Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Isn't Just For Resolutions.

New years is the traditional chance to be reborn with new convictions that are meant to make you a better, more ideal person. While I like the idea of deciding to do something that you believe will be an improvement, I dislike the tradition of making empty promises to yourself once a year. Real resolutions do not come from big grand announcements, they come from small personal decisions. Those are the resolutions that really last.

Several years ago when I finally quit smoking it came from finally deciding that I was just finished wasting my money and feeling like crap every morning. I didn't make a big announcement to my wife, children, or anybody. I made the decision, weaned myself down and eventually stopped. This time it worked or has worked for the last three years. I had quit before, one time for almost a year, but this time seemed to work because I was making the change for myself and deeply personal reasons. When I quit in the past it was because I was supposed to, this time around I wanted to.
The HMS Resolution (1771-1782), James Cook's ship, watercolour by midshipman Henry Roberts*
I think that the most important thing about a Resolution is not the completed goal, but instead the smaller victories gathered along the way. The manageable chucks of accomplishment that equal completion of the idea. It's like the old logic question "How does one eat an elephant?" and while your mind races ahead of you, trying to come up with complex solution to the problem, the answer is the most simple one possible. You eat an elephant one bite at a time.

The overall resolution for me is to be able to make a living building furniture by hand. I don't have to sell to the world, I don't have to have a president use one of my rockers, I don't have to sell a book about my work and ideas, though all three of those things would be awesome, they can be the next resolution beyond. Now this is not something I am sprinting towards. I'm not buying into anything that remotely tingles of "Start Your Own Woodworking Business Now!" I am taking my time and building the foundations of something I want to last. I am not naive enough to believe in overnight success, I will take this problem one bite at a time.
I love the story of the tortoise and the hare. I remember it being read to us in kindergarten, and I remember wishing the turtle would punch the rabbit in the mouth. As an adult I am smart enough to see the nap the hare takes not so much as a show of his bravado and over confidence, but of a sign of his feelings of burn out. A state of emotional exhaustion and loss of interest. It is a subject that comes up from time to time among the woodworkers I follow on Twitter, and I can understand it. I have struggled with the feeling several times in the past. I don't have all the answers to help with burn out, but I do have one.

The best way I know to combat burn out along the path to a bigger goal is to make sure to celebrate the accomplishments made along the way, to remind yourself of where you started and see the distance you have come. That is the ultimate purpose of this post.

I started this year working inside a small shop, a very small shop, a space roughly 5' X 9' and sharing floorspace with a stairwell. 
I have since been able to upgrade into a bigger shop (thanks to the generosity of my father) I am now in a 10' X 30' steel building that has allowed me to take my work closer to the level it can be. It has allowed me to start to take my shop closer to the level I want it to be at. I realize that once I start to get busy building pieces for other people, I will have less time to work on the things I need and want for my own shop. So I am trying to take the time now to make some things for shop to get it to feel like the shop I have always wanted. This is reflected in things I've built this past year like the Saw Till or the Sandpaper Storage Chest. Of the big things planned in the next year is a storage shelf for my hand planes and a joiner's tool chest in homage to the Old World Tool Chest given to me this year by my Father in Law.
In the past I have judged my shop by the big tools I had, my goal was to always add one big thing a year. 2010 was no exception with my ability to bring a lathe back into my shop. But overall I have seen the shop grow in so many ways this year. I have added a couple of nice Saw Benches and a specific Joinery Bench designed to be taller and make cutting joinery easier. Beyond the lathe, I have been able to grow my hand tool collection nearly exponentially. I started the year with a small collection of planes. a total of seven, through the past year I have picked up and rehabbed several pieces and now I have just under twenty. I'm looking to add a set of hollows and rounds, a wooden plow plane, and a set of blades for the Stanley #45 I picked up earlier this year but haven't had a chance to rehab at all yet.

But planes are not the only area my hand tool collection has grown, from hand saws to chisels to braces and bits to marking tools. It has been a very satisfying year and I fear I may have to start to slow down that trend soon or I may find myself drowning, but then again what a sweet death that would be. I think the trick moving forward will to become a little more discerning.

