Friday, September 21, 2018

Building a Crown

After I got the top and bottom basic assemblies done, I started in on trimming out the top section with a crown. Now the plans I am using for reference have sort of a rising molding similar to old style grandfather clocks that ends in the center around a large elegant oval shaped hole. It looks grand but really doesn't match the farmstead decor of my parents house so I modified it to a more simple traditional design.

Because it is built in layers, much of what I added was glued and then screwed into place. The screws really aren't structural but simply act as clamp until the glue dries and then remains in place covered up by the next layer. But one middle layer which was a riser to give it come depth couldn't easily be screwed so it was back to the clamps which it took quite a few to coax into the proper place.

After that, the final layer was added with some glue and screws and I am now ready to start on the main part of the bookcase. I think it turned out all right and the shadow lines will look nice when it is finished and in place.The screws on the very top holding the last layer will be well above normal head height so will be invisible. As I was building it, I couldn't help but think the false front would make for a good hiding place in a house. You could probably fit a couple million dollars in the opening that will be hidden with the wall and ceiling. Oh the possibilities!

Below is a close up showing you the various layers and more detail. It has only been rough sanded yet so has quite a bit yet of work before it can be finished. The bottom assembly still has some minor work yet to be done on it but I'm waiting for some leveling legs that I ordered to arrive. The case will be tall and fairly narrow so the leveling legs are more to force the case up against the back wall so that it doesn't lean or fall forward accidentally. I may even strap it to a stud once it is finished and I see how things feel.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My DNA Story

New DNA Story
 Years ago I took a DNA test mostly to help aide in my quest for furthering my family tree. By comparing known distant cousins across gaps in my family tree, it is sometimes possible to backtrack down their tree to find my missing ancestor. Although I wasn't particularly interested in the DNA story of where I came from since I pretty much knew from my research, they provided one anyway as part of the package. It is the one below.

Many hope when taking such tests that it will identify some particular region of a country where they are from but that means the assumption of one particular line only. These tests give aggregates across all your different lines which going back five generations, comprises 62 people not counting yourself. One more generation and it doubles to 124 and so forth. That is a lot of DNA. So when mine came back with vague circles and percentages, I wasn't shocked by anything.

Just yesterday, the same company announced that they now have a new algorithm which is supposed to produce more accurate results and best of all, it was already completed on my original test. When I logged in, the above map was shown. The circles are definitely smaller and some areas have been eliminated from my profile like Norway, most of France, parts of Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia. Also gone but not seen in either profile due to such small percentages are the Iberian peninsula, Caucasus, Europe South and Africa North regions. None of this is surprising to me since I have yet to trace an ancestor to any of these regions.

So yes, I think the results definitely are more accurate when compared to what I know about my ancestry prior to them crossing the ocean. One of the questions I would liked answered is who is my Swedish or northern French ancestors. To this date, I have yet to uncover any ancestors from those areas. I have three ancestors from born in the Germanic Europe region within the 62 ancestors that comprise my tree out 5 generations. Yet 3% of 62 is only 1.86 people so according to my research, that region should be showing around 5%. So I definitely think there is room for improvement still.

Definitely food for thought though.

Old DNA Story

Monday, September 17, 2018


The call for the plywood came in so after stripping the seats out of my utility vehicle (i.e. minivan), I drove down and picked it up. Of course the use of many forktrucks in its delivery had messed up the bottom side of one sheet but I think if I use that sheet for pieces where I only see one side anyway, I will have enough to make it work out. Fortunately my source gets a premium grade of veneer plywood where the veneer layer is 1/8" thick so I can sand most anything out. The stuff you buy in box stores is thinner than 1/16" thick and it just takes a light sanding to sand through that and destroy what you are working on.

I know I told this story before but every time I use a lot of my clamps in a project like this, I always remember the day I obtained them. On a whim, I stopped in at an estate auction in a neighboring small town advertising lots of wood working tools. They had all the clamps, perhaps well over 200 of them spread out on several tables and rather than selling the whole works for one price or sell them one at a time, auctioneers sell them by "each". Basically you bid the price you wish to pay per item being auctioned and if you bid, you get to choose how many items you want at that price. After your selection, the bidding starts over and often gets cheaper as the good stuff gets picked out. Towards the end, they group the junkier stuff together and sell it as one bid.

