What's the weather like in Doug's neighborhood?

Monday, June 30, 2008

Case of the Mondays

I think I have used this blog title before. Oh well, I am not too picky so it goes back into circulation.

I got home this evening and gave a look at the lawn. Yep, I have been saved by rain the last couple of weekends. But I got out of my truck and thought it was just too shaggy. So I fired up the mower and did hot laps around the yard for an hour. I followed that up with an hour of wielding the Chris Brummett commemorative weed wacker around the yard. I even got the spots that hadn't been mowed since? Maybe never? The previous owners had laid some sod in areas of the yard that just couldn't be reached with the mower.

So now the yard looks nice again. Time to have a beer or two.

About 2 swigs into my second beer I decided to plane the table top that I glued up yesterday. Note to readers, drinking and power tools =BAD. Planer blades are enclosed and user interface is just feeding and catching the wood, so I figured I wasn't too much of a safety hazard. The top planed down very nice. The planer can still use some fine tuning, but is providing good results with the setup I have. I did end up adding some tape shims to the infeed and outfeed tables to minimize snipe on the ends. Here is a look at the top after planing a total of about 1/4in off top and bottom.

I forget the term for it, but the grain has some very nice shimmer to it from different viewing angles. Hopefully I can get a finish that will show this off.

The Sunhill sm-346 planer appears to be the real deal. Surface quality is good. Snipe is under .005" total for both sides, so less than .003in per side. Infeed and outfeed tables are setup fine to receive the 48x11.5 board that I was running through. Overall I am very happy with this out the gate.

A couple of small prizes in the mail today. One was my riving knife for the tablesaw. I am not sure it is necessary, but I figure the added safety is never a bad idea. At a measly $6 it is much cheaper than hospital bills.

The other package was my MLCS solid carbide spiral upcut bits. A fair bit more than the riving knife, but a great set of bits for use on the router. Since I have some mortise work coming up I wanted to have a few of these bits around. From what I hear they are great for all kinds of work with the plunge router. I will post back with some comments once I have some time driving them.

Weekend doings

Well, another beautiful weekend here in Alabama. We did have some thunderstorms and rain. They were transient, so not too much of an issue.

I got to play around with some of my new toys. Sorry in advance for the hazy photos. One of the kids must have put a finger on the lens.
A few minutes grinding away on the water stones. I am going to need to get a course material to speed the flattening of the back of these.

The small one is a bit of a bugger. I wasn't worrying about it much and took it to a course grinding wheel about a year ago. Well, not knowing any better I mucked up the back side of the chisel. So in order to fully fix it I will need to grind back another 1/4in. For now I will deal with a bit of an uneven tip. I gotta say the bevel sharpening method is great. I will have to bevel the rest of my chisels. In the photo below you can see the small chisel is beveled. Only the leading edge has to be maintained. Much less material to remove at sharpening and an added bonus is that the 2 points of contact make it more stable on the stones.

After 800, 4000, and 6000 stones the blades get a mirror finish. They are also sharp enough to shave with. I have bald spots on my wrist to prove it :-)

I took some scrap mdf and built me a drill press table. The blue trays are T-track for aligning the fence and attaching material hold downs. I pirated the fence off my old router table. I didn't have time or a plan on how I wanted to make the fence. I saw the router fence sitting there and oddly enough it lined up serendipitously with the arbitrary spacing I chose for the t-tacks. I had to stretch one of the holes a bit, but it was a minor mod. I will need to add a better face board to it if I continue using it. Overall it was a couple of hours well spent. Now it is much easier to clamp bigger items to the table for safe and accurate drilling.

Other news on the garage front...
A real project is born. You are looking at the top I am working on for the hall entry table. Just jointed and glued up a couple of 6/4 hard maple. Knew those clamps would start coming in handy around here.

Boards matched up so nice it is like they were one.

We made a trip over to Scottsboro to check out a hardwoods dealer there. Man, that is a dangerous place. Way too many great pieces of hardwood. We got there just before close, which was good in a sense. Just enough time to grab the wood needed for the table

In other news the planer that arrived on Friday is great. I get a little snipe, but with some fine tuning I may be able to completely remove it. I will run the table top through it tomorrow. My test pieces have been very good. I am excited to toss a bigger board at it and see how it does.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Oh Frabjous day

Got some goodies in the mail today. Well, the brown truck and the white/green/purple truck came and dropped them off actually.

