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Stick To It.

Did I mention that I had kept some branches and trunks to make walking sticks? Here are a few.

Need a shillelagh?

So I carved some.

This sycamore fell into my yard. I carved the leaf of the tree into the stick.

I felt that the sticks could use some color, so I painted the hats. And pupils. People need pupils.

I needed a simple color that would not completely obscure the figure of the wood, and which wouldn’t smear when I applied oil or polyurethane. It’s just what it looks like: children’s watercolor.

The Apple is cut from an apple tree (guess how I know?), and I cut another showing the apple leaf. When all is said and done – 6 walking sticks.

These pieces are on display at Papillon, on Main Street, Metuchen.

Funniest Thing I Did in December

I haven’t done much in the shop because a carpenter was rebuilding my powder room in the basement. A first priority was to refinish an antique mirror frame to hang in the powder room. I sanded it and found that it was a cherry or maple stained to look like cherry. The faces were still dark, but the edges and corners had rubbed off. No point in trying to remove all the stain – better to go for the intended look. I used my father’s started can of cherry stain. Dad was unintentionally testing the shelf-stability Minwax, and I’d say that 30 years is about the limit; the solids had fallen out of suspension and formed mud and clumps. I thought I’d strain it through a cloth. What was that, on my workbench? A sock!

I pulled it over the mouth of the can, and strained the liquid into a meat tray. Then I looked for another rag to apply the stain… Did that make sense? No. There I was, holding a sock full of stain crud. I rubbed the sock all over the frame. It was an ideal stain dispenser. (I poured the clean liquid into an empty pill bottle, and used it the next day on an old drawer.) Now I think I’ll add some rub-on poly, and the frame will be ready for a mirror.

Papillon, New Home for Art in Metuchen

Papillon is a new gift store on Main Street in Metuchen. Proprietor Edna Epelu is showing the work of local artisans alongside her many other selections, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be included.

Doesn’t everything in Papillon look like a still-life?

You can see that I’m showing menorahs and holly boxes in time for the holidays. The menorahs hold standard tea lights, so you’ll never need to scrape wax out of the menorah again!

This box is cut from a solid block of black locust. The four drawers hold your keys, cat toys, matchbooks, rubber bands; whatever you need contained.

Stop by Papillon and see my work, the work of other local artists, and lots of other great gifts.

This Wheel Shall Explode

I’m back to putting wheels on things. A second wheel broke on my dust collector and I had been wanting to turn it over to replace it. But I couldn’t turn it over until I emptied it. The dust had risen to the window, so it was time. You can see that this is a serious filter; 5 microns! I have no idea what that means in terms of sawdust, but I can tell you that what goes in doesn’t come back out… until you have to empty it. Then it gets all over the room. So I couldn’t fix the wheel until I cleaned the floor. I got out the shop vac, and checked to see that there was a filter in it. Uh oh. First I cleaned the filter.

Next step: get the old wheel off. The wheel on the bottom is the original, and it’s broken. The two wheels on top are the ones I stuck into a block of wood, then onto the axle.

I cut a 2×4 to fit the width of the carriage. I notched it to go around the motor mount bolts. But I couldn’t drill holes until I repaired the end cap on the vice handle on the Sarcophagus! I hadn’t lost the piece while vacuuming the side effects of the dust removal. If the end cap has lasted this long, it can carry on for a few more years.

Same old wheels, new wood. Good thing I saved all those wheels and boards.

The dust collector now has four good wheels, and, by the way, I’ll be giving my Foredom grinder to my brother, who doesn’t want its brilliant rolling stand made of a desk chair, shovel handle, and curtain rod hooks! So I’ll just hold onto it, because I may just want to put something else on wheels.

Let it Roll, Baby, Roll

You can never have too many casters in storage. You’ll need them later. The good kind have metal plates to be bolted to furniture, but leftovers pulled out of office chairs and microwave tables will do in a pinch. For instance, here’s an old repair of the platform that holds my dust collector. A plastic wheel broke. The second one is cracked, and this project will be revisited.

The axle goes through a wood block, held up by two wheels.

Given lots of time at home, I put Mom’s old blindstitch machine table on wheels:

Oh, the joy of those wheels! The plastic will probably shatter in a few years, but so far, it’s a dream! The table rolls easily despite the weight of that solid maple top and steel legs. So, why not put wheels on other things?

This log is now a footstool. It’s not as effective; it wants to tip over, and may need to be mounted on a base. But if the whole thing fails, I’ll burn the log and keep the wheels.

Mom found this fine piece of Ashley furniture on a curb. Now it has wheels, and can live under a desk and hold up a scanner. And the sky’s the limit; I have more wheels!