?  But lately, it seems that the ‘business’ aspects of our business fill much of the day, and sometimes there is little time left to do the creative things, let alone create for my own pleasure. 

I am not complaining, mind you. I am thrilled that things are moving in a good direction. I truly enjoy doing things like cutting orders and helping customers. I just need to find a way to better balance things out so that I also have time to have some fun working on projects created by other designers that I admire. After all – that is how I started creating in the first place. 

In my mind, I frequently designate a certain time of day as 'quitting time’. That is the time that I choose to stop working on “work” and allowing myself a few hours in the day to let go and do whatever I please. This was a time when I used to paint for myself (which is things for family and friends that I don’t intend to make into patterns to sell) or work on patterns from other designers or even embroider. But lately, I have been so busy that I sometimes can’t bring myself to stop – even if it means that I work after dinner until I go to bed.

While it is good to be conscientious about the business, I do find that not having any 'off time’ can sometimes really make me feel anxious and tired. I need to allow myself time off in order to have a good and healthy attitude and feel as if I am in a good place emotionally. That is so important for me as a designer. So I have taken steps to (try to) stick to a cut-off time and put my 'work’ to bed at a decent hour. Otherwise, I will get frustrated, tired and burn out. 

I have been mentioning that I want to continue painting on my “12 Days” ornament project for some time now. I can’t believe that we are already at the end of the month of  February and I am not done yet. I think it is high time I finish things up and move on to other projects. The list of things I want to make (for myself) is long and if I don’t take a hard stand and get these finished, I can’t in good conscious move on to new projects. I have my dear friend Vera cheering me on, as well as the people in our Facebook group. I need my cheerleaders more than ever now to get me over the finish line. I can see it ahead. 

Last night, at about 5 pm I finally got to sit down and paint. I had begun my Day 11 ornaments several weeks ago, and the outer frames are all done except for the printing on them. It was time to get to the design part and begin working on that. It felt wonderful to actually paint again! 

I put on Netflix and watched the end to a series that I was watching and then tuned into Lisa Clough’s live lesson on YouTube (Lachri fine art) and enjoyed my evening a great deal. By the end of the evening, my little pipers were well on their way to being done:

I am really pleased with them and think they will be awesome!  

Since I am all 'caught up’ with things, I think I will devote the entire day today to them. After all – I am making up for much lost time. I think I earned a little time to do what I love, don’t I? After the “Day 11’s” are done, I will go back to putting some of my ideas on paper and creating some new patterns. It will feel wonderful to get these done. I will certainly post pictures. 

I also wanted to show you all the new design that Keith has up on our site. After showing the “Thin Blue Line” plaque dedicated to policemen, (SLDK707), he had many requests to create one for firemen. He did and here is the result:

This is his SLDK708 plaque for the firemen. We hope everyone likes it. 

I suppose the point of my blog today is to remind you all to take time to do things completely for yourself. It is fine and good to be dedicated to your job, but if you don’t take time to feed your soul with the things you enjoy, it will affect your overall attitude and maybe even your performance. While this is hard to do when you are self-employed, sometimes I think it is even more important than if you worked for someone else. In that case, you do get to 'punch out’ and leave the job behind for a while every day. We need to do that for ourselves, too. I think it will make things better overall. I know it really helps me have a better attitude. 

I wish you all a wonderful day! Happy Thursday to you all! 

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1822: My Shop (A Tour!)

I had a crazy/busy weekend (again!)   I had hoped to have some time to paint, but it just wasn’t in the cards for me yet. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a productive couple of days. It was quite the opposite. 

Many of you who have followed me regularly here on the blog may have noticed that I am not posting as much. It isn’t because I am not working as much or doing as much creating, but it is more because the ‘production’ side of my business has really grown. After working from my kitchen in my small, 1-bedroom apartment for seven years, having a full room as a shop has really allowed me to expand that part of the business and work much more comfortably than before. While we were able to make due with things before, and actually keep everything neat and tidy, the growing number of orders from my dear painters really was a huge factor in us finding a larger place. The home we are in now is much more suited to our home business and not only are we much more comfortable here, but also more efficient. The key to making the most of my day is “organization”. It makes it possible to produce a large quantity of work quickly and efficiently, and most importantly – safely.

