Monday, October 15, 2012

Tweakin' my router planer

Found I had to tweak my bigger router planer a bit more in order for it to work as well as I wanted it to work. The slabs I’m doing right now were too long for the regular planer, so had to get out the really long rails once again.

Problem with the setup I had already used was the sled didn't ride the rails as nice or as easy as I’d hoped they would, even with using some wheels/casters as guides. Got some enclosed ball bearings for Christmas and decided to give those a try.

Had to add a spacer to accommodate the bearings so they’d ride on the inside of the rail. One obstacle out of the way, a couple more to go.

The next thing I decided to change was the fact nothing was really holding the rails in place except their own weight. Made for some pretty wishy washy planing. So decided to use the existing pipe stiles to get an even width on the rails.

Once all four of the pipe stiles were inserted and the rails were placed up alongside them, the width was even steven all the way along the 16’ length of the rails. But the pipe stiles stood proud of the rails by about 4 or 5 inches which wouldn't allow the sled to pass beyond their location. Next step was to either go buy shorter pipe stiles or figure out something else. Chose the latter. Took some big eye bolts and opened the eye to accommodate a 1/2” pipe. Put it into the side of the table, and dropped the pipe stile down into the opening so the “stub” held the rail from moving in toward the other rail.

Sorry the image is way fuzzy. Gettin’ so excited to use this thing, my hand musta moved as I snapped the picture. I’ll try to get another one for the next blog post to give a better idea of what I’m talking about.

Anyway, this last tweak worked great! Kept the rails from moving any at all, and the width between rails remained very constant. Ball bearings helped immensely, but need to make one that runs on top of the rails, too.

Couple more minor modifications, and it should be where I need it to be.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My First Try at Butterfly Inlays

Don't know why the "intimidation factor" was so very high with trying to make butterfly inlays, but it was. It took a very long time to work up the courage (if you want to call it that) to actually dig into this project. Waffling between just buying the templates online and taking the time to draw out and then cut out home grown templates took me a mind bogglingly long time. My final decision was to try to make my own no matter how bad the results turned out to be.

Start with a couple of pieces of cottonwood rounds to turn into wine racks to start with. Both had some real nice cracks that would work really well as a test for these butterflies. Problem was, one of the pieces fell apart before any butterflies were cut. So, the focus of this post will be on the second cottonwood piece.

But, first, a pattern had to be cut in a piece of cardboard. The hardest part of this step was getting the angles right. The pattern below is of four different sizes cut out of a piece of cardboard.

The next step was to transfer the patterns onto a piece of masonite.

After cutting out the patterns, this is how they looked. I really thought I was getting somewhere now.

Tried one cut with this template and got a slap right up alongside my head. The masonite was too thin - couldn't even use it. Luckily, I had some scrap left over plexi-glass from a previous project, and was able to transfer the masonite template to the plexi-glass.

Using my handi-dandy hand held scroll saw, the first template was done. It wasn't a masterpiece of precision, that's for sure. But, with the kind of rustic look I go for in my projects, this was better than being perfect. Gave it more character, I think.

It was exciting to try this out for the first time. The results weren't so exciting, though. The "waist" of the butterfly turned out to be way too small - not nearly enough strength to withstand the pressure of expanding cracks in wood.

Back to the drawing board. With a little more trimming into the angles of the template, I finally had the strength in the butterfly necessary for a strong joint.

After clamping and weighting down the piece so it wouldn't move while routing, I finally and successfully made my first butterfly.

A grand total of four butterflies for this piece - two for the front, and two for the back. The rest of the void will eventually be filled with epoxy resin. Haven't decided yet what to add to the epoxy resin - turquoise, brass shavings, or something else.

Overall, I'm very happy with how this turned out. Wasn't as difficult as I'd convinced myself it might be. Will be using this technique in other projects from now on, too.