Peekachello Art

Touch controlled lamp

I finished another cholla and resin lamp this morning. Started pouring the resin for this in March or April, so it went somewhat quicker than previous lamps.

Touch-controlled lamp, lit

I’m using a solid pigment in the resin on this one, rather than translucent dyes, which gets a different effect. I like it, but I really want more swirly effects along the boundaries, which is going to require getting fancier about my pours.

Cholla and resin detail

That said, there are still some very cool effects in the resin, especially where I went back to fill in bits that had bubbles in earlier pours. I also like the more random arrangement of the cholla in this one. I basically just poured some chunks into a cup, shook them down, and started pouring, rather than carefully arranging the cholla first.

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Touch control nightlight, lit

I made another touch control nightlight over the course of the past few months. The body is cholla and resin. The base is birch, and the top is sapele. It’s a nice red glow at its brightest, and barely noticeable at its dimmest, but it will last for over 80 hours on a charge at that brightness.

Touch control nightlight, off

One of the things I found was that in dry weather, a larger touch-sensor is too sensitive, and will turn on with no touch sometimes. So this lamp uses a much smaller sensor which seems to work great, unless your skin is really dry. If that’s the case, put on some lotion or lick your finger.

Top of touch control nightlight

The lamp is a little under 7 inches tall, and a little over 3 inches in diameter, and the guts are taken from a Lanterna lamp from Lee Valley.

Touch control night light, lit, at night.

#woodworking #cholla #lamp

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Russian olive bowl with lid

Got some Russian olive from a friend last Saturday. This bowl came out of one of the pieces. There are two cracks that wanted to come apart as I was turning it, and the shape was largely dictated by another crack that did come apart (and which put a dent in the ceiling of my shop).

Russian olive bowl with lid

The lid was part of the chunk that came off. It had a branch near the middle that had rotted, so I filled that with epoxy and stuck on a handle turned from another offcut.

Russian olive bowl with the lid off

Mostly turned with a bowl gouge, but I also used a few scrapers, a carbide turning tool, a skew, and a bedan. Finished with homemade friction finish plus some wax.

Inside of Russian olive bowl

#project #bowl #woodturning

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Completed outside of the book Inner book paper installed, view of the inside

I've been wanting to learn more about bookbinding for a while, so when a Surprise Swap came up on Craftisian, I decided part of the build would be a box built with some bookbinding techniques.

Faux book spine and one cover

I started by making a faux spine, using a piece of spalted elm I had on hand, and rounding it to approximate the spine of a book. I cut rabbets in the front and back of it to accommodate covers (made of poplar, more on that later), and then cut some small pieces of hard maple to make the other three sides of the box, which would represent the edges of the pages.

Faux book, faux bands Hinge cloths holding the cover to the faux book

I then drilled holes through the spine and wrapped some nylon string through them to look like bands. They seemed fairly thin, but I guessed they'd “read” ok through the leather, and that worked out pretty well, though I forgot to take a photo of that.

With the hard-maple pages glued into grooves in the back cover, I applied some cloth strips between the bands to work as hinges for the front cover. I used Titebond II diluted about 3:1 with water to apply these hinges, and that seemed to work pretty well.

View of faux page-edges, which are hard maple, grooved with a slitting gauge, then painted with a yellow milk paint wash View of faux page-edges, which are hard maple, grooved with a slitting gauge, then painted with a yellow milk paint wash

I also had grooved the page-edges by using a slitting gauge on the hard maple, making small cuts along the length of it, spaced about 0.6mm apart (the smallest amount I could reliably adjust my gauge). Then I painted the edges with three coats of a thin (1 part milk paint, 4 parts water) wash of lemon yellow milk paint, which gave the pages a more paper-like look.

I put magnets into the page edges and the front cover to hold the cover closed, and then I applied the outer book paper. I remembered partway through that the leather was supposed to go on a half-bound book first, but it was too late, plus this gave me a look of how the book was going to look. Also, I hadn't received the leather I wanted yet, so at least I got comfortable gluing on the book paper on what would have otherwise been a wasted day.

First (outer) book-paper put on; Also visible are the magnets which will hold the cover closed

Before applying the leather, I spent a morning carving away part of the spine of the faux book. I realized that it extended beyond the edges of the pages and that didn't look right, so I carefully pared it down so it was even with the edges of the pages. As the spalted elm was pretty soft, this meant hardening it up with some thin CA glue so that I could pare it with chisels and gouges without getting too much tear-out.

Leather half-binding installed Edges of leather pared down

Once it arrived, I applied the leather. I didn't do a great job paring its edges down before applying it, but I figured this is my first book, so I'm allowed to make a mistake or two. Plus, with book paper yet to go on the outside, I could pare the leather down and then apply the book-paper and it would look ok.

