Back in the spring, I made a unique travel bug as a birthday present for my oldest son Stephen. A travel bug is a trackable item that people who geocache pass among themselves and log in and out of geocaches. The Geocaching website records the travels of all registered travel bugs.
I started with a block of maple I had left over from another project. This was going to be a two sided project.
On one side I used my CNC machine to carve the Geocaching logo and Steve’s geocaching name or “handle”. I hand painted the 4 cells of the geocaching logo, then filled everything with clear epoxy. It took a bit of sanding to get the surface smooth but I got it by working my way down to 1600 grit.
Normally, you buy a travel bug tag and attach it to an item. However, in this case I decided to carve the travel bug number into the block of maple. I had an unused travel bug tag so I carved the travel bug image and that number on one side of the block of wood. The cut out area was filled with black epoxy and sanded smooth.
Another block of wood with a groove cut in it made the perfect stand. Everything was finished with a few layers of polyurethane.
Steve has taken his travel bug to numerous geocaching events though out Ontario and it has been logged many times.
When I got my CNC machine back in March, I was looking for ideas for projects. Well, it just happens that in late March we have three birthdays in the family: my grandson Lincon, my daughter Sherry and step grand-daughter Zoe.
I decided that this was a great opportunity to make them each something unique and personal. With Lincon being a big Toronto Maple Leafs fan, it seemed logical to design something with the Leafs logo.
I wanted to make something for my daughter Sherry who was studying for her real estate license. I had some nice pieces of poplar for this project.
I found out that Zoe was a bit of a Led Zeppelin fan, so I grabbed some graphics off the interwebs and came up with this design, carved on another piece of poplar.
All three projects were to be filled with epoxy. But first they had to be sealed with a coat of shellac to prevent the colours in the epoxy from bleeding into the wood.
Here’s a look at look at Linc’s project with the blue epoxy poured.
Once the epoxy is hardened, the piece gets sanded down which leaves a nice smooth surface. I start with fairly course sanding on the power sander, then progress to finer and finer grades hand sanding over the epoxied areas with up to 2,000 grit.
I cut a keyhole in the back of Sherry and Zoe’s projects so they could be hung on a wall. I made a stand for Linc’s so he could stand it up.
They all got a couple coats of varnish to add a nice finish.
In the fall of 2020, I was introduced to Cowboy Action Shooting by a friend who invited me to attend a match at Decew Gun Club. I believed that I was going to just observe the match and learn about the sport. Well, the posse welcomed me with open arms and soon I found myself all geared up and ready to shoot! I shot the whole match and I was hooked!
Any cowboy shooter worth his or her salt has their own cart to haul all their stuff to matches. I had seen a few carts at the match at Decew and researched on the interwebs to learn more. I came up with a design I liked and in December I set out to build my cart.
The cart is constructed mostly of select pine with a piece of oak plywood for the floor. The cart will hold 2 SASS approved shotguns as well as 2 rifles. The storage box is a separate unit and will hold enough ammo for a match as well as my revolvers and their holsters.
The cart itself knocks down into two pieces for easier transport by simply unscrewing the bolts that connect the uprights to the base (by the wheels).
I had fun building it and I learned a few things along the way. If you would like to read a detailed description of the construction of my cart, you can download this PDF file.
This will be the first of what I will call “retro-posts” because they are about something that’s not current. But the website is new and I want to cover a few things from the recent past.
In January of this year (2021) the powers that be in Ontario decided to confine everyone to their homes, a.k.a. a “lockdown” due to Covid-19. I decided to take advantage of the time to fix up my long neglected basement workshop.
I had built a gun cart for my new hobby of Cowboy Action Shooting in December and the shortfalls of my workshop became very apparent.
I had the components of a dust collection system that I had gotten from my Dad. It had been laying in the shop for years, unused. I had all the pipes, gates and fittings and I ran them to my various tools.
But I needed a vacuum source! I considered using our Central Vac system, but in the end I opted for a stand alone system utilizing my old shop-vac for suction.
Once again, YouTube came to the rescue and I found a design that would work well with the equipment I had while not breaking the bank. A cyclone separator from Amazon and a 5 gallon bucket from Home Hardware capture 99% of the dust and keep the shop-vac empty and its filter clean.
In order to connect the dust collection system to my table saw, I added 5 panels to enclose the lower portion of the saw. Some fittings from Lee Valley allow for quick connection of a vacuum hose when using the saw.
The next thing I wanted to do was to add an extension to my table saw to accommodate bigger pieces. My first attempt was to stick a workmate at the side of the table with a makeshift platform level with the saw top. The workmate was being used to mount my router table, so that presented another issue.
So I decided to build a new table for my router. Here’s a photo of the end result.
Table construction was simple 2×2, 2×4 and 3/4 inch plywood. I got some ideas off of YouTube and added a scissor jack to raise and lower the router. It actually works pretty good! I also added a switch and double outlet to make it easier to turn the router off and on. I can plug in a light on the second outlet so it comes on and off with the router.
Back to the table saw. In addition to the extension, I wanted to add a push-off table to extend the table in the direction that you push the wood through. Again, this makes it easier to cut larger pieces.
In the photo above, you can see the workmate (at right) that was my first extension and the frame for the push-off table. I found a 3D design program called Sketchup that I used to design the push-off table. It wasn’t necessary, but I enjoyed learning how to use it.
I still had the old kitchen counter tops that we had replaced the previous year – I knew I kept them for some reason! I cut them up to form the tops of the tables. They make a really nice smooth surface!
Notice in the photo that the original extension has been replaced. I liked the push-off table so much I built a new extension in a similar manner. And I just happened to have a piece of counter top with a 45 deg corner!
I had saved some old drawers from a dresser from my Mom & Dad’s place. The original veneer was peeling off so I removed it all, but I saved the original handles. These drawers added some storage to the extension table. Laminate floor boards were cut to cover the face of the table and also for the edge around the table-top.
A little varnish to the drawer fronts and it’s done!
Speaking of storage – that’s always a problem in a workshop! While surfing YouTube videos I learned about as system called French cleats. It looked easy to make and seemed to work well. The best thing about French cleats is you can rearrange your storage at any time because nothing is mounted permanently, except for the wall cleat.
Just grab and lift and whatever is mounted on the French cleat comes right off when you want to use it. And it can go back anywhere there’s space on the cleat system.
That about covers what I did to my workshop in January during the lockdown. I’m really happy with the result and I have a nice little shop to work on projects.