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Settlers of Catan

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Summers Woodworking hosted the 3rd Annual 2×4 Challenge Contest this year, which is basically a challenge to make something out of an 8′ framing 2×4. A number of youtube woodworkers enter the challenge by creatively designing and creating an interesting project with that limitation and each year so far the entries have been impressive. This is the first year I’ve entered, hopefully with an entertaining and fun build for people to enjoy.

In college a friend introduced me to the game Settlers of Catan. It was one of the first euro-style games that became pretty popular in the US and for good reason. It is very well balanced and a style of game which keeps all players engaged from start to finish. My friend and I are competitive to say the least, cut throat and back-stabby might be a better description. My girlfriend at the time (and now wife) at the time often was often manipulated into turning the tide in games where it was coming down to either him or I winning, so she really got tired of playing and since I haven’t played the much at all. But out of respect for the game, I thought it might be fun to enter the 2×4 challenge with a build of the game.

I will cover the hardest technical hurdle to pull off this build: making a satisfactory card for all of the resource cards in the game. I’ve seen others try different ideas, but mostly those involved re-sawing on a bandsaw and winding up with a fairly rigid card. My goal was something closer to a playing card. During April I prototyped the idea with some shavings from the Puzzle Picture Frame panel glue up and eventually moved to pine 2×4.

The first issue that had to be addressed was material. I started with some .001″ shavings of maple. The shavings themselves were curled and ripply, so I used an iron to smooth them out. This worked acceptably well for the most part, but the really thin shavings just did not hold flat very well and the ripple would return with humidity. I adjusted the plane to .005″ and took some shavings off of some scrap 2×4 in the shop. These would start to shatter as I uncurled them which was a show stopper. I then came up with the idea of dampening the wood before ironing it. This worked great as the wood would absorb the water and soften up and allow me to uncurl it before pressing it with an iron. Issue #1 solved.

The shavings themselves were not sufficiently stable to use for cards and could break or chip easily. Laminating up the now ironed shavings was the next tricky aspect to address.

I thinned out some wood glue and brushed it on to each side of a shaving and offset the joints to make a 2 layer sheet of shavings. I spread this sheet out between a top and bottom layer of wax paper and pressed it between two sheets of glass. The glass itself was about 5/8″ thick and over a foot wide and even longer. Not sure how long the setup should cure, I left it for two days. After two days the shavings were still damp and the glue had not cured. I took the top layer of wax paper off to allow it air to dry. Once it was dry the shavings were as stuck to the wax paper as they were themselves. Not going to work.

Another iteration was attempted with a heavy cut of shellac. This also proved a failure when pressed between the sheets of glass as the shellac would not cure. When removing the weight of glass and the top sheet of wax paper the sheet of shaving did cure. However without being pressed together the shavings curled at the edges and did not bind between the upper and lower strips. All I got out of it were some shavings with shellac. This was attempted again with lacquer with similar results. Lesson: finishes are not glue.

A final attempt before looking at an epoxy, I stumbled upon contact cement. Interestingly you need to provide your birthday when purchasing contact cement. I’ve not been carded more for buying contact cement than alcohol. A thin film of contact cement was applied to a single side of a shaving. Then each shaving was lined up next to each other with a slight overlap. A top layer was then laid out on top of the previous with a thin layer of contact cement. Then the wax paper and glass treatment. I left it to cure overnight and in the morning we had success. The edges of the sheet was frayed, but the over all integrity of the sheets were sufficient for card stock. Due to the overlapping at the seems a quick sanding knocked those down into a serviceable surface to be able to do laser toner transfers.

Much of the rest of the project was fairly straight forward to accomplish and is covered in the video. A fair bit of it is just standard woodworking with a the usual challenges. The dyeing of the components is something featured in the Puzzle Piece Frames video with a slight variation. And the making of the dice is covered also in this video with the making of the pips perhaps one of the most fun parts of the build.

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Recurve Bow

For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. – Psalm 44:6-7

Dominic Bender on Youtube issued a challenge he called, “The Challenge Tree.” The basic premise is that the woodworker would grab some log or live edge piece of wood which was not taller than the participant and such that they could carry it, and then make something with it. As far as challenges go, it seemed pretty simple to keep within the guidelines and spirt of it.

The last couple years we’ve been leasing out some of our property to a local farmer. And on that land there is a small stand of poplar tree which we affectionally call the “Quarter Acre Wood” a la Winnie The Pooh. The farmer cleared a couple of the smaller trees around the stand digging them up and pushing them into the others. I found one that seemed like it would be large enough to get the material I needed from and cut it down and moved it to the basement to thaw for the night.

It took some doing, but with a reciprocating saw, duct tape, and a couple more or less dangerous cuts I managed to get the root bundle off the tree. The log was then cut in half into about 3′ sections. I processed both on the jointer to create two square and flat edges. With one I ripped thin slats for the limb lamination and the other I ripped another parallel edge for the stave of the bow.

The profile of the stave was drawn onto one of the sides and the face was drawn onto the back. Then I used the bandsaw to rough out the profile saving the off cuts as I went. The off cuts were then taped back onto the log and it was turned 90ยบ to cut the face of the stave on the bandsaw. The next step was to use rasps and files to do the basic shaping. The handle and arrow support was where most of the work was done and everything was just rounded over some. I then sanded the rough marks with some high grit sand paper and worked up through to 220 grit sand paper.

To do bent lamination I needed a form. I cut some scrap plywood down to equal sizes which would hold the laminations. The plywood sheets were then laminated up with glue and clamps. I traced the shape of a limb on the form and brought it over to the bandsaw. When the form was cut I took two passes, one along the top line and the second cut along the bottom line. This allowed the form to handle the thicker bottom of the limb. I then sanded the insides of the form and taped some padding on each side of the form.

The slats for the limbs were pretty rough when they came off the bandsaw. I used a block plane to take out the highest spots and bring them close to flat. The jack plane was used to create a smooth taper of 3mm to 1mm along the length of the slat. I mixed the epoxy and applied it to both sides of the slats for 3 slats. Once sandwiched together I pressed them into the form with clamps and tightened them down with additional clamps. After two days the forms were released and I drew the shape of the limb and brought it over to the bandsaw. A couple quick cuts and I had the basic rough shape of the limb. Two were clamped together and a block plane was used to bring them both to the same shape. I then sanded the limbs remove any sharp edges and make them flex more evenly, so as to not twist.

I used a forstner bit to make a smooth spot for the flange nut, which would be used to secure the limbs on the stave. I had to then widen the first 3/8″ with another drill bit for the barrel of the flange nut. Next the hole was bored for the shaft of the of the bolt which would hole the limb. The final part of the operation was to duct tape the limb in place while drilling the holes through the limb.

I attached each limb separately one at a time. One issue became apparent with the flange nut and bolt I was using. The nut would keep spinning, despite the tightness around of the nut in the wood and I planned in the future I would epoxy that in place to keep it from spinning. However, when I was testing the limb for flex I found another fatal flaw. The limb just snapped beyond a point. Investigation found that it was along a knot in one of the plys in the limb. I used the last remaining slat that I had, which had originally been rejected, to attempt a replacement limb. The replacement limb suffered the same fate as the original.

Lessons learned: poplar is far too weak of a wood to use for bow limbs. Knots are incredibly weak compared to straight grain.

Dominic Bender’s Challenge Tree Playlist

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