Saturday, June 27, 2020

I've Got Wood and It's Rock Hard

Ok maybe not rock hard, it's only European Beech. Moderately hard.

But it's a damn sight better than anything you'll find at Home Despot. This will be making the side skirts, legs and stretchers for my new workbench. The top will be composed of a laminated core of OSB left over from tearing down the hantavirus shed and faced with some more beech that will be coming in on Monday.

I'm excited to get started on this!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Going Places

I had initially planned to go hardwood shopping today to get some poplar so I could finally get started on my workbench, but the one store I was planning to go to isn't open on the weekend, and another didn't open until 11am, so I had some time to kill this morning.

So, instead of that, I went for a little bike ride instead. It was fun.

I might still go hardwood shopping tomorrow, I guess we'll see.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Incra-mental Improvements

Got a miter fence for my band saw.

It's an Incra V27 which is a pretty well respected brand. They sell fancier models but most of them are too large to be practical on a band saw.

I also took the time to square up the rip fence and adjust the fence ruler thing, since both were pretty far out of adjustment.

Cuts real nice.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Working Out the Kinks

I gave the new bike stand setup a workout this afternoon. I had noticed that the wheels on The Crimson Ghost were a little out of true, so I pulled them out and gave them a little gentle persuasion on the truing stand to coax them back into line. The whole procedure went flawlessly, I'm very happy with the setup.

Also suddenly Blogger has a new UI for writing posts in. I was about to file a bug about the photo insertion widget not working (I had to drag-and-drop all the photos into the compose window on the previous post) but the one in the new UI works so all's well that ends well I guess.

A Box

So I bought myself a jigsaw. This jigsaw didn't come with any sort of bag or case to house it. Naturally I took the simple option and went on Amazon to find an inexpensive tool bag that was sized exactly to fit it.

I get the feeling that the dimensions listed on the Amazon page were a bit optimistic. Ok, plan B: build a box. This begins with the simple step of building a box.

Now admittedly this is a bit of a peculiar way to build a box. Usually you start with the short sides and then either inset the top or have the top lay on top of them. However I wanted the sides, which I was going to attach next, to extend beyond the back of the box to form a pair of feet, and so for the sake of my sanity I decided to attach them last instead.

For the handle, I glued two smaller scraps of shitty 1x12 together, but did so at an angle so as to hopefully reduce the chance of the whole thing splitting along the grain lines and falling off.

It seems to have worked out ok for me, but time will tell if it holds up long term.

The next step of building a box is actually being able to open it, so I took care of that in the usual way.

And then moved on to the step that keeps the two halves from becoming hopelessly separated from each other: installing hinges.

The hinge installation didn't quite go perfectly. Turns out that the cheap chinese hinges I bought weren't manufactured to any reasonable tolerance, and so when I marked all the screw holes in the same place the lid didn't line up quite perfectly.

I cut out and glued on the handle, and then wiped down the wood with some mineral spirits to clean off any dust and grease, and get a look at how it might appear with a clear finish.

Truly horrifying. Ebony stain it is! And a few coats of water poly to top it off.

The photo makes it look like the wood grain has been totally obliterated, but I assure you that it still shows through a little, as you can see here. Of course this photo makes the wood grain look really pale and chalky, in real life the tone is much warmer.

To make this box suitable for containing a tool, the inside really should be finished in felt. Luckily I had some laying around from another project I haven't bothered getting to yet, so 3.75 sheets of self-adhesive adventures later and things are starting to come together.

Now a box that can open is great, but a box that can stay closed is even better. I'd picked up some toggle latches from the middle kingdom and now was the time to install them.

Truly splendid, and easier to install than I initially thought. One item worth noting is that I got the package that included a set of stainless steel wood screws, but they were flat-head screws and the hardware didn't have any countersinking, so had I used those the heads would have stuck up in a most unpleasant way. Instead I purchased some stainless sheetmetal screws from the Home Despot and used those instead for a much cleaner look.

Oh right, and the jigsaw fits inside. That's kind of important.

