Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book: Plans from WoodMarvels.com (Vol. 1)

Book: Plans from WoodMarvels.com (Volume 1)
An interesting woodworking book, with scalable designs. The designs look very clean.

From the book description:
This book features woodworking projects at three different skill levels. They include materials list, tools and step-by-step assembly instructions. What makes our philosophy unique is that all our blueprints are completely measurement free which means you can build them to whatever scale you wish using only the thickness of the wood as your guide. This book includes the following WoodMarvels.com models: Abacus, Bird Feeder, Bird House, Bread Box, Brontosaurus, Dolphin Future Car, Parasaurolophus, Pen and Pencil Holder, Portraits, Ring Stacking Game, Showcase, Stegosaurus, Table Protector, Tower of Hanoi, Wood Stacking Game, Abstract Bank, Chessboard, Crab, Cutting Board, Pterodactyl, Medieval Castle Walls, Platform Crane, and Straddle Carrier

Here is more info on WoodMarvels.com: Top Sellers (Volume 1)


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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Smith's PP1 "Pocket Pal" Multi-Function Sharpener

mith's PP1 Pocket Pal Multi-Function Sharpener
I haven't done a mini tool review in a while. Well, I've found something that truly deserves mention. I was lucky enough to receive the Smith's PP1 "Pocket Pal" Multi-Function Sharpener as a holiday gift. I have sharpened my share of knives, carving tools, and chisels. I've also purchased a lot of tools to do that sharpening. So, I admit, I was a little skeptical about this pocket-sized sharpening tool. My trusty Swiss Army Knife doesn't get the same attention that my woodworking tools get, so I decided to try the Smith tool on it. I ran the dull blade through the carbide slot a few times, then the ceramic slot a few times. The difference was incredible! I have yet to use the tapered diamond part of the tool, but I don't sharpen too many serrated blades. It can, of course, be used on non-serrated blades too, as well as on small gouges, scorps, and even fishing hooks. This tool is well worth the price in my book.

Here is a link to Smith's PP1 Pocket Pal Sharpener on Amazon.

[ Thanks Kev! ]


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Thursday, November 19, 2009

A 'Convolution' of purely wooden mechanisms

Woodworker Ken Schweim built this collection of wood mechanisms and titled it Convolution. It is a wonderful assortment of drives, linkages, and gears. Well done, Ken!

From the video description:
This is a collection of wood mechanisms driven by a common wood crank. The entire project is wood, no nails, screws, wires, etc. Each assembly is removable. The wood is primarily common pine with some black walnut. Total time required was about 4 months with the majority in the design phase. I was going to add more to the open sides and the interior but decided against it for two reasons; one - it would require more cranking power and two, it would make it difficult to see the existing interior mechanicals. Plus, it now leaves the door open for another possible project to explore more wood mechanisms. In reviewing the audio I mistakenly said there is wire in this thing but not so, it is all wood.



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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Video of 'Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood'


Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood
If you've ever wondered if the book Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood contains projects that would appeal to you, check out the video above sent by Richard Thorne. Richard has made four of the book's 17 projects and demonstrates them briefly in the video. Well done!

If you are up for working on some challenging, but rewarding woodworking projects, here is a link to where you can pick up a copy of the book Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood.


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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Making Wood Trucks & Construction Vehicles

Making Wood Trucks & Construction Vehicles
Time to start making some gift for the holidays. Why not make some wooden trucks and vehicles? Beautiful, durable, and without those annoying sound chips.

Product Description:
An old favorite gets a fabulous freshening up, with full-color images throughout -- but the projects remain as wonderful as ever, appealing to children of all ages. Bulldozers, dump trucks, loaders, and forklifts, each with a variety of moving parts: all these toy vehicles are included for the making, with plenty of diagrams, very detailed instructions that proceed logically and clearly from part to part, and images of the final product. Try a box trailer with a semi-cab, doors, axles, wheels (with simulated tread, if you like), and mud flaps. They're fun to craft and fun to receive.

Here's the link for the book on Making Wood Trucks & Construction Vehicles


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Friday, September 11, 2009

Great Book of Wooden Toys: 50 Easy Projects

Great Book of Wooden Toys: More Than 50 Easy-to-Build Projects
This looks like a good book on making wooden toys. Anyone out there have this one?

