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Expanding Table Innovation

posted Jul 4, 2012, 7:29 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Jul 4, 2012, 7:31 AM ]

For those looking for a more interesting challenge, why not work outside your comfort zone? Have a look at this circular table that has an internal iris mechanism to allow it to transform into a larger circular table. Click the photo to see the table in action!

Expanding circular table

Power Through a Mound of Paper

posted May 9, 2012, 8:26 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated May 9, 2012, 8:27 AM ]

Yes, woodworking tools have been used for many, um, non-woodworking uses in the past... But this is the first time I have seen a woodworking tool used in such an unconventional fashion.

I can almost imagine it: office worker wins the lottery, goes into the office, plugs in, and ploughs through their paperwork before letting the boss know that they won't be returning after lunch :)

Power sander put to creative use

Note that the image may take some time to load properly...

Aniline Water Stains

posted Apr 26, 2012, 3:20 PM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Apr 26, 2012, 3:43 PM ]

Aniline Water Stains

Dye freshly applied to Baltic birch plywoodMy wife had asked me to make her a quick Christmas-themed display, so I made a Christmas tree on a lazy-Susan base for her. This post is not so much about the tree itself, as it is about the dye I used. It was a forest green aniline dye from Lee Valley Tools, product number 56Z08.06. 

The picture at right is Baltic birch with one coat of forest green aniline dye applied.

Preparing the Dye

To use these dyes, you need to measure then heat (but not boil) some soft, clean water (distilled is best). You then stir in an appropriate amount of dye powder, then let the mixture cool. Once mixed, you can use Mason jars to store your colours until you are ready to use them. Read the instructions that came with your dye! Each mixture is different. You can use less dye (or more water) and achieve a "thinner" cut, allowing you some leeway, without getting too dark or colour the first time.

Preparing the Wood

Before applying the dye, raise the grain on the wood by moistening the surface. Once it has thoroughly dried, lightly sand the wood surface to remove the "fuzz". If you skip this step, the process of applying the dye will leave the surface of the wood fuzzy or rough to the touch, no matter how smoothly you sanded it beforehand.

Applying the Stain

After you have your colour stain prepared, you can apply the stain using a brush, sponge, or rag. Be sure to keep a wet edge, but do not apply too much dye and be sure to spread it thoroughly. You do not want to end up with any pools of dye, or it will leave your wood blotchy.

Protecting the Stain

Wax applied over dyeStain is water-soluble, meaning that any water (including from wet hands) will dissolve the dye. This means you need to protect your project after applying the stain. Ideally, you would use a non-water-based finish over a water-based stain.

Because my wife needed to use this project within a matter of hours, after the stain had dried (with a bit of artificial help), I applied a couple coats of wax. Though this worked fine for the short duration that this project was needed for, it is unsatisfactory for the long-term, as the colour still seems to be able to work through the wax, well after it should have been sealed. The photo at right shows the project after having a carnauba wax applied.

A more optimal barrier coat would have been shellac or even polyurethane, which gives a complete barrier.


Overall, this stain was nice to work with, gave a nice green colour while leaving the grain completely visible, and it relatively quick-and-easy to apply! I'm certainly pleased with it!

Where The Trees Are

posted Apr 19, 2012, 7:11 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Apr 19, 2012, 7:27 AM ]

OK, so you work with wood every day, and you know that they didn't just grow in your backyard (well, maybe they did...) But where, exactly, does your wood come from?

The following image was produced by Josef Kellndorfer and Wayne Walker of the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC), with the assistance of the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey. It depicts an inventory of aboveground woody biomass for the United States. Darker colours indicate higher concentrations, taller and more robust forest growth.

For me, the most shocking was the dearth of growth in the central states.

US carbon biomass distribution

California Contemplates Tough Table Saw Safety Legislation

posted Mar 20, 2012, 5:40 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Mar 20, 2012, 5:45 AM ]

California Contemplates Table Saw Safety Legislation

Saw Stop finger save - If this bill passes, this is about the worst accident you should see
The state of California is currently mulling over a new bill (bill AB 2218) which would drastically change the safety of any new table saw sold. The bill proposes to restrict the sale of any table saw that does not have "active injury mitigation" technology.

What does that mean? This bill goes way beyond the simple blade guards that everyone already has. This bill would require all new table saws to limit injury to a 1/8" cut if you should get your finger or other body part in the way of the blade. If you haven't seen it before, check out the table saws sold by SawStop

Don't worry though, your venerable work-horse of a table saw won't be relegated to the junk yard. This bill is only concerned about the sale of new table saws, and even if it passes and becomes legislation, it won't come into effect until January 1st 2015. It is currently slated to be heard in committee March 27th, so keep your ears peeled!

At present, this bill is only for California, but there are grumblings that this might become national. Many table saw manufacturers are urging its buyers to take action to stop this legislation, as it will drastically change the table saw industry.

I'm not saying this bill is a bad thing (safety is never bad!) but it certainly will have an impact on us the consumer. Ultimate safety, but at what price? At present, SawStop table saws are plenty expensive (but cheap when compared with a lost digit), but perhaps if the bill passes, other manufacturers will come online with their own answer to the injury problem, and there would be real competition in the ultra-safe table saw industry. So before you give California the finger, just remember that this bill might let you keep it. You may think you are always safe, but just think about your son or daughter, as they start to grow up and use power tools... Wouldn't you rather feel better, knowing they are a bit safer should their attention wander while using the tools?

So perhaps this is a good thing!