Any-hoo, project complete and placed into service. A job well done.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Shedding Some Light On Things

My band saw comes with a little auxiliary outlet on the back to plug in an accessory work light that they sell for probably way too much money. I happened to have some LED strip lights left over from a different project, and an extra 12v wall wart to power them, so I decided to stir the three things all together and see what it turned into.


And after:

Ok, so, not the most dramatic difference but my workshop is already pretty bright. It'll probably come in handy if I move the bandsaw over to the side of my car hole such that my fat ass will be between it and the hundreds of watts of overhead lighting I've installed.

And just for good measure, here's the money shot:

I actually bought the 1-ft IEC cable specially for this project, so I wouldn't have a regular 6 foot cable all spooled up in a big wad hanging off the back.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Getting A Grip

When I set up the workbench / tool chest for my bikes I had it in the back of my mind to mount a bike work stand thing to it. I already have a portable bike work stand, but the fact that it's very lightweight and portable makes it rather tippy, so it's a bit annoying to use.

This will definitely not be tippy.

And it holds a bike quite well!

I may pull the chest away from the wall when working on bikes just to make it easier to get around behind to the drawers, but luckily it's on wheels so that's not a problem.

Up, Up and Away, Then Down, Down and Return

The weather was great this weekend so I slapped on my trail runners and hit the dirt. Ran into a cow-orker and his wife half way up the hill by complete coincidence. I didn't think to snap a photo of them, but I took a selfie later so enjoy looking at my slightly sweaty face.

I ended up going a bit further than I originally planned and by the time I got back my legs were pretty spent. It's now three days later and the soreness in my calves and shins is just fading.

I did see a deer though.


Making Bigger Things Into Littler Things

Stumbled onto a good deal for a used band saw, which I had been considering picking up at some point.

Van life is best life.

I did a quick test cut on it to see if it would accurately shave 1/16th of an inch off the side of a board.

Looks like that's exactly what it did.

Good job, band saw.

The motor can be wired for either 120v or 240v. It comes from the factory at 120v and draws 14a which is quite a bit. Once I rewire the car hole I'm planning to put some 240v circuits in, so I'm going to do the rewiring for it at which point it'll be drawing only 7a which is much less light-flickering. But for now it'll do as-is.

Making Things Whole

Replacement mirror came in.

The glass isn't quite as flat as I might have hoped but it's perfectly functional, and will probably settle in a little as the plastic deforms over time. Maybe. Who knows. I can see through it, that's what matters.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Splash of Color

The white yarrow was the first color to bloom, and for a little while I was worried that they might all come up white since it's difficult to tell when they're still just buds. Thankfully, I do have a variety, with pinks and purples and yellows mixed in.

The yarrow behind the retaining wall hasn't reached the blooming stage yet but I think some of it might be getting close.

And while I'm at it, the fuchsia that almost died is blooming nicely.

It is incredibly vibrant.

Sorting Things Out

My bicycle tools and spares had outgrown their containment by a fair margin.

So an upgrade was definitely in order.

As a bonus, I was finally able to mount my truing stand to something, the way it was designed to be installed. Much nicer than clamping it to the edge of my coffee table every time I wanted to use it.

While I was out getting tool containment devices, I decided to grab a service cart as well.

This cart holds tools that are in use, separately from the work surface where the project itself is held. Most people end up putting both their in-use tools and project materials on the same surface, but I find that leads to too much conflict and clutter, and I end up wasting a lot of time moving materials out of the way of tools, and tools out of the way of materials. Thus, having a separate space for each, especially with the tool containment being mobile, makes for an ideal solution.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Keeping Things Fresh

Charged the batteries on the motorcycles today by riding 4 loops around Hicks/Almaden. I don't think I've ever seen so many people riding bikes along that road, and just on a Tuesday afternoon? Craziness.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Things Left Behind

Wasn't really sure what I wanted to do this afternoon, so I ripped down the last of the hantavirus shelves in the car hole.

So good to finally have that done. While I was taking down that shelf I also found a little something left behind.

