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Beautiful Lidded Boxes: Woodworking Contest for March 2015

by Mark Stephens | December 10th, 2014
All photos use

Woodworking Contest: Lidded Boxes
Lidded box by Mark Doolittle

Register Now - Limited Space

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Project Deadline: Saturday Mar 14, 2015
Spaces Available: 68 out of 100 left

FREE Entry
Project Theme: Lidded Box
Project Deadline: March 14, 2015
You’ll Get $50:
Every completed project receives a $50 store credit
Prizes: Win a Tormek T-4 Wet Sharpener ($429 value) or other woodworking tool packages valued up to $300

For this contest, build a small decorative box, no larger than 16″ in width, length or height. To qualify, your box must have a lid, and the lid can be of any style you can dream up. It can have a hinge . . .  or no hinge. Or it could be a sliding lid or a fitted lid. Get creative and use any decorative techniques you’d like to make your box stand out: consider inlay, marquetry, carving, sculpting, book matching, figured woods etc. Since all projects must have a lid, do something spectacular with it.

Your box can be any shape or style, leaving you a lot of room for interpretation. It doesn’t have to be a straight-sided box – lathe-turned hollow forms with lids are welcome as well. Run with it. But remember, this is a woodworking contest. You are welcome to include materials other than wood in your project, however your primary goal should be to demonstrate your skills with wood more than, say, stone or metal.

Space is limited to 100 entries. Register now.  Even if you’re not 100% certain you can complete your project by the deadline, please register and do not delay. This helps us plan for the reception and the space required to display the projects. It’s better for you to be registered and drop out of the contest if needed than it is for you to wait until it’s too late.

Complete Your Project, Get $50 Store Credit:

All entries receive $50 store credit on March 14 upon project delivery. Yes, you keep your project and we give you $50. However, we keep the projects for one week while the panel of judges inspect each project to determine the winners.

Plus you get a chance to win prizes from great woodworking vendors.

Prizes and Awards Ceremony

Enjoy the sharpest tools you've ever had with the First Prize for this contest: the new-and-improved Tormek T-4 sharpener

Enjoy the sharpest tools you’ve ever had with the First Prize for this contest: the new-and-improved Tormek T-4 sharpener

We’ll host an awards ceremony at Practical Art, a gallery in downtown Phoenix (date TBA). Prizes will be awarded for the top 3 entries, plus various honorable mention awards.

  • First Place: Tormek T-4 Wet Sharpener
  • Second Place: $300 package of woodworking tools
  • Third Place: $100 package of woodworking tools
  • Honorable mentions: Various woodworking tools/supplies

Rules and Guidelines

How to Submit Your Project

  • Register for the contest using the form at the top of the page. Free entry.
  • Deliver your project on March 14, 2015 to any Woodworkers Source location. We will take care of transporting projects to be displayed at Practical Art (downtown Phoenix)
  • Pick up your project on a date TBD.  If you’re in the Tucson area, you can simply deliver and pick up your project at our Tucson store. We’ll arrange transport to and from Phoenix for the judging and public display. Entries must be made in person. We won’t be able to accommodate crating and shipping individual projects that are shipped in from other parts of the country for this contest.
  • Your project is yours to keep after the contest.

Project Constraints

  1. Your box must have a lid. Since this is a contest, considering making the lid a spectacular one
  2. Make it no larger than 16″ in width, length or height; smaller is okay

Materials to Use

You do not need to buy your wood from Woodworkers Source in order to enter the contest. Wood is the focus of this project and you may use any wood you’d like, and we encourage you to use something unusual or special. Incorporate other materials if you want, but this is a woodworking contest so your project should emphasize wood.

Does the Project Have to Be New?

We prefer that you enter a project you build specifically for this contest, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. So, if you want to enter a project you have already built, take a close look at it and determine if it needs to be refinished, waxed or polished. If it’s scratched or faded from time and use, do what it takes to refresh it so that it makes the best impression – this is, after all, a contest.

