Friday, May 30, 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Inspirational. Watch the whole set if you have time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Office Build Stool II

Mortise layout on legs
Now that my mortising machine and tenon jig are all set up and working it was finally time to get back on this project.  The parts had been milled long ago (as in early April!) and have now been fully acclimated in my shop, so last night I laid out the mortises on the legs.  Today work on the build really got started.  Since pencil lines don't show up well on oak in the low light of my shop (translation: my eyes aren't as good as they once were) I used the idea of laying everything out on tape and then cutting the target areas out.  This did take extra time, but it worked pretty nice actually.  I should probably get some white pencil lead before the next project however.

Making oak chips
There's a reason you need to keep mortising chisels sharp: plunging cuts in oak is hard work!  If you've never used a mortising machine you might be surprised at how much force is required to cut a half inch square hole in solid oak.  My machine is heavy (93#) but I still felt a need to clamp it onto the workbench when it wanted to tip at times.  It made quick work of the 16 mortises on the legs however, and with a little cleanup in the bottom of each hole machine cuts like these are amazingly consistent.

Step 1 - Set the tenon width
I did the first part of the tenon work on the table saw by nibbling away at the edges of the pieces to set the tenon width.  This takes a little longer than cutting them on the jig but it gets this part out of the way right up front.

Step 2 - Make the cheek cuts with the tenon jig
Then I cut the tenon cheek cuts with the jig.  I started with real fat cuts on the first piece until the fit was just right and then cut all the rest.

Step 3 - Cut the shoulders on the table saw
The last step to complete the tenon was to cut the shoulders on the table saw.  You might note that I'm not staying with a more "standard" tenon size here.  Normally for 3/4 inch stock the tenon would be half that, or 3/8 inch thick.  But because four of the stretchers on this stool will likely have my feet resting on them a fair bit of time I decided to oversize them.  And rather than change the jig I used the same setting for the aprons.

What's a project without at least one oops?!  This is what I get for leaving my plans in the house.  I had everything milled and didn't discover a problem until the dry fit.  Ouch.  So four of the pieces had to be cut shorter and the tenons redone.  I think I wrote somewhere the other day that my plans usually go out the window after the first cut and then everything else becomes relative.  Well, this project will be no different I guess.  :)

Dry fit
Everything went together pretty well.  I've done a little fitting and tuning here and there, and a bit more is left, but overall I like how the base fit together.  In the photo above you can see the seat pieces sitting loosely on top.

It was nice having a long holiday weekend to get out in the shop like this for a change.  Time flies out there!

Foot rests/stretchers
I'll use this stool at my office stand up workstation.  As much as I like the new setup there are times during the day when I want to sit for a bit ... and this will keep me out of the old plush chair and up at the desk where I can continue working.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tenon Work

Jig in Test Mode

In Nov 2009 (I know because I wrote the date on the assembly instruction papers) I purchased the beautifully machined tenoning jig above. I'd have to go back in time to see what it was I was building then that made this purchase so "urgent", but whatever it was it turned out that I never actually put it together or used it. In fact, all this time the box has been in near pristine condition under my bench gathering dust. With the recent purchase of my mortising machine however it became clear that tenons to match only make sense, so it was finally time to break the assembly embargo and put this thing together. And doing so turned out to be a perfect rainy Saturday afternoon project.

I had a minor bit of trouble however. The miter slot runner was installed by the factory in a location that made it impossible to move the main fence all the way to my saw blade. So it needed to be relocated to an adjacent position.  Unfortunately the allen screws that secured it were frozen tight! I almost got to the point of drilling them out before finding a couple suggestions online about how to free bolts like this. One idea I would have never thought of involved using a torx head screw. But the method I eventually used (all ideas included penetrating oil and a good deal of hammering) was using a hex key in a ratchet wrench. When an allen screw is in really tight a little "L" shaped wrench isn't going to get it out. The extra leverage of a wrench however is much better. Once I got them out (without stripping no less!) it was a simple task to move the slot runner and proceed with setup.

Handle locations keep the operator safe

The key setup checks for any tenoning jig are to make sure that, (1) the main fence is perpendicular to the table saw table; (2) the support fence behind the workpiece is perpendicular to the table; and (3) the entire assembly moves parallel to the saw blade. For most typical, right angle joints, these relationships are critical to a perfect joint.  A custom jig like this also allows for more complicated angled cuts.

There are a variety of ways of creating a tenon. The simple way, and the way I've made them in the past, is to use a dado stack on the table saw. But this has a couple of disadvantages. Mainly it's quite slow, and if you have a lot of tenons to cut it gets a bit tiring. But a more important reason has to do with quality. Dado cuts can produce a rough surface on the cheek of the tenon and to get that cheek smooth means more time and work. Cutting tenon cheeks on the table saw however produces a smooth cheek with little need for added dressing. So using a dedicated jig increases both productivity and accuracy, and throws in high quality as a bonus.

