Drawing Bows

I have been using a lot more curves in my work and have been reaching for various devices to help draw those curves. I made a small drawing bow out of maple a while back and I use it pretty often. Lee Valley sent out an advertisement in one of their emails about a fiberglass drawing bow. They were good looking tools, but quite expensive. I thought I could do the same for cheaper.

I started with some fiberglass reinforced plastic. This can go by various names. G10, FR4, Garolite and others. A 1″ wide, 1/8″ thick, 4 foot long piece was 6 bucks from McMaster-Carr. Their shipping is aggressive and expensive, but if you buy a decent pile of stuff, it still comes out to be very affordable. I bought 3 of them.

Lee Valley uses nylon webbing to hold the shape. I had some, but it was 1″ wide also. Something narrower would be nice. I didn’t want to buy anything else, and I didn’t have a good way to attach the webbing to the G10. I went with paracord instead. Not exactly fancy, but it got the job done and I have scads of the stuff around. I drilled a hole and relieved the edge to make sure the paracord stays in place.

The paracord is really slippery and doesn’t like to hold well with typical adjustable knots like the taught line hitch. I printed this little 3 hole tensioner to help with adjusting the bow. Later ones I just used a single hole. It seems to hold well and allows for faster adjustment.

In all I made a 4, 3, and 2 foot drawing bow. This stuff is stiff enough you wouldn’t want to go much shorter, it just doesn’t offer enough curvature. The smallest bow could go tighter if you wanted to, but not a ton. I will need to find thinner or more flexible material if I want to do really tight curves. These make nice subtle shapes and will probably last a lifetime. Go make some!

Wee Walker Fleet

My first wee walker was pretty popular with kids of the co-worker I gave it two and didn’t need any revisions after the second version. I wanted one for us, and I had two co-workers that were having kids soon. That calls for a batch run!

The MDF templates I made earlier came in handy. I could use them to do rough dimensioning of the plywood, and it let me efficiently nest parts together in some cases. I didn’t use them on the router table, but opted to free hand cut everything on the bandsaw. I was going to have to bandsaw the basic shape anyways, so all it took was a little extra care to cut up to the line. Power sanders took care of the rest. These aren’t very complex shapes.

Cutting wheels this big is kind of a pain. A 4 inch hole saw requires a lot of torque, and getting the sawdust out cleanly on 3/4″ plywood means constantly pulling the bit out and cleaning it. I might 3D print the wheels next time. 30% infill ought to be kid proof right?

I changed up the paint scheme a little from last time, adding black to the wheels and a stripe of black on the sides. I left the handles bare wood. This looks pretty nice on them, and isn’t too much work.

Everything is coming together with roundovers and pilot holes being drilled.

This round of building went well, with only a few minor errors. I made the holding area a lot deeper front to back, and that might be a mistake. It had the arms really close to the wheels, and might lead to kids kicking the back plate when walking. I don’t think it will be a major issue, but will want to have a shorter storage area in the next version. I’ll have to start calling myself kilted santa’s workshop.

Cutting Board Flattening tip

A lot of folks have shown how to make an end grain cutting board. I am not going to add a whole documented build to the pile. I will add one flattening tip to help save time and make a better product. A friend of mine is getting married, so that calls for a wedding present. What better device to induce marital bliss and/or arguments than a cooking implement? I would make him a vacuum if I could.

Enter some cherry from previous wedding presents and maple from the stash. I always clamp my cutting boards down to a piece of flat plywood with wax paper below. That keeps the bottoms good and flat for the next phase. That oak beam in the center is my clamp caul.

This one has a ton of squeezeout, but I put packing tape on my clamp cauls, so all is well. The problem: How to deal with all the squeezeout, and what do we do about the uneven top? Run it through the planer! That causes blowout at the back end. I selected the better looking sections for the gift, and used the spares to make a small board for myself. I ran it through the planer as-is to demonstrate the problem.

Lots of pieces of wood get chipped off at the end because the grain runs up and down and is unsupported. This is with a helical cutter head using very light passes. That is a best case scenario normally. It can often be much worse. Why do this at all? Well you get really fantastically flat tops in a hurry when you use the planer.

Tricky, so what do we do? Take a block plane and cut a little chamfer on the trailing edge that will be exiting the planer. Or both entrance and trailing edges so you don’t get mixed up. The cutter will be shearing off the last bits of fiber, but the chamfer will mean that happens a little ways back from the bitter edge. Here is the edge I put on the big board, it isn’t big. Just a 1/16″ chamfer. The results from heavy cuts are no blowout and a very clean flat top!

