Stones River Woodworkers Club Murfreesboro, TN

Jay’s Ramblings

November 2015

I’m in the process of making a Spice Rack for a wedding gift to my granddaughter in the near future. Part of the plans that appealed to me was the use of some spice bottles available from Lee Valley. Some years ago, I purchased several of these bottles and keep various sharpening abrasives in them so I was familiar with them and the article included the source and part number so I ordered some from Lee Valley. The plans called for 1 3/4” holes for the bottles and I found that I didn’t have a Forstner bit that size. Just as a double check, I measured one of the new bottles and found it would require a 2” hole. Once again I had been “had” by our great American Corporation system. While the part number remains the same, they are free to ship you whatever product Asia has to offer at the time! I compared the new bottles with my old bottles and the new bottles are larger. My first thought was that Wood Magazine had screwed up and the dimensions were wrong, but Lee Valley was the guilty one. Based on my experiences, in the future I will order and have on hand all components required prior to starting any project.

Usually I only make one-offs so it is rare for me to build more than one at a time. I also usually cut out the pieces as required. In the case of the spice rack, I’m building two and I went ahead and cut out all to the pieces in advance in order to reduce the number of equipment setups. Many rabbits and dado’s were the same so it simplified the building. I just hope they all fit together as intended.

Years ago, the club milled a number of trees at the battleground site that were damaged in the 2009 tornado. I took some slabs of Elm and stickered them in my attic for about 5 years. I understand that Elm can really distort and for that reason a lot of woodworkers shy away from it. I was fortunate and I had very little distortion so with a little jointing, planeing and sawing, I had some 1/2” stock for my projects. Now Elm is fairly hard, and it’s Janko number indicates that Elm is very close to Ash and Oak in hardness so to drill 24 2” holes in 1/2” thick Elm you can easily burn up a Fostner bit which I had already done to mine and I couldn’t re-sharpen it and get it to cut the Elm. I went over to Woodcraft in Franklin (Nashville) intending to purchase 2 Wood River bits for $13 ea. But they only had one and after discussing my situation with David Sapp, he suggested that a much more expensive, $55 Boremax bit would cut my 24 holes with no problem, which it did. Now my solution to tear-out on the backside was to mark the hole center, drill all the way through with a 1/16” bit, and from the backside start my 2” hole with the new Forstner bit, then finish the hole from the front. This worked for the tear out but the Fostner bit doesn’t always drill true so on some holes I found I had a minute step within the holes. This was removed with a drum sander in my drill press.

The club elected to hold a pen-turning workshop in October and I hosted it at my house. We had no idea on the number of participants so Nancy got 4 dozen donuts and borrowed a 12-cup coffee maker so we could have both hi-test and de-caf available. We had 4 people show up so our grand kids got to pig out on the donuts. Ku-du’s to Mike Zinser who glued the tubes in about 50 sets of blanks as well as bringing his lathe and instructing the whole workshop.

A couple of days prior to the workshop, Howard Vaughn call me to let me know that he was having some Yew “bushes” removed and would I be interested in any of the wood. Going back several years, Howard came to a meeting with a piece of wood to give away and I took it. It had no bark and resembled Crepe Myrtle so I assumed that was what it was. “WRONG” It was Yew and every cubic inch had so much figure that I didn’t throw away any scraps but tried to think of smaller and smaller projects to make out of it. It changed my thinking from what’s the biggest thing you can make from a given piece of wood to how can I utilize every scrap of it. I jumped at the chance to get some more even though I’m too old to add to my wood stock on hand. The problem I’m now facing is that the original wood had been in the back of Harold’s car for over a year and was completely dry but my newly acquired supply was cut down the day I got it and is very wet and I don’t have the patience I need to let it dry. I want to make some pens and other small items so I’m trying to short cut the process. Shrub limbs aren’t square so my drilling jigs for pen blanks didn’t work. I cut a limb large enough that the pen would be from the heartwood into 5” lengths, cause limbs tend not to grow straight, I Put a dimple in the center of the heartwood at each end and turned it between centers using a 1” Stub drive and my tail piece live center. I stopped at about 1” diameter so I could chuck one end in my Barracuda 3 chuck and using a Jacob's chuck in the tail stock and a 7 mm bit I drilled my tube hole. I chose Gorilla’s fast drying polyurethane glue since Gorilla advertises it for pens and moisture and this wood kick off polyurethane glue has plenty. After the glue set up I use my pen mandrel to further reduce the blank size but didn’t turn it all the way to final size, kind of like twice turning a bowl. Now I’ll throw all the blanks in a bowl and weigh them. When they stop lousing weight I’ll finish turning them. By reducing the amount of wood in each blank, they should dry faster.

At the meeting, Glen Emery informed us that here in town we have an operation that takes in kids that don’t have a home life due to the parents problems and not their own. I don’t think it’s an official orphanage but more like a shelter. These kids are probably going to come up short this Christmas so as a club, it is hoped that something on the order of 22 gifts can be made by our members. I went on line looking for toy plans and found that most sites that advertise “free” plans usually are wanting something in return - usually your e-mail address. I found one site that while he didn’t have sets of plans available, he had some good ideas to share and video’s to show you how he made them. I particularly liked his marble Tic-Tac-Toe game board. It’s simple to construct but some dimensions were lacking. I never found the size of the marbles he used and so I drew my own conclusion and ordered the marbles and on second thought that may come back to bite me. It did, the 7/8” or 22 mm marbles that I ordered are too large for in the game board storage so I had to go to 18 mm marbles. I ordered them from Moon Marbles 600 East Front Street, Bonner Springs, Kansas 1-888-410-0680 and I dealt with Lynda Sproules. The quality was excellent. The service was really great and she was most gracious when it came to returning the larger marbles. If you ever build any games that require marbles, I recommend you purchase them from Moon Marbles. To drill the storage holes in the side of the game block I had to use an extension for my Forstner bit. I have a 6” extension but found that it was bent and the bit head had a lot of wobble, I straightened it as best I could but it still had some wobble so since I was making up a Penn State order, I included a 3” extension even though it meant putting the games on hold until the order arrived. When it came the end of the box had been repaired with an undue amount of tape and half of the order was missing. Sure enough the 3” extension was one of the missing items. Penn State was most expedient in shipping the missing items but I am now behind in my production. When drilling the 9 holes, one in each square of the grid, for the marbles to rest in, I tried a regular twist bit, a Brad Point bit and a 5/8” Forstner bit. Only the Forstner bit left a clean edge but it also left a flat bottom with a dimple in the center. I found an old 5/8” bit with a 1/2” shank and used it to put a round bottom in each hole. A problem arose when the round bottom broke into the marble storage hole drilled in the side. I had to move the 7/8” storage holes off center to gain additional clearance. Fortunately I liked the design so much, I am making extra’s for friends and family so last minute design changes have been incorporated as I proceed. I chose not to apply any finish on the kid’s toy but used wipe on Poly on the rest. Well it’s time to get this sent to Marv so until next time...

Have a good one,