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Crazy Times

Published on April 25, 2013, by in Uncategorized.


It has been a CRAZY month.  I got the flu or something for a good couple weeks, had to travel for a week for work, had a kidney stone again, had family in town, work has been nuts, and spring arrived which means I have to get all the outdoor equipment and cars ready for warm weather.  There has been little time, energy, or motivation to do much of anything outside of going to work and fulfilling basic commitments.  For a short time I have had to put off working in the shop and keeping up with the blog and YouTube channel.  However, I hope to be back to normal life here soon and back to enjoying the shop and projects.  I have finished the rolling computer cart now as well, but have not had time to post about it or make a video.  I probably will skip making the video this time and just write a post about it.  I revised the project to make it easier and quicker.  The idea of using an 1/8″ bit to make the dog bones small didn’t turn out too well so I re-did the cad/cam to use only 1/4″ bits or larger.  I finished that today and will get it loaded up on the website today.  If my life starts being a bit normal again, I will write a post about it.

I’m sure that everybody can relate to this kind of thing in life, so I won’t apologize for it.  I hope you all understand.  Woodworking is a passion of mine, but it is just a hobby at this point.  Church, my family, my full time job, my friends, and my sanity are in line for my time before this.  Maybe someday I can get to the point where this is a full time job, but it may have to wait for retirement.  At any rate, you can count on projects and new content coming, but it may not come as quickly as you may have in mind.  Also, I think it is reasonable to expect more content in the winter when there is not as much going on outdoors.  I do love to hike, camp, and shoot guns.  My dad is this way too… summer time is for sailing on the boat, winter time is for working in the shop.

I have a bunch of projects in mind and a whole lot of jigs to build in the coming months so stay tuned!


Computer Cart Project Update

Published on March 26, 2013, by in Projects.


I didn’t want you to think that I had forgotten about all of you.  I have almost finished the computer cart.  The main box is done and the drawers are cut but not assembled.  I forgot to order the 1/4 inch plywood for the drawer bottoms until yesterday (minor oversight right???… I have a full time job and a family so you’ll have to forgive me).  Anyhow, those things happen for a reason right?  I came down with the flue or a bad cold so I wouldn’t have been able to finish the project right now anyhow.

Just a few “lessons” I’ve learned so far:

1) the “blond wood” plywood at Lowes is significantly better than the plywood they used to have, but it is basically grade CC or X with the thinnest veneer possible slapped on top.  It looks good, but don’t try to sand it or anything… if you look at it wrong it will chip and fall off.  Plus when you cut it, the thin veneer falls apart into these nasty little slivers that get you really good.  This plywood will work for your projects, but not for anything you really want to look nice.  For this “utility” furniture, it is ok, but not fun.

2) If your local lowes or home depot has a “commercial” department, they can order you some better plywood.  I got a quote for B2B plywood at $52/sheet if I ordered in multiples of 10 sheets.  That is really good for domestic birch ply these days.

3) it is worth getting a compression bit to cut your parts from ply.  I used a down spiral bit and I had a lot of cleanup to do on the bottom face.

4) 75 in/min is too fast to cut with a 1/8″ bit.  The bit I bought for the “dog bones” was broke in about 15 seconds.  That cost me about $1/second to run :( .  I thought I was done cutting for a few days before I even got my first sheet cut until I realized that I had an 1/8″ bit in my Dremmel pack.  I used it to finish the project with mediocre results.  The bit has a cutting length of almost 1.5″ and it is HSS not carbide so it flexed a LOT and I ended up cleaning up a lot of corners with a file and chisel.  Loads of hand work.

5) For some reason my dado’s did not end up as wide as they should have been.  I measured the actual bit diameter and programmed the machine.  I thought it may have been flex in my rig, but even running a single pass, the cut was not as wide as the bit.  I have come to the conclusion that this cheap plywood uses alternating layers of hard and soft wood and that it creates a “spongy” dynamic when the plywood gets cut.  You can feel it if you try to press your finger nail into the plies.  The net result is that a pocket is not as wide as you programmed so oversize your dado’s and or your mortise pockets by at least 1/32. I don’t know if better plywood would cut nicer, but I suspect it would.

Despite all the problems, this project is coming together and was a tremendous learning experience.  If I had to change one thing, it would definitely be the plywood I used.  However, for a utility piece like this, I am not sure that an extra $20/sheet is worth it.  I also regret breaking that bit because the corners would have turned out so much better.


Project 002: Inlay Banding the Easy Way… CNC Router

Published on March 18, 2013, by in Projects.


I was perusing YouTube and looking at woodworking videos.  I came across AppJourneyman’s series on inlay banding.  He did a phenomenal job making the banding from a whole lot of cut up pieces.  I have done segmented woodworking like this in the past making picture frames and it is a lot of work and time (but a whole lot of fun as well).  The project was actually really really easy.  I used a 90 degree V-bit to create a diamond pattern in the wood.  The cut files were ultimately very simple… just a set of lines that I connected to make a zigzag pattern and then an offset.  I made the line pattern 3/16″ apart and the cut depth 3/32″.  That makes the diagonal of the square pieces 3/16″.  I set the z height for each cut manually.  That touch plate makes life very easy!

