I have had a lot of extra time over the last two months. I have been able to go into work part-time, and have to work from home the rest of the time. For a few weeks I was only able to go into the office for 10-15 hours a week, but am back to 5.5 hours/day in the office and 2.5 hours at home. I set up my telework workspace in my workshop – that allows me to get out of the house and work without too many distractions (at least not limits the 4-year old distractions).
As part of preparing my workspace, I removed my old, small desk from the workshop, and built in a new larger space. That gives me room for two computers (work and personal) without having one on top of the other.
In addition to my desk area, I have been spending a lot of time cleaning and organizing the workshop. I have been spending evenings over the past few weeks cleaning out the closet. I moved my personal computer into the closet, which will hopefully keep the dust down on it. I built a shelf and am in the process of building storage drawers.
The closet is heated, so I can keep paint/glue in it over the winter. I’m trying to keep the resins and glue a little better organized so I can be ready when it is warm enough outside to work on the boat.
Once I finish cleaning up the rest of the space, I’ll add pictures of the (hopefully) organized workshop.
This morning I finished and hung a homemade airborne dust filter in the workshop.
I had a fan blower sitting around from an old above-the-stove microwave thanks to an unnamed household member. The microwave was run for several minutes with no food inside – which didn’t help the microwaving part. But the vent fan was fine. Ben and I took the microwave apart a few years ago, and the fan has been sitting around in my shop waiting for a project.
I had to order a filter, switch and a starting capacitor (since I apparently didn’t save one from the microwave). The plywood was left over from another project. After being distracted way too many times, I finally got the project finished today. It has two speeds wired in, but no labels on the box (yet).
I’ll see how much dust the filter collects, which hopefully reduces the dust my lungs collect.
My goal is to replace both windows and the door in the workshop this summer. I have a door in the garage that is ready for me to install and have been looking for windows. I was able to find a used replacement window for the east-facing window, but couldn’t find a used one for the north-facing window. In addition, I had the window a/c unit in the north-facing window. It is a heavy unit, and I haven’t been taking it out in the winter, but that means lots of air leaks around the window.
I decided to permanently install the a/c unit so I could insulate around it properly, and add a smaller window on top of the unit. I picked up a bottom-line replacement window (it is a workshop) and started working before it was too hot outside to work. The window sill was replaced with a piece of reclaimed decking material. All of the other wood used to frame the window was either reclaimed or pulled from the trash bin.
Tonight Ben decided to head out to the workshop to work on his chess set. We have milled lumber for half of the pieces (the white pieces) and glued up the wood for the board. He put tape down on the board tonight, and I helped him mark out 2″ x 2″ squares. He cut out the individual squares and then used black spray paint to paint the dark squares. The light squares will remain natural wood color.
In the meantime, I spent some time cleaning up window trim (so I can paint it tomorrow) and picking up the workshop.
Sometimes it is easier to start projects than to finish them. Okay – it is almost always easier to start than finish. The new coffee table was no exception.
I had the table frame and top constructed in May. Then life came in the way. We had to complete some house projects and replace windows. Travel for work. Yard projects. Time with the kids. It is easy for the days to slip to weeks and to slip to months. But the project is finally finished and in the living room. It isn’t perfect, but it is the most complicated project I have made to date.
It is constructed of solid cherry – with the drawer bottoms made from 1/4″ plywood (I was running out of wide cherry, and the plywood bottoms can be glued into the drawers and won’t move with the seasons. I finished the project with a single coat of shellac and then Enduro-Var as a top coat. This is my first project using Enduro-Var, and it is great. The water-based finish dries quickly and looks great. I think I have my new go-to finish. Next time I’ll try spraying it.
Will asked me to help him build an archery target. He was tired of shooting at a half-fallen-apart bale of hay. We went into the workshop, found some old foam insulation blocks, and pine reclaimed from some benches that had been in our sun porch. It was a short project to put together a target and stand, and nice to use some materials that had been sitting around the shop.
I’ve been pretty good at getting back into the workshop. I have the AC installed – and even though it doesn’t completely keep up on a hot and humid day like today, it helps. I’m currently building a case for my new workshop computer. The case will allow me to add filters to keep the dust out of the machine.
Today I’m cutting rabbets on the rails of the case to allow me to install the bottom and sides of the case. Normally I would set up the router table and use the router, but I need to go get longer bolts to attach the fence to the new table and I’m lazy. Plus, Izzy has been hanging out in the shop at times (in her pack and play), so I need to find ways to do things without power tools.
Which brings me to the Stanley No. 45 Plane. The plane came in a collection of antiques I got from my dad. It is in pretty good shape, though the cutters need sharpening. Last night I started sharpening the cutters. The cutters are almost at a 30-degree bevel, but not quite and it took me a while to grind the proper bevel. So, after sweating at it for a while, I decided to only grind the 1/2 dado cutter. I’ll work on the rest as I need them (and in hindsight, I should have done one of the wider ones).
How did it work? At first use, it works well. I had to make two passes to get the width of the rabbet I wanted (hence, the wish I had sharpened a wider cutter) which made the finished cut a little rougher than I had hoped. Of course I didn’t do a good job cleaning up the rabbet either, but no worries – the rabbet will be hidden.
Now back to work – time to clean up the rails and glue up the frame. And maybe later to eBay to browse different cutters for the plane.
I’ve been trying to get back into the workshop. However, it has been difficult with a 4-month old baby and two middle-school boys here half-time. So I started with simple. I have lots of lumber around and found some extra wire fencing to make some tomato cages. The cages are pretty simple, made from 1″x1″ strips I cut out of a white oak board. They are connected using exterior screws (yes they are designed for pocket-holes, but they work fine here). They are finished with one coat of spar varnish (again, something I had laying around).
I made two cages from the board I cut up, and may have enough lumber left over for a third cage. I don’t think they turned out too bad for a couple of short evenings worth of work. Hopefully the white oak will hold up for a few years. I’ll have to see how the L-shape works for a tomato cage.
As Susanna’s due date approaches we are pushing to get the last few projects ready for the nursery. One of the projects that Susanna wanted was a way to display books – an idea taken from a Pinterest idea that re-purposed a wooden spice rack to display books.
I reclaimed some pine that had been used for shelves in Will’s old room and built two shelves. The shelves are 18″ long with the back around 6″ tall. I milled the pine to 1/2″ in thickness and cut the parts. The shelves were assembled using glue, screws (for attaching the sides to the back where they wouldn’t be seen) and cut nails (where visible).
I finished the first in time for Christmas. Susanna helped me assemble the second one today. They will both be finished with clear shellac. Both took no more than a few hours to complete.