All posts by Iggy

Quit monkeying around…

Hey, everyone, Iggy here, and you’ll never guess what happened – again. The tailless one – Tom – got picked up by the people at Wood Magazine for their November edition. I mean, come on, by now you would have figured that they would have gotten wise to him and his hijinks.

Wood Nov Cover

Anyway, it’s a story about – you may have guessed it – Tom making mistakes in his shop.  The guy runs a cottage industry in doing that. In this edition, he also share some lessons about his time back in Catholic High School.

Come here, Mister Iovino

I only wish I could have been there to see him get in trouble with the nuns. I’m sure THEY never put up with any of his nonsense.  Be sure to look for his words of wisdom on page 24 of your upcoming edition.

You may have also noticed that if you have tried to post a comment to one of Tom’s blog posts recently, you have been unsuccessful. There’s some type of fatal exception error that comes up. I’m sure that he had NOTHING to do with it, yet I have been working around the clock to try to figure out what he did to mess things up.

You think this is easy?

So, if you know anything about WordPress and want to help, try to post something to the blog and see what the error is. Maybe one of you is smarter than Tom (I’m willing to bet that most – if not all – of you are), and we can get the ship righted…

Do I have to do it all?

Hey, everyone. Iggy here, and I just have to tell you how fed up I am with the Tailless Wonder these days. First, it’s champagne and caviar in the desert southwest, now, he can’t focus on what he needs to do in the shop. I mean, come on, you are reading young adult fiction?  Seriously, I think those old Dick and Jane books might be a bit above his reading comprehension.

Come on, Tom...

And, now, look at how he left the shop. Sure, he had a few successes, but I mean, come on. This place is a stye. Couldn’t you at least have picked up some of the crap you left out here? Everything is all in disarray, and not even I, the Trained Shop Monkey, should be expected to work in conditions like these.

What a mess.

So, today, I had to go out there and clean the place up. Seriously. Tools had to go away. I had to vacuum up mounds of sawdust. I had to clean off the tops of his tools to ensure that he’s not getting any rust on them during this Florida deluge.

This is bad

And, rings on your workbench? I mean, what the heck? So, since he’s not going to take the time to get everything into ship shape, I had to step up and make this happen. Swinging by my tail, I managed to get all of the stuff out there sorted into piles, the tools put away, the finish scraped off the top of the workbench and even give the place a thorough vacuuming. Presto, changeo, look at what I was able to do with just about half an hour’s worth of work…

See what you can do when you put your mind to it?

Now that’s done, I have to get ready for a few projects. I have to fix a chair a friend brought over to the shop that just needs a little bit of TLC before it gets put back into circulation, and the round coffee table is coming up fast.


For now, however, I sent Tom out to do a little extra cleaning while I sip a cold drink and read one of these books. You know, they aren’t as trashy as you would think they are at first glance…

A fabulous new product

Hey, everyone, it’s me, everyone’s favorite Trained Shop Monkey, and I have to tell you about the best new product for woodworkers I have ever seen. I mean, this stuff is the absolute bomb. It will change the way you woodwork forever.

Weasel Spit

That’s right. It’s super high quality Weasel Spit, distilled from only the finest quality expectorations from members of the Mustela Genus. Used for centuries in the Subcontinent on the most expertly crafted furnishings of the grand Svengalis, this finish has the ability to turn lumps of simple scrap wood into outstanding expressions of the craftsman’s art.

Weasel Spit. before

Allow me to show you an example of Weasel Spit’s tremendous power.  Here I am in the shop (We try to keep Tom out of it more often than not these days, what with his long commute and all) with just some simple scraps and a can of my new favorite finish. As you can see, nothing up my sleeves, no slight of hand here.

Weasel Spit, after

And, this is what the project looks like with just ONE coat of Weasel Spit on it. Do you notice just how quickly it pulled the piece together and made the details pop? I tell you, it’s dynamite stuff.

What else can you use Weasel Spit for? It cleans stains off of bath fixtures, etches concrete for epoxy finishes, removes rust from cast iron surfaces in one swipe and makes a great ice cream topping.

While people have harvested wild Weasel Spit for centuries, it has only recently come to light that excretions of a higher quality can be had from ranch-raised weasels. In fact, it’s been discovered that the constant playing of Barry Manilow songs increased weasel output up to 75%.

Barry Manilow

Fortunately, these weasel ranches can be isolated to keep the noise complaints to a minimum.

Oh, and happy April Fool’s Day!

Iggy’s Holiday Wish

‘Twas a few days before Christmas, and this monkey was fine.
Tom was about to just bore you, so I asked for some time.

You see, he’s been distracted, spending long hours at work.
So I figured I’d be nice and not such a jerk.

So, here I was, working on my poetry
In the time of the year that – in Florida – isn’t quite wintry.

The messy shop

Out in the shop the place was a mess.
With shavings and sawdust, something I’d need to address.

With a scratch of my nose and a wink of my eye
Brooms and vacuums at work, time started to fly.

The shop was all cleaned, yet little time had really passed.
I did a deep cleaning, not something half… uhhh… (well, you know!)

