Archive for May, 2010

Differences in Wood Types for Woodworking

Different types of wood present different types of challenges in woodworking. Different species of trees consist of varying types of wood grain and wood fibers. This results in varying degrees of fragility. Wood splits are common in woodworking. Wood splits in the direction that the fibers grow. When the fibers separate, the fiber matrix weakens and can result in devastating splits. Woodworkers need to choose the kind of wood that they are going to use for a project based on the types of tools that will be utilized and the degrees of cuts that they will make. They should also consider the durability requirements of the final product before selecting a wood.

Many splits and gauges can be avoided by using sharp tools. Sharp tools also aid in making woodworking safer. When cutting, you should work slowly until you are very familiar with how the wood reacts to being manipulated. The wood can feel and react differently to cuts depending on which direction you are working. The direction of the grain, knots, and rings can all change the dynamics of working with the piece.

Learning to work with the inconsistencies in different kinds of wood will enable you to progress and use the right types of wood for your projects. This is part of the draw for woodworkers. No matter how simple the project is, there are still challenges that can be overcome with skill and experience. Woodworking often becomes a life-long hobby because every project is unique. Your personal touch and style can be put into anything that you make.

Humidity and temperature can affect any piece of wood, so it is advised that you work in an indoor temperature controlled area if possible. This will help you learn how the wood is going to act and make woodworking safer for you. You won’t have to worry as much about the wood changing or warping from one day to the next, causing the need to adjust your style according to the temperature and humidity each day.

Wood can be classified as hardwood or softwood. The given classification can be misleading, because some hardwoods, like balsa and basswood, are actually fairly soft. There are soft hardwoods and hard softwoods. Technically, hardwoods come from angiosperm trees and softwoods come from conifer trees.

Hardwoods are most commonly used for building furniture, musical instruments, construction, and flooring because of their density and resistance to splitting and damage. Softwoods are used for pulp, paper, carving, and millwork, but are also commonly used in furniture. There may be a combination of woods used for the same project because of the unique requirements of each piece of the project.

For example, you can purchase hardwood or softwood dowels for joining two pieces together. A softwood dowel joint is very strong and can be cheaper than a hardwood dowel, so softwood dowels are most commonly used. However, if the dowels will be used as spindles or visible portions of the project, you may elect to use the same type of wood as was used on the rest of the project so that the grain and color are consistent.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio. Good Wood, Inc. makes dowels and dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import dowels from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.

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Choosing a Combination Square

The combination square is incredibly versatile in woodworking and should be a staple in your tool box. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, the combination square will prove to be useful in almost every project you do. This is likely to be a tool that you keep and use for a very long time, so it’s one of the ones that we recommend doing your research on before you buy. Investing a little in a quality combination square with all of the extras can help you avoid mistakes and make more precise measurements on all types of items.

The combination square is made of steel. It consists of a ruler and a sliding square head. Simply loosen the bolt to slide the square head up and down the ruler, then tighten to fix it in place. Some will have a protractor head, and some will have a third piece, the center head. Here we will discuss the different applications of the combination square and each of the specialty head attachments. Use this guide to help you determine which features to look for and how to use each one.

The basic combination square will usually have a bubble level in the square head. If the one you’re looking at doesn’t have the level, then you should probably reconsider. The level is very useful and you’ll surely miss it if your combination square doesn’t have one. Another thing to look for on a basic combination square is a forty-five degree angle feature. Some will only have a ninety degree face and are less useful. The last thing to look for on the basic combination square is the scriber. The scriber is a small rod sharpened to a point. The scriber is used to cut a thin guideline in your wood project. These lines will allow you to make more precise measurements and more accurate match-ups than a pencil line will. Pencil lines are sometimes hard to see or end up inaccurate due to inconsistencies in wood grain.

If you want to kick it up a notch, look for the combination square that has a protractor head. The protractor head can measure many different angles, allowing you to create precise angles and curves. Look for a protractor head that also has another bubble level. You will need to know that everything is level before you determine the angle that it needs to be at. Most protractor heads will also have a scriber, like the basic square head.

The last optional combination square piece is the center head. This attachment is used for determining the center of a circular project, like a plate, or the center of a dowel. Dowels and other round woodworking pieces should be measured on a center head, because it is very hard to determine the exact center of something without it. If your project is not perfectly round, you can use the center head around each edge to establish the most central point. To use the center head, place the circular edge into the wedge and mark a line. Repeat from another side of the dowel or round wood piece and draw another line. The intersection of the two lines should be the exact center.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio. Good Wood, Inc. makes dowels and dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import dowels from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.

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Woodturning Techniques

Woodturning is a way to make wooden projects using a lathe. The wood is generally turned by a motorized lathe while a tool us used to shave, gouge, and shape it into different objects. Woodturning is commonly used to make bowls, furniture, bats, instruments, wooden toys, game pieces, spindles, chair or table legs, and plates. Of course, as with any woodworking hobby, woodturning can be used in a lot of different ways. The project is only limited by the imagination and skill of the woodturner.

Projects usually start with a blank piece of wood. For spindles, toys, tool handles, doll house parts, and other small projects, you may be able to start with wooden dowels. This can simplify the process for you. If you don’t start with a dowel, you will need to use a woodturning tool designed to get the blank into the basic shape that you want to work with.

Most projects start with a roughing gouge to round the wood blank into a spindle. The spindle can be smoothed using the razor sharp edge of the skew chisel. However, if you are making a bowl, which is the most popular woodturning project, you will need a special bowl gouge that is designed to turn the inside and outside of the bowl. You may also need a hollowing tool to cut out the deep sections of the bowl, especially if the bowl is narrow, or you’re turning something like a vase. A tool called a bowl saver is popular because it allows you to cut a smaller bowl out of a larger one, saving your wood pieces for later projects.

You can work with a blank while the wood is still wet or green to more easily get it into the basic shape that you want without having to wait for the entire block to dry out. Turning on wet wood is actually easier and creates less sawdust than dry wood. However, you may not want to turn your whole project while the wood is wet. This technique of cutting on wet wood is usually used only to get the wood into the basic desired shape so that it will dry out faster. Wet wood that is turned will distort a little as it dries and shrinks. You want to make sure that you have enough wood thickness left to work with so that you can remove the rough exterior and any distortions once the wood is dry. Drying out large pieces of green wood can result in cracks, so many woodturners prefer to rough turn their pieces while the wood is newly felled.

There are many different styles of woodturning that can help you to create artistic and functional pieces. Pool cues, wooden eggs, candle holders, and platters are some other commonly turned items. You can use dowel rods of varying thickness to get you quickly started on a lot of different projects. Research which type of wood is better for your project before you order or make your dowels. You can purchase birch dowels, maple dowels, red or white oak dowels, cherry dowels, poplar dowels, ash dowels, or walnut dowels, giving you a large selection of woods to choose from for your woodturning project. Some companies will even turn wood that you provide into custom diameter dowels so that you have complete creative control over your project.

About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc. which manufactures wood products in Ohio. Good Wood, Inc. makes dowels and dowel rods, wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import dowels from off-shore suppliers when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for your wood product needs.

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