Archive for the ‘Woodworking’ Category

the Deck Chair

I have another small project from an exercise buddy!  We workout quite a bit and often follow-up those workouts with drinks on his deck.  He lives on a lake with a great view from his upstairs deck.  There are several nice deck chairs that as I understand were assembled as a family project with each of his young children getting to “name” a chair.  Well one of those chairs, being outside and exposed to the weather, had some typical wood decay and needed repairing.

My first thought was to take it apart, seeing as it was assembled with hex nut bolts.  I would then replace the rotted tendon with new material.  But even after removing a few bolts, those joints were weathered shut and there would be no easy disassembling of this chair….on to plan B.



Due to the significant amount of wood rot, plan B was to insert two 6 inch lag screw from the back side of the seat support – directly into the chair seat rail.


These are actually lag bolts/construction screws used to attached deck ledger boards.  They have self tapping “drill-less” threading to better  grab the wood.  They needed to be self tapping because I don’t own a drill bit six inches long.   And without a pilot hole, a regular lag bolt would likely split the wood.

With two of these installed I felt comfortable that the chair was fixed and it would have no problem supporting even the largest individuals.  However I knew that with just a little more repair work  I could make it stronger than when it was new.


So with some leftover IPE hardwood (pronounced “epay”) from another project I cut a small piece of wood that would be”sistered” to the original chair support with three outdoor rated deck screws.  (IPE is a fantastic outdoor wood. It’s very hard and mostly impervious to the weather, but it’s a bit tough to woodwork with being harder than Teak) and then another screw would be inserted from the back of the chair near the lag bolts.  This piece would in effect transfer some of the chairs’ support load to the back via second piece of the original chair platform, thereby taking some of the load off the lag bolts.


The end result is that the joint appears to be as strong as ever.  It doesn’t look real pretty but it’s certainly functional.  I think I could jump on the joint and it would not break.  I’ll return it back to its home this afternoon and personally use it to enjoy a post run and swim beverage.  Cheers!


the Tomato Box

We had a couple of extra tomato potted plants this year.  With nowhere specific to put the pots, they were just sitting on the deck.  That is until a slight wind came along and then they were sitting on their side, dirt everywhere and more importantly, damaged tomatoes.

We’ll I had some left over pieces of Trex decking that I had used on my Deck 2010 project.   I thought that material would make a nice, simple holder to keep the plants from toppling over.  And match the deck to boot!

Plants without a home!

Plants without a home!



After taking a few measurements of the two pots, spaced far enough apart to allow for growth and sunlight,  I cut two 36 inch and four 10 inch pieces of the scrap decking.  The four short boards were used to create a separate pot “box” at each end.

IMG_1145I drilled pilot holes at each of the screw locations.  Pilot holes are not required when setting screws in Trex but it does make the driving of the decking screws much easier.  Top and bottom holes at each connection point.   And I again used my Makita impact driver to set the screws.  The square drive screws were also left over from the Trex deck project.  So after only about 20 minutes worth of effort and $0, we have a nice boxed stand to keep the pots from blowing over.


the Walnut Plate

I can’t really say where some of my projects are born but every once in a while a project just happens.  This is the case with the plate I recently made.  I was cleaning up the shop and was just about ready to toss a 2 inch thick piece of walnut into the trash when the idea for a plate developed.  The aforementioned piece of walnut had a rather large crack down the middle, but it didn’t go already through to the bottom. It was a bit narrow for a plate so I gave the stock a few passes through surface planner to square the edges before gluing on two pieces of scrap hard maple.  This would create a blank turning stock of just under 12 inches.  A perfect size for my mini lathe.

I was hoping that the crack would disappear as the blank was turned; thinning the stock as  necessary to “find”  the plate that I knew was hiding inside this former scrap.  In this picture to the left is the blank stock.  The bulk of the material gets trimmed off using the band saw.  And the final product is presented in the right side of the picture.  That’s why woodworking can be so rewarding.  What was a possible piece of firewood, becomes a nice household display item.



the Underburg Server

A good buddy of mine is a big fan of UnderburgUnderberg is a digestif bitter produced in Germany, made of aromatic herbs from 43 countries. The exact number and identity of the herbs remain a well-guarded secret.  Well it’s certainly an acquired taste.  After a nice swim workout its not so bad (actually pretty good), after running a marathon, not so much.

My friend is a big fan and as been collecting the bottle caps for as long as I’ve know him.  Underburg has some type of program where your turn in a certain number of caps in exchange for various branded products.  He’s was always fumbling around with the little bottles so I thought I’d grab a piece of scrap wood from the shop and turn him a serving tray and cap holder.  What you see below is the end result of about 90 minutes worth of work.  The round indentation in the middle is for the post drink bottle cap storage.


the Walnut Face

the Wife and I were at a local art fair over the weekend and I saw an item for sale by one of the vendors that caught my eye.  Here is a picture:


Unknown artist!

