Cedar Whistle

Handmade because you're worth it.


October 2016

Of Rust and Junk

th7cf7ezhsDid you ever stumble across a place that was closed then stumble back upon that same place during business hours?

This is the situation we found ourselves in Saturday afternoon travelling through Birdseye.

I had passed an old run down antique/junk store on the way to a turkey shoot in Schnellville a couple years ago.  The place was so full of treasures that you couldn’t even see in the windows.  I had always wanted to go back and check this place out and has luck would have it we were in the neighborhood this past weekend and the open sign was lit.  Amen.

My lovely wife and I had made the trek to Jasper to pick up a case of the finest smoked bacon in this part of the universe and decided to meander our way back home on quaint county and state roads instead of the interstate.  Maybe I had planned the route on the fly just to drive past the palace of rust on the way home but the world may never know.  Wink.

Think Hoarders meets American Pickers.  This place was stacked floor to ceiling and wall to wall with stuff.  From tools to lanterns and lawn mowers to clocks this guy had everything.  If he didn’t have it you don’t need it.  My first grab off the wall was this solid combination square.  Fair price at five dollars.  But surely this wasn’t all that I needed from this heap of stuff unlike I’ve seen for a few years.

20161030_180218  So then I asked for a specific item from the guy sitting on the stool in bib overalls and a local farm store hat.  “Hey man do you have any spoke shaves around here?”  His reply, “Yeah I believe we have one right over there.”  My thought was he knows he has ONE.  In all this chaos he knows this.  But to my surprise he points me to a pile along the wall near where I plucked the square off the wall.  “Should be right there or maybe a little to your right.”  Now he was just being a back seat driver.  After Desira and I dug for a minute he sauntered over to help dig for the object of my request.  And then like a prophecy he pulled the spoke shave from the abyss.

20161030_180146We made it out of the treasure chest and only spent twenty-two bucks.  Not to bad but if I had more cash on hand that total could have easily rose to triple digits.

The store is run by a husband and wife team.  An older couple who seemed very nice and were friendly.  We chatted about carboys and wine.  And bacon since that was the reason for the trip.  They turned us on to another meat processor in the area to try and we may in the future.  If we decide to try the other bacon you can bet that trip will involve a stop by this cathedral of cast iron.

Thanks for reading.  Be good.  God bless.


Get Comfortable With Comfrey

20160425_155447Can a salve made from comfrey help speed the healing of small superficial cuts, scraps, bruises and even small bone fractures?

For thousands of years this plant, a member of the Borage family, has been known to do just that.

While not always used or made into a salve it has been used on these ailments to great effect.  Typically the leaves were crumbled up into a poultice and placed on the wound to speed healing.  I find the salve easier and more comfortable to use since the leaves have an annoying prickly surface that is irritating to the skin for some people.

Before I proceed with how I make this salve I have some caveats.  I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV.  Comfrey is frowned upon by the government.  In fact it is outlawed for internal use.  DO NOT EAT THIS PLANT.  While many people make weak teas with it I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS PRACTICE.  The reason for the concerns are compounds called alkaloids.  These compounds are KNOWN IN LARGE AMOUNTS BE A CONTRIBUTOR TO CAUSING LIVER CANCER.  The studies done with comfrey were on rats.  They were given a large portion of their diet in dried comfrey roots and a number of the rodents developed liver cancer.  I do not personally ingest this plant and I do not suggest by writing this article that you ingest it either. Since alkaloids accumulate over time in the body it is not recommended that you use the leaves or this salve for more than ten days at a time nor on deep cuts.  Do your own research before handling, ingesting, making or using the salve I will describe later in this article.

The compound that makes comfrey so effective is called allantoin.  It contains other things as well that help skin cells to regenerate rapidly but allantoin is the main one.  Allantoid is often found in commercially bought skin creams but it doesn’t seem as effective as when it is used from the comfrey plant.  I believe the combination of chemicals in the plant make the allantoid more effective than if used by itself.  Before applying the salve to any wound be sure to thoroughly clean the wound as comfrey will speed up the skin growth to the point of the skin growing over the dirt left in the affected area. This could cause an infection so don’t forget this important step in the healing process.  Now how do you make this salve you may ask?

Begin by picking a handful (5 or 6 leaves) of comfrey and cutting it coarsely and putting it in a sauce pan.

20161010_165753_1477228075537Next cover the comfrey leaves with just enough olive oil to submerge them.  Then heat on low for about an hour.  You do not want to boil the leaves.  After the oil is warm just allow the leaves to steep in the oil to extract their beneficial skin healing compounds.

After the leaves and oil warm for an hour strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the leaves.  Put the oil back in the pan over low heat and melt in organic bee’s wax.  After the wax is melted put a small amount (about a tablespoon) in a bowl, allow it to cool and check to see if it is the consistency you want.  If it’s too oily add a little more wax and if it’s to stiff and doesn’t spread on the skin well add a little more oil to the pan and test again.  I found a couple tablespoons of wax per cup of oil is about right for me.  Finally after you get the consistency right ladle it into jars and start enjoying the skin healing effects of comfrey salve.