Now I'm no fishing hook expert, but I gotta say these ones look a little old. Gotta say it feels a little weird to throw away something like that, completely unused and in its original packaging, after it had been lost and forgotten about for probably longer than I've been alive. Like I know it's just an unfeeling, inanimate object, but it still feels a bit melancholic that it never achieved its life purpose.

Speaking of things left behind, someone's been leaving painted rocks in my landscaping for some reason I have yet to determine.

Very curious.

And on the subject of landscaping, here's a few more flower pics. The yarrow is blooming nicely, and the oxeye daisy somehow came back from the dead to spit out a bloom.

And finally, last but not least, a western fence lizard.

Friday, May 15, 2020

It's For the Birds

Over the past few weeks I've been busying myself with building a birdhouse, in hopes of attracting some screech owls to the neighbourhood. The idea is that they will make a meal of the neighbourhood rats and squirrels, who I have been at odds with for quite some time now.

The plans that I roughly followed called for 3/4" wood, and it just so happens that I have plenty of shitty 1x12 (3/4 by 11-1/2) shelf boards left over from the crappy shelves I ripped down in my car hole.

This worked reasonably well, but things hit a snag when I realized that the board I had selected out of the pile had so much rough live edge to it that I wouldn't actually be able to get a piece out of it large enough to make the back of the box. There also wasn't enough of it to make the sides of the box, so I supplemented some pieces from a crappy cabinet I had disassembled, to make the sides and back.

I didn't take a lot of photos of this part of the process as there's not really much to see from just chopping large bits of wood into smaller bits of wood. However, I did snap a photo after I had done the initial assembly.

I'd given the shelf boards a quick sanding before the glue-up, using biscuits for that easy alignment, easy life, but left the cabinet boards with their sickly brown varnish intact for the moment. Speaking of, I also used the bisquick joiner to cut the kerf slots below the entrance for the owl to be able to grab onto while entering the box.

Cutting out the entrance hole turned out to be an adventure. I didn't have a hole saw of the correct dimension, so I put my shiny new cordless jigsaw to work making the cut. It has an oscillating feature that allows it to more easily clear chips out of the cut, and I had turned it on to give it a test. As it turns out, this can cause the blade to self-feed rather dramatically when making tighter turns, so the hole ended up a bit lopsided before I turned the oscillating off to complete the cut.

There was a fair bit of glue squeeze-out so I did go back afterwards and give the exterior a sanding, and also bevelled the edge of the lid where it met the back. Scribed and bevelled, that is, since the boards I was using had been sitting outside for a year and had gotten quite cupped.

The two different woods blended together quite nicely once the brown finish had been disposed of. I suspect they're both the same species.

Next up was fitting the hinge. The plans called for the hinge to be surface mounted on top of the box, and while I had been taking the build philosophy of "be sloppy, the birds won't notice the difference", I felt that mounting it like that was a bit too crude even for that. So instead I mortised the hinge into the edge of the lid so it would sit flush and mostly out of sight.

The mortising process did present an interesting challenge though, as I had to make a shallow cut through the end grain of the wood to achieve it. I initially tried a few approaches with hand tools, but after struggling with that for a while I gave up and used my electric router instead. All's well that ends well, but it would be interesting to learn what sort of technique I might have been missing here.

While the directions call for leaving the wood weathered and unfinished, I decided to give my box a splash of finish to keep the wood from falling apart immediately. Had I been using cypress, cedar or redwood I would have been more comfortable with just letting it weather the elements on its own.

Watco teak oil was the name of the game in this case, since I happened to have a jug of it laying around. I'm not particularly fond of it, so it's nice to use it up on projects that I care a lot less about.

It's, uh... Orange.

Last step was to mount the box around 10+ feet off the ground in a relatively sheltered spot with south or east exposure. Luckily my chimney fits that description precisely.

And for bonus points, I set up an owl-cam to keep tabs on my new tenants, though as it's late in the nesting season now I don't expect to be hosting any until next spring.

A job well done, I think.