Happy Spring!

It was my busiest winter yet here in my little shop in Waupoos. Typically, I have quite a bit of down time in January to rest, read some books and give the shop a good overhaul. This year the requests for custom furniture just kept coming in. I was busy working almost every day and now, it’s Spring already.

Part of me wishes I had more down time to rest, relax and reset in the new year. You may or may no know this about me, but I like to have a very clean and organized shop. At one point recently, it looked like this. Which for me – is really letting it slide.

But of course the other part of me is really happy and thrilled to be so busy. I’m really happy and grateful to be able to be self employed and work creatively.
I’m kicking off the season with a calendar full of work orders and planning my appearances at art and craft shows for summer. Stay posted for a finalized list of show and events for 2017! As always, thank you for your support and your interest in handcrafted, unique, Canadian made goods.

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Have Boards Will Travel

show-set-up

Oh, September.

 

Cool, crisp evenings. Sunny warm afternoons. The comfort of regular schedules as the kids go back to school. A dizzying array of fall colour starts to peak out of the green foliage. All these act as a signal to the end of the busy summer art and crafts show circuit.

 

This time of year I get to take a deep breath of that cool fragrant air and think about the past few months of busy shows, driving through cities, and being away from home for days.

 

I get to think about all the people I’ve met, the adventures I’ve had and the family I had chances to visit. I can think back and appreciate all the fantastic fellow artists I met and the work I saw at ArtFest Distillery, Port Credit, Kingston, Beaches. The beautiful works at Cabbage Town Arts Fest and Art Among the Ruins. Appreciate the delicious treats of Cheese Festival, Terroir and weekly the farmers market.

 

I  admit, I take some relief knowing that I won’t have to pack the van up with all the supplies and products and truck them around for a few months at least. I can put down some roots at home and start thinking about the larger projects. I can sit down and do drawings for custom projects and get creative. Assess my shop stock, reassess my work flow, my set up and board designs.

 

It’s a small pause. A little moment of time in the year. Soon, Holiday shows will start and we’ll be caught up in the whirlwind again before we suddenly find we’re settled down again, mid January, in front of a cracking fire. Reassessing, breathing and reflecting. For now, I’ll appreciate the pause, as brief as it is.

 

Packed van, ready to travel.

Packed van, ready to travel.

 

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Upcoming Events – Fall 2016

September

Wellington Farmers Market, Wellington, Weekly 8am – 1pm http://www.countymarkets.ca/

ArtFest Toronto, Distillery September 2-5  http://www.artfestontario.com/

Cabbagetown Arts Festival, Toronto September 9-11 http://www.cabbagetownartandcrafts.org/

Taste! Community Grown. Prince Edward County, September 24 http://www.tastecommunitygrown.com/

October

Wellington Farmers Market, Wellington, Weekly. Ends OCT 8th. 8am – 1pm http://www.countymarkets.ca/

November

The Makers Hand, Prince Edward County November 4-6 http://themakershand.com/

 

Keep up to date on all our events and new products.

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Straight Line Ripping in a Small Shop

 Straight Line Ripping in a Small Shop

“Straight lining” a board is when you create a straight edge along the length of a board, similar to what is done on a jointer.  So, why not use a jointer?  A few reasons. First, because a jointer is only as good as the length of its tables.  Even though I have a long bed jointer with a total length of 6’, it’s still too short to get the truly straight edge that is required for joining boards together.  Second, ripping the edge instead of jointing is much faster and easier.  You can rip it in one pass whereas it may take several passes on the jointer.  This is especially true when you have a 9’ board with a major crook.

The jig requires straight, parallel edges and some toggle clamps to secure the board.

The jig requires straight, parallel edges and some toggle clamps to secure the board.

Straight Line Rip 3

Crooked board on the jig with the crook facing out.

Straight line ripping is something that is usually only done in large wood shops with specialized rip saws to perform the task. It doesn’t have to be a task relegated just to the big shops. I’ve developed a method for doing it in my small garage shop on my table saw.

Here’s my method for straight line ripping on the table saw.  I start by flattening and planing the boards.  This will ensure that the ripped edge will come out square to the face.  (I have methods for flattening long boards as well, that’s another blog though.)  Next, I set up the saw with plenty of infeed and outfeed support and of course, have a ripping blade installed.

Straight Line Rip 4

Cleaned up edge.

Then I put the crooked board on the jig.  The jig is just a piece of MDF with parallel straight edges and some toggle clamps to hold the board.  I put the board on the jig with the crook facing out (away from the fence,) and clamp it so that there’s a little bit overhanging the jig at both ends.  I set the rip fence to the width of the jig or just wider then make the cut with the jig riding along the fence.  The edge of the board is cut parallel with the straight edge of the jig.  I then use the new edge to rip the opposite edge parallel to it and it’s ready to go into a glue up. Straight Line Rip 5

 

 

Straight edges.

Straight edges.

Over the past few years of working and learning in my shop, this skill has proved pivotal to my work. This process is essential for gluing up table tops and counter tops which I’m often commissioned to make. To see some past examples of my work check out the “Custom Woodworking” section of my website. To keep up to date on the newest projects, like me on Facebook or sign up for my newsletter.

 

Juice Groovin’

Yes, they’re handmade! And this is how you know.

 

Routing juice grooves in a butcher block is an easy task for a CNC router, but you’ll find no automation in my shop. I start by making a template, setting up each board individually and pushing that router by hand. This can be a tedious task, but I’ve learned a few things over the years which make the job go smoothly. Here’s a look at my current set up.

A big router is required. I’ve recently upgraded to a 3 1/4HP Triton router, it’s a beautiful thing deserving its own blog post. The important features that are helpful for performing this task are the power, dust collection and depth stops. Hogging out a deep groove in hard maple produces a lot of chips, so having the dust collection attached to the tool is really helpful. The depth stops allow me to make the grooves in all the boards the same size. Even with all that power, I still do two or three passes to ensure quality of the cut.

The template that I use is actually just a set of “walls” that are spaced out from the side of the block. I find this set up to be more versatile than making a plywood template. The walls are clamped to the side of the board so that the groove is an equal distance from the edge of the board all the way around. I can use this set of walls for any size butcher block with only a little adjustment. The finger grooves in the sides of the boards are made in a similar fashion.   I use the fence on the router base and clamp two stops at either end of the board. I set up the butcher block so that its side is flush with the top of my workbench to provide extra support for the router.

 

And it’s as simple as that. No automation required, just elbow grease.

 

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-Em