Welcome to Issue #06 of
Wood Shop News

brought to you by: wooden box maker.com

sharpening woodworking tools

In this issue:

Visiting the lumberyard

The first trip to the lumber yard can be confusing and/or intimidating to a new woodworker. Click here for the full article on visitiing the lumber yard

Woodworking Classes

(Located S/SW of Boston)woodworking classes

Learn new skills or hone old ones in small group sessions tailored to the individual. woodworking classes Classes are limited to 3 people and take place in my shop outside Boston. They generally meet once a week for 2-3 hours. The sessions go on as long as students are interested, a few months or a few years.

woodworking classes As students progress, class becomes "open shop" time when they work on the projects of their choice while I answer questions and give suggestions as things come up.

Individual instruction is also available.

Click on the links below for more information.
woodworking classes
student work

Or feel free to contact me
for more information.

New & For Sale

Visit my sale page
for new work and sale items.
Or visit wooden box maker recommends for ideas on books and tools (category list top right of page).

In Progress

I've been working on an odd range of projects recently. I made a quick set of shelves from plywood using biscuit joinery. Painting it took longer than making it.

On the other hand, I've also been working on a lap desk that requires a lot of detailed work.

I started by making my own plywood. I had two reasons for doing so, first I wanted 3/8" walnut and I didn't think I would be able to find it easily. Second, I wanted the top veneer to be 1/16" thick and commercial plywood has much thinner veneers.

I made the ply by taking a piece of generic 1/4" birch ply and banding all 4 edges with walnut. Then I resawed a piece of walnut on my bandsaw to 3/32".

My bandsaw isn't big enough to resaw the full width that I needed, so I had to glue up two pieces to make the veneer wide enough for my purposes. I used masking tape, pulled tight, to clamp the edges together.visiting the lumberyard

Once the glue was dry I ran the veneer through my drum sander to bring it down to 1/16". I could have done the same thing by putting it through my planer, but since it was so thin I would have had to use double stick tape or hot melt glue to attach it to a thicker piece of wood. Also, the drum sander takes off such a small amount of material at a time it was easy to mill it to the exact size I wanted.

My final step was to glue the veneer onto both sides of the birch ply that I had previously banded. I used Titebond glue and plenty of clamps.

I sandwiched the panel between two pieces of melamine. Melamine has the advantage of being flat and heavy, and glue doesn't stick to it. Then I used cauls to reach the center of the stack.

routers I used oak for the cauls and clamped three running from side to side. I then added a fourth caul over the top of those three with a couple playing cards under the spot where it hit the middle of the three below it. Those cards gave just a bit of added pressure to the center of the stack. I left it overnight to dry.

at the lumberyard

Once dry I gave it a final sanding and it was ready to go. Then all that was left to do on the project was to build it!

On a Personal Note

Have you ever sat and watched fireflies flickering around a field on a warm June night? It is one of my favorite signs of the season. routers

Recently a friend of mine noted that she hasn’t been seeing fireflies much recently. She was wondering what was going on, so I told her I’d look into it. Here’s what I found out: (tip o’ the hat to Carol from JP).

The first thing I learned is that flies have one pair of wings while all other flying insects have two pairs. Fireflies (aka lightening bugs) have two pairs, so they are not actually flies. Instead they are beetles. They are a common beetle from the Lampyridae family, with some 2000 known species living around the world.

They are found mostly in warm, humid locations although there are exceptions (including an aquatic species that lives in Asia).

Fireflies begin life as eggs, then hatch into larvae. Firefly larvae are vicious little things. They have been observed preying on earthworms, snails and slugs. Some species over-winter as larvae, either by burrowing underground, or by digging under the bark of tree. They emerge in the spring, pupate for several weeks then emerge as adults.

Adults generally live from 3 weeks to 2 months. They also seem to be predators, although it is unclear what they actually eat and some may feed on nectar. A few species are known to be mimics. The adult firefly will mimic the flash of other species and when the stranger comes to investigate, the mimic will capture and devour the firefly it tricked. (Nature is not a peaceful place.)

The light fireflies produce is called bio-luminescence. It is created through a chemical reaction consisting of Luciferin (a substrate) combined with Luciferase (an enzyme), ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and oxygen. When these components are combined, light is produced. (See learn genetics for a quick and clear video of the chemical reaction required to make their light.)

Fireflies usually created light in their lower abdomen. This light is very efficient since it is produced without heat. A standard incandescent bulb, by contrast, produces 10% light and 90% heat (yet another reason to switch to compact florescent).

Not all adult fireflies are bio-luminescent (and not all bio-luminescent beetles are fireflies). However, all known firefly larvae and eggs are bio-luminescent. So, if you are creeping around a warm, wet, wooded area at night and come across a patch of glowing larvae, you could be looking at baby fireflies.

No one knows for sure why the larvae and eggs are bio-luminescent, although it is suspected that it is a defensive adaptation warning predators that the larvae taste bad (due to chemicals they produce).

In the adult fireflies, among the species that do flash, the light is used for communication, specifically to attract a mate. In many North American species, for example, the male firefly will flit about flashing in a pattern that is specific to its species. The female will perch on a leaf or blade of grass near the ground. When a male gets her attention she will flash in response with her species specific reply. They will converse in flashes until the male joins her to mate. fireflies

Unfortunately, Carol is right in her observations. Fireflies are becoming more scarce. Habitat loss as well as pesticides and other pollutants are taking a toll. Since fireflies tend to gather in the same area year after year, putting a shopping mall in the middle of their woods, or polluting a breeding meadow, can kill out an entire local population.

Apparently collecting fireflies has also been deadly for the little bugs. For decades Sigma-Aldrich Corporation in St Louis paid people to collect fireflies for luciferin and luciferase – the chemicals used to create their flashes (see Summer flings: firefly courtship, sex, and death.). Fortunately man-made replacements for both chemicals are now available commercially and the program has been discontinued (no bugs were killed to make this product).

A final danger for fireflies is “light pollution.” Bright lights of cities and towns can overwhelm the flashes of the fireflies. If they can’t see the flashes they can’t find their perspective mates. No mates, no eggs, no more adults.

fireflies It would be a terrible shame to lose their creatures. I’m not sure what individuals can do to help protect them, other than to turn off floodlights and other outdoor lights and to avoid polluting our world any more than we absolutely have to.

Finally, enjoy the flashing. I think the more aware we become of the world around us, the less likely we are to destroy it.

Info from:
National Geographic also from National Geographic: the beautiful image just above of a firefly with lighted abdomen. Photograph by Taylor S. Kennedy
The Firefly Files
Wikipedia Crepuscular
Wikipedia Firefly
Summer flings: firefly courtship, sex, and death. Sara Adler Natural History. FindArticles.com. 24 Aug, 2009.

Final Words and Errata

I hope you have enjoyed reading this ‘zine. Do you have ideas for future topics? Comments? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Just hit reply and tell me what you think.

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