All posts by Iggy

More fun than a barrel full of monkeys

Hey, everyone, it’s Iggy again. I really do like that guy Tom. No, seriously. But, when the tailless wonder went up to the Big Apple to help those people who were hit by Hurricane Sandy, SOMEONE had to keep the shop up and running… and it’s a good thing he had me to do the honors.

In addition to reorganizing the shop, whittling dovetails with a frozen herring and doing all other kinds of derring-do, I also had some time to sit down and pen a few words that the folks at Wood Magazine enjoyed. They enjoyed them so much, in fact, that they published them in the December/January 2012/2013 edition of the magazine under the title of Get what you really want this holiday.

Now, I’m sure it may sound mercenary at first – after all, we should be thankful for any gifts that we do receive during the holiday season. But, you would be amazed how difficult it is to shop for someone who woodworks! Many of the uninitiated out there may spend a tremendous amount of time scratching their heads wondering where to even begin looking for gifts for the woodworker in their lives, and usually end up picking up one of the old holiday standbys – a Reindeer sweater.

The article helps you guide the gift givers in your life to make shopping for you an easy process they will enjoy.

Which is more than I can say about having to work with Tom at times. I hear he may be looking for a Santa suit to wear while working in the shop. I’m not sure how he plans on keeping the wood chips out of his beard.


Monkey see…

Hey, everyone. It’s me, Iggy again.

Since Tom is busy looking at those swirly storm things, chasing after elephants and STILL working on tile in that bathroom (I’m afraid poor Rhonda is earning her sainthood these days), I’m going to have to write today’s post. At least it features some of my best work.

If you pick up a copy of the October edition of Wood Magazine, you can read my latest words of wisdom.  It’s an article that Tom might find useful – how to get back into your shop if you feel you have lost your zest for the craft.  Sure, a little time away from the bench is a good thing, but when it seems excessive, maybe some simple tips like visiting a hardwood store or painlessly cleaning up your shop can help you beat the doldrums and get you re-energized.

Heaven knows Tom can use some of that encouragement!

The Shop Monkey teaches veneering

Hey, everyone, Iggy here.  I wanted to alert you that Tom is now *ahem* teaching certain things about woodworking.  In fact, he was asked to speak at a recent meeting of the St. Petersburg Woodcrafter’s Guild about veneering.

I’m actually stunned, because I mean – it’s Tom. The guy who cut his finger with a set of hedge trimmers. I’m rather impressed he was able to get up and talk in front of a group without putting his foot in his mouth.

The other thing that impresses me is that Joe Gorleski of Veneer Supplies trusted this Mook enough to let him mention his company. I mean, what was Joe thinking?

Anyway, here’s the big guy attempting to make everything work. I hope you were able to make some sense out of his rambling.

There.  Did any of that make any sense?  He actually seemed to have his act together.  Maybe he was on his meds that night – who knows?  While you might be impressed, try not to be too impressed.  Check out some of his other video stylings here..

Ahh, silly boy. I guess once a Shop Monkey, always a Shop Monkey, right?  Shesh…

Now, for me, back to the shop.


I TOLD you Tom was up to no good.  Joe was nice enough to e-mail me and give some corrections to Tom’s ramblings.  Here they are:

  1. Plywood is a great substrate (my favorite) but maple plywood can be a pain. Why? Because maple is one species that many adhesives struggle with. It is the standard by which glue makers do their testing because its such a finicky wood species. It also is one species that expands more than normal when moisture is applied (such as from a veneer glue). When I use plywood, its birch or oak.
  2. The veneer saw is right handed only. The blade is reversible but the handle is angled for right hand use only. I’m a lefty though and I’ve never had any trouble using my right hand with the saw.
  3. Three hole tape can actually be used on the glue side. I only do this on species where the veneer has a tendency to take the stain differently if the glue from the tape does not complete come off when I sand the panel. In those instances the 3 hole tape can be used on the glue side. The holes in the tape actually provide enough surface area to let the glue keep the seam line tight and well bonded.
  4. Never use yellow glue for any type of veneer. End of story. Never ever use it for veneer.
  5. Contact cement is not suitable for raw wood veneer simply because its not strong enough to prevent the seasonal expansion and contraction of wood cells (even when a finish is applied). This can allow lifting and bubbles in a raw wood veneer. With a paperbacked veneer, the bond to the paper minimizes expansion and contraction so contact cement is fine.
  6. A J-roller is not my choice of tools for spreading glue. The foam rollers I have are much better. 


