Mar 032015

A day late, but done!
Free Motion Quilting practice block quilt.
At this point, I should call it Friday’s quilt. That cat has been completely obsessed with this thing – like The Captain was with the feather and leather tassels on the Centzon Totochtin quilt. Friday would pester me while ironing, jump on my bequilted lap while I was sewing, and sit on and play under the blocks anytime they were not on the forbidden sewing table. There were a few times I had to physically remove her from the workshop and shut the door on all the cats simply to make uninterrupted progress. In fact, I had to chase her off so I could take these photos and she was quite pouty and furtive with me the rest of the morning. She really likes this quilt.

The light is too bright for a good view of the stitching, but we can take a look at some blocks to talk about for now. You can get a better look if you come over, but you will have to endure Friday’s jealousy.
Free Motion Quilting practice block quilt.
On the right is one of the beaded blocks. Some blocks have embroidery bits or beads, or both so that I could get used to FMQ around obstacles and try to work them into the design flow. On the left is one of the text blocks. This was one of the last couple blocks quilted and Ymabean and I had that morning been discussing“Desiderata” (Latin: “desired things”), a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann, so that first line was present in my mind. I like the look of written quilting. One could easily do an entire poem or verse on a whole cloth quilt for an easy, beautiful impact.
Above the text is one of the densest blocks, with the shell echo covering every bit. Lots of thread. Below the text block is another thread eater, the pebble (or bubble) pattern. The look of this one is exciting.

Free Motion Quilting practice block quilt.
This lines with loops pattern is one of my favorites. The simplicity appeals to me. Above it is a similar lines with rectangles pattern that suits the rectangular arrangement of the beads on the block. It is nice, but I like it less. After 37 blocks of practice (and the five Scrappy Cats) I have found that I prefer swirls, loops and flowy shapes with order more than straight lines and neat corners, at least for FMQ. Regular straight stitching is excellent for lines and corners.

Free Motion Quilting practice block quilt.
Thread sketching is fun! I like the simple line drawings here, I will definitely do more of these in the future.

Free Motion Quilting practice block quilt.
This is another block with a beaded and embroidered obstacle. This one turned out possibly the best of the beaded ones, as I was able to fit the design easily into quilting lines.

There we go, the first Practice project I’ve completed this year. I think it was a smashing success. I am definitely better at FMQ and I have a quilt (or, Friday has a quilt) to show at the end as a bonus. I try not to attach completed items to Practice or Experiment projects because then the work becomes about the finished item instead of the Practice or Experiment, but this one fell quite nicely into a quilt at the end.

Now, to finish up that etched metal pendant!

Feb 252015

Last year, I started a project to improve my FMQ (Free Motion Quilting) skills because I decided that was the best way to quilt the Blues Cabin quilt. Of course, I got off track and worked on other projects instead, but now I’m back to this one.
I bought a few colors of Kona Cotton, my preferred quilting solid, and cut it and some batting into ten inch squares, for a total of 36. Actually, I accidentally ended up with 37, but I tossed that first one I did because it was absolute rubbish as I learned to handle the movements. I chose darker fabrics since I had a couple extra-large spools of cotton thread in a cream color which I ended up not using for another project. I methodically worked through a variety of common FMQ designs, then started making up my own and letting my own style come through the needle. Despite this being deliberate practice, I didn’t feel (at first) as though I was getting any better – which means I failed to plan my practice review, which largely happened when I took almost a year break from it. Then, when I laid out all the blocks for assessment, I saw the difference between my initial blocks and the mid-progress and latest blocks. It seems as though the practice has been effective, my long break notwithstanding. So that’s good.
FMQ QAYQ blocks laid out.
The completed blocks, arranged for joining. I broke up colors, designs, and quilting density so it would have some visual balance.
Now that all the blocks are done, the next step is to combine them with sashing. Since the blocks are already already sandwiched (top fabric, batting, backing) and quilted, the process is QAYG (Quilt As You Go). This means I will attach sashing to one block, then join it to a neighbor with the sashing. Once I’ve made the row of combinations into six columns, I’ll use long sashing to join them into one big quilt. Then, the binding is standard.

Now I have to get this tedious joining done before the cats drag these all over the workshop. They love to run and slide into them, destroying the arrangement. Maybe I can power through it this week.

It won’t be a beautiful quilt, but it was for practice (which is done successfully) so, it will get double points for now becoming a practical object. It is always good to have spare blankets.

