Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My Best Woodworking Assets

Ok -- I'll rephrase my original posting which maliciously disappeared into the electronic void yesterday in a flurry of "don't talk religion" messages. The crux of my message was the value of a lifetime partner, and because I quoted scripture in relationship to how I believe my deity taught it should be done . . . people were very offended.

Get over yourselves.

Again, I'm going to reiterate the message but put it into succinct woodworking terms.

My wife and I are working on a multitude of projects, and now with spring here and warm weather, we're about to embark upon outside fixes and upgrades. One thing that I've learned over the years is the power of two people, either working together or working against one another. For a number of years I experienced the "against" part in a failed marriage. My garage became a refuge for me to escape and unfortunately a lot of things around the house didn't get done. Now fast forward to now.

I've been living in my house ten years now, and for the past 5+ or more, it's needed painting. It's in horrible condition now. I almost ended up in another job position a few years ago and was going to re-do the exterior, but in the midst of that I decided to not take the position . . .but I had already ripped down my shutters. You can only imagine what my house looked like then. There are a lot of other projects that have been on the back burner for a number of years.

Over a year ago I met a wonderful woman with Christ at the center of her life and we've been together ever since. I know I made a lot of mistakes over the years, and because of those learning experiences, it's made me into the man I am now. I am very thankful for that, and I'm very blessed that my wife enjoys spending time with me in the garage or wherever in the house working on things together. So far we've built many projects, painted several rooms, and now we're moving forward on the exterior things for spring/summer.

When we were working together on the latest wood project, the overhead cabinets in the garage, she came up with many good ideas -- as she had on the garbage can holder and other items. That's why I consider so many more things important other than what tools I have available. I've learned over the years, that if you put your mind to something, and you have support in doing what you believe in, you can generally accomplish far more than someone who has it all, yet has nothing. I'm still just learning at the ins and outs of woodworking, but I think I've learned enough making mistakes in other areas of my life that I can share . . . and if that offends anyone, then so be it.

“A man who doesn’t stand for something will fall for anything." - Peter Marshall

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Garage Overhead Cabinets - April 2009

You can read about the progress and completion of the cabinets here in this blog series.

Viola! Garage Cabinets.

(Triumphant sound of music in the background . . . . )

The garage cabinets are finally done. Last night we cut the 2×4 we used for the french cleat on the back of the cabinets and the rail on the wall. That was a kind of terrifying experience . . . getting that much board through the Shopsmith at a 30 degree angle. I had my feather board on and pushing sticks—all the safety measures I could think of. The operation made a ton of saw dust that blanketed us . . . because I forgot to turn on the dust collector and hook it up. Sigh Cleaning up the mess was not very pleasant either, as I absently grabbed the Shopvac to attack it and Peggy noted it looked like as much was going in was going right back (Cough / Hack) out.

As you can see, the white board will be very handy. I’m a big proponent of white boards . . . I’ve designed many computer programs, database diagrams, and systems all on white boards, so our garage/workshop area should be just as organized.

Yea! A place (soon) for everything, and hopefully everything in it’s place! I just had to stick a few things in it to give it a lived in appearance. ;-)

The cleat system was THE way to go . . . hanging the cabinets was just easy, in fact scary easy. Peggy was quite amazed at how well that went. I had my doubts at first . . . I started the concrete drilling for the fasteners and wasn’t for sure I’d ever get through it. I wasn’t using a hammer drill, just my old Black and Decker 3/8” drill. That old drill has been the best tool ever . . . I used it to drive screws in the back deck, and everything in between. It’s quite amazing how well it’s held up. All that we had to do was put a board on the bottom of the cabinet to space them out from the wall, and then just hung them up. Very slick.

It’s slowly coming together!

Re-arranging The Garage . . . Again

Well, next up on the new “to-do” list is going to be getting my cantankerous dust collector settled in to a new spot.

The trash can with the separator is sitting on a platform (recycled out of an old boat step I made) and actually fits quite nicely. I’ve bungy-corded the whole thing together for now, but I don’t like how the inlet side works. My vision for this is to actually have a 90 degree out of the compressor that goes directly up through the middle of the trash can. It’s a bit weird to picture, but instead of using the separator lid, I’ll make my own lid with a spiral inducer there. That’s the thought at least. In the meantime, the garage will be shuffled and I’ll move the whole shebang over to where it will ultimately live.

Now with the new cabinets up I can work on getting things up and off my worksurfaces and stored adequately away. I need to go cabinet by cabinet through my existing storage and weed out bad/good, but in the meantime I can at least get work areas. This is getting feverishly close to pool opening season, mowing, season, and “where did our time go to” season on normal household stuff. My wife and I are active in our local church, host a couples care (small) group on marriage, and have many other things we help with. My biggest hope for getting things cleaned and organized is maximizing the time we have to work instead of my hunting down of what I left and where. :-)

I’ll post new pics as things come together. At least this blog post will hopefully not invoke such passion as it’s wood based. Hmm—wasn’t Jesus a carpenter? :-)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Almost There!