I never bought into that phrase that I often hear among the woodworks: “A clean shop is not productive.”  While I realize that many people have no choice but to be in a small, cramped space that is shared with others, I also know from my own experience that no matter how small a work area is, there is no reason it can’t be kept organized and clean. After all – I did work in my kitchen. That room opened up into my living room and that was pretty much our living space. Even though we scroll sawed there at least one or two days per week, it was never filled with dust or dirty. The key was to clean up not only after we were finished, but periodically throughout the time we were working. It kept the dust at bay and made things much easier when we were done and often tired. Not to mention we knew that everything was in its place so no time was no time wasted hunting for things. This principle was something that became a habit for me and I feel it is a good one to share. 

You know that feeling you have when just finishing setting up a work area?  I get that feeling every time I enter my shop. No matter how busy I am, I always try to put everything back into its place and I never walk out of my shop without doing a good cleaning. Becuase I keep this up throughout my work sessions, it is not something that takes much time and is really very easy. Once I got into this habit, I don’t think I would ever want to have it any other way. 

Here is a photo of the cutting I did on Saturday and Sunday:

Not only did these pieces have to be cut. but many of them routed as well and all of them are sanded smooth and ready to paint. The only things that were able to be stack-cut were the bunnies and the one ornament near the back. All the others are ¼" MDF which had to be cut in a single layer, then a second cut needed to be made on a bevel. The large clocks required two bevel cuts each. The bevel cuts were then routed and everything sanded. You would think my shop would be a dirty mess by the time I was finished, wouldn’t you? 

But here is a picture of how it looked when I was done:

I promise you that this is not out of the ordinary. This is how it always looks in between sessions. Everything has its place and everything is put back there. The white cabinet on the left holds my blades and small things like scissors and pencils in the top drawer, and then some postal supplies (bubble wrap) in the cabinet underneath. The large table holds our two saws and the drill press. Under the table are some large boxes for templates for my larger items like my carousel and my large clocks. I also store some extra pieces in there and there is the shop vac. I keep the top box empty and put it on the floor as I cut to toss in the waste pieces. when the box is full, I have a large trash bag on the other side of the closet to put the wood in so Keith can burn it in the stove in the basement. The cabinets on the right that the ornaments sit on are filled with sandpaper, my glue gun, glue and my sprays for finishing. I also keep some of my DecoArt paint in the (the larger jars) and a box of good quality paper towels. 

This next picture is a wider shot. You cen see the plastic boxes on the left. They hold 'extra’ pieces that I sell. When I cut, I try to add in a few extras of each thing. That way I don’t have to cut each time there is an order. I don’t keep a lot of stock, but having some is good. Lately, It seems that I empty those boxes out pretty quickly!  

Next to that is my tool box. It is also very neat and organized. It holds all my screw drivers, router bits, Forstner and drill bits, hand drills and there is a drawer for pattern templates. I also keep the patterns that I am using in the little shelf stack on the far right of the picture. I file these back when I am done with each session. You can see with little clutter, it is very easy to run the vacuum and clean everything after each session of work. The padded floor keeps the floor neat, and also is very easy to vacuum. It also helps reduce the noise in the room. I have vinyl shades that also vacuum nicely and no curtains or pictures to gather dust. 

This is the opposite side of the room. The wood on the left is my Baltic birch plywood, and some additional MDF. I just purchased a load of MDF and went through a pile of this size in about a month. There is a small closet that has no door, and I use that to store the hardwood and the cut plywood for easy scrolling. I usually cut the plywood into 10" x 10" pieces. I have a load arriving this week, and am almost out. I save the larger sheets for backing on larger pieces, but don’t use that as often so pre-cutting the sheets into 10×10 pieces saves time. Then I can just glue the corners of the squares with a glue gun and I am ready for stack cutting ornaments. Fast and easy! :)  The door is to a small washroom and the cabinet on the right is filled with my painting books. 