Got me some stones...

Err water stones. Need to sharpen my chisels and my block plane. Rockler had a $15 off on a $40 purchase, so I picked up a set. I would also like to grab a Norton aluminum oxide wheel for the grinder to aid in bevel grinding. Gonna have to make due for now with the stones, buffing wheel, and sand paper for rough forming. My grandfather was a big fan of sharpening. I don't know that I will get as good at it as him. Hopefully I can learn a thing or two along the way though.

Next box...

Push sticks! Sunhill was dumping these for $.01, so I grabbed five for my nickel. Also grabbed a couple more push blocks that were on sale and a multi-purpose combination saw blade. The blade was $10, down from about $30. Looks to be a decent blade. Better for every day stuff than the 80t finishing blade that was in the tablesaw. It had one tooth that looked a bit shody on the brazing of the carbide, but otherwise a good looking ATB blade. Of course a few cuts in I run into this:

I am not really sure what the heck this nail/brad was doing in the countertop. It made some great sparks as the brand new blade cut right through it.

Next box...

New planer. This one is a much more substantial rig than the short lived Ryobi. Erin said the FedEX driver was gunting and huffing to carry it into the garage. I imagine it is close to 80lb without the box.

So I dug in and got to work. This was a tool that I don't want to be lifting and lugging around the shop. I had saved the base off the contractor saw that I sold. It is heavy gauge and more than capable of handling the weight of the planer. Only problem, it is a bit low. So I devised a mobile base and sub-base for the top that added about 8"+.

Odd thing was that the thing wasn't square. I ended up lugging out one of my 50in clamps to pinch a diagonal while I drove in the lag screws from 2x4 to 2x6. Guess dragging it around with missing braces and uneven levelers took their toll. Well it is much better now.

Counter bore for the sub-base. Those Forsner bits have been getting a workout lately. I love those bits. Using them in the drill press gives even nicer results.

I reclaimed the section of counter top that was chopped when setting up my workbench. I did end up trimming it down shortly after this picture to remove the one radius corner and the laminate that only covered 2 sides. Here you can see me test fitting the planer on the shelf. When I need it this cart can be used as an assembly bench or auxiliary table.

Okay, some pictures of the finished product...

And of course it is starting to look a bit crowded in here :-)

In a good way of course. I do need to do some more organizing to make the work space a bit more user-friendly, but so long as things are on wheels I am not sweating their location much.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Let the chips fall

Okay, got a bit of time in the garage this evening. After dinner and a walk with the family I sneaked off to the man cave for some of the business I mentioned in my last post.

I started off with a pine 2x4 and a Harbor Freight mobile base kit (item#95288). The kit calls for hardwood, but I think the pine will do just fine.

I chopped 2 lengths of 2x4 on the miter saw.

Then to the tablesaw for a rip down the middle. This was a bit sketchier than I would have liked. First off the TS is a bit heeled out of adjustment (about .020" out front to back on the blade). And second I don't like having my fingers that close to a 10in blade call me kooky. I would have felt a lot better with a featherboard, a push stick, and the saw in alignment. Instead I ran the fence on the left side of the blade to avoid kickback and just took it carefully.

Next to the fun part. Lots of chips. Jointed all boards to finish dimensions of 1.25 x 1.5. Jointer is working great. Cutter head is giving very good cut quality. Color me a happy camper.
earning it's keep...

The directions provided really do leave room for improvement. I gave them a quick read, but other than looking back at a picture once in a while just went from the hip. I ended up having to trim the long runners for wheel clearance, leveler clearance, and then once again for the big leveler pads when retracted. It was a bit of trail and error, but in the end not too much in the way of errors.

Close to an error. Darn bolt heads stick into the region I planned on using. Fortunately I was able to get a little bit of wiggle room by removing the stock plastic feet from the base.

And a glamour shot on it's new home. One less heavy tool to wrestle around the shop. Now it just glides.

I can't say that I am overly impressed with the kit, but for the price it gets the job done. Mine was on sale for about $30. Only negative is that it requires 1.25in square stock, so you pretty much have to be able to mill lumber to size. So I guess you have to factor in time when you consider the savings over a kit that uses off the shelf 2x2 lumber. I had the 2x4 and wanted to work out the jointer so it was a good exercise for me.

I gotta say it is nice having the right tools for the job. Granted you could have done this with hand saw, file, a drill, and a lot of time. I will stick to the tools that do it a bit faster. Total project time was just over 2 hours start to clean up. I got to use:
Miter saw
Drill press
cordless drill
Impact driver
irwin quick grip clamps
and a hammer of course

it was a good night...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

World of Doug

Well, what to say. It has been a week since I got anything up here. Unfortunately I really don't have a lot to show for the time past. Both Erin and I are finding it extremely hard to find time to accomplish even the minimal tasks we would like to get done.

We did manage to get the house to a bare minimum of function this weekend. We painted some in the kids room and got them set up. Not big on my todo list, but Erin is nesting in and has some core honey-do chores that I need to help on. It ended up with a fun theme and the kids are quite pleased.

Also up this weekend was going through boxes. Organizing the stuff we aren't going to be using and putting everything in some kind of logical place. Not as easy as it might sound. We are phasing the storage space in, trying to get everything in tubs so that bugs and critters can't damage our stuff.

Next up was some couch wrangling and rug placement testing. If you would like to see the house, check out Erin's Blog for all kinds of pictures. She went gung-ho yesterday and was cleaning and documenting our home. I am not going to do it here as well.

While doing this work in the house, my penance for new tools and shop time, we came up with about 50 new projects. We could use a book shelf here or a table here and there. The list just keeps growing. I am really going to need to become proficient at building some of this stuff.

Finished the weekend off by refinishing our mailbox. It was looking a bit crusty. Greg had just rattle-canned it without masking it the last time. So I stripped it and gave it a fresh coat, repainted the flag red, and applied some new numbers. Not exciting, just an hour or more out of my afternoon.

Nothing much new in the garage. I did turn around and flip the planer I picked up. I just was not very happy with how the darn thing worked. After mauling a peice of lumber scrap I had laying around I promptly put it up on e-bay and sold it for more than I had paid for it. Not really sure what the problem is with it, but the infeed/outfeed rollers aren't working propperly and I don't really want to invest the time to try and fix it. Problem with some of these tools is that there is very little documentation and even less built in adjustability. So I am done with that POS. Of course I turned around a bought a more expensive planer (the one I was originally wanting). So I got a scroll saw out of the whole deal for $60. Erin did note that wasn't on the original must-have list. Oops. And the budget of $500 turned more like $650. Double oops.

I took the jointer apart again last night. The safety feature that keeps the cutter head bolts from falling off also means that the entire jointer needed to be dismantled to replace them with the correct length. Sunhill did good by me and even sent an extra long set of studs in case the intermediate didn't work. So I am out a bit of extra time, but things should be okay from here on. Jointer once again up and running with an extra coat of wax.

I have a few things I need to get done here in order to be up and running effectively:
1)mobile bases for the drill press, jointer, scroll saw
2)I need to put together the base for the new planer. It is about 100lb, so not really something I want to be picking up and down much.
3)get one of my routers mounted to the extension table on the tablesaw
4)tune up and check the tablesaw setup. I really haven't used it other than a test cut since I haven't been able to check it out fully.

There is more, but that is a start of the list of things that I am not finding time to get to. Hopefully this moving in business will settle down soon. No pictures from me today. Maybe later in the week something exciting will happen.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Night off, yeah right

Wednesday night. Erin and the kids are off to church. I am off tonight. Teasing me from the corner is the new cutter head for the jointer that has been sitting dormant in the corner since it's adoption. What's a guy to do?

Full tear down and rebuild of the jointer of course. Glad I did do the full dismantle. I kept finding loose stuff, random nuts and washers just rattling around, and general incorrect assembly by whoever put it together over at Lowe's. I did hit one snag, the bolts for the new cutter are a different thread pitch and also about .25" shorter. I am going to have to call them up and bug them. In order to get things back together I assembled without the lock-washers. The extra thread engagement is more important that the washers.

Other than that things went well. I assembled, tuned, and then let things run for a while. Got some rattling, turned out one of the pulleys wasn't tightened. Small adjustment and then off to the races. I re-tensioned the belt and assembled the blade guard and fence. Then it was time for the real test...

yep, makes a lot of wood chips

A quick shot of the spiral cutter head. Surface quality looks good.

Fence and blade setup look good too...

Okay, I am tired. Good night.

Yep, and the list just keeps on going

Darn things just keep following me home. Should I keep em???

