This is the part of the year I enjoy most though the cold detracts from it a bit. I spent the spring, summer and fall working on one big project after another. In fact, the siding project went right into winter and is still being worked upon. The siding is up but none of the caulking is done and must wait for a few warmer days and there are a handful of odds and ends to tidy things back up. It always seems as if the period of days between Thanksgiving and the New Year is always full of obligations, family, school and church. Granted I enjoy attending those obligations but it wears on me after awhile. So when those are over and only a minor blip called Valentines Day between here and spring, I'm excited to relax a bit.
Typically this time of year, I like to do a few oddball hobby type stuff in the garage but I have to work around the weather which hasn't been too cooperative lately. Materials, tools and even my body just don't function well when it is well below freezing for long periods of time. I pulled out a project I started years ago, possibly over a decade and have been storing it in a paper bag ever since. It is making a working wooden toy front loader. I like working with wood and I like a challenge and this seemed to fit the bill back then and still does. So I've been working on making the rest of the uncompleted parts for it.
My oldest daughter is getting old enough now to understand the game of cribbage, a game that I enjoy playing. I drug out the cribbage board I had bought years ago when my mom was spending some time in the hospital and it was my day to keep her company. It is a cheap pine board with painted on tracks and plastic pegs. As I was teaching my daughter the game, I got to thinking that I could build a better cribbage board and if I did it right, it might become a family heirloom that can get passed around for a few generations. I also thought it might be a good opportunity to try doing some wood inlay, something I have never done but think it looks so beautiful when completed. So I found a hole template and am starting that project.
Both the toy loader and cribbage board however, need some thin stock material. I can rip some boards down close but eventually I need to run them through my planer. It is so heavy to manhandle around, I like to get it set up and do all that I need at once before putting it back away to save my back. So I got it manhandles up onto my table saw which serves as the base for doing my planing, powered it up and got to work. However, the in-feed rollers weren't pulling my material end and it was getting to the point where I was having to force it through with most of my strength. Not only is it not safe this way, but the results it leaves behind on the surface is undesirable. After shining a flashlight on the rollers I could see they were working so I was stumped at what was happening. I Googled up my planer model along with the words 'won't feed' and the very first website I clicked on gave me the answer. When it is cold, the rubber feed wheels become hard and can't grip the wood to pull it in. I set up a space heater for four hours blowing air on the rollers and then I was able to finish planing my boards so I can proceed again on both those projects.
When it comes to building things out of wood, I have an incredible backlog of things that I would like to build someday. Everything from furniture to boats to a details of a house. Yesterday I added a new project to that list. While over at the piano teachers house with my oldest, the teacher showed me one of his Christmas presents. It was a violin kit that had all the necessary parts but needed assembly, lots of assembly. He had to cut, shape, mold, adhere and finish all the pieces to eventually get a working violin. Having never heard of such a thing, I asked him if they also produced kits for acoustical guitars and he pulled out a magazine full of them. So now one of these days, I'm going to have to build my own guitar. I did some research online and they actually seem to be quite straight forward to build for someone with a reasonable amount of woodworking skills. Perhaps next January. I still have to balance out my hobbies with plenty of fireplace time and catching up on my stack of books.