What am I on the look out for as far as a bigger tool in 2011. Most likely, a full size bandsaw.

And here on the blog I had one personal goal that I was sure would pay off. I wanted to manage to write at least one hundred blog posts in a year and I did make that accomplishment. Following behind that has come other great things, including the chance to get to meet and trade ideas with many other woodworkers, from comments left on the blog to getting to know some folks via media like Twitter. (I still can't get over the ridiculous name, but the people that I get to know there are well worth putting up with it)

All in all 2010 was a tough and challenging year over all, but as I look back at some of the accomplishments and steps forward towards the better, I have to admit I am not unhappy and infact I am looking forward to 2011 with a good deal of curiosity and anticipation for things to come. I hope that you are all doing the same!

Cheers and Happy New Year!


*"HMS Resolution" and "The Tortoise and The Hare" photos were used from the Wikipedia Commons website

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Infinity's Tool Box

I have an apprentice.

Maybe not your traditional apprentice but she's close enough. She's my youngest daughter Infinity. I have tried to make sure I spend as much time as possible with all three of my daughters in the shop but Fin (what we call her for short) does her best to monopolize every opportunity. I can't put my shoes on without her asking if I'm going to the shop. Unfortunately this time of year my poorly heated shop is not the place for her but this fall we did manage to spend a day working on a project just for her.

This summer I had set her to work learning to saw. I gave her a piece of scrap pine, my dovetail saw, and a saw bench. She worked really hard at it all day long, sawing one inch pieces off the scrap, and by the end of the day she really had the hang of it. She didn't wimp out on me or quit on me at all. As a reward I bought some tools for her, we actually for all three girls to use when they want to come to the shop. I'll do some changes and updating on the tools as soon as I can, but for now it keeps me from looking for my tape measure when they have it. Now they have their own.

But what good is a pile of tools with no home? Fin and I spent a day working on building a tool box to keep them in. I picked up a piece of cheap 1x6 at the local fix it store and marked out the pieces for her to saw and let her go at it.
 I have to say I am damn proud of her, it'd been a month or so since she had spent the day practicing. She went back to it like a champ. She really can do a nice job of following the line, she wears out after a bit, it probably took the better part of two hours for her to break down the whole board. but that was completely cool. She got to take her time and I was able to work on a couple other things while she was busy and staying out of trouble.
 Once the board was cut down into sides and bottom I put away what I was working on and we cleared off the bench for her project. We clamped up the sides and gave her a chance to get a little feel for the plane by rounding the edges over. I think this was a great way to put the plane in her hands and not have her need to worry about technique or staying square.
 Now it was time to start building. I had her start the nail holes with an awl and then drill with a little egg beater drill to make it easier for her to drive the nails.
 Driving nails was the real taxing portion of the build. no we didn't smash any fingers or anything traumatic like that, but it was "really tough work Dad." I did finish a quite a few of them off for her after she drove them 3/4 of the way.
 Here's the mostly finished tool box, and a cheesy smile to boot. We have to fashion a handle for it yet. I'm thinking some rope with a centered wooden handle.We'll see what she thinks. She was very excited to take her own picture of the finished product, filled with "her" tools of course.
A lot of fun, for me and her. One more great day in the shop.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Splitting Black Walnut.

Well with the recent big snow we received here in the Midwest, my little burg of LaCrosse WI got a little over 20 inches dumped on it, Almost a week later and the city is still digging itself out. Walking the streets of downtown, where I live is a bit like traversing through a maze of high snowbanks with little passageways cut through in places. With all the snow, followed by a pretty severe 15 to 20 below 0 stretch, I have not been out to the shop for a little while again. My shop is located on my parents land, about 100 yards away from the house's back door. I just haven't felt up to shoveling a football field length path yet and my little kerosene heater is not powerful enough to combat 20 below temperatures.

