General Woodworking

Steam Bending Wood

 My recent project of building a banjo has made it necessary for me to learn the art of bending wood. I searched the Internet and my local woodworkers guild library for information. There were bits and pieces of what I needed to know and some suggestions on how to get started. One of my sources suggested using a NEW gas can on a Coleman stove. The idea being that a new gas can would not explode if it happened to run dry. An important consideration I thought.

After a mornings outing, I found that new Coleman stoves were going for around $70 which was a price I was not prepared to pay for this kind of an experiment. I snooped around a few garage sales on Saturday morning a found one only a few blocks from home. The stove looked in very good condition, hardly used I thought. "does it work?" I asked, the answer was affirmative, "how much?" I queried, the answer was ... a whopping four dollars. At that price I didn't have the heart to dicker on the price.

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Microwave Wood Drying

 Disclaimer: Please be aware that this is the method I have developed for my own wood drying. Some species of wood may give off toxic fumes. Anyone who attempts to dry wood by this method is accepting the risk of fire associated with micro waving wood. Anyone who follows these recommendations accepts all responsibility for their actions.

Drying wood for small projects in a microwave is an effective means of reducing moisture content and preventing post-assembly shrinkage and gap widening in your intarsia projects. Air dried wood will shrink in a dry indoor environment and gaps will widen. A piece you thought was perfectly tight will reveal gaps over time.

The amount of time that the wood is "nuked" depends on the initial moisture content of the wood and the total volume of wood you are nuking ...,

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Cross Cutting Bowed and Twisted Boards


 Not only do I hate cutting bowed boards on my sliding compound or my radial arm saw, it is inherently DANGEROUS. Many woodworkers have been severly injured by not paying attention and having saws recoil or kickback. One of the reasons for this is that the teeth angle on some cut off blades is at a more acute angle, such as

 The first issue to look at is the type of blade you are using. If it is not a 60 to 80 tooth blade, preferably with anti kick back teeth, you may want to start considering exactly what you need in a cross cut blade. Note: normally you can only get anti kick back teeth in a 60 tooth version, with 80 teeth there simly isn't the room to include anti kick back teeth. 

A cross cut blade for a table saw if FAR DIFFERENT than it is for a sliding mitre or radial arm saw. One of the biggest differences is the hook angle on the teeth. On a table saw a hook angle of 10 - 18 degrees is fine because the blade is cutting the wood against the firmness of the tables saw's table. On a radial arm or sliding mitre it is quite a different story.

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Jointer Versus Planer: Which One Do You Need to Start With?

I don't know how many times I get asked the question, what should I purchase a jointer or a planer.  The quick answer to this is both, but for those who want to know why, or what alternatives there might be, read on.

Depending on where you obtain your wood, it can be anything from rough to finely milled and ready to use. In many cases wood is purchased "rough cut" and needs to be finely milled. The reason for this is that whoever milled the wood, has no idea what you are going to make with it, so they cut the wood on the large size you you can re-size it to fit your project and as well as to cut around, or include any "features" of the wood like figure, knots etc. 

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