I saw these heavy duty orange bar clamps and bid the price up to $5 each and actually won the bid. I'm pretty sure everyone thought at that price I would just pick up a few but I bought an entire table of some thirty clamps for a total of $150. It felt like a princely sum but these felt really heavy duty and were in excellent shape. As I carried a couple armloads of my selected clamps from the table, I could sense the collective groan of the crowd that they had been had. The rest of the clamps sold for $1 each and then the last third of them sold as one group.

When I got home and priced check what these clamps retailed for new on the internet, I was shocked to learn that you normally pay $50 each, which would have run me $1500 to buy brand new! Yes, I definitely got a deal that day. I thought of that as I glued up the bottom and start of the top assembly for my mom's bookcase.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Labor of Love

Earlier this spring, I built a corner bookcase out of cherry for my grandparents to display their pictures and knick knacks in their independent living complex apartment. When I delivered it, it was so loved by them and my mom, that my mom requested that I make her a bookcase for her sewing room. The outside temperatures got hot so that working in the garage for long periods of time was out of the question. I wasn't sure she would live long enough for me to get it built.

Mom is still doing great and though their is a slow progression of irreversible symptoms, she is exceeding her doctors expectations. So now that fall is upon us and the temperatures of cooled, I am beginning to make the bookcase for her. My goal is just for her to see it completed and in place but if she gets to use it even for a day, I would be thrilled. I hope she gets to use it for a lot longer.

Above are the pieces I've cut out and added joinery to them that will eventually form the base and part of the top of the bookcase. Like the previous one, I am making them out of cherry which I love to work with and love the beauty of it. However, it tends to burn easily at slow feed speeds which I do for safety so it requires a bit more sanding to get rid of the scorch marks. Not a big deal but something to consider if you ever decide to work with cherry.

I spent the first day of the project picking up boards from a sawmill south of town, planing them, cutting some of the parts to size and labeling them. Day two I picked up the cherry plywood that will form the large portions of the bookshelf and cut the joinery you see above. Tomorrow I hope to cut out the remaining plywood piece that forms the top and bottom of the cabinet and glue both assemblies together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hammer Time

While cleaning out my garage, I was ditching some scraps of wood that weren't really nice for kindling in my fireplace during the winter and I came across some narrow oak boards that were created from ripping wider boards to size. Oak burns nicely so I wouldn't throw them away anyway but it seemed a shame to burn them. I thought a bit and decided I would turn one of those boards into a hammer.

Wooden hammers are great to use with chisels and assembling wooden projects. I have a rubber mallet that I sometimes use for assembling wooden projects but I don't like using it with my chisels. So with this idea in mind, I decided to create a wooden hammer to add to my collection of hammers. I think I have around six of them and every single one has a purpose.

I cut and laminated three layers together to create the head of the hammer. On the inner layer, I cut it into two pieces putting a 2 degree angle on the inside edges so to create a tapered mortise to lock in the handle without having to manually cut it after the fact.

The handle was also a lamination of two layers that I added some curves to and knocked off the edges to create a nice beefy handle that fits my glove hands nicely. I cut the end to size so that it fit into the narrow end of the tapered mortise in the hammer head and then cut some slots in it. I cut some contrasting wood, in this case kamagong wood from my last trip to the Philippines and fashioned a couple of wedges which I pounded into the slots I cut in the handle to expand it to fill out the entire taper. Everything was locked together with lots of glue.

I rounded off one end of the hammer head and put another 2 degree taper on the other end. After knocking off all the corners and hand sanding everything, I put a couple coats of Danish Oil on the project and after a few days, I'll probably put a coat or two of paste wax over that. Not bad for a scrap board of oak. I have two more boards of the same size but I don't need three hammers so I think I'll just leave them in my cutoff scrap bin for now in case I think of something else that might come in handy.