So what does a woodworker do when they're feeling restless and unable to get to the shop...I suppose that depends on the woodworker. I myself have been doing a lot of reading, and thinking about the future of the shop. I have also spent some time updating the blog and trying to make it look more readable and professional. I am pleased with the changes so far. I am also going to take the chance to catch up on some smaller days at the shop I missed writing about along the way this year.

This fall I got into a conversation at work with Michelle, her and her husband Mark own 400 acres of land just across the river in Minnesota. I was asking her if they had any apple wood on their property that had been cut down or fallen recently. She called her husband and he told her he didn't think the apples had gone down much this year, but there was a couple of big pieces of Black Walnut left over from some loggers the year before and I could have it if I wanted. The only question I had was "what day can I come out?"

My God do those two own a beautiful chunk of earth!! They gave my wife Naomi and I "The Tour" where they have an old farmstead up on top the bluff and we walked down a trail to a rocky outcropping where you could stand and look over the Mississippi river. I so envy the treasure they have there, if I owned that land I don't think I would ever come in the house.

I have to admit I don't know a whole lot about logging other than they are interested in getting the best wood possible as easy and cheaply as possible, this makes sense to me, but beyond that I don't know a whole lot. These are the pieces that they left behind and I was given.
 Mark helped me pull them down out of the woods and get them loaded into my van. Here they're on the ground out behind my shop waiting for me to decide what to do with them. Well, my band saw is just a little thing, 9" with a 2 7/8" deep cut to it. Nothing fit for resawing this stuff, The only real option I had was to split the log into radial sections that could then be worked down into board stock. So I gathered my tools of mass destruction together and set to work.
Three regular wedges and one on a handle, a heavy hammer to drive the wedges, a hand hatchet, an axe, and an ice scraper to clean off the bark. 
 I started by stripping the bark off, the wood had been laying on the ground for a year or so and the bark was pretty moist. It stripped off fairly easily as I switched back and forth between a flat barn shovel and the ice scrapper to do the deed.
 Then I muscled the cut log, one end at a time, onto my saw benches. This raised it up and made the work easier on my back, which is pretty much always a good idea if you can. I start with the wedge on a handle. I try to select as close as possible to the center of the cull and still choose a place where it looks prone to split. Several hits with my big Mjollnir and I have the start of a split. I hit the wedge several more times, actually burying it
Then I get one of my other wedges and move down to where the crack is still visible but very thin, place the wedge and hammer it home. in the process most of the time the lead wedge would fall out onto the ground.
 Then I take a second and study the end of the cull. You can see in the close up where the weathered wood has started to give up the ghost and create radial cracks. I try my best to select a good width that will split even down the wood and give up what's most usable. I say try my best because it is difficult to judge exactly how the board will go for sure as it moves down it's length. The best advice I can give is to just relax about it. There is a lot of wood here, more than I thought when I first looked at the four culls laying by the shop door, you will get lots of usable board. You just have to relax and take what comes to you. Another Zen woodworking lesson.
 It seems to make sense that you then, start all over. and repeat the process again and again. The only mistakes I made is where I got greedy and thought I could render a board "just a little thinner" This is too blunt for that precision, and as I have yet to get my hands on a froe. I made due with making slightly thicker splits and leaving more work for planing later.
 So eventually one becomes two...two becomes four... and you get the picture. Before I knew it I had more Black Walnut than I would have thought possible.
 Here I leaned up against my dad's pickup, what I had gotten from one and a half culls. I have never gotten to work with black walnut before and I am really looking forward to planing some of this up and making something out of it next year. I'm thinking a couple of Bible Boxes and a couple of end tables at least. What surprised me is although the work is taxing on the shoulder and elbow with the repeated hammer blows, you really can move through the logs pretty quickly if you're so inclined.

Myself, I chose to take my time and make a day of this project, and what an enjoyable day it was, and now I have a big stack of wood with fantastic color just waiting for me next summer.

