Cutting and Practicing

Working at home occasionally has its advantages. I can set my own schedule, goals for what I need to do, and even take a break now and then. Of course, the wood is sitting there waiting for me and it calls to me as a distraction…and…I bite. This is how I managed to get a few things straightened out today…I call it an extended lunch and creative break.

I have had some struggles, and before moving into the technical side of them, I have to say straight out that I am afflicted by that odd feeling creeping in again (the one I had when I bought the wood). It hovers there around me as I handle the wood, work through the construction steps, and measure myself to make sure I will fit into the box in the end…just typing that feels odd. I am hoping that I will get used to it eventually. I find that the technical challenges distract me from thinking/feeling this way sometimes, but it is never far from my thoughts. I am still trying to understand what it is about, but haven’t been able to put my fingers on it yet. I have a few theories: it is confronting me with the idea/reality of my own death so the feelings around this arise; there is something abnormal about what I am doing and I am questioning if it is the ‘right’ thing to do (including writing this down here as a record) and feel the eccentricity around it; or maybe it is the desire to make it the most beautiful and well crafted piece and worrying about making a mistake/appearing stupid, after all everyone will see it eventually, right? All in all, my responses are still a bit of a mystery. Another thing that I have noticed is that I am talking about it less with people. Before, I was curious about peoples’ responses; now, I want to avoid their responses completely. Interesting…

Alright, on with where I am at these days. First, I was having trouble with my circular saw. After cutting a few boards and having them slightly angled (despite squaring the blade) I discovered that the blade was warped. The picture below is not very good, but I think you can see what I mean:

warped blade

The red line is the blade and you can see how it pulls away from the square at the edge. After realizing this problem I got out my handsaw, set up a wood guide and made a next to perfect cut:

wood guide cut piece

My handsaw is really sharp and it was easy to cut. In some ways it felt better to me as well–less ‘violent’ in the process (a friend mentioned this when comparing electrical versus hand cutting) and oddly, more personal.

I have also been practicing how to make the dowel joints, as I don’t want to make mistakes on the actual pieces. I am also looking at ways to see the dowel ends on the outside of the box, as I think this will be a nice decorative addition. Here is what I have done in my practice:

dowel clamp align edges bit collar plain bit dowel

I set the boards up by clamping them with the dowel clamps (pic 1), square them at the edges (pic 2), use the stop collar for drilling the inside edge (pic 3), and then a plain bit for drilling through on the outside edge (pic 4). I did chip the wood now and then with the drill bit going through (pic 5) and need to continue to practice to see what can prevent this problem. If I am doomed to be sloppy, I know that I can seal up these small chips in the end. My plan is to prepare all the boards for assembly, but do the artwork on each of them before I put the pieces all together. This will make it easier to work with as I am painting and decorating.

I think it is going to work out somehow…


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