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    A Wood Workers’ Steam Box

    Posted By on January 6, 2014

    There comes a time in every wood workers career where they want to expand their skills. A way to do this is by forming and bending wood to create more advanced furniture, sculptures, and even boats! But in order to do so , a steam box is in order.

    If your reading this and your aren’t familiar with the term, a quick explanation is in order! Steam bending or as others call it “wood bending” is the art of taking a stiff piece of wood and being able to soften the wood fibers enough with moister and heat to allow the wood to bend and flex into the shape desired without the wood breaking.

    Sounds pretty simple right? It is and it isn’t. The first thing you need is a box to put the wood in to steam. There are kits out there that you can buy that supplies everything you need to build one yourself. But, if you’re like me, spending the money to buy one is a little hard to do and look for more inexpensive ways to accomplish the same thing.

    wood steam boxThe box can be made from wood. The key to a wooden box is not gluing anything! This is very important because the wood will expand and contract as the box heats and cools. By gluing your joints, it will prevent that movement causing the box to crack and split. With a wooden box, you will want to add weather stripping to the end that you will access the box to put in and take out the wood. Also a hinge and clasp that will pull and force the end in to seal is recommended. You can also make your box with a PVC pipe.PVC steam boxThis is the way I that makes the most sense to me. Each end on the the PVC pipe can easily be capped. Either method you choose to build your box, there are important things that you must take. One, you will be filling your box with steam. That means you will get water build up. When you make the feet or base for the box, it is important to pitch the box. Pitch means to make one side higher than the other so the water moves downhill. A good general rule of thumb is to raise the box up an 1/8″ of an inch per foot. An example. Your box is 8 ft long. Calculating and 1/8 inch per ft, that means one end of your box will be 7/8″ higher than the other end. At the lower end you will want to a small hole to let the water escape. You will also want the lower end to be the end you use to put the steamer hose.

    Another important thing you will need to do because of the water is to elevate the pieces of wood so it doesn’t lay in the water. To solve this problem, you can drill holes, roughly every 6 inches, through the box and put dowls indowl so that the wood lays on them. This also allow the steam to get around the entire piece of wood being steamed.

    The last thing you will need is a steamer. Sounds expensive right? Nope! Buying a wall paper steamer will get you the same results as $300-$400 steamer.steamer I’ve found wall paper steamers as low as $30. The tricky part is figuring out a way to run the hose into the box. This is where your creativity can run wild. I’ve seen them installed just by literally taping them onto the box. Obviously you will need to drill a hole big enough the run the hose into the box. I’ve also seen where they take  black rubber pipe reducers with hose clamps and put the larger end into the box, so only the smaller end is sticking out and running the steamer hose into that and clamping it. The idea behind that is the hole drilled into the steam box is a snug fit for the smaller end to go through and by fitting the hose into it, it will expand the fitting enough so it can’t push through. If you wanted to make things simple, keeping with reducers, add a T to the end of your PVC pipe and connect the reducer to that. just make sure the reducer your buy fits both the pipe on the T and the hose. There are countless ways to attach the hose to the box, like I said let your creativity run wild here.

    I think the hardest thing about learning how to bend wood is learning how long each species of wood takes to soften the fibers enough to bend. The factors include size, thickness, and species of wood. All this will be experimental and could be frustrating at first. My advice, use a test piece first.

    I also want you to know that taking your time on building the jigs to clamp the soft wood onto to get the right bend is worth doing. Also, here is where that test piece comes in handy. Use that test piece in your jig to make sure you have he correct bend you want. )(Tip: when factoring in the bend in the jig, remember that the wood will spring back a little once released from the jig).

    Now that you have an idea on making your own steam box, get in the shop and start bending some wood! After you created your wood project, don’t forget to show it of on the Generation Woodworks’ forum. Also, feel free to list and sell at the Generation Woodworks’ marketplace. It free to join and free to list as many products as you want!