Second outer bookpaper installed View of inner bookpaper installed

With the outer book paper on, I was waiting on USPS again. I had ordered some nice book paper for the inside of the box, but it got held up in customs for over a week. When it finally arrived, I glued it to the inside of the box, and I think everything looked pretty darned good. The only problem was that the glue for the inner book paper swelled the wooden cover a bit, so the front cover wouldn't close for a couple days, but once the poplar dried out again, it worked fine. Also, I tore one of the creases in the inner book paper getting it pressed into the box.

And that's the project. When I do it again, I'll change a few things. I'll make the spine of good quality hardwood, rather than something soft like the spalted elm I used. The covers will be made of either good quality thin plywood, or I'll home-make some thin plywood from veneer I have around, rather than poplar, which moves too much with moisture changes. I'll remember to apply the leather first, and pare down its edges better before putting it on. And I'll be more careful applying the inner book paper. That's a tricky job you wouldn't have to do when binding a real book, though.

#woodworking #project #bookbinding

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A small carved bowl made from Gambel Oak, from near Taos, NM.

Small carved Gambel Oak bowl, side view

This was such a small chunk of wood (Gambel Oaks don’t grow very large, typically 1-2m tall around here) that rather than turn it round, I decided to carve an oblong bowl.

Small Gambel Oak bowl, top view

When my sweetie and I are talking about a collection of things, we’ll often refer to it as stuff and things to emphasize that it’s not just stuff. So when I looked at the flats at the ends of the bowl wondering what to carve there, stuff and things came to mind.

Small Gambel Oak bowl, bottom

#bowl #woodCarving #oak

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On the first of the year, a friend gave me a couple chunks of chokecherry and a chunk of Gambel oak. I rough-turned the chokecherry into bowls in the first week of January, and finished turning this one in February.

Chokecherry bowl, side view

I hadn’t known that chokecherry grew this big, but the finished bowl is 7½ inches across and 2½ inches tall. The tree was growing next to a bridge that crosses a creek between my friend’s place and his neighbor’s near Taos, NM, so it had plenty of water to grow here in our dry climate.

Chokecherry bowl, top view

I’m glad I got it rough turned as quickly as I did, and then dried it slowly in a bag full of shavings. There’s one crack that opened up which I filled with sawdust and CA glue, but otherwise the bowl held together nicely, even though it warped quite a bit.

Chokecherry bowl, bottom

It’s finished with a coat of tung oil, which firmed up the punky bits of the wood, and then a hand-rubbed shellac and tung oil finish. Once cured, it will be food safe.

If I get offered more chokecherry for turning, you can bet I’ll say “yes!”

#woodturning #bowl #chokecherry

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Cholla and resin lamp, unlit

After making a couple bedside lamps, I wanted to make a version more suitable as a nightlight. This is the result, a lamp in which the LEDs shine through the resin, illuminating it from within. The light is a yellow glow that turns red farther down into the resin. Not perfect, because the hole in the resin for the batteries is slightly (less than a millimeter) too small, so the battery case is protruding a bit, but it’s usable, and I can always fix it later.

Cholla and resin lamp, lit.

Meanwhile, my sweetie isn’t sure which of the three lamps she’d like next to the bed now. This one is definitely the best as a nightlight, but doesn’t give off enough light to read by.

This was the most difficult to assemble of the lot, so I was thinking that if it wasn’t a hit, I probably wouldn’t make another, but it came out well enough that maybe I have to after all.

#project #lamp #nightlight

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C’mon Get Happy and blue strap-work view of the bench

Bus and red braids view of the bench

This spring we went back to Minnesota to visit friends. One of the people we visited was Bonnie’s cousin Ben, who had visited us earlier in the year in their huge RV. Ben set me up with a pickup load of lumber from MN to bring home, since lumber prices have gotten kinda crazy. All Ben wanted for payment was a bench he and his wife Angie could set at the foot of their bed to sit on while putting on or taking off their socks and shoes.

When they got married, they had a variation on a card box which was a schoolbus, into which people could deposit things. It was their “Happy Bus” and I wanted to incorporate that theme into my build, and immediately thought of the Partridge Family and their brightly painted bus.

pickup truck bed full of lumber

I spent some time processing the lumber for various projects, and worked my way down to a nice slab of pine which I decided will be the main part of the bench. I got it squared up and set it aside.

Slab of pine, roughly 3 inches by 12 inches by 38 inches (75x300x1000 mm)

I also processed some oak, and found pieces that seemed like they would make good legs for the bench. I cut the curves and cut tenons on the legs that will slide into mortises I will later cut in the bench seat.

Two pairs of legs for bench

With the legs cut, I put beads on the edges of the legs that will be visible, using a Lie Nielsen 66 beading tool.

Beads cut in the edge of a leg, with a Lie Nielsen No 66 beading tool

I figure the legs will get triangular braces on the inside and larger, flat braces on the outside. I warmed up (or dusted off) my carving skills by carving the triangular inner braces. The only way to see these will be to set the bench upside down or to lay under it looking up, so I think they’ll be a neat touch, plus it gave me a low risk place to practice my carving. One got a paired-hearts pattern with some diamonds around it.

