Crazy About Woodworking

The Skeptics

They said it couldn’t be done.  It was impossible.  Building the Hoover Dam, landing on the Moon, or dating Stana Katic (Kate Beckett from ‘Castle’), would be much easier.  The arguments went as follows.

“You don’t have enough experience.”  said one skeptical voice.

Another chimed in, “The people who pull off this move are seasoned woodworkers, they have years of practice, work in a better shop, and generally have much thicker hair.”

Still a third imaginary voice in my head added, “If it were so easy that a noob could do it, then everyone would!  Duh!”

I have to admit that the voices in my head were making sense, though I thought that the ‘Duh!’, was hurtful.  The simple act of wanting to do something, doesn’t mean it is reasonable to attempt it, at this stage.  Maybe I should just wait?  Maybe I should cower in fear, using my hand planes on practice wood, building nothing, until I am a bit more experienced.

But then there is that tiny little voice in my head.  The one who is fearless and curious.  A dangerous combination to be sure.  Of course, I speak of the ancient woodworking skill of bending wood.  I love pieces of furniture or art, made from thinly sliced strips of wood, lovingly reassembled after being bent into a graceful curve.

Like the dovetail, which I am still working to master, the bent wood sirens are calling.  When I built my jig to help with using my circular saw, one of my dreams was to cut thin pieces of wood.  I don’t have a table saw or a band saw, which are common tools for cutting thin strips of laminate.

The Optimist

When I get an idea in my head, like building the laminate table top for my router table, I usually like to think about it for weeks, before I get brave enough to start.  Today I through caution to the wind and took my piece of walnut, which I had flattened with my hand plane, and set it in the jig.  I was very careful with how I clamped the jig, took measurements several times, and checked to see that the walnut wouldn’t move.

All that was left, was to plug in the circular saw, and give it ago.  It worked and I had a very thin piece of wood.  I held it up and gently bent it, half expecting it to shatter, sending a shard into my jugular and leaving me dead and a wood bending failure.

It bent just fine.  I felt so proud that had Stana Katic been hanging around in my basement, I would have boldly asked her to diner, and not even cared when she laughed and said, ‘No, absolutely not.’  It was that cool.  It wasn’t the fact that the wood bent, it was that I got such a nice thin piece with my jig.  It worked exactly like I had hoped.

Now one piece of thin wood, is a far cry from a laminated curved leg, but it is a lovely first step.

Feeling full of confidence, I decided to try some more jointing with my router table.  You will remember, many moons ago, back when I was writing about woodworking on my woodworking blog, that I didn’t have success with jointing.  So I gave it a shot again.  The first two attempts were better, but still not perfect.  I adjusted the fence, as I determined that I was taking off more than the thickness of my metal plate, which was causing problems.

The metal plate, which I show in a previous post, allows the feather board to hold the wood after it has been trimmed, solidly and flat, against the fence.  I also moved the feather board to the center of the metal piece, this worked much better than my original set up.  After the fence adjustment, getting the bit perfectly lined up, it worked.

Just to be sure, I grabbed another piece of practice wood and ran it through.  Another great result.  So I have had a good night in the shop.  I only stopped because I wanted to share it with everyone.  I am going to go back downstairs and start building a small box.  I am on a roll, or at least that is what the voices are telling me.

8 comments
KentClark1
KentClark1

Woodworking takes dedication, hard work, and skill. Not everyone can do it, but the job isn't that bad if you focus. I really like the beginning of your story that included the naysayers. It was actually quite motivational. http://www.woodworkingbyerminio.com 

wayne
wayne

the use of steam to 'soften' the wood really helps in the bending. helps keep the wood fibers from breaking. see roy underhill's (the woodwright) site.

David Mathias
David Mathias

There are always naysayers, sometimes in our own heads. The first piece of furniture I ever made was a small night table. I needed to match the finish of our store-bought bedroom set. I sought advice in the old rec.woodworking. One of the first replies I got was from a pro who told me, in essence, that I was a moron for even trying. A couple of other guys offered helpful advice and with a lot of effort (and more than a little motivation provided by that oh-so-helpful pro) I ended up with a great result.

Don't listen to the naysayers. Especially the internal ones.

David Mathias
David Mathias

There are always naysayers, sometimes in our own heads. The first piece of furniture I ever made was a small night table. I needed to match the finish of our store-bought bedroom set. I sought advice in the old rec.woodworking. One of the first replies I got was from a pro who told me, in essence, that I was a moron for even trying. A couple of other guys offered helpful advice and with a lot of effort (and more than a little motivation provided by that oh-so-helpful pro) I ended up with a great result.

Don't listen to the naysayers. Especially the internal ones.

AlexandraFunFit
AlexandraFunFit

Okay, I didn't understand much of what you said. But I got a HUGE laugh out of one of your typos. Sending a shard into your "juggler" sounds almost, well, like a double entendre. I think you might want to say "jugular." Much higher on the body!

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