Hello & Welcome to Boa Online

I would first like to thank my friend, Brian, for his help in creating this website. I had no idea about how to do it! This is my welcome post which will be on the main page of my website, or so I’m told.

So, welcome! You can find out more about me on the About Me page and if you would like to contact me you can do so here.

OK, now let’s talk a little bit about the site and what it is doing here. Now that I am retired, I wanted to get some more hobbies in my life and develop some new skills so that I am not left behind. Using a computer and creating a website seemed like a great one to start with because I know nothing about computers. I do, however, have plenty of information to write down and “blog” about.

Boa Online was created due to my love with snakes. I love the Boa Constrictor and I thought that this name was as good as any to use. I thought it was a little unique and more edgy rather than saying “dougbensononline.co.uk”. Maybe I wasn’t that effective at coming up with such a great name but it’s the thought that counts…

Anyway, I will stop writing my welcome page now and get to writing some other articles that should hopefully be of use to some people out there who are looking for inspiration and ideas for DIY, energy conservation and many other things in the process.

Wood Furniture

Latest Home Fashion Trends For Wood Furniture

Furniture, among other households attracts attention from lots of guests and visiting friends. By building basis of communications, they become talking points and communication, being an important skill in life, becomes even better when nurtured by simple things like furniture talking points. In relation to furniture, whichever you choose represents your values, taste and preference not forgetting personality. The following are the latest home fashion trends for wood furniture.

  1. Custom Made Furniture

Perceived to be extremely expensive but can be easily accessed and afforded by anyone who loves anything associated with trend and fashion. The secret is seeking services of a person who enjoys making the furniture for passion and not an extortionist who is only after extreme generation of profits.

People have different tastes and preferences. Sometimes their personality is expressed through furniture. Spark a conversation with your wood smith and guide him through what you need for that custom furniture with a personal touch. Individuality in furniture has recently grown to add something uniquely in home furniture and fashion trends. Furniture Customization should therefore be embraced and not considered to be for the rich.

  1. Metallic Leather

Metallic styled materials when used on wooden home furniture blend well into the room background unlike silver and gold finishes that make your furniture ‘scream’ for attraction to the guests and anyone else who enters the house. Wooden furniture with metallic leather add vibrancy and life to your home not to mention confidence and over time lasting impression to all the guests.

  1. Cultured Furniture

Cultured furniture is a good representation of foreign culture into your home. In the latest trends, African Furniture represents great taste and glamour. With patterned upholstery, quality wood and skilled carpentry, it will be a definite outdoor fit and a complement to indoor design

  1. Outdoor Furniture Indoors

Outdoor furniture e.g. deck Garden chairs can be a good indoor fit. Although most people will never go this far, it still remains to be a good definition of trend. When this is done, it should be incorporated by class and purpose and not as a temporary replacement. This idea has for a long time now been embraced in most designs and exhibitions. Apart from natural wood, glass and aged metals provide other good options when trying the outdoor furniture indoor idea.

  1. Pleated furniture

As the latest home fashion on furniture, this trend has been on the high in most furniture on exhibitions and trade fairs. Pleats represent doubled back material which is also secured in place. This trend is mostly demonstrated on sofas for that elegant and classy look.

  1. Furniture with Vintage

Older furniture are usually well made and long lasting compared to modern flat-pack ones. Protecting them so as not to end in landfills by addition of a few items as vintage,continues to grow in popularity as a great way of preservation coupled by fashion. Furniture with vintage are unique and as a latest trend preserves the environment by the fact that it requires no felling of trees.

  1. Technological Furniture

Furniture trends are embracing the fact that smart phones are nowadays indispensable. Hidden wireless charging docks and ports, USB ports, audio and video connectors, WIFI systems among others are all incorporated in latest trendy furniture. This has considerably made life easier and more interesting since you can charge your phone on the bedside, listen to auxiliary audio from your smartphone while in home Spa or sauna or even gaming chairs with incorporated devises and audio that make gaming experience real. With lots of these kinds of furniture options, technology and furniture has been ‘married’ to being one thing.

  1. Environmentally Friendly Furniture

Environmentally friendly furniture is crafted from recycled timber and other sustainable sources that are environmental friendly.

In the current environmental sensitive world where everyone is keen on environmental conservation, recycled timber is a green choice that is constantly gaining popularity. Apart from being eco-friendly, it exudes a natural worldly appearance when used in homes.

Wooden furniture from recycled timber represents personal beliefs on living in a sustainable environment. These furniture are long lasting and do not threaten the environment in any way. Since the inception of recycled timber, latest furniture trends are supreme in pronouncing an environmental friendly environment and surrounding.

