Past Meeting Events

June 14, 2018 -- Mike Kozikowski

At our June 14 regular meeting Mike Kozikowski showed us a china cabinet that he built for his daughter. The inspiration was a photograph supplied by his daughter. Owing to the size and complexity of the cabinet, the construction took some time; even spanning a house move. 

The cabinet was built from walnut solids and veneers. It was built in two parts, a base cabinet and upper glass display, which sits on top without mechanical attachment. Mike used SketchUp to model the cabinet from the photograph. He started by importing the photo into SketchUp, allowing him to gauge the proportions. Then, SketchUp allowed him to work out dimensions and joinery prior to cutting the actual wood. By selectively hiding components, the software allowed him to isolated individual components for detailed cut drawings he could then use in the shop.

Other points Mike discussed included:
  • Used frame and panel construction for cabinet sides
  • 1/4″ walnut ply veneer for door panels and sides
  • Joinery included double tenons
  • Dovetails hold the front top rail into the posts
  • Curved center door and drawer
  • Used a template to band saw curved rails on carcass, drawers, and doors
  • Glass upper door and curved rails glued up from stack of veneer with gorilla glue
  • Shelves are adjustable with standard shelf pins
  • Ordered his walnut for the project from Niagara Lumber and had a good experience, part of the order arrived not like he was expecting and their customer service department helped him get what he needed.

July 12, 2018 -- The Arts and Crafts Movement by Nancy Hiller

We were delighted to have Nancy Hiller back for a second time to speak to the Guild.  You may recall her presentation last year when she demonstrated milk paint finishes.   This time around we saw a very different side of her.  Rather than yet another ‘how-to’ demo, as is the common fare at most of our meetings, Nancy treated us to glimpse inside the thinking behind the Arts and Crafts movement that occurred at the turn of the last century.  As background, this movement was an international rebellion against the industrialization of furniture, decorative and fine arts that began in the UK, then spread to Europe and North America between about 1880 and 1920, and Asia (the Mingei movement) in the 1920’s.

Nancy’s new book on the subject “English Arts & Crafts Furniture: Projects & Techniques for the Modern Maker” was release on June 26, 2018.  So, we were privileged to see it just 2 weeks hence.  This richly illustrated hardcover book features 3 construction project complete with: measured drawings, construction details, and photographs (Voysen Two Heart Chair, Harris Lebus Sideboard, and Gimson Hayrake Table).  But, it was Chapter One that was the subject of her talk; that is to answer the question “Is Arts and Crafts a Style?”

Here in the US, we associate the Arts and Crafts movement with Gustav Stickley, but the movement really starts in the UK with John Ruskin (a social thinker and leading art critic of the Victorian Industrial Age) and his contemporary William Morris (a writer, lecturer, and designer who is most often associated with the movement).   Nancy explained the conditions of the Victorian era that lead to up to the Arts and Crafts movement.   The Victorian Era which was a societal sea change.  The era starts in 1837 when most people lived in villages and worked on farms and concludes by 1901, where most people lived in towns and worked in offices, shops, and factories.

Founders of the movement saw a system that exploited both makers and consumers.   They were dishonest to consumer by producing furniture that was fancy (often ornate and gaudy) and looked good (at first), but didn’t last.   Factories subjected workers to horrible conditions.  They were dangerous (amputations were common), exploited workers (including children), and the work was repetitive and soul sucking.   This transformed work from “life affirming” to hell.    Leaders of the movement believed that makers should be able to strive for perfection, hone their skills, and have the freedom to do their best work.  What unifies all the examples is the philosophy underlying the movement which places emphasis on the people who built the items.

“John Ruskin saw Gothic as the ‘Antidote’ to the evils of the industrial revolution.”

Arts and Crafts as a style looked to the “moral” elements of the Gothic period, that is nostalgia for medieval culture, nature and material artifacts were “enchanted”, simpler and more transparent times, longing to re-enact or re-create nature in art, a reaction against mechanization.  Nancy also pointed out that the return to simpler times and longing for nature is very cyclical – as seen again in the 1960’s, and millennials (while not forgoing technology that keeps them connected) are bringing back the “crafts” movement.

Nancy went on to explain Ruskin’s “Moral Elements of Gothic”.   He listed them in order of importance:

In Buildings: In People:
Savageness Rudeness
Changefulness Love of Change
Naturalism Love of Nature
Grotesqueness Disturbed Imagination
Rigidity Obstinacy
Redundance Generosity
These terms (as understood in the day) may not mean what you think.   For example, don’t you find it really odd that “Savageness” or “Rudeness” is listed as the most important element, if at all.  She explains the word savageness is related to the Italian work selvaggio which simply means untamed.  Rudeness is derived from the Latin word rus, which simply means countryside.  Now, untamed and country are better fit our impression of the Arts and Crafts style.  The Hayrake Table project in the book is a good example of countryside.  Likewise, she went on to explain the other elements in her talk.

August 9, 2018 - Laser Engraving by Tim of Woodcraft

Tim from Woodcraft discussed some of the applications the laser can do with engraving and design.  If you have something you would like to have engraved, it is best to bring a sample board to test the laser cutting on that substrate.  The laser at Woodcraft can cut up to 3/4″ thick.  Thicker materials just may take longer.  They can engrave almost any material.   Acrylic and glass will work, even the stainless steel insulated cups.
The laser can engrave some very fine detail.  Photographs need some contrast to work well.
Tim gave a demonstration of the laser which is behind the library in Woodcraft.

September 11, 2018 - Spray Finishing with Lacquer by Barry Reiter

Our friend and long-time member, Barry Reiter spoke to the Guild about spraying lacquer finishes.   Here are some of the key points he covered.

