Posted on Wednesday, February 21st, 2018
My addiction to home renovation shows has reached critical mass. My list of woodworking projects I want to do has gotten so long now that I would have to retire if I even wanted to make a dent in it.
Right now I'm excited for Spring to come so I can turn my garage into a woodworking shop again and get started on two (well, actually three) projects...
That's months of work given that I can only work nights and weekends.
I've got another project I'd really like to tackle.
I want a pergola on my patio.
Well, a pergola over the part of the patio which remains after I built a catio out there. It might also be cool to build a cat run into it with seating on top, like yo...
That way I could sit outside and read a book under a little bit of shade while my cats run around. Big Fun for all of us!
By far, the biggest project I've ever tackled, if I end up doing it... but it looks like a lot Big Fun to build too!
Posted on Thursday, February 22nd, 2018
This morning I was working from home when I hit a snag and needed to be in the office to finish up. I was hurrying to get out the door when I noticed that something was on my floor. Too small for a mouse, so I was guessing it was some kind of hideous bug trying to get out of the cold. So I went to get a glass and piece of board to trap him and... it was a hairball. A Jake hairball.
Jake has, on rare occasions started hacking like he had a hairball, but he's never puked one up. I guess there really is a first time for everything.
So, after cleaning that disgusting mess up, I tracked him down to the pad on my media center (formerly the stereo receiver) to make sure he was okay. I asked him about the hairball, but all he did was demand belly rubs...
So my fears that Jake might have hairball inducing PTSD from his vet visit are apparently unfounded. If it was a problem, apparently it's all fixed by belly rubs.
Jenny never seems to have hairball problems but, then again, she's more into getting brushed with THE FURMINATOR, so I suppose that's to be expected. So as to avoid any further hairball incidents with Jake, it looks like I may have to start insisting he gets FURMINATED whether he likes it or not.
Because the first time I step in a hairball I will totally lose it.
Posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2019
The weather has been exceptionally nice these past couple days, which is both good and bad. Good because I can park outside and do some light woodworking in my garage. Bad because I worry about us having enough of a snow pack in the mountains to avoid drought this summer.
Yesterday when I got home from work I started experimenting with making cabinet doors and drawer facings. What I want are simple shaker-style pieces which look like they would be easy to build. And, relatively speaking, they are...
These are the doors and drawers I want... almost exactly. Photo from HGTV.
But getting doors and drawers that will look great takes great patience, attention, care, and time.
Take the drawers in the above photo, for example. It looks like you just saw off a piece of wood, paint it, slap a handle on it, then crack open a cold one because you're done. But it's not that simple. Every edge has to be routed because a sharp corner has little strength and will be nicked up and dented in no time. But you can't overdo it or else they won't look like they're meant to look. And then there's the biggest issue I face... having flat, flat, super-flat boards to work with.
This is a surprisingly weird thing to have to worry about.
You'd think that the boards you buy would be cut flat (which they are) then processed in such a way that they remain flat. This is not even remotely the case. After the wood has been cut from a log it's usually dried so it doesn't warp too badly, but temperature, humidity, and other factors work on the wood over time and cause it to bend. Every single "true-wood" board I have ever bought has been warped in some way. Every board. This is a huge problem when you are trying to build something that's supposed to be flat. Like a drawer face or a picture frame.
So... what to do?
Option A is to use a material like MDF (medium density fiberboard) or hardboard. It's real wood fibers mixed with resin and heat-pressed into sheets for building. It's inexpensive, smooth, flat, won't warp, paints super-smooth, and is easy to work with. In the past it was fairly weak and lacked the strength of true wood, but now-a-days it's pretty durable stuff and can be almost as strong. As a bonus, it's easy to work with as well. The downside is that it can chip or come apart easily if you're not careful about how you use nails and screws. Since I'm painting everything white, this may be a good choice for me because you'll never see the material. I also like the idea that it's cheaper and won't warp or split.
Option B is to use "true wood" and buy a planer. Running everything through a planer will provide the super-flat boards I need to build nice doors and drawers. This is wasteful and time-consuming, but you get the durability and strength that's made wood the material of choice since cabinetry began.
Option C buy fresh-planed wood from a cabinet shop. Not really an option because it's far more money than I have to spend.
My plan is to build a couple drawer faces and cabinets with MDF and see how it goes. Once I get them built I'll beat on them a little bit to make sure they're not going to fall apart. If they hold up well, then I guess I've found my material. If not, I guess I'm getting a planer. Which is something I wanted to buy anyway, but my kitchen remodel is such a huge deal that I am not thrilled with the time involved in having to use it.
For the most part I am anxious to get started on my kitchen and excited to tackle such a challenging project. But there's a small part of me who is very aware that I don't know what I'm doing yet and no amount of YouTube videos will prepare me for the real thing. Which is why it's nice that the weather has been so good and I can experiment. I'll be a lot more confident about my plans if I have some experience under my belt.
Also? By starting in on cabinetry early I'll have more time this summer to work on more catio projects. Jake and Jenny are wanting new adventures!
Posted on Monday, January 27th, 2020
The key to using cheap lumber is to own a planer to grind it into shape.
Except I don't have a planer, so instead I assembled my project with small screws, dampened it a little bit. Then let it set for a couple days to see how it all comes together.
It wasn't too bad... only minor adjustments and some sanding to whip it into shape. It sits level and looks like a million bucks... even though it only cost me $25 to make. Time to remove the little screws and move up to the big screws so it will be solid as a rock...
Shot with a wide-angle lens in my tiny garage wood shop... it's square, I swear!