And, now it is neat

With everything neat and back in it’s place,
The shop looked quite pleasant, not an ugly disgrace.

And, in the vice chops, cranked tight, not too loose
Some boughs that were harvested from the trunk of a spruce.

Spruce boughs

Now these should fill the shop with a lovely aroma
Which should bring Christmas cheer to Tom and his senora.

After the cleaning the shop, but before I retired
I looked at Tom’s gift list – in projects he was mired.

“I can build these things,” I confidently proclaimed.
“But I’ll have to step on it, it’s the 22nd!” I exclaimed.

So I check the project status, and to work I did hurry
For some parts of the project, I just did have to scurry.

I felt like I was at the North Pole, a right hairy elf,
“If these things are going to get done, I’ll have to do them myself!”

WIne holder

Now, one project I had finished, it was a heck of a job
I decided it would be given to Tom’s friends Pam and to Bob

The wine caddy I’d built to sit on top of a bottle.
I’d finished it quickly, working at full throttle.

It looked so majestic, of mahogany and maple.
On top of the bottle, why, it almost looked Papal.

And when presented to the couple, they were both very surprised.
They thought it was Tom’s work, and couldn’t believe their eyes.


They fell in love with it, but had one rebuke,
“This work is too fine to have come from the Mook.”

That’s when I swung into the room and asked them to heed.
“It wasn’t from Tom, the builder was me!”

With a bottle of red (That is Bob’s favorite quaff)
I bid them both a Merry Christmas, bowed and my hat I did doff.

After bidding farewell to Bob and to Pam
I snooped around the tree to check out Tom’s latest scam.

The tree!There were presents galore for the kids and his wife
But I couldn’t see any for his favorite monkey for life.

I guess the best part is any tools he does receive
I’ll see out in the workshop – and straight to my mitts, I believe.

So I looked for the big boy to check his gift list.
But, I couldn’t find him – I was about to get miffed!

I looked ’round the house, looked both high and down low
But, knew not where it was, I was not sure where he’d go.

When, at last there was but one place to check.
It was his bedchamber, I said, “What the heck?”

But, from inside the room, there was what sounded like a bear.
My feet they did pause, protesting, “We’re not going in there!”

But, I screwed up my courage, and walked into the room.
My palms they where sweaty, my heart it did boom.

Visions of sugarplums...

But my fears were unfounded, the room was quite safe
Because it was Tom, with a grin on his face.

He was fully reclined, deep deep in his slumber.
His snores were so loud, they shook all the lumber.

While he is very funny, I know he’s no fool.
He was actively dreaming about getting some tools.

So, I backed from the room to give him time to rest.
When he’s fully rested, that’s when he does the best.

I’ll tell you this now, I’m not foolhardy
You can count on no post this coming Wednesday.

Because his kids are up early on a Christmas morning
With his family he’ll be, his blog duties he’ll be shunning.

I’ll pass word from Tom, and this comes from his heart
Merry Christmas to all, have fun you must start!


Last Minute Elf 2013: Thursday

The Last Minute ElfHey, everyone. Iggy again.

It’s a good thing that Tom has left me alone in the shop. Without having to stop to answer his inane questions, I have made good progress on the wine bottle topper. Which is good, because I have a feeling I may need to make a boatload of these babies.

The patterns all setBut, first, I did the smart thing. I took the plans that David Piccuito sent me and made a template out of some 1/2 inch plywood. I resisted the urge to just slap the pattern down on the workpiece because I wanted to have a nice pattern to rout to, if I wanted to go that way. Plus, it would be a lot more durable for when I’m cranking out those babies.

Holy hardwood, Batman!Once I traced the outline, I took it over to the drill press to make the holes for the neck of the bottle and for the wine glasses. With the right size forstner bits, it’s a piece of cake to get some nice looking holes.

HoldfastWith this done, I turned to the jigsaw to make the cuts. With a good quality blade, it’s amazing how accurately you can cut with one of these. To snug the piece down for cutting, I used a holdfast in one of the new bench’s dog holes. Holds like a champ, and stays out of the way while I am cutting.

Feeling a little raspyWith the rough cutting out of the way, I used a Microplane rasp on the piece to ensure the curves were fair. These things are the bee’s knees.. great for making smooth cuts on board edges…

The next step was to sand and round over the edges. After I did some work on it, I had to take it for a ride. I think the lucky recipient of this is going to be very happy!

Ooop OoopNow, maybe for a little nip. But, you all know I prefer banana daiquiris…

One of Brian Benham's ornamentsToday’s winner? Hmmm, let’s see… One skill I have always wanted to try, but have been afraid I might catch my tail on, is turning. Fortunately, Brian Benham has sent this entry for how to turn holiday ornaments. Using some glued up scraps, he was able to turn some sweet looking ornaments.  Great work, Brian. How would you like a copy of Popular Woodworking’s DVD of editions from 1995 – 2012, plus a one-year subscription to their magazine?  I think you may find some more ideas in there.

Now, for today’s articles… how about these?


Last Minute Elf 2013: Tuesday

The Last Minute ElfHold on a minute… is this thing on?

