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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Rocking Tractor

My latest work is this Rocking Tractor. Now the plans for this tractor, which I bought at are actually for a riding tractor. I use a rocker assembly from a different pattern to make a rocker out of it. With so many tractor fanatics around my area, I wanted a rocking tractor to add to my line of rocking toys, but could not for the life of me find one I was happy with. So I found a tractor pattern I was happy with and just added the rocker.
The green color on this one is made using Green Tea tinted water based stain. The yellow and black is painted. The rocker assembly I used Bulls Eye Shellac on.
As some people know, I never make two rockers the same. This one as well has a few hard to notice changes. The tractor body is a little wider. The hitch at the rear was eliminated because, being on a rocker, I only seen it as something for a child to get hung on. I eliminated the stowaway area under the seat in exchange for more support blocks. The exhaust pipes on top is offset instead of center.
The biggest change to this though, over the last tractor I built, is the rocker assembly. I have actually done this on the last few rockers I done. I don't know if anyone noticed. Most rocker designs have anywhere from two inch to six inch spaces between slats on the rocker assembly. Well, I was sitting in the shop one day with a cup of coffee looking at all my rockers, and something just didn't set well with me. About that time, I though about how clumsy my kids can be at times and those spaces on the rocker assemblies just jump out at me as major safey hazards. So, from now on, no more spaces between rocker slats. While I want to make my rocking toys as nice as possible, one of my most important priorities is also to be absolutely sure that I've done all I can to make them as safe as I can for little ones.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Buford The Bull

This is Buford The Bull. He is made of cottonwood. The black spots are painted with water based, non-toxic paint. He is then coated with shellac. The rocker assembly is stained with Minwax Polyshades Pecan. If you'd like to build one of these yourself, head on over to and check out some of the plans you can order from there. I have ordered a lot of plans from there and have never been disappointed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


