Thursday, December 30, 2010

Link Party and A Happy New Year!

Have we all made our New Year's Resolutions yet?  Not me.  I just don't think I can add anything else to my list right now.  Between work, TAFWT, charities, consulting, guest speaking, and woodworking projects I am pretty well booked.  Maybe my resolution should be about shortening the list.  I seriously do not know how many of you women out there do it.  I know for a fact that many of you have kids, careers, blogs, and online businesses.  Perhaps TAFWT needs a guest post from someone who can give us all some insight on time management.  Let me know if you are interested in writing a post like that.  Meanwhile, let's party like it's .......

Here are this week's rules....

1.)  Please become a follower if you are not one already. 

2.)  Please link back to the party somehow.  Spreading the word on Facebook might be nice way to do it.  You could also grab one of the incredibly attractive TAFWT buttons for your sidebar, if you feel like it.  Whatever you do to link back is fine and appreciated.  Just do what you can.

3.)  There is no limit on the number of projects you can link up this week, as usual.  Pretty much anything goes.  Tutorial projects, blog buttons, a pic of a snow woman wearing a pink hardhat, or a pic of last New Years office party are all examples of perfectly acceptable entries. 

4.)  Have fun.  It's a rule.

If one of your New Year's resolutions this year is to become a contributing author for TAFWT, send me an email.  I would like to hear from you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Years Resolution-Start up your own business!

Happy New Years to all! This is Brooke from Sunset & Vine Jewelry and I hope you are all having a wonderful, stress free holiday season. Believe it or not it is almost 2011 and if you haven't started making a list of resolutions you still have a few days left. Fret not because I have a great idea for you to consider adding to that list. Many of you TAFWT! readers are involved in crafting and possibly run an online store yourself. If you create something and you don't sell online I encourage you to check into it. Thanks to the economy more women and men for that matter are finding themselves unemployed possibly for the first time in their lives and wondering "what comes next"?
Many of you may already be running a business in your spare time to supplement your income. There is a difference though between operating a small scale internet business part-time and on the weekends to quitting your day job and becoming your own boss. After reading an article in Glamour Magazines October issue, I decided to share with you what experts believe it really takes to work for yourselves, unfortunately it isn't all passion, talent, creativity and love for your product!

  • Most importantly you need to do some major soul searching to figure out if you can cut it as an entrepreneur. Ask yourself some basic questions, do you enjoy the security of working for other people, like the structure of a normal work day, enjoy vacation time, insurance and having sick days and personal days? If the answer is yes than you may want to stick with your 9 to 5 and consider running a business part-time. If the answer is no than ask yourself, are you good at time management, do you like to take risks, can you come up with solutions in times of stress, and will you be able to handle working around the clock without breaks? If the answer is yes than you will most likely be able to handle the demands of operating your own business. Being the boss does have its downsides. Sure you can set your own schedule, and you are "the boss" but you have lots of stresses too! My father has owned his business for thirty years and he didn't take a family vacation until I was 13 because he didn't feel he could leave the business for a week. He also has to pay very high monthly premiums for very crappy health insurance, he is responsible for eight employees and their health insurance and in the beginning he worked from dawn till past dark. Owning your own business can be very demanding but very rewarding. If you are looking for more information on how to get started with your business check out the U.S. Small Business Administration. They provide assistance on how to get started and it is free!!
  • Once you have the basics figured out the next step is making a business plan of sorts. I say this loosely because you don't need to have a 300 page proposal but you do need to know what your goals are for your business and it wouldn't hurt to write them down. I am a journal keeper, not because I actually keep a diary that would require consistency, but I like to keep lists and that is a great start for a business plan. Make a list of your to-dos. Are you going to need a sales license so you can buy wholesale? What about basic no-brainers such as why does your business exist, who are your customers going to be, how will you make your company successful over time? As silly as they may or may not sound you will want to be able to answer these questions fully, and with competence, you never know when a potential buyer or investor is in your midst. You will also need to be able to modify these conditions over time as the economic climate, your customer base and your business change. One thing I have found in operating a business is that just like any job you will learn as you go but there is one thing you will want to have clear guidelines about from the word go. Customer service is something that is increasingly harder and harder to find and when you stumble upon a company that delivers great customer service it is the exception not the rule. With that in mind you have the power to make sure your company will be one of those that goes the extra mile and you'll never regret making that decision. Go out of your way to make your customers happy and they will remember and it will reflect in your bottom line!
  • Speaking of the bottom line, what about all the money you are going to make, after all the whole point of owning your own business and working for yourself is so you can have cash flow and a lot of it, right? Wrong, well probably wrong, at least in the beginning. Most people are lucky to break even the first year between investment and the time it takes for a business to get off the ground. I started on Etsy eighteen months ago and have just now began to realize a profit. Often you have to spend money to make money, which I never took into account when I was first starting out. Between my initial investment and money I pour back into my business, advertising and product that I give away I am probably still just breaking even but the great thing is that there is finally a buzz! When you decide to start a business you have to go into it with a lot of patience and determination. I knew that I was doing this because I loved it and that helped a lot and I knew no matter how long it took I was going to stick it out because I believed in my product and I wasn't doing it for the money. Now that the sales are coming in it makes it just that much sweeter!
  • Network! Network! Network! Did I say networking yet? Networking is probably the single most important thing I have done since joining Etsy. There are endless ways to meet up with other artisans, and bloggers who are friendly and helpful and will help you build and boost your business. Make treasuries and include your friends and fellow etsians that have put you in a treasury. Join in on the forums and contact a team and apply to become a member. If it weren't for blogs like Tools Are For Women Too! I wouldn't have quite the traffic in my site or the number of great friends. Browse blogs and join in on the link parties and start your own Facebook pages and blogs if you enjoy writing. Just don't forget that while it is great to gain something from a relationship you also want to remember to pay it back. Help out your fellow etsians, bloggers, and Facebook friends when they need it and you will be blessed by these awesome networking relationships!
  • The Glamour article points out that it is important to build and maintain an online presence. With Etsy, Ebay, 1000 Markets and maintaining an online presence is easier and more manageable than ever. I would counter that building and maintaining a physical presence in our communities is the challenge for some. Having a real brick and mortar shop where our fellow community members can come in and shop our wares is a goal I have for my business. To get started you could strengthen your presence in your community by doing craft shows and art exhibits when they are offered. Scout out locations in your community and see if a lease fits into your budget. Check out your competition and do some research to determine how your product would fare in that particular market. Most importantly don't give up and believe in yourself, it also doesn't hurt to have a little faith!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Link Party - After Christmas Extravaganza!

