The Different Grain Patterns of Mahogany

Seeing Stuart's pictures from his A Few Fun Tool Closeup Photo's Post, inspired me to take the DSLR into the shop to try and capture some of the really incredible grain finishing has brought out of the mahogany blocks.  Usually I just use my Canon SD1000 point and shoot camera into the shop; it takes pretty good snapshots without fiddling too much and is cheap enough that I don't care if something happens to it.

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Tools: DSLR

Tags: Canon, finishing

Materials: mahogany, tung oil

Notes from the Workshop: 20101116

Another two hours of work this morning and I've got all the mahogany blocks sanded to 220 grit.  I haven't even started on the bloodwood tracks yet!  

Sanding Station

To try and reduce the amount of dust I breathed and spread around my shop, I worked in front of one of my box fans pulling air through a furnace filter.  You wonder if this setup is effective?  Just look at the difference between the clean corners and the dust filled middle.

I'm kicking myself for not picking up that small Harbor Freight downdraft table when it was on clearance.  Now I'm seriously thinking about building one for a project.  It's just that when you're not sanding, you forget about how bad the dust gets until you have to sand another project. Read more »

Tags: 3M, filter, Norton, notes, sanding, Toolmonger

Materials: mahogany, sandpaper

Notes From the Workshop: 20101114

It's been a little too long since I've posted something. I'd like to blame it on the cold I'm finally kicking, but I've been fighting another sinister foe:

Mold

I didn't have enough energy to actually work on a project this week, so I figured I'd pick up the shop a bit.  It's been a little while since I last went on a cleaning binge and the shop was due.  I had let a lot of old material accumulate around the edges of the shop and it seemed that the walls were closing in on me.

Picking up a scrap of plywood off the floor I noticed a musty smell.  Of course there was a nice little mold colony growing underneath the plywood.  I've had problems with mold before, my shop is in the basement after all, but I hadn't had any flooding in my shop since I fixed the crack in my Wizard of Oz style portal doors.  No, I think this time it was just due to the ton of rain we've had this past year, which brought the water table almost up to floor level.  That and the damn humidity...

I decided that I'd scrub the shop floor with some bleach and let that sit over night with the air cleaner fans and dehumidifier running.  The next day I hit the floor with some Concrobium and let that sit another day.  It's the first time I've used the product, so we'll see how well it works.

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Tags: cleaning, finishing, mold, notes, sanding

Materials: tung oil

Notes From the Workshop: 20101109

End Grain Burn

Even though, the mahogany fuzzed quite a bit when machining, at least it didn't burn, that is until I tried routing the end grain.  Yeah you can burn just about any wood, but some woods are more prone than others.  Evidently end grain mahogany falls into the former category.  I ended up turning down the router speed to about 1/3 of full.   In the above picture, the block on the left was run though at full speed and the block on the right at the reduced speed.  There's still a bit of burn, but at least it's something that a light tough of sanding should take care of. Read more »

Tools: Handi-Clamp, router

Tags: burning, end grain, Irwin, notes

Materials: bloodwood, mahogany, tung oil

Blocks and Marbles Set in Action

See video

I've completed all the machining operations on my block and marble set including relieving all the edges with a chamfering bit. Now I just have to sand and finish the set, which is going to take me a while. I experimented with a few pieces and just to hand sand one piece to a finished grade took me about 10 minutes. Multiply that by 24. I'm sure I'll get more proficient as I do more pieces, but still that's a lot of time.

Being the big kid that I am, I couldn't wait that long. I had to play with the set for a while. You'll notice in the video that the balls can get stuck on the bottom track. I'm not sure if it is slowing down due to imperfections in the finish of the track, fuzz on the blocks, or some other reason. Maybe I should have made the spacer blocks slightly taller to impart a gentle slope. Well have to see how well the set performs after I've applied a finish.

Tags: sanding, toys, video

Notes from the Workshop: 20101103

Router Table Fence

When I went to route some channels in the mahogany blocks for my blocks and marbles project, I found that the channel was coming out crooked.  The culprit seemed to be the router fence; it had high spots that the block was hitting.  The high spots were around the locations I drilled through the fence for the adjustment bolts (I built this fence long before I knew what T-slots were).  I'm not sure if moisture got behind the laminate and swelled the MDF, or if the act of tightening the screw down too hard somehow pushed material away from the hole and it bulged the MDF. Read more »

Tools: router table, sanding block

Tags: links, notes, projects, RSS

Materials: bloodwood, mahogany

Using the Miter Sled

See video

In the video, I use the miter sled to crosscut the Honduran Mahogany into blocks. While the sled worked well, I wasn't pleased at how close my fingers came to the blade in the second and third cuts. Even thought the sled rides on rails, my hands were gripping the fence, and I was constantly aware of the locations of all my fingers, it was still just on the edge of my comfort zone and not a very good example of shop safety. Read more »

Tags: video

Miter (Crosscut) Sled

I barely ever use my miter gauge on my table saw, probably because it's so loose it rattles in the slot. It's too loose to use a punch to dimple the sides, and I really didn't want to throw good time away tapping and threading holes for a bunch of set screws. So when I had to rip an 8" block of mahogany into 1-3/4" strips, I had nothing I could trust to support it.

The only other way to cut the block into strips was to use my miter saw, but 2x8" is approaching it's maximum capacity, plus I really couldn't figure out a safe way to do it once I got down to cutting the last few strips.

I've been planning to build a miter sled for some time. I've seen some of the fancy jigs they come up with in woodworking magazines and have thought they would be handy. Since I really wanted to get on with my other projects I decided on a really basic design.

Tools: clamps, table saw

Tags: crosscut, miter slot

Materials: glue, MDF

Working with Mahogany

When I first picked up a blank of Honduran Mahogany, I noticed it was very light for its size. I wasn't thinking about its density or hardness when I choose it though, I liked it's rich tan color and straight grain.  I thought mahogany blocks would be a a good contrast to the bloodwood I was going to use for the tracks.  What I wasn't expecting was that it would be a challenge to work with.  The closest wood I can think of that it works like is aspen.  The wood is very consistent and straight grained; it holds crisp edges when machined, but it frizzes easily.  When sanded it produces a really fine dust that likes to clump together, plus it's very light and gets into the air.  I'd recommend air filtration and a dust mask; dust collection when using power tools would definitely help too. Read more »

Tools: scraper

Tags: sanding

Materials: aspen, mahogany

Notes from the Workshop: 20101027

RSS Feed

I really hate sites that put a teaser or even just a link in their RSS feed rather than the whole post, so you have to click though to the website.  I understand the reasoning, that they want to drive more people to their site so they get more hits, but I think there are better ways to drive people to your site like offering good content.

Imagine my horror as I looked at my feed and discovered I was doing it!  Oops.  So sorry to all of you who are following my site via RSS.  I have it fixed now. 

Block and Marbles

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Tools: table saw

Tags: notes, Rockler, RSS, toys

Materials: bloodwood, mahogany