On Topic: What to make to hone skills

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Hello,
Sorry about the Neil sideshow I have been participating in. It's done now.
I have been extremely busy the last year or so and I don't see any end in sight but I want to start getting into this much more for a release. The problem is that I don't have the time to do anything really big and I figured it is better to do a lot of smaller things over and over again but...what? I know I need to get A LOT better with joints, almost all joints! I can make them but they don't fit together perfectly and that irritates me.
I am tired of making things for the shop because I can simply say, "Well, this is for the shop, so who really cares if that part doesn't fit so well." Should I start using "real" wood or stick with the cheap stuff? Maybe part of my problem is that I have been building things with cheap-o pine and MDF and whatnot.
Any suggestions on what to make over and over again? Boxes of some sort, maybe? Picture frames?
I have a table saw, a nice Bosch jigsaw I got at a garage sale for $75, a small drill press, a cheap-o router, and a DowelMax that I am sharing with another friend. I work out of a half a garage and push everything against the wall. I don't know if any of this makes a difference or not.
Thanks, busbus
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"busbus" wrote:

Woodworkers and sailors have something in common, patience.
Patience is a virtue applies.
Reading the above indicates to me you probably need to improve your patience skills.
One way to do that is to you real material that costs real money so that when you get in a hurry and make a mistake, there is a price to pay, not only in money but also time.
Start by building some sleds out of Baltic birch plywood.(Cross cut, 45 miter, box loint, panel trimming, etc).
Not only do you improve your skills, you get something that is useful.
You have a router, build a router station.
The NYW version worked for me.
You have a drill press, build some jigs for it.
The above will consume $200-$300 and probably a years time, but you will have accomplished something as well.
Have fun.
Lew
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"busbus" wrote:

Box making would be my suggestion. Pick up one of Doug Stowe's books on the subject. Doug used to be an active member of this news group. I recommend:
http://www.dougstowe.com/book/book.htm
--
Jack Novak
Buffalo, NY - USA
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busbus wrote:

What Lew said below is good advice. Those jigs are going to help you hone your skills because precision is a requirement for them to work well. After that, you will have the tools needed to tackle projects for the house. Look around at things you might want or need (mirrors, picture frames, decorative shelves, etc if you want small projects). You can also adopt a longterm project that is bigger (say a curio cabinet, end tables, or similar) with the knowledge that it's going to take a year or two to finish. Break the bigger project into smaller sub-projects so you see results and get the satisfaction of seeing something finish that goes into the whole. For example, completing the carcase can be one of those sub-projects. Same for drawers, top, etc. Take your time and enjoy what you are seeing come together.
--

There is never a situation where having more rounds is a disadvantage

Rob Leatham
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On 7/30/2010 8:32 PM, busbus wrote:

Tables ...
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Start with the one on the cover.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 4/15/2010
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Allow yourself to succeed. Do something Small. See "Building Small Projects (New Best of Fine Woodworking)" or "Woodworking Basics: Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship".
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How about a set of drawers? The drawers will be made over and over again, but in the end you'll get something useful. A small one with 3 drawers and a nice frame could be a nightstand or a wider one may be a couple in end tables.
Go ahead and use the pine. Sometimes all it takes is a little work and you've got a beautiful piece of wood. (Or at least not an ugly one.)
Once I get my CMS dust collection stand finished, the next project is going to be a half dozen or so bins for screws.
The most important thing is to simply go out there and build something! Since you're just practicing, just screw or nail the parts together. If you get a better idea later, it's easy to take apart.
Puckdropper
--
Never teach your apprentice everything you know.

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wrote:

I used to use "cheap" pine too, but once you use hardwoods you'll prefer them.

Make small things: keepsake boxes, jewelry boxes, beach sand collection boxes, chests, chest-of-drawers (I made one that I use to store batteries), remote control stands, &tc.
-Zz
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wrote the following:

You were this || close to being plonked, buddy.

Yeah, smaller things are easier on the pocketbook to toss after a learning experience. Lee Valley had an old woodwork training book (from 1917) which might interest you. _Projects for Woodwork Training_ Galoots Rule!

