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Archive for the ‘Woodworking 101’ Category

Woodworking 101: What You Need to Know About Table Saws

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

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:

Here’s One Way to Make a Cutting Board with Ipe

Friday, September 12th, 2014

basic cutting board built out of ipe decking

Sometimes, an idea for a project just jumps out at you when you see a piece of wood. That’s what happened when we brought in a small load of dimensioned ipe (ee-pay) lumber that was cut into uniform sizes of 3/4″ x 5.5″ x 72″.  I made a small bet with myself that I could make a reasonably size cutting board out of one piece of ipe. So I grabbed a piece, gave it a shot, and succeeded.

Ipe is a handsomely dark wood, especially when it’s sanded and oiled. Because the wood is so dense, hard, and resistant to weathering, the primary use of ipe is in outdoor decking. That’s also what makes it such a fine furniture wood – and it’ll make a good looking chopping block, too. When it’s sanded and oiled, the color turns to a bold brown-saturated color with hints of red and green. And the color stays dark for a long, long time. If you like dark woods, you should explore ipe.

Using our 3/4″x 5.5″ x 6′ dimensioned ipe boards, here’s how you could make a cutting board:

Step 1

Starting with a piece of 3/4″ x 5.5″ x 6′ ipe, send the 6-foot length through a thickness planer or drum sander, just graze the surface to clean it up.

Cut the board into 3 equal lengths, approximately 18″. Working with these shorter lengths is a little easier to control in the next step.

ipe-decking-boards

Step 2

Rip each of the three pieces into strips 1-1/8″ wide. You’ll get four pieces from each length of ipe.

Table Saw Tip: Be aware that ipe is very hard, but with a decent carbide-tooth table saw blade that’s designed for ripping, ipe cuts smoothly and with very little resistance. A 10″ ripping blade most often has between 24 and 30 teeth, deep gullets, and the carbide teeth will have a flat top grind and be raked at 20 to 22 degrees. 

 

 ipe-decking-strips

Step 3

Prepare to glue up the strips into a panel. Rotate the strips onto their edge. This forces the rings of annual growth to run more or less perpendicular to the face and back of the cutting board, resulting in a more stable product.

If the strips were recently planed or sanded, ipe will accept wood glue. Use Titebond III to take advantage of the longer working time the glue offers.

 ipe-decking-strips2

Step 4

Clamp the strips.

Once the panel is dry, use a planer or a drum sander to flatten the face and the back. This will determine the final thickness, but a precise final thickness is not important. It may finish out to 7/8″ or thicker.

Glue-up Tip: When the glue sets up, but before it’s dry, use a glue scraper to clean off the squeeze-out. For the most part, the glue will peel off in long strips. It’s easier in the long run to clean up the squeezed-out glue before it’s hardened.

 ipe-cutting-board-glued

Step 5

Trim to length. On the table saw or with a track saw, crosscut the ends of the block so they’re square to the edges and so that the board is sized to a length you like. In this case, the cutting board ended up a little over 17″ long.

 ipe-cutting-boards-trim

Step 6

Optional. Soften the corners with a radius. The bottom of an aerosol can makes the perfect radius. Trace it onto the cutting board, then cut it on the bandsaw and sand it smooth on the disc sander.

 ipe-cutting-boards-radius

Step 7

Add a 3/8″ round over along the top edge.

Once again, despite ipe’s hardness, it actually routs quite easily.

 ipe-cutting-boards-routing

Step 8

Sand the cutting board. No need to sand any finer than 120 grit.

Coat it in a block oil, a simple wipe on and off procedure.

 ipe-cutting-boards-001

Other Ideas

You can also get more creative. As an example, a couple of thin strips of hard white maple added to the ipe makes the cutting board a little wider while giving it a new look.

ipe-cutting-boards

How Woodworkers Source Got Started in Business: A Quick History

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

 

This is not a picture jewelry box in this story -- it was lost to a home burglary some time ago. But this box is the most recent one I've made.

This is not a picture jewelry box in this story — it was lost to a home burglary some time ago. But this box is the most recent one I’ve made.

Years ago I wanted to build my first jewelry box. So I tried to buy a little bit of hardwood lumber, which seemed like a simple thing to do. But I was wrong. Here’s the story:

In the late 1960s my wife, Betty, and I were newlyweds just out of college. I was a CPA with a large international accounting firm and Betty was a Registered Nurse. In 1970 life started to change with the words, “I’m pregnant” and “It’s time to buy a house.”

I had no experience with home repair or improvement (or babies) but undertook projects and enjoyed the process. My tool inventory started with a Sears radial arm saw and a Black& Decker ¼” drill. I really moved up when Betty bought me a Black & Decker router, 1 HP, ¼ “ collet, edge guide and carrying case. $39.00 for the package.

I made my first table in 1976 using construction lumber and became hooked on building projects. I wanted to try hardwood, Betty and I designed a jewelry box with two drawers and a glass top. I made a sketch and a list of parts, and then headed to the lumberyard.

Problem. The lumberyard didn’t sell hardwoods, only construction lumber. I left disappointed and searched for a local hardwood outlet. Eventually I found one down by the railroad tracks, in a seedy, industrial part of town. My only experience was with construction lumber: smooth all sides and dimensioned to specific sizes. So imagine my shock to find piles of rough, random width and length lumber at this hardwood dealer. When I asked a salesman for some help by showing him my list of materials, he took my list, held it in the air and announced to his coworkers, “Look at this! Look at this! This guy’s got a list!” I left embarrassed and without the material I needed.

 

In 1978 I opened the first Woodworkers Source store to serve the retail and custom woodworking communities. The store offered a wider range of woodworking products and a higher level of friendly service than could be found anywhere else in Arizona. Over 35 years later, here we are. Today we have three stores that offer 100 different hardwoods, woodworking tools from the best brands, and a friendly staff that knows woodworking.  Each store has a completely equipped woodworking shop to perform custom cutting and milling services and an education center for live woodworking demonstrations.

Our website Woodworkerssource.com is the most visited of all wood related sites and contains a wealth of useful information with woodworking tips, a hardwood database, and a gallery where you can share your project pictures with other woodworkers.

Our Rosewood Club is a loyalty program that gives discounts, rebates and special offers to our customers. Join it if you haven’t already.

Thanks for being a customer and letting us help you succeed in woodworking.

You may read the complete story at www.woodworkerssource.com/history.php

 

Here are some other projects I’ve made over the years: