February 2008


Erin is in “Many Moons” this semester and the performance was last night.  Tonight she switches off with another actor and will be in the stage crew.  Last night a bunch of her friends, including the boy friend, came to see her and we all sat together.  It was as fun as usual with the extra twist of having all her friends sniffing around for a look at the boyfriend who is from another school and had never been seen by any of them.  It was pretty exciting but probably a bit uncomfortable for him.  He didn’t show it though.

Good times.


The New Doors Installed

Originally uploaded by gregwest98

Whee! The project is done.

When I made my Springfield trip, my friend also bought himself a new jointer.  It was pretty large.  He was apparently replacing the one he had which was no slouch of a jointer.  He offered it to me Saturday.

Let me hear you say OMG!

I’ve never had one nor have I ever considered buying one; it’s a floor-standing tool and floor space in my garage is precious so I’ve just always used a hand plane for that job and learned to get the edges square enough that way.  But this was too much to pass up so I went and got it.  That leaves me with three items that are taking up floor space that must be dealt with.  Hello craigslist!  My old tablesaw was offered to and accepted by my brother-in-law so it’s still around; it’s just in somebody else’s garage.

I listed two things last night.  The first was an old belt sander that I picked up at a garage sale years ago that was on a homemade stand with an old motor that won’t start when it’s cold.  The other thing is a rubbermaid tote full of golf balls.  When a friend offered it to me I thought that it would be really cool to have 10,000 golf balls.  I was wrong; it’s really more of a burden than anything else.  Floor space.  I don’t suck at golf badly enough to loose that many balls – ever.

I had my first responses withing within 10 minutes.  Within 20 minutes I had sold the golf balls (the guy should pick them up tonight) and had some pretty firm interest in the sander.  I must admit that the sander sucks pretty badly but surely somebody will pick it up for $20.

That leaves me with my bandsaw to deal with.  I actually use that every so often but not as often as I would like. It’s always been in the corner behind my table saw which I use a lot.  Perhaps if it were more accessible I would use it more.  But now I’m afraid that something has to go.  The new jointer or the bandsaw.  It’s a struggle.  I don’t want to give up either.  I’d like to build a proper workshop and move them all into it but my back yard is not large enough for that.  I could just start parking outside all the time but that doesn’t make too much sense either even though most people do it.

So the jury is still out as to selling the bandsaw.  It uses weird-sized blades and so I have to special order them which is a pain.  Perhaps that is reason enough to let it go.  Or perhaps I could put in my brother-in-law’s garage.  He never makes any attempt to put a car in it.  Yeah!

Anyway – free jointer!  It’s awesome.

The buyers of our china cabinet came and got it last night.  That took mere moments but as I was in the garage tinkering around, I heard them out in the street discussing how to tie it down in their vehicle for the trip home and they must have stayed out there for at least one hour working the problem out.  At one point, they departed for WalMart to buy some tiedowns and then continued their project.  I was a bit worried about it myself; I’d hate to see them buy something only to have it fall out of their truck on the way out of the neighborhood.  But they eventually managed it.

I put another application of stain on my cabinet doors and they’re looking excellent.

As predicted, it rained all day Saturday – a perfect time to stay inside and finish my cabinet doors.  Literally.

Unfortunately the part I like about woodworking is the wood part.  I’m not so fascinated by the application of the finish.  But it must be done but I always get impatient.  Nevertheless, as I get older I find I have more patience to do what must be done and so I took the time to sand everything properly as well as mix up some shellac.

As always, the shellac wants weeks to dissolve and in spite of my accelerating methods, it did not all dissolve.  But enough dissolved to do the trick and the rest can dissolve at its own pace.  My method was to put the flakes in a food processor and grind it to dust.  I reasoned that the increased surface area would lead to more shellac entering solution with the alcohol and so it did but not all of it.  More than normal though.  I also put the jar into a pot of hot water to hasten it that way but I didn’t wait long enough – I should try that again and just leave it for several hours.

Anyway, I got the wood sealed and also got the first coat of stain on.  Looking good!

We gave up on the newspaper ad trying to get rid of our china cabinet and I put it on craigslist.  In a matter of hours I had numerous responses and the first person to email me was the first to show up and look at it and they bought it.  I’m sold on craigslist now.

Erin was gone most of the time to rehearsals for the high school play.  They’re doing some serious work now and it takes all day on the weekends.

Meantime, Evan had all his buddies over to use our bigscreen TV to play RockBand on.  A friend brought over his Xbox and game stuff and they played from late afternoon until midnight.  They would have gone longer had there not been a curfew in place.  I wish I could have taken a turn but such things are not meant for parental involvement.  I had to limit myself to watching classic movies on PBS on the little TV in the bedroom.  They were showing two boring movies about nuns so it was a pathetic second place to RockBand.

Hopefully this week those people will bring a pickup and get that china cabinet out of my living room and I will battle laziness and finish putting the finish on my cabinet doors.  Maybe play GuitarHero once or twice.

Spent the day in bed yesterday.  The head cold that had been stalking me since Saturday caught up with me.  I did manage to stagger out of bed enough to glue together those cabinet doors (which wore me out) and to take Mel to TiAmo for valentine’s dinner.

I did an idiotic thing regarding my cabinet door project which involved an inaccurate measurement.  Last night I used my new saw to cut small bits out of the door pieces to make them the correct size.  That went well although I screwed up the joints on two of the pieces and had to remake the entire pieces from scratch.  Nevertheless, I’m back on track now and can probably glue up the doors tonight.  After that comes finishing.




My Table Saw on it’s Way Home

Originally uploaded by gregwest98

Clicking on the photo will lead you to a better photo of it.

These days are a whirlwind of this and that what with Evan filling out scholarship applications, Erin having a boyfriend and lots of other friends, and of course: income taxes to be done. But Saturday, I ditched all that.

Two weeks ago a friend from my old days at Sabre (now EDS) called up and asked if I’d like to make a road trip to the Grizzly Tool store in Springfield. Score! He picked me up bright and early Saturday morning in his pickup and off we went. He was on a mission to buy himself a new jointer and he wanted some company for the trip (which is about three hours one way.) Apparently his wife can only stand tools for a few minutes. Grizzly knows how that is; they have a waiting room with a big screen TV in it for the wives and kids.

I never knew this guy terribly well although we both talked woodworking a great deal. I was briefly concerned that we’d be in the car all this time with lots of dead air but it turned out very well; we had lots to talk about and so the time passed quickly. He’s my hero because he managed to actually retire and not go broke.

We only made one stop to “pay the water bill” which is interesting in the sense that the rest stop was “out of service”. As a result, the very next exit with a service station was quite popular. I had only just stepped into the men’s room when the knocking on the door began. I did what I had to do and when I opened the door I was greeted by a little boy holding his pants and dancing around. He dashed past me and slammed the door. Then his little brother, also holding his pants, began knocking on the door.

Our time at the tool store was long and enjoyable – we stayed in there four hours and it didn’t seem like more than a few minutes to me. I had a bit of an ulterior motive which was causing stress: I have put up with a crappy table saw for years and now I was at the very place where reasonably priced nicer saws could be had. Furthermore, such things have a shipping weight of about 300 pounds which costs about $130 to get from there to my house. Having a truck present would save that amount for sure. My buddy was open to the idea as long as there was sufficient room left for his intended purchase. This was a bit of an issue since his truck was one of those four-door jobs with a short bed. Very short actually.

I had just about decided that these things were a bit too expensive for a hobby when I discovered the “scratch and dent” room. Back through and unobtrusive door I found another dark showroom with returned merchandise. And in that group was a single table saw that was the lowest priced model but with scratches in the paint. They knocked $125 off the sticker price.

Well we measured and measured (yes – he carried a tape measure in his pocket). We got with the sales guy and made sure we knew the size of the cartons of the thing he was buying. We measured his truck bed. Finally with the stress of such an expensive purchase and the knowledge that it was now or never since I don’t know of anybody else with a pickup who would care to drive to Springfield, I cracked.

We loaded it into the pickup upside down for traveling and had to remove the motor and several other things to get it to fit along with his boxes. But we did it.

The drive home was uneventful except for the fact that the sun was right above the highway which made for much glare. As we backed into my driveway I was wondering how the two of us out of shape guys would manage to get such a heavy thing out of the pickup when Melissa drove up with a carload of teenagers. Among them were two guys that proved to be very handy in this scenario.

I was beat by that time. I had been sort-of coming down with a cold and it finally got me. With a new saw in the garage, I had to go to bed. But Sunday morning dawned and found me ditching church and setting up the saw. I mostly had to rearrange stuff in the garage so that there would be space for it and the cars. But by the end of the day, I had it running and it’s so much nicer than my old one that I can’t believe I ever managed to build anything with the old one.

There’s just not enough time in my weekends any more. As if there ever was anyway.




They fit together like this

Originally uploaded by gregwest98

Here is a flickr set of photos showing how my door is going together. It all seems to be going pretty well. That is until I realized that I was taking my dimensions off the wrong door template and my doors are a couple of inches too wide. Oh well, better that than too narrow. I can cut some off and make them narrower.

Next Page »