  1. Multi-Functional/Multi-purpose Furniture

A dining or coffee table can as well be used as a chair or shelf. A three in one design that offers convenience together with saving your money and space in modern home designs. Multifunctional furniture might not be preferred by people in larger homes but for their counterparts who reside in smaller houses, they are a worth consideration. This latest innovation has also seen beds transform into chairs work desks and drawers among others.

Small trendy Furniture

With increased population, housing shortage has been a long time problem that is yet to Fashionable chairs in the homebe solved. The immediate ‘knee jerk reaction’ saw construction of smaller house units with smaller living rooms, kitchen and bedrooms. Due to this, home furniture has to adopt with smaller house sizes by creation of trendy, smaller furniture of class that perfectly fits into small size homes.

  1. Hide with hair

Hide with hair maintains a natural look on furniture. When properly done, it is attractive to the eye and creates a good feeling to touch. As a growing trend, it is in most shows and exhibitions. It also doesn’t have to be natural hide as synthetic options provide similar fashion solutions.

  1. Inventive Solutions to small homes

as earlier discussed, smaller but trendy furniture are manufactured so as to offer a perfect fit for smaller house units as a result of housing problems brought about by increased population and scarcity of land. Another innovative way of solving this problem is by utilizing unused space by creation of wooden fall back floors, pull out draws and the wall storage lockers among others.This technique is a latest trend for solving storage and space problems and is destined to grow even further with time.

  1. Light Toned Woods

Discussed in every trend article, light toned woods are considered the most popular in wood furniture fashion a reason why they are dominant in the furniture market. They are of high quality and long lasting. Light toned wood are natural and crafting can be on any type of furniture. The best example is oak. With its beautiful grains and knots, it is also sturdy and is vastly used in the making of multi-purpose furniture and those used on a daily basis.

  1. Up-cycled Furniture

This type of furniture is made from wood that has been taken through all stages of contraction and expansion. Reclaimed wood from old bridges or railway sleepers is firstly cleaned before being used in the making of furniture. Up-cycled furniture is known for the warmly feeling it brings to the home. With unique history, up-cycled wood furniture is preferred for their touch of mystery and will become a focal point for every guest.

The above latest trends for wood furniture are a representation of opulence coupled with elegance and style. Exude confidence by being trendy and create that ‘wow’ feeling in the mind of your every guest.

Carpenter at Work

How to Become a Carpenter

  1. Developing of Basic Skills

Carpentry is a skill that once acquired needs to be developed. As one of the oldest trades, it has been in existence for hundreds of years. Initially, people used logs to develop them into beautiful inspiring structures but nowadays, Working as a carpenter involves laying out projects, cutting and turning timber into desired structures and being able to read blueprints. A carpenter, after assembly of materials ensures his work is accurate and is compliant with local building standards.

The following are detailed steps through which one can become a carpenter.

Ensure you are Physically Fit; carpentry is a job that involves heavy lifting. Other than that, one spends almost the entire day standing up and engaging in very physical work. You need to maintain a good eye-hand coordination so as to avoid injuries as well as a good sense of stability.

Get to know what carpenters do;carpenters are passionate about wood work. They build and fix items from timber. They are dexterous with their hands and sometimes work on building repairs. For you to succeed in carpentry, you must be artistic in making furniture among other items and derive passion from working on timber

Know your Main Educational Strengths; do you have good communication skills; both written and oral?Can you with ease solve mathematical problems? Do you understand physical science? These are all basic skills important in carpentry. Other required skills include;

  • Problem Solving Skills; without this skills you will not be able tosolve your problems with customers, tools and even timber. Any arising problem, be it from a stalling tool, breaking boards or dissatisfied customers, should be solved quickly and effectively
  • Being a Detail Oriented Person; will be vital skills in measuring timber and cutting pieces of exact measurements. A whole building can be affected by a stairway that is ill-measured. Sometimes one needs to look at a structure and know the associated problems and how to go about them

LearningBasic Carpentry Tools

There are a lot of tools used in modern carpentry. For anyone aspiring to be a carpenter, the following are the basic and most important ones;

  • Hammer; for driving in nails and pulling them out.
  • Saws; saws are timber cutting tools. They are of different types in terms of sizes and shapes. As an aspiring carpenter, learn about the universal saw and get accustomed the others as time goes by.
  • Tape measure; for making measurements, any project will not commence without proper measurements.
  • Spirit level; are vital for general accuracy and symmetry. With spirit levels, perfect horizontal levels will be attained.
  • Marking tools; are basically pens and pencils that make marks on timber that needs to be nailed or sawed
  1. Carpentry schools and training

To join carpentry schools and training facilities, the basic requirement is high school diploma or equivalent. For successful training, one should also consider taking courses that deal with geometry, algebra, mechanical drawing and physics among others.

