Dread Knot

I posted about attending the Tampa woodworking show just after I got back.  What I didn’t talk about was some of the cool people I met.  Lots of fellow hobby woodworkers attend the show and you get to talking.  One super cool dude also happened to do a bit of blogging himself.

Darryl has a really clean and well organized shop on youtube.  Take a look if you want a garage setup that will make you drool!  He even has really well done stickers to hand out.  This badboy went on my bandsaw along with a few others.  It makes me want to step up my game and do more all-video posts and maybe even get artsy and do my own logo with sticker.



Beard Oil

I have been wanting to do my own beard oil ever since I made shave oil.  I had a commercial beard oil that was pretty decent and easy to reorder.  Now, no more excuses, my store bought stuff was running out, so I bought the ingredients to make my own.

There are a million oils available that should be good for your hair and skin.  I chose argan, jojoba, and sweet almond oil because they seemed to be in a lot of the high end beard oils.  The raw ingredients are kind of pricy, but I use this stuff so slowly that this batch should last me for a year plus gifts.


The tiny bottle is sandalwood oil.  The sandalwood shave oil is awesome, so I figured I would continue the theme.  I used equal parts of each major oil as measured by weight.  50 grams of each yielded 3/4 of a cup.


I didn’t measure the essential oil by weight but rather with a shake.  I shook it for a total of 20 seconds.  The bottle gave 2 to 3 drops per second.  I am guessing 40-60 total drops for this 150g batch.  Stop to mix and smell as you go, the right amount is very subjective.


This batch was perfect for two 1 ounce droppers (gift for bearded co-workers), and a 4 ounce bottle for myself.  I have only used it for a few days, but have really enjoyed the results.  It is thicker than the other oils I have used, which means this 4 ounce bottle should last longer.

Last but not least every good product needs a fancy label.  This is no exception.


Easter Brisket

Since my smoker renovation back in January I have been working to re-learn the process.  The new controller holds everything at different temperatures than I am used to.  Time to experiment!  I had a lot of family over on Easter, and decided to skip the ham and go for an Easter brisket!

This badboy started off at 2am weighing in at over 13 pounds!


A lot of trimming later he was ready for some coarse salt and pepper rub down.

Off the little brisket goes to smoker school to learn to be tender and dark and delicious.


5 hours later I woke up and did a check.  It was really far along.  I started off with the setting of 275, but I know that the smoker runs a little colder in the center than the built in probe reads.  Maybe using oak changed the setting.  I lowered the temp to 225 and let it go for another 4 hours.


Our little brisket has graduated with a bachelors degree in deliciousness.  Some post graduate school would do it well.  All wrapped up in butcher paper it continued its studies in a cooler.  Resting in a cooler is great, all the insulation keeps it hot for hours.  We ate nearly 3 hours later, and it was still piping hot.

The bottom 1/8 to 1/4″ of the brisket was a little dry and hard, but the rest was pretty good.  I am guessing this was due to the heat being too high at the outset.  The fat was well rendered and melted in your mouth.


Over all it is a really tasty brisket, but there is always room for improvement.  Next time, I will start at 250 and see how things run.

I couldn’t completely buck tradition.  Sometimes you just really want ham for Easter.  I stuck a little half ham in the smoker for the last few hours to warm it up and impart a little smoke.  Oak and ham aren’t a perfect match, but it turned out well nonetheless.


Rule To Sector Conversion

I have been reading a set of books that are directed at teaching the old methods of design using simple tools and ratios.  How did people build so many things and design such gorgeous furniture before industrial era tools and production?  A lot of it had to do with ratios.  They noticed basic ratios and proportions of the body, and used them to create furniture that fit our proportions and was decorated with ratios that are pleasing to the eye.

Getting ratios can be tough, but one tool helps a lot.  The sector.  I will start with a sector demonstration, then go through converting a ubiquitous folding ruler into a ratio tool.

SO!  Say you have this nice block of wood, and want to divide it into 3rds for some reason.  Instead of reaching for the fine ruler and calculator, take this pivoting stick with equal divisions on it and line both edges up on the 9s.


Now you take your divider, (it looks like a compass, but only has points, no pencil) and line it up with the 3 marks.  The 3 to 9 ratio is also a 1:3 ratio.  The dividers are now set at 1/3rd of the width of that piece of wood.


Line up one leg of the dividers with an edge of the wood and step in twice.  You leave a little pin prick in the wood as you step over.  Put a sharp pencil or marking knife in those divots left by the divider and use a square to transfer across the piece.


Bam!  Divided into 3rds in no time.  Find the center point of something in a snap, set drawer pulls up 4/7ths from the bottom of a drawer face, or divide an area up to figure out how wide a mitered framing should be.  The possibilities are endless and require almost no math skills.  Now you know how an early 18th century woodworker could divide something up with extreme precision even if their ruler had nothing finer than 1/4″ marks.

Sector Construction

You can build a sector out of any two straight pieces of wood or other material, and a tight hinge.  I opted to start with a folding rule.  There are plenty to be had on ebay for ~10 bucks, and they look really nice when cleaned up a bit.  This one started with a lot of years of use, and a brass edge that was coming undone.


I sanded a mountain of nasty finish and imprinted lettering off before getting to clean bare wood.  I fixed the splayed brass edge with epoxy and put a nice set of markings down.  The divisions I used are arbitrary, but they must come from the center of the pivot point, and must be consistent across the sector.

All that hard work didn’t really matter though, because a coat of spray lacquer lifted the sharpie text and bled it everywhere.  Now my lines are blurred beyond use.


Pro tip: Don't use spray lacquer over sharpie!