Feb 232015

The continuing saga of making tiny bits into a new, whole fabric.

Maker talk (all the way):

This experiment involves the more sturdy branch of using a water-soluble stabilizer as the base layer as well as the top layer, and using a temporary adhesive spray to keep everything together until stitched. Here we go!

Water soluble stabilizer, bits and pieces, temporary spray adhesive and more stabilizer.
Terribly boring photo, but this is the base layer of water-soluble stabilizer. On this will go all the fabric trimmings, thread scraps and miscellaneous bits beside my cutting board. I went smaller than the first time around because I have fewer teensy scraps laying out now. Plus, I wanted to take less time on the work. To this base I added a spray of the temporary spray adhesive. I used Therm-O-Web spray (same makers of Heat-N-Bond); I also have a Sulky brand that reviewed highly, although I have not used that one yet. Atop the spray I arranged (and later, blindly tossed) bits and pieces on. Then, another spray and the top layer of stabilizer.

Water soluble stabilizer, bits and pieces, temporary spray adhesive and more stabilizer.
Keeping up? This is stabilizer, bits, stabilizer – all held together with the spray. I swear, this thing felt so flimsy, I thought for sure it would all fall back to its individual parts. It didn’t though. Ready for stitching now!

Water soluble stabilizer, bits and pieces, temporary spray adhesive and more stabilizer.
An hour of high speed stitching later, here we are. I tried to FMQ it, but it wouldn’t go. The thread wanted to snag and break; the needle didn’t move smoothly through the stabilizer. Straight and zigzag stitching worked perfectly. I’ve stitched densely and don’t see any bits that might escape. Ready for the water now.

Water soluble stabilizer, bits and pieces, temporary spray adhesive and more stabilizer.
After a five minute soak in water, then a brief wash and rinse (all in the utility sink) the stabilizer was completely gone. I do like how easily it washes out. Impatient, I ironed the piece dry and took this photo.

What I learned: the temporary spray adhesive is impressive! It really held everything together and it really was temporary. There was no stickiness left after the wash and iron. Stitching through it proved no problem at all. You might think I have different standards after my determined stitching through the heavy duty Heat-N-Bond, but I assure you it was tacky-needle-problem free, except for the FMQ. I guess that means it was tacky-needle-problem lite. I would have preferred to FMQ instead of standard stitching. I don’t care to handle the water-soluble stabilizer very much. The natural moisture [honesty edit: sweat. It is hand sweat.] of my hands makes the stabilizer ever-so-slightly tacky while I’m holding it. It isn’t terrible, but it does feel like you have picked up something a gaggle of small children were playing with.

What do I think of this? This is better than the first try. This is something different, something a bit better than it originally was. Part of this difference is that these bits are closer together and more dense than the first trial. You can barely see in the photo (better if you hold it up to the light – the fabric, not the photo, obvs), but there are many spots that are blank. These bits are held by thread, securely, and the spots where there weren’t bits are clear and you can see through this new fabric. That is cool. I laid down the largest bits first, then dumped thread and fuzz bits on top. Thus, the backside looks more patchwork and the topside looks more thready. I can change that up in the future for better balance on both sides of the fabric. I can still use tulle or stabilizer for the top layer; I like the look of either and I think they both worked equally well.

This new fabric is soft, but stable. I think this could be used to make a Scrappy Cat, provided I didn’t have too many open spots. Wait. No. No open spots. Open spots mean you see the stuffing inside. No good. Shit. Okay, not good for Scrappy Cats. Good for something else? Sure. What? I don’t know. Yet. One thing at a time.

I think this Experimental: Stitchy Bits project is done. I have three successful ways to make bits and pieces into a new fabric (Scrappy style, with backer fabric, with stabilizer and spray only) and one way I definitely don’t want to use for this type of goal. I’m going to close this project, find something to do with the created samples and move on to the next experimentation project.

Feb 192015

A while back, the cats held a portion of their “tear through the house in a manic chase” game on our bed. Their claws are kept trimmed, but they were fast enough to tear a hole in our favorite, puffy comforter. As I laid in bed that same night, watching itsy bitsy fragments of down fluff catch the moonlight, I thought it would be funny to have a patch representing the cause of the rip to do the patching work. So, since cats had torn the comforter, I would make a cat-shaped patch to fix it up *. I finally got around to this over the weekend and here are the results.
Cat head patches.
This was a small project, but a satisfying one since it has been on my To Do list for over a year now. I went ahead and made a few, since they’ve played the game again with the same results since the first time. The noses are colored in softly with colored pencil (Polychromos!!) and the patches are backed with some of the recently mentioned Heat-N-Bond adhesive. Now I only have to get around to actually putting them on the comforter holes!

