Monday, November 24, 2014


I love working on toys. I can work on them all day and not get tired of it. I'm a little sad because my son's gift that I'm making him this year is almost finished but I'm so happy with the way it's turning out that I had to show it off. For the last two years my son has wanted the teenage mutant ninja turtle sewer lair playset for christmas. This thing is four feet tall and about eighty bucks, down from the two hundred it was last year. I can't justify that, let alone the amount of space it would take up in his room and the cost of the turtle action figures. Here's the playset.

 This year they have come out with smaller versions of the turtles called half shell heroes that the boys and myself really like. They are a lot like the imaginext toys which in my opinion are the best toys on the market right now. The half shell heroes cost about seven bucks each and come with a vehicle or if you get a figure other than the turtles like splinter it comes with another figure as well. The bigger turtles are about fifteen bucks a piece. Here's a size comparison to the regular sized action figures.

After these guys came out a lightbulb went on in my head. I figured I could make the sewer lair playset sized for the half shell heroes. They have since come out with a playset for the little guys but the sewer lair set is what my son always asks for. I know the size of it might be one of the selling points for him but I know he'll enjoy this one as well because he has an imaginext batcave playset that his cousins and him play with all the time. I took apart his train board that was a christmas present I made for him I believe two years ago. He's old enough now to arrange the tracks himself so he didn't need the huge board taking up space anymore and I was able to use the plywood to make the new playset. I believe I've spent about six bucks total on material for this, with most of the cost going towards buying the guys because the Leo turtle is the only one he currently has. I used scraps, material, and paint I already had on hand. It's not finished yet. I still have some detail painting to do and then I'll spray a finish coat on all of it to protect it from little hands. Here's a full view of the playset as it is now. I tried to make it look as much like the original as I could.

There's a computer here on the bottom level

Here's a shot of the tire swing and a little bit of the skate ramp. On the right you can see an orange circle. This part spins around and I'll put a computer screen or something on it that hides when you spin it back. 

The top level is street level that they can access through the manhole that opens like a door. The top part of the set is where I have to do most of the detail painting. The red is a building that needs bricks and to the left of the building I'll paint an alley way.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmas Gifts

I've started working on Christmas gifts, actually I started about a month ago, but I can't show any to you, because then the recipients would also see them. So the post with ideas on Christmas gifts will come to you after Christmas, sorry. I can show you what I look like while making them. I really should pull my hair into a ponytail, but I'm hair challenged. I never had to do it because my grandma always did.

And I can show you my nephew's helicopter (because I couldn't wait and don't have gifts for all the nieces and nephew for Christmas). The dark wood I've been experimenting with. It's from a log of eucalyptus that my parents cut down years ago. It's super hard and the belt sander with 60 grit paper barely even touches it. There's a small section between the heart wood and the bark that is perfect and doesn't have any cracks. The heart wood is a deeper red color but is full of cracks. I thought it was kind of cool to add the eucalyptus wood to the toys because my dad cut the tree from our backyard when we were younger and we had to cart those logs all over the backyard. I figured out later that my dad didn't really need the log pile moved every summer so much as he needed us working every summer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Table Saw Crosscut Sled

I've been working on a crosscut sled for the table saw the last couple of days. I also plan to make a miter saw sled as well. This will enable me to make more accurate cuts than if I just used the miter saw. Also the miter saw is my dad's and someday he'll want it back so I can still make most of the same cuts with the table saw and not really miss it. I used one of my favorite woodworkers, Steve Ramsey's design, here's the video for those interested Steve Ramsey's crosscut sled

Here's the slides that fit in the tracks on the saw and ensure the sled keeps the cut at a 90 degree angle. I made four while I had the settings set on the saw so I could use the other two on the future miter saw sled. The Craftsman table saws have little clips on the tops of the tracks that turn them into t-slides. Making the slides to fit in the tracks was a little more difficult than just a regular track. Of course I saw somewhere after, that some people just grind the clips off. I wish I had seen that before but I might still grind them off later.

Here is a great example of why you always stand to the side of the blade at the table saw. When I was cutting the bottom of the sled, which is made of a melamine board so it will slide easily, I measured from the blade to my rip fence on the front and back of the saw blade to make sure it was accurate all the way through the cut. Well because I didn't let the cam lock just lock the rip fence down I guess it was a little off, which caused the board to become more and more pinched between the fence and the blade as I ran it through. Add to that the slipperiness of the melamine and the board got pulled out of my hands, lifted up on top of the blade, spun around, hit the blade again, and then thrown back into the garage door. This is known as kick back and it's very dangerous if your standing behind the blade and the board is thrown into your body. When kick back occurs it happens at a surprising speed and most people don't realize just how fast that board will be coming at you. I was standing off to the side so the board missed me completely and luckily hit something else before it hit the garage door, saving my body and the thin garage door from a lot of harm. Here you can see the big gash the blade put on the middle back of the sled.

