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The Workshop

Adjustable Hexagon Jig

We work on quite a few projects that require us to cut multiple accurate hexagons with minimum waste, the first one we made was for a fixed size which worked fine but it was a lot of hassle to change the size when we needed to so we set about creating an adjustable jig for the bandsaw.

Bandsaw Hexagon Jig

This basic guide on how to make this jig applies to both the tablesaw version and the bandsaw version we have used the tablesaw for this because we had not got a jig for it

Materials

As far as materials go we used what we had lying around but below is a short list of what we used

  • a board big enough to serve as a base for your saw, plywood or mdf is fine
  • 1 or two lengths of hardwood or plastic to serve as runners for your mitre slot
  • 12mm ish plywood or mdf to serve as the fence and track
  • a length of T track (this is purely optional but does not wear as much as forming the slot with wood
  • 6mm perspex (again optional you could use wood and get the same result)
  • A couple of pinch clamps for T track (again they can be made from wood or plastic)

The Base

To construct the base first cut you board to fit your saw, then cut some runners to fit your mitre slots these can be made with either a hardwood or plastic and need to be tight enough so not to rattle from side to side but not so tight the bind as you run them along you mitre slot, they also need to fit just below the surface of your saw.

you will need one or two of these depending on your saw if you can use two slots it is better for accuracy.

Fitting these is relatively simple place a few washers that are the same thickness in your mitre slot these need to be thick enough to raise your runner just above your saw table, fit your runners into you mitre slots and put a few drops of wood glue on the top surface of the runners no too much as you don’t want any squeeze out using you fence as a guide place you base board on top of the runners and put a weight on top of it and leave until the glue cures.

When fitting the base try to go as far left of your blade as you slots allow because anything right of the blade will not be used for cutting

Once the glue has cured remove the jig from the saw and turn it upside down and secure in place with screws remember to countersink these as they need to be just below the surface. before going any further its good practice to check the fit sand them lightly until they run smoothly in your slot and then apply some wax to the runners this will help them slide freely in the slot

The Fence

At this point the best way to progress is to place you base on your saw located in the mitre slot and make a cut to roughly the center of the board, we can then use this cut to set the correct angle for the fence

The correct angle for cutting hexagons is 60 Degrees

First I secured the left hand side of the T track to the base and then using a digital angle gauge I rotated the T track until it matched the angle and then secured the T track along its length ,

Don’t worry too much if you don’t have an angle gauge as this can be done using a protractor either way it is very important to take your time and get the angle correct.

if you are not using T track then simply set the front board at the correct angle and then set a second board 19 mm behind the front board to form a slot.

The next stage for me was fitting the front or waste board, in my case it is a 50 mm wide strip of 12 mm plywood this just gets screwed down in front of the T track ensuring you do not place any screws in the path of the blade.

At this point we are pretty much done with the base, I added more boarding behind the T track for attaching a self adhesive tape measure to, and at some point I will route a handle into its surface to make it easier to pull back the jig after making a cut.

The completed Base

The Fence

This consists of another piece of plywood the same thickness as the waste board. The dimensions of which will vary from jig to jig, This needs to be cut with a right angle on one end the other end is down to personal preference, this I have secured this to the T Track using a 6 mm piece of perspex ( this could be any thickness of wood or rigid plastic you may have to hand ) again the critical point is the angle this needs to be at 90 Degrees to the waste board

The perspex is secured to the T track using pinch clamps I have cut out a little pointer on the end of the perspex to work with the self adhesive tape to be fitted after I have done a few test cuts,

Note: Its better to fit the perspex or wood to the t track before screwing it to the Plywood that way you can correct any error you may have got when drilling the holes for the clamp screws.

Using the jig

To use this jig and not get a lot of waste we create blanks sized to suit the hexagon required, for example if we want to cut a hexagon with a side length of 50 mm we cut a blank that is 100 mm long by 86.6 mm wide ( see downloadable table for more sizes )

Once you have created the blank we need to setup the jig to cut that blank the easiest way I have found to date is to draw a line longways down the center of the blank, in the above example that would be at 43.3 mm.

then place the blank on the jig and slide it towards the blade ( with the machine switched off! ) until the inside edge of the cut slot in the base lines up with the center line on the blank, secure the locking screws on the T track we then proceed to make the first cut, once this has been done we flip the blank so that the bottom of the blank now become the top and we make the second cut once completed we again flip the blank but this time end to end so the uncut end faces the blade again we make the two cuts flipping it upside down halfway through.

at this point we should have a hexagon but I would measure the sides to ensure they are indeed 50 mm, quite often you will have to adjust the jig a couple of times until you get the correct measurement.

for me at this point I will be setting my self adhesive tape in place with the pointer pointing to the 100 mm mark from that point on you can use the tape measure on the jig for set up.