From the book description:

Detailed and copiously illustrated, this in-depth handbook offers instruction for constructing more than 50 wooden toys designed to appeal to a child’s sense of imagination and playfulness. A brief introduction covers the basic techniques—gluing, sanding, and making wheels—and each project presents a meticulous diagram, a handy materials list, step-by-step instructions, and a photograph of the completed toy. Designs include stylized versions of a Model T car, a crane, and the Spirit of St. Louis airplane, as well as projects specifically for beginning woodworkers, such as pull-along trains and circus animals. Instructions for finishing and detailing ensure that the completed crafts will last for years.

Here is the link for more information about Great Book of Wooden Toys: More Than 50 Easy-to-Build Projects


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Proxxon Scroll Saw for model and toy making

Proxxon Scroll Saw for model and toy making
I already own a decent scroll saw so it would hard to justify this purchase. But...maybe it's not to late for you!

From the product description
This is the ideal machine for that delicate project: model building, toy manufacturing and precision work. It cuts soft wood (e.g. bass wood) up to 1 3/16" (30 mm), hard wood up to approx. 25/64" (10 mm), plastic (including circuit boards) up to approx. 5/32" (4 mm) and non-ferrous metals up to 5/64" (2 mm) with standard scroll saw blades. The machine has a very stable ribbed die-cast aluminum saw frame with 11 13/16" (300 mm) throat. The blade guide is equipped with an integrated blower. The patented head-part is height-adjustable in 3 positions and offers numerous advantages: The lifetime of the saw blade is tripled after shortening it twice (teeth in the middle part of the saw blade are finally used, too). With the head in the lowest position, working with a blade shortened to 2 23/64" is even more precise. The machined worktable of die-cast aluminum has a size of 6 19/64" x 6 19/64" (160 x 160 mm) and is equipped with an adjustable longitudinal stop and graduated miter gauge (0-90°). The ABS plastic body provides a very practical sliding door on the right side of the housing for the removal of saw dust. The saw is powered by a 110 - 120V motor (85 W) for prolonged use, low noise performance and even supported by a quiet and wear-resistant toothed belt drive, running in a ball bearing assembly. The machine offers an electronically controllable stroke rate from approx. 150 - 2,500 strokes/min.

Here's the link to the Proxxon 37088 DS 115/E Scroll Saw


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to make a super accurate vernier protractor

How to make a super accurate vernier protractor
Check out this cool DIY article by Steve Garrison on how to make a protractor accurate up to 0.1 degree.

How it Works (from Steve's site):
Since this protractor uses a bubble level it can only measure vertical angles. The bubble is zeroed up on a reference surface by rotating the disc that the vial is attached to until the bubble is aligned with a mark and the front wing-nut is locked down. Then the protractor is placed on a tilted surface and the larger disc is unlocked (using the wingnut on the back) and the disc is rotated until the bubble is again aligned in the same position, then the rear wingnut is locked back down. The angle is read to a degree where the long line on the left side of the vernier points to the degree scale - read the smaller number. The angle is then read to a tenth of a degree by seeing which of the vernier lines matches up best end-to-end with the degree markings and added to the degree measurement. The markings on the vernier are 0.9 degree apart.

Here is the link with details on how to make your own compact protractor accurate up to 0.1 degree.


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Friday, August 14, 2009

8" slow-speed grinder on sale to end of August

8 inch Slow-Speed Grinder on sale
Woodcraft is offering this 8-inch slow speed grinder on sale from now until the end of August, 2009. Regularly priced at $110, it is now on sale for $95. The grinder comes equipped with 120 grit and 60 grit white aluminum oxide grinding wheels.

From the grinder description:
This quiet, smooth 1/2 HP, 1725 RPM slow-speed grinder is great for sharpening tools without generating the tool destroying heat that you get so quickly from 3450 RPM grinders.

Here's the link for more info 8 inch slow speed grinder.


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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Great used book - How to Make Animated Toys

Great used book - How to Make Animated Toys
A very affordable volume (purchased used) this book features detailed plans and scaled drawings for 30 different animated wooden toys. The author also goes into some detail about the processes of designing and building good toys -- including writing about child-safe materials and finishes. Projects include a waddling duck, a hopping rabbit and a lumbering gorilla.

