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Blog series by Gary Fixler updated 08-25-2010 11:57 AM 40 parts 141668 reads 375 comments total

Part 1: Walnut Wood - I just need to know...

02-26-2009 01:51 AM by Gary Fixler | 19 comments »

Does anyone else – when working with black walnut – think it smells delicious? I just want to eat it whenever I’m cutting it. I was recently cutting out a ball blank from a glue-up of walnut, maple, and wenge, the latter two of which don’t really have a smell when cut. But the walnut! My dull band saw blade was more burning than cutting, and I was just about drooling all over the table. It smelled like warm cinnamon chocolate bread pudding. I almost ran to the bakery i...

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Part 2: Just realized exactly how tiny my shop is :(

02-26-2009 02:08 PM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

I finally ran the numbers. My shop is a 1-car rental garage in cramped, suburban LA. Making things extra strange is that there is a 6’ tall cinder block wall running down one side of the property that terminates right at the corner of my garage. It actually buts into it, overlapping the wall by the width of the cinder blocks. The fence around the back of the property passes about 4’ behind the garage, giving me a little tree-covered (Hollywood Junipers and Ficus benjamina) area I ...

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Part 3: Anthropomorphic tools - My DeWALT sander is watching me

02-28-2009 01:39 AM by Gary Fixler | 10 comments »

I hadn’t noticed until now, but I think my little DeWALT ROS is a robot who’s been watching me now for more than a decade. At least he’s adorable, like a little puffer fish. I only hope his intentions are peaceful.

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Part 4: homemade walnut pegs

03-04-2009 02:47 PM by Gary Fixler | 14 comments »

(don’t miss the video at the bottom!) I’m currently building a rack for lumber shorts and cutoffs under 3’ in length. I wanted to do a bit more than slap together Home Depot plywood and solids this time, though. One small ‘extra’ will be exposed pegs through the sidewalls to help support the thin ply shelves (they’re also getting #0 biscuits – I like overkill). These pegs will be flush-sawn, sanded, and finished with the rest of the rack, and most ...

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Part 5: Ouija Router

03-06-2009 12:09 AM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

I just had this idea after commenting on roman’s Bosch laminate trimmer review. I need to get a group of woodworking pals over to help me channel the spirits of past woodworkers by lightly laying our fingertips around the base of my Porter Cable 7518, running at 21k RPMs. Then we’ll just see what happens :) I’m hoping the spirits will see fit to channel up some fine inlay work for me.

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Part 6: Suffolk Machinery band saw blades - helpful folks

03-06-2009 12:17 AM by Gary Fixler | 3 comments »

I made the mistake of ordering 1 each of their 1” thick (my saw’s max) 103PC (3TPI) and 102PC (2TPI) swedish steel blades in the wrong length. I went by info I found online when ordering, instead of walking out to the shop to check for sure. Online places said 133”. The machine says 135”-137”. It just wouldn’t go on, even at the bottom of the top wheel’s extension. I called Suffolk just now, and they said 133” is a common length, so no re...

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Part 7: The tiniest woodshop - resawing miniboards

03-09-2009 01:07 PM by Gary Fixler | 18 comments »

I didn’t want to waste any time slabbing up some of the minilogs I cut out of the mystery branches I found last week, so Saturday I had a go at it. Very exciting. I had some split pieces, so I sanded them up on my belt sander. I like the faint grain revealed in the piece on the left, sanded down from one like that which I’m holding: I clamped my belt sander down to the table to use it as a mini (though relatively enormous) benchtop model: Here’s a long piece sanded ...

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Part 8: Square trees - how convenient!

03-14-2009 04:29 AM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

So little waste in the resawing process! Also handy – “extrusion trees” : Both made by an art group, with more info at the links (just click the pics).

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Part 9: Just having one of those projects...

