A wild and crazy weekend (almost… ok, not quite)

A weekend without the boys.   They went over to their mother’s house on Saturday morning.  What to do?  Maybe a weekend full of parties, drinking, and other adult entertainments?  Or a night out dancing?  So, to make full use of the free weekend, Susanna went to NYC to volunteer at the Swedish Church, and I took a saw sharpening class (taught by none other than Matt Cianci of the Saw Blog).  Yes, I am a dork (hey, someone had to be on the math team in high school).

I spent Saturday morning putting an iPod adapter into the new (to me) car.  Then drove to Rhode Island for 5 1/2 hours of saw sharpening.  There were four of us in the class, and we got through sharpening a single rip saw- it was a lot more work than I had expected.  I’m still working on a crosscut saw I started on Sunday.  It would help to have a better saw vice.  But at least I have one sharp rip saw.  Not that I really want to rip lumber by hand (that is why I have a table saw).

I don’t exactly remember, but I’m sure that we decided to go out and be crazy on Saturday night after Susanna made it back from the city.  Oh, no, wait, I must be thinking of someone else.  We hung out and watched some TV and went to bed early.  I had to get up early to clean up the workshop so Mark could come over and make some sawdust and construct a cribbage board/box.  On a bright note (pun intended) – I did get one of my 400 watt low-bay lights installed on the second floor of the barn.  It is brighter than the sun.  I have a second light.  I’m afraid to hook it up.  Not sure the circuit breaker can handle it.  I also don’t need to wear sunglasses in the workshop at night

Susanna and I finally did take some time to ourselves that afternoon.  We took a nice drive down to Niantic, had lunch at Skippers Seafood.  We enjoyed the unseasonably mild weather by walking at the beach, followed by a nice drive up to Middletown and back – exploring a couple of the smaller stores on the way.

Design Critique

I’m trying something new…. I submitted my library table/desk plans to the Design Matters blog by George Walker (author of the Design Matters column in Popular Woodworking Magazine as well). It was posted today as the November design critique post.  Hopefully I can use some of the critique to improve the design over my first SketchUp attempt.

Second set of shelves completed

Ben standing under his new shelves

I completed the second set of shelves this week and installed them tonight.  The shelves are made from red birch (a very light colored wood) and the back is from sapele (much darker red/brown).

The spray finish is getting easier to work with – that is I am getting better at using the spray gun.

Now to move on to the next projects….

Google Translate

I love reading about what I do from the Google Translate version of Susanna’s Blog. My weekend project of making shelves for the boys turns into, “Chuck carved a couple of shelves to the child.”    A couple of weeks ago, we went to pick up some cherry lumber because, “Planks are his collection of objects.”  I love how Google turns what is no doubt a well written piece of literature into a comedy of words….

The next project

Susanna and I decided to have a low key evening, watching episodes of House, M.D.  I did get the last coat sprayed on the Ben’s shelves.  Okay, I really hope it is the last coat – I know I keep saying that.  I think I had the spray gun set to spray too much.  The next project I’ll try it on a lower setting.

I had started to draw out the next project.  Or rather the next tentative project.  I’m never 100% sure of the next project until I actually start it.  I am currently planning a desk (library table?) for the study.  It will be simple – the low height to support typing won’t allow drawers.  I am planning to make it out of red oak and will try to find a way to make the wood dark .  Tonight I put the project into SketchUp.  Here is the first look at the drawing.  Please feel free to comment and critique.  I’m not sure the legs fit right (they seem a bit heavy).   Click on the pictures for a larger image.

SketchUp Model of desk/table for the Study
Front view of the desk


Weekend Shelves (one done…)

Shelves hung in Will's Room

I completed the first of two shelves for the boys.  I had destroyed one of the backs with the router when I was cutting the dadoes for the shelves – destroying the last thick piece of birch  I had – which delayed the finish of the second shelf.

I searched the barn of lumber and found a few options – from white oak (similar to the birch) to sapele (dark reddish brown).  After consulting with the customer (Ben), I decided to go with the sapele for the back.  I kept the birch for the shelves (they were milled and sanded), which adds contrast.

On Friday I got the final coat of varnish sprayed on the 1st set of shelves shelves.  I’m still learning how to spray, so it took a little more spraying/sanding than I hope in the future.  But the spray finish is great – it dries to sand/recoat in 30 minutes, cleanup is a breeze, and it builds up a finish very quickly.  The only concern I had was the “cool” color that water based varnishes typically have (compared to the warmer color from a oil based finish).  I solved that by using a fist coat of dewaxed shellac.  The shellac also solves the problem of raising the grain when using a water finish.   I was able to hang the shelves on Friday afternoon (which would never happened if I had used an oil based wiping varnish).

2nd set of shelves ready for finish

On Saturday I finished the construction of the second back. Sapele is much easier to use than the birch.  The birch is hard (difficult to scrape and use hand tools on).  The sapele is a dream to work with.  This time (with a new router bit), I built the proper jig for routing the dadoes – they turned out much better than on the first set of shelves.

Today I sprayed a final (rather almost final) coat on the second set of shelves.  I found a run in the finish, so I may have to sand and recoat the top section again tomorrow.  I spent the afternoon with friends driving to New Bedford, MA for a visit to the New England Demolition and Salvage store.

My next project is to finish the exterior storm window for Ben’s bedroom. I have most of the material milled and ordered a router bit to cut the rabbets for the storm windows/screens.  I plan on assembling the storm window with pocket hole screws – it will be painted – so it should go together very quickly.  Just in time for the really cold weather. After that, I am planning a desk for the study (a simple table out of red oak – I don’t think I’ll put in drawers).  I was going to try to draw the desk in SketchUp tonight, but it is getting late and I decided to write instead.

The first snow and Halloween

Will enjoying the fist snowfall of the season

This past weekend we had our first snow fall.  We didn’t get too much snow and didn’t loose power – even though most of the north of the state got a pretty good dumping of snow.  There are a bunch of people that are still without power.  It seemed like it was almost the opposite of hurricane Irene (where the coast got most of the damage)

We took most of the morning Saturday to visit the Crystal Mall and go shopping for Halloween costumes for the boys (and the adults).  We had intended to stop by and get pumpkins on the drive home.  However we were a bit late – the local orchard was all sold out.  What do you expect, waiting until last minute (hopefully I’ll do better with my Christmas shopping).  Susanna wound up heading into Ledyard to pick up pumpkins after we had all returned from home.

Carving Pumpkins

Later that afternoon we carved the pumpkins.  The boys drew faces on each pumpkin, and Susanna and I did our best to carve to the plans – or at least to the intended plans (when Will got upset because he couldn’t get the teeth drawn the way he wanted them).

The boys went to their mother’s house on Sunday morning, and back here on Monday for Halloween.  We had decided to head to Taftville to do trick-or-treating – it was a little closer than the other options. They have a parade, which I had forgotten about until we were there.  The fire department and police block off the main street, and all the kids walk from one end of the town to fire station on the other side – following a procession of fire trucks and police cars.

Will and Ben hit as many houses as they could until the parade swept them up.  We followed the fire trucks in a huge crowd of ghouls, goblins, monsters, and witches. The trail ended at the Taftville firehouse for more candy and ice cream (ok, not sure why they serve ice cream – everyone is cold by that time of night).  And we were home with time for the boys to sort and trade (and of course eat)their candy.

The boys - looking as scary as they can
Susanna and me - looking our finest for Halloween (picture thanks to Ben)
On the road in Taftville, CT