The Grand Unveiling

Of the long awaited box.

In 2007 I made an agreement with my dear friend Nick, to knit him a sock weight scarf designed by me. In return he would make me a wooden box to hold my needles.  I finished that scarf in early 2008, and sent it off.  Unfortunately, while Nick started my box ever so long ago, circumstances got in the way and the box was put on hold. And poor Nick had to suffer from years of teasing by both his mother and I about the incomplete box.

But, circumstances have again changed, and the box is complete. It has compartments on the bottom to hold my circular cables. Then on top of that resides a nesting box with 10 separate compartments, to hold my interchangeable needle tips.  It is made of mahogany and maple, with maple burl veneer for the lid.  The piece is simply stunning, and I am so lucky to know someone as talented as Nick.

You know what? This was totally worth the wait.

Nick is disturbed…(from Nick)

Here’s the hardware to finished up the noodle.
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The inserts gets threaded into a hole at the end of each stick.
And here’s the small version of the noodle:
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And the large:
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Shells can use the two different handles depending on how large she wants the loops (hanks?) of yarn to be.
Here’s a close up of the hardware:
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Here’s what it looks like all loaded up with yarn:
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And the hank once it comes off:
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BTW I was very disturbed that I figured out how to use this thing on the 1st try. I had to take a video!

Niddy and then some, from Nick

Here’s what we look like after 2 coats of danish oil (to help bring out the grain) and 4 coats of gloss wipe on gloss poly. If things look good tomorrow it will get the final coat of satin poly tomorrow. If not a few more coats of gloss might be in order. Wipe on poly is much thinner than brush on so it takes more coats to build up. But this help in eliminating drips and sags that can happen with brush on finishes.
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(Shells aside)
We have talked about Sis’ pen box but I never posted any pictures. So here they are, aren’t the gorgeous!?!?!
Unfinished:
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Here’s Sis’ pen holder at the same point in the finishing process…
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Giving the Noodle some shape… , from Nick

Blocks of wood are not very effective at holding yarn so we need to carve these a bit. 1st I make a template out of some card stock (6-pack carton) and mark all four sides that need to be carved.
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Here you can see the pattern. Note the upward sweep at the ends. This should keep the yarn from falling off the ends (I hope).
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Since this surface is curved my flat disc sander will not work. Since I don’t feel like using my whittling knife (not that I own one) I attack this hunk of wood with a new toy. A drum sander that fits into my drill press.
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Here’s a video of the process
After the initial shaping I see a slight design flaw. Only a small portion of the top needs to be flat to hold the washer when this thing is screwed into the handle. That means I can have more curved area to hold more yarn.
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So it’s back to the drawing board to modify the template. And remark the arms.
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Here you can see the arm towards the top with more material removed. Much better!
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A cool side effect of gluing two boards together is the pattern the grains make. In the veneering world this effect is call book matching.
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Before I forget I drill a small pilot hole in the center. This will be drilled out after finishing to hold the dowel and screw.
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Next I get to try out my other new toy I’ve been working on for the past week. My new router table! While it’s not complete yet with all it’s guides and fences its ready to go for some round-over action.
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On a router table the bit protrudes from the bottom. This gives the full surface of the table to rest your work piece on. What I’m about to do would be VERY hard to accomplish with a hand router. Installed is a half inch round over bit. This will give the arms some nice shape for the yarn to wrap around (I hope again).
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Here’s a video of my router table being used for the 1st time.
After hitting all the edges with the round over bit and some initial rough sanding here’s where we are at.
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I’m not sure why but I think of a duck when I look at this thing. Maybe I have a future making decoys!
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Niddy Noddy Nick (from Nick, if you hadn’t guessed)

Oodles of Noodles…

OK lets’ get this party started… I’ve been commissioned once again to construct a wooden knitting device. This time a Niddy Noddy. Since I think the name Niddy Noddy sounds completely GHEY you will hear me refer to it as other things. For some reason noodle sticks in my head. So I’ll call it noodle items most of the time.

So a noodle doodle is a thing that spinners (like Shells) can wind their yarn on after spinning. Then it goes on the swift? Then into balls? I’m sure all this process has a reason, but I already know way too much about knitting…

So the wood I picked out is the same as the swift. Poplar. I purposely picked a piece with lots of green “heartwood”. Although in my research I’ve found out the green will eventually brown with exposure to the light. I guess Shells with have to Noodle in the dark if she wants it to stay green. The 1” dowel will make up the “handle” of the noodle.
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1st step is to cut the Poplar 1x2s (same stuff the swift arms are made of) into 12” lengths.
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Net I’ll have to glue two lengths together essentially making a Poplar 2×2 to carve the arms out of. For this I use Titebond III wood glue. Which is also waterproof in case Shells finds herself noodling outside in a mid-western tornado.
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The arms are clamped and set aside to cure overnight.
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Crazy Making

So, we established that the swift arrived yesterday around lunchtime. I, of course, had to take it out and put it together for favorite coworker to see. We both admired it greatly. I then took it apart with the intention of taking it to knit night for show and tell.

I got to knit night, and showed and told. Everyone was duly impressed and one of the gals there wondered if Nick could rework her current swift. I picked up some fiber (more on that later) and came on home to receive the Bug and set up the swift so she and I could play with it. Get everything in the house, clear off the table and go to set up the swift. No hardware. I dump out everything in my bag. No hardware. I begin to panic, go through my fiber, my knitting, my purse, my pockets. No hardware. Now we know I had it at the Knit Night. And I could have sworn I put it in my bag. But I am doubting everything because I am tired and haven’t eaten yet and everything feels discombobulated. I post for the Knit Night gals to look for it if they get the chance. And then the Bug comes home. So we chat and play and she talks about the big “X” on the table.

Once the Bug goes to bed I once again start the search for the hardware. I am well aware that Nick is gonna give me a hard time about losing the hardware the first day. After all, this is why he gave me 2 sets! It quickly becomes apparent that the hardware is not going to be found and any more looking is crazy making. I own up to the fact that I will have to tell Nick that I have already lost the hardware, before I have even begun. Amidst all this, my cell phone dies. The keypad won’t work and the screen and keypad won’t light up. I can receive calls but I cannot answer them because the buttons don’t work. I swear they are programmed to break easily!

I email Nick and go to bed. Get a call from Nick on the home phone and we discuss a plan of attack for getting new hardware. He is going to specifically tell me what I need and I was told to go to the nearest Ace and bat my eyelashes at an employee. It seems like a decent plan. I think it will work. It appeases me enough to let me sleep. (In which I have anxiety dreams about snakes, but that is another story entirely!).

I got up this morning early. I thought I would have a go at looking for the hardware. I pick my knitting for the umpteenth time, shake it out, and imagine my surprise when the hardware falls out. GGRrrr. But of course I put my swift together right away! And took pictures. And a video which I will post tonight.

So here is the swift together and the yarn which I intend to ball laying on the swift.
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I then put the pegs in, stretching the hank well so that it doesn’t tangle as it unwinds.
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I then hook it up to the ball winder:
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and I am good to go! (erm, that is, AFTER I take the holding thread out of the yarn?!?! I guess it was too early and prior to coffee for me to think that one through!)

It is smooth as glass. Works perfectly, and quickly. Just wait till you see the video! It is truly a fantastic tool as well as being a work of art. All my crazy making was worth it for this moment!

Oh, Bug can’t wait to get home tonight to play with it! I brought her downstairs this morning and asked if she wanted to, but she decided that trains take precedence. Currently she is working on a track that runs all the way into my bedroom. But on the way to school I asked her if she wanted to have a PJ pizza party tonight. She said “YES! AND AND, I want to wind the yarn!”

It’s Done!!!, From Nick

The last thing to do was to buff out the arms with steel wool and drill out the final holes. Needless to say I’m happy with the final result (and I hope Shell’s stash of yarn is happy with it also)…

Here’s she is:
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And a video of the swift in action.

I’m not sure why is came out so dark, but here’s another with no yarn.
And some other pics I took of the final product:
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I’m wondering who is going to like this thing more, Shells or her little bug… It is a fun toy to play with!!!

Thanks for following along. I’m sure I’ll be working on other projects that involve woodworking and knitting somehow. BTW, I now know WAY too much about knitting for a straight man! 😀

Finishing Up Susan, from Nick

Now that the circles have had a few days to cure it’s time for the final step of finishing. They get buffed out with some extra fine steel wool (#0000) and wax.
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This leaves a mirror smooth satin finish
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Next I attack the bottom of the Susan with coarse sand paper. This gets the surface ready for gluing the cork padding to the bottom.
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For this I’m using a two part epoxy. Epoxy loves sticking to wood (the cork) and plastics (The Polyurethane finish is basically a type of plastic).
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The Susan is put back together and sits on the glue covered cork for 12 hours. Those old fish food cans are filled with lead shot for weight. But don’t worry about Susan, that bearing is rated for 350 lbs. That’s allot of fricken yarn!
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After the epoxy cures overnight I trim and sand the edges of the cork bottom.
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And now Susan is done!!!!! She looks like she needs some arms! Those get finished up tomorrow!
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Back to the Arms, From Nick

OK now that the circles are varnished and going through their final cure it is time to button up the arms. The 1st thing I’m going to do is drill the holes out larger. Now after some experimenting I found the final hole was cleaner and more precise if I did this in steps. Here are the 5 drill sizes I am going to use in total. The final half inch bit will be used after varnishing. 5 bits x 60 holes. I’ll let you do the math…
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Here’s a video of the drill press in action.
And here are the arms ready for varnishing. They will get the same treatment as the circles. Come back in a few days for an update!
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Finishing (Coat #4), From Nick

