Jim Randolph

Jun 052017
 

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

Free stuff is everywhere! Especially on garbage day. Just this very morning I picked up some perfectly good spruce 2x4s sitting on top of someone’s garbage can.

We’ve previously discussed using carpet padding as a “router pad.” The same free pad makes a good, cheap cushion to stand on while you work. You can find it on at the curb on almost any trash day, when people change out their carpet. With a regular office stapler, you can put two (or even three) layers together for some extra padding. Why not? There is no limit, no “one to a customer,” you can take all you want.

Anything that relieves stress and fatigue will allow you to stay in the shop longer.

If you use the same material for your router pad, be sure to keep it separate, so that you don’t introduce dirt, and thus, scratches, into your work.

If you’re willing to swallow your pride, or get up before dawn so as not to be seen by your neighbors, there is an unlimited amount of carpet pad, free for the taking on trash pickup day.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Jun 022017
 

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Linguists don’t agree on the exact origin of the word lag. It may have been a variation on “last,” or it may have originated from the Norwegian word lagga, meaning “go slowly.”

For woodworkers’ purposes, we mostly use the term in relation to lag bolts or screws, meaning a fastener without threads on the upper section of the shaft, which allows one or more of the fastened parts to not be constrained by that section of the shaft.

In this example, a properly-drilled hole would allow the threads of the lower part of the screw to engage wood block #3, while lagging, or slipping through blocks #1 and #2. All three blocks would be tightly bound together.

In this example, unless block #1 and block #2 are overdrilled, threads may engage block #2 and prevent a snug fit.

Here, the top piece of oak was predrilled with the same diameter pilot bit as the bottom piece, which allowed the threads to engage, holding the two pieces apart.

An alternative to using a lag fastener is to overdrill the workpiece, preventing the screw from engaging. That can be done with a drill bit of the appropriate size in a process called “lag technique.”

Even though this screw doesn’t have a lag (threadless) section, drilling a larger hole in the top piece of oak prevents thread engagement, allowing the two jointed surfaces to meet beautifully. The top piece of wood is ready for its countersink bit.

You drill a hole so that your screw can “lag” through one piece as you attach it the other. But, if you don’t have a drill bit handy or you don’t want to have to go down three flights of stairs just to make this one hole, here’s a way around that predicament:

Run a screw through the piece of wood you’re attaching. Drive it all the way in. If the wood is really soft you can often strip the threads it has created, and, voila, you have an unthreaded hole. If that doesn’t work, or if the wood is so soft that the head of the screw just continues to get deeper, reverse your drill and back the screw out.

All it took for this thin piece of oak to strip is a quick reversal of the drill-driver.

When only the tip is in the hole, continue to run the drill in reverse, but push down like you were driving the screw in. In most cases it will push right through the wood, creating the hole you seek.

Note: this is a good technique for a DIY construction project, not recommended for fine furniture!

One of the best things about a drill index is having an accurate hole to help determine which bit to use for a specific screw. If the threads engage in the index, they will engage in the wood. If the screw slides through the hole, that bit will work for lag effect.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

May 052017
 

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

I love my scrollsaw. I’m not completely convinced it loves me, but I’m working to make it more of a friend. Someday, when I have the time, I would like to move up to fretwork and other, more intricate scrollsaw projects.

For now, though, I mostly use it to carve out initials of grandchildren and others I make stools for. And, I can’t say I’m particularly good at it. Therefore, I had to develop techniques for sanding inside lines and curves to fix the problems I create on the scrollsaw.

I use four main tools, three of which are, you guessed it…free! The first is a rasp (not free), and I use mine for the roughest beginning work inside letters.

A four-sided rasp like this is extremely versatile. Two round surfaces, two flat surfaces, coarse and fine.

By the time I get to this stage, I’ve created a panel, sanded close to a final finish, not-so-rough-sawn the letter or letters the stool needs, and I’m really not wanting to have to back up and make a new panel. Therefore, I’m taking no chances that I cut too far or suffer tearout. I’ve tried to fix minor tearout in a damaged letter before. Because it’s a focal point of the stool, the damage is nearly impossible to hide. What rasping I do is performed with a little angle, directing the cut to the middle of the board.