Afterthoughts

Not a fantastic how to but I hope it is enough for people to build their own I will be adding to and editing this guide over the next few days and I will upload a video of the jig in use,

On this version I will be adding a toggle clamp to secure the work piece although I have found it is not required when using the other jig on the bandsaw.

Feel free to leave me a comment on your thoughts on this, or any suggestions on how it could be improved.

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Categories
The Workshop Tools

Fixing Pyrography or Woodburning Mistakes

Hello! I’m Kez from Spirit & Bear, and we are going to be giving you some tips on fixing your Pyrography or woodburning mistakes.
Wood burning is so much fun, but if you new to Pyrography then it can be a little daunting.
So here is a list of helpful wood burning tips, that will help get you started!


A fine grit sand paper is a very popular way to remove unwanted burns but I find you have limited control on small areas and the sand paper can push the carbon into areas you don’t want dark. 

I tend to use a stick with a small piece of sticky sandpaper over the top. This can wear the sandpaper quite quickly though.

Blade or knife & a sandpaper on a tapered stick.

Another way for Fixing Pyrography or Woodburning Mistakes is by using a craft knife or blade and gently scraping the burn away.
You have to be gentle and patient with this method, and don’t push into the surface of the wood. You simply scrape over the burn repeatedly to get your desired shape, or to completely remove the burn. This is by far the most effective way, but it takes time and practice.

So take your time and practice.. practice… practice!

I will be adding more short videos to this series of tips and tricks with woodburning.
You can find us on Instagram at Spirit & Bear for any updates on new blog post.

Categories
The Workshop

Making Load spreaders for woodworking clamps

Load spreaders for woodworking clamps:

Today I wanted to show you these, we call them Load spreaders and they are super simple to make.
The question i can hear you asking ” What do you use them for?”

Well…… They are a scrap piece of HDF flooring with a magnet inserted and glued in one side and what they do is magnetize to the metal clamps.

So when we are gluing up pieces of wood they attach to the insides of clamps and this prevents getting an indentation in the piece we are working on.

They are most useful when putting your clamps upside down because they just don’t fall off!

I used the table saw to take off the tongue-and-groove part of the wood and used the small cross cut sled to cut the smaller pieces. I cut these at 50mm wide and 80mm tall. I’ve found that this is the perfect size for the clamps we use.

Next I used the belt sander just to round the corners, there isn’t any particular reason for this other than i like them like that 🙂 but if you prefer to leave them with square corners than that’s absolutely fine.

After I finished sanding the corners, I used the pillar drill to drill the holes in the center of the wood. I haven’t drilled all the way through only enough for the magnet to sit flush. Although i did drill a couple too deep :-/

Then I used a 2 part Epoxy to glue in the magnets, the ones that I had drilled too deep, the magnets started to tip side ways so i used a piece of grease proof paper and a spring clamp to hold the magnet in the correct position.
The grease proof paper just stopped the clamp sticking to the Epoxy.



Categories
The Workshop Workshop Resources

Wood burning for beginners.

Hello! I’m Kez from Spirit & Bear.
In this blog post I’m going to run thorough a few of the basics of wood burning for beginners. I get asked lot of questions about what tools to use, and what types of woods are the best for pyrography. I will also share with you how to prepare your wood, and safety gear.

Wood Burning Kits

“Which wood burner should i use?”
This has to be the question i get asked the most, and to be honest an inexpensive one like the Weller hobbyist kit from Amazon will do perfectly fine.
They are great for getting used to the heat and the different types of wood, and come with a range of tips too.

Starter kits.

There are many wood burners on the market, ranging from £10 for Aldi specials, up to the £500 mark for a professional burner. You don’t ever have to upgrade to a professional burner. There is some amazing pieces of work done with a basic burner. I have both basic and professional tools and use them both on a regular basis but it all comes down to personal preference.

Basic Weller wood burner.

The basic burners don’t get quite as hot as the professional burners. Some of them don’t come with a temperature control either. With practice you can still achieve the same results, its just not as fast and you have to take your time. Just take your time to experiment with your burner and tips to find out what works best for you.

Remember to be careful when screwing your tips in and out when the burner is hot. Its possible to cross thread the burner which means you wont be able to put another tip in. I’d advise that you wait until your burner is cold before changing the tips over.