I found it interesting because it was almost the exact same size and shape as a piece of walnut I’ve had lying around my shop for a few years.  I had cut the slab of wood you see below out of a large walnut log.  (The log was dropped off at my house by a landscaper that knew I had an interest in woodworking.) During the drying process, the slap had twisted/warped a bit more than I would have liked, so I ended up not using it right away.  Well I thought that this would be a perfect project blank to try to duplicate the mask I saw at the art fair.


All though I’ve been woodworking as long as I can remember, I had never attempted any type of wood carving before.  This would be a first.  I didn’t really have any carving specific tools but I do own a huge variety of woodworking tools collected from over 30 years as a woodworking hobbyist.  As it says on my header “how hard could it be.”

IMG_0416I wish I had taken more pictures of the carving progress but this is the only one.  I drew a rough outline of what wood I wanted to remove, and used everything from a Dremel Tool to a belt sander.  It took about 4 hours work and I think it ended up a pretty nice piece.  I feel a bit guilty for stealing the artist’s idea and really wish I had their name to reference here for proper credit.  If you recognize the work of the artist in the first picture, please let me know.  How do you think he turned out?


the Coin Display

This was a woodworking project that I was actually honored to make for an Army doctor friend of mine.  She has served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (thank you for your service EB!)   For various reasons and circumstances, army service members exchange honor coins like those you will see in the following pictures.  My friend asked me to make her some type of display unit to showcase her coins.  Knowing that her unit’s nickname is the “rakkasans” with their unit’s symbol presented below,  I developed an idea that would be a challenging project with an interesting visual result.  I decided to create a display stand with an embedded rakkason symbol, mind you the rakkasan symbol is not an inlay on each end, it’s actually is part of the structure.toriWhat I had to do was create this in 4 different layers!   But the challenging aspect was knowing that each layer would need to be thickness planed smooth for gluing, so it would need to be designed thicker to start with.  (A thickness planer  removes a small amount of surface material thereby reducing it’s thickness, and if you have sharp planer blades, a perfect gluing surface).

I printed out an enlarged version of the rakkasan symbol you see above.  It was further divided into four parts: the top horizontal section, mid section supports, bottom horizontal section and lower supporting legs.  Each of the layered pieces were cut and glued into a single wide flat layer.  After drying overnight, each layer was again machined smooth in the planer and prepare for gluing.  This was the hardest part of the process.  The darker rakkason symbol pieces (made of Brazilian Cherry) did not line up perfectly with the ones above and below, but it came out pretty close.   The other wood material is Hard Maple.


Setup for gluing.


Out of the clamps and ready for more work (I made two at the same time; one for her work and home.

The next step was to use a hand held router to round the top edges as well as cut a slot for the coins to rest in.


At this point and other than the application of a protective finish coat, my original plan was finished.  But I did not like how it looked, it didn’t seem balanced.  A bit to top-heavy.  So after thinking a bit about how it looked, I knew I needed to do something.  As it was, as your eye moves across the desk it would visually see a “wall” before seeing the coins, not a good design.  I decided to add a small front shelve.  Not only would this ease the transition from the bottom to the top of the display, it would add 50% more display capacity.  Here is the result:


Much better, right?

End grain closeup

End grain closeup


A finish coat of simple mineral oil was applied and I was finished.  This was definitely one of my most rewarding woodworking projects.  A unique one of a kind design; a meaningful gift for an equally unique doctor/soldier/friend who proudly served our country.

the Cedar Bowl

A neighbor of mine that was cutting down a cedar tree  and ended up dropping off the cut off tree stump at my house last weekend.  Knowing that I’m always looking for unusual projects, he thought that I might be able to use this chuck of wood he originally was going to toss in his wood pile.  Sometimes while pondering projects, I get an immediate idea of what I want to do and at other times, it’s takes a while before the concept starts.  In this case, in an instant I knew I wanted to try to push the capacity of my Jet mini lathe and make a bowl from this “thing”.


The raw wood! One person’s firewood is another s bowl!

The first step in the process of turning this chuck of wood into a bowl was deciding which end of the stump would be the bowl opening and which the bottom.  In this case I decided to make the bowl upside down within the wood and have the bowl opening from the bottom of the stump.

I then placed the stump on my band saw to trim it as round as possible before mounting it on the lathe.  My mini lathe has a 12 inch capacity so I tried to make the band-saw cut just under that dimension.   You then make a best guess at where the centers are on each end of what now is becoming a raw bowl “blank.”

This was quickly figured out and mounted on the lathe.  Raw blanks like this can cause some serious wobble when first mounted on the lathe.  No matter how good the guess was as to the center of each end, your still going to have a large mass of wood spinning off-center so the premounting band-saw cut is critical to be as round as possible.  It’s also best practice, and if you have a variable speed lathe,  to reduce your lathe’s rpm’s as much as possible.  My lathe can spin as slow as 500 rpm, so that is where I started.

The makings of a bowl

The makings of a bowl

After a few minutes of careful use of a large bowl gauge cutting tool, you can see the bowl blank starting to round as I make progress in removing the high spots.


This project ended up taking about 2 hours to complete.  This is actually the first bowl I had turned using cedar and it does have some interesting colored grain patterns.  The finished bowl is not one of my favorites but the Wife really likes it so it’s here to stay and inside the home,  proudly on display

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