Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Starting Drawers

Before I left on vacation, I was able to get a start on making the drawers. Because I started off with much cheaper rough sawn lumber, I have quite a bit more work that I have to do first. I rough cut all the drawer pieces to length and since none of the boards were wide enough to make the drawers as deep as they needed to be for a file cabinet drawer, I had to match pieces together to make sure they would be wide enough. I then ran all the boards through the joiner to put one smooth edge on each board and then ripped them to rough width on the table saw. I then used my biscuit joiner to glue and biscuit up most of the drawer sides. I ran out of clamps and biscuits and decided to call it a day.

Once the glue dries on the last pair of boards, I will scrape off the excess glue runs and then plane the boards on both sides so that they are nice and smooth on both sides.  (Had I started with higher priced prefinished stuff, I could have jumped immediately to this point in the process.) I will then have to cut all the pieces to their final size and then get started adding the mating joints that will allow them to form drawers. I'm sure I'll post more of that process later.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Bonus Project

Awhile back, I mentioned that we were voted into a gourmet dining group that gets together three or four times a year. Besides not having any formal dining dinnerware one of the problems I mentioned was that our table was just too short to comfortably seat ten people, the number of people in the group. Others in our group have this problem but have gotten other tables, from nice wood ones down to card tables to slide next to their regular table to make it long enough. I had a half sheet of leftover plywood from my projects and rather than slide it along the wall where it would surely get beat up, I decided to make an extension for our table. Underneath the surface you see, I cut some strips of plywood up to make a box with some stiffening elements to it to keep the plywood surface flat. I then made two legs to screw to one end and some stop blocks to allow me to clamp it to the underneath side of our existing table. Although it will be under a tablecloth, I stained it in case someday I ever want to screw on two more legs and make it a free standing table. Now with the two foot additional leaf and this three foot extension, our table now clocks in at 11 feet long and can comfortably sit ten with ease and twelve if you really push it. Our turn to host a gourmet dinner is in less than two months.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Providing Comfort

I have mentioned it a couple times over the years that I am a member of a fraternal organization. Moving to a new town and quitting from the nine to five crowd meant that I would normally have to work hard to meet new friends but becoming a member of this organization made it darn right easy. One of the first people to come up and introduce himself to me at that first meeting was Mike.

A week and a half ago Mike and his wife were struck head on by a semi crossing over an interstate median and killed. Mike was killed instantly but his wife survived for another day and a half before succumbing to her injuries, fortunately never gaining consciousness. The tragedy besides the loss of life was that both had just retired and were going to visit all Mike's west coast siblings at a reunion, the first in a couple decades.

At first I was in shock and then grieved for several days over the loss of my friend. My mind kept replaying loops of all the interactions we've had and then realize that we will never have them again. It is hard to pull oneself out of such sadness but fortunately, being a member of this fraternal organization was key. As a member we make sure we are present at the wake, funeral and burial to honor Mike, his wife and their family. It is a tough job to do at times when we are grieving too but there is a benefit to it. As I guarded over their caskets in front of their friends and family, I could see our honor guard provided great comfort to the family. I knew that when my time comes, my brothers in this fraternal organization would do the same and my family would receive the same comfort...

...and that in turns comforts me.

[Blog note: I am off on spring break next week with my family, trying hard to cherish my time with them and not take them for granted. The unexpected loss of friends is a reminder that we never know when our number is up and we should make hay while the weather is good. I'm cutting hay next week for all I'm worth!]

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Onward Ho!

Well as you can tell I got the bookshelf and the dresser/nightstand/closet combo installed on either side of the Murphy bed. The installation went smoothly and as I had hoped, the screwing the Murphy bed to both the other pieces took care of the bowed plywood issue so now the gaps are even top to bottom.

I had two problems with the installation. The entire floor slopes from left to right which meant to keep things square, my dresser/nightstand/closet unit ended up a half inch taller than the Murphy bed. I plan on installing a piece of crown molding to hide that fact anyway. The other problem is that I didn't conceptualize how it would tie into the Murphy bed so it will have a door that is up higher than the false doors on the Murphy bed. I had planned to make them all visually line up across the top. Also, the piece of trim I so carefully cut and stained to fill in the gap on the bottom of the Murphy bed was a 1/2" short. Not sure how to explain that way except user error of the tape measure.

