≡ Menu

Noted in Passing: No builders in the Ms. Karen #Metoo Whining Squad

“There’s been a lot of work done on this old planet and we never we just never think about how all of our comfort and all of our opportunity and all of our security is absolutely dependent on the hard work and the craftsmanship and the skill of the people that have built the world around us.” — Scott Wadsworth

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kevin in PA May 5, 2021, 6:32 PM

    I’ve always been intimidated by the medium of wood. It seems so final and finite….one small error and the piece is ruined.
    I was a chef and meat-cutter by trade. A dash more of this or trim a bit more off of that section is easy and it always ends up tasting good anyway. But a piece of wood cut in the wrong place means replacing the wood, and at these prices! You can’t eat it.
    I do marvel at the series offered by this team. It is a pleasure to see a man who understands his trade and works it to perfection.

  • Jack May 5, 2021, 7:04 PM

    Great vid, inspiring and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Mike Anderson May 6, 2021, 7:30 AM

    Kevin, I share your trepidation about ruining a good piece of wood, but press on regardless. A trick I learned from my late father, who taught high school woodshop on a shoestring budget, was to scrounge for scrap and salvaged wood, and even rough saw firewood into usable billets. I completely renovated my dinky home workshop with repurposed wood, pegboard, and hardware, probably spent less than $50 on screws, hinges, and the like. Whenever I consider a project using expensive wood, I do a mock-up first with scrap or recycled wood, to spot where I might make a mistake.

    Love the advice in the video about getting up and out and doing. My major upside to remote work online is the time I have every morning to putter in the garden or workshop. Just this spring I’ve wiped out my wife’s list of honey-do’s AND planted about half of her long-desired rose garden. Best of all, my brain works better after all that outside work.

  • Vanderleun May 6, 2021, 8:03 AM

    Mine too, Mike. Think I’ll step out for a bit.

  • ghostsniper May 6, 2021, 9:37 AM

    Dam! I’ve cut this board 3 times already and it’s STILL too short!
    I’m the master of frugality when it comes to wood and most other things.
    I just can’t justify the cost of most things these days, so I figure it out.

    10 years ago I was helping a friend install a new water heater in a little store downtown.
    The old water heater had to come out first and under it was a piece of nasty wood placed there many years before to help level the whole thing. I threw the board in the corner and went about the work at hand. Later as we were cleaning the place up I saw that board and got to wondering what kind of wood it was. It was covered in decades of grime, water damaged, and just nasty all around. That piece of wood was about 10″ wide, 3″ thick, and 3′ long. I took it home, hosed it down and hit it with the scrub brush and laundry soap. Most of the grime was gone now but I still didn’t know what kind of wood it was. It was light for it’s size so that told me it was a conifer (pine type).

    I let that board dry out for a week then I ran it through the planer a few passes and the grain was revealed. It went from almost white to bright reddish orange. Red Cedar! But with a cool coloring and grain. I jointed the edges, trimmed the ends and it looked like show room condition. I thought it was very attractive.

    That discarded piece of wood was now about 9.5″ x 2.75″ x 32″ so I cut (3) 9.5″ long pieces out of it (leaving a small piece) and stacked them up and glued and clamped them together. Now the wood was 9.5 x 9.5 x 8.75 – almost a cube. I found the center on a 9.5 side and drew the biggest circle I could, then I band sawed it into a cylinder. I glued and clamped a scrap of pine to one end as a sacrificial faceplate then the next day I put it on my lathe.

    Hitting it with the carbide lathe chisels I worked that wood over the next few hours to where it was 95% to what I wanted it to be. An “Art Bowl”. Next came the sanding and final shaping, starting with an angle grinder and 60 grit all the way up to 12,000 grit micromesh. Yeah, lots of dust. coff coff

    Next comes the finish. I always do something different, never the same thing twice, and I like to experiment. I don’t pay no never mind that you aren’t supposed to blend water based with oil based, I’m just interested in the uniqueness. First, I apply a brushed satin poly to the entire thing and let it dry for a day. Then I sand the poly to the 12,000 grit. Now the fun begins. I mix a concoction of things found in the shop, dry pigments, a dash of oil stain, some bright yellow poster paint, some of this, some of that. Then, while the bowl is mounted sideways in the lathe chuck I use a 3″ Purdy brush and I stab a full brush load of that concoction right into the interior middle of that bowl, drop the brush back into the container, step to the side, turn the lathe on and crank the speed control up to 3500 RPM’s. POOF! The concoction vaporizes inside the bowl and blow outward at very high velocity. That shit goes everywhere but most of it is concentrated inside the deep bowl. Spraying out across the inside bottom of the bowl, up the sides and even down over the rim a little. I let the lathe continue to run at 3500 for about 10 minutes or so, then I shut it down and take a look at the damage. It looks like what you imagine. I let it dry for a day then hit it with the paper again, yes, up to 12,000 grit. Then another coat of satin poly, then 12,000 again.