03-16-2009 10:07 AM by Gary Fixler | 5 comments »

I’m building a little rack system currently, and I just keep failing miserably. I wanted to do something a little nicer than usual, so I made some 1/4” walnut pegs, and was planning to face the front edges of the rack with 1/8” walnut strips, and drill and peg through that with lighter wood that matches the plywood of the sides and shelves. To hold the shelves in, I’d drive pegs through from the outside, walnut pegs through ply sides, the inverse of the fronts. For wha...

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Part 10: Hooray for windy days in LA

03-23-2009 07:16 AM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

After a little get-together with friends last night around a backyard campfire in the ‘burbs of LA, and them hearing about how I’m collecting wood from wherever I can find it around here now, one of said friends left a message for me today. He was outside of an El Pollo Loco (Mexican fast food chicken place) that I frequent, and alerted me to ‘an entire tree’ that had fallen over in today’s crazy wind storms. I was over there in 10 minutes, new Irwin hand saw in ...

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Part 11: What a way to test out my new lumber rack!

03-26-2009 01:35 PM by Gary Fixler | 12 comments »

Last night I ran to home depot for 4 pressure treated 4×4s, 8 2×4s, and 5 sheets of 23/32” construction ply. Today, in bursts of uncharacteristic stick-to-it-ness, I actually put together the whole rack. On my lunch break from the office, I ran home and cut out 8 4’ 2×4s, 8 23-7/8” 2×4s, and cut the 4×4s not only to height (about 69”), but also cut in a 10° angle, and used Sketchup to plot the angle on the front leg to meet up with the back. I&...

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Part 12: Hatchback toy update

04-04-2009 12:44 AM by Gary Fixler | 9 comments »

I decided to update my old toy version of my ‘00 Ford Focus hatchback to more accurately reflect the typical look of its big brother these days. I’ve made a couple of trips for Eucalyptus that have looked very much like this, complete with long branches sticking out the window :) Big version:

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Part 13: Bryan Nash Gill's Hemlock Relief Print

04-21-2009 10:47 AM by Gary Fixler | 0 comments »

Artist Bryan Nash Gill has created a series of 12 prints in the traditional block printing style by inking the cross section of a very large stump of hemlock – from the mill next door to him – and then hand-rubbing large sheets of handmade paper into all the growth rings. The prints look beautiful, but at $4k/ea., I think I’ll make my own ;) Now to find a 3.5’ diameter chunk of hemlock… Some shots of the creation process[via Craftzine] And as way leads on t...

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Part 14: I bought a truck tonight!

05-06-2009 10:14 AM by Gary Fixler | 11 comments »

No pics yet or anything, but after looking at an ‘06 Ranger at the Ford dealer with 42k on it, I kind of fell for an ‘05 Tacoma with about 85k on it at the Toyota dealer. A little older, a bit more used, but it just had a lot more I wanted. It’s a certified pre-owned with 3yr/3k bumper-to-bumper, and 7yr/100k drivetrain warranties, power everything, AM/FM/CD, access cab – 2-door, but has a small back, and little half-doors that make loading things/passengers back there...

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Part 15: New truck pics - 2005 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road

05-07-2009 12:46 PM by Gary Fixler | 11 comments »

Here it is. Certified preowned, but no dents or dings or anything. It’s 5 years old, but the engine looks pretty new. Obligatory guy and his new truck photo: “Access Cab,” woo! Let’s go find some dead trees! Few more pics in the flickr set if you need them.

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Part 16: What LA does with its wood (and lawn trimmings)

05-10-2009 10:24 AM by Gary Fixler | 5 comments »

I’ve been trying to figure this out for a bit, and last weekend I cracked the case. Where do the logs and trees the tree trimmers cut down, and the stuff in the green waste recycling bins go? I tooled around Google Maps, searching for dumps and landfills, and found things like this that just didn’t seem to fit the bill. Finally I found this PDF file. It includes 20 pages, most with photos of everything that goes on, with figures on how much of each type of green waste is hauled in...

