Sunday, February 13, 2011

Preparing for Class

Once again I have the honor of assisting Peter Galbert with the chair class at Kelly Mehler's school this spring in Berea Kentucky. We had a great class last year and the responce to this years class prompted Kelly to add another class. So we have 2 weeks and 2 different sets of students. Pete is flying in from New York so I'll be responsible for all the materials. No pressure there, right?

I've aquired a nice oak log for spindles and a nice sugar maple for all the turnings. I sawed the maple into 5 foot lengths and then sliced them up into 8/4 on the sawmill following the grain as close as I could.

Then I brought the 8/4 slabs into the shop and cut to length and ripped into billets on the bandsaw. It's funny how you cut a round tree into squares only to round them up again.I sealed the ends with anchorseal wax to prevent cracks. As you can see below I have a lot of work ahead of me rounding and turning enough stock for about 20 chairs. After rounding the blanks they must dry for several weeks before I can turn the legs, stretchers, and back posts. I'll get some pics of this operation later.

Logan worked on one of his favorite projects of splitting wood. My stove only accepts 12" lengths of firewood so the short sections of red oak blow apart with relative ease. I always seem to have scraps of logs to split up. Nothing goes to waste. You can see the nice stack of wood Logan has already split. Maybe this will get him ready for baseball next season.

I hope by now some of you have tried the laser method of drilling angles. I wanted to show Pete Wiens below drilling a stool leg for box stretchers. With only one of the lasers set up shooting down the center of the leg(hard to see the laser in the photo) it gives you the true center to start drilling. The laser is also set 90 degrees to the bench (checked with a square of coarse) which shoots a beam up the drill so you can drill perfect 90 degrees. I still use the mirror for the the other angle which is easier to see. The stools that Pete Wiens built were drilled so perfect using the lasers that the footprints of each stool matched perfectly. Please let me know if you try the laser method and what you think of its accuracy and simplicity.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Laser Reaming

Sometimes I like to bounce new ideas off of students. Sometimes I get a blank stare or "yea, that's cool", but yesterday after showing Pete Wiens how to drill and ream his stool seat with sight lines and mirrors it hit me that I needed something different. The problem is getting someone who isn't use to looking at sight lines and bevel guages to ream at the proper geometry to get all the legs really close to what they should be. Up til now "really close" was the best I could hope for. All I said to Pete was "what if we had lasers?", and today we have what you see below. With this set up anyone can ream the tapered holes for the legs spot on. It gives the students more confidence than I could ever imagine and it really sets up in seconds. If it were not simple then believe me, I would not fool with it.
It works like this. Go to the local home improvement store and pick up two cheap $15 B&D line lasers. They have a small magnet on the bottom. We built the base out of scrap wood with a heavy hardwood bottom for stability. It's good to have rubber glued under the base so they won't slide around on the bench. The dowel makes it adjustable for easy setup. The laser sits magnetized on a metal nut imbedded in the base.
Now on the bottom of your seat blank after you have drilled the straight holes from above the usual way, draw a perpindicular line across the hole to the sight line. Set up one of the lasers tilted to the drilling angle and sighting down the perpindicular line. The other laser will be adjusted to 90 degrees to the seeat blank and sighting straight down the sight line. Stay with me now.
Now all you have to do is start reaming keeping the crosshair of the lasers right on the top point of the reamer. That's it! It comes out perfect and I have not found a flaw yet.
A couple things to remember. Never look directly into a laser. This set up with this brand of lasers keeps the line of light lower than eye level. Also it helps to turn off the lights above your workbench. I have windows all around and still had no problem seeing the laser lines. Also turn the top of your tapered reamer slightly concave so the laser will fill in to the top of the reamer. I hope this will shead some light on reaming perfect angles. Good luck.