I hope all of you had a very nice Christmas this year.  Mine was rather quiet. I must say, I kinda liked it that way. A few presents, dinner, and relaxing by the fire while watching the snow fall.  Afterwards we went for a walk and caught a few snowflakes in the dark.

Even one of our cats enjoyed the day....

And after it was all over we sat down, enjoyed some cheesecake, a spot of brandy cider liqueur, and watched the fire go down. 

 I think I need a day like this at least once a week.

Here are this week's party rules.....

1.)  Please become a follower if you are not one already. 

2.)  Spread a little holiday cheer and visit some of the other links.

3.)  Link back to the party somehow.  Grab a button, write a post, or build a snowman holding a TAFWT party sign.  It's all up to you.  Just link back somehow.

4.)  There are no limits as usual.  If you have an online store and need to have an "After Christmas" sale, feel free to use the link party as much as you want.  That's what it is for.

5.)  These parties are all about "paying it forward".  They are free and open to everyone.  It is how I help support other bloggers and online sellers.  Have fun with it.  If you feel like you gained a little traffic from participating in it, please take the time to pay it forward too.


If you would like to sponsor a link party, just email me for the details.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Easy Wood Tool Review Part 4 - The Pen Project

If you thought the walking cane project and the goblet project were nice, wait till you see this one! 

This week's challenge for the  Easy Wood Tools was a little tougher. I had already established that the carbide tips and stainless steel shafts on the EWTs were terrific for wood.  But what about acrylic or even a stone composite, like they use for making exotic pens out of?  Well, only one way to find out.......

Let's make some pens!

I went down to Woodcraft to buy some pen blanks and hardware kits.  I chose a nice pink blank they call Cotton Candy, plus a couple others.  Seeing that the blog is just a little on the pink side, I thought Cotton Candy would fit right in.  Here is part of the blank before I turned it on the lathe....

I really loved the pink and gray mottled looking mix of colors.

Here is a picture of the blank mounted on the lathe after I had used an EWT lathe tool to give it some shape.

For this project I used only 1 basic Easy Wood Tool, the Ci3m Mini Finisher.

It has a round replaceable tip that cut through the acrylic pen blank like soft butter. 

I was amazed at how little pressure I had to use in order to make this tool do it's job on acrylic.  An extremely light touch of the cutting tip is all I needed. 

