Monday, July 30, 2012

Just one of the many reasons why we do fire mitigation!

Through forestry fire mitigation, we learned that by prudently thinning the forests, wildlife would "come back". Have they ever! Here's some of what we've seen since we started doing this.

Bull Elk. Majestic!

Mule Deer. Dad loved watching them.

Black bear tracks (those are my size 14's in the picture). Also have a couple of photos of this bear but can't find them right now.

Chain Saw Carver Attachment for Angle Grinder

Had seen this online, but wasn't sure how well it would work. Happened to see it at Harbor Freight and decided to give it a try. All I can say is WOW! Does it ever remove stock fast. There's a YouTube video of some guy using this without the blade guard. I would definitely NOT recommend this! If that chain were to break or kickback, the hands and fingers will literally be sausage on the arm. Using proper protection, this little gadget is a time saver extraordinaire, unless you have a very small chainsaw you'd prefer to use instead. I highly recommend this attachment for its intended use.

Cottonwood slab being taken down to "planing" width.

Same cottonwood slab with chalk line showing how much of the slab was being removed. 

Same cottonwood slab showing how the wood was removed using a "cupping" motion. Found this to be the easiest way to remove the most stock the fastest instead of always trying to line up each pass in a more or less straight line.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pine Beetle Rounds

Started with some really "punky" rounds I slabbed off a coupla logs in my raw materials inventory. Here are the logs:

After slabbing off the rounds:

You can kinda, sorta see the "heartwood" is still good on most of the rounds. Will have to wait and see just how much will need to be ground off each piece in order to salvage anything from them. The hope is to save enough to show the blue stain of the beetles and to be able to flatten one edge on each piece and then join them together to make a very unique table top. We'll see how that one goes.

"Varnishing" leaves

Didn't know if this would work, but thought I'd give it a try anyway. The idea is to coat some leaves (or other vegetation as the mood strikes) with varnish in preparation for attaching them to slabs for "effect". After they are coated and applied to the slabs, they'll be covered with more coats of varnish to really seal them in.

The first effort was to use an artist's brush, varnish one side of the leaf and then the other. I won't even go into what an abject failure that was. Well, ok, maybe I will. Brushing one side at a time and letting it dry before being able to do the other side of the leaf had a tendency to make it curl - and I do mean curl. After I brushed the other side and let it completely dry, I had to put the leaf between wax paper and apply weight for a coupla days before it was flat enough again to even consider using it on a flat surface. There just had to be a better way.

The second effort, after my brain fart, was to "hang" the leaves from a rod using a loop of bale binder twine and a bobby pin (clothes pins will surely work better, but I didn't have any when I did this - so, off to the store to get some).

Still wasn't sure about whether or not doing both sides at once would prevent curling, but was very pleasantly surprised at how the leaves maintained their natural shape. The can you see in the photos is the spray varnish I used. It's a Minwax gloss water based polyurethane. If the leaves maintain their green color like I hope they will, I'll also be asking relatives out east to send me bags full of maple, oak, and walnut leaves this fall after they turn color for Autumn.

Once I apply these aspen leaves to some of my pieces, I'll post photos of them on my Facebook page:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Router planing juniper slabs

Thought I'd try router planing multiple juniper slabs all at once. Total of 7 slabs had been cut by chainsaw, needed to be planed down to equal widths. That's where the router planer comes in. I set it up so the slabs would be as stable as possible by placing them flat on a non-skid carpet underlayment, shimming them, and then adjusting the depth of cut of the router bit:

Once that was all ready, the next step was to run the router sled back and forth over the pieces until they were all the same height from the workbench.

Because these are "smaller" pieces, I had to be extra careful to go slow and shallow on the cut. Otherwise, the router had a tendency to move the pieces, and I didn't want a gouge in any of them.

The results were satisfactory:
The next to last step is to grind the edges smooth. For this I used a 3/8" drill with a plastic wheel similar to a wire wheel. By using the plastic, I minimized the strands flying off during operation. That's one thing I've never liked about using wire brush wheels for cleaning up rough surfaces. These plastic wheels are cheap and can be bought at just about any hardware store.
The final step before finishing is to sand the flat surfaces to remove all the gouges and "tracks" left by the router straight bit. I'll be using a combination of a random orbital sander and hand sanding to get the end grain smooth enough so it doesn't absorb all of the finish I'm applying. I won't be posting any photos of that process cuz it doesn't even show in pictures how smooth you need to get it before varnishing or epoxying.

If this "construction" process works as well as it has so far, I plan to make a whole bunch more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Variation on the router planer

The original router planer I posted earlier is limited in the length of the piece being planed. So I came up with this design to accommodate much larger pieces. It takes a bit more "setting up", but the results are worth the effort. I can actually plane pieces up to 14' long with this version. Takes a lot of time and patience. The beauty of both these designs is that pieces can be routed either lengthwise or crosswise. When dealing with round slabs, I go crosswise because the reach is a little less. When dealing with long slabs, I go lengthwise with the grain to get less "fuzz" from the router. The wheels on the sled actually help it to move along on the rails with less effort, too. I'm thinking about trying ball bearings or something similar as the wheels do have a tendency sometimes to bind up a bit.

Bandsaw/chainsaw sled

Designed for large logs to be slabbed on the bandsaw you see in the picture. Don't have the bandsaw anymore, so am trying to figure out how I might be able to adapt this design for use with a chainsaw. Need to make a few design modifications to accommodate a chainsaw, but I think it can be done. I'll post photos when I've got a prototype.