The above and below pictures are actually part of phase 4 of this remodel, building the drawers and doors. Through the grapevine, I learned of an Amish sawmill about 20 miles south of town that sells hardwood lumber much much cheaper than I can get it at my local big box store. Since I needed quite a bit of wood to build the drawer bodies and it doesn't have to be anything fancy, I went to check them out. I ended up with the stack of poplar lumber below that I paid $1.50 per board foot for. (One board foot is 144 square inches.) At the local big box store, it was closer to $5 per board foot for poplar. The drawback is that these are rough cut and have no finished sides where as the store versions are finished on all four sides.

In the end, I went with the rough but much cheaper stuff because I have the equipment to turn it into finished pieces without too much work involved and I wanted to establish a relationship so that they could be my lumber supplier for all my projects. The above picture is some jewelry boxes that were being made from quarter sawn sycamore. It looks like some sort of exotic wood but literally is growing all around us and by many considered somewhat of a junk tree. It was just one of over a dozen different varieties of woods they stocked that can't be purchased at the big box store.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Drove My Honda To the Levee and the Levee was Dry

My apologies to Don McLean because Honda doesn't have the same ring as Chevy.

Spring has come a second time to this part of the world, the first being around mid February. For the next ten days, we are forecasted to get temps in the mid 60's and so we decided to celebrate with a long walk along the river levee on the outskirts of town. The river although not in flood stage is full and has been for nearly a month now. Because we haven't gotten much snow this winter, those in the know have been gradually reducing their flooding outlook for our area from a 60% chance to a 46% chance, slightly less than a coin flip.

Like most days anymore, I just carry my phone camera with me because I find it more enjoyable than lugging around my big DSLR. Sometimes like above where I saw a couple eagles out fishing, I wish I had my big DSLR to get some closeups of them fishing. But most of the time I am impressed at what my simple phone camera can do. Take the picture below for example. It was a windy day and the plants that I was taking a picture of were flapping back and forth in the breeze over a foot side to side. Yet the phone has fast enough shutter speed to get a fairly decent picture.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Deal of the Day

When I see something that looks like a big improvement on what I have, I am not adverse to spending money to get it. Case in point is a packaging tape dispenser. I've had one for years but it has been a point of frustration. It is bulky, the cutting teeth duller than the average set of human teeth and made from plastic which although still holding together, has numerous stress fractures on the thing. It was too the point where when choosing between that and just cutting the tape with a pair of scissors and then searching for the end of the tape for the next couple minutes, I went with the latter.

A past weekend while my wife was making a run through one of her favorite clothing stores, I opted to take a walk through a nearby office supply store. I didn't have really anything in mind that I needed but it was a darn site more interesting than watching my wife shop for clothes. While walking through the tape area, I saw the above item all by itself on a lower shelf like it had been set there by someone not wanting it. I looked around for a tag to see what it cost but couldn't find one so I picked it up. It is made from metal and is compact and has screws to take it apart and replace pieces on it so it intrigued me. I decided to take it up to the counter when I checked out to see what it cost and make the decision at that time whether or not to buy it.

I found a couple more small items and made it up to the checkout. The lady scanned it and before I could inquire as to the cost, she informed me that I had just made the deal of the day. She said that it was priced at $18.99 but because it was on discount, they subtracted $18.98 off of the price meaning I paid one cent for it. I almost thought about scouring the store for more of them but decided to not get greedy and just go with the one I now had. I'm looking forward to the next package I have to get ready to mail.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Once More

As the second coat of polyurethane dries, I took a picture and pondered what I used to talk about on this blog before filling it up with this remodeling project that I'm currently working on. I'm not sure what I said back then but I'm certain it probably wasn't earth shattering.

I have one more coat of polyurethane that I will apply only to the heavy wear surfaces. After that, perhaps this coming weekend, I will cart these down to the basement and install them. As always, I hope they fit the spaces that I measured several times but only left about an eighth of an inch of clearance. The stick of wood leaning again the right side of the book case is a piece of trim for the base of the Murphy bed. The plans didn't call for it but I think it needs it and it was leftover stuff of just about perfect dimensions so why not.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Political Election Cycle Unlike All Others

Just when I begin to think I have things figured out, along comes something totally out of left field that sets me back in my place. After the Iowa Caucus/Circus season ended, I pontificated that Trump would probably start fading away as the field narrowed and someone, perhaps Rubio, would start gaining momentum. I also though Cruz would fade away. I think I was wrong on all accounts though Rubio has gained some momentum, it certainly wasn't in the amount I expected.