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Part 17: I finally have a proper wood lathe!

05-12-2009 01:05 PM by Gary Fixler | 7 comments »

Mom visited last week, and with some ideas of things she wanted me to build, we checked out Anderson Plywood (LA, CA) – she loves zebrawood :) – and my favorite place: Rockler (Torrance, CA). While at Rockler, she fell in love with some turned bottle stoppers made by Robert, who I think might be a manager there, and decided she wanted me to make a bunch for her and her friends, starting with a set of 3 for one friend in particular. They only had 2 chrome wine bottle stopper har...

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Part 18: Progress on those Hollywood Juniper limbs

05-27-2009 02:52 PM by Gary Fixler | 7 comments »

22 days ago I posted about the decimation of my Hollywood Junipers (Juniperus chinensis). My plan was to go through and ‘limb’ them, or at this scale, to ‘twig’ them. Little by little, I’ve been going out there for 15 minutes or so at a time, sawing each little twig off with a stroke of the Irwin carpenter’s saw, then scrubbing the sap off my hands. What a giant pain, but I admit it was fun. I love the feel and sound of the saw, the smell of the junipers, g...

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Part 19: Most elaborate dollhouse ever: Moscow?

05-30-2009 12:20 PM by Gary Fixler | 10 comments »

I continue to be amazed by how many amazing things there are out there by which to be amazed. I find new ones every day online, and have for the last decade. One I found this week is a 1/500th scale miniature of all of Moscow, built in 1988, and maintained ever since. It looks to be all balsa, or basswood. If the city changes, or a new house is built, they correct the model. It’s stayed current for the last 2 decades. Tons more pictures How hard could it be?

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Part 20: The whimsical art furniture of Jake Cress

06-18-2009 12:58 PM by Gary Fixler | 8 comments »

I found this talented woodworker’s site tonight through a post on Make Magazine’s blog. He makes very well crafted furniture in the Chippendale style, but also creates art pieces with meta-humor baked in. Some appear self-animated, the rest are a fun juxtaposition of solid craftsmanship and glaring oversights. “Oops” in mahogany “Crippled Table” in walnut and hickory “How to Build Furniture” in cherry “Self Portrait” in ...

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Part 21: some ramps for my truck, almost

06-26-2009 11:06 AM by Gary Fixler | 7 comments »

To save my back the next time I luck into some huge logs, I found and purchased some Highland Ramparts brackets from Pep Boys, while there replacing my new truck’s dead battery. I’ve seen gardeners in the area loading and unloading rider lawnmowers and everything else with these things, so me and a log on a hand truck should be fine, despite my ample size. I also picked up the required 2×8s, each 8’ long. Unfortunately, measuring my truck’s unfolded tailgate he...

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Part 22: JACKPOT

07-02-2009 10:59 AM by Gary Fixler | 10 comments »

In early February, 2009, in rough seas 14 miles off the coast of Sussex, England, Russian cargo ship Sinegorsk lost its load of 1500 tonnes of sawn timber, which washed ashore on the beaches of Kent. The police issued warnings, but scavengers came out in force. Daily Mail has several great shots of people braving the icy surf and a high wall to claim the lumber, which is apparently still the rightful property of the original owner, according to law. Police were powerless to stop the lo...

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Part 23: Band saw wizard

07-03-2009 12:47 AM by Gary Fixler | 6 comments »

Well I’m impressed. via Just watch those fingers, everyone.

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Part 24: list of favorite woodworkers

08-12-2009 08:20 AM by Gary Fixler | 1 comment »

While searching up something else on the Google last night, I stumbled upon an exactly 900 day old post on our very own LJs site in which user ToolCrib asked the question Who are YOUR top five most influential woodworkers?. ToolCrib (Garrett) then went on to compile that list to his own site here. I thought I’d repost that effort on the 900th day as a little look back at who everyone thought was inspirational a few years ago, but then I fell asleep early, so here it is, 901 days later :)

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Part 25: Internet intrigue! What have I wrought?

