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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
Last weekend I had to drive to Chaplin, CT to pick up Ben from a friend’s house. Izzy joined me for the drive, on the promise that we would stop by a garage sale if we found one. And we found only one that braved the rain to have a sale. We looked around a bit, and I let Izzy pick up two toys and a book that were being given away for free. I found a rusty Disston panel saw covered in rust for $1 and picked it up.
The medallion on the saw indicates that the saw was made between the wars (1917-1940), at least according to the Online Reference of Disston Saws. This week I took off the handle and cleaned the rust off the blade. I cleaned up hte handle and coated it with spar varnish. Tonight I reassembled the saw, did a quick sharpening, and set the teeth. A quick test cut on some pine, and I have a second fully functional saw for the workshop. I should probably hit the teeth with the file again for one quick finishing pass and try the saw on something harder like oak.
Maybe I should get around to sharpening the 5-6 saws I have hanging on the shop wall for decoration. I also should have taken a picture before I cleaned up the saw.
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.