Here is the end result, boxed and ready to go!

I also tried out the Easy Wood Tool Mini Finisher on a product called Tru-Stone.  Tru-Stone is a composite made up of about 85% natural stone.  I thought that an EWT lathe tool might get slowed down a little trying to cut through this product.  I could not have been more wrong.  The tip cut through the stone easily.  Did I mention that I am still using the same replaceable tip that I started with 3 weeks ago?  Yep!, the same tip that shaped the goblet, made the cane, made the acrylic cotton candy pen, and now made this one.  It still seems to be as sharp as ever, with no noticable difference in how it cuts.  If you are doing production lathe work, you need a tool like this.  It will save you a ton of money, by not having down time due to stopping for sharpening.

After I easily conquered Tru-Stone, I was feeling pretty addicted to the Mini Finisher.  I was just having way too much fun to put it down.  So what did I do?  I chose another pen blank, of course.  See if you like the end results of this one.

This blank is simply called "Tiger".  It has a wonderful swirling of blacks, golds, and browns that are very suggestive of an animal print or tortoise shell. I kinda like this one.  I am not sure which one is my favorite though.  What do you think?

I hope you have all enjoyed my Easy Wood Tools Review over the past few weeks.  It has been great fun.  One of my goals in doing this review was to see if a beginner could use these tools easily, safely, and get great results.  After several weeks of trying them out, the answer is yes, yes, and yes.  Without a doubt, the EWTs are the easiest lathe tools I have ever had the pleasure of using.  Their design makes them many times safer than traditional tools, and the results are amazing.  They performed flawlessly in every task they were given.  I give them (once again), 5 pink hardhats out of a possible 5.

For those of you who are considering making pens as a way of earning extra cash, the EWT line of lathe tools makes all the sense in the world.

For those of you who just want to have fun and maybe make some Christmas presents, they work really well for that too.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Many thanks to Craig Jackson, founder of Easy Wood Tools, who goes out of his way to support women, kids, and families with their woodworking projects.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Link Party Time...and the leak is fixed.

Thank you to everyone that sent me some very nice emails concerning my pipe bursting and flooding the living room.  You will all be happy to know that the leak has been repaired, along with the hole in the sheetrock.  All that is left is to do some minor sanding and a little touching up of the paint.

So, Tools Are For Women Too is back on track with another link party.

Here are this weeks party rules....

1.)  You must be a follower if you are not one already. 

2.)  You must link back to the party somehow.  Most people link back in a post or grab one of our incredibly attractive buttons, but you can do it any way that your heart desires. Get creative and  maybe wear a pink hardhat and tool belt to work tomorrow.

3.)  Post as many links as you want.  No limit.  For every link that is posted, I plan on ringing a bell and another angel will get his or her wings.  So link until it hurts and have some fun with it.

Would you like to sponsor one our fun link parties and advertise your site or online store?  Just email me for the details.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Link Party - Finally!

Okay, I know I usually kick off the party on Wednesday night but yesterday was one of those days.  You know what I mean.  The kind of day where a water line in your house breaks and floods your living room.  Yep!  Really happened.  The line that broke was inside a wall, so to repair the leak a hole had to be cut in the sheetrock.  So while everyone was anxiously awaiting for the party to start,  I was trying to vacuum up water.  Sorry for the delay all.  Couldn't be helped.  Apparently Santa misunderstood when I asked for a jacuzzi for the living room. 

Here are this week's incredibly easy party rules.......

1.)  Have fun at all times. 

2.)  Become a follower if you are not one already.

3.)  Tattoo "I Love Tools are For Women Too" on yourself somewhere.  Okay, this really isn't a rule but be a sport and at least get a temporary one.

4.)  Link back to the party somehow.  Your new tattoo will work fine, or just mention the party in a post or something.  That works too.

5.)  Visit some of the other partiers.  Leave a nice comment for them.  After all, it's Christmas.

6.)  Link as many items as you want.  No limits as usual.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How To Make Your Own Snowman Earrings For The Holidays

Hi, this is Brooke from Tidbits & Glitz. I hope you are all having a great month and are enjoying the holiday season. It is that time of year again. Depending on where you live snow may be falling, Christmas preparations are rapidly underway and hopefully you are able to spend more time with your family. There is nothing better than crafting during the holiday season and I have the perfect earrings for you to create.
Snowmen earrings are easy to make and are perfect for the entire Winter, not just Christmas. This project only requires a few materials (you can find them at any craft store) and even less steps to complete. The tools that you will need are round nose pliers, chain nose pliers, and wire cutters.

