Blanket Chest Wood Chips Flying!

Here it is, Christmas Eve. Just finished a traditional Hunky Xmas Eve supper of fish, perogies and mushroom soup, mmmmm. Decided it would be a good time to sit, relax and get my last update in for the year. Lets start with the title, yes we’re making another run on the two blanket chests. And for a certain follower, yes the wood has finally acclimated sufficiently. Finally got done running test pieces and re-familiarizing myself with the dovetail jig and believe I have it dialed in to where I need it.

Now it’s just a matter of actually cutting the dovetails for both chests on all the front, back and side pieces.

One side done, eight boards , fifteen more sides to go. Then maybe have to do the pins or tails again to get the perfect fit! And some wonder why these things take so long. At least we’re back on em and hope to have them all done by the tenth year anniversary. Just joking, hopefully.

In the mean time, there are a few side projects going on just to keep it interesting. We have the epoxy cigar pen project going on.

Just waiting for the epoxy to dry completely hard. For some reason it seems to be taking longer than the past epoxy pens I’ve done. Hoping the self life hasn’t past on the epoxy. We’ll just wait awhile longer and see what happens.

And then there’s the bird house boot project. Not necessarily a wood working project but still something to do in the shop. Just need to figure out how to turn this boot into a house the birds will want to use.

If it works out it will be the new addition to the bird wall.

Then the birds will have a combat boot from each of the boys and a bootscootin boot from they’re sister.

Well that should about do it for this year. Really hoping to keep the blog a little more active in the coming year, but you never know. I should get going for now, need to go out and make sure the anti aircraft gun placement is ready to go. Don’t need no reindeer and fat guy landing on the roof damaging shingles and the chimney causing more work around here! What’s that? Who’s this Grinch fellow I keep hearing about? So, have a merry Christmas and a Happier New Year. And to all a good night.


A Family of Carvers

Seem to be getting everyone involved in some carving projects.  Latest addition from   daughter Emily. (bird in the middle)


Not bad coming from a square piece of stock with just a whittling knife.  Keep it up and someday u’ll be able to carve your own ukulele.

Haven’t been spending  much time in the shop, due to circumstances beyond my control, so not a lot of new stuff to add.  Just trying to get caught up a little and keep the blog from fading into oblivion.

Did forget to add a pic of the scroll saw basket I had been working on with the last entry so I’ll include it now.


These baskets are not difficult to do and look pretty good when done, but boy are they hard on the eyes, especially with bifocal glasses.

Did have the pleasure of spending a day at a fellow woodworkers shop a month or so ago and picked up some great advice and info on lathe work.  Ended up coming home with plans for a jig to turn log sections into usable turning blanks.


Start with half a log section and after a few simple adjustments and cuts end up with a nice cylinder shape turning blank.


Couldn’t wait to get home and put together my own jig, which now sits collecting dust until I work up enough energy to maybe cut some logs.


The jig I put together will cut circles from about 2″ diameter out to about 12 “.  Actually the jig will work nice for circle applications other than turning blanks.

There, got a little added to keep the blog active.  And to finish on a high note, one of the boys recently moved from North Carolina to the Philadelphia area.  About a two hour drive but a heck of a lot closer than the NC haul.  Might actually be able to get together once in awhile and do some turning together.  And even better yet, he’s within driving distance of a Woodcraft, life is good.

Blanket chest alert: was actually getting ready to move all out on the chest when we had a little set back which limited my shop time.  Have the dovetail jig all set up to make the main boxes, a pretty major step.  Now just need to find the time and energy to run a few test pieces and get moving on them again.  Patience grasshopper!

Till next time, “be the river”


Measure Once, Cut Twice

So I get the medicine cabinet doors put together, cut them twice and they’re still too small for the frame openings!!!


I did have enough sense to stain the panels before glueing the frame pieces together.  Now if I can only get them to fit in the cabinet.  What’s that?  Measure twice, cut once, ohhh I see now.  Someone once told me that what seperates a good woodworker from a soso woodworker is being able to fix your mistakes.  Maybe I fall somewhere in between.  A 1/4″ strip of matching wood glued to the door edges, sanded flush with the door, a coat of stain and you’d never know the doors were initially cut short to begin with.   Just wondering how much more I’d get done if I didn’t have to keep stopping to fix mistakes.