Triangular brace with paired hearts and diamonds

The other got a flower of sorts, with diagonal lines that I created using gunstock checkering tools.

Flower and diagonal lines on a triangular brace

I also cut the braces for the outsides of the legs. They’re trapezoidal, with chamfered edges cut on the table saw. I will do some sort of carving on the flat sides of these braces, which will be somewhat visible from the sides of the bench. One of the braces had a knot which I filled with some turquoise, and which should make a nice little “pop” in whatever I carve on that brace.

Brace for outside of one leg

Oak leg brace with turquoise filling a knot

Next up is making the holes for the legs (once I determined which side of the pine slab was going to be “up” on the finished bench—I oriented it so when the flat-sawn pine cups, it’ll cup on the top, making a hollow for the sitter’s butt). I showed the legs to the slab, and marked the positions of the tenons, and guesstimated how far from the end of the bench the legs should go, and set a mortise gauge to those distances.

Hole positions marked on the bottom of the bench, with tools used in the frame.

Once I had all the holes marked, I drilled most of the way through the slab with a ¾ inch bit, since the leg tenons measured a hair under ⅞ inch. I attempted to stop drilling as soon as I heard the small “tick” from the lead screw popping through the far side of the slab.

Holes drilled in the slab, with the bit and brace nearby

With the holes mostly through, I flipped the slab and finished drilling from the top, leaving a nice clean exit hole.

One hole complete, and two holes with just the lead screw poking through

Next step is to get a chisel long enough that I can chop through the bench. I have a 12mm Japanese chisel which has enough length, and is smaller than the required holes, so I used that and chopped halfway through from the bottom, then turned the bench over and chopped squares from the edges of the holes I had drilled.

Chopping the mortises rectangular

Finally, I used the mortise gauge and showed the legs to the bench again (being careful to get the orientation right) so I could mark exactly where the holes should be. Next session, I’ll finish squaring up the holes, and work on the set of holes for the other leg.

Top surface of bench, with mortises partially cut, and edges of mortises marked

While thinking about how to pretty up the leg tenons, I decided to do some carving. Here are the four sides of the bench. First is the “turquoise” side, with traditional carved designs.

Turquoise carved side of the bench

The opposite long side of the bench has a chain, which is somewhat reminiscent of the birds in the Partridge Family opening, with the chain flanked by a couple hexes.


Chain on the long side of the bench

The two short ends continue the theme, with the Partridge Family bus on one of the ends.

Carved mondrianesque “Partridge Family” bus

And the words “c’mon get happy” carved in the opposite end.

Carved “c’mon get happy”

On the flatter braces, I carved a tightly-knotted triquetra, a symbol of the three Morrígna on one.

Carved tightly-knotted triquetra

And a carved pinwheel on the other.

Carved pinwheel

That done, I widened the tops of the mortises in bench enough to add some framing to them, which I figured would clean up the look of them.

Framing pieces in the leg mortises

Close-up of a leg tenon, with framing and wedge

And then I assembled the braces on the legs of the bench.

Bench, assembled

And signed the underside of it.

Signature on the underside of the bench

After some finishing, here’s the bench, sitting in our living room, waiting for Ben and Angie to arrive and pick it up sometime this spring.

Bus and red braids view of the bench

C’mon Get Happy and blue strap-work view of the bench

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Carved logo, with a ruler to show scale

I’ve been a supporter of the Altai Project for a while. I think they’ve been doing good stuff for a part of the world very few people know about.

Anyway, when I was looking for a “tweener” project earlier this week to fill the time while waiting for finish to dry on the bench I’m working on, I decided I’d try to carve their logo, since it’s not too complicated.

Altai Project logo

I think it came out ok, and I like the way the grain worked with the carving. It’s about a ⅜ inch thick 4 inch square piece of birch. Had a #3-30, a #3-6, and a #6-6 out on the bench, plus I started making a new narrow skew, using one of the blanks from the Mountain Woodcarvers clearance store. It’ll end up being a 2mm wide skew or a #2-2, and will help get down into skinny corners. Only had a couple slips, but there’s a little glue holding the sheep’s leg on now after one of the slips.

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Front of car key fob

Recently, the remote fob for my truck cracked. The plastic case lasted about 14 years, and gave out pretty catastrophically. So I took it apart and looked at how the case was constructed and figured I could make one out of wood that would probably outlast the truck, which is getting some rust spots from its time in Minnesota.

Rubber switches for car key fob

I carved holes for the remote buttons, removing the “alarm now” button that has always annoyed me, and started to rough-shape the front of the outside.

Partially carved car key fob front

The back got a hole where the battery goes, and I turned a cover, thinking maybe I would run a brad through it or something so I could lock in place.

Side view of car key fob

After gluing the front to the back, I thought about how long batteries have lasted me, and since that’s been four years or more, I figured I’d just tack the battery cover in place with some glue, and if the battery dies before the truck does, I can probably pop it out. And if not, oh well, I’ll have another project for the list.

Back of car key fob

#woodworking #project

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