OK, you have to forgive me. I’m just a trained shop monkey, and Tom left me in charge of the blog today during his big holiday building event.

Can we talk?First, let’s get one thing straight. He recently ‘finished’ the new workbench. But, as with everything he tells you, that’s not 100% true. In fact, I drew up the plans, shopped for the lumber, cut everything to size, cut the mortises and tenons, screwed the thing together. Yeah, so it’s ‘his’ bench only in the sense that it resides in the house he pays mortgage for…

Since he’s supposed to be busy building projects – but he’s inside, watching some kind of random sporting event on TV, it’s going to be up to me to get this building stuff done. So, the theme is something quick and easy, ready to be given to a lucky recipient in time for the holidays.

The wine bottle and glass caddyI know Tom knows a lot of folks who like wine, and he can’t push any more of those silly wine bottle balancers on his poor, unsuspecting family… So, I decided to ask our good friend David Picciuto of the Drunken Woodworker if it was OK for me to build one of his totally awesome wine bottle caddies. He said yes (probably because I asked, not Tom).  Thanks, David.

Choosing the woodNow, to pick out some choice hardwood for this piece. I’m thinking these two pieces of mahogany and tiger maple may do the trick. Fortunately, these projects don’t take a lot of material, so I can probably get a few of these babies out of these two boards.

The planes are tunedWith my hand planes tuned to the finest level, I threw on my Santa hat (I had to get into the spirit), put some Bing Crosby crooning Mele Kalikimaka on the stereo and set to work. I’ll show you my results later this week…

But, I would be remiss if I didn’t pick today’s winner of a Last Minute Elf reader submitted project. Today, we have a pair!

Tree OrnamentsFirst up, Charlie Baker put up an Instructable on how to make tiny tree ornaments using a band saw and a plug cutter. For a simple little project, these things make some awesome ornaments! Charlie – how would one of Infinity Cutting Tools’ six-piece router bit essentials kits look in your shop?

Christmas in a boxAnd, let’s give it up for Cindy Schmid. Her project is very heart warming. When her son was stationed in Korea, she wanted to build something for him to be able to celebrate the holiday far from home. So, she built – get ready for it – Christmas in a box.  Basically, it was a way for her son to decorate his barracks area to have a bit of a homey touch. She didn’t include a drawn out plan per se, but she did a write up about the project you can find by clicking here.  Cindy – you are going to love your prize.. because it comes from someone hairier than me.  Marc Spagnuolo is going to send you a copy of his latest book, Hybrid Woodworking, as well as a copy of his book on finishing. Hope you enjoy!

Steve Ramsey is in the holiday spirit

Today, I wanted to post a special link to someone who has taken the spirit of the Last Minute Elf to heart for years. In fact, I told Tom to check out Steve Ramsey’s (Woodworking for Mere Mortals) stuff from years past to inspire the mook. Steve has posted some awesome plans for this year that you won’t want to miss:

The best part is that he’s coming out with a new plan just about every day! Be sure to swing by his busy shop to see what new and off-the-wall ideas he has.

Remember, if you have posted a Last Minute Elf idea on your site, or see one posted somewhere, be sure to send the link to so he can post it here this week!

A new tail

Hey, everyone, Iggy here. Now, I’m not normally a power tool kind of monkey, but I have a soft heart for them. I mean, they help the tailless one – and hundreds of thousands of other, far more talented woodworkers – cut joints, size wood and other important tasks.

This poor saw...The only problem with this mook is that he must be abusing the heck out of it. I mean, let’s take for example this poor, unassuming table saw.  What has it ever done to Tom over the past decade plus?  It’s been a solid performer, cutting whatever he could throw at it. And, when he wasn’t careful, it would bite him… but, that’s another post for another day.

This poor tail...But, could you believe the abuse he threw at this saw – especially it’s tail?  I mean, what does this guy have against tails?

The plugLook at this, where the plug is anchored to the cord. What was he doing with it? Nothing ever good comes from pulling on tails, Tom. Absolutely nothing. The worst part was he kept trying to cover this mess up under scads of electrical tape.  Bad Tom.

My name is nickAnd, as if it couldn’t get any worse… come on, Tom. Seriously?  How did this one happen, right in the middle of the cord? Did you buy stock in an electrical tape company?

The replacement itemsFortunately, I had some time today to help this poor saw get back into shape. It involved a replacement power cord – 14 gauge – and some crimp-on quick connectors.  It didn’t take too much effort to slide the power switch off, open it up and replace the power cord. I would have taken some pictures, but, believe me, it wasn’t all that exciting. Just disconnecting the old wire, reconnecting the new and mounting the switch back in place. Maybe five minutes worth of work.

Getting LoopyOnce everything was buttoned back up, I bundled up the wires with some wire ties, and even gathered the extra wire from the plug and to the motor up in a loose loop to provide stress relief in case the big galoot decides to yank on the tail again. Bad Tom.

The new plugNow, the saw has a brand new power tail, ready to give a lot more service. Only if the Tailless one uses it with care.  Got that?