Finishing

A winning entry will have a fabulous finish. You can use any finishing process; you can use stains, dyes, glazes or any clear wood finish you want. We encourage you give your project the best impression with a well-done finish. Start your project sooner rather than later to allow yourself plenty of time to get a good finish. It takes time for finishing and staining products to dry between coats, and it takes time to polish your finish to your desired sheen, so give yourself time to do it well.

3 Spectacular Curly Maple Wood Finishes That’ll Blow ‘Em Away

by Mark Stephens | December 5th, 2014
All photos use

Curly maple, tiger maple, fiddleback maple and quilted maple (various names for different types of figure found in maple lumber) have to be some of the more interesting woods to finish because you can take a board from mild to wild with the simplest of techniques. Here are just a few of them. You can see a full demonstration in the video above, or get the highlights below.

1. Use Dewaxed Shellac for Your Best “Clear” Finish On Curly Maple

Finish 3Beforecurly maple board sanded to 220 grit, just before being finished with dewaxed shellac Finish 3After - with 3 coats of dewaxed shellac
Of all the basic clear topcoats you can choose from, dewaxed shellac provides a surprising chatoyance that you just don’t get with other finishes. That’s not to say your favorite solvent based varnish, polyurethane or lacquer does a poor job – they’re just fine. But the shellac has a touch of magic that’s virtually water white in color and yet brings out curly figure you couldn’t see before while also giving the figure a three-dimensional appearance.

Zinseer SealCoat is the dewaxed shellac I used in this tutorial.

Zinseer SealCoat is the dewaxed shellac I used in this tutorial.

So why dewaxed shellac? First, it’s crystal clear in color – for you purists who disapprove of adding color to wood, this is the product for you. Second, since it’s dewaxed, it’s also a universal sealer. Therefore you have the option of applying a more durable topcoat after the shellac dries. For example, if you need the protection that a polyurethane provides, you can apply that on top of dewaxed shellac and get the best of both worlds – the figure pop and the protection.

Shellac is also a very safe finish that’s easy to apply by hand or by spraying. Plus, any rags you use do not pose the same fire danger that oil-soaked rags do.

How to Apply Dewaxed Shellac:

  1. Prep your material by sanding to 220 grit, clean off the dust
  2. Using a brush or a lint-free rag, apply the shellac. It dries fast, so work quickly and try not to overlap any areas that are already tacky
  3. After the coat dries (10 to 15 minutes is often adequate), sand it with fine sandpaper or a synthetic finishing pad
  4. Apply another one or two coats to your satisfaction
  5. Once the last coat is dry and sanded, you can apply a paste wax and buff it to a glassy-smooth surface

2. Try Oil for Popping the Grain and Giving Curly Maple an Aged Amber Color

Beforecurly maple board sanded to 220 grit, just before application of tung oil After - with 1 coat of tung oil varnish
Tung Oil Varnish blend is what I used in this tutorial.

Tung Oil Varnish blend is what I used in this tutorial.

While oil finishes do a wonderful job at highlighting the figure in curly maple, they also add a gentle amber color. An oil such as tung oil or boiled linseed oil will also reveal and add punch to figure that may have been difficult to see in the raw board. You can apply numerous coats of these oils to build up a sheen, but that’s a process that takes a long time because it takes 12 hours or more for each coat to dry.

My technique, when using oils, is to apply just one coat, let it dry, hit it with a coat or two of dewaxed shellac, then either wax and buff it, or spray two or three coats of lacquer then wax/buff (depends on the application). The point here is you get the effect of an oil with the first coat; to build a protective coating with a satin, semi-gloss or gloss sheen, it’s quicker to seal it with dewaxed shellac and move on to lacquer rather than build up multiple coats of a drying oil. Of course . . . opinions vary.