Here's Amazon's page where you can buy a used copy of How to Make Animated Toys


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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Proxxon hand-held minature belt sander

Proxxon Hand Held Belt Sander
Designed for sanding in spots where there is limited space, this little power belt sander works on flat surfaces, corners, and curves. The sanding head tilts to provide access to difficult spots. The belt speeds may be adjusted from 300 fpm to 700 fpm. The sander features a quick and easy belt change system and belts that come in 80, 120, and 180 grit.

Here the link for the Proxxon Hand Held Belt Sander


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Thursday, June 04, 2009

23 Piece Hobby & Craft Tool Set for under $15

23 Piece Hobby & Craft Tool Set
I'm a little smitten with this hobby knife and tool set offered by Woodcraft.com. It contains all the things you would expect from one of these sets such as assorted knife blades, handles (3 actually), and a saw blade. But it goes beyond the norm with a inclusion of a tiny spoke shave, block plane, balsa strip tool, sanding block, and tweezers. It comes in a plastic case designed to fit each item. For $15 USD, this looks like a nice starter set for model making or working with any type of wood miniatures (model railroad, planes, boats, carving, etc).

Here's a link to this 23 Piece Hobby and Craft Tool Set.


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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Proxxon Micro Band Saw with optional wet cutting

Proxxon 37172 MBS 115/E Micro Band Saw


From the Amazon.com Product Description
A solid, ribbed die-cast aluminum housing (not a tubular or sheet metal construction) ensures the necessary stability. The machine has double ball bearing aluminum pulleys, a sturdy machined table with a slot for the miter gauge as well as the coolant trough. The worktable tilts up to 45° for accurate miter cuts. The low noise 110-120V motor (high quality, for quiet, prolonged use) operates via toothed belt. Electronically controlled speeds for exceptionally accurate cutting (no subsequent finishing necessary) are available from 395 to 820 ft/min. A practical table at the outside of the machine housing indicates the recommended speed for various types of material. The blade size of 13/64" x 1/64" (5.0 x 0.4 mm) is ideal for fine work, allowing to cut even smallest radii. The machine is equipped with a vacuum-cleaner adapter to help you work in a dust-free environment.

Here's the link to the Proxxon Micro Band Saw


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wooden camel toy driven by a cam mechanism

Wooden Camel toy driven by a cam mechanism
This is a cam-actuated camel toy designed by John Hutchison. The plans for the toy were part of an article in the Woodworker's Journal December, 2000. This particular one was built by a gentleman named Mike for his grandson. A cam is attached to the back wheel axle which drives a dowel that in turn causes the humps, head, tail and legs to move up and down when the toy is pushed.

Here is a page with the builder's notes and several pictures of the wooden camel cam-driven toy.

[ Thanks Charles! ]


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Monday, May 18, 2009

Building a real woodworker's workbench

Here is a great Instructable on how to build a high-quality woodworking bench based on a set of plans originally published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (the best magazine of its kind, in my opinion).

The design used here is simplification of a bench from Sam Allen's book Making Workbenches.


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool

Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool
While most of us are familiar with the versatile rotary tool, we tend to equate it with the Dremel brand name. I have owned many, many Dremel tools and do not have any serious complaints.

Still, this Proxxon profession model appears to offer some noticeable improvements. The manufacturer claims that this model can be use for extended periods when polishing, grinding, cleaning and engraving -- without becoming overheated. That is one problem I have had in the past, but I think I pushed the poor Dremel too far.

Like the better models of Dremel rotary tools, this Proxxon can be run at a range of speeds from 5,000 to 20,000 RPMs. Variable speed is a an important feature in any make of rotary tool.

Finally, the Proxxon features a die cast aluminum head which serves as a study housing for the steel spindle, running within a ball bearing assembly. This strikes me as more robust than most Dremel tools.

The unit comes with six collets (sized 1/32", 1/16", 5/64", 3/32", 7/64" and 1/8") and is compatible with a number of Proxxon accessories such as a foot switch, flexible shaft, and drill stand.