*Likewise, if a sharp box had caused the tear, a box patch. A stray pair of scissors would be a scissor patch. It could be cute, depending on what endangers your household items.

Feb 172015

After the initial experimentation for sewing bits together, I had a clear direction to try out. Despite that, I got rather off track with it, and might have to end this branch of experimentation for now. I’ll save it for another time with different goals.

Maker Talk (all the way):
Last time, I decided that one option to create a new fabric from bits of fabric trimmings, threads and ribbons, could be to put these on a meltable base fabric and heat it away later, after stitching. Since I work mostly with 100% cotton, I took an expensive trip to the local hobby store and purchased acrylic felt, acrylic velvet, and acrylic or polyester (don’t recall which) chiffon. The selection was quite limited and my color range was small because of this. Also, I bought every reasonable, meltable fabric the store carried – yes, only those three; I skipped the fleece, and anything that didn’t list its makeup.

This is my first misstep. Instead of using the meltable fabrics only as a base, I also used them as the bits. I blame the velvet for being so pretty and touchable. What I should have done was put down a meltable base, then my bits (which are almost all 100% cotton), and then maybe added one more meltable layer on the top. I didn’t do any of that.

Bits of meltable fabrics.
The cream background is acrylic felt, the shapes are all cut of velvet which was backed with Heat-N-Bond. Those of you readers with excellent memories might recall that I’d previously asseverated sewing through Heat-N-Bond, as warned against by the product printing itself. But, it was the product I bought for this project and I figured that some extra heat would help dissipate the thickness of the glue layer while still staying fused. Given the multiple layers and the desire to lessen the glue layers, I used a lot of heat. Not the highest heat, but a lot of it, on each layer and from any side I could reach with the iron. Would it have been easier to use a more lightweight product? YES. It would have, but I didn’t!
Being right before Valentines, I had hearts on my mind, so it is heart heavy.
Continue reading »

Feb 162015

Last year, I told you about the quilt I made for the CAG Easter show. I’ve already talked about the inspiration and creation, these are the better pictures I finally got around to taking. The only thing different is the bottom – I added the feather tassels. They weren’t on for the show since the rules said 2D only and the feather tassels were rather 3D.
Centzon Totochtin Quilt
The full view. Hmm. I should have pressed this. It has been rolled up since I got it back.

Centzon Totochtin Quilt
A closer view of the rabbit gods. I’m fond of these guys.

Centzon Totochtin Quilt
The colors went crazy here, but this is the embroidery on the borders – the stars on the chevron blocks. There are additional stars on the dividing bars and in the rabbit fields. There are 400 total, to match the 400 rabbit gods.

Centzon Totochtin Quilt
A feather tassel. You can barely see the attachment threads underneath it. I added these as a wave to the amazing and intricate feather art of the Aztecs. The Captain is a HUGE fan of these things – he can find them anywhere in the workshop!
Now that the photography is done, the tassels are enclosed in protection, then rolled up inside the quilt, which is being stored on a high shelf. No idea what I’ll do with it, now that the show it long over it doesn’t really have a purpose and the colors aren’t “me”, if you get me.

Feb 132015

Welcome to the last of five Art-O-Mat tutorials.

1. Making an Art-O-Mat box from a cereal box.
2. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, to size.
3. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, thickening to size.
4. Making identification placards for your art, with design discussion.
5. Discussions on ideas for your art and restrictions to content. (this post)

Making Art-O-Mat art

For anyone who wants to make Art-O-Mat or Wonderpull art.

You will need:

  • your wonderful sense of creativity
  • your reliable sense of practicality

Continue reading »

Feb 112015

This year, I’m trying to more clearly delineate the different types of creative work I do, so that I can make measurable progress the way I want to. Before, I did things haphazardly and that doesn’t work so well for progress. My categories are Productivity (actually making the projects that come up/are on my list/ catch my eye/whatever), Sketch (to draw, paint and whatever to visualize ideas), Praxis (focused practice exercises to improve a skillset), Experimentation (trying new ideas, techniques, different ways of doing things, using new or different materials, etc.) and Show (putting items in shows, in my Etsy shop, into swaps, etc.). This post is one of my Experiments.