How to Apply Tung Oil or Boiled Linseed Oil:

  1. Prep your material by sanding to 220 grit, clean off the dust
  2. Read the directions on your can of oil. You most likely need to thin the oil with mineral spirits, the directions will tell you the ratio.
  3. Work in a well-ventilated area. Use a clean lint-free cotton rag to wipe the oil on your work piece, just apply a thin coating
  4. Allow it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then wipe it off with a clean rag.
  5. Let your work dry, then make a choice: 1). add another coat, 2). wax/buff, or 3). apply a sealer, then topcoat and wax/buff

3. Use Dye for Bold and Stunning Figure Pop

Finish 4Beforecurly maple board sanded to 220 grit, just before application of brown dye Finish 4After – 3 coats of Solar-Lux Maple Brown dye (each coat sanded off before the next coat), 1 coat of tung oil
Behlen Solar-Lux Dye doesn't raise the grain like water based dye does, and it comes in a wide variety of colors.

Behlen Solar-Lux Dye doesn’t raise the grain like water based dye does, and it comes in a wide variety of colors.

You won’t find a better way to make the figure pop from across a ballroom than you will with aniline dye. Dye is different from your usual oil stains, and it’s just the thing for figured woods like curly maple. While you can just hit curly maple with a single coat of dye and move on to your clear topcoat, I like to do three diluted coats of dye and sand it off between each coat. It might seem counterintuitive to apply it and then sand it off, but if you watch the video above you’ll see why.

The color I used in the sample above (and in the video) is Maple Brown by Behlen Solar-Lux.

How to Apply Alcohol Based Dye on Curly Maple

  1. Prep your material by sanding to 220 grit, clean off the dust
  2. Dilute the dye by 25% to 50% with denatured alcohol
  3. Use a cotton rag or a sponge to apply the dye. It dries fast, so work quickly
  4. Let the coat of dye sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then sand the work piece until the color comes off the surface of the wood. You’ll see that the curls remain colored. That’s perfect
  5. Apply two more coats of dye, sanding it off between each. Do not sand off the last coat.
  6. Soon after applying the last coat, dampen a rag with denatured alcohol and wipe the work piece to even out the color and blend in any lap marks you created

Optional: after the last coat of dye has dried, apply a light coat of tung oil or boiled linseed oil. This will add another small boost to the figure.

Dyes give you a whole rainbow of colors to work with, plus you can make them as diluted or as vivid as you like. Here are some other examples:

 

 

 

Woodworking 101: What You Need to Know About Table Saws

by Mark Stephens | November 26th, 2014
All photos use

Yep, that’s Norm Abram. You’re going to want to watch this.

No doubt about it, with a table saw and a router, a modern day woodworker is an unstoppable force. But the table saw is the most ubiquitous woodworking tool of our age. Indeed, it’s what separates woodworkers from, well, their neighbors-who-need-a-favor. If you already have a shop in your garage or elsewhere, you know. It goes like this: “Hey Bob, could you cut this for me?  It’ll take just a minute, it’s really simple . . .”  Or worse, but let’s move on. The table saw is the tool with which most of us step up from a circular saw, jig saw, or a chop saw to start building bigger-and-better projects or, God willing, heirloom furniture.

Yet, there’s a lot to know about choosing, owning, and operating a table saw. It’ll sever a finger as fast as it’ll cut down a 4×8 sheet of plywood. Fortunately, Norm and The New Yankee Workshop dedicated episodes to the topic of table saws. And those episodes landed on the internet! I thought I’d post one here for you.

If you’re looking at buying a table saw, or even if you own a table saw already, watch this 25-minute video. You will be well armed to own and operate a table saw – considering it’s free, man, you can’t beat it. Norm will walk you through the essentials, such as:

  • The saw: know the differences between bench top, contractor, hybrid, and cabinet table saws.
  • Blades: when to choose an 80-tooth crosscut blade over a 40-tooth combo blade
  • Fences: why are some aluminum and other steel?
  • Throat plates: why your safety and your results depend on them
  • Safety: using push sticks
  • Sheet goods: techniques for how to cut them down by yourself
  • Outfeed tables: why they’re good, and how to make one

You’ll get a lot out of this 25-minute tutorial. After that, check out Part 2 for more advanced table saw usage and techniques: