Nov 19

Typing with wood stain on my fingers

Here’s the progress on the recent project. This weekend we glued all the pieces together. So it is assembled:

Gluing doesn’t take a long time, thankfully. But you have to come to terms with the parts that work and don’t work. A good craftsman, I said, does not blame his tools. Fortunately, I continued, I am not a good craftsman. And there’s enough blame to go around.

We’re on to staining. That’s taking a bit longer than necessary because things aren’t drying in the garage quickly enough. Too cool in there just now. So we’ve moved it from the garage to a better, warmer (funny how that works) climate. When the stain dries I will put a coat or two of finish on it. And then I’ll attach some hardware and our work will be done. Hopefully it will make sense and be useful.

Otherwise, I’m going to blame my tools again.

Seriously, I’m working out of my garage. I have to pull the table saw out from under a shelf to use it. I have to pull the miter saw off the same shelf and put it on the table saw to use that. I have a sophisticated cardboard box setup for my belt sander. I sanded individual parts on an old printer hutch. And we’re staining it on a hand-me-down kitchen island because the height it about right.

It’s a delightful shade tree operation, is what I’m saying. This is what I was coming to terms with this weekend.

Not really. It’s fine. The project looks pretty nice. It is the right height, so it will be functional. The color compliments the room — if you’re standing in the right light in one of three previously marked positions — so it will look appealing. You’ll see. The next time it shows up here, it will be in place.

I woke up yesterday to a forecast of “abundant” sunshine. In the sense of it existing or being available in large quantities, that was true yesterday. Here’s a quick shot from my afternoon run:

If we’re discussing abundance in the sense of having plenty, we did not have an abundance. Also, I seemed to be running west the entire way yesterday afternoon:

And it was a fine day. Bright and crisp. A rarity here this time of year, so going for a quick slow four-mile run was the right call.

Here’s the thing. I was just reading about Project Sunroof where you can “discover your solar savings potential.” Like all curious people, I put in several neighbors’ addresses, because Google doesn’t need to know where I live, they can just get close and guess and that’s close enough, man.

The data is really about how much sun your roof gets — because this is about solar panels — the data was disheartening. The calculations on the site suggest that we get about three hours of usable sunlight a day over the course of a year. Solar calculations and energy savings (which appear to be minimal given how our house and its roof are oriented) notwithstanding, that’s not abundant sun.

Also, you can tell this estimate is in the proper vicinity, and know there’s something to that forecast, because the meteorologists at the weather service made the point of saying we’d have abundant sun yesterday. You’d never see such language if it were the norm.

It should be the normal condition, but alas. So far the forecast calls for partly cloudy skies … next Monday. Something to look forward to you.

Nov 19

This was right, until it was wrong

I was going to start with this …

… but that’s not exactly accurate. I did get to play with power tools today. I mentioned on Monday that I was close to wrapping up this one project with a whole series of jokes about how I’m not good at working with wood. Measure twice, cut once, sand away your shortcomings. That sort of thing.

Only the belt sander probably caused as many problems as it created.

Fortunately, I realized, a quick bit of sawing would solve all of my troubles — and boy don’t we always say that. I did that.

So there was fun to be seen.

Tonight, you see, I had the choice of breaking out the miter saw or running a quick shopping errand. It was my job to pick up two frames for some fancy certificates my television gang has received. Only there wasn’t enough time tonight.

We had just the one car between us today, because The Yankee’s car is in the shop. It isn’t a terrible inconvenience. We work at the same place, of course, and our schedules matched up nicely today. It’s really an issue of what you’re accustomed to. You’re used to being independent, but now you must depend on someone in the simple matter of getting from A to B. And, in this case, you must depend on me. And you must depend on people leaving my office at quitting time, so that we may all, you know, quit for the day.

We left late, which changed up the evening. If I stopped off at C, that would throw off dinner plans, and that would keep me from making sawdust, which I wanted to do. And I did! Now I just have to glue it all up, later this week, and then stain and finish the thing this weekend.

So I’ll try to take care of that shopping errand in the morning. Of course, first-thing shopping is a wholly different experience than late-in-the-day shopping.

There will be more fun tomorrow, then.

Nov 19

Remember the old saw …

Measure once, cut twice? I’ve been measuring and measuring.

First, I created a test version of this project I’m working on. And we decided how to change the project. It is going to be smaller. Just six inches high, and not seven and change. And so the work model was disassembled. Part of it was plywood, and that was stacked away neatly for some future project that might require quality plywood.

The original side pieces will be re-used for the finished project. So I ripped them down to size this weekend:

And I took some extra pieces of pine and cross cut those to (more or less) the width of the finished project. It will require three pieces:

One of them is warped. It might have a warp in a whorl, I don’t know. But I think I figured out a way around that. Measure twice (measure a few dozen times) and cut once.

Then! Use the belt sander to sort it out:

I’ve learned several things, working with wood the last two years. One of those things is that I prefer the product to the process. So it’s a nice side hobby, but this is never going to be a primary interest. (Begging many questions, I know.) I’ve learned which parts of the process that I like less than others. Usually it has to do with some moment that marks no going back. But, I remind myself, measure twice and so on. And I’ve learned to recognize when it is time to stop for the day. Before you get frustrated. Before you rush. Before you hastily get past some no-going-back moment that belies the notion that it’s only wood. Before the process wears you out.

This was much of my weekend.

At least until I overdid it with the belt sander, so the new phrase is this: Measure twice, cut once, use the belt sander to sort it out, and then cut it again.

So, really, get lumber larger than the size of your finished project. For refinements.

And this evening I glued up and assembled some of the pieces. Later this week I’ll make the final cuts, and glue the final pieces. And then, we’re going to finish the project, so it is a finished project. Probably next week I’ll show you what this is.

Turns out I’m a slow worker on matters that aren’t the primary interest.