Rule #2 Conversion

Luckily I am addicted to buying old tools on ebay and purchased not one, but two folding rules!  While the first one sits in time out, take another rule you haven’t ruined, sand it down, put equal marks on both sides, and use BOILED LINSEED OIL to finish it.  It will look great.

I left the backside unchanged so I could have a basic ruler handy when using my sector.



Hay Feeder Lid

It is all fun and games till someone has a tinkle in the hay bin.  The hay hopper I built for our new buns had an open top for filling.  Somebunny was taking advantage of this, and would sit in the hay bin while eating.  We were ok with this until the new babies started peeing in the hay pile.


Fine, if you are going to be a bad bunny, then we have to add a lid.  I would make a simple flat top, but I don’t want them using it as a launching platform for going over the fence.  So, start with a piece of wood, and angle smartly with your great grandfather’s number 3 plane.

Now add a magnet and strap hinge.


I screwed the hinge into the vertical fence support that the feeder is suspended on.  the magnet lets you open the lid and use both hands to load hay.  The sloped top seems to be keeping the buns at bay.  I have yet to see any of them try to get on top or into the bin.  Bad bunny behavior has been blocked!



Tampa Woodworking Show

I finally attended my first woodworking show this weekend.  I don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago, it was a blast.  I went for Friday and Saturday and had a non-stop run of seeing cool tools, attending demonstrations and classes, and talking to other woodworkers.

There were a ton of vendors selling everything electrical, mechanical and sharp.  I got to put hands on some really sweet vertias planes and rummage through endless piles of junk!

There was a ton of wood being sold there as well.  I should have brought my suburban.

People were demonstrating all sorts of carving and turning techniques and even giving attendees the chance to try out a skill for themselves.

I attended some really informative free classes while there.  I filled up pages of my field notes with different techniques and tips from the instructors.  One guy was a multi-generation housewright.  His shop still takes on apprentices and works on period houses using period tools.  I learned some things about finishing that will have to be included in my next big project, and walked away with some free varnish samples.  How cool is that?!

I spent way too much on “show special prices”, but managed to pick some some things I had been drooling over and actually did find some good deals.  Last but not least they had a monster of a log section for display, and a big portable wood mill.  Who doesn’t want one of these?


Clamp Bucket

Lots of people store clamps in large racks and in rows along their wall.  I don’t have much wall space with easy access, and a big clamp rack is a no go.  I do have some buckets though!


Good, but it kind of tips over easily and could use higher sides.  Screwing the bottom of the bucket to a scrap of spare particle board keeps it from tipping.  I used small segments of pine to create risers for the second bucket.  Cutting out the bottom of the second bucket let the clamps go all the way to the bottom.

Better, now how does that happy little clamp sit in there?  Oh look, 20 friends decided to join.  Bessey and Jorgensen and Wood River Oh My!


A clamp bucket for less than 10 bucks.  I had a pile of 12, 18 and 24 inch clamps lying around that really needed some organization, and this has fit the bill.  It could be a little tough to find the exact length of clamp I want in the bucket without some trial an error.  That having been said, space is at such a premium in my shop, I am willing to sacrifice a little speed for space.


Butcher Paper Holder

Butcher paper is an amazing thing to keep around the house.  It makes a temporary place-matt for messy projects on the nice dining room table, a large drawing surface, a good backdrop for small photography, a big clean surface for meat prep, holds cookies after baking, it wraps briskets for the Franklin Texas crutch, keeps wood finish and glue off your nice workbench, and about 1000 other uses.

Butcher paper is pretty reasonable if bought in a large roll.  The problem is that large rolls are heavy, tough to cut straight and just a pain to deal with.  In comes a butcher paper holder with fun features.

First, I took a few pieces of clean wide pine and cut some decorative sides.  I used to only make curves by tracing round objects like paint cans, but wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone.  French curves let me get a little fancy and free form.  They could have been blended better, but at least I am learning.

I didn’t get fancy with the construction, just basic wood screws to hold it together and BLO to seal it.  Simple, but it looks right.


This holds the roll and allows for easy removal of paper.  Next comes cutting.  I picked up a small strip of steel and started free-handing an edge on my grinder.  It is hard to get a consistent edge on something over 2 feet long.  I eventually went to an angled table on my little belt sander.  It performed well enough to produce an edge capable of cutting/tearing in a line.

Lastly I added felt pads to the bottom and left side of the holder so it can sit on its side for storage and not scratch the table when in use.  A handle at the center of gravity on the right side makes it easily portable.  Now I need a brisket to smoke and try out that butcher paper wrapped Texas crutch.


Botanical Fest

Our local university has a botanical fest every year.  It is a wonderful event.  Plant vendors galore and fun people everywhere!

They also usually have fun nature displays and animal groups.  Here is an adorable little bat!

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We started pulling our little wagon around and picking up lovely planties.

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Before we even got home we noticed one of the girls couldn’t wait to snack on our new plant selection.

By the time we finally did get home we had a pretty full wagon.  I traded my old wheelbarrow for this dump wagon a few weeks back and couldn’t be happier, it is really useful.

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With the plants out I used the wagon to mix up a batch of coconut coir.  A small brick of the stuff can soak up a lot of water and help keep it in the soil.  Unfortunately the brick is hard to breakup.

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A bit of sawing and soaking later and I had a big soupy mess.  I was going to toss in a bag of compost and vermiculate with this, mix it and call it potting soil.  I went a little overboard with the vermiculite.

I mixed equal parts of this stuff with compost to make a potting soil.  Some plants needed sprucing up, others were dead and needed complete replacement.

We probably need another 8 or 10 plants to finish out our replacements, but we are off to a good start and we have plenty of diy potting mix material.