Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wisemen are Shaping Up

I spent the day yesterday working on the wisemen. I have started shaping on all 4 of the pieces and they are looking great. I decided to go ahead and complete the shaping on one of them, so that I could use it as a pattern for the others. The picture on the right is of the completed one, with final sanding and ready to receive it's first coat of varnish.

I came across some interesting problems with the red heart that I was not expecting as I was sanding. Three of the turbans have to be re-cut because they had some fracture lines in them that became exposed as I sanded them. I think that if I try to use them, I run the risk of the piece splitting in the future.

I also had one to the main body pieces with a hidden knot in it and there is now a hole near the bottom. I guess that I will be re-cutting that piece as well.

Tammy came into the shop while I was sanding, and just started laughing. I try to be very aware of the sawdust and precautions not to inhale to much of the nasty stuff. I also wear my eye protection of course, since the sander has a tendency to try and rip the workpiece out of my hand and throw it about the room. I also have started wearing hearing protection. I am not sure if I do it for the noise, or just to be able to hear my music or book on tape better. The result is an alien looking creature, covered in dust. Just remember that this is fun!

7 Pieces Cut On November 10, 200
44 Total Piece Cut

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Wise Men Project - Cutting Nearly Finished & Shaping has begun

Yesterday I had a great day in the shop. I went to the local Woodcraft store and bought some wood that I needed to work on my wise men and the eagle project. I decided to work on the wise men fist since I need to get these done by Christmas time.

One of the boards that I picked up at Woodcraft was a nicely grained piece of red heart. I had always used bloodwood in the past for my red, and it makes a really nice red. The problem is that it is like cutting bricks. Red heart on the other hand is fantastic and easy to work with. If I am pleased with the finish on the final product, I think that I will switch over to using red heart for all my reds. There are a lot of projects that I have wanted to do with red in them, but with the bloodwood I had always avoided them.

So I cut out a total of 16 pices yesterday, so the only pieces left to cut are the hands and the chest that carries the gold.

So I dove into shaping the pieces. It took about an hour and I had the first wiseman roughed out. It was a pretty straight forward shaping process and I am very pleaseed with the way it is turning out. I started with the yellow robe and thined it down using the table belt sander. I used this a reference point for the main body piece. I feel that the main body needs to come out and be rounded, like a belly, and the yellow robe needs to be lower.

Once I had the main body shaped then a worked on the sleaves and the collar. I made the sleaves taller than the main body to give it the feal that the wise man has his hands outstretched and is holding the chest of gold.

Finally, I finished up with the head and the turban, bringing them down to the right size and rounding the face equally on all sides to provide for a nice rounded shape. I have a couple of touch up areas to complete today on the shaping, and I need to figure out how I am going to make the chest for the gold.

Well, I am going to get in the shop, time is ticking. More later!

16 Pieces Cut on November 8, 2008
37 Pieces Since Bloging

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Monkey Face

Well I have not had a chance to make any sawdust in the last three days because of the work schedule. I am really looking forward to this weekend and having the opportunity to spend a bunch of time in the shop working on the latest intarsia pieces.

Thought I would share a photo with you today of an original design called Monkey Face. My dad has been drawing this monkey for years. In fact the story goes all the way back to his college days when he used to draw different pictures of this monkey and leave them on the windshield of moms car when they were dating.

I saw this monkey many times as a child. There was even one of those plates you can design yourself around the house that the boys would fight over to get at dinner time.

So when dad was here this summer I had him draw the money out and we created a pattern for this first original designed piece. The piece took a first place ribbon at the Spokane County fair for the category Intarsia Small.

The woods that I used in this piece were cedar, brazilian cedar, lacewood, and two woods that I need to research what they were.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Current Projects - Intarsia

I am currently working on two different Intarsia projects.

The first project is a Bald Eagle out of the Creative Woodworks and Crafts, January 2007 issue. I started this project bout a week ago and have several of the pieces already cut out. As of today, I need to finish the second talon and figure out what wood I am going to use for the feathers.

I have been trying to select and Eagle pattern that I could do for the office and thought that this would be a nice piece to hang up there.

The second project that I am working on currently is four of the same wise men for the annual Christmas nativity gifts that I make each year. This years wise man is the one how brings the chest of gold.

I have had a great weekend for cutting intarsia pieces.

21 Pieces cut this weekend - 21 Total Pieces cut since bloging.

Intarsia - Angel Fish

This past week I finished this intarsia angel fish.

The pattern for this fish was in the September 2008 issue of Creative Woodworks and Crafts. It was designed by Bruce Worthington as a way to look at variations on cutting a pattern. The article shows how you can use a pattern to make segmentation, a domestic wood intarsia piece or an exotic wood intarsia piece.

The pattern is a good pattern to learn on with just a couple of tricky areas. The eye is probably the hardest cuts in this project. I find that when I cut tight circles like this that it is very difficult to keep the blade perfectly at 90 degrees, especially in a hard wood like the canary wood here. There for when I cut the darker wood inside the piece is also tapered to get a snug hit into the eye, and actually does not go all the way through the piece. I insert it into the eye hole until it is tight around the edges and then cut it off flush and sand it.

The other word of warning that I would make about this project is be very careful when you are sanding the back fin. The cuts into the fin make it very fragile and the pieces will break off easily if you are not careful.

Finally, I had one more lesson learned on this project. I tried gluing my pieces together using thick CA glue (super glue) with the thought that the thick stuff would allow enough working time to manipulate the pieces. Well I was wrong. I ended up with couple of gaps on this piece that were not there on final fitting because the glue dried to quickly for my assembly and I could not snug them up as tight as I had hoped.

My Newest Toy!

"The difference between a man and a boy is the price of his toys!"

This is my latest tool. My old scroll saw was my very first power tool. It had served 13 great years of service and was a very good saw (it was a Delta). I had been doing more and more work with it and wishing that I had some of the new features and less vibration.

Woodcraft was having a sale last month on this DeWalt Scrollsaw, which basically gave you the light and the work stand at no additional cost to the saw. Well that was great timing as my birthday was coming up the first part of November and my very generous family got this new saw for me.

I really like this saw because it has an easy blade release feature that makes it easy insert the blade into projects. It has a well controlled variable speed feature that my old saw did not have, and the motor is very smooth and much smaller so the vibrations of the saw table are minimalized.

I am looking forward to making some great projects with this saw and you will be sure to see them here.

Welcome to A Cut Above - Woodworking

This is my latest blog project to discuss, share ideas, and talk about woodworking. I have had woodworking as a hobby for the last 15 years. It all started when a very good friend of mine gave me a wedding present. His present was to teach me how to make a oak coffee table.

After the honeymoon and getting settled into our new life together we began to build our first piece of furniture. We used a Shopsmith for all our work and after a couple of days up in the shop we had a very solid, beautiful, new coffee table.

This was the first time that I had really been able to make anything significant out of wood. I had a single semester in wood class back in Jr. High School where I made a little note dispenser, but this was the first really usable piece.

Since then I have made multiple pieces of furniture, and a very wide range of other items that I have given away as gifts. I am currently very involved in a form of wood art called Intarsia, I am sure that I will write about this profusely in the future. I also have been doing a number of other scroll saw projects lately including Christmas ornaments, and other decorative items.

I hope that you will join me as I move forward no my woodworking journey and capture my lessons learned and ideas here on the blog. If you see something you like, let me know and I can get you more information about the project.

Now lets go make some sawdust!