On to the mystery carving from my last post.  Made an attempt to incorporate some letter carving along with some chip carving.  Probably won’t get any calls to carve historic signage, but overall not bad. (looking at a picture, from a distance anyway)

IMG_1729    IMG_1733

And speaking of carving, Deb’s been spending some time out in the shop (yipee) and really isn’t doing too bad with a carving knife.


Started out with two oval eggs.  Ended up with, readers choice, bears, groundhogs or puppy dogs.  (If you pick puppy dogs she’ll be happy)


Wow, just realized I haven’t added anything to this site for a good while.  Just not a lot of time left when your teaching someone to carve (especially if you’re not sure yourself) and teaching yourself how to play the banjo besides. Don’t worry Earl, it will be awhile before I start taking your gigs from you.

Think I’ll save a few items I was going to post until next time.  May give me the incentive to get in here sooner than my normal couple of months.


Nailed this Blogs title!

Meander – to go from one topic to another without any clear direction.

Couldn’t have named this blog more appropriately.

So I head down to the box store the other week to pick out and buy a couple of door pulls for the new medicine cabinet.  Two hours later, I come home with a ……………banjo!!!!


Your eyes deceive you not, thats a banjo.  And no, I have no idea how to play a banjo.  But at least now I have something to set in the corner with the guitar that I barely know how to play.  Besides, there is a lot of nice looking wood involved here.

Aww, getting Octobers blog entry in with two days left to spare. (could be that darn meander thing again)

Spent this past weekend exploring and helping out at our annual woodcarving show, East Berlin, Pa.  What a great show and what great talent right here in our backyard.  Very inspiring, so much so the the wife decided she wanted to give it a try.  Signed her up on my membership, bought her a glove and a practice stick and told her to go at it.  Believe it or not, I’m actually looking forward to having her give it a try and sharing the limited carving knowledge I have.  Since we’re talking carving, I’ll start out with one of many current projects…


for now we’ll just call it the mystery carving.  Will say that I’m hoping to finish it up before this weekend when we have company coming.

Other projects currently sitting out in the shop collecting dust…


scroll saw basket parts all cut, that’s the hard part, and ready to assemble and glue.  (providing all the parts are cut close to the pattern and it all fits together)

Main project and anxious to finish is the bathroom medicine cabinet.  The cabinet is actually hung and in use with the exception of doors for the side sections.  And they’re pretty close to being finished too…..


(yes actually did pick up knobs for the doors when I was done picking out a banjo)

And finally tonight, from the guest appearance files…..Brandon’s latest bowl…..


I may have to stop giving him advise over the phone, he’s getting pretty good at this turning thing.  And kudos to Valeries photo decorating skills.  But that’s alright Brandon, I’m sure you’re not going to be able to keep up in the carving department once your mother and I get going full throttle.  She’s got a glove now you know.

Well I think that’s about it for now.  Don’t want to wear out my banjo pickin fingers.  Darn doesn’t that thing look pretty sittin next to the guitar.  Man , if I only had and accordian !!!











Time Flys

Wow how time flys!  My goal this year was to post something here once a month.  Looks like I’m a little off my mark, but still pleased and doing a lot better than previous attempts.  Even being retired, I guess life sometimes still gets in the way of best intentions and plans.

Been a lot going on outside the woodshop lately keeping me from making sawdust and kindling.  Not to mention that as time passes its becoming even more important to get that afternoon siesta in.  Still working to finish up in the bathroom.  Hey, its only been four months since the contractor finished his part and I’m actually closing in on completing the job.  All that’s really left is the medicine cabinet and a new exhaust fan.


The medicine cabinet is almost finished and may even get to install it this weekend depending how much running around and eating out we end up doing.  Will be able to save some extra time by not watching football this Sunday since the Steelers apparently don’t plan on fielding a team this year.  My bad, I’m sure we were just toying with the Pats last week to lure them into a false sense of security before we meet them in the playoffs.  As far as the exhaust fan, just can’t seem to find anything we like to replace the old one.  Problem is finding one to fit the original hole, without having to re-drywall the ceiling.

One other minor task in the bathroom, a new basket for misc items on top of the toilet.


A simple oak scroll saw basket is in the works.  Had to modify the pattern slightly to get the size I needed but should still work.  Problem here is following those thin squigly lines with old eyes and bifocals.  Can only do a little at a time before you start seeing double.