My favorite trick when needing thin pieces of wood? Paint stir sticks! They cost 98¢ for ten of them! And they always look fantastic! I edged the little booklet displays I made with them...
Unfortunately, Home Depot didn't have an 1/8" router bit in stock (even thought their website says they did)... so I had to pay $5 for some 1/4" hemlock to make the dividers...
The contrast between the light pine and the darker hemlock is actually pretty cool! So I meant to do that!
All that's left is to sand it, varnish it, then haul it to its new home!
I would do woodworking every waking minute of every day if I had the time.
Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
As I mentioned in my entry for "yesterday," I broke my blog. Something that didn't get fixed until "tomorrow." I actually still wrote entries for "yesterday" and "today" but decided to save them for "tomorrow" and "the day after tomorrow."
If that's all confusing to you, just think about how it feels to be me! My head has to be in the past, present, and future at the same time. All because I decided to go messing in Blogography's guts without a backup.
I've been thinking back to what I did today (yesterday) and, other than hammer away on WordPress, I can't think of anything special.
Oh... check that... I did clean up my garage wood shop! The shelves I built got all sanded, varnished, and delivered, so I wanted to put my tools away and clean up so I'm starting my next project organized and sawdust-free. And it took a minute, I tell you what. It's shocking what a mess I had made. Why I can't put a tool back after I use it is a genuine mystery. It would certainly make my life easier.
What would also make my life easier? Throwing garbage in the trash rather than on the garage floor. Contrary to popular belief (held by me) you can't just sweep it all up at the end of the day. Dustpans can only hold so much. And so I end up having to pick it all up before I sweep. Which takes longer than if I had just tossed it in the trash in the first place.
But don't try telling me that.
When I'm being a wood surgeon, the last thing I want to hear is somebody telling me what to do. I actually became wood surgeon specifically to get away from people telling me what to do.
And, oh yeah... in case you didn't notice, I've started using the term "wood surgeon" now. I find that I prefer it over "wood worker." I toyed around with "wood doctor" for a while, but telling people that I have a doctorate in playing with wood seemed dishonest somehow. I'm amateur at best.
I bet Bob Vila never has to deal with existential crises like this (he says while wondering if whomever came up with the plural for "crisis" realized how stupid it looks and should have just made it be "crisises" like you'd expect it to be).
Probably not. He's Bob Vila. He gets to be a fucking wood wizard if he wants to!
Ooh. Now I wanna be a wood wizard.
Posted on Wednesday, February 12th, 2020
There's a cruise ship quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan due to a Coronavirus outbreak onboard. With the exception of China, the ship has more cases than any country on earth, clocking in at 175 people infected. The worry is that with so many people living in such close proximity that the virus will continue to spread. If that's the case, the bulk of the passengers may end up with the disease despite all efforts to keep it contained.
As a result, cruiselines are taking drastic measures to avoid this situation from happening on their ships. Most of them are canceling or rerouting cruises to China and other Asian countries. Some of them are denying passage to any customers with a Chinese, Hong Kong, or Macau passport. Anybody having visited those countries within 30 days, regardless of citizenship, will also be denied passage.
Needless to say, many passengers are canceling their cruising plans regardless of destination because they are worried a carrier of the Coronavirus will end up onboard.
The media, always hungry to stoke people's fears because fear is good for their business model, are all too happy to keep feeding the fire.
Not a good time to be a cruise company.
I've never been a big "cruising" person, but my mom absolutely loved it. She loved being able to go to lots of places on a single vacation. She really loved being able to go to so many different places without having to pack and unpack each time. So we ended up going on a number of cruises, including The Caribbean (twice), Alaska, The Mediterranean (twice), and The Panama Canal. They were all great, we had a fantastic time, and I am grateful to have found travel which was low-stress for my mom since that was all that really mattered...
Mom aboard the Dawn Princess in the Caribbean in 2004
Mom aboard the Norwegeian Jewel in the Mediterranean in 2007
Mom aboard the Norwegian Pearl in Alaska in 2009
Mom aboard the Disney Magic in the Mediterranean in 2010
Mom aboard the Island Princess in the Panama Canal in 2012
And, let me tell you, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. people found out we were going on a cruise there was at least one of them telling us "I would never go on one of those because it's too easy to get sick when you're trapped with so many people on a cruise." Which may be true, but neither me nor my mom ever got sick. Not even so much as a cold on any of the half-dozen voyages we were on.
Meanwhile I've gotten sick after flying on planes, staying in hotels, or attending events where people were sick. I've also been run down by a van in the South of France, hit by a taxi in Chicago, and been run over by a cyclist in Salt Lake City. As if that weren't enough, I've been held up at knife-point in Seattle and at gun-point in San Francisco. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I've gotten injured and had many other problems... all while not traveling on cruise ships.
Would I cruise again? Of course I would. There are pitfalls, sure... especially in China and especially now. But there are pitfalls in any method of travel. And the positives for cruise travel are really too good to ignore. Even if you're not a big "cruising" person like me.
While I am not much a "cruising" person, I am an amateur woodworker.
And nothing quite tests your resolve as a woodworker than having no budget to build something. I drew up a plan for a gift shop's children's book display and calculated the materials would cost $48 to build. I only had $10-$12 to spend. So instead of actual boards, I scrounged around Home Depot for the cheapest possible lumber. They had warped thin boards for cheap, so I bought $12 worth and just spaced them out as far as I could to hold exactly what was required securely...
It was a strange project. I didn't have the material to use pretty miter joints everywhere, so I used them only in the places they would show, then used butt joints everywhere else. ALL of the boards are curved. I just nailed and glued them into place, straightening as best I could as I went. Worked great, and I had a whopping 3-1/2 inches of board left when I was through!