You will also need the following materials:
  • 2-10mm beads, 8mm beads, 6mm beads
  • 2-flower spacer beads, between 4-6mm
  • 2-metal daisy spacers, between 5-8mm
  • 2-cube beads, between 4-6mm
  • 2-2" headpins
  • 2-ear wires
Once you have gathered the materials follow the steps below:

  • Take your headpin and place the 10mm bead, then the 8mm bead and then the flower spacer.
  • Next place the 6mm bead, then the metal spacer and finally the cube bead.
  • Now you will make either a closed loop or a wrapped loop (I used a wrapped loop).
  • Finally dangle your snowman from your ear wire and repeat the steps for the 2nd earring.

I choose to use crystal beads and sterling silver metal pieces but you can use any color combination and metal you like. This is a very versatile design. After you have assembled all your tools and materials it should only take 5-10 minutes to complete. My kids love to help me with these earrings and we have also used the snowmen as a pendant and added it to necklaces. This is a fun creation for yourself or make them for Christmas presents.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Easy Wood Tool Review Part 3 - The Cane Project

Here we are in Part 3 of my Easy Wood Tool review.  If you saw my post last week, you read all about the incredible success I had turning a goblet out of "curly" maple with these amazing lathe tools.

This week though, I wanted to try something that required a little more precision than an impromptu wooden wine glass. 

This week's project is a custom cane. And, while this project may look easy (and in some respects it is), it does require near perfect tenons to be cut so that the handle, connectors, and rubber tip will fit properly.

So here we go with 2 of the same basic EWT lathe tools that I used last week, the Mini Easy Rougher and  The Mini Easy Finisher.  That's it this week.  I only used 2 tools to do the whole thing.  For wood I decided to use mahogany. 

The Mini Rougher has a square carbide head, with a stainless steel shaft. 

I used it to turn my 2 square pieces of wood into nice uniform round ones.  The carbide head made quick work out the mahogany.  It cut through it like butter, never missed a beat, and never showed even a slight sign of dulling.  I also used the roughers square head to make a clean precise tenon for the brass cane handle.  Tenons like this take a little skill when using traditional lathe tools, but I think that with the EWTs I could teach someone how to do this in about 5 minutes.  No exaggeration.

For the contoured part of the cane I used the Mini Finisher.  This tool has a round carbide tip which is also mounted on a stainless steel shaft.

The Mini Finisher was effortless to use.  It cut my contours without even taking a deep breath.  Once again, there was no noticeable dulling of the tool throughout the entire project.  I used the same tips on both the rougher and the finisher that I used on the goblet last week, and they performed flawlessly.

Here is a picture of part of the cane shaft showing some of the contours.

Notice how the brass coupler on the end of the shaft fits beautifully.  I had to use a coupler like this because my small lathe would not handle the full length of the cane unless I made it in 2 pieces that screwed together.

Although it is more work to make a 2 piece shaft like this, it has it's advantages.  For one thing, if you are an online seller, it makes it really cheap to ship. 

When it came to fitting the handle the EWTs continued to shine.  

The rubber tip was a piece of cake.

Here are a couple pictures of my completed cane.

So what will I do with it, now that it's finished?  This one will be a  Christmas gift to a very special friend of mine, who fell and broke his hip last year.  Hope he likes it.  By the way, in case you were wondering I used several coats of  lacquer to do the finish and then I polished it with some steel wool and paste wax.

So how do I rate the Mini Easy Wood Tools for doing projects like this cane?

Without any hesitation, I give it 5 pink hardhats out of 5 again.

These tools are pure perfection.

If you are interested in purchasing any of the EWT tools,  they are available through my good friends at Woodcraft.  Woodcraft is the same great company that is sending several thousand Christmas gifts to our overseas soldiers again this year.  Please give this generous company a call.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Link Party!

Wind, cold, rain, and maybe some snow here in the next day or two.  If it wasn't winter before, it is now.  There is no doubt about it.  Hope all of you are staying warm out there.

Here are this week's party rules.....

1.)  Please become a follower if you are not one already.

2.)  Please link back to the party somehow.  This is especially a smart thing to do if you want to get on Santa's "good" list. 

3.)  Link up as much as you want.  No limits,  and categories are wide open.  Woodworking projects, tutorials, buttons, or your favorite egg nog recipe.  Have at it.

4.)  Have fun.  It's a rule.

If your online store needs a little push this holiday season, you may want to try some advertising.  Email me for details.