This is about 40 sheet of MDF that I just got. There were 10 more on the left pile, and when I run out of this, I know it is time to get more so I don’t run out completely. 

The closet holds boxes of  "organized" hardwood and my plywood. I also keep a couple of empty boxes there – mostly for holding scraps or shipping odd size items. I buy my boxes from Uline typically, but there are times when I need an odd size that I don’t stock. You can see that everything we have is accessible and we are able to see what we need at a glance. 

Here is the smaller stack on the left of the closet. I keep various sizes of MDF and plywood that I don’t use as often there, as well as the overflow of ¼" MDF. Those are my dowels in the corner.  The two mats I actually use for sanding on. I like to sit on the floor when I use my 1/3 sheet Makita sander. I really am most comfortable doing that. The sander is hooked up to the 6.5 hp Rigid shop vac so there is really NO dust at all. I actually sand when I am done cleaning the shop. Then I just do one more quick vac before I close the door. I use the small waste basket for my paper waste. I use sticker sheets a lot to apply patterns and keep that under my feet as I saw to peel off the stickers. That keeps the waste separate and it is easy to manage. 

Richard (my kitty) sits on the towel next to my Excalibur saw on the left. I don’t let him stay long though if I am cutting MDF, as he doesn’t wear a dust mask. I have been faithfully wearing the dust mask that I showed a couple of weeks ago and I feel much better because of it.  I also have a small router table that is on the floor under the first window on the right. I will show that next time. I like to sit on the floor and route as well, as I am comfortable there and I feel the dust stays localized more being low and it is easier to clean up after. I sit in front of where the vacuum is in this picture and pull the vacuum out, so most of the mess goes into the back corner there under the table. It takes 2 minutes to clean when I am done. I just do a quick swipe with the vacuum and vacuum the table and I am done. 

I hope these photos inspire you to keep your own shops nice. On both Saturday and Sunday, I didn’t get up there until about noon. I was done by 6 on Saturday and about 8pm on Sunday, and I feel I accomplished a huge amount of work. So I don’t really buy into the “A clean shop is not a working shop” theory. I love my shop and it is a JOY to open the door and go in there to work.  

I also want to mention that I also wear glasses when I work as well as sound canceling headphones. The headphones are wireless and I listen to music from my computer as well as YouTube playlists. It makes time up there pleasant and fun. If you want me to review the headphones I have, I will be happy to do that. Just ask in the comments. It really makes a nice difference when spending lots of time working. 

So you see, I am not slacking when I am not writing. I suppose that to most of you, one pile of cut ornaments and wood looks much like the other. While I show things occasionally, if every time I cut a batch I blogged about it, you would all be quickly bored with my posts. I usually spent about 1-2 days a week cutting, and I try to get most of the orders done at once so I have time to do other things like paint, draw, and create. 

I also wanted to mention that Keith has a new pattern up on the site. 

This SLDK707 Police plaque pattern set was done as a custom order for someone. He thought that everyone would enjoy it so he made it available as a pattern. I believe he is thinking of doing one for firefighters, too. We hope you like it. You can follow the link to purchase it on the site. 

For today, I plan on packing and shipping all of these ornaments and wood pieces to my customers. That will take several hours to do. I then hope to get going on some new designs and hopefully painting. I haven’t done that in a couple of weeks and I really need to implement some of the many ideas I have. 

I hope you enjoyed this insight into my woodworking world. I really and truly love my place here and I think I have the best job in the world. Thank you to all my customers for allowing me to do what I love! 

Happy Tuesday to you all! 

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Friday, February 17, 2017

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1821: Back in the Swing of Things!

One thing about posting here less often – when I do post there is so much to share with you all! I feel like things are going fast forward again and I am back on the ‘creative track’ after a bleak two months for me. Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I usually try to look at the good side of even the not-so-good thing that happen. But sometimes, that just doesn’t work. Try as I did, I found it hard to feel good about things.  It was time for me to step back and allow myself to go through the grieving process and get through my day. It seemed that every day was a challenge. But time does heal or at least soften the pain of loss and little by little I am finding my way back to my happy “Pink Cloud” and my creative place. I can’t thank you all enough for your kindness and compassion and understanding. So many of you shared stories of your own losses and your love for your little fur babies. It did help to know that I was not alone. Even though  I have never met most of you face to face, I feel a bond with you, not only because of our shared love of our pets but our love of creating. That is the type of people that I want surrounding me. Together we will find joy in this sometimes scary world. 

For some reason, though, the dark clouds have lifted and my enthusiasm and joy have slowly returned. While I still have my moments of sadness (I don’t think that will ever pass) I have once again been able to look at the good things that I have in my life and set my focus on that. There is much to be grateful for and I truly am fortunate. The love and care from those around me have helped me realize that my glass is indeed half full. My life is good. 

So without further rambling, I will get to the good part of my post – the part where I show you what is new. I am happy and excited about these things and can’t wait to show them. 

I’ll start off with a project that I actually began in November. I had the majority of the project drawn out and actually cut, but the pieces were sitting in a box in my workroom waiting to be finished. I finally got the ambition to pull it out and finish it up and I was so happy I did. It came out cuter than I even imagined it. I hope you all agree. 

It is a train that carries a nice set of alphabet letters on each car! (SLD535 - Alphabet Train with FULL Alphabet and Numbers)

I initially had this idea so that people could make it for Christmas, but as time went by, I realized that it would be suitable for any occasion. I purposely painted my own sample very simply, with no shading or fancy paint at all. (Of course, you could add more detailing if you wish!) I was thrilled at the bright, clean look that this has. It really is attractive and appealing! 

I have to say a word about the paint I used. It has quickly become one of my all time favorites for this type of project. I highly recommend it to ALL my woodworker friends and followers for any time of project that they want to add color to. The paint is by DecoArt (SURPRISE!) and it is their Multi-Surface Satin line. This paint is remarkable because it has beautiful coverage over many types of porous and non-porous surfaces, What I find most remarkable about this paint is that the finish is built right into it. You don’t need any type of sealer over it. I have used “all-in-one” products in the past with less than desirable result. I find that most products that are like this give uneven, streaky finishes and coverage. They tend to be sticky, too and not lay down nicely. But not the Multi-Surface Satin!  We used this product two or three years ago when Keith rebuilt his speakers and made a unit for our TV and audio equipment:

The pieces are as beautiful as the day we painted them, even after everyday use. We just use a damp cloth to dust them and they look outstanding. I have purchased more of this project for several of the projects that I plan to do in the near future here in our new home. I can’t wait to share them with you. 

I highly recommend that you give this product a try. You can see the full line of beautiful, bright colors on DecoArt’s website HERE and download a complete color chart. They are available at most craft stores or you can order them online at DecoArt’s website HERE.  I am sure that once you try them, you will agree. They are suitable for OUTDOOR projects, too and like all of DecoArt’s products, they have no odor and clean up with soap and water. It is really something that I fall more in love with every time I use it. I think you will, too!

I have one more photo of the train for you to see so you can better see the size:

I think it would be fun to have at a birthday party or even baby shower. One thing that I want to mention is that this train is NOT intended as a toy! It is really something with small pieces (such as the screw eyes that connect the cars) and they can be easily swallowed. It also isn’t as sturdy as something that a young child would play with. It is intended as a decoration. 

My next new exciting bit of news is that I was invited by Jodi Noordyk to offer the wood pieces for her new, beautiful design called “Gypsy Dreams”:

Jodi is new to designing and I have to say, she did a beautiful job not only with this awesome design, but writing the packet, too. You can buy the ornament surface(s) here:  SLDPK160  They are sold in sets of three, as it wouldn’t have made sense to ship one single piece. I think the shape is something that can lend itself to many other designs as well, and I think that Jodi will be working on more beautiful creations using this shape.   You can get the pattern packet at the Decorative Painting Store HERE as an instant download. I hope if you like it, you support Jodi’s new designing adventure. I can’t wait to see more of her designs! 

And finally – I want to make you all aware of a wonderful special that I am running for my painters. For a limited time, I am offering TWO of my painting patterns for the price of one. 