Carpentry schools enable students aspiring to be carpenters to be efficient and exercise safety measures on construction sites. They also learn on how to frame windows and doors not to mention laying out rafters and walls. Some programmes also educate on how to estimate material for a given job, others, after successful completion offer certificate on exterior and interior finishing.

Apart from classroom instructions, training is also hands on and takes place in a workshop or lab. Course programmes include; carpentry tools and techniques, construction materials, woodwork calculations and blue print reading among others.

Sometimes carpentry laws and building codes are covered.Other career options e.g. stair construction, finishing techniques and wall construction are covered for one to develop insight in the area of interest.

Some students find work immediately after college graduation. Some enter apprenticeship programmes for valuable hands on experience while others choose to advance in studies via associate degree programmes.

  1. Vocational training programs

Some schools offer vocational training in carpentry. Some of these classes are important in equipping one with basic carpentry skills. Also, one learns how to safely operate drills and use saws. Basics of simple carpentry are learnt and little carpentry experience attained.

Consequently, you can organise with your teacher to assist in grading papers and projects. With access to the workshop, you can use your free time to work on personal projects

Also, talking to another party about your aspirations can be of much help. By speaking out, you will find openings that will lead to apprenticeships, vocational programs or building trades that show different aspects of how one becomes a carpenter.

Some communities offer carpentry classes for beginners. It is therefore important to check out on this. Again, find out if community centres in your township teach carpentry. If none, get to know if there are any such plans in future. Internet searches can also provide valuable information on area carpentry and classes to attend.

For experience, joining a volunteer group is of utmost importance. Some volunteer programmes support construction projects important for gaining hands on experience.

Through the above programmes, one acquires the basics needed to become a carpenter. Career opportunities also increase with experience, plus formal certifications and education.

  1. Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship is the initial stage of formal training. It lasts for approximately three to four years. A lot of time is dedicated to practice and on the job training (technical).

Technical training involves reading of blue prints, knowing about code building requirements, carpentry mathematics and carpentry safety regulations. Sometimes specialised training like building scaffolds and rigging are offered.

Apprenticeship requirements

To get apprenticeship opportunities, some basic requirements have to be met as below

  • Having attained more than eighteen years of age
  • Being physically fit for hard carpentry work
  • Proof of residency or citizenship
  • With high school diploma or its equivalent
  • Passing a drug test

With the above requirements, professional apprenticeship can be attained. Still, if unable to find apprenticeship opportunity, be an on the job helper which you can do freely without minimum education. Being a helper is a proper way of substituting carpentry classes. The company with which you are helping gets to teach you all the merits and demerits of carpentry, its challenges and how to go about them.

  1. Carpentry job opportunities

After training and with a certificate, find yourself a job that involves carpentry. Carpentry is not only about furniture design and construction from timber; it involves construction among other jobs. So, when seeking opportunities, do not confine yourself only to carpentry workshops.

Leaving Behind a Good Work History

In the carpentry profession just like in other careers, you will only be hired if you have a good work history. Learn the carpentry trade well, relate well with colleagues and as times go by you may end up practising as an independent contractor or foreman.

  1. Starting an own carpentry business

With work training and work experience, you now have the confidence of working on your own. With considerable savings, obtain tools and be your own boss.

  1. Keep updating your skills

Refreshing yourself with newer courses will only keep you updated and abreast in the latest carpentry trends. Enrol in any local community college and with the latest skills, seek on ways to improve in the delivery of services.

In pursuing your career goals of becoming a carpenter, it is important to exhaust all avenues including speaking to an experienced carpenter so as to gain insight on what is really expected. Ask as many questions and if you are a person of physical labour and have dexterous hands, carpentry may be for you. Lastly, follow the above provided information for that rewarding carpentry career.

Man Using Wood Lathe

Top Tips on Wood Lathing for Beginners

A wood lathe is a machine used for shaping pieces of material e.g. timber by rapid rotation along its axis while pressing abrading or a cutting tool against it. Wood lathing is the act of using a wood lathe in timber shaping to attain a specific or desired shape.