A little edit here: I was able to get somewhere with a much quicker wifi connection and so I thought I would upload this quick video I took while I was working. I'm not sure why the camera cut just before I finish off the split but you get enough to get the process.
Hey. . . Oldwolf Workshop doing some video on the out Matt Vanderlist and Shannon Rodgers. Just kidding, don't look for too much video from me.



Sunday, December 12, 2010

Looking to Improve you Hand Sawing Game?

Recently I kind of stumbled onto something that I think will help me become a better hand tool woodworker and I really want to pass the idea along to others out there who enjoy living shop life that's unplugged, even if it's only some of the time.

First a little explanation. With my mom's side of the family, no matter what else is going on, there is one universal language that you can always speak. The language of golf. I wouldn't call it an obsession, mostly just a shared passion and past time. As a young pre-teenager I remember one specific summer day spent at my Uncle Rod's and Aunt Jill's. A fantastic place located on an old tree farm in Northern Minnesota, I have many great memories of being allowed to run the woods until my legs nearly fell off. It has to be one of my top ten favorite places on the planet. On this day I was around for a summer vacation visit and my grandparents and probably several other family members were over as well. Of course the subject of golf came up and someone related how they heard that watching your golf swing on videotape can help you analyze it and see where you may want to make changes.

My Aunt Jill went and hauled out the video camera. I know technology has changed dramatically since then and these days I can even take reasonably good video on my cell phone, but we are talking about the old videocameras here. The ones that weight more than a bowling ball and can swallow up VCR tapes whole. She set it up and we all took turns recording 5 or 6 swings. Even my cousin Tyler who had to be around 3 or 4 years old took his turn. Then we went inside to look at the tape.

I don't remember what that tape told me about my golf swing. My current golf game would certainly be evidence that I probably learned nothing. But the other day I had a experience that brought that afternoon back from the dust of my memories.

I take a lot of pictures when I'm in the shop. I don't know how many you would consider a lot but on a full eight to ten hour day with a lot of work getting done I can push it to almost 150 pictures. SOme are test pics and some are just plain mistakes, but I do like to take a lot of pics. I figure the more pictures I have the better it is to find the best ones to include in a blog article later, but I don't just take the pictures for the blog. They are kind of a personal documentation, a pictorial diary if you will, of the day in the shop, the steps I took in building a piece, and the techniques I used.

Recently I added an ingenious piece of technology to my arsenal, a tripod. Laugh if you want at the fact that it took me so long to come around to using one, but this has revolutionized the way I take pics in the shop. Before if I wanted a shot of myself working I had to find the right surface to balance the camera on and spend minutes trying to set the framing to fit everything into the shot. The tripod has sped up my work considerably and this added convenience has made it easier to take more pictures of me at work.It also makes it easier to set the timer on the camera and get some shots of me working.

Recently I took a series of pics of myself ripping a length of white oak by hand. I set the timer on the camera to take a series of multiple shots and went to work. Later on while I was going over the pics, cropping and editing them for myself and the blog, I noticed that in some pics my technique was less than spectacular. The end result of the piece I ripped was not bad at all, but the pictures don't lie and I think that maybe it could get better.
Here's a picture of my standard sawing stance. Yes I know that purists will point out that with sawing you should have only one hand on the saw after you get it started. A long time ago I suffered a pretty bad injury to my right shoulder that it has never completely recovered from. It pops and clicks and makes all kinds of fun noises which are fun when it comes to grossing out my wife and children, but basically translate into not being able to generate enough strength to manipulate a full length saw effectively. So I compensate with a two handed grip.
I completely realize that the need for my two handed technique is probably where most of my personal sawing issues come from, but that's what this exercise is all about, finding what you are doing and discovering what you could be doing different to put it right. Here I think I'm looking pretty good.  My body position is set at a good angle to give me success and I'm setting my force directly over the handle and into the blade. This is easy to see with the saw driving straight.
Here you can see I've made an adjustment to my body position, not a big change but I've moved my hips over, and probably changed the angle of my shoulders too. This means I'm also changing the applied pressure to the saw handle. This is very evident in the bow of the saw to my right.
Here's a shot with a longer exposure, showing the blur of my hands as the move the saw through the wood. Here it would seem I've again corrected my hips and have straightened out the saw as I'm picking up speed and gumption to work my way through the board. The handle is listing a slight bit to the right though so that would demonstrate to me that I am probably getting some additional twisting from the waist due to the two hand technique.
Up until now when I saw I pay attention to the drive of my right shoulder as I try to maintain a straight cut. Though it makes sense I haven't paid complete attention to the rest of what I'm doing with my body. Just like you can change a golf swing with the minor details of where you place your feet, to how you hold your hands, to how you rotate your hips, you can make similar adjustments in how you saw. I would assume that this study of body mechanics relates to other hand tool practices like planing and drilling with a brace as well.