Now I’ve never been a huge fan of super glossy finishes but I must say after 3 coats of poly gloss this thing is looking great! But for this project we are after a more subtle glass smooth satin finish. So the next step is to attack the gloss once again with the synthetic steel wool.
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After a dusting and a mineral spirits wipe down it gets a light spray of satin poly. Now we need to give the varnish about 3 days to fully cure before the last finishing step. Which might surprise you! Stay tuned for more…
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Finishing (coat 3), From Nick

Coat 3 goes on the same as coat 2 except this time we use 000 synthetic steel wool instead of sandpaper. This stuff is basically the same thing as the scotch-pad on the back of your dish washing sponge.
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Since the 2nd coat will not be as rough this stuff works perfect for preparing the wood for the final coat of brush on gloss.
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Since we’ve had colder days/nights here in northern, NJ (can’t wait for that scarf!) I’m going to have to wait 2 days before the final coat of spray on satin goes on. Here’s the time that it’s hard to have patience . But I keep telling myself (and Shells) that it will be worth it!

Finishing (coat 2), From Nick

After the 1st coat dries for 24 hours the finish is rough and uneven. This is because the 1st coat “soaks” into the wood and also raises the grain. To prepare the surface for the 2nd coat the wood get a a light sanding with 220 sand paper.
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The result is a dull appearance that is ready for the 2nd coat of varnish. Like the 1st coat the wood gets a dusted off and a wipe with mineral spirits before the 2nd coat is applied. Now it’s another 24 hours of curing…
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Finishing (1st Coat), from Nick

Now that the circles are sanded and smooth we are ready to apply the 1st coat of gloss varnish. Before we do we must get the surface free from dust and oils (like the ones that can come from our filthy hands).

For this I’ll 1st give the circles a spray with compressed air to remove any obvious dust.
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Then a wipe-down with mineral spirits on a lint free rag to remove any residual dirt / oil.
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Here’s the varnish we are going to use for the 1st 3 coats. Minwax brush-on oil based Polyurethane in gloss. The brush is a Purdy natural bristle brush specific for oil finishes.
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I’ll start by finishing the bottom, flipping the circle over onto the bed of nails, then coating the sides and top. The idea here is after the top is done the item won’t have to be handled again.

The coat should go on light with the brush always moving in one direction with the grain…

Here’s a video of the top of the top circle (the most important surface) being varnished.
Here’s the top circle all shiny with wet varnish. Look at that awesome grain!

Clean up on the brush is done with mineral spirits in an old coffee can.

Now it time to let it sit for 24 hours to cure. Tomorrow coat #2 goes on.
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Finishing (getting ready), from Nick

Now I’m not going to claim to be an expert on finishing wood. In fact I know little about it. But a friend who is well versed in wood working gave me a game plan for finishing the swift. The most important feature of the finish is smoothness since it will be used with delicate yarns.

To achieve this we are going to use 3 coats of brush-on gloss Polyurethane and a final light coat of spray-on satin Polyurethane. Between coats we will sand or “scotch-bright” the wood to prepare the surface for the next coat. Why 3 layers of gloss before the satin coat? If all 4 layers were satin the finish would appear milky (this is a characteristic of satin varnish apparently). By using gloss for the 1st 3 coats we’ll get a great clear finish. I’m told this is the same method they use on satin finished hardwood floors.

We will use a spray for the final coat to allow a VERY thin coat that will dry fast. This fast drying will mean less time for dust to settle on the wet varnish. Dust is the #1 reason a finish will not be smooth. With this quick drying process we minimize the effect of dust on our pieces.

Here is a sample piece that I finished over the last week while I was working on the swift:
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I’ll be finishing the circles 1st as some more work has to be done on the arms (more on this later). The 1st step is to make a quick “bed of nails” for the pieces to sit on while being finished. This will allow me to finish all sides at once…

I trace the circle patterns on a scrap piece of wood.
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Then hammer a few nails through to the other side.

The trick here is to use the least amount of nails as possible. Then less “stuff” is will be in contact with the drying varnish.

Here’s how it looks all ready to go.
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Next we need to sand the pieces we are going to varnish. For this I break out a new toy. A 1/4 sheet vibrating sander (calm down ladies). I’ll start with a medium grit (100) sand paper to remove any scratches or imperfections in the wood. Then finish with a fine (220) paper to smooth the wood. The one rule here is to always sand along the grain. Also for this step I use an anti-skid mat under the piece. Works like a champ!
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Here’s a video of the sander in action (In 3-D, Get out your red/blue glasses)…

Now the circles are ready for their 1st coat of gloss varnish
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Progressive Peg Preparation, from Nick

As some of you can tell I can be a bit of a perfectionist. While that can be a good thing sometimes it can also be a pain to deal with. Also when building something like this I like to cut and shape accurately. I like to have guides or lines in place to go by. Well this is a case where things have to be done by feel. And I have to admit I’m stressing about it. But I’m willing to face my fears…

It’s time to prepare the pegs. And they deserve just as much attention to detail as the rest of the swift. After all they kinda are the stars of the show. They are the ones holding the yarn in place. Just cutting them to size would not be good enough. Sticking with the rounded theme of everything else the tops will get domed, and the bottoms will have a slight bevel to assist in hole insertion (Stop giggling kids!)…

Oh if you remember we started with 3/8” dowels made of Oak at the begging of this project. Since then I found a Lowes that stocked Poplar dowels! This is good news as now all of the wood will match! While picking them up I made an executive decision to up the dowel size to 1/2”. The 1/2” dowels were less warped at the store. Also the larger diameter of the peg will be gentler on the yarn.

Here’s a photo of the new dowels along with the arms.
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The pegs are going to stick up 8” from the arms and insert in the arms about half an inch. So the 1st step is to rough cut the pegs to 10”. Why 10”? That gives me some wiggle room in case I screw up shaping the domes (can you tell I have lots of self-confidence with this step?).
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Ok, here’s the plan. Using the angle guide on my disc sander I’m going to shape the domes a little at a time. Starting with a steep angle then adjusting the guide in steps shaping the dome a bit by bit. Here’s the guide set for the 1st shaping.
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With the dowel against the guide I twirl the end against the sander. Think pencil sharpener. With my gorilla pod wrapped around my hanging shop light I take a quick video of what’s going on (apparently the power tool videos are popular with the ladies).
After the 1st step (and a few screw ups) here are all 5 pegs lined up. So far so good. Oh.. why 5 pegs? 4 will be used for wrapping around the yarn and an extra one will be used as a handle to spin the swift while winding yarn on to it.
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Now it’s a matter of adjusting the angle guide a little at a time and repeating the process. The trick is to only sand a little at a time then adjust the guide. This is where the “feel” comes into play. And I have to shift my thinking from precise cuts to “carving” or “sculpting”.

This is done in about 10 small steps. But here are few so you can see the progression.
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Here’s where the guide was set at for the final step. You can look at the 1st setting again and compare the two.
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Now after a quick sanding by hand to smooth things out…
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…we have 5 domes that look kinda even. Whew…
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Now I can cut the pegs down to their final length of 8.5”. Also I give the bottoms a slight bevel on the disc sander to help in hole insertion (kids,, shhhhh!). Here’s a before and after of the bevel.
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Now since the peg / hole fitment needs to be precise I’m not going to varnish the pegs (that would throw off their size by adding to the thickness). Instead they get a VERY light sanding with 600 grit sandpaper and a coat of wax. BTW, this wax is different than your auto wax (how, I don’t know). But the wax will act as the finish and also help in… You in the back of the class… that’s right hole insertion…
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Just like the Karate Kid… Wax on, wax off… And the pegs are done!
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Here’s a finished peg in a test hole. Looking good!
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Next we prepare the circles for varnishing. And more power tools!

Break Out the Router, From Nick

As I mentioned in “Zen and the Art of Yarn Maintenance” we want to eliminate all square corners and edges on our swift.

Time to break out one of my favorite power tools! My Ryobi router. A router spins a bit at VERY high speed. In this case 25,000 RPM (That’s Revolutions per Minute for all you non-technical types).
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This bit is profiled in a shape that we want our edge carved in. A small rounded profile in this case (Technical name is a roundover bit). This will cut into the wood and leave the harsh edges with a slight roundness.

On the bottom of the bit (top in this view with the router upside down) there is a ball bearing. The bearing acts as a “stop” against the side of the wood once enough material is cut away. In other words, it’s fool-proof! But you know what they say, make something fool-proof and they’ll make a better fool.

Thinking back to 8th grade woodshop class there are 3 tips to successful edge routing.

Tip 1: Always feed the router against the direction of rotation (in this case the router bit spins clockwise). For some extra reading on this see: http://www.dekalbsaw.com/bitkickback.html
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Tip 2: When possible uses a scrap piece of wood under the router that is the same thickness as the item you are cutting (opposite side of the material you are cutting). This will prevent the router base from tilting by accident.

In this photo you see the arm we are rounding on the the left, and the scrap “helper” to the right.

