Oct 302007

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.

Oct 282007

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.

Mar 122007

Small Shop Dust Collectionby Chris Black

Dust collection is one of those topics you could write a book about and several people have. The book Woodshop Dust Control, Revised by Sandor Nagyszalanczy is probably the best one out there. Dust control is something you know you should do, but where do you start and how do you proceed? You’ve probably asked yourself questions like, do I need a central system, what about grounding and how much is this going to cost?

For most small general woodworking shops, dust control is simple and affordable. Learn a few basic concepts up front that you can apply to most situations, and the specifics will take care of themselves.

Visit Highland Woodworking for the full article.

Feb 272007

E.T. Roberts & Lee Handsaws from EnglandFor years we’ve searched for professional quality, western style carpenter’s saws. You know, the kind Disston, Stanley and Sandvik used to make. All we wanted were well-shaped wooden handles, brass buttons, taper ground blades, a choice of rip or crosscut teeth and decent stel; too much to ask apparently.

Well, guess what we found in the U.K.? E.T. Roberts & Lee has been manufacturing really first-rate handsaws in England since 1908. Their Dorchester series is their premium line. Not only do they make carpenter’s saws, but wonderful joinery saws as well.

All E.T. Roberts & Lee Dorchester saws come with American black walnut handles, solid brass hardware and high-grade steel blades.

See these fine hand tools for yourself on our website.

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.

Feb 232007

Coiling bandsaw blades is easier than you think. As with many apparently complex woodworking chores, complication arises from trying to assimilate or carry out too many steps at once. Taken one at a time, each step is almost childishly simple and easy to accomplish.

Therefore, we’ll try to show you, one step at a time, an effective way to coil bandsaw blades. We suggest that you compel yourself not to read ahead. Read just one sentence; do what it says until you’re comfortable, then read the next sentence. You can do everything very slowly; speed is neither necessary nor helpful. A death grip doesn’t help either. If you squeeze the blade too hard it will bite you back, so hold it lightly.

1. Go get a bandsaw blade to practice with, preferably between 1/4″ and 1/2″ wide. Hold the uncoiled blade in a horizontal circle in front of you, teeth up. For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll identify 6 o’clock as the point nearest your navel; 12 o’clock is the point farthest from you.

Coiling Bandsaw Blades 12. Support the blade with your left hand at about 9 o’clock: palm up, fingers below the blade pointing toward 2 o’clock, thumb closing lightly over the top.

3. Hold the other side of the blade with your right hand at 3 o’clock: palm down, fingers above the blade pointing left toward 10 o’clock, thumb wrapped lightly beneath.

4. Move your hands toward each other to halve the distance between them, squeezing the blade into an oval.

5. Without moving your elbow, bend your left wrist up toward you as if you were tipping a beer.

Coiling Bandsaw Blades 26. Without moving your elbow, bend your right wrist down as if you were casting a fly. When both fists are roughly vertical (like holding a steering wheel), the blade will be bent into the shape of a saddle, with high lobes left and right, low lobes front and back.

7. Without moving your elbow, rotate your left wrist 45° clockwise, bringing the left lobe of the saddle down to the right.

Coiling Bandsaw Blades 38. Without moving your elbow, rotate your right wrist about 45° counterclockwise, bringing the right lobe down to the left above the left lobe. As you rotate your wrists you’ll see the low lobe at your navel moving up and forward, while the front low lobe moves back toward it. It doesn’t matter which lies above the other.

9. Keep on rotating your left wrist, letting your hand migrate toward 6 o’clock, until the left lobe (now a loop) is horizontal.

10. Rotate your right wrist, letting your hand move to 12 o’clock, until its loop, too, is horizontal.

11. Step back and admire. If you’ve been living right and thinking good thoughts, you just coiled a bandsaw blade! If it didn’t work perfectly, never fear. It was only a first try, after all. Have another go at it, one sentence at a time. Sooner or later it’ll work, and there’ll be a new blade coiling expert in the woodworking world.

Copyright © 2001 Highland Woodworking

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.

Feb 232007

Saturday Mornings at Highland WoodworkingWe are excited to introduce a new educational series, Saturday Mornings at Highland, to complement our current class offerings. Beginning February 17, 2007, join us at our store in Virginia-Highlands on Saturday mornings at 10am EST for FREE, live demonstrations featuring a wide variety of woodworking skills, tools & techniques. These 1 to 1-1/2 hour-long demonstrations will feature our knowledgeable staff and instructors, local clubs & guilds, guest authors, and others. Upcoming events include woodturning, woodcarving, care & use of hand tools, joinery, book signings, an introduction to woodworking design software, and much, much more.

Please check the online schedule or the display in our store for updated schedules of coming events. Everyone is welcome to drop in – these demonstrations are free of charge. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to expand your skills as well as explore new woodworking techniques!

See the Saturday Mornings at Highland Schedule

Directions to Our Store

Feb 232007

Windsor ChairOne of the woodworkers that we came to love almost instantly is renowned Windsor Chair maker Curtis Buchanan. Curtis can be found teaching Windsor Chair Making to groups of eager students at least once, sometimes twice, each year at Highland. His visits are always highly anticipated. With much fondness for him we are always very proud when others find out how great he is.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, he is on the cover of the recently distributed February ’07 issue of Woodwork magazine. Written by Stephanie Stone, a research psychologist who teaches at Johns Hopkins University, the article is illustrated with photos by Doug Thompson, Tom Pardue, Pete Montanti and many of Curtis’s own pictures. It is a really well done piece that captures a lot of Curtis’s personality.

In the latter part of the article, Curtis mentions that the comfortable chair, also know as a “sittin’ chair”, was always offered to family and friends because you wanted them to stay and visit, versus a “company” chair. Curtis, know that we will always have a sittin’ chair with your name on it, saved for you here at Highland Woodworking.

See a listing of Curtis’s upcoming April Workshops being held at Highland Woodworking in Atlanta, GA.

Visit Highland Woodworking for more information.