This product number “Special Offer 2” combines two popular patterns for spring and summer, using two different techniques. The first pattern is an introduction to using Margot Clark’s MUD technique. (You can get her MUD at her website HERE)  For those who don’t know, MUD is a texture paste create by Margot that is fun and easy to use and dries hard as a rock. She has many videos and tutorials for this technique, and my pattern has LOADS of step-by-step photos to make the pretty flowers shown on the bunnies. Trust me – once you try it, you will be HOOKED!

The other pattern uses the same shapes with a totally different process. This pattern uses DecoArt products to create this beautiful and subtle crackled finish. I used the crackle over pretty spring and summer colors and finished each bunny with some simple stroke work and hot-fix rhinestones. The stroke work has a layer of DecoArt Glamour Dust Ultra Fine Glitter Paint over it and a pretty satin bow for a lovely mixture of textures and finishes. 

Both of these projects are fun and easy and the little bunnies will look wonderful as plant pokes, magnets, or even done in a beautiful wreath! (I made my mom-in-law a wreath with the bunnies and it is lovely!) 

PLUS – I am also offering the bunny surfaces at a discount. For a limited time, you can get this set of 10 bunnies for $1 off. (SLDPK211)  Couple this with the pattern and you have a pretty good deal. It is a great way to paint away these winter blues we are having. :)

So as you can see, I am back to being pretty busy again. On top of this, I have been working on some wonderful new things with some of my favorite designers and also for myself. I am back to the place where I can’t wait to get up each morning and start my day. It is a good  place to be. 

I think that is a long enough post for today. Little by little I will be returning to blogging more frequently again. Thanks to all of you who stuck by me through my down time and welcome to all my new followers. Feel free to share and comment on any blogs you wish. I love to hear your feedback. 

We had another 'blizzard’ pass through yesterday and had no mail service again. I am hope we have some today, as Monday is a holiday. I suppose the only annoyance with winter for me is that I can’t get my orders posted as quickly when they post office isn’t operating. But everyone is pretty patient and most do understand. It is out of my control. 

I wish you all a great Friday and fun weekend! I know I will have lots of fun, too. I can’t wait to show you what is in store!  

Have a great day!  Keep creating! 

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Maple and ebony jewe

Maple and ebony jewelry chest

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Shabby Chic Kitchen

Shabby Chic Kitchen Dispenser / Wax Paper, Foil, Plastic Wrap, Paper Towels / Hand Painted Distressed White

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Monday, February 13, 2017

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1820: Evolving

We all work for certain goals in our lives. Be it personal or professional, there always seems to be something to strive for and give out lives purpose. 

I began my own business many, many years ago. I was in my 20’s then and looking for a way to earn some extra income for my young family while doing something that I enjoyed. I had always loved ‘making things’ and thought that would be somewhat of a utopia for me. Justifying doing something that I love and being paid for it as well. It would be the perfect answer. 

Things didn’t come easy. There were many times that I made decisions that cost more money than I earned. There were no clear-cut rules as to how to succeed. Only trial and error, which sometimes came at a great cost. 

But eventually, I began to figure things out. One thing that I feel is the most important is the ability to be flexible. To change as things around us change. They do, you know. Whatever works for us one year or season comes with no set guarantee that it would be successful the next. That is because the world is also changing every single day. If I learned anything, it is that the quicker I allow myself to adapt to these changes, the more successful I will be. It keeps me on my toes and always in search of new ideas and products to offer our customers. It makes what I do exciting and fun and doesn’t allow for me to become stagnant. To me, it is part of the joy. 

With that said, I noticed that lately, our little business has taken on a somewhat different look. We are still offering scroll sawing and woodworking patterns (as a matter of fact, Keith has recently created some of his best designs to date!) but I have noticed that the painting and wood surface production portion has been taking up more and more of my own time.  It seems that my wood surfaces are catching on with decorative painters and I am just thrilled about that. It makes things rather fun. 