Maker talk (all the way):
This particular line of thinking started forming up last year, when I was imagining Scrappy Cats. I wanted to devise a way to make use of the many tidbits of fabric, thread, and ribbon that collect in any sewing area. I thought that if I could find a way to get all the bits together on some sort of base, make them stay there for a short while for positioning, then FMQ (Free Motion Quilting) all over them to make their places permanent; I could essentially create new fabric from scrap bits. For the Scrappy Cats, I used a base fabric – mostly because I didn’t have time to play around and needed the structure to hold up to being made into a doll. Really, though, I wanted to see if I could make fabric from scraps only, no base fabric, only a new fabric comprised of bits and thread holding it together.

To reach this goal, I’m going to need to use some products to keep things together until the stitching part. On the Scrappy Cats, I used Elmer’s Glue, merely the regular, white, school glue that is on sale for $0.50 a bottle every fall. You don’t need much, so it lasts a long time; plus it works equally well watered down by about half so it stretches out, too. I know what you might be thinking, “glue?! On fabric? No way!”. Well, yes way. If you’re a sewist, you have a hot iron at your side. Put a dab of glue on your piece, stick it to your backing fabric and press that iron to it for a few seconds. The heat speed-dries the glue and you have a semi-permanent bond. You can usually pull the piece back off it you have messed up your placement and need to redo it. Yes, the glue will often leave a shiny, discolored spot that you can see through your fabric piece. However, Elmer’s Glue is water soluble AKA washable. You don’t even need soap, as far as I can tell, only water. Water dissolves the glue and the fabric piece is held on by the stitching you did over it. Note: If you own a Scrappy Cat and see a spot of glue I have missed on my cleanup round, wet it and rub it with your finger – that should get rid of it.

Alright, back to the experimentation. This is the first attempt. I kept a background fabric to start, because I didn’t want to try too many variables at once. After the rainbow spectrum projects I’ve had the past year, I had scrap bits of fabric in wide range of colors. I laid all these bits directly onto the background fabric – no glue, nothing, only fabric bits (rainbow color scraps, threads, ribbon) on the background fabric (in black broadcloth). Then, to try to keep it together, I laid sheets of Sulky Super Solvy water soluble stabilizer on top of it. [a new product for me] This stuff isn’t sticky, so I tried misting the base bits with water before laying down the sheet – to make the parts that touched water dissolve and stick a little. It helped, but it didn’t stick well at all. Basically, the stabilizer was just a layer on top of the bits.
Experimental bits of fabric.
This photo is with half the stabilizer laid on, so you can see the difference. On top of that, I added a layer of black tulle. Tulle is a fine net fabric. I used this to help keep the smallest pieces and threads captured in place once stitched. At this point, before stitching, I have four layers: background fabric, bits, stabilizer, tulle. None of these things are stuck to one another at all. This meant that while I handled and stitched it, bits were still moving and slipping around when they got the chance.

Experimental bits of fabric.
This is the finished experiment. This is post-stitching and post-washing to remove the stabilizer. You can see large breaks to the background where the red bits and the pink and fuchsia bits decided they didn’t like each other so well and scooted away from each other. While you can see the stitching (a simple grid in black thread) you can barely make out the tulle unless you get close. You can’t even see it in the bigger view of this photo (click to embiggen).

So, what do I think of this? I am … not impressed. Yet. This thing looks just like the thing I laid out. There is no transformation. This is not a greater thing than it started being. It looks exactly like bits of fabric stitched to a background, which it is. I need more.
To get rid of the background fabric, I could use a bottom layer of stabilizer, which would wash away once the stitching is done. But, the stabilizer is rather plasticy. I couldn’t get pins through it and had to handle it firmly to get it to stitch. If I don’t want to use that stabilizer, I could use a different one, like a fabric that could be burned or melted away. Acrylic felt will melt away and cotton will stay. [The lower temperature needed to melt acrylic is not hot enough to set cotton afire.] That could be messy. And smelly. Am I stuck with a background fabric? Maybe, for what I want. If I am stuck with it, I could make sure the bits completely cover it so you can’t see it (like I did with the Scrappy Cats). That might work.
The bits sticking issue. I could use glue again, but I think with bits this small it would get messy fast. The glue would be everywhere and that would include my iron. Of course, you can clean the iron, but while you’re using it it should be clean so it doesn’t pick up and stick other bits that shouldn’t be stuck or moved. The bits are too small to pin and that would be a huge PITA to put them in and take them out. Forget that. I could try one of those temporary adhesive sprays. I’ve read mixed reviews, but they aren’t too expensive to try out. Although, stitching through anything sticky like that (basting spray and Heat-N-Bond are two examples I’ve fought through) is difficult. It gums up the needle, which helps break threads. Potentially very frustrating, but I can still try it to find out. Experimentation is all about learning.