With patience in mind, I turn next to sanding, not being too concerned about how long it takes.

For straight lines, nothing beats a popsicle stick. It’s as flat as you need it to be, narrow enough to fit almost anywhere, and stiff enough to stand up to firm pressure while sanding.

If I need to cover more real estate in a hurry, I make a stick out of plywood. With the panel in a vise, you can even get a two-handed grip on either kind of stick.

Another universal sanding/shaping tool is the disposable foam brush handle. They come in a variety of diameters, so they can fit the broadest to the tightest of curves.

Wrap your sandpaper around and get to work.

With these three makeshift tools you’re ready for flat and round sanding. You can even alter the size.

Sycamore can be tricky to sand, so it’s best to start with a high grit and be patient.

Return to the May 2017 issue of Wood News Online


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

May 042017
 

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Rules.

There are a lot of rules in woodworking, and most of them exist for good reasons.

Wear eye protection. Use hearing protection. Don’t start the table saw until you take off your tie.

Some rules, however, are about protecting equipment. One of those is bandsaw blade tensioning. Don’t leave the tension on when not using the saw, lest you cause flat spots on your tires. Apply proper blade tension before starting the saw, lest your blade go flying.

These are important rules, but how many of us follow them? Some woodworkers risk flutter-inducing tire flat spots rather than remove tension at the end of the day.

Why? You can blame it all on that frustrating little handwheel most manufacturers provide for tensioning.

This is the culprit. Who has the time, the arm stamina or the patience to crank this knob until the bandsaw blade is tight?

Let’s put a stop to that.

And, of course, not spend a lot of money in the process.

I’ll even give you two choices, and neither involves buying a new saw.

The quickest fix, if it will fit your equipment, is to purchase the Quik Crank Bandsaw Tensioner. Just compare the parts in the product description to the components on your saw to know if it will work.

If not, you can do what I did, and make your own. My Craftsman saw’s knob engages a slotted end on an adjusting rod. I cut a 7/16″ bolt to a length of 1-1⁄2″ and drilled a hole perpendicular to the long axis, the same distance from the end of the original. A drift pin engages the adjusting rod, and the original 5/8″ hex head on top of the bolt faces up.

Check the opening in your saw’s adjusting rod, but a 7/16″ bolt fit mine perfectly. Accurately drill a perpendicular hole for a tight fit for a pin. Drive in the pin. You’re almost there.

Your modified bolt should fit much like the original equipment handle’s shaft.

Initially, I used my good Craftsman speeder handle, just to prove that the concept was going to work. I left it like that for several months, then replaced it with an inexpensive brand of handle and socket I could just leave in place all the time.

From a distance, no one can even tell this speeder handle came from “that” store, but the price was right, and, just how good does it have to be to tension and de-tension the bandsaw blade?

A discarded milk crate close by allows me to safely get up to a good working height.

Return to the May 2017 issue of Wood News Online


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

May 032017
 

For me, my favorite non-woodworking tool in my workshop is my stereo. I’d be lost without the music, but, my television is hooked up to the stereo, so I can get caught up on the latest news, too, which is especially important when there is a late-breaking event.

This stereo setup is nothing to look at. A big, powerful amp in a box for AM/FM and video switching, connected to a 7.1 Surround Sound speaker system.

One night my wife came down while I was working and asked me to turn the music down some. The living level of our home is just above the garage and the stereo speakers are immediately below the living room. Too much garage volume makes watching TV upstairs, shall we say, “difficult.”

The 7.1 speakers make good sound, but, for some real volume, you need real speakers…

…and these babies move some air. And the floor of the living room above.

I said I would, and she smiled, turned, and went back upstairs. A little while later she came back, said I had looked like “a hurt puppy,” and it made her realize how important my music was to me, especially while I was working. She said I should turn it back up.