This doesn’t mean that I am not designing anymore. It only means that I am not able to focus solely on designing and need to allow myself time for production work. Since I really enjoy working in my shop, I think that is a good thing. It is nice that others appreciate the time and care I put into cutting the wood pieces I offer and I am happy to be able to do so. I remember back to when I began painting and finding good sources for wood was difficult. That was in part what introduced me to scroll sawing in the first place. So for most of my creative life, woodworking and painting have gone hand in hand. I am glad to see it continuing in that manner. 

Not only does it allow me the chance to work directly with customers, but I have been able to get to know some of my favorite designers and meet new and upcoming designers in the craft industry. I like this personal contact with people and to me, it makes the end products so much more meaningful. It is a wonderful way to do business. I have really been enjoying myself lately. 

I suppose the downside of that (if any) is that it will limit my own design time. But I think that as I settle into this new role in my company, I will be doing a bit better on that part. I have always been a believer of “quality over quantity” and I would rather put out fewer designs that are of a higher quality than more that are not. I believe that with a little dedication and some good time management, I will be able to make it work. In the meantime, Keith is always coming up with some of the nicest scroll saw designs on the market. I feel so fortunate to have such a talented partner. Without him, I am sure our business wouldn’t be in the place it is. I am so grateful. 

As always, I have several new ideas in the works. I have ideas in both the painting area and I am working on some new woodworking and scroll saw designs as well. I hope to be able to offer them soon and I will certainly keep blogging here when I have some new things to show you. 

I mention this all because the frequency of my blogs may decline a bit while I get things settled into this role. For over six years now I had blogged nearly every day. But lately, I have found that it didn’t seem appropriate to do so. If I spend a day working in the shop cutting out pieces, I don’t feel that is of much interest to you, my readers. I used to show piles of wood pieces from time to time so you would all see what I was up to, but I feel that lately, one pile looks much like the next as far as blogging is concerned and I once again feel that I want my posts here to be “quality over quantity” and post only when I have something that I feel will truly interest you to talk about. I think you all will agree. 

So things may be a bit spotty while I am settling in, but I hope when I do post, you all feel that the posts I offer are helpful and inspiring. I never want that to change. 

I spent the last week doing lots in my shop. I had an unusually large amount of wood orders and instead of my usual one to two days per week up there, I spent probably five. The quantity of work that I accomplished was good though and it gave me a good sense of satisfaction. I was even able to get ahead a bit and cut some pieces to have in stock. That is pretty cool. 

Keith was busy designing, as usual, and I have a couple of new things that will interest my scrolling readers. First off, he made this new plaque:

His SLDK706 Simplify Your Life plaque is a beautiful addition to Keith’s word art plaques. I think it will be something that many of you will enjoy, as we all need to take some time to take a breath and enjoy just 'living.’

Keith also created a great new offer for our customers:

This SPECIAL OFFER allows our customers to get all 20 of his Self-Framing, Leaf-Bordered wildlife patterns at half price. We hope that those of you who are looking to collect this handsome set of patterns will take advantage of it. It is a great opportunity to have the entire collection. 

Today I am going to be writing a newsletter and we will be updating a few things on the site. I am also finishing up my new scroll saw pattern and I need to take the photos and finish writing out the pattern for it. I think it will be something that scrollers of any level can enjoy creating and will have lots of uses. 

I appreciate you all who keep following us through our newsletters and my blog here. I realize that I have been spending a bit less time here and on social media than previously. However, as our business demands more of my time, I have had to adjust my schedule and do what is necessary to keep the business healthy and growing. I still enjoy hearing from you and seeing your projects. So many of you who began as customers or readers have become dear and valued friends. 

I hope you keep coming back to read as well as commenting and sharing my posts. My goal of sharing creativity has not changed and if anything, has strengthened over these past years. Without you all, I wouldn’t be able to achieve it. Thank you so much. 

I wish you all a wonderful Monday! Have fun today and do something that makes your heart happy! 

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Monday, February 6, 2017

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1819: Over the Hump

I think I finally made it to the ‘other side.’  By that, I mean that I feel as if I finally made it to the 'healthy’ side of life. After weeks (and I mean WEEKS) of fighting various symptoms a cold/flu virus, I woke up this morning with the feeling that I am getting better. I still have a few of the symptoms. But I definitely feel that something has changed for the better. There is much less tickling in my throat and little congestion and no more body aches. I am on the mend. 