For beginners, to learn simple wood lathing tips, it is firstly recommended to get accustomed to the wood lathe machine and other cutting tools. The following are important wood lathe machine parts

  • Tailstock Barrel; can be turned by a hand wheel to provide fine positional control to the work piece.

  • Spindle; mounted to the headstock with bearings, it’s what a powered motor rotates

  • Motor; it’s what powers the lathe machine, causing rotation of the spindle

  • Saddle; provides support to the tool rest

  • Lathe Bed; offers supports to the tailstock and headstock. It is important in keeping all other lathe components aligned

  • Headstock; consists of a motor, belts, pulleys, spindle and the drive train.

  • Tail Stock; located at the end of the lathe bed and contains a tailstock spindle, a hand-wheel and the cup centre. It offers support to the end of work piece

  1. Basics of wood turning

It is so inspiring to watch an experienced wood turner come up with a shaped wood form raw wood material. The secret is to know how to use the lathe safely and constant practice coupled by simple knowledge of lathe tools. The following are simple basics and tips to help improve on wood lathing skills. After learning the basics, similar wood turning techniques are used to obtain table legs and bedposts not forgetting stair rail spindles.

  • Choice of Tools; Sharp tools are usually safe. Sharpened skew chisels, gouges and scrapers cut cleaner and are much easier to work with compared to the unsharpened or blunt ones. Sharpening can be done on a bench grinder or a wet sharpener. The curve of a sharpening wheel will help maintain the concave edges of tools.

  • Wood Turning Speed; Lathe machines have variable speeds that can be regulated from about 500RPM to 4000 RPM. The rule to be adhered to is; the wider the work piece, the slower the speed

Narrower stocks of approximately 2-1/2 inches in thickness can be turned from 1500 RPM to 2000RPM. Thicker ones should be turned at half the above speed.

  • Hand Positioning; ensure your hands are kept at safer positions for tools control. If right handed, place the left hand against the tool rest and use the right hand in holding the tool. The left hand should be placed in such a way that the forefingers are under the tool resting against the tool rest side with the thumb on the tool for that steady holding. If you are left hander, observe the above but with reserved hands i.e. left hand for the right and vice versa.
  • Tools and Tool Rest; when wood lathing, the tools i.e. chisels, gouges or scrapers should always be in contact with the tool rest before the wood.

Consequently, the point of contact between the tool, the tool rest and the wood should be of limited distance. The bigger the distance, the lower the support provided by the tool

  • Use of Bevel; for safe wood turning, the bevel should always be kept behind the sharp edge of the tool that is resting on wood. This will prevent the tool from taking too much at any given time.

If using a gouge, with the tool on the tool rest, ensure the back edge of the tool is on the spinning wood to create a point of contact behind or on the bevel. With safe contact, your right hand should be tasked with sliding the tool away from the lathe machine but towards the body until the cutting edge starts cutting. For the entire cutting duration, the bevel should be in contact with the wood.

  • Cutting With the Grain; the rule is to ‘always cut with the grain’ when lathing. Cutting with the grain is always regarded as downhill cutting. It is usually recommended to cut from the edges towards the centre. uphill cutting i.e. from the centre outwards is more difficult to control at the same time keeping the tool bevel on the wood.

Wood Sculpture

  • Leading Cutters and Trailing Scrapers; Cutters refer to chisels, parting tools and gouges. When working with them, the fore hand should be kept higher to the rear hand. I.e. the hand on the tool rest should be kept higher than that on the handle. When using scrapers, the opposite of the above is observed, i.e. the forehand should be lower than the rear hand to allow the scraper’s cutting edge to be beneath the tool rest thus taking a trailing position in scraping the wood.
  • Always Practice; constant practising will lead to perfection. Every experienced wood turner was once a novice who developed his skilled through constant and continuous practise.

Focus should also be turned to following above tips and having firm grips on tools. After sometime, one begins to relax and at that time, lathing significantly becomes easy. It is only a question of continuous practise and patience

  1. Safety Measures

Wood lathing involves the use of machinery and sharp tools that can cause harm and fatality if safety precautions are not observed. By practising the following safety rules and turning them into a habit, wood turning processes can be fun.