    Proper Work Footwear

    Posted By on December 9, 2013

    workbootsMany people look past the importance of proper footwear for work. They don’t realize that by having wrong shoes, it can physically harm you in a couple of ways. Has this happen to you? You wake up and get ready for your day. Before you leave, you decide which shoes you want to wear. You put them on and get on with your day. As the day goes by, you noticed your feet start to hurt and you start feeling fatigued. By the time you walk back into your door, you can’t wait another minute and rip your shoes off. That is an prime example of wrong footwear.

    It’s obvious that having the wrong footwear can hurt your feet but, did you know that they can effect your productivity during the day. Footwear can effect safety, and even worse, cause harm to your back and hips.

    I’m a carpenter and in my trade, I’m on my feet 8+ hours a day. I find it important to have comfortable boots and boots that can protect my feet if something were to fall on them. What I use to judge comfortable shoes is my opinion and will vary from person to person but let me tell you some of the key features I look for when choosing a boot. I need my boots to give ankle support. I also like them to be light weight because I am on my feet for a long period of time. I also like to have good tread and be waterproof. I also prefer the plastic toe instead of the steel toe because I find plastic to be warmer during the winter months and usually I am not lifting extremely heavy things that I could drop.

    The are times when I haven’t picked the right boot and my back, feet, and even legs hurt by the end of the day and I am so tired I don’t feel like doing anything. Being tired can slow down production and alter moods, which in turn can effect work relationships and family life.

    It all depends which footwear you choose and the environment your in. If your in an office, there may be dress codes that you have to follow but it’s still important that you don’t overlook your feet for fashion. Stay-at-home moms need proper footwear also. They are ones that run around the most chasing down little ones and cleaning up the messes.

    If you feel any of these symptoms: fatigue, sore feet, sore back and legs at the end of your work day, take a good look at your shoes and decide if your footwear could be the culprit. Make sure the arch in your foot is supported properly to help keep everything aligned properly and test your shoes out. If you find after a week that your “dogs” are barking, I strongly recommend going for a different pair of footwear.

    A blast into the past

    Posted By on July 27, 2013

    It’s amazing how far we’ve come with technology in a shop environment. Most of the time when we need to cut wood, we simply turn on a switch and allow an electric motor to do the cutting.  But, do you ever wonder how they managed when they didn’t have electric? Yes, they used handsaws and wedges for cutting and milling lumber before the automotive era, but did you ever wonder how they utilized the automotive technology?

    006Think tractor power! I recently visited an amusement park that is only a couple of hours away from my home in Pa. One thing that caught my eye, besides the original bumper cars, was a display they have. Set up in this display was an old steam powered tractor powering a sawmill. 007 As you can see in the pictures, there is a long belt running from an auxiliary wheel on the tractor to a wheel on an axle connected to the large saw blade.  This allowed sawmills to increased productivity and lower the work load on man. Man still had to physically lift and push the logs through the blade which made it dangerous.

    As we jump into today, things are much different and more economical. Today, robots do all the lifting of the logs. We have lasers to line up the cut line so we can maximize the wood on a log.  Man is still needed to line up the cut and make sure things are running smooth, but the work load has decreased and the working environment is much safer .Not to say that all mills are run by robots, I still have a couple small time mills around me that use fork lifts to move logs around and man sets the the logs in place, but there are far a few between.

    The next time you order lumber or material for your next build, think about where it all started and where it is today. Also, think about your next marketing plan and how’re you going to get your name out there?  Think about visiting www.generationwoodworks.com to list and display your products.


    Jobsite Workbench

    Posted By on March 15, 2013

    I found this workbench through a website I tend to gravitate to often. The title for this bench on the site is “Jobsite Folding Workbench”. While working on a jobsite, Timothy notice how everyone was working off the floor or unstable workhorses, and thought that working in that manner so wasn’t practical and decided to come up with his own workbench. He worked for a while perfecting the Workbench. He sat down and started thinking about how he could make a solid multi-functional workbench that could easily be taken on site, be folded up to take as little space as possible in the van or trailer, and be adaptable to the space or work. After all that hard work and planning, he came up with a Portable Folding Workbench.

    Let me tell you what makes this work bench, in my opinion, the “ultimate” workbench. I will begin by mentioning how the entire unit folds up into a cart. bench cart Next, the drawers allow for easy access to tools and the bottom drawer is designed to hold your clamps, bench dogs, and other things. There is also a shelf that holds tools securely in place.

    If having the ability to wheel in your workbench by a cart and drawers aren’t enough, what really sets this bench apart from the others is the table top. On the top, you will notice a series of holes.bench 2 Those holes serve as two different functions. One function is that they make the unit completely clamp friendly by allowing you to literally clamp anywhere on this bench. The second function is meant for the bench dogs. The hole pattern was designed specifically to allow for accurate 90 degree cuts.

    Another great accessory to this bench are the extension tables. The extension tables easily attach to the workbench by sliding them into a T-track located around the table. The feet on the extensions are completely adjustable, allowing you to level and align all the table surfaces making them perfectly flat. Depending on how you want to set up the extensions, you can have it hold a full sheet of plywood or you can set them up on opposite sides, giving you a strudy miter saw station.bench 3

    When the job is completed, the entire unit quickly and easily folds up into a cart, where every section on this workbench is held and stored. It can be wheeled to your truck or van, and is strong enough to be lifted into your truck by its handle. The Portable Workbench takes up little room in your vehicle to allow you to put things you normally wouldn’t have room for in. wheeled bench

    Wade Prunest

    P.s. I want to thank Timothy for allowing me to write this article on his Portable Workbench! You can see more at his website

    Stanley Hand Tools

    Posted By on January 14, 2013

    I don’t hear a lot about Stanley products to often. Looking around at some of my hand tools, I noticed that the name Stanley was on a lot of them. My most recent purchase was a hand plane. I don’t know why I picked it out. Maybe it was the better looking one and it was the size I needed. Maybe it was the price. Maybe it was because it was the name Stanley and my experience with that brand had been very good. I couldn’t really tell you what was going through my head at that particular time, the only thing I new is that I needed a hand plane so I bought one.

    After opening the package, I put it to the test right away. I was very impressed with how sharp it was and how it was able to cut the wood with little applied pressure. To be honest, I don’t have experience with other planes. I don’t know if using a plane that cost a lot more would do any better. In my opinion, the Stanley plane does the same exact thing as a more expensive plane does but the difference is after leaving the store, I have more green in my pocket.

    Stanley products seem to last a long time. I’ve had the same tape measure now for a couple years. You may be thinking, what’s the big deal, it’s only a tape! To your surprise, I do a lot of framing. My tape is used 8 hrs a day. I have had many different types of tape measures. Before I used Stanley, I was burning through 2 or 3 a year. It may not seem like a big deal, but tapes cost money. So if you think about it, the Stanley tape has saved me money and it wasn’t that expensive.

    If you’re starting out in wood working and have a budget, keep this in mind. You don’t have to get the most expensive tool on the market right away. If you think that way, it will take you a long time to acquire the basic tools you need start your path in wood working. Also, if you love wood working and thought about trying to make money at something you love doing, I recommend going here.

    Join the forum discussion on this post

    You Are A Success

    Posted By on December 16, 2012

    My mother told me when I was a kid, you’ll never know how successful you will be but never try to say no to yourself, do not try to deny their own.

    You actually are a success. You access breath, you access movement, you access living. The things you’ve seen, the places you’ve been, and the adventures you access accustomed are altered to you. No one can take that away from you.

    As for yourself, by giving you access – in ambiguous measure. By administering your action and your applause you achieve your own reward: an amount for accepting taken the risk, for accepting ventured alternating on this earth, for accepting and becoming.

    To win at the adventurous of action – to succeed, to abide actually – you access to play by the rules. There are just a few rules, but they are clumsily important. Once you apperceive the rules you can analyze your abilities and play to win.The task, in the adventurous of life, is not to get there first. It’s not to affirmation the most. It’s not to beat added people. You aren’t advancing with anyone; rather anybody rejoices in your victory. Anybody progresses as you afflicted your trials and advances through your achievements.

    So stop cat-and-mouse for the adapted moment, the complete blow to embrace the affluence casting afore you. Action beckons. It is your creation. Apprehend the adequateness of life. Invoke the accurateness and the accurateness you allegation to achieve wildly. Take your next footfall on faith.

    The search is over – the secrets are revealed. All you crave is accessible to you. Open yourself to the accurateness – you are a success. Keep pushing forward. You can access added life. You can sing. You can dance. You can laugh. You can cry. You can associate added joy, apprehend added love. The greatest elements of action are aural your grasp. Just change your perception and acclimatize your course. Make your action a chance of discovery, a chance of transformation. Make your action a classic of incomparable success. The choice is yours.

    No abandoned action is separate. No one explores, no one struggles, no one succeeds alone. We chance and we anniversary together. Don’t be shy. We allegation added all-around – added adventurous souls – to access the claiming and embrace the adequateness of life. Your success is our success. Go on and achieve some more.

    Buy Handmade

    Posted By on November 19, 2012

    Why to Buy Handmade This Holiday Season (and All Year Round)

    by Michelle Seitzer, Freelance Writer

    Scenario 1: The alarm jolts you out of your Thanksgiving coma at 3:30am. You slowly rise to your feet, dress in multiple layers, and prepare yourself to face the onslaught of crazed holiday shoppers, long lines, and hours of exposure to the elements — all for the “big savings” and to be the first in your household to have that exclusive item that millions of others want.

    Scenario 2: The thought of a leftover turkey sandwich and a cup of hot coffee pulls you from a good night’s sleep after enjoying time with family and a delicious Thanksgiving meal. You sit at the table and begin creating your gift list, marking which local stores you plan to hit on Small Business Saturday, and which online shops and marketplaces you’ll visit from the comfort of your own home on Cyber Monday.

    I know which one I’d choose.

    Speaking of Cyber Monday, avoid the websites of box store/mass retailers that day. Their websites will probably be bogged down due to all the traffic, and you’ll likely end up feeling just as frustrated as you would standing in line at the store on Black Friday. Consider instead sites that specialize in handmade, one-of-a-kind items, sites that feature gifts that appeal to all ages, personalities, and budgets, sites that allow you to choose a gift that will actually mean something more than a bitter “I waited in line and knocked elbows for 5 hours in the freezing cold with obnoxious, rude people so you better like this” kind of gift.

    But besides the obvious benefits of shopping local or virtual, there really is nothing like a handmade gift, a gift that demonstrates craftsmanship, a gift to show off to friends, a gift that was not mass-produced overseas or built to last.

    Craftsmen and craftswomen, and creative, unconventional gift-givers everywhere, let’s continue the momentum started by initiatives like Small Business Saturday (learn more about where to shop, how to promote your small business, and how to rally your community here). Let’s start a movement that encourages people to buy and sell extraordinary gifts. Let’s think out of the box when it comes to gift-giving this holiday season, and all year round.

    If beautiful, handcrafted woodworks are the gifts you’d love to share — either as a maker or a giver — start your selling and shopping right here at Generation Woodworks.

    The correct moisture content for wood

    Posted By on November 4, 2012

    I want to start out by making sure we understand what moisture content really is. When talking about moisture content, what we are looking at is the weight of the water in the wood with the actual weight of the wood itself. It is also known as the EMC ( wood Equilibrium Moisture Content) That ratio is viewed as a percentage. When we refer to EMC, we are looking the to see if the moisture in the wood is equal to the evironment. For instance, if you were to cut down a tree and measure the moisture, you will find that the moisture content would be between 30%-40% and even as high as 200% depending on the species of wood. The moisture content is high because the tree was living, therefore taking in water to stay alive. Now, if you were to walk through the forest and measure the moisture content of a tree that has fallen a year ago, you will find that tree to have considerably less moisture and find the EMC is similar to the environment because the water has been evaporating during that year.

    Now, to answer the question that you are searching for. The correct moisture content for wood to start that project is no more than 2% of the moisture in the location where it will be used. You may be wondering how you would measure that. Well, you could go out and buy a moisture meter to tell you. That option is great if you are planning to make a lot of wood products, but some meters can be expensive. Another option is to store the wood in a room for a month or so, also called acclimating. When storing it in a room, what will happen is the wood being stored will eventually match the average moisture content in the room. That is what you want to happen.

    When there is moisture in wood, the wood expands. Bringing the moisture down to match the humidity in the area, you are allowing the wood to shrink and bend to its natural state. Therefore, ensuring that the wood will not shrink at the joints, giving you a gap that wasn’t there when you first built it or bend, cup, and twist after you cut and milled it.

    I personally like to shoot for 7% moisture in the wood I use for my projects. Depending on seasons, 7% may be impossible to make. If it is summer with high humidity, there are times when the moisture content in the area is above 7. As long as the wood is acclimated to the room you will be fine.

    Meet the 14 year old wood worker

    Posted By on October 1, 2012

    Let me introduce to a inspiring 14 year old carpenter from Ireland, Adam. Adam is the owner of a new site, www.adamswoodcreation.com, where he sells his wood works. I discovered him on a site www.lumberjocks.com and became very impressed with the products he was making. Turns out he started getting into wood working and carpentry at the age of twelve, following in the footsteps of his grandfather.

    Talk about making great use of space, Adam’s workshop was converted from a 6’x8′ garden shed! He continues to add to it, making the best use of space as he can. The kind of wood products that come out of his workshop range from picture frames, end grain cutting boards, to cajons ( wooden drums). He likes working with Mahogany, Teak, and Oak so if you love any of those woods, he is your guy to go to. I am sure more things will roll out of the doors as his experience and skills grow so you have to keep going back to his site. To give a perspective on how creative he is, he was able to make his own router table and he converted a circular saw, to be used as a table saw. He has pictures of them on his site www.adamswoodcreation.com.

    Adam is working to make his hobby into a career. That career- being a carpenter or even teaching wood working. For now, he will continue to work in his shop, creating things for you to buy. When he is not in the shop, he is a normal kid, playing basketball, boxing, and strumming on his guitar. I can only hope that we will see some of his items on our site www.generationwoodworks.com and creations from other young inspiring wood workers like him there too!

    Do me a favor, go to his site and see if his projects impress you like they impressed me.

    Public workshop!

    Posted By on September 1, 2012

    What do you think of the idea of a public workshop? A workshop where you can walk in and start crafting anything you want. A shop that would provide all the tools and equipment you would need to create wooden masterpieces. A place where you can learn how be a master craftsman, pick up tips and tricks of the trade, and see first hand how things are done. Well, great news there is such a place! That place is call North Country Woodshop located at Burnsville, MN.

    Founder and co-founder Tim Watts and son, Sam Watts, along with their business partner Brian, had a vision of having a shop that had all the tools for certain projects. They got the idea when they were looking for such a place and had no luck finding one for themselves. They tossed the idea around for a while, talked with many people who would be interested too, and finally opened their doors June 13, 2011.

    What exactly does a public workshop offer? North Country Woodshop provides a vast array of programs. They offer classes ranging from novice to complex and they offer private lessons as well. Think of it this way. When you sign up to a gym, you want the best trainer money can buy. Well that’s what you get when you sign up for private lessons, your own private trainer! They will walk you through every stage of the project, starting with the  design, then the ordering of the material, all the way to the finished product. Ladies, don’t worry about being the only female there. Turns out that 50% of their customers are women.

    I myself, being the owner of generationwoodworks.com, (an online marketplace to buy and sell all things wood, that also provides free product listing and virtual storefronts to showcase your products) was very delighted to see a shop who opens their door to the public. When I heard about this, I had to immediately contact Sam. I asked him what he enjoyed the most from the shop and he said ” I really like meeting all the new people that stop in our shop. It’s fun to hear their stories and see the raw lumber they carry in and see the finished project go out the door.”

    I recommend stopping by if you’re in the Burnsville, MN area to check out their facility and look into the classes they offer. Their hours are Monday 4pm-8pm, Tues-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm. To get more information about North Country Woodshop you can go to their website northcountrywoodshop.com