Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Saving Thanksgiving.

Ok this not exactly woodcraft related but none the less an important event. Yesterday I got a frantic call from my wife informing me our oven of 2 1/2 years decided to stop working 2 days before Thanksgiving. She was calling me from Sears after already shopping around for a replacement which of course even if we bought a new one it could not be delivered until next week. There was not much I could do from work but I assured her I would look at when I got home.

So the status of the oven when I got home was no oven, no broiler, the range top burners worked as well as the lower warmer oven. After much internet searching I didn't find much helpful information and after playing around with the settings as suggested by the manual with no luck I decided it was time to open up the back. Mind you I am a trained professional so don't try this at home. I first measured the power coming into the stove and was getting a good 235V so that wasn't the problem. On the back of the unit was a handy schematic of the unit left for repair technicians and since I am an engineer I figured I was qualified to use the guide. I thought I was getting an error code showing an open temperature sensor so I disconnected the cable and measured the sensor but it measured fine. I continued poking around and checking for loose connections. I decided to try firing up the stove again and low and behold it started working. Figuring I had stumbled across a loose connection I buttoned up the back and pushed the unit back against the wall. Only now the oven did not come on again. Frustrated I pulled the stove back out, opened up the back again and continued to poke around until this time I was checking on the control board and to my dismay found the delay timer relay ended up in my hand. This relay switches both the oven and broiler elements on so I knew I had found the problem. Luckly the fix was pretty simple as the relay had just fallen off the control board due to very poor solder joints. Needing four hands to re-solder the pins I asked my wife to help me and in a short time the relay was firmly re-attached to the control board. And this time after pushing the stove back in place it continues to work. Thanksgiving dinner saved!

So tomorrow I can look forward to my wifes wonderful cooking which will include of course a turkey, a ham, mashed potatos, oven roasties potatos to die for,  corn, carrots, bread rolls, Yorkshire puddings and probably more! I must say I am looking forward to it and it will taste extra special this year. We are even having our wayward teenage daughter over for diner.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

My New "Strawberry" All Natural Cedar Wooden Soapdish

I am on a roll tonight. I just learned my Vee Dub Beetle Car soap dish just listed on an Etsy Treasury showing off some VW items. And now I just listed my newest soap dish design, A Strawberry.

My First Etsy Treasury Page

I just made it on my very first Etsy Treasury Page with my Vee Dub Beetle Car soap dish!. I was wondering where all the new views were coming from.

Trying a New Template

You will have to pardon the mess of my blog right now. I am trying out a new template to better orginaize my stuff. But mainly I was finding the main posting colum too small because I like to add pictures. That was causing the text to get too jumbled.

I took a look on the Blogger change template section and didn't find anything like I wanted to I downloaded a free template from the web which look like it might have the starting of what I want. So for a time being I will be making lots of HTML edits to tweek it into what I want.

Please Stand By for Technical Difficulties.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The CupCake Treasure Box

Introducing my latest Creation; my CupCake Treasure Box in solid Cherry Wood. I am really happy how it came out

I recently remade one of my Baby Chick Treasure Boxes in Cherry and that too looked great. My Wife Louise strongly suggested I needed to make a similar box in the CupCake shape that has been pretty poplar for my soap dishes. Again as always she was right!

The CupCake shape works perfectly for a swivel top type of box. The cavity is good size to hold lots of treasure. I finished the piece with Bush Oil; an oil varnish mixture made from Tung and Boiled Lindseed Oils. Last year I had the pleasure of taking a finishing class taught by the inventor of the finishing oil Bill Bush. I learned a ton and off this fabulous oil finish product. The final sanding was done using micro mesh pads which leave a highly polished finish.

Both the CupCake and Baby Chick Boxes are technically called Bandsaw boxes due the the technique of starting with a solid raw block of wood and using a bandsaw to shape the block then hollow out the cavity. Personally I think it should be called the Bandsaw/Sanding box making method. It takes lots and lots of sanding in really tight corners. However the method allows for more free form artistic shapes such as these examples and that is cool.

I enjoy this type off work because it fits in my my style of uniqueness. I posted about the art of woodcrafting a while back I mentioned that my goal was to have my pieces present a more artistic side and combining the practical functionality. I think with this piece I am closer to my goal.


Friday, November 20, 2009

New Store and Blog Banner

Who knew Google Sketchup could be used to create banners. Actually I made my Logo from a picture of my Duck Jewelery Box and added the graphics on top. I rendered the model using IDX then did some photo editing using Gimp. It worked out fairly well so I decided to give it a try to make a model from scratch for a new Store Banner. I wanted something a bit more classy. So I made up the 3D model and repeated the rendering and photo editing process. I was surprised how nice it came out. It has the look of a finely carved wooden sign. The perfect look I was after.

I would love some feedback on how it looks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My new Vee Dub Beetle Car WoodenSoap Dish

I just finished making and listing my latest wooden soap dish design; a Vee Dub Beetle Car. I actually have to give the credit to my wife Louise as she cut out the shape on her Cricut machine on a piece of heavy cardboard then made some sketches for the slots to cut. We both like the idea of using the slots as a design element in the pieces. In this case the upper slots are the windows. We separated the upper slots to form two windows with a solid pillar bar between. Once we had the sketch done I scanned in the cutout and used my vector art program to place the actual cuts to be made. Once the template design was complete I transferred it to a hardboard square and made my router guide which I then used to route out the slots and shapes. I used a forsner bit to cut out the wheels.