Tip 3: Cut your profile in a few passes (2 or 3). This allows the bit and router to strain less. This will result in cleaner cuts and less sanding later. Sometime if you cut too fast or too much at one time you’ll see burn marks in your wood. Nothing that can’t be sanded away, but we might as well try to avoid them.
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Of course it’s important to have your material clamped down securely. I break out a bunch of magnetic presses to keep things put. You can also use a rubber anti-skid mat for this. I’ve done that in the past with good results. But figured I’d give my magnetic clamps a try.
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While shopping at Eddie Bauer a few months ago with a VERY good friend I saw this incredible gadget. It’s called a Gorilla-Pod. All 3 leg of the tripod are flexible. Makes setting up angles very easy. And the legs can wrap around a tree or railing.
This allows my hands free to take a video of some router action.
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Here’s a before of an edge:
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And after:
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And here’s an image of the arm junction. I routed these corners with the arms assembled. I’m happy with the results.
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Then it’s time to attack the circles. Since we have two circles one acts as a helper while one gets cut. Since both circles were cut from the same piece of wood everything is very precise. As B.A. from the A-Team once said… I love it when a plan comes together…
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Here’s a before and after of the circle edges
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And I could not resist placing the arms on the top circle to get an idea of how this will all look together. As Borat said… HIGH FIVE!
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Next it’s time to situate the pegs…

Rounding off the Arms

In staying with the “circle” theme of the Lazy Susan I‘m going to round off the ends of the arms. I mean in theory even the Lazy Susan could have been made square. But it would have looked funny spinning around. Also squares and edges are too harsh for working with delicate exotic yarns. “Zen and the Art of Yarn Maintenance” rant over…

Now remember my $1.99 compass? To tell you the truth I own a very precise drafting compass that I used in a mechanical drawing course during my 5 minutes in college. But I figured there has no way I was going to find it being it was years since I’ve used it or seen it. Of course while working on this project I caught a glimpse of it hanging on my tool peg-board! It’s funny when things are where they belong and you don’t think to look there! Oh well, $1.99 down the drain.
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Since we’ll be drawing a half circle at the end of the arm the center of it will be the same distance from all 3 edges (half the dimension of the width). Which is .75”.

After marking the center I set the compass from the center to one edge and draw our half circle.
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Since there is not much material to remove here I use my disc sander to shape the half circles.
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Here’s a before and after. Isn’t that much more pleasant?

Next we’ll round all the square edges with a router. That means more power tools ladies!
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Making the Arms Holey, from Nick

No we are not going to have them blessed. We are going to drill holes in them for the pegs. A whole lot of them! The idea is to give the swift lots of flexibility for different sized Hanks. BTW, why is called a Hank? Why not a Matt or Bill? Was it Hank’s idea to loop yarn this way? If so good job Hank!

After a few emails back and forth with Shells, she decided that the swift should be able to handle a Hank up to about 100 inches in circumference. After doing some quick math we settled on the last holes to be 17” from center, which will handle a hank of 96”. Close enough. The 1st holes will be 3” from center. Which is smaller than what she needs, but you never know when you might find some exotic yarn from Zimbabwe that comes in Mini-Hanks. From 3” to 17” there will be a hole every inch. Turns out the swift will have a total of 60 holes! Jeeez…

Plugging the Pythagorean Theorem (Remember when you said, When will I never need to know that?) into an excel sheet I calculate the hank circumference for every peg position.

Inches From Center Cir of Hank (Inches)
3 16.97
4 22.63
5 28.28
6 33.94
7 39.60
8 45.25
9 50.91
10 56.57
11 62.23
12 67.88
13 73.54
14 79.20
15 84.85
16 90.51
17 96.17

Shells approves, so lets get started…

The 1st step is to measure the hole positions from the center. I use tape over the wood so I don’t have to remove pencil marks later.
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Next I use a square to mark the lines
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Then I use my digital calipers to find the center of each hole and mark them
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Like all other holes these start with making a small indention with my hand drill
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Now I can remove the tape to expose the indentions.
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Off to the drill press to make pilot holes.

The pegs are going to stick up about 8” and insert into the arms about 1/2”. The cool thing about a drill press is you can set the depth of the drill bit with a lock. This ensures all 60 holes will be the same depth. Locking in the depth also eliminates the chance of drilling through the arms. Also a properly set up drill press will produce a perfectly perpendicular hole every time with no thinking involved! BTW, If you don’t know what perpendicular means then you were not paying attention in 4th grade geometry class. Go look it up!

Here is a pic me setting the drill bit depth.
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The indentions I made help guide the tip for the small drill bit for very accurate placement of the holes.
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Here are the arms with the pilot holes all bored out. Thinking ahead I’m going to wait to make the final 1/2” holes until the varnish is applied to the wood. The fit of the hole / peg should be snug and precise. If I drill the final holes now then brush 3 coats of varnish on the arms it’s inevitable that some varnish will fall into the holes and mess with the peg fitment. The pilot holes will act as place holders and if they get varnish in them it does not matter.

BTW, that is not a typo. The pegs are going to be 1/2” now, not 3/8”. More on that later.
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Here’s a close up of the wood grain. I am looking forward to seeing how the varnish will pull out the grain!