Friday, December 10, 2010

How To Make A Picture Block Collage

Hi! It is Stacy from Not JUST A Housewife! Here is one of my favorite cheap decorating ideas.

I wanted to do a collage of pictures in my hall. It is a funny little wall tucked in the corner, but it has always seemed so bare. I didn't want to do it with pictures frames though. I wanted to shake it up a bit. I came up with this. What I did was cut out 4X6 pieces of wood that were all different thicknesses using my jigsaw. The picture doesn't show it as well as I would like. Then I sanded and stained them. I could have mod podged  the pictures on, but then I wouldn't have been able to change the pictures.  I used sticky putty on the corners of the pictures and pressed hard to adhere it.

I love sticky putty. Another thing I use it for is to keep picture frames straight. Add a small amount to the bottom corners of the frame and press against the wall. You can find sticky putty in office supply stores or online.

What kinds of picture collages have you done?

Stacy is one of the team members here at TAFWT.  Would you like to join the team too?  Just email Rory.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Link Party Time!

Welcome to another link party at Tools Are For Women Too!.  As usual, everyone is welcome.  You can list as many items as you want.  No limit.  I seldom delete party items, because I know that you all have different items you need to promote.  All I ask in return is that you link back to the party somehow.  Pretty easy,huh?

The normal way to link back is to grab a button and post it on your sidebar or mention the party in a post.  Then there are those of you who like to let you creative side show.  One way for instance would be to place an ad for the party on your favorite football teams scoreboard.  After all, the Superbowl is right around the corner.  Just a thought.  But the point is, whatever you do is fine. Just link back and have some fun!

Hope you are all ready for Christmas.

If your blog or online store needs a little holiday push, you can email me for my really reasonable ad rates and details.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Easy Wood Tools Review Part 2 - The Goblet Project

Last week in Part 1 of my Easy Wood Tools review, I told you I was going to give these lathe tools a real workout.  I wanted to see if these lathe tools were everything I have been told they are.

Right out of the box I was impressed.  They come in plastic resealable tubes, unlike other brands that are often packaged more cheaply.  The handles are made of maple and the shafts on these guys are out of solid stainless steel.

And even better.........

The tips are made of carbide!  This means that they NEVER need to be sharpened.  When a tip gets dull you can rotate it to a fresh cutting surface and it cuts like new again.  When the tip is completely worn out, you just replace it.  Carbide is somewhere around 10 times as hard as high speed steel so a sharp edge lasts quite a while compared to other tools.  I talked with Craig Jackson who founded EWT and he says a carbide tip on an Easy Roughing Tool will last through about 20 hours of cutting when using it on hard maple.  That's pretty amazing, and it means that the tips are a huge money saver for beginning turners.  Because the tips are replaceable you don't have to buy any sharpening equipment that can cost hundreds of dollars. You just wont be needing things like electric grinders, files, special jigs, and sharpening stones.  It also means that your time in your shop is spent making items for you and your online store, instead of sharpening tools every 20 minutes.  Can you say efficient?  So before I even started cutting wood I was pretty impressed.

But now for the test.  This weeks project is a goblet.  I had seen a video of Craig making a goblet using his tools and he made it look and sound really easy.  I would soon find out just how easy it really is.

  I decided to make my  little goblet out of hard, "curly" maple.  This special wood was donated by Paul and Brenda who own the local Woodcraft store here in Greenville, South Carolina.  It is the same kind of wood that is famous for  making butcher's blocks out of , and also for dulling ordinary tools very quickly. This would be a good test.

Here is the goblet I ended up making on my very first try using the EWTs.

How do you think it turned out?

Okay,  I am a professional woodworker.  That much is true.  But I decided that using these tools has such a small learning curve that I could teach people how to make a goblet like this, that had never even turned on a lathe before.  It was that incredibly easy.  The tools cut beautifully and they are still razor sharp.

For goblet making I have no choice but to give these tools 5 pink hardhats out of 5. 

They were a pleasure to use, don't require sharpening, are incredibly tough, and gave me beautiful results.  In short, I couldn't find a fault with them. 

So what will I do with my goblet?

I am thinking of making a matching set and breaking them in on Christmas Eve.

By the way, if you want to buy EWT lathe tools my friends at Woodcraft carry them.  Those of you who are thinking of getting into turning need to put these on your Christmas list.

Next week I will be testing the EWTs on another project.  I am far from done having fun with these, so check back next week and see the results.

Do you need your tool or product tested and reviewed?  If so, contact me for details.