So, now I have two directions to head in. More to come!

Feb 112015

The last two days at work have kicked my ass! When I got home last night, I was unmotivated, unenergetic and didn’t want to do anything – even sit on the sofa and watch tv. Fortunately, a friend left a bottle of wine (in an extra-glittery bag) on my doorstep the other day. Now, we’re not big wine drinkers and usually bottles stack up in our pantry to gather dust, but I hadn’t stashed this one away yet, so it was fresh in my mind. A large glass of wine was the answer to my problems.

After half a glass and some music, I was already plowing through a project at a steady pace. When drinking and crafting, I avoid sharp objects (no block carving or advanced paper cutting), fire (no metal soldering), and such. Sewing is fine, so I got a lot of that done.

I’m going to try to catch up here on what I’ve been doing in the workshop. It has been mentioned that some of my blog posts are too long for people. I’ll break them up into multiple post sections, since it is all the same to me anyhow.

Feb 052015

Welcome to the fourth of five Art-O-Mat tutorials.

1. Making an Art-O-Mat box from a cereal box.
2. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, to size.
3. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, thickening to size.
4. Making identification placards for your art, with design discussion (this post)
5. Discussions on ideas for your art and restrictions to content.

Making Art-O-Mat Identification Placards

For anyone who wants to put their art in an Art-O-Mat or Wonderpull machine.

You will need:

  • paper or cardstock
  • paper cutting tool
  • measuring tool

Art-O-Mat Guidelines item 11 states: “Make a 2 X 2″ square placard to identify your column in the machine. This is the main interface between your art [and] the buyer. The message should be simple and clear. A brief description of your work and your name is a good place to start. Upon request, we can create placards if you are unable (or shy).”

2×2″ (50.8mm) squares are required with your batch of art for display in the machine, in place of the brand card back when they were cigarette machines.

Hit the jump for the full post!
Continue reading »

Feb 032015

The CAG (pronounced “shag”) February show’s theme is red and all entries must have some red in them. I went through a number of ideas before settling on this one, largely because of time. I still want to create the other two runner-up ideas, especially the one that doesn’t technically have red in it, but it will have to wait for a while.

Because of my career and a few unrelated neuropsychology classes, I am interested in the color vision process. I decided to create a simplified exploration of seeing color, specifically, seeing red, which the eyeball is pointed at in the border.
Seeing Red, small art quilt.
Seeing Red, art quilt
It is small, only about 26×20″, but I’m trying to improve on reigning in my creations from their extravagant ideals. Plus, the CAG is more used to having small pieces, like photographs and paintings, and my usual creations are much larger than they’re used to handling. You know, I think I might quilt the negative space when I get it back from the show. Some FMQ stipple would add some subtle texture to the whole thing. I like that idea.

The diagram is quite simplified. There are no labels, no chemicals, no mitochondrial notes, no discussion of the rod cell involvement. It is about color vision, and limited in that.

Back of Seeing Red, small art quilt.
The back is dead simple, since it will be hanging against a wall. Kept with the red theme. The sleeves at the top hold a dowel, with eye hooks screwed into the ends, and a wire between them for hanging; a fairly standard setup. My signature star is on the lower right in gray.

That’s it, all straightforward. Swing by the CAG if you’d like to see it in person. The red show should provide a good variety of art.

Maker talk: I added the visible color spectrum for not only the cone ranges, but as a sashing to brighten up the whole piece; to keep it from being TOO much like a diagram out of an old book, although I love diagrams out of old books. I didn’t bother to measure most pieces, just threw it together and that meant the long corners got cut in half. I can live with that. My stamping was sloppy, but that kept in line with the loose, thrown-together method I used. I willfully left in every mistake, mess-up, and misalignment that happened along the way. Trying to reinforce with myself that things don’t have to be perfect, even by my own standards. The feeling will be there even if it is crooked. That even fits the color vision process – we still don’t 100% know how it works. There are too many things that can’t be determined and in the end, it still works when circumstances say it shouldn’t. We don’t know it all and it is a bit messy.