Won’t be long before it starts getting colder. maybe staying home more and getting in a little more shop time. (to get back on the blanket chests , promise)  With that in mind, I’ll close out with a most appropriate quote I come across recently, “If a man says he’s going to fix something, he’ll fix it.  You don’t have to keep reminding him every six months.”


Jelly Cupboards and Jars


Ok, maybe not fine woodworking, but it is a piece of wood and did require some work.  Carpenter bees have been a problem here for years with several trips to Walmart for bee spray required every season.  Resilient little buggers seem to have become immune or they own stock in Walmart bee spray!  So, enter plans for a nifty little bee trap.  In researching the traps on the internet, i was convinced i’d be out there emptying the jar every few hours.  In theory, a bee enters the angled hole to the main shaft and seeing light descends down into the jelly jar.  Once inside, light is no longer visible due to the angled holes and the varmint can’t figure out how to get back out.  So with traps in place and a ladder at the ready to perform jar emptying tasks as required, we waited, and waited and waited.  A little frustrating to watch a bee fly around a contraption i spent a good 15 minutes constructing and crawl right inside a previously bored bee hole unscathed by the previous sprayings.  After some serious brain storming, the thought occurred, if the old bore holes weren’t available, maybe they’d explore the new holes provided.  Not wanting to make this an all summer project, a quick filling of the old holes with expanding spray foam and the traps were back in place.  Wow! after only a few hours I had my first carpenter bee trapped inside a jelly jar buzzing and unable to find his way out. (just hope peta doesn’t find out about this, maybe I can convince them that i take them to the park and humanely release them)  So far we’re up to six carpenter bees and a couple of wasps.  And only one has figured out how to find his way out.  One other one tricked me into thinking he was comatose then suddenly came to life and flew off as i tried to empty the jar.  Oh well, hopefully he warned the rest of his tribe to stay away from my damn rafters!

With the killer bee population under control, I actually did spend some time in the woodshop.  Was able to complete the jelly cupboard and replace the ancient press board computer stand that occupied that corner of the kitchen.

IMG_1708frnt          IMG_1713open

Much nicer if you ask me and actually pretty pleased with how it turned out.  Though the tin panels were purchased already punched.  Thought about punching the tin myself, but don’t have that much patience, or time.  I am pretty busy catching bees you know.

Next on the list, the medicine cabinet for the bathroom remodel that was completed back in April.  The blanket chests are after that, promise, kind of.

One last item of housekeeping here.  I finally broke down and upgraded my site to eliminate the annoying unsolicited advertisement.  So far so good.  Did have to change the dot com to its current

Well it’s been a few hours since last check, so I guess I better go out and take a look at those bee traps.


Great Family Weekend

Well no finished project pics to post as i had hoped for in my last post.  But that’s alright because last weekend, actually the last weekend in March, we had a great family get together.  Not often we get all the kids and grandkids together at the same time, but we did and it was even better than getting a project finished.  Along with assorted other family and friends we had a very nice celebration for Lucas’s , the newest addition to the grandchild list, first birthday.  Good food, drink, family and friends, worked out much better than running a palm sander.

But wait, it gets even better!  Our oldest, Brandon, has become an aspiring wood turner since acquiring my old Rikon mini lathe.  In lieu of learning how to sharpen, and buying a sharpening system, we decided to go with the EasyWood Tools.  The new tools made the trip up with family from North Carolina and we were able to find time to give them a good workout in the shop.  I kind of liked how they worked but did find there to be a learning curve in holding, flat and straight as opposed to traditional gouges and chisels.  Particularly enjoyed using the round finishing tool on the inside of a bowl.  Transitioning from side to bottom seemed to go a lot smoother than with a bowl gouge.

Having never used traditional turning tools, Brandon seemed to be catching on more easily.  With a little practice he can soon become  a bona fide woodturner.  Already learned an important lesson in starting out without glasses and catching a chip in the eye.  Fortunately just a minor mishap and hopefully reinforces the need for googles, shield or safety glasses minimum.  Anyway, we were able to squeeze enough shop time in to go over a lot of basics and actually do some turning.