This weekend we almost got the new cabinets entirely done. We had quite a few learning experiences along the way, which I’m extremely thankful for since these are just garage cabinets. I’m not exactly making pieces of fine furniture here out of Cherry or Oak . . . but I’m definitely learning a lot along the way.

Here’s the first picture—the back on the cabinets. My daughter and I jumped in the truck and hit the local big box store for some Lauan plywood. (Ugh—am I destroying rain forests???)

One thing that I learned was to double check measurements—I laid the first sheet of the white dry erase marker board material out for the door and cut it – but realized that the 2nd piece was now too small . . . Grr. We decided to cut all the boards down to the smaller size. Had I measured, I would have split the panels in half and then had less gap in the middle . . . but oh well. I ran into a little snafu when attaching the material also.

I tried to glue the door and marker board together, but the panels were warped and the door surfaces weren’t 100% flat. Rather than attempt to glue the whole shebang together, I opted to get some screws and fasten them that way. We first thought of using the decorative kind with a cap, but when we looked, they didn’t have quite enough and at .78 cents per 3 pack, it was going to be a bit expensive. Instead I oped for #6 screws and some decorative washers, which I think turned out pretty nice in the end.

The last thing to worry about was the door hinges . . . and that’s another learning experience. I got the template out and drilled my first holes, but I didn’t pay attention to the directions. I had to go back and remove screws because I didn’t have them quite positioned where they need to be. I still need to fiddle with the doors on alignment, but I think I’ll do that when they are up on the wall and “settled”.

I had a little brain fart (if you will) on the use of the Shopsmith. I was preparing to rip a 2×4 at a 30 degree angle for the french cleat on the wall. I wrestled the blade/table combo for quite a while trying to figure out why I couldn’t get things to work exactly right on that. I finally realized that I needed to run the quill out from the body to get the table to tilt properly. (DUH!) That just goes as another little learning experience. My dad helped me align the table and fence for it when they were over last time. I got to peek at his thread drawers he’s building when I was over the other night.

It’s fun to see how we’re both learning new things in wood working—regardless of how long we’ve been doing it. I noticed a long forgotten scrap of wood in his shop—it had a couple of curves cut in it and I recognized those curves and held them up and we both remarked “that looks like a bed part”. Yep, it was a scrap piece of wood that my dad had started, or practiced doing the bed that he made me when I was a kid. I still have that headboard, it’s in one of my son’s rooms at our house. Someday I’d like to make my daughter a headboard like that too for her bunk bed.

My last “experience” of the weekend just came as I was leaving to take my daughter back home. My wife and I had a very full weekend together with her. We spent time with my parents, and the next night my sister and her fiance. My daughter got to spend time with her cousin (my sister’s daughter). I got to learn my dance routine for an upcoming father/daughter number at my daughter’s dance studio. (It’s going to be a lot of fun.) We also went to see her artwork at the district wide art fair and enjoyed a movie together on Sunday afternoon.

As we were heading out the door, I had a huge wave of angst over all the projects still waiting to be done . . . there is just so much work to be done on the house and everything else. It’s soon going to be lawn mowing and pool season . . . along with house repairs. There never seems to be enough time for everything and I was feeling kind of lost. When we were heading down the road I glanced back and saw my daughter reading her children’s Bible. At that moment I remembered what the most important things are . . . and it’s not all about what projects need done. God has me at work on some much bigger projects, and he’s teaching me all the time. Just like me fiddling with the Shopsmith, or aligning the hinges . . . he’s working on knocking off my rough edges and make me more efficient. I can’t expect to be perfect in everything I do with wood, or what I do spiritually, but the more I learn the more I can grow.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Whew, finally -- More Sawdust!

Well, Peggy and I finally were able to get a weekend time slot free with good weather to get outside and cut-up the plywood for the garage cabinets. I must admit, that I must have completely been out of my mind when I measured the side pieces. Peggy was looking at them and said they looked a bit tall . . . so I held them up above my workbench and was flabbergasted at the discrepancy. All my plans in Sketchup seemed to just have went out the window. Then when we were talking we realized that they certainly weren’t 2 foot tall—it was more like 3 foot tall! A little measurement taking and we realized that I had marked incorrectly the side pieces. DOH!

So, I cut all the side pieces off to the correct length and got the shelves cut out—all from one sheet of 4×8 crapwood . . . uh . . . I mean plywood. You can see the blazoned imprint right here . . . man, can we do NOTHING in this country anymore?

When we got done we were looking at the framing for the front of the cabinet face and decided maybe to just attach doors to the cabinet flush. Peggy had a great idea—to use dry erase marker board material for the door fronts to allow me to use them as a giant writing tablet.

I really appreciate Peggy so much. We spent all day working together on the shelves, and then about 8:30 PM, the day before the big Easter celebration we were having at our house . . . we discovered the garbage disposer had corroded through the side and was leaking profusely. We went and bought a new one when we got the dry erase material. We had it installed and ready to go by 11:30 PM . . . quite a feat . . . and leak free!

The next step will be finishing the doors and painting the cabinets. I’m so disgusted with the plywood quality . . . I really need to find a better source. I thought avoiding the big box stores (Lowes and Home Depot) would help, but the rinky dink lumber company (84 Lumber) had crap wood also. Grrr.