ETA: someone asked how I got the sashing so square if I didn’t measure anything. The answer is that I used an iron-on interfacing printed with a square grid. It is usually the mainstay of watercolor quilters or pixel-mosaic quilters, to achieve the tiny, tiny squares they need. I bought a bunch for another project a few year ago, but ended up not using it. Now I keep it on a shelf, at eye-level, eagerly awaiting any chance (like this Seeing Red project) to use some yards as I can. So yes, I did use some measurements, but I let the grid do the heavy lifting for me.

Feb 022015

Welcome to the third of five Art-O-Mat tutorials.

1. Making an Art-O-Mat box from a cereal box.
2. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, to size.
3. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, thickening to size. (this post)
4. Making identification placards for your art, with design discussion
5. Discussions on ideas for your art and restrictions to content.

Making Art-O-Mat wood blocks thicker: from .75″ to .875″

For anyone who wants to put their 2D art on a wood block, but only has .75″ thick blocks to start.

You will need:

  • Wood, in .75″ thickness
  • wood or paper cutting tool
  • various paper or wood options, as noted below
  • sandpaper (optional)

Art-O-Mat Guidelines state that wood block final size should be 2 1/8″ x 3 1/4″ x 7/8″. In the last tutorial, we discussed how to cut down wood that is already at .875″ thickness. But, what if you have a garage full of .75″ scrap wood (hello, Sarcastra!) or can get free offcuts, or are really ambitious and want to have an entire sheet of MDF cut down so you can be in Art-O-Mat wood block supply for years. Maybe you want to take advantage of the many beautiful woods that are commonly sold in all lumber or hardware stores in .75″ thickness. Or, even neater, maybe you’re an actual official Art-O-Mat artist and you order your wood blocks from their site (as mentioned below).
Blocks: $29.00 (includes acetate and shipping). U.S. Only.
Photo by Art-O-Mat, 50 MDF blocks for sale to accepted Art-O-Mat artists.
(photo from Art-O-Mat, not me!!)
Those blocks are only .75″ thick, too.

The summary is that you’re missing a .125″ of thickness.
Ways to make thin blocks thicker.
The answer to all these situations is that you will need to use something to increase your block thickness. The two best options I can come up with are paper and wood. Let’s get to it.
Hit the jump! Continue reading »

Jan 312015

This took longer to get back to than I’d wanted, but we’re only a week off. Besides, I’m still not ready to start making my Art-O-Mat masterpieces, so I suppose there isn’t a big rush, eh?

1. Making an Art-O-Mat box from a cereal box.
2. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, to size. (this post)
3. Making an Art-O-Mat wood block, thickening to size.
4. Making identification placards for your art, with design discussion
5. Discussions on ideas for your art and restrictions to content.

Making Art-O-Mat wood blocks

For anyone who wants to put their 2D art on a wood block.

You will need:

  • Wood, in .875″ thickness
  • wood cutting tool
  • measuring tool
  • sandpaper (optional)

Art-O-Mat Guidelines state that wood block final size should be 2 1/8″ x 3 1/4″ x 7/8″. Inconveniently, .875″ thickness wood is not common, but it is definitely the fastest way to get to these measurements.

You CAN find wood in this thickness, although it is a small challenge. Home Depot right now sells kiln dried cedar at .875″ thickness, 6″ wide and 96″ long for $15.55 plus tax.
Home Depot cedar plank; picture from Home Depot website.
It is in the “appearance” section of lumber, alongside all sorts of things you could use to make an attractive cabin in the woods or luxury birdhouse. This is good, but that board will still have to be cut down: twice lengthwise, and 28 times across for each of those resulting two lengthwise strips. This is a total of 116 precisely cut edges, which is a small bit of fuss.* Slick was geared up to do some work in the garage, so he offered to make the cuts on our table saw for me. (Don’t forget to sand (if desired) before cutting – faster and easier in one piece.)

Table saw and cedar plank, in pieces.
[Cut pieces on left, pushers and guides on right.]
Lengthwise cuts are a good way to run the (small) risk of turning a plank into a table saw powered wood missile launch across the garage. If you’re okay with that risk, the whole plank will take you about ten minutes, including safety equipment donning time. If you don’t like the lengthwise cut / launching wood risk, you’ll need to cut every block twice and this will take you slightly over twenty minutes. Either way, this is a reasonable amount of time. And this is for one plank, yielding 58 blocks – if you don’t mess up any of them. If you want to do more in one session, you could make a jig to increase your ease and precision; meaning your time spent per block would decrease.
Hit the jump!
Continue reading »

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