I am not usually one to complain. We all get our bouts of illness from time to time. Usually, I just ride them out without mentioning them. But this one held on for so long that it was hard to ignore it. It really took a lot out of me. While there were only a couple of days that I really felt achy and 'sick’ it has been nagging me and sucking the energy right out of me. I am glad it is behind me. 

I spent most of the last week or so of my life either sleeping or working. (By “working” I mean cutting wood orders). For some reason, we had a fabulously busy January and started off February busy as well. Lots of orders came in for wood pieces and even though I had a cold, I knew I had to keep the production line moving in order to keep up. 

Thank goodness I love what I do.  

Even though I slept a bit later than normal, once I got up and moving (and the cold meds began kicking in) I headed to my upstairs shop. I know some of you probably think I was foolish to keep working when I wasn’t feeling 100% but I want you all to know that I did respect the signals my body sent me and when I got tired out, I stopped. But I wanted to use those moments when I felt OK to do something productive. Fortunately, I would get some bursts of energy where I could accomplish things. It kept everything moving. 

I am going to spend some time again here on my blog singing my praises to having my new Elipse Low Profile Dust mask. 

I think it was by far the best investment that I made in myself and my business in years. I seriously don’t know how I got along without one for these 20+ years of me doing wood cutting. After having one for the past two weeks, I noticed a huge difference in how I felt when working in the shop.  

For those of you who missed that blog post, I am again sharing the links here. I purchased my mask from Lee Valley Tools , but you can also get them at many hardware places such as Home Depot and even Amazon.  It is inexpensive, highly effective and very comfortable to wear.  While I may look like an alien when up in the shop … 

I truly forget that my equipment is on and I find that I can work for many hours using this mask. I smell absolutely nothing. I used to smell the MDF  dust immediately when I cut it. I also had no trouble keeping my lungs clear and gunk-free – even with my cold. I do admit when my nose would run from time to time I would forget that I had the mask on and try to wipe it with a kleenex, but that didn’t happen much. If it were troublesome, I then stopped for the day. 

I am very happy that I decided to try this mask out for the new year and recommend it to anyone who does woodworking. I got the 'regular’ sized mask, but my friend Leldon found he needed the larger one. 

It has removable filters that can be replaced and are rated for 60 days of “industrial use”. 

For me, that means that each set of filters will last a couple of months. They are well worth the expense. I can’t stress enough how important this change is for me. My friend  John from the Lumberjocks site shared an article on the toxicity of different wood dust. You can read the article here: (  (Again – what took me so long?)  So all in all, I had a pretty productive weekend. I am pretty much caught up on orders and will be packing them and shipping them out today and tomorrow. Then on to new things. 

Kieth also has been sick, but he has been working on a new design as well. He has a new Bible Verse plaque for the scrollers to cut (SLDK411 Ephesians 2:8)

The pattern is now available on our site. 

We also have some nice projects that you may like to cut for Valentine’s Day.  My SLD334 Sweetheart Candle Tray and Charms always makes a nice gift:

And Keith’s matching SLDK147 Heart Votive & Tealight Holder Tray pattern do as well. 

There is still plenty of time to make something nice for your loved ones. 

Hopefully, I will soon be putting this sickness behind us. Richard (our cat) is feeling better. So is Keith. I am going to see if I can get by without any cold medicine today which should help my productivity and get me back on track. It seems like for the past few weeks we have had one thing after another. But then, as I read on my social media page, most of you all have had some of this as well. It is just part of life. 

I hope to continue to recover from this cold and really get to work on some new and interesting things to blog about to you. I thank my many friends who have sent messages and who have kept me 'company’ during these times when I wasn’t 100%. I hope to do many inspiring things beginning very soon. 

So it is a good way to kick off the new week. I hope you all have a great week ahead of you as well. I see that “pink cloud” not too far away! 

Happy Monday to you all!

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