Sunday, May 13, 2018

Food-Safe Finishes

Don't know if I'll ever post this, but here's a list of food-safe finishes I've tried:

Mineral oil, olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax, 2:1 mixture of mineral oil to beeswax melted and combined in a pot, and just plain bare wood.

The number one thing I've been told by people, especially family, is that they want smooth, uniform, and shiny. Nothing rough, nothing that feels carved. Sometimes a tactile feeling of real wood is wanted; but sometimes it seems like something more protective would be desired.

Finishes I might want to try then should be something like natural lacquer, urushi. Urishiol, the compound within the sap of the lacquer tree (toxicodendron vernicifluum) is polymerized when applied and cured, resulting in a long-lasting, heat resistant and waterproof finish. The problem is urishiol is the same substance that causes poison ivy and other urishiol containing plants to be known as poisionous. It's highly toxic.

Urushiol.svg just look at this goon, ready to send your immune system in a panic.

I'd say, "Huh, might be able to make traditional lacquer from American poison ivy," but according to my Wiki fu: the composition of urishiol varies according to plant sources. Different length of carbon chains and different makeup and all that. So you might go give yourself rashes for nada.


Other drawbacks include special curing process, technique/artistry required to apply it, human hair brushes (!?! material culture is weird) are preferred for the best finish, and lengthy time commitment to finish a single project.

For a better write up, look here: https://woodspirithandcraft.com/blog/japan2018

Basically, urushi, besides being an art form in itself requiring it's practioners to become immune to a poison, might be great for modern treen. I'd get some lacquerware to see if it can hold up to a dishwasher (I'm really, really, lazy sometimes. I want a wooden cereal bowl without needing to handwash it or risk it getting rancid), but I'm pretty sure A. dishwashing antique art is frowned upon B. I ain't got the cash to spend on experimenting with cultural art.

Just need to find a finish with similar cured properties, only without the drawbacks... In other news, 'pure urushi' is being sold on Amazon in tubes ranging from $8 to $40.

Other products I might want to try: Some salad bowl finisher that's based off a varnish, leaves a nice clear, hard surface for bowls.


Ah screw it, just gonna send it and post this... What's the worse that happens? Someone reads this and tells me I'm a dumbass and needs to re-read my sources?

Odds are, few will read this, but someone might just have the product I'm looking for.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Spring Cleaning

"Just as you wouldn't show up to an interview wearing pajamas and bunny slippers, your brand is the online equivalent of wearing a statement necklace or a power tie."  


-Gabriela Pereira, "Alpha-Blog Soup", May/June 2018 Issue of Writer's Digest

                I've really just ran head-first into woodworking, blogging, and business.

If I don't get an internship this summer, that means I'm going to need something else to do this summer. Looking at online summer classes through Morrisville, probably business-oriented classes.

Additionally, if I'm living at home, I want to finally break out of my shell and stop being so shy about interacting with people outside of typed messages thrown out of a trench before hiding in a bush again.

College has helped me grow out of that, at least by a small part.
Furthermore I want to spend less day-time spent wasted walling in my sheets with no direction.
So, let's start with the blog:

the above paraphrased article helped me get a new perspective on writing a blog. Of course, it's written for writers, but it still helps.

A: Audience. What is my audience? What is the point of this blog?
It got started as a suggestion/outreach by Sebastian. For the study and documentation of Japanese saw sharpening.

What the @#$% is it now?

I can't really remember the rest of the issue. B? Who knows what it was for. The college library doesn't let you take out magazines and my laptop died when I was in there. I think:

C: Content. Something about how it may be appealing to pump out constant content, but it takes planning, schedules, foresight to make a successful blog.

So, there might be the trap that I fell in the years I've been 'writing' this thing. New readers aren't really drawn in when you have juvenile writing and an ADHD approach. Doesn't really impress. It also has little to do with the original intention of the blog. So, I think I'm gonna strip this thing to the bones. Maybe start a website with portfolio, commissions, and a more personal blog, but first focus on Instagram and cleaning this mess up.

Now back to finals week prep.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Update on College


So, here's a new post. Just a quick update on recent activities.

I'm approaching the midterm point of my second college semester. The first semester was disappointing: woodworking was rare, classes were easy, compared to the hectic schedule I had in high school. I could've actually slept a full eight hours, but I ended up wasting time, staying up till 3 to 4am with friends just hanging out watching Netflix, late-night runs to Walmart, etc. Haven't gone to any parties, still mostly a nerdy introvert.