Yes, for pity's sake, use real wood. Jummywood and termite barf ain't fit for nuttin' but the fireplace. <gd&r>

Jigs, boxes, small tables, whatever catches your fancy. If you make something others want, when they start turning out nicely, you can sell them and recoup your original losses.

Pick up a set of Marples Blue Chips and learn how to use them, too. http://fwd4.me/Esv
-- To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle. -- Confucius
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WTF did *I* do???
Buddy
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On Sat, 31 Jul 2010 19:30:04 -0400, "Buddy Matlosz"

You were being _yourself_, bub.
-- To see what is right, and not to do it, is want of courage or of principle. -- Confucius
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WTF did *I* do???
Buddy
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And learn to sharpen them.
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Make over and over again...? Why? Are you hoping to go into production?
It really doesn't matter all that much what you make, as long as you learn from your mistakes, exercise your patience, and _enjoy_ what you're making. No one here can answer what pleases you.
There are lots of, ahem, branches to woodworking and they are very different animals. Some people love fussy work such as chip carving, others like building large items like kitchen cabinets. What triggers your 'man, that's sweet, I'd like to make/own one of those' reaction? When you find something that just begs to be made, that's what you should make.
The other factor is what will you do with the stuff you make. Will you keep the stuff, furnish your house, give them away as gifts? If it's gifts, something small is best, of course. If there is a SWMBO in the picture, you'll get your orders from on high. ;)
R
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All great advice. You guys pegged me good: I need to work on my patience! I ain't got none.
What I meant by "over and over" was the same sort of thing: like when somebody suggested that I make drawers. That would be doing the same thing over and over again. Good advice.
I personally would like to build bigger things like cabinets or something like that. I guess I could build cabinets for the garage: one for my drill press, maybe a router table (even though I do have one of those small, pre-made tables already), or even put several together to make a decent workbench.
I was wondering about starting to use hardwood because I thought that maybe my results could possibly be better. I have tried making hand cut dovetails and have done alright but i have trouble cleaning out the waste and I thought that maybe it was because the pine I was using was soft and, well, stringy (sort of). I thought maybe the hardwood would clean up better. I am probably 1000% wrong but I have no clue.
Making jigs is also a great idea because that, in of itself, will force me to become more patient because if the jig is off, then it will be of no use. I guess in addition to patience, I will need to work on my anger management skills because I am sure I am going to get frustrated to hell and back trying to get the jigs to be perfectly accurate!
Oh, as far as learning how to sharpen chisels, I think I have got that one down. I have played with the Scary Sharp method to clean up some old chisels that were given to me and it worked really well. I have found that it is faster and easier to sharpen freehand than playing around with jigs. I had bought one and the person who gave me her father's old chisels included one he had and neither worked as well as nothing. Plus using noting was a whole lot faster. It seems awful strnage to me but I actually had a lot of fun sharpening those chisels.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
busbus
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OOPS!!!!!
My daughter was logged in and I replied using her information. Sorry about that!!!!!!
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busbus wrote:

I'd suggest the difficulty indicates the chisels, while sharper than out of the box, are not optimally sharp yet or they would slice even pine end grain smoothly w/o tearing.
One thing I'd wonder about w/ the combination of freehand and sandpaper method (in conjunction w/ your admitted lack of patience :) ) would be whether actually did truly flatten the backs of the chisels sufficiently to get that perfect bevel-forming straight line that the edge is formed against. Particularly as I've had some difficulty in that regards in the paper wanting to roll instead of staying put if try the loose method.
Just a thought...oh, can you pare a continuous thin shaving off of pine end grain the width of the chisel? If not, it isn't yet really, really sharp...
$0.01, fwiw, imo, etc., etc, etc., ...
--
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Can you do it ten times in a row with no intermediate sharpening?
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Lobby Dosser wrote:

Think that might depend on which iron...altho I've never tried--once't then to the real job is the limit of _my_ patience... :)
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LOL!
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