A new year ahead

A new year ahead of us, here we are.  Whew, where did 2016 go?  Was your 2016 good for you?  It had been a year of change here at It’s NOT a garage.  Starting online, writing posts(yea, right, I think we’ve seen that I haven’t been posting for quite some time), organizing in the shop, starting another online venture, etc, etc.  Lots of stuff going on here.  I’m not making silly resolutions, no one ever seems to follow up with em anyways.  I am simply making plans and then following through with them.  I’m spending more time posting hopefully useful information and tips, trying to organize the site to be more helpful to my readers, going to experiment with video via YouTube and more projects in the shop.  If anyone has any ideas of what they would like to read about, learn about or discuss, drop me a line at steve@itsnotagarage.com.  Here’s to a great new year ahead of us all.  Now get out in the shop and make something!

Belsaw Planer

Planer  Here is my  Belsaw planer in action.  Great feed rate, 5hp 220 volt motor.  Heavy duty construction.

Adding Thinner a good idea?


You often see cans of solvent finishes, including lacquer, and alkyd and polyurethane varnish, with instructions not to thin them. Manufacturers include these instructions in order to comply with VOC laws in some areas of the country, such as California. Adding thinner could take the finish out of compliance with the local or state laws, and manufacturers might be breaking the law if they advocated thinning.

But they then sell these finishes everywhere so they can avoid printing a separate label. It’s most likely that you live somewhere that these restrictions don’t apply.

The instruction can be confusing, however. It may lead you to think that you might be doing some harm to the finish if you thin it. Just to be clear, you can’t do any harm to any finish by adding thinner. In fact, you can add all the thinner you want to solvent finishes, even 99 percent, without causing any harm. You’ll just get a thinner build with each coat, which may result in your having to apply more coats to get the look and protection against liquids that you want.

The advantage of adding thinner (five to thirty percent is usually adequate) is better leveling – that is, reduced brush marking and orange peel.

Keep in mind, however, that if you are in an area of the country with strict VOC laws, you could be taking the finish out of compliance if you add thinner.

— Bob Flexner

Wood Clamp Pressure

Clamping Pressure on glued joints.

So, let’s review the role of pressure in gluing. A glue joint should be 0.002 to 0.006 inch thick for maximum strength. Obviously, this preciseness requires very flat surfaces, especially for the denser wood species that do not compress easily. Flat surfaces mean perfect surface proportion, plus we need to apply the glue before the surfaces have a chance to pick up moisture from the air (if the are a bit dry, such as in the summertime) or lose moisture if they are a bit wet (true in the dry wintertime air). If the wood surfaces change MC, they will swell or shrink a little bit, but this can make the 0.002 to 0.006 inch impossible to attain along the entire joint. Obviously, the surfaces cannot be dirty, or burnished from saw heating, etc.

Now here is something that you may not have thought about. In the wintertime, the plant is cooler than in the summer. The glue itself, if the plant is really cool at night, will be really cool in the morning. And on those hot summer days, the glue will be really thin. So, it should make sense that it will take a little more effort (pressure) to squeeze out the glue in the wintertime than in the summertime. So, think about using two different pressures. It might also be prudent to think about storing the glue at a constant temperature year-round.

So, how much pressure? The starting guide is the glue manufacturer and your clamp manufacturer. We always want to see good squeezeout along the joint. Then after the joint is cured, with a small magnifying glass (15 or 20X) you can examine the dried joint and determine or estimate its thickness. Make sure you check multiple locations along the joint’s length.

Barbershop Tales

Barber shop tales

So I’m sitting here in my local barbershop, taking in the sights and sounds. The smell of hair tonic and a certain old mustiness that seems so normal and familiar. My regular shop is a remains of a days gone by.  Old school barbers, where you get your haircut the way he wants to cut it. No mohawks or mullets here. You’re more likely to get a crew cut, but only if you ask. The banter of voices flows from all in attendance. Who saw that game last night? What happened to ole Joe today, heard he was sick. I’m going to go fish when I leave here, yea, I heard they were biting up at the lake. Plus all sorts of jokes, from your brother to how you look.

The bullshit flows wave after wave. An unrelenting, steady stream of tales and insults.

And I love it…

The old school, men only barber shop is an experience that I look forward to. Where men are men and life is, for a short time the way it used to be. Every guy should take the time to find an old school barbershop. Downtown, in a small store, or they’re the only barber in a small midwestern town. It’s a totally immersive place to experience. No frills, no hair coloring and usually, no women’s haircuts.


Don’t miss your chance to go before they are all gone, as it’s a dying breed. The shops we grew up with are getting fewer. Most of the older barbers are dying out, not to be replaced. Except here, his son works by his side, following his dad’s footsteps. Keeping the old style alive and breathing…and cutting.


Now excuse me, but it’s my turn for some insulting, leg pulling and tall tales while I get my ears lowered.

It’s all about how you squeeze your lemons

Some days life seems to really hand it to ya.  You know what that’s like.  You wake up feeling pretty great, (hey, i woke up so what’s not to like?) ready to take on the day.  And then it happens………

The first lemon of the day.

Your beloved, adored and well used coffee maker has decided to take a leave of absence.  AARGH.  “How dare you do this to me?”  So you shrug it off and decide it’s quick shop coffee on the way to work.  “No problem, it could be worse” you think to yourself.  Out to car you go, thinking of that wonderful aroma of extra dark, not so tasty, quick shop coffee.

And then it happens……..

The next lemon of the day, you didn’t make lunch to take along, cause your brain isn’t in a functioning mode due to the lack of coffee awareness! “It’s ok” you think, “quick shop sandwich will solve that issue to” you consoul yourself.  Now I’m behind the wheel, even more anxious to “update my JAVA”.

And then it happens…….

The car lights were left on last nite, and the battery is dead!  You utter a long list of profanities, some you may have just invented.  The sound drifts across the neighborhood, enlightening your neighbors with you mastery of the english profanity language.  You’ve reached the critical melt point of your positive attitude.  We’ve all been there before haven’t we?  We have had life just start throwing out lemons to us like they grew on trees.  “How much more can go wrong today?” you think to yourself.  I refuse to utter those words, due to my firm superstition that life will hand it to you 10 fold over when it hears that sentence spoken.  It’s hard.

It’s all about how you squeeze your lemons.  See, I actually got to the point of this title.


Workshop Evolution

This is my very first blog, so hopefully it comes across sounding ok.  I’m doing this blog to try to help out anyone who is interested in learning more about woodworking.  This is a journey of discovery for myself also.  I have wanted to start woodworking for almost 20 years, but never got around to it.  Kids, work, commitments etc, so I have finally decided to just dive in and learn as I go.  Naturally, I’ve spent lots of hours reading and watching some really awesome YouTube video’s on the various aspects of woodworking.  I would like to share my experience in the craft, with whomever wants to come along and follow my blog. (more…)

Verified by MonsterInsights