Next we’ll round off the ends of the arms…
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Notching the arms, from Nick

On to the arms. 1st I cut two pieces 42” long. Shells wants this swift to handle a 100” hank (so she can make me a 15 foot scarf). So the distance between the furthest pegs needs to be 34”. Then we need the arms to extend 4” from the last peg to support the yarn. 34 + 4 + 4 = 42. Right?
The 2 arms will be notched so they create a cross that will lay flat on the Susan. First step is to find the center of the arms at 21” and mark a line. I clap the arms together for this step. Makes it easer to mark both arms the same.
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Next I need to see how wide to make the notch. Break out the digital calipers (Have I mentioned this is one of my favorite tools). These sticks are 1.516” wide.
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Break out the cell phone for some quick division. Half of 1.516 is .758 (I don’t trust myself to do simple math in my head, especially when cutting something). Now I mark a line .758” to either side of the center line.
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The result is the location of the notches marked out exactly in the center of the arms.
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Next we need to figure out the depth of the notch. Which will be half the thickness of the of the material. Half of .760” is .38”…
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Now in a perfect world I would notch out these arms with a fancy router table (Think Yankee Workshop, that guy had everything!). But after looking around my basement I could not find one of those. So it’s off to the table saw to utilize a method I saw my father perfect while building many bookshelves for my mom.
The 1st step is to set the saw blade to .38” (the depth of the notch)
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Then it’s just a matter of passing the wood though the saw moving it over a slight amount each time. This will eventually change the area we want notched out into saw dust. With a little practice it’s possible to obtain very accurate results.

Here I’m making a small notch in a scrap piece to test my saw setting.
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After some fine tuning I get the results I want. If the material left over is .38” thick that means the notch is also .38” deep. .38 + .38 = .760 (the thickness of our wood). Isn’t math fun?
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Now I move to the real thing. Since the saw is set all I need to do is stay in the lines I marked out (think kindergarten).
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After a few minutes I have the notches done.
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Here are the notches in action right before they go together.
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And here they are together. Everything is sitting flat which is good!
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A quick test with a metal square shows a perfect 90 Deg junction. Success!
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Next we need to mark the center of the junction for the screw hole. Nothing fancy here, X marks the spot.
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Same routine here. Make an indention with the hand drill.
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Off to the drill press to bore a small pilot hole.
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Then drill the final size to allow for the #10 screw.
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Here are all the parts that Shells will be dealing with (minus the pegs).
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And 20 seconds later things are all together. Don’t forget the washer to protect the top of the arms! Otherwise the thumb screw would dig into the wood.

The arms sit nice and flat on the Susan. And the thumb screw provides more than enough pressure to hold everything in place.
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And a spin test shows everything is stable and balanced. I’m not sure why but as I spin this thing I think “WHEEL – OF – FORTUNE”
Next are the peg holes. A whole boat load of them!

What the heck is a blind nut?!? From Nick

Before starting on the arms I wanted to address something I was not thrilled about. The screw that sticks up from the Susan for the arms to attach to. This was going to be permanently in place. Thing is I could see it getting damaged in shipping or storage. Also things like hanks of precious silk yarn could get snagged on it by accident.
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Here’s a mock arm (I will call it mini-arm, BTW, I HATED that movie so much I turned it off after 5 mins and the 50th Ya Baby) screwed down with the thumb screw. It works. But again I’m not thrilled about the screw sticking up after the swift comes apart for storage. Time to come up with something better!
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Enter the all mighty “Blind Nut”. AKA “T-Nut”. These are used profusely in model airplanes for things like engine mounts and hatches. I did a Wikipedia search on “Blind Nut” but nothing came up. So bare down for a play by play on how a blind is installed and used.

BTW there is no entries for “Yawn Swift” on Wikipedia yet. Get working on that Shells!
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1st thing I need to do is make the center hole in the top circle slightly larger to accommodate the blind nut.
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Now the blind nut is inserted from the bottom and the “barbs” hold it in place temporarily.
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Then a screw is put in from the top. This pulls the barbs of the blind nut into the wood as it tightens.
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Now the blind nut is secured permanently in place. Note how the barbs sunk into the wood.
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This allows for an improvised thumbscrew (a screw and wing nut joined together) to be screwed in while the nut stays put.

I guess the term blind nut comes from the fact that you don’t have to mess around with a standard nut on the other side of the wood. Perfect in this case since the bottom will be “sealed off” with the anti-skid material. And it will allow Shells to assemble the swift with nothing more than her fingers… ( *aside from Shells: …which is good, since I am the type that can assemble a vacuum cleaner backwards!* )
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Here’s Mini-Arm all snugged down. Time to start the real arms!!!!!
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Take her for a spin, from Nick

Looks good, but how will it work? Only one way to find out, take it for a spin:

The Susan spins freely and the center screw stays centered as it spins. This means everything lined up well. I let out a huge sigh of relief once I see that!