08-21-2009 03:19 AM by Gary Fixler | 13 comments »

What a day I’m having! Okay, so September of last year I was gearing up to buy a band saw. I liked the Craftsman 18” Wood/Metal deal for $1300 (and eventually got that one). Above the picture on the saw’s page were clickable, hierarchical categories, something like “Power Tools > Saws > Band Saws.” You could click on each to go to broader categories – pretty standard. I noticed in the address bar that these category names were echoed in the URL as variab...

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Part 26: Burl Wood... "Nutz" :(

08-28-2009 08:42 AM by Gary Fixler | 9 comments »

This makes me laugh almost as much as it makes me cry. There’s a guy in my neighborhood with a big black truck parked on the street, and a pair of blue TruckNutz hanging below, which I must pass and notice every night when I drive home from work. I do admit that the sheer obnoxiousness of it does at least make me smile. But c’mon… beautiful wood burls? Is nothing sacred? I can only hope it’s injection-molded plastic wrapped in some kind of heat-shrink plastic print....

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Part 27: New Rule: Face shield mandatory (when turning barked pieces)

09-04-2009 10:40 PM by Gary Fixler | 19 comments »

Just a quick note. I found some logs (again!) and quickly sliced up a half log for the turning. It had some loose bark I tore off, but also some seemingly strongly-affixed pieces that I decided to leave on. Too hard to remove. I was only at around 1000RPM (2nd out of about 6 speed settings on my Jet 12×20), when wHaCk! A piece of heavy, hard bark about 3”x5”, and around 3/16” thick smacked me really hard in the face. I was wearing a polycarbonate full-face shield fro...

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Part 28: Archival footage: Wood turning in Germany, 1926

09-15-2009 11:05 AM by Gary Fixler | 19 comments »

This video from 83 years ago follows a German woodworker as he selects a log half, cuts out a bowl blank on a large band saw, and then turns 3 separate parts to create a lidded bowl. It’s neat to feel such a kinship with a guy at his lathe some 13 years before his country would enter into WWII. I wonder if he made it to the war, and what he thought of it. There’s something a lot more tangible about this video than the still black and white photos of men with saws over their shoul...

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Part 29: Brian May's guitar

11-13-2009 03:15 AM by Gary Fixler | 7 comments »

I just learned from a reddit post (I know some of you are also redditors) that Queen guitarist Brian May built his guitar, “Red Special” with his dad in 1963 when he was sixteen, mostly “from an 18th century fireplace mantel that a friend of the family was about to throw away.” He’s been using it on tour and in albums for over 3 decades. The manufacturing subsection at the link is a fun read for woodworkers and guita...

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Part 30: Tape Measure Hero

12-18-2009 12:05 AM by Gary Fixler | 10 comments »

I haven’t been around for awhile. I’ve been super lazy. I have worked on a few small things, and I’m starting to get it into gear again, getting the garage cleaned up and organized and making things once more. I will be returning to the fun here soon, probably just after the holidays. I miss this place and my fellow woodworkers :) In the meantime, I give you some tape measure tricks:

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02-22-2010 12:39 PM by Gary Fixler | 13 comments »

Hooray! I’ve been here 365 days today. Special thanks to LumberJocks Bureaucrat and notottoman for reminding me with messages on my home page. I thought I had months to go and would have missed it! My resolution (do we do that here? :) is to actually create more and get my shop a lot more organized. I’ve been making some headway on that recently, but there’s a lot left to do yet. As my next post will indicate, I’m still in the stage of building things to organize my...