For those of us learning hand tool techniques I think this photo documentation, or even video documentation, could be an invaluable tool to seeing what you could improve on. Years ago when hand tools were still King, you would spend years working under a master, when we talk about this relationship we often talk about the instruction side of learning, and certainly a master would be a fountain of knowledge for effective skills and techniques. But the other side of instuction is evaluation. As an apprentice, the master would have opportunity to watch you work. He could see if you were tilting the saw towards your body on the uptake. He could see if your weight distribution over the joiner plane was flawed. He could see what you were doing that pushed your dovetail lines off square. And when he saw these slight mistakes, he could step in and help correct them.

I make a joke that I am "Nobody's" apprentice, as if my master carried the actual name "Nobody." In truth I consider myself Everybody's apprentice. I learn by watching and reading everything I can from everyone I can. Video from Roy Underhill, The Schwarz, Shannon Rodgers, or Bob Rozaieski and many others. Words from Peter Follansbee, Rob Pocolo, or any of several dozen others whose blogs I follow. But now I realize the part of the master / apprentice relationship I'm missing is the evaluation part and I think it's possible to fill in that missing piece by closely observing myself and my technique using pictures or video and evaluating myself. I've seen the master's do it a lot, now I need to take some time to watch myself do it to see how I stack up.

Just like the perfect golf swing, the search for the perfect saw stroke may be elusive, but it's out there.



We're Friends and I Have an E-mail to Prove It.

This is just a quick note to pass along a cool thing that happened to me this morning. Social media of all sorts is a very interesting phenomena. Especially a monster like Facebook. I was just talking to someone the other day and saying that things are kind of odd these days because I used to live a couple of separate lives, at least two of them. There was my work, and then there was my home. And though one supported the other, those two things never really crossed paths all that often. I never subversively hid anything about my home life from my coworkers, and if they asked what I had going on the coming weekend I told them what was up. I guess I just never felt the need to put myself all out there. Social media always seems to ballance the line between bragging and whining. I try to walk the tightrope as best as anybody, but I know I slip from time to time.

Then a little over a year ago I decided to but the bullet and join Facebook, mostly to stay connected with family, and to try and reconnect with some old friends I'd lost touch with along the way. The first time I had a coworker find me and request my friendship I really had to think about it. In fact I spent a couple days mulling it over before actually deciding to accept the friendship. Now I live a fully integrated life, I am Facebook friends with many people I work with and I still have to think about it sometimes when someone starts a conversation using something they read about me as a friend.

This morning however Facebook took a turn for me into the Twilight Zone, as I received this in my e-mail in-box

Only in a world blessed with Facebook would I get an e-mail where Saint Roy has confirmed our "friendship" Maybe he'll let me stay in his spare bedroom if I'm ever down his way, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before he invites me as a guest on his show.

I'm positive if anything even remotely reaching a real conversation happened between me and Mr. Underhill, not only would I be a stammering idiot, but I would probably have to clean out my drawers.

I love seeing Roy, I love reading his books, watching him work on his TV show. I love how when I was budding as a woodworker and obsessed with the Normite way of life, how I would get to watch his show follow after and find there was a different way of doing things and that way was totally an accessible thing. I credit Roy with the early exposure that made it feel OK when I decided to start exploring an unplugged workshop and for continuing to be a source of both education and inspiration.