With my email box being filled with them daily and my phone ringing on a regular basis from my long lost cousins in the UK or Nigeria wanting to help me get my billions of dollars, I thought my woodworking was free from scammers. I found out recently that I was wrong. Those cockroaches will find a way to infiltrate every aspect of your life.
It has come to my attention about the scams being run on woodworkers around the world and it just makes me sick. I hope anyone who reads this understands that if the art of woodworking is to survive, there has to be some form of integrity to it. To me, one of the joys of my hobby is that there are no real shortcuts. There is no way to sand wood without touching it with some type of sandpaper. Now, your choice of application of that sandpaper is virtually endless, but sandpaper is still the only way to sand.
The same holds true for patterns. The only way to get good quality patterns is to seek them out and pay for them. There are no shortcuts. So why would some people fall for the latest scam of buying thousand of plans for a low low price of whatever. First of all, I don't want or need thousands of plans. I don't create projects because they are what I have, whether bought on one of these scam disks or bought individually. Unless I have some type of custom order on hand, I build whatever I desire to build at any given time. Furthermore, anyone who falls for this crap needs to remember the old saying that most of our mothers or grandmothers told us, if it's too good to be true, well, it probably is.
Next, anyone who thinks that buying something like this is a good idea, please think about it like this. Do you work hard on your woodwork? Do you ever have any ideas on your own? Do you make little changes to patterns to make them more of your own style? If any of the previous questions apply to you, how would you like someone to bundle up those ideas, without any permission or compensation to you, and sell them on a disk with thousands of other ideas they stole from other woodworkers?
In my shop, I have a filing cabinet. That cabinet is filled with probably thousands of dollars worth of plans if you figure in all the ones I've bought individually and the magazines I have bought with plans in them. Do I have any plans that I got for free? I sure do. I've got plans that were offered on certain designer's websites that were simple in nature that were meant to tease me into buying some of their better plans of projects with more detail. It usually worked because the free plan that was offered was still good enough to catch my attention to that particular designer. The point is though, that to get the good patterns that I craved, I had to pay for them. The reason for this is that good plans take time and skill to produce. I wouldn't do that for free and I don't expect nobody else to either.
I have also had to rebuy some plans. Why? Because the plans were so good that I build enough of that item to wear out the plans. I know it may not me the best way to preserve plans, but I like to use carbon paper and trace my plans straight onto the wood. This wears the pattern out over time to where it is no longer useable. In that case, I buy another copy of the plan. I feel that in that scenerio, if there is a plan that is that good, then the designer deserve the extra compensation of me buying it more than once. The same holds true that if a customer like something I build so much to want two of them. If they want two, I want them to pay for two.
Now, I have talked about the moral reasons not to buy into this scam, but what about the savings? I have talked at length with a few people that did buy it. How much are you really saving if you buy junk? Every single person I have talked to about their buying this, not a single one, NOT ONE, was happy with their purchase. It is filled with plans of such inferior quality that no respectable woodworker would find them useful anyway. Besides that, I want all honest woodworkers to think about this little food for thought. How have your sales been lately? Have you lost any sales because some customers would rather save money buying an inferior product at the big box stores instead of buying a quality built item that you build with your own two hands? Has anyone turned their nose up at your price without even realizing what you have in the item as far as material and labor? It has happened to me and I'm sure it has happened to many of you. Now put the shoe on the other foot. Isn't that save money at any cost attitude the same one that would incourage one to buy into the thousands of plans for one price scam?
The bundle package ripoff I have been talking about is a scam to pattern designers. It scams tham out of the compensation they deserve for making these patterns. It is a scam to the woodworker that buys them because he get inferior patterns that aren't worth his talent. It scams the entire woodworking community because it lowers the integrity of us all as a society. It's a scam to me even though I haven't and won't buy it because it turns my stomach a little bit just to think that any fellow woodworker would do this to another. If you have problems spotting this scam, here's an easy way to see it. If you were a pattern designer, would you take the time to create a certain pattern to sell to anyone at the price it is being offered at? If you wouldn't, then it is probably a scam.
I enjoy my best patterns, and my best patterns I paid good for. I have the plans for a new project I hope to start soon that I paid close to thirty bucks for. If the item turns out half as beautiful as the photo of it on the site I ordered it from, then that plans will be worth twice what I paid for it. Are plans cheap? Not if you buy as many as I have. If you wanted a cheap hobby though, I think you should have chosen one other than woodworking.
My two cents turned into more than a dollar twenty five. I'm sorry to go on and on about this subject, but I find it to be an important one. Please don't fall for this crap. Let's stand together as brothers and sisters in woodworking and rid ourselves of the type of scum that would shove this kind of crap down our throats. We are better than this and if every single woodworker refuses to accept this, they will move on to another scam that will make them money and will leave us alone. Get out into your shop, whether it be a one car garage or a huge warehouse of a shop. Build something nice from a pattern. Somewhere in all that though, find that little writing on there that tells who exactly designed that pattern. Now hope that they will keep doing what they do long enough to pass it down to someone. If they don't, whether it be because of scammers or whatever, then there will not be a next generation of woodworkers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Rock-A-Bye Baby

I hadn't done a baby cradle in a while. This one is not quite as wide as the last one I made. I think I went a little overboard on the last one. It took me forever to find someone who was having twins to buy it. The bottom of this one is about sixteen inches wide and thirty two inches long. It is made of cottonwood. All joints on the cradle body are glued, screwed and plugged before being sanded flush. I stained it with Minwax dark walnut.
I can't remember where I got the plans for this one. I've had them for so long. I do remember it was from one of the many free woodworking plan websites. There are virtually hundreds of free cradle plans on the internet. I like this one best because of the inlaid rounded canopy. Fitting the thin strips into the canopy is pretty time consuming. Sanding it smooth into it's round contour is even more time consuming. I think the results are worth it though. The last photo shows a close-up of what it looks like finished. I puposely cut the slats at different angles to give it a unique wood grain pattern.


I never thought there was a market for my rather simple picture frames. However, I got a call for some last week. A lady from Jackson, Mississippi had seen some of my scrolled portraits here on this site, and wanted me to build her some custom frames. The photo above is of fifteen regular frames in three different sizes. Also, at the top left is a round frame she wanted me to try to see how she liked it.
All these were made out of cottonwood. She wanted some type of cheap wood that would take paint well. I think she liked them. She ordered some more.