Sunday morning hike

I was finally feeling up for getting back out for a short hike this morning. I took Hoagie to the Benedict Benson Preserve to hike the yellow loop trail. It is short, around a mile and a half long, but I figured it was best to keep the loop short today.

Hoagie was also feeling better. When I took him out last weekend (before I came down sick), he seemed tired and was walking pretty slowly. Today he was back to himself, running ahead exploring.

Hoagie enjoying the woods.

The trail was nice, quiet and well marked. There are a few bridges over some streams, but at this time of year the streams were dry. We did find the rusting carcass of an older car sitting in the woods covered in spiderwebs as it slowly dissolves into the forest floor. We didn’t see anyone else on the walk, but the lack of spiderwebs everywhere save the top inch of my head, suggested that it had been hiked by someone just slightly shorter recently.

Detail of car rusting into the forest floor, Benedict Benson Preserve.

A long week (with COVID) and some small projects

It has been a long week already, and it is only Tuesday. It feels like Thursday at least.

I started feeling symptoms on Saturday night and tested positive on Sunday. Luckily it has so far been mostly mild, but I have had no energy. I’m stuck isolating until Friday at the earliest. It has been a long journey since the first lock down in spring of 2021, and I was hoping that it had passed me by. My luck ran out this week, though as far as weeks go, it wasn’t too bad of a week to get sick and have to isolate. Will is mostly in his room in the loft above the garage. Ben is at his mom’s house. Susanna and Izzy are six hours ahead in Sweden. I get the whole second floor and my workshop to myself all day. I just haven’t had energy to do much for the past few days.

Today I’m starting to feel better, though my energy is ebbing by the time I’m writing this. It is almost time to give into watching YouTube and Netflix for the night.

My weekends started out well. I got up early on Saturday and took Hoagie for a walk. It was hot, so I picked an easy 2 mile hike in Ledyard, the Pine Swamp Wildlife Corridor Loop. It wasn’t a very nice trail, and there was a section that I had to pass through some construction by the local power company. I’ll be avoiding that trail again.

The not so scenic Pine Swam Wildlife Loop.

Over the past few days I was able to finish off a few smaller projects that I had started last week. I didn’t get any work done on the house, but I was able to get some time in the workshop. I completed the sides and brass reinforcement on the holder for my #4 smooth plane. I also made a simple holder for a try square that I put above the chisels. I’ll probably make additional wooden holders for my other squares.

New storage for my #4 smooth plane

Most of what I did when I got tired of sitting in bed and watching TV was to just clean the shop a bit. And yes, I am bored. My workshop is probably more organized than it has ever been. there is hardly any crap left sitting on my tablesaw. My goal this week is to entirely clean the junk off the horizontal work surfaces and put everything into a home.

Slightly improved hand tool storage.
Finished Cutting Board

Another quick workshop project (hand plane storage)

It was way too hot and humid to climb on the porch roof and work on the house tonight, so I decided to finish another very quick workshop project and use up some of the cherry I pulled out for the chisel rack. I built a shelf for my No 2. smooth plane. The nice thing is that I used the No. 2 plane to smooth the lumber after milling.

No. 2 smooth plane on it’s new shelf

The shelf is made from cherry with a piece of what I think is likely teak for the front edge. The teak is reclaimed from an old boat project that Ben and I started years ago and never finished (and eventually cut up the boat and disposed of it). I reinforced the glue joints with 1/8″ brass rod. The whole project was finished with shellac and a final coat of wax.

Shelf installed above the new chisel rack

I have some more space above the chisels, so will make a few more over the next few days. I’ll laser engrave a label on the front of the shelf for the next one; I didn’t think of it until I had already glued on the edge trim on this project.

A quick workshop project finished (chisel rack)

Tonight I finished a quick workshop project, my upgraded chisel rack. I had previously milled the cherry rack and back board, and cut the slots for the chisels in the rack. Tonight, I finished the groove and attached the rack to the back board. After the glue dried, I finished the project with two quick coats of spray shellac and let it dry for an hour or so. I removed the old rack and installed the new one. The English mortise chisel (pig sticker) doesn’t fit properly in the rack, but it works for now (2nd from right on the picture below).

I have the other half of the cherry board still; I just have to figure out what I want to build with it. Maybe a second chisel rack to allow me to grow my collection of chisels. It is a bit of a sad collection of chisels at this point and not a very coordinated set. But it matches my ADHD (I have Japanese and western style chisels, just in case I get bored with one style). I just need more.

