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October 30, 2007

Fun Woodworking Project: Bandsaw Puzzle Cubes

Bandsaw Puzzle CubeHow's that scrap pile in the corner of the shop coming along? Getting any smaller? Here's one way to put some of your cherished chunks of thick stock to good use, producing casual gifts of irresistible appeal to young and old alike. Kids under ten can reassemble these puzzles in 30 seconds, grown-ups in only three or four minutes if they're sharp.

Make sure your bandsaw blade is square to the table, both left & right and fore & aft. The larger the puzzle cube, the less error you can get away with. Kerf width forgives some inaccuracy, but not much.

Start off by milling up a cube -- any size will do, but bigger is better: 3" x 3" or 4" x 4" makes a good puzzle blank. Put a 1/8" or 1/16" blade on your bandsaw, and don't think about any claims you might have seen that you can't cut thick stock with a very narrow blade. Cool Blocks lateral guides are essential for 1/16"s and mighty useful for 1/8" blades, too.

Orient the cube so you'll start cutting across the grain, and cut a randomly invented jigsaw puzzle pattern across the block. Make a fairly simple pattern. Push gently, using just your fingertips.

Let the saw take its time working through the stock, so the blade stays vertical and your curves are consistent throughout. You'll notice that sawing with the grain is much slower than across it; be ready for significant changes in speed and back pressure as you turn the block.

After completing the cut, slide the two pieces apart, blow out the dust and reassemble. Wrap the block with masking tape or duct tape to hold it together firmly. Now turn the block so you're sawing into an uncut face, and repeat the process of cutting a jigsaw pattern. Remember not to push too hard, especially if you're using a 1/16" blade! When you finish the cut, remove the tape and disassemble the puzzle. A few odd bits of wood may fall loose if your two patterns intersected to cut them free; no matter. Blow all the dust off and try putting your cube back together. Got it?

Optional enhancements include sanding all the corners round, and staining or painting each piece a different color. Come to think of it, you could saw wavy curves into every face of the cube, but that would be simply too diabolical, wouldn't it?

Visit Highland Woodworking's Library for more pictures and a printable pdf of this project idea.

October 28, 2007

The New Complete Guide to the Band Saw by Mark Duginske

203681.jpgIn the world of small shop woodworking, Mark Duginske is the unquestioned maharishi of the bandsaw. His Band Saw Handbook has been a best seller here since anyone can remember. Mark's new book is completely updated with color pictures and with information on today's bandsaws. For instance, he compares newer steel frame saws to conventional cast iron ones. As usual, he debunks myths, dispels rumors and generally gives you the straight dope on issues such as after market accessories, blade selection, saw tuning and techniques. The book also includes chapters on resawing, jigs, joinery and projects. Of particular interest is Mark's take on the dubious value of saw blade tension meters. As with all of Mark's books and videos, this is an excellent resource that you'll refer to often.

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.

October 25, 2007

Auriou Closes after 151 years


As has been reported on some other blogs, French rasp-maker Auriou has ceased operation after 151 years. Unfortunately, Michel Auriou was unable to resolve a labor dispute and has chosen to close.

You can see the statement from Michel Auriou here.


New Bodger Turning Tools Are Here!


Here at Highland Woodworking, we are very excited to announce the arrival of our exclusive new Bodger-brand turning tools.

Whether you are a beginning woodturner or a seasoned pro, our new Bodger turning tools offer a very affordable, high-quality alternative to British turning tools. Made from high-speed steel, these rugged tools are quite tough with a Rockwell hardness of Rc 60. We have found them to be ideal for use by students in our turning classes, and we guarantee they will ably serve the needs of any woodturner who wants exceptional performance at a very affordable cost.

In our tests, we found them equal in performance to today's premium British tools made of standard high-speed steel. All Bodger turning tools come with full-sized hardwood handles, metal ferrules and good edge geometry.

Check Out Our New BODGER Turning Tools

And just in case you were wondering, bodger is the traditional name given to rural woodturners who specialized in making practical everyday items likes bowls, chairs and kitchen utensils.


October 18, 2007

Georgia Association of Woodturner's Meeting October 2007

The Georgia Association of Woodturner's meets in our Seminar Room tonight at 6:30pm. They are open to visitors, so come by and check it out. Alan Batty will be demonstrating.


Alan has a lifetime of turning experience, both as a teacher and a production turner steeped in the traditions of the English woodturning trade.

Our store is open until 8:00pm on Thursdays so you can do some shopping, too.