Thanks for reading.  Be good.  God bless.

Table of the Dogs

20161018_193609Every project usually starts with a variation of the words “you know what would be a good idea.”  This dog grooming table was no different.  With the oppressing Ohio Valley heat and humidity bearing down on us as we groomed our Giant Schnauzers on a patio table these words crossed the lips of my mouth with ease.  A grooming table in the basement would be nice right about now.  The AC blowing through our hair (her hair, I’m bald) instead of this sticky almost non existent breeze.  So the brain storming began.

The first consideration for this project was the size of the table top.  You see Giants are a fairly large dog.  Ours are nearly 75 pounds each and about three feet tall at the head.  Our girl Giant is fairly long for the breed so that was a consideration as well.  I scrounged around the shop looking for the quarter sheet of half-inch plywood left over from another project, found it, and settled on that being about the right size for Giant trimming.

Next I took a 2×4 and made a box frame around the edges of the plywood to help give it strength and something to attach the legs to.  The legs are simple 4×4’s cut to twenty-five inches on the chop saw and screwed in to place through the frame.  I then cut some reinforcing braces out of some scrap 2×4’s, clamped them into place and secured them to the legs for even more stability.  This may seem like a lot of reinforcing but the Giants can get rowdy so I don’t think this is overkill.

After I had the table legs secure I flipped it over and stapled the carpet onto the top.  Then it was to the drill press to punch holes into the tubes that would support the head of the dog as they are groomed.  These square tubes are steel, one eighth inch thick and four feet long.  I secured both tubes together and clamped them to the press table with C clamps.  The holes are for the bolts to secure the tubes to the table and for the eye bolt to secure the dog collars to.

Next I secured the tubes to the table using 5/16 inch by 2 inch long bolts with a nut and lock washer on each one.  I secured the eye bolt with a nut on the inside of the tube and a locking nut on the outside.  The tubes seem very secure to the table but we will see if they can stand up to the rigors of holding a tired of being groomed Giant.

Lastly I had some trim lying around from a previous project that I built for my lovely wife.  I cut it to size and secured it to the top edge of the table to give it a clean finished look.  Since this is a strictly utilitarian piece and will never leave the basement I’m not sure it will get a finish put onto it.

Not only is this table going to make summer cutting nice it will also be used in the depths of winter to groom as well.  I built this thing with about 85% out of things I already had or scrap pieces lying around.  I had to buy the steel tubes, the nuts and bolts and one two by four.  Here is a material list for this grooming table:

  • One quarter sheet of half-inch plywood
  • Two 4×4’s
  • Two 2×4’s
  • a yard of low pile carpet
  • a box of 2 and a half-inch Phillips head wood screws
  • Four 2 inch by 5/16 inch bolts
  • Four 5/16 inch nuts and 5/16 lock washers
  • Two 1/8 steel square tubes (3/4 inch square by four feet long)
  • Two 8 inch long eye bolts with two extra locking nuts
  • Staples for carpet

So now in the driving snow or the blazing inferno heat our Giants will not have to look like black bears because of the elements outside.  And I think Capone would agree that this is a good thing.


Thanks for reading.

Be good.

God bless.








Get Your Blade In

th2qyaoi47In my last post I talked about securing your pattern to your stock.  In this one I will talk a little bit about where to drill your blade entry holes and some basic info about cutting out your pattern.

Getting your holes drilled would be best done with a drill press.  But if you don’t have one (I didn’t for a long time) then a hand drill or Dremel tool will work just fine.  Sometimes if your work piece is fairly large you will have to drill it by hand anyway.

You first want to use a drill bit that is just big enough for your scroll saw blade to fit through.  Going with a really big bit can tear out the back of your work and if you are not drilling straight down the hole will be crooked and can alter the path of your saw blade when you are scrolling.

Secondly you want these holes drilled into the waste area of your pattern.  That sounds like common sense but on an intricate pattern you must be careful and make sure of this.  I know from experience how much grief this mistake can cause.

You next want to drill these entry holes fairly close to the lines.  Drill these en10646977_287236304814656_2689236758948437778_ntry points right on or in corners and very close to the outline of circles if there are no corners.  This serves two purposes.  First it makes your sanding easier later on because you will not have small jagged pieces of wood hanging out from where you sawed over to your line and where your cut ended at that same spot.  Secondly by drilling close to your line you reduce the wear on your saw blade by not having to saw as much.

The project shown here is fairly complex.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d say it’s a 6.  Scrolling any type of fret work like this is a little time-consuming because of the number of times you have to remove and reinsert the blade into your work piece.  I believe I was cutting three of these at a time.  Each one a quarter inch thick.  You do not want to cut too many or any one piece thicker than this because you want to be able to control the blade in the wood.  By that I mean you don’t want to have to put a lot of pressure on the blade.  You want the blade cutting at a 90 degree angle on these intricate pieces. You want to make sure the piece remains in firm contact with the table to avoid excessive vibrations on the piece as this could cause the delicate cuts to break.