Here is a link to the Proxxon 38481 IB/E Professional Rotary Tool


Note: Those of you who know you will be using a rotary tool a lot, should consider something like the Foredom rotary tools that jewelers and serious woodcarvers use.


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Friday, April 17, 2009

Carving tools sets with interesting handle design

Carving tools sets with interesting handle design
I've used the traditional carving knives, chip carving knives, and palm carving tools, but I can't say I've ever used a carving knife with this style of handle.

I gather that the handle design is meant to serve two purposes. They can be held fully in the palm for larger, forceful cuts, or griped by the narrow part at the neck -- rather like a pencil -- for finer cuts. It sure sounds like a good idea.

Woodcraft has a seven piece set (shown here, $50) and a a five piece set ($40). Both come in a storage box of some sort.


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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manuals

Koch Studio Kollegs are written by master carver Kurt Koch. Each Kolleg focuses specifically on building your carving skills in a particular area while also covering proper tool selection, handling, and use. They feature numerous illustrations and photographs along with easy-to-follow instructions in four languages: English, French, German and Spanish.

From the product descriptions:
 Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on hands
Kolleg #5 - Hands
Instruction in carving the seven known carved motives of hands: The working hand; the hand of the crucified; open hand of a woman; hand with firm grip, half closed hand, hand grabbing something fine and hand of an infant. 44 pages. Over 340 photos.

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on heads
Kolleg # 10 - Heads
Instruction in carving the different faces (heads) that lend itself to a family grouping: Young lady, child and man with beard. 40 pages. Over 340 photos.

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on clown
Kolleg #30 - Climbing Clown
Instruction in carving a clown climbing a rope. Once finished you'll be able to actually hang the clown from a piece of rope. A large carving approximately 19" tall, this project is generally regarded as one for the more advanced carver. 52 pages. Over 350 photos.

Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manual on bear
Kolleg #46 - Standing Bear
Instruction in carving a standing bear approximately 15½" tall not including the base. Over 81 steps, 365 photos along with copious illustrations guide you through the project. Considered a project for the more advanced carver. 56 pages.


Here is the link to the Koch Studio Kollegs - carving instruction manuals.


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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Micro carving tools for very small wood carvings

Dockyard micro carving tools for small wood carving
The other day I mentioned the Rick Bütz woodcarving knives I use. While about 70 percent of the time I use either the standard carving knife or the detail knife, there are times when a specially shaped carving tool is just what you need. For a long time, I struggled with a mediocre set of palm carving tools. Mine didn't hold an edge very well and were just too big to be very useful.

A few years ago I discovered these unassuming little micro carving tools. They may look simple but they are hand forged, tempered, and tested for a correct edge profile. Not only that: they come sharpened and ready to use. Hallelujah!

They offer sets like the one shown here in three different sizes -- 1.5mm, 2mm, and 3mm. I went with the 2mm and am very happy with it. The micro carving tool set I bought has single and double bevel chisels, a skew chisel, a 90 degree V-shaped tool, and U-shaped gouge. All in cherry wood handles.

Here's the full line of Dockyard micro carving tools.


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Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rick Bütz two-knife woodcarving set on sale

Rick Butz two-knife woodcarving set
If you are a wood-carver or interested in learning, I came upon this deal from Woodcraft Woodworking Supply. This is a set of Rick Bütz carving knives -- the same to I use to carve the figures of my wood automata.

Rick Bütz wrote the book on wood carving. No, really...he DID write the book called How to Carve Wood. He also wrote a great book on How to Sharpen Carving Tools. Both are excellent.

The two knives shown are a standard carving knife (bottom) for most roughing out and carving and a detail knife (top) for doing fine cuts. Together, they should be the only knives you'll ever need. Now...other carving tools...well, you may want/need those in time, but this is a great start. Don't mistake these knives for the ones you find at your local arts and crafts chain store: these are much better. I learned this the hard way.

Woodcraft offers either knife individually, or will give you a great deal on the two -- saving you 33% -- through March 31, 2009.

Here's the product page for the Rick Butz two-knife woodcarving set.


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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fantastic all-wood blinds with helical gear system

Check out these absolutely fantastic all-wooden blinds.

