31 Jul 2018

My everyday step forward

Hi, puzzle friends!

Well, I know you are expecting subjects that are related to puzzles, but this time, I'm writing about how I'm struggling to acquire English skills.
I'm going to write about how I'm struggling with puzzles, next time.

I have been writing this blog for improving my English since 24th February 2018, so it's been five months now. I'm still not sure if this blog is helpful for improving my English. What at least I know is, if I wouldn't do anything, my English ability won't improve. I believe it's better than doing nothing.

I have met and heard the cases of several people who have been overseas for a long time and cannot speak, listen, read or write the local languages. These facts show the difficulties of learning foreign languages for adults, especially languages that have different backgrounds.

Some people who have never been overseas tend to think that if they live in, for example an English-speaking country, they can speak and write English naturally. I can say it is not that simple.

If you live in a foreign country, you can learn a foreign language during your daily life. When you go shopping, order a hamburger or buy a postage stamp at a post office, there are lots of opportunities to talk to local people. You can improve a local language little by little. However, this is important, there's a pitfall. If you don't make a SPECIAL effort, you cannot go over the constant level. I realised it strongly.

What I mean by constant level is the level that can buy whatever you want at a supermarket, can order a hamburger that you want to eat and can buy postage stamps you need. Actually, buying something is not very difficult, if you cannot say what you want, you just point out the product with your fingers.
photo credit: razgriz2520 Stories Inside via photopin (license)

I read several puzzle blogs which are written by native English speakers and noticed that there are so many expressions that I have never used myself. Oh, I'm jealous. I want to write like them, write better, sophisticated sentences with wit and a little sense of humour. To acquire the skill of writing needs reading, yes, it's obvious. Reading gives me chances to encounter unknown words and expressions that I have never seen and used when I go shopping, buy a hamburger and buy postage stamps at a post office. Therefore, currently, I think that the most effective way to improve my English is reading.

I have decided that I will read books every day. I promise. I know I fail easily, so I wrote this blog just for my memorandum.
I'm looking forward to how my English ability will change in a year.

26 Jul 2018

My Challenge to make mini-puzzles - H Burr

Hello, dear readers. How have you been doing?
Me? I have been making mini-puzzles.

My husband, Juno, had prepared several beautiful thin timbers for me, and I have made small versions of Juno's 6 Borad Burr #1, #2 and #3. Luckily, the CNC router hasn't been used and it's lucky for me.
This time, I have made H Burr which was designed by Juno.
This puzzle was sold at Pelikan, Czech, Torito, Japan and Mr Puzzle (Improved H Burr also called H Box Burr) long ago and I don't think any other shops are selling this puzzle anymore. I have heard that someone made and sold this puzzle, but it's all shams. It's quite annoying there are people who use someone's idea for their business without asking. I've got permission to use his design, of course so these mini-puzzles I have made are not shams. You know, good manners exist even between husband and wife.
Juno recommended me to use Burmese teak for H Burr. It was the first time to use teak for me and it made me surprised because I could feel oil on the surface of the timber. It felt like a timber that is coated with wax. The teak looks very beautiful and is used for various uses as excellent high-quality materials.

However, teak has a high silica content and it easily blunts tools. Every timber has both good points and bad points.

All right, I'll show you my first H Burr mini version. Ta-dah!

This is the first H Burr I have made. Looking good, isn't it?
The length, breadth and height are 4.2 cm (1.65 in) each.
I'm satisfied with the finished H Burr and have decided to make two or three more sets of H Burr.

Happy mini-puzzling!

17 Jul 2018

Making mini-puzzles - 6 Board Burr #1

My two mini-puzzles, 6 Board Burr #3 that were up for eBay auction had a successful bid. 
It was a good experience for me. I thank the people who bought my puzzles.
It was fun to make small puzzles. I like to play with mini-puzzles and display mini-puzzles on the bookshelf, they look nice. It's convenient to display them on the shelf, you know, they are small and don't need much room. If I say one disadvantage of them, it takes lots of work to make them.

I feel like making smaller puzzles but I'm sure that will be a very hard job. Then, I recalled a famous man who has been making miniature puzzles, Mr Allan Boardman. I once saw him at the IPP where he was selling his miniature puzzles. I bought one puzzle from him. It was a long time ago and I don't remember where and when.
His miniature puzzles are VERY small. They are even hard to see. I cannot think of how he made them. I have several questions that I want to ask him about making miniature puzzles. I wonder if I could meet him and ask him someday.
Having said that, at the time, it's impossible to make miniature puzzles because the tools I have are too big. Maybe, I should make tools myself. Anyway, I'm happy with making small-puzzles.  
Our workplace is always busy and it's a little hard to get a chance to use the CNC router. However, my husband Juno doesn't use the CNC router these days, and it's a chance to use it for my purpose. So, I have started making different puzzles. I have made 6 Board Burr #2 and #3, so, of course the next one will be 6 Board Burr #1.
One of the difficulties of making small puzzles is finding materials. I looked for thin timber, but it's not always stocked. Thin timber is sold in some hardware shops or lumber dealers, but they are expensive. Therefore, what I do is wait for leftover timber to appear after Juno made ordinary sized puzzles. If I'm lucky, I could get several different coloured timbers.
This time, luckily, I have got very beautiful American Black Walnut timber.
I sandwiched Koto with two American Black Walnut, it looks very good. The picture below is pasting three timbers and tightening them with clamps. I have collected as many clamps as possible and left them for one night. 

