Sympathy, Suggestions and…Sorry

In Memoriam

The sad news of the death of our dear friend, fellow woodworker, and Contributing Editor Steve Blenk continues to draw sympathy from our kind and caring readers. Here are a few examples.

“This may not mean a lot coming from an email; however, Susan Blenk, her son, and the rest of the Blenk family will be in my prayers and thoughts. May God bless this family as they struggle with the loss of their loved one.

Louise Smith
Prince Edward Island, Canada”

“To all the Woodworker’s Journal Community,
I am very new to this communtiy but feel the loss of Steve Blenk is tremendous. My sympathy goes out to his wife, children, and extended family. May god bless you and keep you all.

Sharon Fortier-Costa”

“That really hurts. I’m not a wood turner, but I very much enjoyed Steve’s articles. He will be greatly missed. I will continue saving my money for a lathe, because he is the one that inspired me to want to turn wood.

Wayne Robinson
W.R. WoodWorking”

Pepperidge Farm Continues

If you recall, Peter Johnson wanted to know if anyone remembered a Black and Decker accessory for drilling perpendicular holes. Several folks responded saying they still had theirs. Here are a couple more responses, including one who sent along a photo of it, just in case we were wondering what it looked like. (I was!)

Keith Carver wrote to say “I still have one in my workshop. Even though I haven’t used it in a while, I keep it for one of those ‘I wish I hadn’t tossed out that tool’ moments.”

Steven M. Green went one better. He added his comments, and sent the above photo. “I suspect its demise was due to the sorta cheesy construction. It was almost completely made of plastic, so it flexed quite a bit, and though I’m not certain, I think its ‘bearings’ may have been simple nylon bushings. Every time you wanted to use it, you had to remove the chuck from your drill and transfer it to the gadget, which you would then attach to the drill shaft. Still, it was a novel idea and it does have its uses. I grumble about it here, but it’s still hanging around my shop!”

Jack from the Arizona Association of Fine woodworkers added: “Black and Decker no longer carries the Drill Mate. You can find an equivalent item at Harbor Freight and Sears.”

On Carol Zandell

“I enjoyed reading the article on Carol Zandell. She does some very unusual carving with great results. I also like the fact that you featured a woman craftsperson. Let’s see more of that. Thanks.” – Judy Matthew

Have no fear, Judy. We intend to feature more women in woodworking in upcoming issues.

Several other readers wrote to ask if they could get copies of her toy patterns, or if Carol makes any patterns or books available to the public. She does not; however, she did offer some guidelines, and a list of good resources, below.

Carol Zandell responds:

I would suggest that readers go to their local libraries for books on old-time toys, and haunt the secondhand stores and the like for examples of old toys. Once people know you like to do old toys, you would be surprised how many old-timers can either show you something they have had around for years, or sketch them.

Here’s a list of some of the books I’ve found helpful.

  • New Book of Puzzles by Jerry Slocum and Jack Botermans
  • Making Holiday Folk Toys and Figures by Sharon Pierce
  • Working Wooden Toys by Marion Cathcart Millett
  • The Art and Craft of Wooden Toys by Ron Fuller and Cathy Meeus
  • Woodturning Traditional Folk Toys by Alan & Gill Bridgewater
  • How to Make Animated Toys by David Wakefield
  • Tops: Building and Experimenting with Spinning Toys by Bernie Zubrowski
  • Fun-to-make Wooden Toys by Terry Forde
  • Making Marvelous Wood Toys by Tim and Tom Lynn
  • The Big Book of Whittling and Woodcarving by E.J. Tangerman
  • Making More Wooden Mechanical Models by Alan and Gill Bridgewater
  • Wood Carving with Rick Butz by Rick Butz
  • 52 Weekend Woodworking Projects by John A. Nelson
  • Wonders in Wood by Edwin Mather Wyatt
  • Toys of Early America You Can Make by Reba Dunmire
  • How to Make Moving Wooden Toys by Peter Holland
  • How to be a Way Cool Grandfather by Verne Steen and Marlene Hannah

Clean Hands

Here’s another take on keeping your hands clean while using polyurethane adhesives, from an anonymous contributor.

“There are several ‘invisible gloves,’ more commonly known in industry as barrier creams, which do an excellent job of protecting skin. Glue and fibers stick to the hands, but cleanup amounts to wiping hands off with a rag and traditional soap and water. You’ll find them at industrial safety supply houses.”