If you don’t have a block plane, I bet a sanding block would do it too. That means you can plane the top flat quickly and without risk of end blowout. Just make sure you don’t plane through your chamfer. I shipped the big one out fast enough I forgot to take a picture, but here is the little one after a number of uses in my kitchen.

Chamfer your cutting boards for planer success!

Weapon Wall Hangers

I have a number of sharp and dangerous objects lying around my office. My intention was to eventually get them mounted up on the wall in nice displays. The prospect of tiny hands getting a hold of them moves that up in the priority list.

First up is my kukri. I rehabbed it many moons ago with a friend and have been sitting on it ever since. I found a thick piece of mahogany I bought years ago for a project idea, but never ended up executing on. This is my first time working with it, and a low risk project like this is a good place to start. It is really hard stuff, but look great when you get a good hand plane across it. I re-sawed the piece to save material because this stuff is quite expensive.

The back of the plaque was cut to size, had some shapes cut out at the corners, then got a round over to smooth everything out.

To hold the knife in place, I used some blocks of the mahogany and shaped notches with a hand saw, then rasp. When I was sure they would fit in place, I did a lot of sanding to round over the outside to make them look nice.

I experimented with dye to darken up the mahogany a little. Not too much, but I wanted it to be closer to the aged handle than any oil based finish would give. When I got the color I wanted I hit it with some shellac and called the project finished.

Next on the list was my bow and arrows. They had been sitting in a floor stand I made for quick access. I honestly hadn’t really done any shooting since we moved, so this could probably be put up on the wall without any inconvenience. Here is what the final piece looks like so you can see where we are going. I don’t use many stains anymore, but I think red oak stains wonderfully!

I had an image of this one in my head for a while and really wanted to do half lap joints to hold everything together, and have a lot of shape in the center. I laid out the curves and cut everything on the bandsaw.

The spear point tip was another thing I had a pretty strong vision of. It came off the saw a little lopsided, but I was able to sand it into a respectable shape.

For the half laps I tried something new. In the past I would just cut them by hand 100%. I decided to try and be a hybrid woodworker. I hogged away most of the waist with my little trim router, then use a chisel to take it up to the line. It does make for a very smooth straight cheek.

My experience doing this trick with the other half of the joint was less stellar. The bit would keep grabbing and bouncing around and I went through a lot of batteries. The top left slot in the left hand picture shows where I started with the router, then just ran out of batteries. I had already defined the edges with a saw. I took a chisel, and in about 20 seconds cleared out 80% of the waste. I then went back with a new battery and cleaned up the bottom (right hand picture). That was way easier. Trim routers can’t hog out a ton of material, but they do great at cleaning up the last little bit. lesson learned.

Here is the un-assembled shot of everything. I did a little trimming with a block and shoulder plane to make everything snug. The final joints look pretty tight on the outside, I am proud of them. I cut the tennon parts a little long and planed them flush when the glue was dried.

To hold the bow in place I did a little more carving and shaping on some oak blocks.

I didn’t do any edge rounding on this one. I wanted it to look reasonably refined, but still a little rustic. Like it might be something an old armory would use to hold a bow that was always needed at the ready.

Last but not least I made a big double bladed ax for my armor costume. This was probably back in 2010 or so. It has been moved around and mostly lived in closets. Now, it gets to live next to my shield on the wall. Putting this one together was so fast I got it up on the wall before I remembered to take the first picture. Oops!

Little Bushey Sign Upgrade

Our Little Bushey South sign has been sitting proudly on the mantle since we moved in. I got something to add to it recently. My wife’s family had a small cutting of a fence post from the Little Bushey farm. It isn’t in great shape, but it is a family wood from her side.

I wanted to use this in a way that was special. My idea was to drill out some plugs from the post wood and inlay it into the sign. I cut a chunk off to make it easier to clamp, drilled the plugs, then diced them out on the bandsaw.

I thought 3 plugs to represent the 3 of us living in the house would be a good way to go. I kept an extra plug in case any more little Hansels come along. The walnut sign was really hard, and the post wood is really soft and porous. It made planing everything flush very hard. There is a little bit of crushing in the end grain of the plugs, but that was the best I could do.

Everything got a few coats of spray lacquer to blend the finish back together. The post wood is a lot darker than I expected once the finish went down. It is a subtle accent when viewed from afar, but I can always see it and know what it means. I saved the rest of the post wood in case another idea comes to mind.