I'm not sure there's enough of any substance in this world that could delude me enough to consider this e-mail to be anything more than what it is. A Facebook thing. But setting all that aside for just a second, it is still a pretty cool thing to receive on a snowy Saturday morning.

Thank You Roy! Cheers!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Learning and Growing: A Day In The Shop

This past weekend I got to spend a good couple hours in the shop. If you spend some of your time in the shop too then you understand that sometimes the plans you have when you head to the shop turn out to be very different from what you actually happens once you get there.

I started the afternoon with a little housekeeping. This gives me something to do while the kerosene heater takes the chill out of the shop and I get a chance to acclimate myself a bit. Someday I will have a shop with some climate controls, both heat for the winter and A/C for the summer, but right now I am just happy to have a shop! You take what you can get out of life sometimes. This included organizing and putting away my sandpaper into my new Storage Box. So far I really like how it works and looks.Then I started to set myself up for the day. Over to the lumber pile for a little fishing.

I plan to build a version of the William and Mary Bookstand featured in Popular Woodworking's November 2010 issue. Infact I plan to build it three to four times over. Once for my happy home and I can think of a couple of friends who would love one. It is a great little piece and my hat is off to Chuck Bender for bringing it to us. Here's the thing, and I don't know if this is something you should openly admit after you talk about a magazine and their projects but I never purchased a copy of the issue in question. I stopped by the newsstand and read through the article and I downloaded a page from the Pop Wood website where they goofed up the plans for the bookstand. (You can get your own copy of the page HERE) All the basic information I need as I can infer the rest from experience. I do like the additional information Mr. Bender placed on his blog in regards to the finishing of the piece, HERE is a link to that info.

With that in mind, I went to the wood pile and dug out some rough sawn white oak I have left over from my big summer build of a Medieval Hutch Chest. I knocked it down to flat with my a wooden Jack plane but I stopped short of getting a perfectly smooth surface. That would be easier to do on the individual parts. I can hear the peanut gallery talk about doing it at once so you make sure to get universal thickness, but my answer is I am not that concerned about being a few thousandths of a thickness off, and from working with this particular batch of stock in the past, I know that it loves tear out and that will be easier to manage on the smaller pieces where I have some better control over choosing the grain.
 I put it down on the saw benches, marked out my cut and went to work ripping a length. Unfortunately this is just about all the progress I made for the day. After the rip cut was done I went to lock the piece into the leg vise on my bench so I could edge plane it down to the perfect width. Just as I was pulling it snug I heard a sound that made me a little sick to my stomach, and I know no woodworker wants to hear. I don't know exactly how to describe it, maybe I could call it a "pop" or a "snap" but most accurately would probably be to call the sound a "crack" and that's just what happened. The leg vise of my Nicholson bench my day changed.
I dissembled the vise and inspected the damage, I quickly decided four things:
1) Maybe pine was a economical answer when I was originally building the bench and though the rest of the bench is holding up well I always had my suspicions about the durability of the vise board.
2) I was now going to have to replace the vise board as soon as possible with a hardwood, hopefully a hickory or hard maple.
3) There was no way I could afford to do any replacing right now.
4) I'm going to have to try and make a repair that I can limp through a few months, it probably won't work and I'll have to buck up and buy or think of some other alternative but I have to try.

So here is where the plot thickens . . .  I decide that I have some JB Weld 2 part epoxy with me in the shop and it's the strongest stuff I own, I've used it to repair cracks in car radiators in the past so I know it's good for a lot of pressure. But in order to get it into the crack I have to apply some significant force to get it to open up. I decide to pin the head of the vise board to the bench top with holdfasts and weight the other end with a large toolbox full of my automotive tools, (that sucker is heavy let me tell you). Well I set the board, placed the holdfasts and went to give them a whack with the mallet to set them.
This time there was no sickening sound, the holdfast gave without so much as a whimper, it just died and fell over. Now I know these are cheep cast iron holdfasts, that's the reason I purchased four of them at the time, so I would have a few extra. So I knew this day would come, infact I have been impressed that it hadn't happened yet, but this was too much. To break the vise and a holdfast within 15 minutes of each other. Crazy. I vowed that if one more thing happened I would call that strike three and go home.