Solvent Disposal

The same anonymous contributor had this to say about using kitty litter for solvent disposal.

“Pouring solvents into kitty litter is not environmentally sound. According to environmental regulations, the kitty litter would be a hazardous waste even after being allowed to ‘dry.’ Absorbents contaminated with oils, solvents and other hazardous wastes are illegal to dispose of in regular municipal waste landfills. The best way to dispose of the used solvent is to take it to a local household waste recycling facility. These are being established all over the country in response to studies which show that as much as 10% of household waste is hazardous waste, sometimes more hazardous than industrial hazardous waste. Contact your local public works department or health department to see if your community has a hazardous waste recycling center. Waste solvents are highly recyclable.”

Steam Bending Box

The question and answer section of the last issue contained a response from John Brock about steam bending oak for rocking chair rockers. In it, he talked about using a steam bending box to prepare the wood. Several folks had the same question.

“I read your article on making rockers. Just how do you make a steam box and how do you use it? How do you produce the steam?” – Jackie Langston

“I’d like to know more about the steam box. How is it made? How big should it be? Thanks.” – Doug Rogers

“Could you please post a plan to make a steam box, and give tips on the best way to use it. Thanks, have a good one.” – Rudd

John Brock responds:

“I made mine from ABS plastic (the black stuff, which is much better than white PVC) pipe, a street wye, a couple of end caps, a universal radiator hose, a clean gas can, and a crab cooker. Since heat will soften the ABS, I used a couple of screws to hold the fittings to the pipe. Here is a link to a graphic that looks a lot like my setup, along with specific construction directions. I raise the far end a few degrees so the condensed water runs back into the gas can.

Some species of wood (like white oak), bend much better than others. The bending characteristics of each species are easily found in any good wood reference, like William Lincoln’s World Woods in Color.”

Tempest in a Teacup

The last issue of Websurfer’s Review contained a piece called “Thread to Nowhere” which elicited some heated responses, some of which were directed at Rob. While, as the editor, Rob does bear ultimate responsibility for the contents of the eZine, I would like to add that I am responsible for the initial choosing, editing, and affixing of comments to the Websurfer’s Review section. Therefore, I will answer these comments here.

– Michael Dresdner

Apparently, some people took great offense at my running the “Thread to Nowhere.” Chris Pine, for one, said I was taking “cheap shots at the various woodworking forums.” He went on to assert that “ninety-nine percent of the time” Saw Mill Creek was “very supportive and informative.”

Actually, I agree that most of what appears on Saw Mill Creek is excellent.

Michael Cody offered this comment: “I have to say some of the more sensitive folks seem to take it you were picking on their backyard. They are almost as touchy as Badger Ponders were.” Glenn Clabo also raised a very fair and valid question. “Can you tell me the purpose of this column?” he asked. I think that deserves a straight answer, Glenn, and here it is.

First and foremost, please understand that my choosing a dead-end thread from Saw Mill Creek in no way reflects the quality of that particular message board, nor is it a commentary on the folks who post there. A thread like that could just as easily have been taken from any of the other boards I regularly read. Good, poor, and excellent threads show up on all message boards. That’s the nature of free and open conversation, both in person and online. If you want proof of my respect for them, simply look back at past issues in which I selected other threads from Saw Mill Creek, always of very high caliber.

Why, then, did I choose a thread to point out, in what some see as a heavy-handed manner, that not all information on the Internet is worth trusting? Thomas Salisbury, who identifies himself both as a guitar maker and a lawyer, wrote the following, also in response to the same segment. “As a guitar builder, I loved this short piece. It is a real insight to how assumptions can lead to major problems.”

Well said, Thomas. One of the most dangerous assumptions we can make is that everything we read online is gospel. Week after week we have been bringing you distillations of some of the best information and most interesting threads on various woodworking bulletin boards. It would be all too easy to infer that nothing but absolute wisdom exists there, and we could well be accused of propagating that falsehood. As a way of providing some balance, and with a nod to reality, I decided to run a thread that was not, as my kids would say, “all that and a bag of chips.”

Perhaps it is time to generate a new adage to join the famous “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware.) I hereby offer an appropriate equivalent for today’s computer-savvy message board denizens: “Caveat lector — let the reader beware.”

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