    I make another similar concoction but this time it has some metalflake in it, or some steel wool dissolved in vinegar. Whatever. Then I put a glob of this inside the bowl, crank it to 3500 and POOF! there it goes again. I do this over and over. Keep adding more, removing some with the abrasives, over and over. Oh yeah, I do this to the outside too.

    The shapes and contours of the bowl dictate how the concoctions “fly” and it’s always different as I experiment with the shapes. I use every kind of wood I can get, almost always free or very cheap, usually right from the forest around the workshop, and usually harvested right from the earth myself. Master of Frugality. None of this was intentional or even much time planning. I’m kind of a hands on person and very spontaneous. If a thought strikes I have to find out right now if it’s valid.

    Yes, these bowls take weeks to complete, so there are lots of bowls sitting around in various states of completeness. I’d hazard there are at least 30 of them out in the workshop right now, somewhere between barely started to not quite completed. In the last 10 years, when my wife just out of the blue gave me a brand new wood lathe as a christmas present and I immediately became smitten-addicted, I have made an estimated 600 bowls/plates/platters, and have sold at least 300 of them and given many of others to family and friends.

    The western redwood cast off junk wood bowl I described above was eventually completed, named “Tahitian Sunset”, professionally photographed, and sold on Etsy for $300. The buyer has purchased 9 other bowls from me.

    Bowls/plates/platters are only about 1/3 of the things I make on the lathe and the stuff I do on the lathe comprises less than 50% of the stuff I do with wood, and wood is less than half of all the stuff I do around here. There’s always 20 – 30 things in the process and that doesn’t include the yard and house stuff nor does it include my architectural design business, nor any of the numerous building projects I do. And don’t get me started on the guns and guitars stuff. sheesh You know what they say, “Idle hands are….”, well, that devil showed up over here one time and I put his ass right to work on the spot. Soon as my back was turned he hauled ass…..never came back.


  • julie May 6, 2021, 5:13 PM

    Ghost said, “I don’t pay no never mind that you aren’t supposed to blend water based with oil based, I’m just interested in the uniqueness. ”

    Love that; back when I was working on getting my painting degree, I once “astounded” everyone by doing a painting with both acrylic and oils. Really wasn’t a big deal, if the acrylic goes on first and is dry it isn’t much different from most of the gesso we used to prepare the canvas, which was of course acrylic.

    Point being, when it comes to art the rules are often more guidelines than anything. It’s also fun to do watercolor paint on gessoed paper, and I always wondered about using thinned oil paint with wood stain for making interesting furniture…

  • julie May 6, 2021, 5:16 PM

    Also, Ghost, if you have a link to any of the bowls or other stuff you’ve made, it would be delightful to see. Somehow, my imagination doesn’t seem adequate to picture it.

  • Hoss May 7, 2021, 5:33 AM

    Ghost- I would also like to see some of your work as the meticulous process you describe would create some very nice finished products.

  • EX-Californian Pete May 7, 2021, 3:43 PM

    Great video, and great comments by all above.
    Yes, working with wood is a bit intimidating- to those that are cautious and want quality results. Woodworking is one of those skills that develops patience in a person, and those without those qualities are known as “wood butchers” or “backyard builders.”

    Another quality it can develop is knowing when to ‘take a breather, refresh, and resume.’

    An important lesson I learned long ago while checkering a grade 4 walnut stock was to take a 15 minute break after every 45 mins of work. My eyes need the rest, my hands need the rest, and it keeps you from going “OH MY GOD, THE LINES ARE GOING CROOKED!” when they just LOOK that way due to the curvatures of the grip, or the contrast in direction to the grain… (brain fatigue)

    A couple other good points from commenters above- practicing on scrap stuff, and experimenting around can lead to new discoveries in materials and techniques.

  • ghostsniper May 8, 2021, 4:59 AM

    I used to sell my woodworking projects on Etsy but not for sometime. I looked yesterday and there is no records on the site of the stuff I sold there. But, it’s warming up around here finally, the workshop is slowly coming out of hibernation and new and interesting things will be happening in their soon.

    Insight: An idea I had was to install 18 small birdhouses of various styles/types/colors/etc., on the top of the unfinished posts on the deck bridge that links my office/workshop to the house – a distance of about 40 feet. Currently the posts are just cut off flat, and they irritate me everytime I look at them. I was going to make some finials but then the birdhouse idea happened. These will be small “art/architecture” types of things in a variety of styles, built almost exclusively with stuff on hand or procured from the immediate area, mostly wood.

    I also have at least 30 bowl blanks in various stages of completion that need to be addressed. And lots and lots of other ideas. Summer is always a wonderful time in the workshop where ideas flow, hands fly, tools sing, and sometimes disappointments happen. I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I like it. Most of the stuff I do I just give away.