woodworking


11
Aug 21

No splinters here

My lovely bride asked me to make her a computer stand. We settled on a less-is-so-much-more design. So awhile back I trimmed a nice piece of scrap board to the desired dimensions, sanded it to down to 400 grit and, this weekend, she started staining it. Monday I showed you her patent pending dot-dot-stain technique. We put a few coats on Sunday and Monday. Yesterday she attached the legs and put the thing into practice. This is what it looks like this morning.

To personalize the project, I stamped a little love note into part of the board. And now everything is the right height for when she wants to stand up to use that machine in her home office.

I tried standing up in my office office. It just seems silly and boring.

Today, I do my best writing and reading and emailing while sitting. Now, back in my broadcasting days, I did my best work will standing. Maybe I should have a movable desk in a studio set-up.

Or a split level desk! With risers! And wings!

You can see how this could get out of control. (My first desk did.)

I’ve got a list of other projects to attend to and finish, before even drawing up plans on another one. Miles to go before I sleep, and so much sanding to be done, as they say.

Elsewhere, today was quiet. Spreadsheets and email and heat indices well over 100 degrees. The heat is supposed to break tomorrow or Friday. Or maybe by the weekend. Until then, hydrate much, sweat as little as possible.


9
Aug 21

So we let another Monday sneak up on us

I’m not sure why we let this happen. Again. By now, you’d think, someone would have noticed a pattern. Perhaps they could have gone down to the Office of Naming Things and said something. You probably get brushed off there. They’d send you to the Department of Reorganizing Units of Time. Now, if we know one thing, the humorless people in that office are no help. They’ll let you know straightaway. There’s a sign there that says it takes five business posplexes to get a response back on the paperwork.

The solution then, is obviously to get back to the time machine project. I’m planning on building the next test version in the body of a front-loading clothes dryer.

Unless future me comes back right now to tell me that’s the wrong approach.

No future me. So the dryer version it is. I should make some nice progress on it over the next few posplexes.

How was your weekend? Lovely and restful and productive in all of the proper proportions, I’m sure. I had a nice little run on Saturday morning. It was nice until my entire body rebelled. And that’s what you get when you try to run more than a 5K on no fuel. My blood sugar was a bit low, so I walked the last mile. That let me discover some of the largest milkweed plants you’ll ever see.

I wonder if anyone ever just decided to go for it and crack one of those seed pods open, to see what was inside: no tools, no rocks nearby, just hands and derring-do. I’d bet they were sorely disappointed. And their hands were sore.

We picked up the traditional Chick-fil-A lunch, parking right by the front door for the curbside pickup, watching people walking in right by this sign, maskless.

This county went back under a mask mandate last week. I understand, and am sympathetic, to some elements of the current vaccine debate. Because of that, I’m of two minds about the anger. But masks, this is a different category altogether. Masks are effective; they’re no infringement on your rights. You can breathe in them, and we all should know by now that our noses are connected to the respiratory system.

At which point we’re talking about people who, for some reason, want to conflate self-interest and public health. Like there’s a difference.

Went for a nice 25-mile bike this weekend, too. I only just realized that I didn’t take any pictures or videos. Just imagine me falling well behind on a short ride and going much slower than I should.

That was yesterday afternoon. And last night we stained a bit of wood. This is second or third coat, but you can still see The Yankee’s patented dot-dot-stain system.

I’m not sure where that came from, but that’s how she does it. She enjoys staining — now if I can just show her how much fun sanding is! — and has done a lot of the little projects we’ve built around here. I’ll show you what this is later this week.

Because, right now, we must get to the regular Monday check-in on the cats. They’re doing great, as you can tell. Phoebe is enjoying a bit of late evening sun here:

And here she is sleeping. This must be comfortable. She often finds herself wrapped around the arm of the sofa as a part of our evening cuddle.

Upside down is the way to see life, apparently. Poseidon thinks so, anyway.

So rare that the two of them agree on something, it’s worth noting as a universal truth.

And, finally, here’s Poseidon’s latest portrait.

And that’ll do for now. See you tomorrow. It’s only a posplex away!

Did you know that Phoebe and Poseidon have an Instagram account? Phoebe and Poe have an Instagram account. And keep up with me on Twitter. Don’t forget my Instagram. There are also some very interesting On Topic with IU podcasts for you, as well.


9
Nov 20

A Monday post about Sunday

We went for a bike ride, because that’s what we do, and because it was an abnormally beautiful weekend day. Just the sort that is intent to try to trick you into thinking this is what the whole fall and most of the winter will be like. It won’t be, and that’s a shame. And I can’t get that out of my head, and that’s an equally big shame.

Did I mention it was a great day? Ridiculous. It was 80 degrees, far beyond what anyone here would expect, which is also a shame.

Anyway, we were going out to the lake, but changed our mind to take a slightly different route. Different roads, different traffic — only yelled at twice, by a dude that, feeling he didn’t get it right the first time, decided to let us get by so he could pass us and yell again — and different views.

It was described to me as a nice, easy ride.

I looked down at one point because my legs notified my brain that I was turning over ridiculous RPMs. We’re talking maximum watts, and I’m torquing the handlebars for all they were worth. And that’s how I found myself in a sprint, at 26 miles per hour, just to stay on the Yankee’s wheel.

We were also climbing a hill when that happened.

Down on the causeway:

And a bit of video somewhere between here and there …

Anyway, yesterday was a lovely day for a ride, and we enjoyed it. And we look forward to the next one. (And it better be 80 degrees again!)