If you want to see the actual text of the bill, here it is (from the CA legalinfo site):
BILL NUMBER: AB 2218 INTRODUCED BILL TEXT INTRODUCED BY Assembly Member Williams FEBRUARY 24, 2012 An act to add Chapter 4.9 (commencing with Section 24540) to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to consumer safety. LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST AB 2218, as introduced, Williams. Consumer safety: table saws. Existing law prohibits the sale of various types of products that are determined to be unsafe for the public, including, among others, specified bunk beds, infant cribs, and toys. Existing state regulations require certain types of table saws to be guarded by a hood and to contain various safety features to prevent injury. This bill would prohibit a seller, on or after January 1, 2015, from selling a new table saw in this state unless that table saw is equipped with active injury mitigation technology, as defined. The bill would make a seller who violates these provisions subject to a civil fine not exceeding $5,000 per sale. The bill would authorize the Attorney General to maintain an action against any seller who violates these provisions, as specified. Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: no. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: SECTION 1. Chapter 4.9 (commencing with Section 24540) is added to Division 20 of the Health and Safety Code, to read: CHAPTER 4.9. TABLE SAW SAFETY ACT 24540. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Table Saw Safety Act. 24541. For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions apply: (a) "Active injury mitigation technology" means technology to detect contact with, or dangerous proximity between, a hand or finger and the teeth of the blade above the table top of a table saw, and to prevent the blade from cutting the hand or finger deeper than one-eighth of an inch when the hand or finger approaches any portion of the blade above the table top at a speed of one foot per second from any direction and along any path. Notwithstanding the prior sentence, active injury mitigation technology may be temporarily deactivated by a person so that a saw can cut material which would otherwise be detected as a person. (b) "Seller" means any person who deals in or engages in the business of selling table saws or any other person who sells table saws in this state. (c) "Table saw" means a saw that is designed primarily for cutting wood with a generally planar, circular blade having teeth around its periphery and having a nominal diameter of 12 inches or less, where the table saw includes a table top for supporting a work piece, and where at least a portion of the blade extends above the table top to cut a work piece on the table top. Table saws vary in price, size, weight, motors, drive systems, stands, housings, and other features. Common names of various types of table saws include, but are not limited to, bench saws, bench top saws, contractor saws, hybrid saws, and cabinet saws. 24542. (a) On or after January 1, 2015, a seller shall not sell any new table saw in this state unless that table saw is equipped with active injury mitigation technology. (b) Any seller who violates subdivision (a) is subject to a civil fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each sale. (c) The Attorney General may maintain an action against any seller who violates subdivision (a) for injunctive and any other appropriate relief.

Fine Woodworking eBooks Sale

posted Mar 16, 2012, 1:47 PM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 1:48 PM ]

Yes, the luck of the Irish has struck the woodworking world as well! Check out the  Fine Woodworking / Tauton Press sale. Just use the following coupon code to get 15% off all eBooks, for a limited time: GREEN15

Tauton St. Patricks 2012 Sale

New Host - Different Page URLs

posted Mar 16, 2012, 6:26 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 1:49 PM ]

Well, now that the move to the new web host is almost complete, things will start to settle down now.

The biggest problem that you will have is that old links into my site will no longer point to anything... But don't despair, all the old information is still there. Just use the SEARCH function to find the new location. The SEARCH box is at the top-right of every page.

And welcome to the new site!


One-Stop-Shopping: Beer and tools!

posted Feb 26, 2012, 6:18 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 6:09 AM ]

We Sell Tools
For some people it could be a dream come true – a place where you can buy tools and beer all in one place.

We Sell Tools, 6722 Hwy. 70, Bartlett, TN

Senior buyer, Jean McGhee, of Hollywood Feed – the successful and local pet supply store with 16 open across the Mid-South - is the brainchild behind the new store on the block called We Sell Tools.

“We Sell Tools is a new concept tool store for the do-it-yourselfer. We will be selling all kinds of tools used for automotive, woodworking, landscaping cleanup, welding, electrical, plumbing, roofing and more,” she said.

“We have applied for a beer permit and plan to sell domestic beer, along with energy drinks and sodas, so that we can be a one-stop shop for our customers who want to pick up a six pack on the way home and also get everything they need to get started on a household project.”

In fact, there are some job want ads for the store right now
Management/Cashiers, We Sell Tools, 6722 Hwy. 70, Bartlett, TN (Fax resume to 452-0166, Attn: TOOL)
and there is a more extensive posting here.

It will definitely be interesting to see how things turn out!

Giveaway: Woodworking 101

posted Feb 26, 2012, 6:10 AM by Michael Dekker   [ updated Mar 16, 2012, 6:09 AM ]

Woodworking 101 Book Giveaway
The folks at are hosting a giveaway for a new book: Woodworking 101 (Aime Fraser, Matthew Teague, and Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk
The Taunton Press, 2012.
$24.95; 304 pp)

Woodworking 101 combines the 4 books from Taunton’s Getting Started in Woodworking series and is a great book for beginners. The book has step-by-step photos and illustrations for 7 projects: tool storage cabinet/workbench, an outdoor chair, coffee table, bookcase, storage bench, table, and bed. Also included is lots of info about setting up a shop and a section on different materials in woodworking, such as lumber, sand paper, and finishes. “With the basics mastered here, there’s no end to what new woodworkers can accomplish for years to come.”

So, how can you enter? Mosey on over to the give-away page at FineWoodworking, and enter a comment! Nice and easy!

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