I took around eighteen credits, joined the Morrisville timber sports team, the Outdoor Rec Club, and signed up for set carpentry for the theatre department. The biggest goof is I couldn't get permission to drop a History 101 course. At the end of the semester, despite acing every exam and final, I didn't get the credits- as I already had the credit for the course. From high school. Took some calls, but I ended up getting the credits, and having the high school history credits moved to a different history class. Could've taken Dendrology in it's place, but at least I got a GPA booster? 

I only had one woodworking course: Wood 101. Required to be taken before any real classes. It was condescendingly simple. Tests had questions about hammers. The 'lab' portion was all machines, no handwork at all; and the machines were set up by the professor, with each student working on the same table. After the last lab ended, and Doc Mbaga and me looked over the project, I walked across the soccer field (it's quicker that way) to my dorm as the sun set over the valley; with the cherry table seen on my Instagram and slight concern about the program I chose.

Oddly enough, Morrisville State is a college where you can walk across campus with a cherry table and mostly won't get questions. It's in the rural region of central NYS; fit neatly into a picturesque valley. Pick up trucks and overalls are common, with agricultural science being the top programs here. Oddly enough, nationally renowned for equine programs. Incredibly affordable; with scholarships, I'm paying roughly no more than three grand. Including resident fees. Really quiet, essentially a commuter college- most people leave for the weekend, leaving dorms empty. The fields, on the other hand, tend to have horses and cows meandering around.

On the bright side, this is the view from the path to my dorm: 

There's no 'nightlife', but if you like the rural life...Morrisville's great. Although it can get really foggy, and goat's are surprisngly scary to hear when you can't see them. 





Additionally, Morrisville gets a lot of snow...So I strap on my cross-country skis to get to the Wood Tech building. I also learned how to snowboard this season, with a season pass to a ski center half an hour away that was fifty percent off for Morrisville students and free rentals through the Outdoor club. 




Outside of academics: I hiked mountaintops on snowshoes, found my knee is finally recovered to the point I could run and went jogging through the woods daily with friends. I went whitewater rafting with the outdoor club. Backpacking, canoe camping, began practicing with the Woodsmen team to compete in crosscutting races and all that. In late fall I decided to just give up on being lazy and forced myself back into weightlifting, doing Stronglifts 5x5 as I no longer had a coach to advise my workouts. Overall hate working out, but it burns energy and it lets me at least say I'm trying to be active. Felt like nearly every weekend was spent doing something. In high school I just nerded over tools and studied, now I branched out and started having normal fun. 

In the second semester, my schedule looked nice. Finally, I could do side-projects- when there isn't a class using the shop, of course. And most of my classes are woodworking now. Wood 170 is sawmilling- using a completely automated Wood-Mizer. I sit in a chair, and never touch the log once. Overall a pretty fun, educative class. Hobbyist lumberyards are nothing compared to the lumber industry I'm learning about in this class; board-feet volumes in the thousands.

Life can be a roller coaster. A few weeks into the second semester, Professor Mbaga unfortunately passed away from a heart attack over the span of two days. His family has just recently had the second funeral in his home village in Kenya. The Mbagas have my sympathies with this tragedy. Losing a father is not easy.

So the wood program currently is...well, it is what it is. Classes are disorganized; The teachers have them back-to-back, with lunch taken in the classes, so they can get off of campus as soon as possible. This is great some days, but you're allowed to work in the workshop only if there's a professor there. There so far has been no full-time replacement professors; other professors have taken on the classes Mbaga taught. Professor Federico from Argentina, the boatmaking instructor, has taken over Furniture Design, while Professor Costello is now teachin Wood Identification.


Canoe making, in progress. Professor Federico is filming a timelapse of the process. 


In Furniture Design, I'm finally allowed to bring out hand tools. Me and Federico are talking about how the program can be revamped. I've recently been carving small bowls and making chopsticks, which I'm somewhat starting to be able to use. It started because a friend forgot her chopsticks back home- grabbed a scrap board of cherry, split it into small staves in my dorm and whittled them. Recently, with the workshop now at my disposal, been able to use the sawstop to saw square blanks, then mounted them in my drill, turned on a belt sander and made a "broke mans lathe", a trick I first learned at a toolmaking workshop.  