After you are done scrolling you will need to carefully remove the tape and pattern from the piece.  I usually cut along the edge to separate the individual pieces then work on the top one to clean it up.  Lay the work flat on the bench and work slowly.  If small pieces of tape tear off and stay stuck to the work gently pick them off with an Exacto knife or similar tool.  I have ruined an hours worth of work by pulling a piece of wood out of the work along with the tape.

After the tape is removed you can lightly sand the work while it lies on a flat surface.  I usually only sand it once with a fine grit paper. You can finish it however you like.  I found with these intricate portraits I like a high gloss spray finish.  I typically cut things into an 8×10 size because the frames are readily available.  Maybe in a future post I’ll explore how to make tour own picture frame.  It’s easier than you think.

Most of all have fun doing this.  It is frustrating when you break a piece you worked on for a good chunk of time but in the end you get to spend more time in the shop redoing it.  And that isn’t a bad thing.

Thanks for reading.  Be good.  God bless.

Get Your Pattern On

thw1396werSome of the coolest things I have ever seen cut on a scroll saw have been cut using a pattern.  While sometimes I’ll just sketch right on the surface of the wood there are many instances where a customer wants something more intricate that would be to time-consuming to draw free hand.  That’s when I employ a good pattern.

Patterns are readily available online or in a trade magazine that I frequently pick up off the news stand.  One of my favorite sources is a company called Wooden Teddy Bear. Their selection is impressive and their prices are competitive.  But a lot of patterns are open source and there is software available to make your own out of your own photos.  Very cool indeed.

After you have found the pattern you want to use and the wood stock to use it on the work begins of attaching it to the wood.   The method I use is as follows:

  1. Lightly sand the surface of the wood and remove the dust with a soft brush or air hose.
  2. Apply a good quality painters tape to the wood.  Make the strips of tape long enough to wrap around the edges of the wood and onto the back of it.
  3. If your pattern is printed on a sheet that is much larger than the pattern itself trim off the excess paper.
  4. Place your pattern face down on some cardboard and apply an adhesive to the back.  I use an Elmer’s spray adhesive.  Any spray glue will work just make sure to liberally coat the pattern all the way to the edges.
  5. Carefully pick up the pattern and place it on the taped side of your wood stock.
  6. Use a rubber roller to press the pattern flat onto the stock.
  7. Allow the glue to dry completely before drilling and scrolling on your project.  I usually wait about 20 minutes or so.

I have seen the pattern glued directly to the wood but I always felt that would make the cleaning and sanding much more difficult after the cutting was done.  I prefer taping over just about any other way I have seen patterns applied and probably always will especially on things with small intricate designs.

In the next article I will talk about drilling the blade entry holes and cutting your work out of your pattern.

Thanks for reading.  Be good.  God bless.


Automation Nation


 “Ultimate automation will make our modern industry as primitive and outdated as the stone age man looks to us today.”

Wood working for centuries has been a hands on sport.  There was nothing a skilled craftsman and a little elbow grease couldn’t create.  Even with the brilliant discovery of electricity and the invention of power tools it still took a skilled hand to maneuver those implements over the wood.  Now we have awesome computers guiding tools over the wood but is that a good thing for our craft?

In some ways I believe it is.  It still takes a skilled mind to conjure up great creations to be programmed into these machines.  It makes the time-consuming tasks of yesterday a lot more expedient.  It makes these nice wood pieces available on a massive global scale.   But since I don’t have the budget for this high-end automation in my shop is it good for me?

In some ways I believe it is.  The want for hand crafted pieces will never lose its appeal.  The scarcity of these hand-made items means economically they are more valuable.  Typically quality hand-made heirlooms are handed down to children or grandchildren.  And the sheer joy I get from crafting these things could never be replaced by watching a machine do the work.

Looking at the bigger picture of automation and its advance into our everyday lives I think that it’s a good thing as well.  Most of us carry a small computer around in our pockets with more computing power than the ship that put us on the moon.  We have self driving cars coming to the main stream in the very near future.  We have computers carving wood.

Does it have a downside?

In some ways it most definitely does.  This automation will eliminate jobs on a fairly large-scale.  I don’t believe any sector is safe.  Automation already writes algorithms for engineers and a lot of the articles in the nations major newspapers are written by artificial intelligence.  Self driving cars will have a large impact on the way we move people and goods.  They will also affect the revenue of cities and states.  The auto driving car will not speed or run red lights.  It will not roll through stop signs and it will tell you if you have a light out.  These small infractions add up to big revenue for a lot of jurisdictions and the addition of auto cars could take a bite out of that cash flow.

I say fasten your seat belts for this ride over the next decade or two.  It could get bumpy but it will definitely be exciting.

Thanks for reading.  Be good.  God bless.


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