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

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Austin's frog video

Just a cute little video of Austin. Sorry for the shaky camera.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend follow-up

Well, a banner weekend in the books. Great weather. Good beers. Family fun. Garage time. Yah know, the works. Started out on Friday with our date night. We have been exchanging kid watch with another couple every other Friday. So we headed out for some steaks over at Lone Star Steak House.

Saturday I was up early and into the garage at a decent hour. I really wanted to get some work done on the hall table this weekend. If for no other reason that to get visible progress to the time I have put in already. At this point all of my lumber has been milled to size and allowed to adjust to shop conditions. So it is time to get in there and do the joinery.

First up was to square up the ends of the legs. They came off the chop saw a little off. Not really sure how to adjust the saw for a straighter cut. No big deal, I will just use my shooting board. Oh, wait a minute I don't have one. Hmmm, I did make a sled for the planer that might work. Essentially a shooting board is just a board with a stop on it that a hand plane runs up against. The stop sets the angle of the cut and the board gives a depth stop for the hand plane. Follow the link if you want more detail on the technique. So I flipped over my planer sled and clamped it to the jointer. I used my No.7 plane and made pretty short work of squaring everything up.

After squaring the ends I marked out my mortise start/stop locations on all legs. I have been fretting a bit over exactly how I was going to cut the mortises. There are about a million different ways to do this. Most of them require donating a day to jig and fixture making. Since I want to make some real progress on the table I went for the edge guide and eyeball method. In the end I only botched one of the mortises and I was able to adjust it later.

Next was to cut the aprons to size. I will just use my cross cutting sled on the tablesaw. Wait a minute, don't have one of those either. So I setup using the fence and a stop block to create the repeat cuts. Obviously you want the oposite sides to be equal in length, so some sort of fixturing is required for accuracy. The stop block allows me to gauge to the fence without worry of getting a peice wedged between the blade and the fence. Google "kickback" if you are wondering why that is a concern.

Next, out comes that shiny new dado set. Yep, the one that's been sitting in the cabinet since I adopted it. It was pretty easy to get the tablesaw setup for the task. I was a bit dissapointed that the mechanism on my saw is not really accurate enough to size the tennons to final size. Too much backlash in it. I left the tennons fat so that I could just size them by hand for each joint. This turned out to be a good thing since my routing wasn't totaly precise.

Once rough cut I then trimmed and fit each tennon to it's mating mortise. It was fairly long and drawn out, so I won't bore everyone with the full details. Basically I used a combination of saws, chisels, and sand paper to get the tennons to match up.

By the end of the day I had something that actually looked like a table. Finally, some progress that is visible to the rest of the world. I clamped the table up and let Erin have a look at it. She suggested that we take it up and put it in position for analysis. I will have to upload a picture later. It fit where it was suposed to. Proportions look good. As an added bonus it looks like I got off the hook on tapering the legs. The outside border on the picture window is the same thickness as the legs on the table. Since the picture window is all square geometry it makes sense to leave the table legs straight. That's good because I don't have a jig or guide to taper legs.

Okay, now that I have bored the crap out of most of you here is a breakdown on the rest of the weekend. Sunday me and Austin were up early. We hung out, watched a movie, and played a bit. Faith and Erin decided to get up around 10 or so. I made the kids some cereal. I had to run out and get a new mailbox. Some punk had bent the door on ours on Friday night.

After mounting the new mailbox it was off to the park for a neighborhood picnic. Big bouncy house hot dogs and the works. I had to take off early to sell our spare fridge. Sue had been kind enough to donate the fridge to us, but we have not had need for it here in AL. So I popped it up on Craigslist. At any rate, it was picked up in the afternoon.

Then me and Austin were going to mow the yard. I got the mower gassed up. Then I ran around the house to unlock the gate. I was about half way around the front when BAM, I find myself on the ground. What the heck? I rolled my ankle off the walkway. So I roll around on the front walk for a couple of minutes trying to decide if I actually broke anything and looking like an ass for the neighbors. Austin is calling for me. Apparently I am taking too long. So I right myself and hobble to the back yard. We mow the yard. Austin actually drove a fair amount of the time. After about 1/2 of the yard he got bored, so he went off to ride his bike and play. I did a half hearted effort on the rest of the yard before limping back to the garage. I hung out there until dinner before limping inside.