Yeah, this was the first bowl I made. Got a new gouge for Christmas and carved this in the cold home workshop the next night. Hoping the next one's better. 



Additionally- with a sawmill on campus, and any student who's passed Wood 170 allowed to saw any logs they have, there's plenty of lumber to go around. The slab with the split in it was $20. Yea, I bought it! Gonna be 'artistic'. Also bought 22bf of ash from Prof Costello for $22. All kiln dried.


 I only have a semester left in this degree due to credits from high school advanced classes and dual-credit tech courses, but I don't know if I'm going to go for a bachelors after this. Certainly have questions about staying in Morrisville. I've been advised to look at a bachelors in business, specifically Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, conveniently offered by Morrisville.

Does any of this make any sense? I have no idea. I don't really understand myself either. Not like many people read this, but I figure I'd let the friends I've made through this small section of the woodworking blogosphere know what's going on.

I'm not dead, though I often feel like it. To be honest, I know I should be doing more. My drawing is still awful. My portfolio is still awful and practically empty. I'm disorganized, and it feels like I've lost any internal drive to create and motivation to live in the recent years. Getting out of bed honestly feels like a challenge, one with an empty reward- the feeling similar to passing a finish line for a race everyone passed long before you.

I know I need to come up with a plan, and re-organize everything, and figure out how to commit to it. Build a portfolio, actually engage in social media, and refine my blog into something professional- possibly delete it and create a website.

Finding half-eaten tide pods outside the dorms, really don't help inspire me.


I got advice when this all first began to set in long ago: force yourself to do something. At least one thing a day. When my Dad died, two years ago exactly two days ago, I was additionally told to try to enjoy myself while I'm here. When I went away for college, it was further amended: Don't lock yourself into your room after classes. Get out at least once.

So I strength train knowing I have nothing to train for; I study and read in the library even though it's over half a mile uphill walk from my dorm- with rain, snow, deep fog, biting winds. I climb mountains even though I have a paralyzing fear of heights. I take shavings of wood hoping to attain a small glimmer of the joy I used to feel from the simple act of creating.

 And every now and then, I do. I forget how inferior myself and my works are, and just see a tool that works well, and a surface that's clean.





Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Leaving for College

Well, it's 12:35AM and I'm waking up at 7AM or something to leave for Morrisville State College.

First things first:

If you found this through Etsy, Instagram, anything- Well, you've walked into a midnight rambling session that's been going for quite a while. If you would like to order anything during this transition that may take weeks or years, please feel free to email me at twinmapleswoodworking@gmail.com or send a message through instagram: https://www.instagram.com/twinmapleswoodworking/


Now to pretty much say, I'm cleaning this blog up. I'd go on a rant about why- but part of that answer includes 'I should stop ranting into the void'. First thing to go- the fake, cheery inflection I've often put into these posts and replace it with more honesty. Either way could have the same result, only one path is easier and closer to the ol' saying, 'be true to yourself'.



Saturday, March 11, 2017

Madonoko- Window Saw




So this is a miserable saw. I think I was trying to do some fancy four-facet tooth on it but failed miserably. Am I old enough yet to hate my teenage self? I'm legally an adult now, right? 

It skates across the work, doesn't cut at all. So I figured it's as good a candidate I can get for an attempt at a madonoko/window saw profile. Should I use 'madonoko', or just say window saw?



More pics showing how the teeth seem to all slant in different directions. Strong independent teeth, don't need no unity. 



This is one part of the saw that's original, surprisingly, from when I first got it. I later found out that the little area there is super-hard steel, the file tends to skate off it rather than dig in and, ya know, file off material. 


First I jointed the teeth until they were even, pretty much half their previous height. 


Broke off the teeth with a needlenose pliers, going with the pattern of 5 teeth, break a tooth, then 20 teeth left near the handle. You can see where I accidentally broke off an adjacent tooth, causing a big gap in the middle. 




The long slow filing of the gap. 

[Source: http://blog.douglasbrooksboatbuilding.com/]

This is the goal. Uniform teeth, one rip tooth, four crosscut, a window twice as deep as the teeth height, with a rounded bottom, slightly diagonal.

There is probably a hundred other details to be observed in this photo, but I am both too inexperienced and also tired at the moment to pick up on them all and list them. 


Window depth seems to be near matching. Slight differences appear. 



Turning the misshapen rectangles back into proper crosscut teeth. The first half are done in this pic, I think. 