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Part 32: Rockler's March "2010 Master Catalog for Woodworkers"

02-27-2010 12:29 PM by Gary Fixler | 7 comments »

Anyone get this in the mailbox this week? I was impressed. Every monthly Rockler catalog is 147 pages long with a simple, stapled binding. This one has a square, glued binding with no staples, and is 195 pages long. Too, every previous catalog I’ve received over the last 3 years is in the company’s blue and maple-ish tan coloring. Sometimes the heading bar and Rockler text inside it are a reverse of these two colors, but usually not. However, this one is all-white, of a much heavi...

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Part 33: To the Xylarium!

02-27-2010 05:04 PM by Gary Fixler | 10 comments »

I’m very excited about this new word I’ve stumbled upon. This is an actual, in-use word combining xylo- from the Greek xulo- from xulon, – wood – and the Latin -arium (genitive -āriī), second declension – a place where things are kept from other things, or a place associated with a specific thing. In other words, a xylarium would be a place in which wood is stored. It seems to apply best to vault-like collections. Here's a short, interesting article (with phot...

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Part 34: the straw-like nature of red oak

03-27-2010 10:05 PM by Gary Fixler | 12 comments »

I just had some thin CA glue seep from one end to the other of a 13.75” long red oak board.

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Part 35: birch... juice?

05-20-2010 12:06 PM by Gary Fixler | 7 comments »

I guess I have heard of birch beer, but not just drinking straight sap from birch trees. It looks like locally I could get some through Izze, though it says “Made with real fruit juice concentrates, other natural flavors and nothing artificial.” It doesn’t say “100% birch sap” like I’d expect, and like Adamba serves up – “Ingredients – Pure Birch Juice.” Maybe I can just go lick some baltic birch ply in the garage. I...

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Part 36: Employment update

05-24-2010 09:07 AM by Gary Fixler | 18 comments »

Several LJ friends have written to ask how the new job is going, and I’ve told them all that I’d post a little update here, and here it is! It’s a big update! Everything is amazing and awesome so far. The building is big – 4 stories – but each has a kind of lobby wall after you exit the elevator, so you can’t appreciate how big the building is until you get behind that. My first trip behind it was my first day on the job. The interview process was all i...

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Part 37: Martin is a benevolent genius

07-26-2010 07:47 PM by Gary Fixler | 6 comments »

Right now we’re having our 20k subscribers party with free giveaways. The first 10 giveaways go to random members within the 100 most active members list. If you go to the jocks page, sorted by activity, you note that it’s 5×7 jocks per page, or 35/page. Martin is at the bottom of page 3. The first 2 pages are 70 in all, then the first 4 rows of 7 on page 3 are another 28. That’s 98. Then Martin is the 4th one on the next row, or #102. He’s carefully kept himself ...

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Part 38: Watch where you park your bench!

08-02-2010 04:14 PM by Gary Fixler | 11 comments »

Or this might happen! That looks like an old sycamore, but King's Inns is in England, so I guess we should call it a plane tree. If only it had been this bench, it could have fought back.

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Part 39: Lignum Vitae... hydroelectric turbine bearings?

08-14-2010 08:18 AM by Gary Fixler | 4 comments »

I’ve often heard that lignum vitae (Guaiacum spp.) is the strongest wood – some 3.5x harder than red oak – but this is darn impressive. As per the link: From the Army Corps of Engineers“The original hydro turbine bearings made of Lignum Vitae, lasted from 1934 to 2001. The Lignum Vitae bearing design kept the hydro turbine in service for sixty-seven years!Modern composite metal bearing materials such as Thoradon, Ryetex, Mycarta, and Phenolics are unacceptable mater...

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Part 40: outta time :(:

08-25-2010 11:57 AM by Gary Fixler | 21 comments »

That symbol is a frowney/smiley, because the news about my job lately is bittersweet. After the 7-month unemployed spell that started last September and lasted exactly as long as my savings held up, an old coworker got in touch with me about coming to work with him at an online games division of Disney. It was a really great opportunity to do exactly what I do, which is pretty niche, and it marked the first time the job skills requirements matched 100% with my resume. They’re usually mo...

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