Remember to try out your tips before you start any big projects. It always helps to have some scraps to test on before you burn your best piece. You can use the scrap wood to test the heat of the tips and practice your techniques before you burn onto your project.

Professional burners.

Optima 1 professional wood burner.

The more professional burners have more options. They also have interchangeable pens that can been brought separately. There is wide selection The professional burners heat up and cool down a lot quicker than the basic ones. The Optima takes around 5 seconds. Where as the basic Weller one can take several minutes to heat up or cool down.

Everyone has their own tip preferences, so make sure you try them out. Below are 2 of my favourite tips. The Small Spoon shader on the left and the Small ball point on the right.

Left- Razertip small spoon shader
Right – Optima small ball point stylus


There are many other professional burners on the market so pick one that suits you.
Peter child
Razor Tip
Optima 1

Types of wood.

MDF

Saftey Tip No 1:

Don’t burn on Medium Density Fibreboard or MDF as its commonly known as! It is extremely dangerous and releases toxins from the chemicals in it, when burnt.

Saftey Tip No 2:

Don’t burn on any wood that has been treated or has any kind of finish on it. This can also release chemicals that can be toxic when inhaled.

Popular woods to burn.

There are many different woods to choose from. So I’m just going to list a few common woods that are easily accessible from your local craft, or hardware shops. Just remember there is no ‘best’ wood to burn on, it all comes down to personal preference.

Pine

Pine is one of the least expensive, and easiest to find to start you off. Just bear in mind that with a wide grain pattern it can be a little tricky to navigate the burns. (especially straight lines)

Birch

Birch is a great to burn on, and often sold as birch slices. The colour is nearly white, which makes the burns stand out and the grain pattern is straight or slightly wavy. The end grain has nearly no colour distinction between the growth rings. There for has a uniform appearance. This makes it easier to navigate the burns.

Hard Maple

Hard maple has a very light colour, it ranges from a nearly white colour to an off white cream colour. The grain is generally straight but can be a bit wavy and has a fine even texture. This is makes it easy to work with when wood burning.

This list could go on and on, there are so many more woods that you can burn, but just remember! It all comes down to what you prefer. So try a few different woods and find the one you like best.

Preparing the wood surface.

Before you start burning your wood been sure to sand it first. Going down the sand paper grits to a 320 will ensure you have a nice smooth work surface. This just helps your burning tool to glide over the wood with ease. You can take it down the grits further if you wish. If you prefer to go down the grits further then by all means, go for it! You do wants best for you. Personally I find 320 is enough for any projects that I do. Then all you need to do is just wipe it over with a cloth and your ready to go.

Safety equipment

Before you start burning you may want to invest in some safety equipment. Gloves are a good thing to have handy. When you are burning your wood the pen on the wood burner gets hot.

A reliable respirator mask that is designed to seal out toxic smoke. The filters in the masks can be for different things, so be sure to check that the mask you buy is for smoke.

A fan is also something that is handy to have. You can put it next to your working area and the fan pulls the smoke away from you and blows it out. I use a 320mm computer fan mounted onto a wooden base. I generally use it near my workshop door so it pulls the smoke away from me and blows it towards the door.

Summary

Remember safety first and Use your safety equipment!
Have fun and experiment with different woods types. A selection pack from your local craft shop to practice on may be an idea if you don’t have a lot of different woods to hand.
You don’t need an expensive wood burner to start with, an inexpensive one will do just fine.
And last of all …..practice ….. practice ….. practice … while having fun, of cause, it doesn’t have to be perfect because there is no ‘right’ way to make art, only your own way! 🙂

Categories
Workshop Resources

Hexagon Calculator

This is a great little app for calculating the size of material whe you need to create a hexagon of a particular size, just enter the dimension you know and it will calculate the remainder.

This is especially useful for working out material size needed when making multiples to reduce waste.

for example:-

if we need to create a hexagon with a side length of 40mm we would use the calculator to work out we need a piece of material 69.28 mm wide ( flat to flat) by 80 mm long (point to point), then to finish the hexagon we just make two cuts at each end at 60 degrees.