I also got to play around with part of this wood carving project I started on Friday:

This is just a test piece. I’ll use a longer piece to create the scoop-bowl volume I want here, and I need to figure out some way to handle the bottom of the bowl. It’s quite rough in there, as you can see, and I’d like to clean that up without having to buy even more stuff. I think this is becoming a scoop for dry cat food, which was the suspicion I had from the beginning. And that needs to be 3/4s of a cup. But if I can get the volume right, smooth out the insides of the real piece and thin the sides and shape the bottom, I’ll have a nice piece.

Or just something else that never works quite the way I intended.


6
Nov 20

Finally, the weekend

It was a lovely day at the end of a long week and I managed to wrap everything up at the office in good time. I had an interview with a public health professional, and that’ll be a podcast next week. And then I went for a walk in the woods.

Look! Woods!

I managed to scrape my leg, so it was a successful walk in the woods!

The important thing about it all was that I was in the woods in a t-shirt and shorts in November. It was a special treat and there’s no way to properly sing its praises or otherwise appreciate it.

I found a big oak branch just resting among the leaf clutter and claimed it for my own. It was still fairly fresh tree litter. Still almost green. I might try my hand at carving a spoon or bowl out of it. Because anything worth doing is worth doing in hardwood.

So I peeled away the bark, cut up the branch and sanded away the inner bark and cambium layer. You know, the easy part. Now I just have to play around with carving it.


29
Nov 19

We’re averaging 300 words per topic here

How was your Thanksgiving? As great as mine, I hope. The in-laws are in town, and we are having a lovely visit. The Yankee and her mother made a delicious meal (and I got in the way of things a little bit) and we were able to enjoy it last night and tonight. There’s still some good stuff in the refrigerator, so if you’re out of Thanksgiving provisions feel free to stop by.

Thanksgiving seemed to sneak up this year. It wasn’t until near the end of last week that it seemed an eventuality. I’ll blame the timeless nuance of the work structure. You’re bound into the regiment of the week, each week, this week, next week the one after, all just like the last in their own way. And it’s hectic in its own way. And then, suddenly, people are thinking and talking about their travel plans. And then the travel and you begin to focus on the good stuff: the family, the visiting, the food.

And then, almost as quickly as it arrives, it is gone. Swallowed by like leftovers, like a running back in so many bad Thanksgiving football games, or even worse Friday night games. It’s almost as if you’re reminded, just in time, to spend this moment as a moment for which you should be thankful, and remember all of the many blessings you have. That we have to reminded is a human failing. That we now follow a day of such humility with a day of crass commercialism – what once was shopping in stores became camping out and then shopping over night and shopping online and, now, “Dear Lord, how did all of these companies get my good email address?” — is probably the second problem.

Now it is the season of lights and cold and shopping and traveling and feasts and generically labeled office parties and more sugar cookies than you need and exploitive commercials.

Seven more emails from stores I once shopped at in 2011 rolled in just as I wrote that paragraph.

I put handles on the stove cover this evening. We started using it earlier this week, without them, to see if it was necessary. We quickly decided it was necessary.

So, fortunately, I’d purchased two drawer pulls earlier this week that are vaguely reminiscent of what is featured in the kitchen cabinets. And then I picked up four screws that were too long. So I sawed them down to an appropriate size earlier in the week. And then tonight, after everyone had retired, I agonized over how to do this.

It involved tape, a fair amount of muttering and wondering at how many ways I could get the measuring wrong. A lot, it turns out. But when you add hardware last, you are obliged to get the actual process correct the first time. This isn’t the finest piece of craftsmanship in the world, mind you, but when you put a drill bit into finished wood you are definitely stepping over the point of no return.

And I had to have that conversation with myself twice.

Sure, if you were making dressers or cabinets or anything in mass, you’d work up a template or a jig to speed things along. This was four screws on an artisanal piece of folk art from extra lumber and a few free moments grabbed from here and there. I’m an amateur, is what I’m saying.

For us amateurs, it isn’t the first screw that’s the problem. You have to have the second one in precisely the right spot, so the handle can actually attach.

That made for a few tense moment. Drill on wood, drill in wood, drill through wood. And now the screw, pushed from one side through the last. And where is the handle? There it is. They always escape, like they know something. Do they know something? Is this going to fit? Should I just start trying to soften up the handle now so I can warp it if it doesn’t fit? It isn’t going to fi — elbow grease it into place. It fit. But only just barely.

That was the second side when, presumably, I was more prepared for the task. When I’d figured out my process. After the first time, when I had to do a little hand shimming of the second drill bit whole.

Anyway, they both fit. The stove cover is done and in place and if it works for at least three weeks then we’ll have gotten the effort out of it, I guess. Also, the next time I make something like this, I’m using knobs. Just the one screw, after all.

So, next week, then, it is back to my tie rack. Only nine more pieces to sand!

But today, you have the books!

Today we’re wrapping up our examination of the April 1969 Reader’s Digest from my grandfather’s mound of books. It is the last of the Digest, so we’ll have to start something else in the next few days. Perhaps the stash of Modern Science. Perhaps some other thing that catches my eye. We’ll get them all eventually, but you can get this right now.

Click the book cover to see the latest. If you are catching up, you can see the entire 50-year-old April issue here. If you’d like to see some other things from the my grandfather’s collection — there are textbooks and notebooks and more — just follow this link.