Which, I did.
Thank you, Baby.

As often as not, I listen to audio through headphones, especially when noisy equipment would drown out stereo speakers. Still, it isn’t the same. Sometimes, I’m just in the mood for those big speakers to rattle some sheet metal.

One day, when I was at Ole Miss, I was working on genetics homework and playing some Neil Young. The Harvest album. Later in the day I saw my across-the-street neighbor in his front yard. I went over to chat.

“I heard you had the Stray Gators (Neil Young’s band on the Harvest album) on earlier, Jim.”

“Genetics. It’s more than the brain can handle without some dilution.”
“You were studying?”
“Homework.”
“OH! I was hoping you weren’t inside the house. Are your ears bleeding?”
OK, so I like my music a little loud. It started with our generation, but it didn’t end with us. Electronics were/are so enabling. And, electronics are cleaner than ever, which means loud can sound better than ever.

What about you? What is your favorite or most important non-woodworking tool in your shop? If your answer is “Other,” leave us a comment with some details.

Return to the May 2017 issue of Wood News Online

Apr 052017
 

What tools do you have that you wish you hadn’t bought?

The Wood Whisperer, Marc Spagnuolo,  says one is his Dremel tool.

I, on the other hand, use my Dremel tool and attachments all the time: cutoffs, buffing small items, engraving/signing my work, routing small areas with the burr, cleaning out knots to ready them for epoxy, the uses are endless.

Requiring no talent and almost no practice, a Dremel motor with a little round burr allows you to sign your work permanently.

A 4-inch or 9-inch grinder will cut off a nail in a hurry, flush or below the surface, if you don’t mind massive burning of the wood, but …

…a Dremel fitted with a cutoff wheel can cut a nail and never mar the surface.

My wife got this 75th Anniversary Dremel set for a birthday gift for me. As Hazel (Shirley Booth) would say, “It’s a doozie!” It also came with two grits of sanding drums, nylon and steel brushes, buffing wheels and compound, and a felt wheel. I added chainsaw sharpening stones, and they will put a super sharpening on a chain in nothing flat. It also features an adjustable speed.

For me, it would definitely be my jointer. I bought the little 6″ Delta because I thought it was sufficient. When Katrina took my first one, I bought another just like it. I really wish I’d stepped up to at least an 8″, possibly with a spiral cutterhead. Regret might be a term too strong, but I really would like to have a better jointer.

This Delta jointer does 90% of what I need it to do, but it’s definitely an entry-level unit.

Now, if someone wants to buy me this jointer, I promise I will never complain! It’s what dreams are made of.

Return to the April 2017 issue of Wood News Online


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Apr 042017
 

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

I got this little vacuum attachment, you guessed it, for free.

I picked up this discarded vacuum on my daily walk, intending to set up the cyclone on a bucket for use with a shop vacuum. I saw a project like that on YouTube.

This little attachment came with my free vacuum at no extra charge!

I’d never used one before, but, when our regular carpet attachment (borrowed from inside the house) wasn’t working, and I needed to clean a rug in the garage, I decided to give it a try on the end of our whole-house vacuum hose.

Man! I had no idea!

There is a similar attachment on our vacuum at work, and I’d noticed it only in passing.

For some time I’ve fretted over getting these pads clean. Not any more! The little beater-bar attachment doesn’t grab the rug like the full-size floor attachment does. The difference in the cleaned and uncleaned rugs is more dramatic than the photo depicts.

My new “rug routine” is to gather all of them into one place (on top of an old card table) and put the attachment on the end of my Shop-Vac’s Dust Deputy-filtered hose. Then, I can clean the rest of the workshop, floors and all, separately.

Decades ago, I got this card table for free from the roadside. I use it for all kinds of trashy jobs. I replaced the original cardboard top with some salvaged 3/8″ plywood. It’s stored, folded, with my collapsing sawhorses, within easy reach.

Return to the April 2017 issue of Wood News Online


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.