IMG_0222 (2)

His first ever bowl and mushroom.  I thought it was excellent for the first time out!  Keep that up and you’ll be renting space at craft shows before you know it.  Hope we were able to learn a little something from my limited knowledge base on wood turning.  If not, that’s what YouTube is for.

Overall, I’d have to say it was a great weekend.  Now it’s time to get the palm sander out and start working toward having some project pics ready for next month.  Oh, and btw, the bathroom remodel people started today, and no I haven’t started on the medicine cabinet yet!



Busy Month

Lets see, the coal stove needs cleaned out, along with the chimney, tractor snow blade needs removed and mower deck attached, deck plastic needs taken down, winter yard debris and sticks need raked up…….life is short, eat dessert first…… I’m going to the Chantilly WoodShow instead!

Actually been a pretty busy month.  Not so much in the way of making progress on any projects, but more in the way of planning and prep.  We decided to have a complete bathroom remodel done with work scheduled to start early April. (hoping construction doesn’t interfere with my Saturday night shower)  Only snag was we couldn’t find a medicine cabinet we liked, so decided I’d just build one to our own specs. (bet they finish the bathroom before I finish the cabinet)  This required a day trip to Middletown for  some Baltic Birch plywood. (no it doesn’t take a day to get to Middletown but with Deb along we had to stop to eat and a few other stops)  I’ve gotten birch ply from the box store before and for quality it’s worth the drive to Middletown.  Then I needed another day trip to Quarryville for the rest of the lumber for the project.  Also a few stops at glass and mirror places for info and pricing.  And managed to get in the Lancaster Carvers Show in Millersville along with a great family weekend with a few of the kids and grandkids.  So, it has been busy but not busy making a lot of sawdust.

The Chantilly Show is next door to a large craft show, SugarLoaf I think it’s called, so we’ll make a weekend of it.  Was there last year because of missing my normal Baltimore Show, and the craft show was pretty decent.  A lot of woodworking crafts and a lot of great ideas.  In fact thats why I now have two Singer treadle sewing machine bases sitting down stairs.  Hopefully one day they’ll turn into crafty looking little tables.  This will be the first wood show that the wife is going along, should be interesting. Hope she don’t take notice what woodworking machinery really costs!  Actually I’m really looking forward to it, nice little get away.

Oh well, maybe next month I’ll have some pics to post of actual finished projects.(good luck with that)

Only a month ago!

Yes I’m actually adding another post only a month after my last one.  New record! Been spending a little bit of time in the shop working on odds and ends.  Getting caught up on miscellaneous stuff so i can get back into the blanket chests full tilt.  Even spent a day cleaning off the work bench, yes there was a bench underneath all that saw dust , scrape wood, and scrape paper with notes and measurements that i have no idea from what project.  Would like to finish up the jelly cupboard soon, as i’m sure it will look a lot nicer in the kitchen than the old computer desk that’s currently there.  It’s coming along slow but sure.


And I’ve really been trying to learn this woodturning lathe thing.  I know these small pieces probably won’t win any design awards, but their purpose was to practice technique, mainly on hollowing and fitting a lid.  Overall I was pleased with how they turned out.  Now I need to work on getting my sidewalls a little thinner than 1/2″ without fear of blowing out the side and launching a gouge up into the ceiling.


Well I did it, I actually entered two post in two months!  Guess I better shut er down for now before I become exhausted.  Need to conserve my energy so that I’m able to do some work on a project and post again next month.

Back Again

Yes, I know, I was just in here posting three years ago, but what the hecks, let me add another post.  Truth is, I’ve been inspired by the kids’ Xmas present………


….that’s right, an official Meanderawl Workshop saw blade sign,  what a great gift!  Only now that I have an official like shop, I guess I’ll actually have to make something.  Of course I haven’t been totally idle, as you can see the wedding present blanket chests are well underway……


I think the wood has finally acclimated to the shop ambient temperature.  Kids these days just don’t seem to understand, I will cut no wood before it’s time.  After all, the weddings were only four years ago.   Perhaps with my new found inspiration I’ll get busy on this project too.  Guess I need to find the manual on the dovetail jig and refresh my memory on its use before I proceed.

I really do need to start spending more time in the shop, and in this blog.  Sounds like a New Years resolution.  Hope it works out better than previous resolutions, we’ll see.  Anyway, if things go as planned, I’ll be back with another post next year, oops, i mean next month.  Really