I attached the slides to the sled bottom by putting some washers in the saw's tracks and putting the slides on top of the washers to bring the slides off the bottom of the tracks so when i remove the washers the slides won't bottom out on the tracks making them slide more easily.

I then put glue on the slides and placed the melamine bottom of the sled on top of the slides and against my rip fence. I used the table of the then taken apart band saw to weight it down.

Next I added the front fence to the bottom piece of the sled. I made the front and back fence out of two pieces of 1/2" plywood glued together so they would be solid and straight. It's crucial to the accuracy of the crosscut sled that the front fence be lined up exactly 90 degrees to the blade. To do this I turned the saw on while the sled was over the blade then slowly raised the blade until it cut through the middle of the sled. Then I used a drywall square to set the fence against making sure it ends up at the right angle to the blade. Because the underside of the table saw isn't flat the clamps wouldn't hold right, so I just just used them to weight it down a bit while the glue dried. You can also see the slot I made in the front of the fence that will hold a bolt for the built in stop clamp.

The back fence went on pretty much the same way except I had to use a smaller speed square to fit in the space. I then flipped it all over, drilled pilot holes, drilled a countersink, and screwed the pieces in. The screws have to be countersunk so the sled can slide freely on the top of the table saw.

I added some boards across the top to act as support for the fences and also act as blade guards. These were thin pieces leftover from a pallet project so you can see the little dots of the nails that were keeping the pallet together. I disassemble pallets with a sawzall and cut right through the nails because it's a lot faster and you end up with a lot more pallet boards that are all intact.

Next I cut a piece of wood for the adjustable stop. This piece allows me to set the stop to a specific measurement so I can but a board up against it and make multiple cuts that will all be exactly the same.

Lastly I added some leftover fence pieces on the back of the sled to act as another blade guide. These blade guides all keep my body away from the blade. They are on Steve's design and aren't exactly necessary, but I spent enough time on it already that I decided a little more work making it safer was always a good decision. I didn't however take the time to make it square because it wasn't a big deal if it was a little crooked.

There you have it, a completed cross cut sled. I used some paste wax on the slides, bottom of the sled, and top of the table saw so now it slides like a dream.

In other news, I got the new tires in for the band saw. After installing them and a bit of adjustment by both myself and my dad it is up and running. I actually trimmed the stop piece on the sled using the band saw and the blade stayed lined up just fine after cutting. I'm so glad it's working for now. My dad and I probably stood staring at it and adjusting it for about a whole day just trying to get it to run properly and this was after fixing the busted piece. Also my son decided he wanted his plane red so he painted it. It has since been stepped on by his little cousin and repaired. I guess he likes the Red Baron. And here I thought he was a Snoopy fan.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Harbor Freight

If I liked parties and I could have my birthday party at Harbor Freight, I would. They may not have the highest quality tools, but for those of us who don't create intricate furniture replications, the tools hold up just fine and they are great deals. I went the other day to look for some odd sizes of sandpaper for my disk sander and they didn't have them but I had to really restrain myself from spending a fortune there. I did get a little wooden plane kit that cost about two bucks to put together with Dylan and while he started out helping me, it soon became apparent that this was gonna get complicated. I've been gluing on a new piece each time I go out to work on a project and it's finally finished. You can see that the instructions look as if you could literally build a full size airplane and take off in it. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I got a request for a project and since we will be getting a new puppy tomorrow, I was able to complete most of it today. I still need to spray some finish on it but that won't be difficult. One of our friends is from Minnesota so this was the request.

I took two pallet boards for each section and I edge joined them with glue and pocket holes on the back. Then I just laid them out and used a scrap board to keep the space in the middle consistent. I drew the shape free hand (just like the deer pallet project) because I didn't wanna mess with printing out a pattern and my printer is low on ink anyway. Then I cut the shapes with a jig saw. A little sanding and dark walnut stain brought it to this stage. Here it is with a roll of painter's tape to show size.

I'm still chugging along on the coffee table. Sanding is probably the least fun part of woodworking, so it's going slow. I've also been working on a few little fun/learning projects because otherwise I lose motivation. I'll show those later when I've completed them.