Louise thought one of her racing ducky soaps would make a great model for the car.

I am having fun coming up with new designs and really enjoying that my wife is helping with the ideas as well. We make a good team.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Marketing my products

Since I made the decision to get a bit more serious about selling my products I quickly realized I had to do some marketing. Luckly for me my wife has become quite the internet marketer with her Esty shops and has been helping me a great deal. She introduced me to the power of Twitter which I have been experimenting with to help get more views of my products on my Etsy Edwood's WoodCraft Creations store. And to some extent it seems to be helping the number of views and products being sold. I also started up a Face Book Business Page Edwood's WoodCraft Creations to help with the promotion. I am still very small scale with all this but I look at it as another challenge to learn how to market your goods effectively. I have had some great feedback on the items I have sold so it encourages me to continue and expand.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What is WoodCrafting?

As I am in the process of creating more items for sale in my WoodCraft Creations store I started thinking about Logos and the name I chose for the store a few years ago. Basically at the time I was a beginning woodworker just dangerous enough to use some power tools and lucky enough to have kept all my fingers intact. I knew I didn't have enough skill yet to build fine furniture or upscale cabinetry but I had a good imagination and some engineering skills so I could figure out how to make small items like shelving and displays we needed for our craft show booths.

I knew I have always enjoyed designing, creating and building things. And it just happened that I started making things from wood. I think wood is a most unique material in that it can be shaped fairly easily into almost any form but has character unlike man made materials like plastic because it came from nature and life. Wood comes in many species each with their individual characteristics, colors and spots, weakness and strengths.

I think the art of WoodCrafting is really the process of taking raw wood material and transforming it into forms that can both functional and artistic. If executed properly the transformed wooden shape will become an object that serves a new function be it functional as in a child's toy or a piece of furniture. Or it can just become an art form to be enjoyed
by the sense of sight, touch or smell. In truth I think wood can be transformed into almost any form by Woodcrafting and only limited by the imagination and skill of the WoodCrafter.

I truly believe WoodCrafting needs to begin with the design of the piece. The design must consider the function of the piece. Will it be a practical design or more artistic and that will determine the cost and labor allowed. Secondly the design needs to account for the characteristics of the raw wood material to be used for each basic part of the design. How will a particular species of wood work towards the final finished item. If the design will require joining multiple pieces of wood what types of joinery work for each connection.

The WoodCrafter then begins the process of transforming the raw wood material into the desired object using three basic steps. The first is the carving, cutting and shaping the raw pieces of wood into the basic forms.

The second is joinery or connecting the basic forms together into more complex shapes and forms. Not all items require joinery but rather are made from a single solid piece of wood such as a bowl carved from a tree. But most items require joining individual pieces together in order to make things not possible or practical from a single piece of wood. The classic joinery method is dovetails considered to be a mark of a craftsman to be able make seamless dovetails by hand. But joint can be as simple as two boards glued together. Each method has it's place and appropriateness to execute the design goal and idea.

The last step is the finishing, sanding, staining, painting and final shaping. It is in this step the WoodCrafter brings back and out the life of the raw wood material to the final product. I generally believe it is almost wrong to cover up wood with opaque paints that hide the natural grains and character of the piece. I love how an oil based finish make the grain pop. I tend to like my final finish to be glossy. But I concede there are some items that require a painted covering for the final fit and form needed to serve it's purpose .

So in retrospect I believe I picked the right label for myself and I think I am rather proud to call myself a WoodCrafter. I get to use my design and engineering skills to create unique ideas. Then I get to apply my woodworking skills to transform those ideas into reality.

I hope as I hone my WoodCrafting skills my work will become more artistic. I think creating wood items that are both functional and artistic is the measure of ones WoodCrafting skill.


Monday, November 2, 2009

New Line of Soap Saver Dishes

My wife gave the the idea of making and selling soap saver dishes in the shapes of objects rather than the plain boring types you see all over the web. Most of the dishes out there are made from a solid board cut square and saw curfs are taken out on a table saw to make slots to let the air circulate around the soaps helping to preserve them.

I did some research about the types of woods to use and cedar seems like the best choice. It can be left unfinished and has natural resistance to decay from moisture. Perfect for the bathroom. A local wholesale lumber outlet just happened to have Incense Cedar boards on sale so I picked up some. Another benefit is the cedar aroma.

I guess I could have started with a square board, run some table saw curf cuts then cut out the shapes on the bandsaw. But honestly I wanted to be different so I decided to use my new Bosh Plunge Router to mill out slots on the interior of the designs using a template and a guide bushing. After routing the slots I cut out the shapes on the bandsaw.

I am leaving the Soap Saver Dishes unfinished so the cedar aroma comes out plus it fits in with the natural, organic theme many soap makers are positioned in.

The Ducky Soap model is from my Wife's Ducky Soap Etsy Shop.

I have a lot of templates I am working on to add lots of different shapes.

Check out my Etsy Shop