It was apparent that I was pretty much worthless for mobility, so I took Monday off and tried to keep my foot elevated, iced, and on motrin to reduce swelling. I hate taking time off for sickness and injury. Well, got some x-rays in the afternoon. Nothing obviously broke or fractured. I did get a very nice leg brace for my time at the hospital. I gotta say, it is big and obnoxious but it does a fantastic job at supporting and imobilizing my foot. Hopefully if I keep it on and take care of myself this sprain will heal fast.

Last night, I rented a movie online. It was a little stuttery at times, but overall it was pretty cool to just go online and pick out something to watch. I used Videos on demand at Amazon.com. If they get the stream quality a bit better I think that they are really onto something. Forget renting scratched up discs, going to the video store and trying to get a new release, or waiting for movies in the mail. I could get used to this. I watched the Scorpion King II. The movie utterly sucked, despite the service being kind of cool.

That's it for fun and excitement on my side of the fence. Take care.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time to blog

I seem to have a lack of proper material to blog about these days. Erin is out of the house 2-3 nights during the week between church, class, and social activities. The other nights of the week I may or may not feel like doing anything other than veggin out or maybe tinkering in the garage. Sorry, that is just my life these days. I would love to say that my weekends are productive, but lately the drudge of the week has been carrying over there too. Planning and actually carrying through on those plans is a bit hard with 4 people and the associated activities. Maybe something exciting will happen this weekend, stay tuned.

I did receive a couple of goodies in the mail over the last week or so. I picked up a copy of The Stanley Little Big Book. It is basically a value guide with descriptions for Stanley hand planes. It's kind of like Kelly Blue Book but for planes. It looks to be a handy little reference book from what I have read thus far.

The second item is a nice little bench plane. It is a Stanley No.3 smoothing plane.

It is just a bit larger than a block plane, but heavier and has better handles. This is a WWII vintage made somewhere between 1942 and 1945. It has a heavier casting than the other era planes. Nobody is really sure why Stanley made them thicker during this period of time. I thought that being heavier might make this small plane a bit more stable. Time will tell on that. As you can see from the picture this one is in very good shape. Probably not used much. It even came with the tatters of what was left of the original carboard box. I am not a collector, but I will likely stuff the box remains away somewhere. At any rate it is a nice size plane and I am sure I can find some use for it. It may not be perfect, but it won't require much other than a sharpening to put it into use.

I lamented over my Jointer in And then it hit me. I contacted the supplier and after going back and forth a bit they actually offered to take the spiral knife cutterhead back in exchange for a Helical Insert Spiral Cutter manufactured by Byrd. It uses 38 cutter inserts. Stock it uses HSS, but carbide inserts are available. Looks something like this:

The cutters can be rotated when dull and can be replaced easily. Supposedly these are the cat's meow and Byrd is the top manufacturer of these. So kind of a win win scenario.

Okay, thats about all I got. Oh, there was also a frog! Last night I caught a decent sized frog in the yard. I will upload a video of Austin playing with it, it was pretty funny. Erin did get on my case about inhumane treatment of the frog since I let Austin chase it around the yard for a few minutes when I let it go. Whatever, it's a frog. Take care.

Friday, September 12, 2008

back in rehab

Once I started using scrapers I was caught with the bug. They are just so handy, but the drawback to card scrapers is that they can and do catch the second your focus wanders. So I started looking around for the typical scraper, the no.80. I had been watching e-bay for a few days when this 80M shows up.

Hmmm, what's that? Off to Blood & Gore for a quick ID. Apparently it is the ductile iron version of the scraper. Well, that could come in handy. The japaning looked good, but the sole was rusty and no picture of the blade. Seller claimed it to be a sweetheart, so I figured it was worth a gamble. Even at auction close it was less expensive than a new no.80 and much cheaper than the Veritas.

So it came in yesterday and I hit the net to find some information on sharpening and settings. I gave it a quick hone and was able to pull shavings (smaller shavings in first picture). But it was obvious that a bit more tuning and homework was necessary.

