Wednesday, June 19, 2013


There's not a lot going on the leatherworking front. We got a little burned out ramping up for ACen.

Working on the MuseCon program book is progressing in fits and starts. Saturday morning I gave myself a crash course in XML, via O'Reilly's "XML in a Nutshell" and "XML Pocket Reference", in order to try to figure out how to use XML to get data from Excel into InDesign. Mostly successful, but I won't be able to do everything I was hoping with it. I also left a cranky review at regarding the pretty much useless example code you can download for "XML and InDesign". 

Robin has done substantial work cleaning up the workshop side of the basement. Much stuff was hauled out to the curb this week, and the space is actually usable again. He also did most (all?) of the work building a bench for the lathe. Which we got have a bed extension on order for, so Ron doesn't have to shorten wand blanks.  

Robin has turned several wooden pegs to hold pouches shut for me, and we've agreed on a price, based on me purchasing the wood. In further news, he has a commission to build a small table, and another from me to build a footstool. Work is progressing on those. He may have to re-cut one of the pieces for the footstool, after Ron diagnosed an issue with the router table (user error), but I've OK'd the use of whatever lumber we've got in the basement that will work, so it won't be held up for another trip to Owl. It'll be covered by leather, anyway.  
When we were at Owl Sunday morning getting lumber for the table and footstool, Ron got more turning blanks, pen- and wand-lengths. Then we went to Woodcraft, and he gave in and got the hardware and tools needed to make pens. Don't ask about the small bandsaw, I don't want to talk about it. I got a piece of osage orange, and a piece of canarywood, and a book on turning miniature birdhouse ornaments. Robin was particularly taken with a couple Halloween-themed ornaments.

Ron's made two pens so far, the first is from cocobolo. He sees all the flaws, I can identify them, but don't think they're too bad. Ron had co-workers asking how much he'd charge when they saw it yesterday:

Last night he made one for me, from purpleheart. Its my understanding it will get more purple with exposure to light. I think it may already starting to, um, purple up since this picture was taken last night:

Saturday afternoon I tried turning my first bottle stopper. The method Robin and I used to try to chuck it failed, with only minor excitement. Modifying the method worked better, and I let Ron finish it. 

Sunday night (or was it Monday?) Robin tried making a bottle stopper (out of ash left over from cutting the furniture legs). It isn't quite finished yet (last I saw he was done sanding, and was considering paint), AFAIK, but is recognizably a pumpkin wearing a top hat. Showoff. 

Yesterday I tried again. I'm not sure if failure was due to materials, user error/inexperience, bad luck, or some combination. I don't know what the wood is, other than bird's-eye-something from a grab bag of stopper blanks. From the list of woods in the Wikipedia article on bird's eye figure, and looking at pictures of each type of wood, My WAG is black walnut, or a dark piece of maple:

Ron has declared this failure non-terminal. We'll cut the dowel off flush, then re-drill for the metal mandrel that should be delivered by the time I get home (I figured if Robin could do a stopper without it, I could. Lots of work painting small delicate miniatures may have meant that he was better at turning with a light touch than I was). 

Don't know who's going to get to the lathe first tonight.  :) 

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