Hexagon Calculator
Categories
The Workshop

Woodwork Bench Vise From Scrap

Home made wood work vise

I have needed a vise for woodwork for sometime and having made a new bench I thought it was time to take a look at what I could make without spending too much.

this may not be the best of guides as I lost a lot of the pictures that should have been included but you should get the idea

1: Materials

  • Two Lengths of Hardwood for the jaws
  • two lengths of hardwood for the mounts
  • vise screws,handles and threaded fittings from a scrap workmate
  • two lengths of steel bar diameter to suit the vise (stainless steel would be better)
  • two metal pieces of flat metal (steel or aluminium is fine)
  • two blots that fit the threaded fittings from the workmate ( mine were 8 mm)
  • screws to mount the vise and fit the metal plates

2: Joints and Layout

the first step is to decide what joint to use to join the mounts to the rear or fixed jaw, this could be a halflap joint or as in my example a mortise and tenon joint.

I started this by creating a tenon on both the mounting pieces, followed by marking the mortise on the fixed jaw so that the top of the jaw would be flush with the top of the bench, while marking this out it’s a good idea to extend the mortise center line passed the mortise a little way towards the center so the holes for the vise screw are centered with the mounts.

With the mortises cut to fit the tenons we need to drill the two holes for the vise screws to pass through, you will need to measure the fittings to find the center for the hole as they vary between brands.

with the holes in the fixed jaw drilled clamp the front jaw to the fixed jaw and drill the front jaw through the fixed jaw so the holes align.

once drilled remove from the fixed jaw and enlarge the holes so the flared section of the vise screw can pass through comfortably (don’t make it too tight or the flared section of the vise screw will bind against the jaw during operation).

3: Metal Plates and Fittings

it’s now time to turn our attention to the fittings.

for the vise to operate we need two metal plates with one hole in the center for the vise screw to pass through and at least 2 mounting holes, these can be either mounted on the front of the vise or recessed so the plate is flush with the front surface of the vise depending on your personal choice, I chose to recess mine but could have done a better job of it.

With the metal plates fitted, and the mounts push fitted into the mortises put the vise screws through the fixed jaw and wind the vise screws all the way into the threaded fittings removed from the workmate, then place your front jaw in position, you should now be able to mark the center line for the fixing bolt through the rear mount.

at this point once assembled you would have a working vise but it would bind up very easy and the jaws would not stay inline very well, to combat this I added the two steel bars to act as guides the ones i chose to use were 16 mm plain steel which used to be a axle taken from an old sack truck (stainless steel would be better), these i have placed on the outer edges of the vise with one end fixed to the front jaw using epoxy resin and the other end passing through the fixed jaw

4: Assembly

with all the parts made it’s time to assemble

Apply you preferred wood glue to the tenons of the mounts and fit to the fixed jaw once dry you can further reinforce the joint by adding dowels from the bottom should you choose

fix the guide bars to the front jaw using epoxy resin and leave to cure, once cured (usually over night) you can complete the assembly of the vise then all’s left to do is apply your favourite finish and fit to your bench

5: Improvements

bearing

While this vise is working very well for me I think it could open and close a little smoother so I have ordered some bearings as in the picture above these are used on cnc machines and can be picked up from ebay quite cheaply, these I will fit them into the fixed jaw for the guide bars to pass through.

6: Conclusion

My Workbench

Once again my apologies for the lack of pictures but I hope this helps someone to build their own.

The hardwood used in this project was from a machine pallet, the vise screws were from an old workmate and the guide bars were an axle from a sack truck so this cost me nothing to build and 100% recycled

Categories
The Workshop

Custom wooden drink coasters

Custom Wooden drinks coasters can add a personal touch to any room, but you don’t want just any old coasters, you want the perfect ones for your home! If you looking for drink coasters you’ll want some that are personal to you and your home.
Personalise them with any message, names, dates, joke or whatever you want!

Custom drink coasters are both striking and elegant, and of course personal to you. Weather your a fan of hot or cold beverages, everyone will have somewhere to safely place their drink.

Beautiful personalised wooden drinks coasters really do make a special & thoughtful gift. So for those very special occasions such as, anniversaries, wedding gifts, housewarming, or any other special event, just remember personalised drinks coasters just might be the best gift choice.

Find us on Instagram http://www.instagrm.com/spiritandbear

Categories
The Workshop

Easy Home made T slots for jigs

Easy Homemade T-Slot for jigs.

 

I started to make a new small cross cut sled for my table saw the other day and decided to make the t slot directly in the fence rather than buying a aluminium one,

with that in mind I decided to write this little article to show people just how easy they are to make. this method can be used to make slots in jigs or to make a track to install in a jig.

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The Workshop

The building of the workshop

We all have to start somewhere.

For the workshop we started as most projects do with a budget you know that amount of money you have to do the job that is always that little bit less than you need, in our case it limited the size of the workshop to 20′ long x 12′ wide and a ceiling height 8′ being 6 foot 5 I did not want a low ceiling.