The arms (big-ass arms, Shells wants this thing to be able to handle a 100″ circumference hank) will attach to that screw. Those get started tomorrow…

Moving right along part II, from Nick

Next it’s time to expand the center hole of the bottom circle. This will be so I can secure a blind nut to the top circle (more on blind nuts later).
For this I break out a drill hole saw. What a fun toy.
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Here’s the center hole cut out. All the access holes are done now. Let’s get this thing together and see what happens.
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It’s kinda hard to tell what’s going on here. But I need to 1st screw the bottom plate of the bearing to the bottom circle. I used long wood screws to line it up with the screw holes in the top. Then I used the calipers to double check that it’s centered. Then it’s the same process as screwing in the top plate, mark holes, drill small pilot holes half way through the wood, screw in the plate.
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With everything upside down on the work bench I can line up the top plate with the screw holes and line up the access holes so I can screw them in from the bottom. Everything lines up freakishly well.
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Normally when I have to screw something down a hole like this it’s a simple matter of rubbing the screwdriver on a magnet (remember 4th grade earth science). Rub a magnet on a piece of metal and it becomes a magnet. This would be great if some genius wasn’t using all stainless steal hardware (hint, magnets don’t adhere to stainless steal). My thinking while buying the hardware was “you never know when Shells could be swifting in the rain“.

So rather than waiting to get to a hardware store for different screws I remembered a trick I read in a magazine a long, long time ago (in a land far, far away). Use a piece of electrical heat shrink tubing to hold the screw to the screwdriver. Then you can start the screw down a hole and pull the tubing off. Lucky for me I had the right size heat shrink handy.
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Here’s a view of the bottom with everything screwed together.
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And the top view.
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Moving right along, from Nick

I mark the bottom side of the top circle I just chose. Why the bottom? Because you won’t see it once it’s assembled.
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Time to see if my plan to mount the bearing between the two circles will work. This is the part that I had to figure out in my head while at Lowes. I had to make sure it was going to be physically possible before buying the materials.

Fist I’ll mount the bearing to the underside of the top circle. Here the top circle is clamped down to the table and we are looking at the underside with the bearing roughly centered.
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I was not sure how I was going to center the bearing perfectly. But I figured if I had a truly perfect circle the corners should be the same distance from the circle’s edge. I also figured that if I screwed up I could just move the bearing and try again since this surface is hidden.

I get to used another fun tool. A set of digital calipers. This allows me to measure each corner and adjust until they are the same distance from the circle’s edge.
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Once I’m sure the bearing is centered I clamp down two comers to keep things in place.
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Now I can screw down the other two comers while everything stays centered.

1st I made an indention in the center of the mounting hole with my trusty hand drill.
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The indention helps guide a small drill bit for the srcew pilot hole. Only drill about half way into the wood. If you don’t trust yourself you can mark the drill bit depth with a piece of tape so you don’t drill to far and come out the other side.
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The pilot hole helps the screw go in straight. It also prevents the wood from splitting.
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Here’s the top plate of the bearing all screwed in.
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Now that the top plate is mounted I need to make access holes in the bottom circle so I can screw this thing together with the bearing sandwiched between the circles.

Before you say WHAT? You are making holes in that nice piece of wood? Keep in mind this is the bottom and eventually the holes are going to be covered anyway with some kind of anti-skid material (most likely some kind of cork shelf liner). And the holes are necessary for the final assembly.

I start by centering the bearing again (this time the bottom circle) and marking the centers with my hand drill.
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Next it’s over to the drill press to drill small pilot holes for the larger access holes. When possible I like to drill pilot holes 1st. They are easier to initially drill though the wood. And the also guild the larger bit as it bores through. Making the holes come out straighter.
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Here the larger access hole is being drilled. A 1/2” hole should allow for enough room (if everything lines up nice).
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With all 4 holes drilled I place the 2 circles together. Whew, The access holes line up perfect!
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Making the rough, smooth, part II from Nick

Or more building of the swift!

Switched to fine sandpaper on the disc sander. This cleaned up the edges nicely and allowed for some precession sanding to the line. Here are the edges with the circles still clamped together.
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Finally! Our square wood is now round!

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Now it’s decision time. Out of the 4 surfaces of the circles I need to choose the top of the Lazy Susan. Since this is the only surface that will be seen I choose the one with the most consistent color and grain.
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Making the rough, smooth. From Nick

Ok, the rough circles are cut out. Notice how I cut about a 1/16” from the line. There’s a reason for this…
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Time to drill the center holes in the circles (I know exactly where the center is since I used the indention for the compass). Walk over to my drill press… FRICK! The circles are too large to fit in my drill press by about a 1/2″.

Keep in mind the circles are no particular size. I didn’t even measure them out. I just made them as large as possible with the wood I bought. The important thing is that they are exactly the same. The dimension is not important since they are just a spinning platform for the swift arms.

OK, no drill press so we have to drill the center holes the old fashion way.
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You might have noticed that my work bench is a slab of steel. Actually it’s a slab of steel glued to a plate of ¾” glass. This is not because I’m crazy, it’s to ensure the surface remains perfectly flat. This is important because normally I build flying model airplanes (when I’m not doing some kind of side project like a swift). As you can imagine straight planes fly better than crooked ones.