Chisel rack installed. My new saw till is hanging on the right side of the picture.

Hike, house projects and a new donut shop

Today finished up the first of for weekends with Susanna and Isabella away in Sweden. But, with Ben over for the week, it isn’t as quiet as I suspect the next few will be.

We started our day with a visit to a new donut shop, Dixie Donuts. My friend, Mark, recommended it; it is much better than the usual Dunkin. To be fair, this morning wasn’t the first visit. Will and I stopped by there yesterday morning while we were out running errands before Ben came over.

Hewitt Farm, Stonington, CT

After our second breakfast, we headed to Stonington for a short hike at Hewitt Farm and the surrounding trails. It was a good chance to get Hoagie out for a walk and practice some off-leash training.

Will and Hoagie taking a water break at Hewitt Farm in Stonington

After lunch, Ben and I worked a bit on my summer house project, repairing the sun porch roof. I’m working on repairing the soffit and fascia on the main roof in the area directly above the sun porch. That lets me get all the work and wear and tear on the old roof before replacing it. The roof has been leaking for a while; I think the roof pitch is too shallow for the shingles. Today we scraped and washed a section of the upper exterior wall and main roof trim. It is an area that isn’t very visible, and we didn’t paint it when we repainted the house many years ago. Tomorrow I’ll prime the area we prepared and I’ll paint it later this week and move over to the next section of wall/trim to repair. I took the gutter off the upper roof, so I’ll have to figure out how to install one if one is needed for that section.

Chiseling a groove into the back board of the chisel rack.

This evening I milled the back board for the chisel rack that I started on Friday night. Again, I flattened the board by hand, but milled it to thickness on the planer. I jointed the first edge by hand, but didn’t have a good way to mark that wide of a width, so ripped it to width on the table saw. I marked out and started chiseling out the grove that will hold the rack (seen in the background). I’ll try to finish the piece tomorrow night after dinner. Ben and I are watching Westworld in the evenings this week, so I won’t get too much time in the shop.

Friday night in the workshop

It is much quieter around the house with Susanna and Isabella out of town. My evenings are pretty open without having to juggle getting Isabella to go to bed. Tonight I decided that I would be happier if I did something other than watch a show after dinner, so I headed out to the workshop. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of TV time over the next few weeks until Susanna and Isabella return. Yes my life is that exciting.

I decided that my next workshop project was to replace the rack I built to hold my chisels. Chisels stick in the current rack and can be difficult to get out. Plus it doesn’t look very nice.

My existing chisel rack made from a spare piece of white oak.

I headed up to my loft and pulled out a piece of cherry lumber. I was in no mood to dig out a piece of exotic lumber after the pain of working with Yellowheart. Cherry is very nice to work with. Not too hard and not too soft and darkens to a nice color with exposure to the sun.

I decided to do as much by hand as I could. I cut a 25″ piece off of the board, and ripped (by hand) a 2″ wide piece off that cutoff. I flattened one face by hand, but there was no way I was interested in milling to thickness by hand, so into the planer it went. I used a handplane and scraper to finish the surface

Cutting the openings to the holes.

I edge jointed the board by hand. It felt nice to get the handplanes out again. I marked out and then drilled the holes using the drill press; I had already setup the drill press for a test piece and don’t think digging out the bit and brace was really worth it tonight.. The slots were cut by hand and then shaped with a rasp.

Shaping the holes using a rasp.

Finally I lightly sanded the entire piece and softened the edges, wiped it down with mineral spirits and put a few chisels in it for a test fit.

Test fitting the new chisel rack.

The next step is to mill a backing board with rabbet to allow me to mount the rack to the wall and apply some sort of finish to the project. I’ll probably also put some sort of ledge below the chisels to keep hands from bumping into the sharp edge of the chisels. I also don’t think my mortise chisel (far left on top picture) will fit in the holes I made, so I may have to modify or add another spot for that chisel. The final step will be to acquire more chisels. Maybe make the set match better, because matching tools are always important.

Now I just need to think of a project to build for the house.

Saturday Morning Photo Walk

This morning, Will, Izzy and I drove to the Connecticut College Arboretum for a short photo walk. It was warm and humid early which elicited complaints about the walk early on from Izzy. However, for the most part, she was good company and a somewhat willing model for pictures. Will focused on the wildlife, and I tried to get Izzy to at least not look too grumpy for pictures. She did take some pictures of me, but I had a manual focus lens on, so they didn’t turn out great.