Operator's view.  Shows the relocated miter slot runner.

Using a jig for tenon cuts also makes the process very safe. The handles guarantee that the user's hands will be well behind, above, and to the left of the cut and any flying pieces. And the supports and clamp ensure the work piece remains secure. Once the jig is set up to create a good fit numerous pieces can be prepared with confidence.

I have a fair bit of mortise and tenon work to do on my office work stool project, and on a printer table to follow that. Considering that I like making Shaker and Mission style furniture the new machine and this jig will probably see a lot of use in the future. Like anything in this craft there's a learning curve whenever you start doing things a new way.  These two new pieces of equipment are capable of producing superb results, and my tests today proved that I can get them.  There will be a few more things to be figured out yet, and probably a few mistakes.  But I'm looking forward to getting up and running.  Mistakes and all.  :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lynn Allen's Tips & Tricks 2015

It took Lynn a little longer than usual to get her annual tips and tricks booklet out this year, but it's every bit as good as always. So if you want to get the most out of your new version of AutoCAD, or just want to see what new features were included in the 2015 release, this publication is for you.

Go grab your copy of Lynn Allen's 2015 Tips & Tricks booklet now! It's free!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One life - Don't blow it

The key actor in these spots is David Bell, and I work with him every day. He runs the Airport Operations Center at Kona International Airport. For the time being we're advising him to keep his day job... tho' he's likely to pick up more of this stuff in the future. :)

Right now these spots are only airing in California and Florida. If you can find Kona Brew Pub beers where you live, get some. They're all very good!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Night Movie

Sci Fi this week. :)

It's 2150

There are all sorts of Aliens living throughout space.
Johnny is a Space Delivery Man who travels to different planets to deliver packages.
Johnny is lazy and his only desire is to sleep in his autopilot spaceship.
when the spaceship arrives at the destination, all he has to do is simply deliver the box.
However, it never goes as planned. Johnny encounters strange and bizarre planets
and always seems to cause trouble on his delivery route.

Will he be able to finish his mission without trouble?

JohnnyExpress from AlfredImageworks on Vimeo.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

I am part Swiss, which probably says enough about why this attracted me. Watch and enjoy.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Broccoli Chicken Bliss

The mix will reduce while cooking... but not this much.  The photo is shy one large bowl full. :)

Broccoli Chicken Bliss

There’s nothing fancy or original about this.  In fact, if you look on the interweb hard enough you’ll probably find it there under someone else’s name with a far better description.  But this is exactly what   I made for myself today because I ended up at the grocery earlier with an idea for a crock pot dinner but no actual ingredients list.  Doh!!!

It’s delicious in a bowl all by itself or could be eaten with other vegetables or rice.  No matter how you eat it you'll find it's just another example of how crock pot cooking is near idiot proof.  Just grab what you like, toss it in, cook 6-8 hrs, and enjoy later.


1-1/2 to 2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts or thighs as desired – chopped to bite sized pieces
1 lg onion - chopped
3-4 potatoes (red or white) - diced
3-4 stalks of broccoli – cut in small whole pieces
Garlic cloves – as much as you can stand
2 – 12 oz cans Cream of Broccoli soup
Salt & Pepper – to taste


Place soup in bottom of crock pot.  Add chopped chicken pieces and mix to blend with soup.  Add onion, potatoes, broccoli, garlic, salt & pepper to taste.  Cook on low for 8 hrs or high for 6 hrs.  Occasionally mix ingredients to get a good blend overall.

Provides 4-6 servings.   It will be as good the first day as it is on the third (if it lasts that long!).

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday Night Movies

Yes, movies... as in more than one. We can't resist a triple feature this week because some of it is just that good. And all of them have something to do with our modern age of aviation.

First up is some genuine Top Gun kind of stuff and what happens when you give a bunch of hot shot pilots some cool new GoPro cameras. This is your tax dollars at work, folks!

We'll follow that with footage that is just downright beautiful. Wolf Air is a company that shoots custom air-to-air footage for commercial or movie purposes. They use their own highly modified Wolfe Air LearJet 25 and Vectorvision camera system. Cameras used are the Red Epic and Arriflex Alexa. Pretty easy on the eyes stuff for sure.

Wolfe Air Reel from 3DF on Vimeo.

And what movie night would be complete without a blooper reel? Well, we have one of those too. And we'll stay on topic: aviation. There's only one thing to be said about this - it's NOT how you load an airplane! This happened at MIA in April 2014. Both employees of the trucking company were fired. Duh.