Scroll saw


Good deal popped up on Craigslist. I was looking for a planer. Honestly the ryobi isn't the greatest. But I will give it a shot, I am a novice at this stuff so saving a few bucks now and finding my likes dislikes in the tool will be a good starting point. Nothing is shockingly better in the sub $500 market anyhow. I ended up staying within my budget for planer/jointer and even got a scroll saw as a bonus gift.

The scroll saw was, as expected, in perfect condition. I think most people get these, do a couple of test projects, and then let them sit. This one was no different. I took a wire wheel to the surface, waxed it, added a new blade, and it is good as new. The planer took a bit more elbow grease and will still need another work over session to flip the blades to their 2nd side and get to the rusty parts I couldn't reach. Overall looks like a good deal.

After reassebling the scroll saw I hacked at a scrap board. I got the notion to make Erin a thank you flower for her understanding of my tool expansion. About the time I finished cutting it...

...Faith had to go and get herself stuck in her crib and needed Daddy to help her get her leg out. I saved her and then told her of the flower project. We went down to the garage and painted it up propper with some sharpie markers. Daddy makes all things better :-)

moral: Keep flower projects around they can almost immediately cure whatever ails Faith

Same ol same ol story around these parts. I have been in an AISC structural steel design course this week. The subject is interesting to a point, but the 2 indian teachers have about the worst delivery of any teachers I have had the pleasure of listening too. Monotone and terrible at making concise points (if they make points at all). At any rate I am almost sure that 90% of what is being taught won't be used. A lot of the theory is in the deformed state. All the steel structures we are working on are considered special tooling and fixtures. These are to have either no deflection or very little. So toss out all the theory outside of the elastic region. I am gonna barf if I see one more equation...

Hope your week is going well.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Still trucking

Just a little update. Moving in. We have a lot of stuff. I have the feeling that I am going to get a healthy dose of storage cabinet making in the not too distant future.

Last night I built up the train table in the play room, secured and loaded the book case downstairs, and lugged a whole bunch of boxes around. End result, house is still a mess but I did manage to organize and clear out a bunch of boxes from the entryway and the garage. We have a lot more sorting to do to seperate the stuff we want/need/can-do-without but hopefully we will start to get to a happy working level in a couple more days.

Whine and ye shall receive...

Well, what can I say? I am spoiled sometimes (err most of the time). Erin read my last post about not having a couple of tools. She gave the go-ahead to get the router and jointer. Conditions are that I have to keep to about $500 and that I have to help more in the house with the unpacking (hence the previous paragraph of duties). I was a little surprised, but also very happy about her acceptance of proper woodworking tools into the garage. She doesn't take much interest in what I do out there, but realizes with all of the tables and cabinets to be built that the end results will be improved with the right tools. I gotta love her for trying to understand (or at the minimum put up with me).

So at any rate, back to the pictured tool. This is a stock photo of my new-to-me Delta 6in jointer. Original list for this sucker is about $700. Amazon has them for $415. Lowe's had a floor display model marked down to $313. It turned out to be missing the blades and hardware to secure them. I was able to get the tool for $200 (hey, that is actually within the budget) and the manager also let me use a $25 off coupon. After some scouring of the net I located all of the hardware for about $120 including shipping. So for about the price of a Harbor Freight model I managed to get a much nicer unit. I am liking having a Harbor Freight in town, but am leary about any tools that can break down as replacement parts aren't really an easy thing to come by for the cheap import tools. Delta is owned now by Black and Decker and parts/manuals are available online readily.

It is a heavy bugger. I managed to wrestle it out of the truck by myself. No way I could lift it up there on my own, but in this instance I just had to aid gravity to get it smoothly to the ground. Probably looked a bit humorous in the act, but I got the job done. I can inch it around the garage, but a mobile base will be required to make life easier.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Still moving...

This weekend involved the final haul out of the apartment. Nothing too exciting, just clearing out the last of the closets, cupboards, and corners. Surprisingly these locations hold quite a bit of stuff. I think I filled up the truck twice. Erin managed the cleanup yesterday while I took the kids and my mom down to Birmingham to see her off. Faith really didn't understand that Grandma was leaving. After dinner she actually went looking for Grandma on the couch. Of course Grandma was just about to Denver by that time. Austin understands fine, but he was still wishing that Grandma was around this morning. Obviously they both enjoyed her visit.

