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December 26, 2009

Thomas Lie-Nielsen to Teach Class at Highland Jan. 24, 2010

Lie-Nielsen We are delighted to announce that Thomas Lie-Nielsen, founder and owner of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks and maker of the finest woodworking hand planes made in America, will be in Atlanta to teach a class at Highland Woodworking on Sunday, January 24, 2010.

Thomas will also be giving free hand plane and hand tool demonstrations throughout the day at our Winter One Day Sale on Saturday, January 23.

In his class on Sunday, January 24, entitled "Sharpening and Using Hand Planes," he will be teaching students how to properly sharpen plane irons and other edge tools, tune and adjust a plane to achieve optimum performance, and practice developing the skills needed to use hand planes in a woodworking shop. Students are invited to bring their own hand planes (any brand: Record, Stanley, Anant, ECE, Clifton, etc. and of course Lie-Nielsen) and their own sharpening stones to use in the class. Thomas and his assistant will provide detailed instruction as well as one-on-one coaching so each student who attends will come away able to remove wispy-thin shavings that leave exquisitely smooth surfaces, and much more.

Lie-NielsenHe will also personally engrave his autograph on your Lie-Nielsen plane that you may already own or purchase during the weekend sale.

The hands-on class on Sunday is limited to 16 students, so it is important to register early to ensure getting a space for yourself. CLICK HERE for info on how to sign up for the class. You may also call 800-241-6748.

For those attending the free hand plane and hand tool demonstrations at the One Day Sale on Saturday, no advance registration is necessary.

December 21, 2009

Wood for Bowl Turning

Do you think you will ever have enough wood? I intend to have way too much wood left over when I stop working. There are several sources for wood and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Right now let's talk about wood for turning bowls.

The first place you might try is Dave and Sandy's house and get some of what is left of that cherry tree they cut down last week. They are two of my church friends and they took down a large cherry tree next to their driveway. I went by with my chainsaw and chopped out some wet pieces of beautiful native cherry and lugged it home. I dropped it by the back door of the shop and put the bark side up so it could dry for a few weeks. It has some beautiful crotch wood but lots of soft sap wood and I can't wait to get it turned out.

The next step up is a raw wood dealer. I have a dealer I use on a regular basis that used to be a tree surgeon and he has a warehouse full to the ceiling with wood and wood blanks. The wood spills out into the parking lot and when you go to his place, he's got a better chain saw than you do and you better bring your pickup truck.

bowl turning woodLast week I bought several bowl blanks from the High. Highland sells woodturning blanks which are either eight inches or ten inches in diameter and three or four inches thick. They are coated in a waxy preservative to keep them from drying out and they are already made round, something which Dave and Sandy will not do for you. Blanks are cherry, pecan, walnut, sycamore and maple amongst others and range in price from about $15 upwards to $30 or so. They are round and flat and ready to turn, though they are green wood and will need to be dried after they are roughed out. Sometimes a flat round piece ready to turn is a real pleasure compared to a piece of a green stump and a chain saw. Unfortunately they don't mail order the wood. You have to drop by the store and browse through the blanks in stock to find the ones you want to buy.

bowl turning wood bowl turning wood Now the ultimate wood for turning at Highland Woodworking is outside in the enclosed space next to their parking lot, and you have to go to the store to shop for these also. If you look to the left just before you enter the store's side door, there is a wonderful collection of huge cherry and walnut burls and crotches back in the corner. At first glance it looks like some kind of wood graveyard, but don't let appearances fool you -- there are diamonds in the rough here. One of these days if I keep working and getting better at my craft, I will buy one of those wonderful burls. I will study it for weeks looking for that one make or break cleavage plane. I will take a thin steel wedge and place it carefully on the burl and I will probably take it away several times before very carefully and firmly whacking it with a little mallet while holding my breath. Course I may just cut it carefully with my chain saw (while holding my breath). The result will likely be wonderful.

Wood is everywhere and if you pay attention, you can have plenty of it.
bowl turning wood
bowl turning wood

December 12, 2009

Gingerbread House

housemidway.jpgLet's do something different this year. Aren't you tired of all that sawdust and building those projects out of cheap plywood and making stuff that everybody wows over when you give it to them at Christmas and then you never see it when you go to their house? I'm like most of you - I build stuff all the time including houses with my local Habitat Chapter. But the kids and grandkids will remember this project the rest of their lives.

We're going to build a Gingerbread House. Trust me, it's easier then you think and I will guide you through the process complete with pictures. You will need to set aside portions of about three days because if you do it all at once, you will get tired of it and mess it up. Course if you mess it up, have it for dessert, one of the other joys of working with this stuff. OK, here we go.

Make up a cardboard pattern for all the pieces. You will need a pattern for the sides 9 ½ by 5 inches. You need a pattern for the ends, 6 inches wide and the side of the end is 5 inches to match the side. The gable goes up another 2 inches to the peak. That makes an 8 pitch if I calculate correctly on my handy construction calculator. (Pitch is 33.69 degrees - I love that calculator.). Uncomfortable to stand on an 8 pitch, but if you put the house on the kitchen table and sit in a chair, you will be fine. Also make a pattern for a chimney. Cut a notch in the bottom of the chimney ends (8 pitch, remember) and make it about 2 ½ inches tall and then make sides for the chimney tall enough to reach the roof, about 3 inches. Save the pattern for next year.

You will need a recipe for gingerbread. All the magazines at the grocery will have recipes this time of the year. Roll it out (using that rolling pin you made for your wife last year) fairly thin, just under an eighth of an inch, and then cook it pretty hard. Watch it closely in the oven and when the edges start to turn a little brown and crispy, it should be done. If it is cooked too soft the roof will sag. You will need two sides, a front and a back, and two roof panels plus four pieces for the chimney. The smell of gingerbread cooking is wonderful and will linger for days. Your grandchildren will tell their grandchildren about it and the wonderful houses you built for them.