Check out the video… Also learned a few more video editing tricks that help a lot!

I’ll put the vectric files up on the downloads page soon.  You can use them to create a wide variety of patterns depending on how you set your z heights and what order you run the files in.


CNC Router Build

Published on March 16, 2013, by in Machine Builds.

Decided to post a link to the video series that I did while building the CNC so you would have a reference here to the process and get a sense as to what it takes to build a CNC router for your self.  You’ll have to deal with some shaky video as I hadn’t gotten my IPhone Camera Mount built yet.

The full playlist can be found here.  The first video in the series is posted below.  You can see where I started with my shop too.  This was only a few months ago.


CNC Computer Cart: Project Preview

Published on March 16, 2013, by in Project Previews.


I thought I would take the time to give you a project preview of what I will be making next week.  It is a rolling computer cart with storage for tools, jigs, and fixtures.  It features 5 drawers capable of holding 100lbs each a shelf to keep your computer on and an eye level monitor mount.  It is designed to be used while standing and will provide ample room to set your gear on while you work.  The work surface will be about 42″ of the floor and will be roughly 32″ x 22″.  The box is made from 1/2″ plywood (12 mm) and is constructed using a modern variant of the traditional wedged mortise and tenon joint.  This should be a really fun project and something that is very useful around the shop.  Look for the files to appear on the site sometime after next weekend (3/23/2013).  I like to build and test the project before I release it so that you get something that works.  Anyhow, enjoy!


Added More Project Files

Published on March 11, 2013, by in Uncategorized.


I finally had time to get a couple more projects up on the projects page for you.  I added a cut file to make a bunch of push sticks and the file to make the bathtub tray that you may have seen on my youtube channel.  Also I figured out how to make the downloads restricted instead of the page so I was able to open that up for all to view without registering.

If there is interest, I can get the bowl gouge sharpening jig up there too… I haven’t had time and I don’t know if people would want that.  Please post if you want to get a hold of it.  My dad say’s it works really well on his slow speed grinder.  It’s basically the same jig as you see here.


CNC Router Z Axis Touch Plate Demonstration

Published on March 9, 2013, by in Projects.

Hey All,

I got the z touch plate working today.  It wasn’t too hard to figure out.  It works very well and is much quicker than doing it manually.  It only takes about 30 seconds or so to find zero.  I am very impressed!  I’ll have to test the accuracy of this somehow.  If you have some ideas about how to do that, I’d love to hear about it.  Please register and comment!

Also, I have put instructions on the Project Downloads page.  If you’re interested please come and register so you can get access.

I am working on a new project as well… keep tuned in for details!

Anyhow, check out the demo:


Quick Tip 001: Mask Over Your Drill Spots and Cuts

Published on March 9, 2013, by in Quick Tips.

I thought I would share a tip that my dad taught me to keep finished work pieces safe when you need to modify or work with them.  It isn’t anything hard… it’s just blue painters tape.  Believe it or not, masking tape provides a surprising amount of support to the surface of the wood and can greatly reduced the chances of breakout and it has similar cutting characteristics as wood (which is not surprising as it is a paper product which comes from wood).  Plus, it’s cheap.  I use this technique when I am cutting with a saw as well.  Also, what I didn’t do in the video is put a scrap piece underneath the finished piece.  That would prevent any break out on the bottom of the piece as well.  However, I wasn’t concerned about that because there is no way anybody would see that part of the work.  Nothing complicated… just a simple trick to help make sure your work turns out as good as it can be!


Welcome to 21st Century Woodworking!!!

Published on March 5, 2013, by in Welcome.


Simple Holder for Your Z Axis Touch Plate

Published on March 4, 2013, by in Projects.

After you begin to work with your CNC machine, you will quickly find that zeroing your z axis becomes a pain because you have to do it every time you turn your machine on and every time you change tools (unless you are flush with cash and can afford an automatic tool changer).  I am not at the moment, so flush with cash that I can afford to spend $5-$10k on an automatic tool changer.  That would, in fact, more than double what I have invested in the CNC router at the moment and I do not have a large enough demand for salable products yet to justify making such an investment.  Therefore, I am going to be changing bits by hand for quite some time.  As such, I put a little thought into how I would improve my work flow and reduce my setup time.  As I am sure that you have found, one relatively cheap and very easy solution is to use a printed circuit board (PCB) blank as a touch plate.

If you have seen my Pogo Pin homing switches, you would know that the CNC Router Parts router is ideally set up for direct contact limit switches because every part of the metal structure is solidly grounded.  Therefore, all one has to do is run a single wire to an isolated contact to act as a touch plate.  This is an extremely accurate way to home or zero an axis.  I tested my pogo pin limit switches, and found that I could not really measure the error even with a dial gauge.  I repeatedly tested the unit and found that it would home to the very same step on my motors every time which is about 0.0005″.

I had seen other people use a plug and clip to set up their z axis touch plate.  However, I wanted to have it handy wherever the router head was and wanted to be able to quickly grab it, set it, and put it back, so I decided to make a mount that would attach to my router spindle mount so it would be handy wherever I was setting up the machine.  What I came up with was a fairly simple design and uses the flexibility of the wood to act as a spring to hold the PCB blank in place.

Check it out: