Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to Make a Pizza Peel

    I'd like to share with you how to make a pizza peel.  Of course, I realize some of you don't know what the heck a pizza peel is but I'll bet you don't have a good friend and neighbor whose passion is creating delicious, artisan pizzas!  I'm one of the lucky ones that do and as I've always said: "as you go through life, never offend the cook".  He has a 70th. birthday coming up (although you'd never know it by looking at him) and his wife is throwing a birthday bash to honor him on that day.  Since I'm a woodworker I thought to myself, what could I create to commemorate this special occasion and insure that I can maintain my taster status -- why a Personalized Pizza Peel of course!
    The first step was to research for sizes and types of wood recommended for them.  I chose Alder for the peel and decided to accent it with some Purple Heart that I had already.  Next it was time to make a rough blank to an appropriate size.  The picture on the left is a shot of it after just taking it out of the clamps.  I used Gorilla Glue to laminate them together.  I usually use it because it's proven to be very strong and easy to clean up once it's cured.  The picture on the right is how it looked after I roughly shaped it and added two pieces of purple heart to thicken the handle.  To reinforce it and make it easier to line up I used dowels.

After carving his initials into the handle I wanted to gild them with composition gold, commonly called  Dutch Gold which I like better since that reflects my heritage.  On a small project like this using quick size is the simplest.  Notice my improvised brush, just sharpen a dowel and then resharpen it for clean up!  The final steps were to seal the handle with a few coats of shellac that was followed by sanding in Mineral Oil as a food safe, protective finish on the entire peel.  Mineral Oil is what you should also use on your cutting boards since it won't go rancid like cooking oils will.
    Finally, here is a shot of the completed peel.  I tapered the front edge using spokeshaves and a block plane.  I can't wait to see his reaction to his gold engraved peel, beats the heck out of that gold watch you may get when you retire from your job! 
 Happy Birthday Richard !!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Installed Bookcase

This is a picture of the completed bookcase.  Have to apologize for the quality of it though but I couldn't get enough distance from it to make a better image.  I only put in a few of the 12 shelves just to get an idea of how it looks when it's all together.  Thankfully the recess where this unit went into was fairly square.  I started in the construction industry as a carpenter and for the life of me, can't figure out why homes these days just can't be square.  Well maybe I can, when I was in the trades the emphasis was on good you were, now it's on how fast you are.  In the early 80's I was hired by my principal to do some finish work in a custom home he was having built for him, couldn't believe the lack of quality.  That's one of the reasons I built my own house in Boulder City -- that and the fact I couldn't qualify for one on my teachers salary!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Shelf Banding

Pardon the rather freakish distortion of this picture, makes you wonder what the heck you're looking at doesn't it?  I wanted to share how I edge band my shelves, it's a lot more than an adhesive strip of veneer put on with heat and pressure.  I made this banding from 5/4 Oak by first planing the edge of a wide board, then shaping the triple bead detail on the shaper.  This was followed by ripping them on the table saw. This process is then repeated to make banding for the 12 shelves plus a couple extra for insurance.  You can see that there's a dado cut into the banding and then a rabbet cut on the edge of the plywood shelf.  I'm using a Gold Bond Plywood which is heavier but very stable due to the MDF core.  Since the veneer on the ply is probably less than 1/64" thick I'm always reluctant to sand the edge where it mates with the banding.  My technique is to have a scrap piece of plywood with the identical rabbet cut on it mounted on my workbench.  I then use a #7 plane to bring it as close to the same level as the plywood without hitting it.  They are then glued/clamped and we're ready to go.  In the background you can see the two cabinets that make up the bookcase.  With the high humidity we've had lately it has taken my finish a little more than 24 hours to dry before rubbing in the next coat.  Getting close to scheduling the installation.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Love my Torsion Boxes !!

  In one of my blog entries (early December) I showed you how I built these torsion boxes.  It was something I had thought about but it wasn't until Larry Yule from gave a demonstration at the Sin City Woodworkers meeting that I decided to give them a try.  These replaced a huge and heavy, 4' x 8' assembly table that always seemed to be in the way.
  Although there is some distortion in this picture I think you can get the idea.  You're looking at one of the bookcases and how I was able to place the torsion boxes to glue on the face frame.  In the background there is the other unit already assembled.  As I've mentioned previously, I glue face frames to the carcass with a tongue on the plywood and a groove in the frame. It's always been a hassle to get the clamps towards the center of the case.  With the torsion box I simple slid them out on the sawhorses and clamped the frame, carcass, and torsion box as one unit.  Since the torsion boxes are square the case will be too --- nice!
  Currently I'm working with the Watco oil and using tints to match the existing bookcase to the units I'm making.  Almost there, seems as if Burnt Umber does the trick.  Enjoy your Supper Bowl Party today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bookcase Progress

This is the part of a project that only takes 10-15 minutes but getting to it takes much longer.  My design for the bookcase is to make it in two sections, this way the shelves span about 23" and with the solid wood facing there won't be any risk of bowing.  You'll notice the dado on the back of the vertical members, this is for the tongue on the plywood sides.  I know some would use nails or a couple of biscuits to join the frame to the carcass but I prefer a full tongue and groove, glued and clamped even though it takes a bit more time to fit.  What you see here is the bottom of the left case.  The step you see on the right piece is where the two cases will meet.  It took a while to get the set up right on the shaper but the main design element of this project is the triple bead running up the center and on the fronts of all the shelves

Here is the top of the right side case.  You'll notice the triple bead detail and what you can't see is that underneath the beads there is a step.  When I install them, this step will go over the left case which has a matching step cut into it.  The triple bead will end up being centered between the two cases which span a total of 51".  I came up with this design as an alternative to clamping and screwing the two parts together like a kitchen cabinet would be.  They will be joined together underneath the recessed KV track for the adjustable shelf system.

MicroJig Splitter System

One of the goals I have for my shop is to make it as safe of an environment as possible.  Like most cabinet and furniture makers I find the splitter and guard that came standard on my saw, more of a hassle than a help.  When I need to rip a lot of material I'll use a rip blade and install the splitter that came with the saw.  As an example, when I had over 100 board feet of 8/4 Canarywood to cut to rough size for a dining table and six chairs, the splitter was a necessity.  I had heard about the micro jig accessory a few times and a recent newsletter from the happened to do a review on them.  I decided to order it on line because I knew I had a lot of shelf facing to make for the bookcase I was just commissioned to build.  The instructions were clear and pretty precise in what you needed to do for the  installation.  It gave me a good reason to make another zero clearance plate as you can see.  Everything went fine until my first cut!  The kit comes with four different splitters to give a perfect amount of tension to the stock.  These fit securely into the throat plate but once the wood reached them it was a no go! With my calibers, the splitter measures 1/8" and the kerf my blade creates is 7/64". I checked and double-checked and finally wrote an email to MicroJig ( ) to voice my frustration but not expecting any results other than "sorry 'bout that".   In my email I told them that I have a Tenryu blade. The splitter measures 1/8" and the kerf the blade creates is 7/64".  You can imagine my surprise when they replied the same day and told me about the Tenryu being metric sized which cuts 3mm or less.  What totally surprised me was their response -- they told me that if I would send all of the pieces back to them they would send me the kit for the thin kerf which would work with my blade at no cost to me!!  I will need to make another zero clearance throat plate but that's a good thing to have in different blade kerfs anyway -- I'll use this one for the rip blade.
It's really great to do business with a company that show the same commitment to their customers and clients as I do.  If you're like me and know that the splitter really is a thing to have you should look into their product.  Less than $40.00 for the top of the line kit which is  a better deal than getting a new tablesaw with a riving knife.