About Lacquers

  • A ‘top coat’ is use for durability. For this presentation we will work with the assumption that all top coats fall into two categories: Lacquer and Polyurethane.   Note that polyurethane will yellow over time, lacquer will not.   Yellowing can be desirable for woods such as cherry, but unattractive for others such as blond curly maple.  Choose your finish appropriately.
  • The rules have changed significantly in the last 5 years. Hence, discount much of your prior notions regarding lacquer.   The California South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) now “drives the bus” for the rest of the country.  See:   They are the “800 pound gorilla sitting quietly in the corner” now that the EPA is lazy with some of their industrial rule making. 
  • Today’s water-based lacquers are much improved from years ago. However, unlike VOC based lacquers, subsequent coats do not dissolve into prior coats.   If you sand away a sag or run, or simply need to flatten the surface prior to the next application, a consequential “witness line” will be left and will not be eliminated by additional coats.   Hence, good surface preparation is a must.  On the positive side, water-based lacquers require reduced respiratory protection and the price of the products are coming down.
  • Barry prefers solvent based lacquers. Gemini is the product that he uses.  See:
  • When choosing a lacquer product, there are three types to select from: catalyzed (2 parts mixed and then sprayed), pre-catalyzed (better flow-out and drying characteristics), and conversion (which are sometimes marketed as varnishes). When choosing the manufacturer, look to see what their target market is (such as cabinet shops, or furniture repair) and align that with your needs as formulations vary based on the needs of the user.
  • He recommends buying a 90 sheen (maximum gloss) product. Satins and matt finishes all contain ground glass or sand to diffract the light.   The sand can be difficult to stir into suspension and therefore difficult to match.   A gloss sheen is easily reduced with steel wood and high-grit sandpaper.
  • Always buy the recommended lacquer thinner from the same manufacturer of the lacquer you are using. These lacquer thinners contain the same formulation as the lacquer and will help prevent defects such as fish-eye appearing in the surface.

Surface Preparation

  • Lacquer finishes require good surface preparation. Barry recommends sanding through all the grits, with the grain, to a to a minimum of 220 grit.
  • To check your sanding prior to finishing, wipe naphtha onto the surface with a rag. Any defects will show and should be corrected prior to applying the finish.   Remember, all finishes look good wet.


  • Contrary to rumor, lacquers can be applied with a brush on small pieces. However, use a high-quality brush such as a Taklon brush.
  • Turbine base spray systems (e.g. HVLP) are the preferred choice for water-based and two-part lacquers, but a bad choice for pre-catalyzed lacquer because they use hot air which causes dry spray (premature drying).
  • For pre-catalyzed or conventional nitrocellulose lacquers use a spray gun with a compressor. This can be either a pot gun or a cup gun (gravity feed).   The latter being good for holding the gun at odd angles.   The gun you choose doesn’t have to be expensive, as the Chinese have gotten very good at copying German and Italian designs with their CNC machines; the air horn being the most critical part of a gun.
  • Conventional spray guns have two critical adjustments. The needle adjustment is for regulating how much fluid is delivered by the gun.  The other fan width adjustment regulates the amount of air that is mixed with the fluid to atomize it.
  • All conventional guns operate best at 22-25psi “flow” pressure. Flow pressure is when fluid (not just air) is flowing through the gun.  Not “static” pressure.   Barry uses a miniature pressure gauge mounted on the inlet of his gun to make it convenient to set this optimal pressure.
  • The technique for using a gun is important. Start and finish each row “off the piece”, overlap each pass of the gun, and maintain a wet line.  For practice, use alcohol with a few drops of trans-tint dye on a piece of cardboard.
  • Humidity is a concern when spraying lacquer, especially here in Florida. Too much humidity can cause a haze to appear in the finish.  If this becomes a problem, Barry recommends using more lacquer thinner and using more coats to compensate for the thinning of the material.  Manufactures recommendation of thinning no more that 10% is just a guideline, not a hard rule.   Barry usually thins at 30% thinner to 70% lacquer.


October 11, 2018 - Automated Dust Collector System by Joe Kunzman

At our October meeting Joe Kunzman presented an automated dust collector system which he built earlier this year for his own shop.   A conventional dust collection system was already in place and consisted of 4” PVC pipe and plastic blast gates connected to a 4-bag Jet dust collector.   

The dust collector has a switch at the base of the motor tucked in back out of sight.  Finding the on/off switch required reaching around the motor and blindly fumbling around until it was located.   Keeping track of which blast gates were open or closed on several tools was becoming inconvenient   There were no commonly available products to address this situation. 

Joe’s solution integrates three components.   At each tool is a current sensor and a pneumatic actuated blast gate.  He purchased the current sensors from Amazon and attached them to the outlet that the tool is plugged into.   He built the pneumatic blast gates from Parker air cylinders, 12-volt 3-way solenoid air valves, and plastic blast gates from Woodcraft.   There are 4 tools outfitted with these sensors and gates.  Everything is controlled with an Arduino microprocessor and some specialized code that he wrote.

The logic behind the system is quite simple.   When any machine is turned on the current sensor sends a signal to the controller which opens the blast gate and turns on the dust collector.   When any machine is turned off the blast gate is closed after 10 seconds allowing wood chips to fully clear.  When the last machine is turn off, then the dust collector will shut down after 3 minutes.  This is to avoid cycling the dust collector unnecessarily.   

Joe has deposited the PowerPoint slide deck and the Arduino code on our web site for anyone interested.   See the following blog Post: 

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