Run down to your shop and get a piece of eighth inch plywood about 12 by 18 inches and wrap it in foil for the base to build your house.

Go to the big box store (not the grocery) and get a can of "Meringue Powder." It is made by the Wilton Company and will be in the cake decorating section. Get a cake decorating squeeze bag and a couple of pretty wide mouth tips while you are there. You will need to make one batch of "Butter Creme Icing" and one batch of "Royal Icing" based on the recipes on the insert inside the meringue powder can.

roughhouse.jpgFirst thing is to assemble the house on your base with the royal icing as a kind of mortar mix. Give it about 20 minutes and the royal icing will get hard as a rock and hold your house together. Use the butter creme for everything else and you can ice the yard, set in a fence out of marshmallows and pretzel sticks, make a tree out of ice cream cones with jellybean lights, and then decorate the rest of the house however you like. Make a woodpile on the side, pave a driveway, make a stepping stone sidewalk, anything you want. Candy canes all over the place. I love picking out the candy and I spend a good bit of time in the candy aisle trying to picture how the various pieces will fit on the house. One of my favorite things is to chide everyone about not eating all the candy before we get it on the house, all the time stuffing handfuls in my mouth. Didn't take long for everyone to catch on to that one. The final step is to take a sifter of powdered sugar and sift it over the whole thing. The sugar piles up like snow and the effect is wonderful. finshed-house.jpg

Send me a picture. Merry Christmas to all!!

December 6, 2009

New Rikon 10" Bandsaw is a precision cutting machine, only $199.99

We just got in a large supply of Rikon's brand new upgraded 10" bandsaw.

We wondered if it could handle some heavy duty cutting like resawing, so we installed one of our 1/2" Wood Slicers on the new demo Rikon 10" bandsaw that we set up in our showroom the day after our shipment was delivered.

Rikon 10
      Rikon 10
After squaring up a piece of 4x4 poplar, we were able to resaw full-length slices from it that were uniformly 1/64" thick along the entire length! Can your bandsaw do that? That convinced us this little machine can perform precision work despite its low price tag.

While it's obvious the Rikon 10" benchtop bandsaw will make an excellent starter saw for someone just getting into woodworking on a limited budget, it can also be a valuable time-saver even to woodworkers who already own a larger bandsaw but don't want the inconvenience of having to constantly change different width blades back and forth for different operations. For instance, put a 1/8" blade on this little beast and you'll always have an excellent, powerful scroll cutting machine that's ready to go. Ditto if you wanted a dedicated small resawing and ripping machine on material up to 4-5/8" thick.

191042rh.jpgThe Rikon 10" bandsaw's cutting capacity is 9-5/8" wide by 4-5/8" high. Its table is solidly built out of cast iron. Motor is an ample 1/3 HP, 110 volts. Blade speed is 2780 feet/minute. A nice rip fence with integral inch scale is included. The entire unit weighs 66 lbs. The Rikon 10" band saw uses 70-1/2" long blades that can range in width from 1/8" - 1/2". (One 1/4" wide blade comes with the saw.) The Rikon 10" bandsaw includes a two-year factory limited warranty.

We're pleased to offer this exceptional Rikon benchtop band saw at a very affordable price.

December 2, 2009

The Leather Shop Apron for Real Men

bandsaw.jpgYou know by now that I do a lot of woodturning, and one thing I do dislike is chips falling down the front of my shirt. A few years ago I made up a turning shirt by taking two old work uniform shirts and cutting the shoulder yolk and collar off one and attaching it to the front of the other. It looked like one of those old western movie shirts with the buttons down both sides and a clerical collar at the top. Worked like a champ, too.

As I got more skilled at turning though, I felt like my attire was holding me back. Perhaps I could be a better artist if I were wearing a better turning outfit. So I bought the red turning smock from Highland and whether or not my work is better, I sure do look better when I'm working.

aproncover.jpgNow I do have one bad habit when sanding finished bowls. I tend to hold the bowl against my body while sanding with the electric drill so that the dust goes down the dust collector hose. Unfortunately, I sanded a hole in my beautiful red turning smock. You've heard of chiseled abs; I have sanded abs.

Well the answer to that sanding problem is one of the new leather aprons as found on the front cover of the new Highland Woodworking catalog. These leather aprons are beautiful! I went by the store today to look at them and I suppose I am just partial to leather, but when you walk in the front door of the store, there are at least 40 aprons on display all over the place. (You really need to come see the store at Christmas.) aprons.jpgThey are made of four basic pieces of leather stitched together with four pockets added to the front. The two larger lower pockets have riveted flaps over them to keep chips out and the other two are made for pencils, calculators and this time of the year, candy canes. The back of the apron is the naturally rough leather and the front is smooth and finished. I looked at a bunch of them before picking the one I wanted and the naturally occurring marks on the leather really add to the appeal.

Some aprons are slightly thicker than others and have more marks, and some are lighter or darker in overall color and appearance. I was also very surprised when I picked one up and found how lightweight they actually are. This thing will not weigh you down. I bet if you call the store and ask them to pick out some particular feature for you, they will do it. With the light and strong flat straps across the back, and a quick snap connection, the whole thing is supported by your shoulders and still easy to get on and off. Beautiful!

If by some very small chance you don't want this one, you could get one of the others that Highland carries, such as the ballistic cloth turner's apron, the leather turner's apron, the belt apron, or a regular cloth apron. But the really good leather ones are on sale, and come on people, this is Christmas. Get the good one!