bookmark_borderTest Cutting

I spent a bunch of time today buying a new band saw blade and setting up machines so I could make some test cuts on scrap wood to prototype some interesting joinery for a new folding stool design.

mortise and tenon
New Shogi Joinery

How do you join a 1.25″ wide board perpendicular to a 1.25″ dowel? It takes a forstner bit, a band saw, and a mortising machine. I’m pretty excited to see how this works out on an actual project.

bookmark_borderArmrest Coaster

Some months ago, we got a new sofa and comfy chair for the den. These pieces are very rectangular, and go nicely with the Mid-Century Modern look of the den, but it’s very tempting to rest your drink on the armrest while you’re sitting in them, which would be unwise since that drink is likely to sweat or spill onto the upholstery. I’ve seen little table-like structures that sit on the arm of a couch, and I figured, “I am a woodworker, and I don’t need to pay those prices for somebody else to make this for me.” Behold!

Coaster, armrest-type, from walnut
Walnut Armrest Coaster

I had a walnut board in the garage, left over from some project long ago. The corners are miter-cut, and I managed to keep track of the pieces well enough that you can see the grain flow around the bend. The corner joinery is reinforced with splines, also from walnut). You can see that I had a difficult time getting all this glued up, because of the blotches in the linseed oil finish.

This was a pretty-good fast project, only taking a few hours over the weekend. I may wind up making a couple more of these.

bookmark_borderGray Smock Project

Most years, I try to make one of my holiday gifts for Sharon be something that I made myself. This year, I decided sort of at the last minute that it would be a knock-off of a garment she bought for herself earlier this year. She bought a kind of smock / poncho garment, and it has become one of her favorite things. It’s a good thing to throw on as an extra layer for warmth, and it adds a couple of handy pockets. The catalog she got it from only offers a couple of colors, and she bought the one she liked. If she was going to have another one, it would have to be hand made.

Smock Gray Sharon 2019
Sharon in her new gray smock

The fabric is a light gray mostly cotton stretch knit. Don’t underestimate the comlexity of this garment. The shoulders actually slope down from the neckhole, and the sides taper in towards the bottom hem. The hems have narrow turn-unders, and mitered corners. The pockets have rounded bottom corners. The neck hole has a narrow facing band. I have done almost no work with this kind of stretch knit fabric before.

Anyway, it took me a few days to get everything laid out, cut out, lanned out, and sewn. It was finished in time for the holiday, but still had chalk marks all over it so it had to be washed before it could be worn. Sharon sent all day yesterday wearing it, and found it to be as comfortable as the original, so success.

bookmark_borderGreen Flannel Shirt

I’ve been wearing a lot of green lately. Green goes pretty well with blue, and most of my pants are blue jeans. Blue shirts are sometimes a little matchy-matchy with blue jeans, and green can be part of a black shoes outfit or a brown shoes outfit. I don’t like wearing black or gray shirts with brown shoes, so green is a good versatile color for different outfits. Anyway, I was shopping for fabric and saw this great green flannel.

A green flannel shirt

The pattern is the old pyjama top pattern, which is now Dana Marie Design Co. #1033, “Night and Day“. I still love this pattern for big comfy shirts. I don’t put the decorative trim on the pocket or cuffs. I added a vertical line of stitching that separates the pocket and makes it less likely that my phone will fall out. I just got those buttons at the fabric store today, so I could finish this project. I tried out some fancy buttonhole stitching, but you can’t really tell in this images.

bookmark_borderHoliday Projects

My days are nothing but free time lately, but holidays doubly so. I’ve spent most of the last few days sewing on different projects, but nothing I can post about quite yet. I sewed a present for Sharon, but I didn’t get a chance to launder it so it’s covered in tailor’s chalk markings and needs a few touch-up stitches here and there. I sewed a flannel shirt for myself, but it needs a trip to the fabric store for buttons before it can be completed, and I’m not sure I want to go to retail-ville on Boxing Day. It’s all about stymied ambition, isn’t it? Anyway, hope you all got a chance to spend the day doing something you enjoy.

bookmark_borderAction Embroidery

  1. Download the bitmap image that contains the part you want as embroidery.
  2. Crop and edit the bitmap image to isolate the part that you want.
  3. Simplify the color palette in the bitmap image to decrease thread changes.
  4. Convert the bitmap image to a vector format.
  5. Simplify the vector image to reduce the number of shapes and decrease shape complexity.
  6. Export the vector image to a common format.
  7. Import the common vector format into the digitizing software.
  8. Generate stitch patterns for vector shapes.
  9. Save resulting embroidery file.
  10. Copy the embroidery file to the thumb drive.
  11. Set up the embroidery machine and insert the thumb drive.
  12. Hoop fabric and mount hoop on embroidery machine.
  13. Load embroidery file and first color of thread.
  14. Press the “START/STOP” button.
  15. Wait, change thread colors when the machine asks you to, resolve any mechanical problems that occur.
  16. Try to fix problems with the physical expression of the embroidery pattern.
  17. Curse everything, and the horse it rode in on.
  18. Take a picture of the resulting embroidery.
    Bob the Angry Flower
  19. Post about it to your blog.

bookmark_borderHitsu Project Completed

This is a project I started way before I got the blog going gain, but I finally added one of the final details to make this project complete. This is a “hitsu“, a Japanese storage box. They’re often used to store armor (which would make them a “gusoku hitsu” or “gusoku bitsu”), and often when you see a set of Japanese armor on display, the armor stand is sitting on top of the storage hitsu. They often have bail handles so a pair of people can carry one or multiple hitsu slung from a pole, and sometimes they have carry straps so a single person could carry the hitsu on their back.

The body of the box is thin plywood to keep the weight down. It’s framed in on the inside with 1×1 lumber, to give the nails something to bite into. The corners are also reinforced with brass hardware that I made myself by cutting it from sheet brass with snips. the latch is a sash lock, which isn’t the best, but it looks ok and is beefy enough to keep the hitsu closed during carrying.

All the wood is protected on the outside by spar urethane, so I think this will be good for carrying things around on drizzly days at Pennsic. that’s the main reason for this project, carrying things around at Pennsic.

bookmark_borderFrom Progress to Project

I managed to get all the joinery and tuning done on Friday, making this project complete. Here is the complete “Breakdown Bench”.

Breakdown Bench
This is the completed and assembled bench.

It’s pretty solid, given how tight some of the joinery came out. It still comes apart, though. I need to sand some of these pieces a bit, and maybe add some sealer, but otherwise, it’s done.

Pieces of the breakdown bench.
The completed bench, disassembled.

I wound up cutting the mortises on the benchtop pieces by drilling through and then cutting with a jig saw. This gave me the basic through- holes, then I tuned them with a rasp and a file.

bookmark_borderFrom Picture to Plan

When we were recently in Japan, we visited the Costume Museum in Kyoto. There are only a few costumes on display in the costume museum these days. Now it is mostly a large dollhouse model of scenes from the Tale of Genji. Part of one of these scenes was this great little bench.

Model of the bench
Model of a bench

So of course I decided that I need to make a bench just like this. The “no hardware” aspects of it really appeal to me, and even though it may turn out a bit unstable due to that, the ability to break it down into pieces for travel may come in handy. Also, since so many of these pieces have the approximate proportions of modern dimensional lumber, it shouldn’t be too hard to make.

Needless to say, it’s quite a bit of work to go from a photo of a scale model to a plan for cutting and joining actual lumber, but  assumptions about scale, combined with measurements of actual lumber, can be used to make decisions, and create plans.