Monday, December 27, 2010

cosmoline and sawdust do mix

I know some of my readers are here for practical advice rather than to hear my opinions on education. Some of my readers will remember my experiments using sawdust as a medium with which to extract oil from water. It all began with the water being turned off at my school woodshop and my proposal to my students that they wash their hands in sawdust to remove Danish Oil finish like I do in my own shop. They were extremely skeptical at first but it works and now, even when the water is available, it is my students' preferred technique. Using sawdust first as a scrubbing agent is more effective than soap and water alone.

Today's experiment involves the use of sawdust to remove cosmoline from a new wood working tool. After over twenty years of use, my Ryobi Planer/Jointer combination tool is demanding replacement. Today I replaced the jointer part of the combo with one from Grizzly and I will nurse the planer along for a couple more months before its replacement arrives.

Cosmoline coatings on new equipment can take its toll on paper towels and rags. Kerosene solvent is useful to help get it off. But the whole process is a mess. So how about sawdust? I have it in plentiful supply.

Pour on the sawdust, scrub it around a bit on the metal surfaces, then sweep it away. Some greasy coatings may be too tough for sawdust to remove without the addition of solvents first.

Properly dispose of oily sawdust the same way you would oily rags.

Wooden Boat Magazine is one of the places that does the most to promote hands-on learning in the US. An article in the previous issue of Wooden Boat about the Spaulding Boatworks in Sausalito introduces the reader to master boatwright Michael Wiener. Wiener began working at the Spalding Boatworks in the late 70's. He described the changes that have been taking place around the boatyard and in our human kind.
"I think that people have changed, but somehow feel that the need in people hasn't changed. My experience is that everybody who walks in here sort of takes a deep breath and says, 'Oh my god, I've walked into a different world.' So keeping the Spaulding center alive and honestly doing boat work, there's probably more need for that than ever before."

"The secret is to keep from becoming precious. We're keeping something alive that's meaningful for people because boatbuilding is kind of a supreme human achievement in so many ways. Hardly anybody even understands the complexity of a plank, and it's so remarkable that human beings, with their sort of rectilinear kind of inclinations, can achieve something like that. This place is about what it is to be human more than anything else."
Wiener does a pretty good job of describing something that is essentially indescribable. You just about have to walk into hands-on learning to really understand what it is, and how meaningful it can become.

In the photo at left, you can see that I continue to make progress on my cherry cabinet. These are Here I am forming tongues on the parts of the cabinet top to secure the crown molding. Tomorrow I will rout, sand and assemble the carcass and begin making the doors and base and crown moldings. Make, fix, create.

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