A 21-banana salute

Hello again, everyone.  It’s me, Iggy the Trained Shop Monkey, and I’m stunned to announce the following…

Wood Magazine has once again chosen to print the nonsensical ramblings of Tom in their latest edition of the magazine. This time, Tom make some bad Star Trek references while talking about how is busy life affects his time in my shop. While Tom rarely makes sense, his advice about taking your time to prevent mistakes (making them is Tom’s favorite pastime, it seems) or injury really hits the mark, and his advice to slow down to enjoy your time at the bench more is borderline genius.

I have to say that so Tom feels better about himself.



Learning to cope

OK, so take a look at this, and tell me what you see?

An apple core, or two faces staring at each other?

How about now?

Is it the face of a young lady, or a musician?

Now, look at this and see if you can figure out what happened….

That’s right.. Tom made another boneheaded move. You see, he was so busy looking at the shape of the cutter, he failed to realize that it actually cuts the negative… So, of course, he put the cope cut on the end of the rails…

Fortunately, I broke into peals of laughter, and the boy stopped before he did any more damage. Nothing hurt… except his pride. And some wood. And, he lost about an hour of shop time doing things wrong.

After he shame-facedly admitted his error, Tom fixed the issue and things are back on track. In fact, they are looking good.

Which goes to prove a point – even though Tom has made a bunch of errors this year, he’s prone to make them again and again.  That’s OK, I think we’ll keep him…

Jointing the conversation

Hello, everyone. Iggy again, and I just wanted to let you know that I was invited back… again… to teach woodworking at Tom’s sons’ schools again this year at the Great American Teach In. It’s this Thursday, and while Tom knew about this for a while, he neglected to tell ME, which means I’m behind the proverbial eight ball again.  You see, Tom wants me to figure out what we’re going to talk about.

Tom wanted to talk about something silly, like the history of knitting and how it affected woodworking.  I knew that the kids in the schools wouldn’t go for that. At all. Come to think of it, if I had to sit through that nonsense, I’d be perfecting my paper airplane folding skills too.

So, I decided to go with joinery.  You know, woodworking joints and how they work.  Not a bad idea, right? Of course, if I’m going to talk about that, I was going to have to cut a few sample joints to show the youngins what they look like.

I spent most of the weekend in the shop cutting a variety of joints to show the kids. It took a little effort, but I was able to cut a dowel joint, biscuit joint, pocket hole joint, dovetail,bridle joint,  splined dovetail (I just have to cut the slot and key for the spline)… Oh, I’ve got a bunch of ’em.  I didn’t glue them up, because I wanted to be able to knock them apart and show the whippersnappers how they look and work.

I’m even going to bring my dowel jig, pocket hole jig and a few other tools to show the kiddos what kind of tools it takes to build these joints.

While this is not a complete list of classic joinery, I still have a little time to cut a few more joints such as a mortise and tenon and a box joint.  I have a decently-sized piece of plywood that I can plow a dado, groove and rabbet into.

I also jointed a few pieces of pine and glued them up. My plan is to take a hammer to the joint to see how it fails – whether the wood will break or the glue will fail.

Finally, to round things out, I think it’s only natural that I talk to the kids about metal fasteners. The history of nails themselves is fascinating, especially that whole penny thing to determine their size. I’m looking forward to showing the kids about cut nails and using a gimlet to start the nail hole.  Who knows – maybe I could even get permission to have one of the little ones to drive a nail.  I think I’ll have Tom use HIS hands to hold those nails while the kids swing the hammer.

Since I like to let Tom do the talking, I’m probably going to be sitting behind the camera on Thursday, but it should be another fun day.  With any luck, we’ll have a video to bring to you next Monday.


The spooky morning after

It’s actually very scary today. Tom and his ever-suffering wife Rhonda held a big Halloween bash last night – in MY shop! While the event was a blast – and the guests were totally awesome – I think Tom went a little bit over the top. I mean, I know he loves power tools, but come on, Tom….

That’s not the proper use of a reciprocating saw! And, I don’t think the neighbors are really going to like the results…

Heck, I don’t think the pumpkin on the left is too comfortable being near your masterpiece.

Now, the shop is a mess. Halloween decorations are heaved everywhere, the bench and table saw are not where they need to be and there is the unmistakable smell of pumpkin innards wafting through the garage. Total bummer…

Fortunately, Tom has the right monkey working on the job for this one. I’ll spend most of the day getting the shop back into shape, and when the sleeping beauty wakes up, we’ll be back on track.

Now, who knows how to clean pumpkin guts out of a reciprocating saw?