10.01.2014

DeWalt vs. Harbor Freight Scroll Saw

I wanted to make some puzzles out of wood and looked into buying a scroll saw.  Because I didn't know if it was something I would do a lot I didn't want to spend a lot of money.  I always look at what the local 'big box' stores offer and compare what they have to Harbor Freight.  Then I will look on Amazon, eBay and especially Craigslist to see what else is out there.  I will weigh the cost, quality and reviews between different brands of tools and even watch videos that I find on YouTube before I settle on anything.

I decided between getting the 16-in saw from Harbor Freight for $69.99... or...



...the 20-in DeWalt that costs $499.00 at Home Depot (but try and find a cheaper one on Craigslist).

I ended up getting the Harbor Freight (Central Machinery) saw because I have been very pleased with other tools I bought from them and it had pretty good reviews.

I read that people said to change the blade to something nicer and that these machines work just as good as a $400 machine.  I did that and also made sure the blade was square with the table. I was very frustrated the whole time I used it.  The tension knob would loosen while sawing and I'd have to keep re-tightening.  The dust blower and wood clamp thing are a joke!  They're connected and move up/down together and it would also loosen while sawing and twist so the blower wouldn't be in the right position.  I ended up blowing the sawdust away myself every 5 seconds or so because it was pointless to re-tighten.

I ended up finding a used DeWalt DW788 on Craigslist. It's about 7-years-old and was made in Canada.  I didn't want to pay for a new one especially since they're now made in Asia (people say bad things about them).  I went and tested it out and was impressed.  I noticed the larger size and quality right off. It was quiet and didn't rattle. Just the thick cast iron table tells you it's quality.

SIZE COMPARISON:



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Here is an upper view of the DeWalt.  The ON/OFF switch, speed control and tension knob are all up in the front for easy access.

Here is an upper view of the Harbor Freight saw.

The DeWalt air blower is awesome!  You can move it anywhere you want!  You can only use pin-less (or flat) blades in this saw and they are extremely easy to put on.  Blade changes take just over 30 seconds and if you are just inserting the blade through your work that takes even less time.

The Harbor Freight blower is worthless and incredibly frustrating.  The saw takes pin-less AND pinned blades but there's a catch: you can't put the pinned blades through a tiny hole in your work so beware... also, if you're working with pin-less (or flat) blades it is very cumbersome to put the adapters on the end (small metal pieces in photo).

Here's looking underneath the DeWalt.  The bed tilts up to 45-degrees either way.  It doesn't have a dust collection system which I don't mind because I take it outside to work.

Here's looking underneath the Harbor Freight saw.  It has a dust collector that you can hook your vacuum up to.  The on/off switch and speed control are a little awkward to get to because you have to bend down to see under the bed of the machine.

I would HIGHLY recommend the DeWalt DW788 over the Harbor Freight (Central Machinery) saw, even considering the cost difference.  You won't regret it!

It's like comparing a plastic $78 Wal-Mart Singer sewing machine to a 10-year-old German Made Pfaff 1473 that you can buy used for $400.  Even though it's over $300 more AND used, it's totally worth it!  You won't be frustrated, you'll ENJOY using it, you'll get the job done faster and you can produce higher quality products.

9.30.2014

Small Dove Sewing Pattern & Instructions




I bought a set of Christmas ornaments that had a flat dove cut out of felt that just wasn't going to cut it for me.  I searched in vane for the perfect sewing pattern and I ended up creating my own! I am offering my little pattern + instructions for free!





to be redirected to download which includes:
-material & tool list
-pattern
-instructions

Once finished, the dove measures about 3-inches tall.  If you want to make an ornament out of it, consider you'll need to sew in a loop of ribbon or something in the back seam (not included in the instructions).

Other views:




9.26.2014

Dining Table Refinished + Barstool Build


Our dining table needed to be refinished BAD!  The topcoat was worn-out, dull and sticky and had a lot of stick figures and names carved into the wood.

I don't have a good 'before' picture but this will give you an idea:

 The legs were black and no matter how much I cleaned them I felt like they always had permanent white milk splatters.

Here's a picture after I had disassembled the whole table, sanded, stained the top and re-assembled:

After taping and painting one coat on the legs:

We had 2 ikea barstools on each end that never matched so I sold those and decided to make ones that would go with the table.

I found the perfect plans on ana-white.com called "Vintage Barstools" and altered the height and overall footprint.