So now here we sit with 25% of the states having spoken and it is starting to look like Trump might just be the nominee for the Republican party. Mathematically he doesn't have it all wrapped up yet but as even if the field narrows to two tomorrow, the remaining candidate will have to still garner 48 to 50% of all the remaining votes to prevent Trump from getting the required number outright and bring things to a contested convention, a first in over sixty years.

I'm not really scared if Trump does get the nomination and even if he gets elected to current occupant of the White House. He will have a Congress full of three year olds who refuse to play nicely with each other to deal with and that means little of significance will probably be accomplished. And that folks, in a world full of scary problems needing solutions, it the scary part. We will essentially be kicking the can down the road another four to eight years. Now normally I would be worried about how the rest of the world thinks of us for electing someone like Trump but I can't see how that view can possibly get any lower than it is now after the last two presidents.

Where I sit now, the one positive to come out of Trump getting the Republican nomination is that there would be an opening for a strong middle of the road Independent candidate to get into the race and really shake things up come November. It has been a long time since that has happened.

Remember when before we Iowans voted I was getting perhaps 20 phone calls a day and had an opportunity to shake the hands of about a dozen of the candidates if I had wanted too? Well yesterday my phone rang and I got to thinking, it has probably been a week or two since that had happened. Love it!

Friday, March 4, 2016

More Lessons Learned

I have the solid oak face frames on both my closet/nightstand/dresser and the bookshelf. I used a combination of pocket hole screws which will be mostly hidden and just glue and clamps. Every time I do a project like this that requires a lot of clamps, I am thankful for the auction I hit up a year or two back where I bought a pile of clamps at about a 75% discount from new clamps. They were used which is why I think bidders eventually bowed to my raised hand but clamps are something that really don't technologically go obsolete and if made properly will last forever.

I mentioned this in an earlier post but somehow, my skilsaw got knocked off of perpendicular so it was actually cutting at a very slight angle, a fact I didn't notice until I was assembling the carcasses. I was able to square up everything and thought it was behind me but alas, I had to battle my mistake on the face frames. Because I wanted several areas of the face frame to be flush with the shelves for aesthetics sake, I couldn't build them separately as I did last time. I had to build them in place one piece at a time. As a result, I didn't catch it again in time and some of the cross members on the closet/nightstand/dresser above don't lay perfectly flat to the other members. Some I sanded out and most will be covered by the door but still visible when the doors are open.

However, I learned from my mistake and on the book case below, I temporarily attached the side pieces and then used it along with clamps to glue in the shelf stiffener pieces so that they are level despite the fronts of my plywood shelves  being at a slight angle. When the glue dried, I removed the clamps and the side pieces and then glued them in place and used long clamps to squeeze everything together. To the observer, it will look perfect even if I know the truth. Had I just double checked my skilsaw first, none of this would have been necessary but that is how wood working goes. I wouldn't want it to be too perfect anyone otherwise someone would accuse me of buying it already assembled.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

More Carcasses

Excuse the mess in the background please! It didn't take me too long to process the four sheets of plywood into carcasses for the bookshelf above and the mini closet/nightstand/dresser below. By now, I have the process down pat though I still had a slight problem. I'm guessing my skilsaw blade isn't set quite perpendicular because when I screwed in one side of the shelves on both projects, they tended to go askew until I got the other side added and squared up. I'm guessing it is only off a couple degrees but it shouldn't be. I need to check that again before I do anything more with it.

Despite the mountain of plywood scraps building up in the corner below, I didn't have enough to save myself from buying a 4th sheet of plywood despite only needing about 3 and a third sheets for these two projects. Everything was about an inch or more too narrow. So I ended up with two thirds of a sheet left over that I no longer need for the rest of this project. Rather than try and store is somewhere in my already packed garage where it will inevitably get dinged up and marred, I think I am going to use it to create a bonus project for another part of the house. More on that later.

Next up building the face frames, attaching them and then staining everything.