Today I got home and tackled it again, but armed with a bit more knowledge and familiarity with the intended settings. I flattened the sole, lapped the blade holder, flattened the casting where the blade rests, and took a bit more care and time to properly hone the blade. I was rewarded with fluffy shavings and a much more predictable scraper.
From 2008.08.19 planes

I haven't tried it with a burr. There is some debate as to the need for a burr. For now I figure that I will try it out w/o one. If I need to get more aggressive I will burr it.

A few more glamour shots of this Ol'gal. She cleanup nice for being close to 90 years old.
From 2008.08.19 planes

From 2008.08.19 planes

From 2008.08.19 planes

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

And then it hit me...

Quite possibly the best union of bicycling, garage work, and making some cash on the side. This is great.

I don't speak filipino, but from the comments it mentions putting his kids through school. I just like the ingenuity there. So he rides around, props up on the stand, and then back pedals to do his sharpening. Awesome. Never know what you will find on youtube.

Life in the Brummett household this week...
Faith had her tonsils and adnoids removed on Monday. She has taken it like a trooper. They actually sent her home that afternoon since she was really no worse for the wear. Normally they would keep the kid in recovery over night. Faith once again proves her semblance to a mack truck. She has been running around with minimal pain killer since. She refused to talk to me after I refused to give her goldfish. It is hard to explain to a little one that likes food that she is on a liquid diet.

No ride this weekend. I mentioned taking off for a couple hours on Sunday and Erin responded poorly to that notion. I chose to hang around the house and save the ride battle for another day.

This weekend marked the third time I have torn down my jointer. Problem with getting the company to comp a set of blades is that you do have to return the blades that are damaged. I finally had all of the hardware to install the stock cutter head, so I killed 2 birds with one stone. I was pretty amped on the spiral cutter at first, but the more I think about it the less I like it. Basically the blades cost as much as traditional knives, but are disposable. The straight HSS knives can be honed dozens of times as well as be offset to remedy chips. So despite a better cut the expense of keeping up with disposable knives is no good. Off to e-bay to attempt to recoup some of that money.

Some issues on assembly. The pulley is stuck on the stock cutter. After whacking on it for 20 minutes I did nothing but wedge it a bit further onto the shaft. So instead of damaging it I put it together to see if I could align the belt using the lower pulley. Fortunately that worked out. Next comes the knife setting. Not really a hard process, but complicated by the small tip on my dial indicator. I got the threee knives set, but was really not too happy with the results. 2nd time will be a charm. I located a larger flat tip, so I won't have to hunt around for Top-Dead-Center. I will finish this up when I get time this week.

Gotta say, I am kind of over all of this tool setup and maintenance. I just want to work on some wood. Enough heavy machinery.

Fortunately there is light at the end of the tunnel. On Sunday I was able to bang out a couple of small victories. First, since I removed the rail from Faith's crib she has fallen out of bed a couple of times. I had a poplar plank laying around that I wanted to use on a drawer that got veto'd by the boss. So I went to work on making a simple replacement low rail for Faith. I cut the board to rough length with a circular saw, but managed to complete the rest of it with hand tools. Next up was our coffee table. Nobody fessed up to it, but someone spilled beer and let it sit. That messed up the top finish. Since I wasn't going for a ride, might as well drag that sucker into the shop and fix it. Pull out the gloves and a card scraper and had the top stripped in about 10 minutes. Minimal dust and noise especially compared to an orbital sander. Over the next day and a half I put 4 coats of polyurethane on it. That should hold off moisture for a while.

It was very satisfying to be able to apply some of this knowledge that I have been soaking up over the last few months. Those sharp saws, chisels, and hand planes were just the ticket. No, the roundover on the rail isn't perfect but that wasn't the point. It took less time to do the roundover with my block plane than it would have taken to get the router setup. Things just kind of flowed like it was meant to be. Chips instead of dust and no hearing protection required. Very cool.

That's it, you are up to date. Work, school, and life go on. Take care.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Later than never

Okay, so a bit late for a weekend follow up. I never promissed a rose garden. Weekend was definitely a blur of family and friends. Some good BBQ to be had as well. Saturday they were smokin out at the pool. Weird part was we had the place nearly to ourselves. As such we ended up taking home some of the excess bbq. Sunday I followed up by cooking some steaks with a red wine marinade. Very tasty stuff. Not sure where time went, but alas it is gone.