I dug out another holdfast and arranged the vise board so I could shove some epoxy into the crack. I took the weight off and placed a clamp until I got some squeeze out. Then I buttressed the crack with some wood screws because...why the hell not?

Here's a pick of the repair set off to one side to dry, the latex glove is in place to keep the epoxy from binding permanently to my clamp.
Then I cleaned up and set my mind to figuring out clamping alternatives. This is the contraption I came up with...I really not that unhappy with the answer. It seemed to work pretty good for edge planing. I have my double screw vise for face clamping... I may get along OK for a while after all
After a few pictures the last set of batteries dies in the camera for the day, I may go through one, maybe two sets a full day in the shop. This set was number four and my last set on hand. I called that "Event Number 3" and called it a day.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sanding Storage - A Great Little Weekend Project

 Well my take on making a storage place for my sandpaper turned out to be one of those perfect weekend projects. Two days in the shop and done, not even two full days more like a day and a half. but it was fun to get something like this that came together quickly and is going to be so helpful and useful, hopefully for a long time. This is the finish up of the project so if by chance you didn't catch the first part of this build you can catch it HERE.

I had the carcass and the permanent dividers in place to help organize the belts and flat sheets of sandpaper, I had left an open space towards the center to hold the papers for my random orbit sander and my mouse / detail sander. I wanted to make a pair of pull out organizers for these two types of paper. So I started the day by rechecking the measurements for the center area. I made a couple notes and a couple of quick sketches, and set to work cutting down the basic pieces of plywood at the table saw.

I decided on a small box with three sections to separate the course, medium and fine grits. I went to decide on a cut out to make it easier to grab the paper. You can see how I started with the first line and decided to make the recess deeper.
I cut the sections out with a coping saw then transferred the cut over to the pieces that were to be the dividers on the inside.
I decide that I wanted one of the dividers to stand above the others and a type of handle. AT first I was just going to round over the top of this piece with a semi circular cut, instead I threw considerable caution to the wind and decided to cut the protrusion as the mirror of the recess. I know . . . earth shattering design happening here every minute at the Oldwolf Workshop.
 The result makes me think a little of the minarets on the Taj Mahal, or as close to that majestic grandeur as you can get in plywood. . . I know I make light but the end result seemed to work out just fine, and why not have a little whimsical fun on a piece like this. In fact I challenge anyone out there who reads this to build their own sandpaper storage system and utilize elements from some great piece of architecture. What would you choose? The Pyramids of Giza, or ohhhh the Sphinx, maybe Big Ben in London, or the Eiffel Tower? Do it, make me aware of it and send me some pics and I will only be happy to post about it here. Now the real test... are any of you brave enough to take up the challenge?

Here are the lift out boxes finished up and ready to go.
 See how nice they fit into the carcass. I really am gonna love the change in organization I'm gonna get out of this piece.
 Next I glued and nailed on the narrow top section and took a few measurements for the sloping lid.
 I cut the lid to width side to side, but left the front to back length a little long so I could best decide what kind of overhang I wanted. I then planed the edge of the lid that would meet with the narrow top board at an angle so the edges would match up nicely when everything was closed up.
 I found a couple of small strap hinges in my "box o' hardware" and secured them in place with some 1/2" brass screws that have also been hanging around a while and other than maybe some sanding to pull off the pencil marks, I think we have a finished product.
 It was such a good feeling to pull of this quick little project after not being able to make it to the shop for a while. Finishing something always makes me happy, no matter the size of the project, it feels good and helps prime the engines for other bigger things.
 So, with this one in the bag, I'm looking forward to more projects and work, but I'l fill you in about that later.