I have been working on getting the garage functional.

Yeah, I know, I am not supposed to be playing in the garage. Just couldn't help myself. It is great to get my tools back. I am still half and half, not knowing where all of my necessities are. But in time I will be organized enough to make project life a bit easier. I got the bases built up for the drill press and the tablesaw. I spent a fair amount of time Saturday building the mobile base for the tablesaw. It wasn't absolutely necessary, but it sure makes life a whole lot easier to be able to move that beast around. I also managed to adopt a folding base for my miter saw. I had planned to just go the saw horse and 2x4 route, but Lowe's was blowing out this Black and Decker for $50. It actually is a great table and a happy addition to the shop. It will spend most of the time folded up, but since the saw is on a quick release base it only takes a minute to set up. The rollers and stop make life sooo much easier.

Note to self, MDF makes a lot of dust when routed. Pretty much everything got a healthy coat of saw dust in the process.

the finished product of the garage dusting...

Note to self #2 power planers are only as good as their guide. I spent a few minutes to plane the edges of the 2x4s that I used for the mobile base. After doing a few I noticed that the planed edge was not perpendicular to the side face. Great! So I had to go back and right the edges. More saw dust. I gotta get me a jointer. Honey, can I have $200 for a jointer? How about $250 for a planer? Don't see that happening. I am so going to be in trouble if I buy tools to build a table that end up costing more that just buying a table. Going to have to make due with what I got for now to avoid that issue. I did have to purchase some clamps. They came in very handy for my mobile base.

I got my peg board hung on Friday and have been putting out some of the common tools for general use. Peg board is kind of a pain in the but, however having the tools in plain sight is helpful. I am not a fan of digging in a drawer for tools that get used just about daily. I decided to give silver a try. I had wanted to do white to help brighten up the shop, but the silver will probably go better with the refurbished cabinets once they are painted up black. Also the silver peg board was on sale for less than half the price of the white or brown. Honestly it doesn't look bad even with the state of the cabinets.

The drill press is just placed on an inexpensive Harbor Freight stand. It was on sale for about $20, so I grabbed it. Pretty flimsy, but it did stabilize with some plywood and tightening of all of the bolts. For the price I can't really complain. It will need some casters on a mobile base to be more functional, but that project will be for another day. Gotta plan that one out since the drill press is so top heavy.

I managed to get my other 2 shop lights hung. Don't ask me when. I can't remember. I have been very busy. There has been a list of things to do pretty much daily for the last couple of weeks. For the most part I have done well on getting them done. The dog run is an exception. I started to put it up in a logical location. Poppy has pretty much decided to use the other side of the yard. We are debating on whether to just go with where we planned or to go with the spot she has chosen. Either way, we are not going to let her do her business all over the yard.

Note to self #3
When buying a weed wacker purchase extra string. My mom bought me a trimmer as a house warming gift. At the shop she asks if I need string or anything else. Me, "Nah, it has a spool so it should be fine for a couple of trimming sessions". Wrong. I edged about 100ft around our yard and ran out of string. It probably only had a couple feet of string in it from the factory. Murhpy's Law in full effect there.

Well, that's about all I got for a weekend follow-up. Family is quite happy in our new home. Poppy is also in bliss with her new yard. Erin and I are pretty wiped out, but also pleased with the look of things.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Moving is no fun at all. Big haul on Saturday went without a hitch. We rented a 24ft U-Haul and filled it about 2/3rd's full twice, once at the apartment and once at the storage. The storage is empty. The appartment still has a few cupboards/closets with stuff in them, but is just 1-2 runs away from being empty.

The house, it's a mess. Boxes everywhere! I am not even going to attempt to document the chaos here. We are in and working on it, but we are doing double duty now between clearing out the appartment and moving into the house. I think a garage sale and major donation of junk is in our near future.

The garage, it's also a mess. But there is hope for it yet. I was up dragging cabinets around and fighting to get them level until about 12:30am on Sunday. Happy to report that they are in position and ready for some use. Of course I will have to get back to cleaning and repainting them, but for now they will be put into use. The beautification part will just have to wait. Here is a pan series shot of the garage this morning.

on the left (yes, there is a table saw in there somewhere)

Middle (workbench under and behind a pile)

on the right (built in cabinets, probably from the kitchen remodel)

far right (Laundry room in back, more storage)