The steel surface comes into play with a system of magnetic clamps and presses. Here one is holding the circle steady while I drill.
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With the center hole drilled in both circles I can now “clap” them together with a screw and nut. A few fender washers protect the wood.
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Look at those rough edges. YUK!
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Time to attack those nasty edges with my disc sander. Since I’m starting about 1/16” away from my line, (remember how I cut a 1/16” away from the line with my jig saw?) I’ll be sanding down to the line and squaring off the edges at the same time. And since the circles are clamped together they will turn out exactly the same.

I start the sanding with coarse grit sand paper since there is a good amount of material to remove.
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After some time and lots of dust the edges are cleaned up and perfectly square. Next I’ll switch to fine grit sand paper on the disc sander to remove the scratches that the coarse sand paper leaves behind. But that will have to wait for another night…
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Let’s get started, from Nick

We are starting with square (technically rectangle) wood. That’s too harsh for this project.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHow do you get a square wood to be round? 1st step is you stop at Michael’s Crafts and pick up a $1.99 compass. BTW, I always feel GHEY when I walk into that store for some reason. Maybe it’s the flowery smell or all the damn fake flowers they have.
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Let’s get that nice piece of Poplar cut in half. One half for the top, one for the bottom of our Susan.

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Next step, let’s measure for the center. FRICK! This wood panel is only 11 5/16″ wide. NOT 12″ as the label says. No wonder the 12″ bearing was too large. Oh well. These things happen for a reason. This will turn out better!

This is actually common when dealing with lumber. Did you know a 2×4 is really 1.5″ x 3.5?
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Now that we have the center it’s time to introduce one of my favorite tools. A hand drill. Perfect for making a small indention for holding the point of the compass.
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Just like 2nd grade art class. This compass has a nice locking feature on it. This will ensure both circles will be exactly the same. Not bad for for $1.99
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Two perfect circles marked out ready to cut.
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Break out the jig saw for the rough cutting of the circle. Yes that saw is older than I am. You can tell from the retro green. But wait. This is going MUCH slower than it should be. This wood is soft, it should not be this difficult to cut. That’s why, this blade is for cutting metal. Look around.. No other blades. I guess that means a stop at Home Depot on the way to work tomorrow morning. And the end of building for tonight…
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An hour at Lowes, from Nick

My hour at Lowes…
This is going to be simple. The web site shows this nice 12” bearing and 18” piece of wood:

How to build a lazy susan

Build a Lazy Susan in 10 mins. The basis of this swift. Head to lumber. I find the round “Table Top” as shown on the web site. It’s about 2” thick and weighs about 15 lbs. Way too heavy duty for this project (and would have cost $100 to ship via freight). Crap, that’s the smallest round piece of wood they have.

Look around. Time to find some other wood. Oak? Nah, too heavy and EXPENSIVE!!! Pine? Ick, The thing I hate about pine is you can never find a piece that is not warped. And for some reason I don’t think it would do your yarns justice. What’s this.. Poplar… It has a nice greenish hue and looks soft and subtle (because it is). Also the pieces are “straight as a board”. This is going to work great! And they have a 12” x 24” piece. I can make that work with the 12” Lazy Susan bearing somehow. Pick it up and go find the bearing.
Find the round bearing shown on the site. Look at it over the wood. FRICK! The bearing is larger than the wood… Either the bearing is lager than 12” or the wood is not 12” wide. But in my mind I’m sold on using this wood. Go back to lumber. 12” is the widest piece of Poplar they sell. FRICK! There is some pine “butcher board” that is interesting. Nah, I can’t have knots touching your yarn. OK, back to hardware. What else do they have? A square 6” bearing. That’s not going to work. With the arms of the swift extended a 6” square platform won’t be stable enough. Unless… I used that bearing with a piece of wood on top and bottom. That will work! But how am I going to screw this thing to both pieces of wood since it’s going to be sandwiched between them? Think, Think, Think, Got it! I know how to do it. This will work, be VERY stable and look great (since I can use the Poplar). Back to Lumber. No Poplar dowels for the pegs, Oak will have to do…

Back to hardware, a few screw packets. Whew, done, I’m outta here…Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The label says 12″…
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A nice close up of the base and arm wood
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The oak dowel
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The Lazy Susan Bearing
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Miscellaneous Hardware

Guest Blogger

I am pleased to announce a guest blogger here at Suzy Sells. Nick has kindly agreed to let me post his emails and progress on the yarn swift. I think that exploring another craft will be interesting and fun. Yes, it will contain pictures. No, not necessarily of him, wipe that drool off your faces ladies. (Of course if you ask nicely…..)

So here we go!

(Oh, and Nick? I will be correcting your typo’s. You really should thank me!)