Workshop Project – Saw Till

Saw Till – completed and hung

This morning I put the final finish coat on the Saw Till and hung it in the workshop. I made it from yellowheart lumber with some spare flooring milled for the back. I learned a few lessons from this project.

Yellowheart (Euxylophora paraensis) is hard to work with. It has a Janka Hardness of nearly 1800, so it is harder than Hard Maple and White Oak (1600 and 1350 lb Janka hardness respectively). It was certainly tough on the chisels, and the interlocking grain pattern made it difficult to plane. Next time I’ll stick to oak or cherry.

I also didn’t make the till tall enough for all my saws. The saw to the right of the till is about 1″ too long to properly fit on the till. I could probably still put it on the till; it wouldn’t fall out but would stick out the top.

Now to sharpen a few more saws and add them to my collection and figure out my next shop project (maybe improve my chisel storage).

Sailboat Project Day

I had the day (mostly) to myself today. Susanna and Izzy departed early this morning to go to New York for Swedish School and Will, for most of today, was busy doing his own things. I had carved out today to be a day to get back into restoring the sailboat. I’ve been working off and on (mostly off) ripping out wiring and patching some holes. Today I got back into restoring the deck. The old non-skid is shot, so I’m slowly sanding it off and my plan is to re-gelcoat the topside. I am using brushable gelcoat. It goes on thick and doesn’t level as well as paint does, but hopefully it will last another 40 years. The trick to getting it to look good is to sand a lot and then buff out the top after it cures.

Today’s project included removing the port side handrail and sanding that section of the cabin top. It was warm enough to apply the gelcoat, so I went through a bit more than half a quart on the bow. It is slow going. The gelcoat starts curing very quickly, so I don’t get a lot of time to work it and have to do a small section at a time. Hopefully it will all look good once I’m done sanding it out. Maybe it would be more efficient to prep the entire topside before gelcoating, but that isn’t really how my brain works (got to love ADHD).

Port side cabin top with the handrail removed.
Gelcoat applied to the bow and very front part of the cabin. I was able to get a second section done after this picture was taken (starboard bow to the front of the cabin.

I was also able to lay the final layers of fiberglass on a hole in the cockpit/cabin that I’m repairing. That will need a layer of fairing compound and a bunch more sanding before it is ready to gelcoat.

I was able to get a little time with Will to work on his boat. We worked on gelcoating his boat (we had done it a few years ago, but he decided he wants it white and not blue (the blue is way too hot on the sun). It was fun to get some time with him in the afternoon before he had friends over for the evening. Kevin Farrar (Farrar Sails, New London) is planning on coming by on Thursday evening to measure for rigging and possibly new sails.

The start of summer

Memorial Day weekend is the start of the crazy rush of a summer. In the past it has always felt sort of like getting on a water slide over Memorial Day weekend and everything is a rushed blur until you get dumped out the other side at Labor Day. This summer is setting up to be the same. Ben graduates High school in a few weeks. On the same day, Izzy has her last day of school and Susanna’s preschool class has graduation. Susanna’s parents are also scheduled to arrive in Preston that morning for a week visit.

Izzy marching in the Ledyard Memorial Day Parade
Isabela marching in the Ledyard Memorial Day Parade

A few days after Susanna’s parents depart, Izzy and I are starting our 10-ish day road trip to Missouri. It is a long road trip, but I’m letting her have an old phone for the trip. Part of the agreement is that she journal her trip, which she will do on her blog. After Missouri she has a two weeks of summer camp and then she and Susanna head to Sweden for 4 weeks. I’ll hang out here and hopefully get some sailing and camping in with the boys.

This weekend was a good start. Will and I did some work on his loft and picked up some much needed storage for his stuff. Our big house plans was to clean up the back yard and put the pool up; just in time for the 80+ degree sunny day today. Will has been collecting more animals, and caught a marbled salamander in our basement this morning; he is working on a habitat for it. I think eventually he will need to add small critter storage in the basement, but he’s not quite there yet.

Play house and sandbox – ready for the summer.

We finished off the weekend with a nice lunch at a friends house.

Isabella working on a puzzle before breakfast, Memorial Day 2022

Of course, every finished project leads to a new one. The swimming pool is galvanized steel and is showing some rust spots. Probably due to our acidic well water. I’ll have to find some way to protect the pool later this summer. Maybe vinylester gelcoat will stick to the steel.

And of course there is the long list of unfinished projects. the next project this afternoon is to get some more work on Will’s sailboat – assuming I have the energy to get working in the later afternoon heat.

Isabella testing out the swimming pool as it is slowly filled from the garden hose.