Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ironing Board Top and Cover for QUILTERS

by Bob Buchanan

In talking with quilters recently, I discovered that they truly despise the expert design of the common ironing board. For ironing fabrics for quilting, you need as much working space as you can get, and the common ironing board with all its graceful curves for ironing shirt sleeves doesn't lend itself to efficient fabric ironing. For quilting a rectangular piece of fabric, you need an ironing board with square corners to be most efficient. So I was talking to the staff at Nuts and Bolts Fabric ( in Edgemont, SD last month. They showed me a modified ironing board top they had built. So I bought some special silver ironing board top material and decided to try and make one too.

Materials needed (determine your sizes by measuring your ironing board):
Half sheet of 1/2 inch plywood (2' x 8')
One 8" 2x4 stud
Special silver ironing board cover material* - 2 yards
Padding - wood blanket or batting
Tacking strip - about 14'
Tacks - 3/8 inch
Screws - 1 1/4" long

*Note: The silver ironing board cover material is referred to as "Silver", 100% cotton, Therma-flec, made by James Thompson Co. It usually comes in 44" wide.


So here's the candidate ironing board. It has a long sloping side and a big curve on the left end. The effective maximum usable width for ironing fabric is about 32 inches.

So I purchased a 4' x 8' sheet of 1/2 inch maple plywood at Menard's that had some damage on one corner that was marked down from $48 to $12. Looked like a deal to me. I cut it down to 23" x 62". This gave me room to add a 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" cleat around the perimeter of the ironing board and 1" of space on each side to tack down the padding material and cover.

Then I ripped an 8' 2x4 into two pieces 1 1/2" square, ran them thru the planer to get nice smooth sides, and then cut the pieces to length to fit around the ironing board. I traced the ironing board onto the back of the top. Then I marked the locations of the cleats, and clamped them in place, one at a time. Each time, I turned the ironing board top over and drilled holes for screws, then drove screws into the cleats from the top side of the board. Some people like to glue the cleats on at this point, but I like to leave my options open, in case I need to make changes to the layout before its too late, so I skipped the glue. You can glue it later if you want.

I just had to add something in here that would let me use my new bandsaw, so I traced the curve of the ironing board end onto a piece of 2x6, and cut a nice curved piece. It adds a touch of class to the project too.

I routed a 3/8" chamfer on the edges of the surfaces of the cleats that might be handled. Then I sanded them to remove any rough spots and make it easier to keep clean and free of threads. A natural "un-finished" finish sometimes referred to as a Sam Maloof finish seemed appropriate for this project.

Next I added the foil, padding, and cover to the top of the board. Jerry at Nuts and Bolts Fabrics ( suggested that I put aluminum foil as the first layer to prevent moisture from warping the plywood top, so I added some nice thick aluminum foil to the top. I used the kind that you buy to cover the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. I held it in place with a few small pieces of 3M blue painter's tape. It took two passes of 18" wide foil to cover the top. Then you put down a couple layers of padding. We used two layers of an old wool blanket, but you can also use batting that all quilters have on hand for building quilts.

Then we got to use our upholstery training from the Trident Adult Education classes in Anaheim, CA, that we took back sometime around 1985, to attach the special silver cover material to the bottom of the ironing board top. We made cardboard tacking strips by cutting matboard into 1/2" strips and attached the silver cover material and padding to the board with 3/8" tacks.

I used 2 yards of the special silver ironing board cover material and about 14 feet of tacking strips. I made the tacking strips from matboard. (You can buy the silver material from Nuts and Bolts Fabrics in Edgemont, SD -

After whacking in the final tacks, we turned the top over and tested it on the ironing board.

Just one more time, here's that touch of class under the left end of the ironing board for those who like to look at the underside of a project after its all done. (Real woodworkers would run the cleats continously around the outside of the ironing board with no gaps, but that adds weight and not much functionality.)

So the final project is now in place and ready for ironing all those quilting fabrics. The effective usable maximum width for ironing fabric went from about 32 inches up to 62 inches. Wow - almost doubled! Probably a worth-while project.

The end.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Central States Fair - Fine Woodworking Division 23 - August 2008

Entries for the Central States Fair - Open - Fine Woodworking Division 23 were brought in on August 14th and 15th, 2008. Members of the Rapid City Woodworkers Association contributed seven of the 14 entries. The Fine Woodworking Division 23 was located in the Creative Hobbies building at the fairgrounds.

It turned out to be the "Rick and Bob Show", as Rick Wolke and Bob Buchanan were the lone contributors from the Rapid City Woodworkers Association. As you can see from the photos, there was lots of room for more entries.

Judging of entries took place on the afternoon of August 15, 2008. The results of the judging is shown below. Winner of the BEST OF SHOW for the Fine Woodworking Division went to Rick Wolke with the walnut and zebrawood, wall-mounted bottle cabinet. Rick also was awarded a First Place - Blue Ribbon for the cabinet.

Rick also received First Place - Blue Ribbons for each of his two end tables, as well as a Blue Ribbon for his wooden pen entry.

Bob Buchanan received a First Place - Blue Ribbon for his entry WILD HORSES in the Rocking Toys Lot. It consisted of a set of rocking horses and bears starting with one less than an inch tall and increasing in size by 25% increments up to the tallest at ten inches, to complete the set of six rocking horses with bears. Bob's display case that was built to house the bears was also entered into the fair and received a Second Place - Red Ribbon.

Other entries included an entry in the Intarsia Category - a pair of Dolphins by Bob Buchanan which received a Second Place - Red Ribbon.

One additional entry by Rapid City Woodworkers included a trivet recycled from scrap Corian solid surface countertop material by Bob Buchanan. Because this item was not made from wood, it was entered in the Creative Hobbies Division. Bob received a First Place - Blue Ribbon for this item.

So this is where the Fine Woodworking Division is for 2008. With all the talent in the Rapid City Woodworkers Association, we look forward to improving next year's showing. If each member makes only one item for the fair, we will be able to increase the Division's presentation by more than 100%. This will be a great start towards improving the overall presentation of the Fine Woodworking Division for the next Central States Fair.

Monday, August 11, 2008

RCWA - August 2008 General Meeting

Photos from General Meeting

The third meeting of the RCWA was held at Splinters Woodshop in Rapid City ( It included a short business meeting prior to a presentation by Will Bellucci and Rachel Scheffel of Woods of Wisdom.

Woods of Wisdom Presentation Photos

Will Bellucci and Rachel Scheffel of Woods of Wisdom gave the special presentation for the evening. Woods of Wisdom specializes in woodturning and woodcarving. They "create wooden bowls and vessels with hand-carved decorations from tree to table." The group listened intently to Will and Rachel and thoroughly enjoyed their very informative presentation. They explained the processes they follow to produce their fantastic artwork and invited us to visit their workshop anytime.

We met Will and Rachel at their booth at the Festival in the Park in Spearfish in July. They spent last week demonstrating on-site at the art gallery Prairie Edge, Art of the Lakota on 6th & Main, in downtown Rapid City. For our presentation, they described and illustrated the step-by-step process they use from wood acquisition to final turning. Will provided a very entertaining description of the process of acquiring wood for turning, and how to prepare it for final turning. They emphasized early waxing of the green wood, wrapping with cellophane, and then later, dunking in a large bucket of 50/50 liquid soap and water for a period of time to preserve the wood and retain use of the core. These tips will help ensure that the wood will be prepared without splits and cracks, and even help to encourage the growth of spalting lines. It was a very informative session; well accepted by all in attendance. Will and Rachel invited all to come to their shop anytime and learn more. You can go to their website: for additional information.