  • Following Safety Rules and Precautions, severe injuries can be caused by failure of reading safety instructions. Therefore, like in any tool, read and follow the recommended safety rules.
  • Wearing Safety Glasses, A Face Shield and Respirators: When wood turning, be assured that debris and wood chips will fly in all directions. Therefore, for face and eyes protection, a face shield and safety glasses are of utmost importance. A face shield also protects from distraction. Respirators will protect from inhalation of dust particles that may affect the mucous membrane and long term lung irritation.
  • Wearing Proper Work Attire; it is recommended to be in a long sleeved shirt and pants to protect the body from flying debris. Loose fitting clothes might be entangled in the machine and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
  • Always Observe Use of Tool Rest; never ever should you ‘free hand’ a tool into the turning wood. A tool can get ripped off your hand while free handing. Flying tools can cause immense injuries. For proper use of lathe therefore, the tool rest should be kept close to the work and proper tightening done.
  • Consider Stock Sizes When Turning Speed; as earlier discussed, lathe speed varies from 500RPM to 4000 RPM. Regulation of speed depends on the stock size. The higher the stock size, the lower the recommended speed and vice versa. Always set the speed of lathe before turning on the lathe motor

Other Important Safety Measures Include;

  • Not using a finger to check on the roundness and smoothness of wood work while the lathe is still running
  • Cleaning the sawdust and shavings as they are potential fire hazards
  • Not leaving the lathe unattended and unplugging it from power source when not in use
  • Not wearing lose fitting clothes or jewellery
  • Protecting ears with ear muffs or plugs
  • Having an easily accessible first aid kit around
  1. Wood Turning Tools and Shapes

Basic shapes when wood turning include; Hollow, Ogee, V-Cut, Fillet, Bead, Cove and flat among others. For the above shapes to be attained, specific tools are required. These tools include; the skew chisel, parting tool, the spindle gouge and roughing gouge. Different widths of spindle gouges are used to create coves of different widths and depths.

Using a Roughing Gouge

A roughing gouge is usually the very first tool employed when wood turning. It is used in the initial stage of turning to round over raw stock into a piece that can be easily worked on by other tools. Sometimes it is used for hollowing. Basic rules should be followed so as to be free from injury and not to damage the work piece.

Before using a roughing gouge, ensure the tool is on a tool rest before engaging the wood. The tool rest should be positioned within a quarter inch of the wood and the heel of the gouge placed on the rest. At this point, the handle should be below the work piece and by raising the handle slightly, the heel will be allowed to engage the wood.

To stabilize the gouge, place your free hand under the heel with the forefingers against the tool rest base then ease the tool downwards keeping it in close contact with the work piece and the tool rest. now angle the tool approximately about 15 degrees to the direction you want the gouge to travel and move your rear hand, off hand and gouge evenly to the right taking off small amounts of wood stock. Repeat the above process until desired level of smoothness and roundness is attained.

Using Skew Chisel

A skew chisel is the most dangerous of the wood turning tools. Any slight misstep can cause injury and damage to the wood piece. Therefore great care and caution must be adhered to when dealing with this tool.

A skew chisel has two parts,

  • Toe; the long part of the cutting edge
  • Heel; the shortest part of the cutting edge.

Before using the skew chisel, it is important to learn how to use it safely. In most cases, the toe should not be in direct contact with the wood as this might cause dig INS. For proper use of the skew chisel, one should be conversant with the following;

  • Smoothing; a Skew Chisel can be used for that fine smooth finish. This is attained by the use of the central portion of the chisel. Holding the chisel handle with the right hand and the left on the rest, tilt it about 25 degrees with the heel side on the tool rest ensuring only the centre of the skew chisel edge is in contact with the spindle. To get rid of dig INS, the toe should be kept off the spindle. While maintaining the 25 degrees angle, work from right to left to smooth the spindle. (Proper care should be taken to ensure the toe does not come to contact with the spindle).
  • Tapers; making long tapers is almost the same as smoothing. It works with the heel part of the skew chisel. a parting tool is firstly used to make grooves on the spindle with the skew chisel used in obtaining the desired shape.
  • Beads and V-cuts; both are attained by using the toe of a skew chisel. With the tip eased into the wood, rolling the tool to one side creates a V-cut or bead. This being a learned skill, repetition and constant practice will eventually lead to perfection.

Using Parting a Tool

The parting tool is used to remove finished parts from a spindle. It can also be used for making grooves of specified depths. When using this tool, the front hand should guide the tool into the wood stock. This will be successful if the parting tool is kept square to spindle axis.

As you use the parting tool, it is important to keep checking the thickness of stock that remains in the groove with the help of a vernier. Just ease the parting tool forward and use the free hand to check thickness.

Keeping the parting tool sharp is also vital. Sharpening should be done for a few seconds with a bench grinder. When sharpening a proper angle should be ensured to the tool rest.

Wood lathing Skills can be developed by constant practise. Also follow the above simple tips and in a short span of time, wood turning will be a hobby, difficult to turn away from.