My stools are considerably smaller than her plans and I couldn't fit my drill and the large Kreg-Jig bit inside and was glad I had a right-angle attachment for my drill.

 These little corner decorations were a huge pain to cut out but all the work was work it (in the end).  I didn't want to do a pocket hole on each edge so I just did one side...

 ...then hammered a nail to hold the other side. They are glued as well so they won't be going anywhere.

 Almost done!

TIP: If you're a first time pocket-holer you should know that you MUST clamp your pieces while you screw them together because they pull apart and/or shift and won't line up once your screw is in. 

I put a light marking on my seat boards where the underside rail was so I knew where to put my nails.

 I like the look of having the nails showing - it's more rustic looking!

I love the look of the pocket holes after they're plugged, particularly if staining because they are more obvious (is that werid?) TIP: Make sure to butter your hole and the plug with glue, let dry and you can use a sharp chisel to trim it flush to the surface (or you can sand with 80 grit paper).

 Here's what the back looks like all plugged up.  I also did the holes on the leg stretchers but didn't worry about the underside of the seat.

 Here's how the stools turned out after lots of sanding, painting and clear coats.


Here's what everything looks like together.  I wasn't sure if the original black stools would look okay but I actually like the contrast.

These are the finishes I used.

9.24.2014

Make a "Small Plant Garden" / Terrarium

I stumbled upon a blog about building terrariums and I fell in love.  Succulent plants that are used in terrariums are hardy and require very little maintenance which is just what I needed!  Plus I loved the idea of having REAL plants instead of fake ones in my house to add a bit of color.

(photo courtesy of savedbylovedcreations)
Here's a picture from the blog that inspired me.

 You can use moss in the terrariums and I was researching where to buy it then I realized... "HEY, I live right next to a forest..."  so I took my 3 boys and we went hunting.  We found a lot of moss!

 Next I went around to all my local big box stores and nurseries to get a good selection of plants.  Home Depot surprisingly had the best selection and prices and Wal-Mart had some pretty cacti for good prices, too.

Next was getting all the ingredients!  I found all my glass dishes at the thrift store and the succulent/cactus soil and pea gravel at Home Depot.

 Here's some that I put together.

 This one is my favorite!

The aloe plant was the easiest to put together and actually looks nicer than I thought as a decoration.

(photo courtesy of Needles + Leaves)
Also, have you heard of propogating?  You can easily grow new plants with a cutting or even a pedal for the "mother" plant!  I couldn't believe it!

I bought some clippings from Amazon to try my own luck at propogating... we'll see...

Easy Fix to Keeping Duvet Flat inside Duvet Cover

Duvet covers are more convenient to wash than washing a whole comforter but they are extremely annoying when you have to stuff the duvet inside, or when your duvet migrates around inside and doesn't stay in place.

I finally put some thought into an easy fix.  It only took about an hour and I already had everything on-hand.

WHAT YOU NEED:
4 large eyelets (attach to corners of duvet)
4 sets of velcro* pieces (attach to corners of duvet cover)
*I had 1"-wide velcro and cut it down the center to be 1/2" so that it would fit through the eyelets.

The idea is that the velcro hooks around the eyelets to hold the corners of your duvet in place so that it can't move around.  The velcro makes it easy to center your duvet inside your cover in case it is slightly smaller than your cover (mine is 2" smaller around all sides).

I used a fabric marker to mark the center hole of the eyelets on each corner of my duvet. Give your eyelet a little space from the edge so it has enough fabric to hold onto.

Sew a circle around your dot, about 1/8" away from the edge of the marking.

 Cut around your marking, keeping your stitching intact.

 Add hardware and give it a good hammering.

 Make sure you hammer hard enough that it has a good curl around the edge to hold all the pieces together.

 Figure out how long you need your velcro. You want your hook & loop pieces to overlap at least an inch.  I did my loop piece about 5-inches and my hook piece about 3-inches (because my duvet was about 2-inches smaller around each side than my duvet cover).

Make sure you duvet cover is inside out! Attach velcro to each corner of your cover like so.  Go back and forth a few times to ensure it's anchored well.

 With your duvet cover still inside out, lay it down flat with your duvet on top.

Attach velcro through eyelets and you're ready to turn your cover right side out through the opening of your cover.  Give it a good shake and pull on each corner to help everything lay flat inside.

ENJOY!