And here's where we are. The first window I tried using the mill file to remove material from the window, which was a bad, bad idea. It's too big and too sharp, one stroke went too deep and almost filed off the rip tooth.

The rest of the windows look good except for the one where two teeth snapped off...

Hey, it'll look good with beer goggles on, right?


First cut is done inside as I finished at 10PM and it's way, way too cold outside. Brought in some fresh eastern white cedar that got taken out by the storm. Using my stool/cajon drum as a sawhorse. Hope it doesn't mind.


And man, does this thing cut! From the slowest, most frustrating saw to work with to one of my fastest saws. The handle feels dry and a bit small, it's split down the middle, but it works great. I'll have to try it on some dry hardwood next!


And nicely wrapped with another ryoba I was sharpening the rip teeth of. Not much to talk about there, just a slight touch up. 


In other news, joined the local makerspace. Can't wait to learn how to use these. 


Biggest 3D printer I've ever seen!

I'll have to make a toolbox, there's a really nice wood-shop but it's recommended not to leave your precious hand-tools there. I'll also see what storage space I'll have at Morrisville, I think the woodworking professor said there's lockers. Maybe a disposable dozuki, maybe a ryoba, some chisels, hammer, and my kanna...I should get another one. Yes, that's the perfect excuse. Kanna are nice and light weight, perfect for travelling with. 





Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Weather or Not, I'll Sharpen the Saws




 Weird weather continues to wind it's way into where I live.

Now, it's back up to sixty after dipping back down to the tens, the wind has knocked lightpoles in parking lots down onto cars, and ripped pine trees out by the roots...



Looks like I'll have to get the chainsaw de-winterized  earlier than I planned


I'm getting back into Japanese saw sharpening. I've taken a break in the last year from this, and many things besides, such as last year's spring track. 

But you can only see where you were after walking away..

. Getting out of the echo chamber I found myself in lets me gain a new perspective on woodworking, Japanese tools, and myself. 

One big improvement is getting on migraine medicine which is making life a whole lot more manageable.  Also dropped right about fifty pounds. 

A perspective I gained in my walk-away is, I need to respect tools. And I'll explain what I think that means: The people I respect the most I am the most honest with, we laugh, joke around, have honest conversations with. We can push and shove each other, talk smack about one another, because we know we have mutual respect with one another. 

That is not how I respected my tools.

When I previously 'respected' my tools, I put them on a pedestal. I was too afraid to accidentally damage one of them, so I didn't do anything but tap meekly on my kanna blade.

I have three saws out of frame in that picture: my big resawer, and two ryobas about 240mm. One of which is that failed experiment in chubby teeth.

 I think I'm going to try making some medium rip tooth and crosscut-  I have a lot of rough rips, and rough crosscuts, and extra fine crosscuts, but none in the middle of the way.

Maybe if I feel really brave I'll try a madonoko! 

In other news...Last weekend, I went to the Rochester Makerspace's open house with my godfather, and ended up loving it. Big, co-op warehouse workshop with woodshop and machine shop? $40 membership for the whole family?
And it's heated! No more blue fingers trying to get something done!






Friday, March 3, 2017

DIY Torification- Stabilizing Spalted Maple


This howling weather means lots of naps inside!




So if you've been following me on Instagram, (https://www.instagram.com/twinmapleswoodworking/), you'll know I've been carving items for the kitchen from green/fresher wood. This is partly to provide cheap, impulse buys at potential markets, but it is also a great way to learn more about wood grain and knife skills.

I also use a lot of spalted maple I harvest myself. This platter was roughed out three years ago and has been drying since, but I found this little grub in it: 
Phone throwing me some shade when trying to get a clear photo of it T_T

Here's a clear photo of the worm holes

The grub appeared to be dead, and I tore it out; then filled the holes with superglue along with any other potential holes and cracks. 

Now, let's make sure this board doesn't have anything else hiding in it: 
I tore through my fresh wood supplies looking for any evidence of grubs, couldn't find any, so I decided to leave them out to freeze overnight. The next morning, I lit a small fire, placing the pieces around it:



High heat should kill off any elements of decay that may have survived the frost. I covered the coals and let it bake overnight.


Inside, I drew a quick sketch of the next project, while taking the nebulizer. 



Also this month, got this nice design sketched out and cut it out on the scroll saw. This pattern is free to any takers!