I have already finished cutting pieces using the CNC router. These are pieces the CNC router has cut. These pieces already look good, but many work processes are still left.
I'm not sure when I am able to finish working on them. When I have finished making them, I'm going to write about my third mini-puzzle on this blog. 

13 Jul 2018

Mini Puzzles on eBay Auction!

One of my dreams finally came true!

As I wrote on my blog last week, I have made "Mini 6 Board Burr #2" for trial and it looked good. I was very happy with my first mini-puzzle and have made the next puzzle. 
It's 6 Board Burr #3, which is also designed by Juno.

I sandwiched Silver Ash with two Red Cedar. Red Cedar is soft timber, and while I was making it, it was a little hard to deal with. After finishing cutting and sanding, all the pieces were sprayed, and it became harder, so there is no issue to play with.
Eventually, I have made three Mini 6 Board Burr #3. I want to keep one for myself and have decided to put the rest of the two puzzles on eBay auction.
These mini-puzzles were made by me (Yukari) just for fun and there is no plan to sell the same puzzle on Pluredro shop at the moment. Our workplace is always busy, so if I am able to use the CNC router, maybe I will make the same mini-puzzles or different puzzles someday.
We, Pluredro have put two pine versions of Mirii 6x4 (Mirii 6x4, Polyhedral shape interlocking burr puzzles) together with my mini-puzzle on eBay auction.

All puzzle prices start from AUD1.00.

The period of the auction is five days. The auction has already started and it will be ended on 17th July, 13:08 Australian Eastern Standard Time.
I look forward to you joining!

Pluredro Auction : https://www.ebay.com/sch/pluredro/m.html?rt=nc&LH_Auction=1

7 Jul 2018

My first mini puzzle - 6 Board Burr #2

I've been having a small dream, as a matter of fact, it is a really small dream because I wanted to open a miniature bakery or bookshop on my desk. Yes, it's a dollhouse size shop. I like miniatures and dioramas very much. I have made miniature breads, tote-bags, books and furniture before.

At first, I made 1/6th scale miniatures because I didn't want to make miniatures that didn't have a function like a real one. For example, I didn't want to make miniature bags that looked realistic but couldn't contain anything inside.
However, the worldwide standard size of dollhouses seems 1/12 scale, so I have started making 1/12 scale miniature furniture and miniature breads.
Please have a look at the picture below. There are my 1/12 scale miniature furniture.


It's just an aside, but one day, Juno (my husband) asked me if I had some extra miniature bread. So, I gave him two miniatures and he put them into the inside of one of our puzzles, Heart Case, and sent it to Kevin. If you are a reader of Kevin's blog, I think you already knew. If you are not, please have a look at Kevin's blog.
Kevin's blog: PuzzleMad - Et tu Juno?

Let's get back to the main topic.
I like miniatures and made several things, but still I felt something missing. 

Of course, it's a puzzle!
Why haven't I made any puzzles!?
There are some timber offcuts and tools at the work place. (I and my husband run a family business of making wooden puzzles.) Alright, let's make a quick move!

I looked for a suitable design of a puzzle and found one that looks easy to make on Juno's website. (Honestly, I thought it's easy in the beginning, but it wasn't.) It's a puzzle named "6 Board Burr #2." Then, I found some thin timber. 

I thought that two colours would look nice, so have chosen one white timber and two brown timbers. Using these timbers, I made a sandwich for making it firmer. It took about a half day to dry the glue. The timber was still an uneven thickness, so I put it through into the drum sander which is one of my favorite machines. 
The next step was making a 3D data. I drew lines looking at Juno's website picture and exported the data of DXF. The DXF file was imported to the software for the CNC router and did settings for the CNC router, then it was ready to cut.

I was a bit worried if I made any mistakes, as all the pieces would be damaged. Therefore, what I did was cut one piece first. This is the first piece I have cut. Hmm, it looks good.
After I made sure of the first piece, I have cut the rest of the other five pieces.
I thought I should have set more deep cutting because every piece was connected with thin timber underneath and it wasn't easy to take apart. Anyway, these pieces looked good.
I sanded each edge and corner using sandpaper and several types of diamond files. The work on these pieces was a bit hard because the pieces were small, but the tools were not so small.

Finally, the work was completed after various work. The pieces aren't sprayed yet, but they look good. I was excited and couldn't wait until they are sprayed.

Here it is, my first mini-puzzle!
Honestly, this puzzle is not so small as a miniature. I would like to make miniature puzzles if I have suitable tools.

Before I end this blog, I'll give you a quiz. 
I have made a mistake during the process of making the puzzle. 
Can you guess what it was?

Maybe it's difficult to answer even if you could see the pictures well. The answer is I glued three timbers in the same direction. To make timber firm and not twist, I had to glue the middle timber 90 degrees rotated. I noticed after I glued them, but it was too late.

Well, I'll do it well next time. What puzzle shall I make next?
Please look forward to it.