Stones River Woodworkers Club Murfreesboro, TN

Jay’s Ramblings

July 2014

Since we had no meeting in June, I didn’t write a Ramblings but here it is July so I’m off and running but it may be more of a "Rant" than a Ramblings. Long ago I noticed that the woodworking catalogs continually offer something "new" --- and --- with every new item I find that they invariably change all the sizing so that you will need to buy their new "special accessories" because all of your previously purchased "special accessories" are the wrong size. I generally can work around these problems but I recently purchased from Penn State a one handed push button salt/pepper mill because the price was OK and I was curious how they converted a vertical push-button motion to rotate a mill. WOW, they don’t!! They just use the vertical motion of the center post to "grate" the salt or pepper rather than mill it.

Since I have a pretty good assortment of Forstner bits including Penn States 1 1/16" and have adequate measuring devices to help me size a cylinder I didn’t order all of the bits and mandrels which would have upped the price from the $5.95 for the basic kit to over $30. In this project you are required to drill a 1 1/16" hole deeper than the bit can accomplish so an extender is required --- BUT --- I found that only Penn States 1 1/16" bit has a nonstandard shank greater than 3/8". Every other Forstner bit I own has a 3/8" shank. Time to re-engineer this first and last time purchased kit. I have a 1 1/8" Forstner bit that is extra long so I used it and made the button plunger over sized to fit. How did I do it without their "special sizing mandrel" -- I did it the old fashioned way - I measured it and made it the required size.

Speaking of "New things", a flyer from WoodCraft showed a new Garlic press several months ago that intrigued me. Being a natural born procrastinator, I learned from David that WoodCraft had taken the item off the market due to some failures so I assumed that the weak point was the woosey pins that the parts pivoted around so I replaced them with 3/16" drill rod and peened the ends over a small washer. While making wood handles and fitting them to the press, one of the 3/8" diameter handle studs broke off. This stud was cast as an integral part of the press but contained voids in the casting and therefore was very weak and failed. I drilled out the casting and tapped the hole to fit some 5/16" all-thread, epoxied it in and made the handles. It’s quite possible that there are other flaws that Nance will discover when she uses it for the first time but that’s still in the realm of the unknown.

The main thing about this article is to give a "Well done" to WoodCraft for recognizing the problem and removing the product from the marketplace until a reliable product is available. Thanks for the heads-up David, I couldn’t ask for more.

We live and work in a whole new world than our fore-fathers did. While explaining to my son-in-law how the skew will screw you to the wall when given half a chance. The dreaded spiral being the point referred to - hence screwed, it dawned on me that we all have too many "special" tools. I probably own 30 lathe tools but years ago a production wood turner might have 6 or 7 and could do all the cuts we make better and quicker, therefore he could make a skew walk and talk. Re-engineering to me can be a double-edged sword or to be blunt -- resizing the project to fit the particular circumstances I require or how I can make the project with the tools that I own. Alf Sharp suggested that using the power tools that we own or have access to is a good start but when you don’t have access to or own every power tool you need or when set-up time for the power tool is excessive then having the skill to complete the job with simple hand tools is the way to go. I’m kind of obtuse about these things and will work twice as hard to get where I’m going if I can get around the easy way someone is trying to "sell" me or the route everyone else has taken. I am well aware of the fact that there are an infinite number of ways to skin a cat or build a project so when the "expert" says "this is the only way to do it" I immediately look for another way. It’s my perverse attitude and I’ve lived with it for 75 years so don’t expect any changes in the near future. I just have to remind myself that there was some fine woodworking being done hundreds of years ago and with much more primitive tools. These guys didn’t go on line to their WoodCraft store and order a set of plans; they sat down and figured it out. We’re "probably smarter" but we’re also lazier.

Dayton Brown asked me if I had any experience making baby rattles and while I had none, he got me to thinking. I think that making baby rattles or honey dippers were considered beginner learning projects and a handle with some captive rings on it usually sufficed but now the government has numerous rules for the making of kid’s toys. Most web sites also include the "Do’s and Don’ts" so I went with a miniature dumbbell with steel B-B’s in each end ball. It makes some noise and unless the kid has squirrel teeth they shouldn’t be able to chew through the wood and eat the B-B’s. It’s kind of like two Christmas ornaments with a handle between them rather than finials. I tried dried beans and rice but settled on the B-B’s. I didn’t want it to be too loud less it distracts the kid from his video games.