The blinds utilize a beautiful set of wooden helical gears made with a technique that Steve Garrison created. The blind slats and the frame are walnut, the handles are pecan, and the gears and pulleys are made of cherry. Very nice, indeed.

Visit Steve's web site for information at www.stevengarrison.com.


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Friday, January 30, 2009

Miniature woodshop models with amazing detail

Miniature woodshop with amazing detail
Setting the scene for an automaton often requires making miniature versions of things. Having done bit of this myself, I can really appreciate the work of David Brookshaw who makes 1/12-scale miniatures of tools and workshop equipment.

Brookshaw is working on a fully-equipped Victorian workshop. In the photo above that is a U.S. Quarter clamped to the bench vise!

You can visit David Brookshaw's web site to see more photos of his work

[ Thanks Charles! ]


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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Making amazing wooden gears

Here are some samples of gears made by Steve Garrison. He has developed a technique that enables you to make any of the gears of the type shown in this video by using either a scrollsaw or a tablesaw. You can make straight-tooth or helical gears.

From his description:
There are no paper patterns to glue to wood and saw around, the correct involute tooth profile is automatically generated. This technique is very simple once you see how it works. There is no need for expensive cnc routers or lasers or any computer-controlled tools. If you have a scrollsaw or tablesaw, the ability to cut accurately sized circles from plywood, and a computer - then you can do this. You won't find this technique anywhere else, I have looked thoroughly and know it is my own original idea.

Visit his web site at http://www.stevengarrison.com/ from that home page click on the "gears" link to purchase Steve's technique. The price is $30.


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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Trebuchet and Catapult Gift Guide from MAKE

Trebuchet and Catapult Gift Guide
The holidays just got a bit more..um...Medieval. I am so happy to share with you MAKE Magazine's complete Gift guide for the trebuchet and catapult maker. Build one, learn things, and by all means -- fling something!

(I am staunchly pro-catapult. There, I said it.)


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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Free plans to make wood barking dog automaton

Free plans to make barking dog wood automaton
A while back, Lee Valley Tools published the first of a two-part article on automata by our friend Charles Mak. In this second installment, the author provides full instructions and plans for making a wood automaton of a barking dog. Automaton plans are not easy to come by so this is a rare treat!

Here is the link to Charles Mak's article on how to make a barking dog automaton courtesy of Lee Valley Tools.


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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Article on "Automata: A Fascinating Woodcraft"

Charles Mak is a woodworker, automata-maker, writer, and true friend of The Automata / Automaton Blog. The first of his two-part article on automata is now available online at the Lee Valley Tools web site.

In the article, the author describes contemporary automata, gives an overview of their history, and introduces the reader to the process of making wood automata. He concludes this first installment with some great suggestions for further reading and some useful online resources. Stay tuned for the second part of the article in an upcoming woodworking newsletter!

Here is the link to the article Automata: A Fascinating Woodcraft, by Charles Mak.


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Monday, August 18, 2008

Del's Beautiful Wooden Machine - Final Details

I posted a while back about Del Short's Amazing Wooden Contraption. He's added the final details and the machine is now finished.

The best news of all is that he says he has some new ideas and will probably work on them! Personally, I cannot wait to see what this master craftsman comes up with.

I also love the way Del and Art interact. I am putting my vote in for a cable TV show.

[ Thanks Del and Art! ]


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Thursday, August 07, 2008

How to Make a Circle Cutting Jig for a Router

Circle Cutting Jig for the Router
Perhaps you've been inspired to make a wooden machine with some rather large pin-wheel type gears. There are many ways to cut circles including freehand on a scroll saw or band saw. You can also make or buy a circle cutting jig for the bandsaw. Additionally, you can consider using a fly type circle cutter or using a hole saw in a drill press.

Here is a complete article on how to make your own adjustable circle-cutting jig for a hand held router.

Unlike many a circle-cutting jig for the router, this one overcomes a common limitation -- cutting a circle with a radius shorter than the distance between the router bit and the pivot on which is spins.

John English came up with the ingenious jig you see in the photo above. It doesn't rely on a pivot point, which means it can be used to cut range of circle sizes.

Here is the article on How to Make a Circle Cutting Jig for a Router


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