I managed to get out for a ride Sunday mid-day. It was hot and humid up in Monte Sano. I was feeling like a turd. I really need to get more saddle time. No cardio fitness right now and my muscle memory is fading. Too many missed rides this summer. So I kept the ride short. I wanted to at a minimum get out on a couple of fun trails. Sinks trail is a good technical downhill and requires little effort to get to. Then I connected to Keith's trail. Once I hit the benches I was about 45 minutes into the ride and pretty pooped. So I eased out and back around to the biker's lot. End result, I spent almost 1-1/2 hours doing a ride that should have only taken an hour. Kind of a bummer, but atleast it was a ride.

I made some headway on the hall table, but not so much as I would have liked. I got the apron stock resawn down and then jointed the boards to remove the bandsaw marks. Gotta say, bandsaw is a much less stressfull way of thinning down a board than the tablesaw.

I have been running tests on some hard maple for the last week. I came to a conclusion about of about what Tom has suggested. Nice writeup btw Tom.
Tom's blog on finish

For me, a novice woodworker, finishing is a frightening thing. On my current project it is compounded by my choice of hard maple and that my wife wants the finish to match a deep brown picture window that she purchased in Malaysia (kind of mocha brown). Great, starting off 2 strikes down. Over the last couple of weeks I had collected some weapons to attack the project with (a mix of General Finishes and Lowe's off the shelf products). I really should add a couple of pictures as I am sure it would be helpful.

I can produce a nice brown color with Minwax Polyshades Old Maple. But it takes about 4 coats before it starts to really brown up. If you need to do it with one product I would say this is a very stable and predictable one since the stain is suspended and the first coat seals to prevent blotching on subsequent applications.

To expedite the process I tried a General Finishes water based dye (ebony, pretty much black on the lighter wood). I tried this on the raw wood and also on a portion sealed with Zinnser dewaxed shellac. The shellac base really helped make the dye application smoother. Of course now I had 2 very much black/purple samples. Ewww...

In the end the color that actually matched the picture window was shellac, ebony dye, and 3 layers of the tinted polyshade. Sounds complicated, but it isn't too bad. All materials are laid on in thin coats. I wipe off the excess poly after about 5 minutes and then let it dry 4-6 hours before recoat. Between coats a quick hit with #0000 steel wool was all that I did.

Some pictures
- right to left,
1 - ebony dye/colonial maple 2x/shellac
2 - shellac/ebony dye/polyshades 3x
3 - polyshades 4x
4 - shellac/polyshades 3x (top), shellac/polyshades 2x (bottom)

- Shellac really makes the grain pop, giving it depth and reflectivity

- The winning color (on left) sitting in the picture window

Okay, now I just need to get the table together so I can apply the chosen finish. I can really appreciate finishing as an art. Not only to apply the right finishes, but also to be able to do it in the right order to acheive the desired effect is pretty baffling. I think I got lucky to have come as close as I did to the color of the picture window. It is an art and skill to be able to be able to pull out the right products. Hopefully it won't be too expensive getting better at this.

In other news, got the bandsaw all tuned up and working great. It is a very nice tool to have in the shop. I am not gonna jinx myself by saying that it rounds out all of the power tools I need, but it is sure a step in that direction. Between it, tablesaw, jointer, and planer I can pretty much work with any dimension of lumber and get it to what I want to work with.

I also finally got around to fixing my 1/2" corded drill. Dad had given me a Milwaukee Magnum drill a few years ago. It has sat in the drawer since. It was missing it's chuck and lock screw. Somewhere along the way I found a free chuck for it. Well, this week I finally ordered the $2 missing screw. Now I can hold my larger drills up to 1/2" shank. And I have 3 corded drills. I know cordless is all the rave, but I have terrible luck on my drill batteries. My hammer-drill just keeps on trucking, but my last 2 cordless drills (14.4V models) have fittered out. So it is nice to have the cords and not to have to worry about charge.

Okay, so much for not dragging you guys into my garage as much. Deal with it.

Zoe was quite happy to hang out with me in the shop last night. Erin and the kids were at church, so I ran a muck in the garage for the evening.