Starting the next project

I am feeling good enough with the workshop renovation to start the next project (using the workshop).  I am not quite done on the workshop – I still need to fix the trim around the new window and add trim around the other windows on that wall.  I also need to finish cleaning out the cut out area for the stairs (and finish the railing on the top).  However, I’ll treat those as separate projects and fit them in later this spring.

Kitchen Island by Asa Christiana - inspiration for my next project

The next project will be an island for the kitchen.  I was inspired by the island built by Asa Christiana (of Fine Woodworking).  I plan to change the plans – his project is a little too large to fit into our kitchen.  I will make the island a little narrower and probably a little shorter (he didn’t give dimensions).  The base will be made from white oak, not butternut and the top from ash vice soapstone.

I’ll have to alter the design for more than the size.  Our kitchen feels narrow, so a longer, think island would be better.  I’ll put an overhang on one end (short side) and not the long side, but I will try to do the carving details that he added, and may modify some of the details on the legs.  It will be my first attempt at carving – it will be a good challenge (and I do have the Fine Woodworking article to help me).

Will helped me pick out oak for the legs yesterday.  I’ll try and get the legs milled this weekend.

One Final Memorial Day Project

Today was the big day for workshop projects. I had the window painted and ready to go this morning.  I didn’t find time to work on the workshop yesterday, so I set aside today to install the new window.

The window is big, 4 feet by 5 feet.  This morning I cut out the appropriate studs on the south side barn wall, and added a 2×6 header to support the wall.  Then I took the big plunge, cutting the hole in the wall.  There was no turning back at that point.  I had to finish the project today or leave a big hole in the side of the barn.

It was a hot day to be working in the workshop, but I got the new window installed.  It adds a lot of light to the barn, and when open it allows a huge cross breeze.  However, I am not totally finished.  I need to add hinges and trim out the inside of the window.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the project turned out.  I made the sill from a piece of white oak I had beneath the barn.   The rest of the framing was mostly pine.  I was even able to get the trim installed and painted this evening.

The inside view of the new window

I’m not sure how it looks.  That wall of the barn is leaning a little bit; I installed the window level (so it would open/close easily).  It is pretty obvious from both sides that the window isn’t square with the wall (the un-square wall).   I think if I ever reside the workshop, I’ll try to make the window less obviously out of line with the rest of the barn.  Of course I’m at a loss on how to do that, so if anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.   Maybe next time I should add the windows so they line up with the unlevelness of the building.

I also added a curtain inside (I had a curtain laying around).  It is a south facing window, so I want to try to minimize how much sun I get in the summer.   I love how much light it brings into the workshop.  That corner of the shop had been pretty dark.  And yes, as you can tell from the top picture, I still need to paint and trim the two top windows on that wall.

I painted the trim around the window “Concord Buff” from Sherwin-Williams.  I’m thinking about painting the house that color, and I wanted to see how it matched up with the brown (the window is painted the same color as the accent color on the house trim – “Rookwood Dark Brown”).  I don’t think the green shingles on the side are the nicest looking, but they work and residing the workshop isn’t in the plans for this summer.

Planting the garden (and other house chores)

It is quiet during the day with the boys not here. That gives me a chance to catch up on chores. But I’d rather have the noise of kids running around and squeeze in chores on the edges.

I picked up (and planted) tomato, pepper and celery seedlings from the Sawyer Family farm. I also picked up a freshly slaughtered chicken – dinner one night for the boys and me.

I mowed most of the yard this weekend (a little left to finish next week). The yard is coming together. The garden is planted. The flower beds are getting cleaner (ok, still work to do).

I also covered the hole in the second floor of the barn where the original stairs had been. I am getting ready to install a large (4′ x5′) window in the south facing wall. I will hinge it so I should be able to get a nice breeze in the summer. I had to repair glazing on the window and paint it.

In addition I removed four of the glass storm windows and installed screens (I have only 3 screens, so I’ll have to make more this summer.

It finally feels like summer here. Now for pizza and beer while enjoying the evening from the patio.

The raised beds for the garden

Saturday Night Out (and Sweden wins 2012 Eurovision)

It is a rare weekend night that I am home and the boys aren’t here.  Even rarer now to have that and Susanna not working.  Last night was one of those rare nights.  In addition Loreen from Sweden won the 2012 Eurovision contest.  I think they hadn’t won it since 1918 or something like that. Sorry, not 1918, I’m thinking of something else; Sweden hadn’t won Eurovision since 1999.  Understandably, Susanna was pretty excited.  Also, understandably, as hard as I may try, I’m just not as excited as Susanna about it.

Anyway to celebrate the Eurovision win (for Susanna) and to celebrate a night we can actually go out (for me), we dressed up and went to Foxwoods Casino for dinner and drinks.  We enjoyed mexican (food and drinks), and I actually won $20 on the slots (yeah, slots, like lottery, tax on people bad at statistics – but it is fun sometimes just to put in $20 and see what happens – and going to a movie would cost just as much).

We came home to enjoy the humid evening on the patio.  We even dug out some of the sky lanterns we had left from last summer and lit two of them – watching them drift away into the night sky.  I think we will save the remainder until the boys are back (and for when Susanna’s sisters visit this summer).

Speaking of visits, it looks like both of Susanna’s sisters may be here at the same time.  That will be a change, from a household that has more males than females in it to just the opposite.  If anyone wants to find me that week, I’ll be locked in my workshop.   I have beer and water in there.  I just need to find a urinal and install it – I’ll be all set for a couple of days at least.

Enough random musings for this morning.  Time to drink my coffee and get moving on my day.

The most usless tool ever (Chisel/Rasp combination)

The chisel-rasp combination.

I can’t believe I actually purchased these.  It is completely useless crap.  It functions neither as a proper chisel or a proper rasp.  Please don’t ever purchase one of these.  I’ll give you mine.  No wait, I won’t even do that.  I’m throwing them away.  They have been sitting in a toolbox for a couple of years now just waiting for me to throw them away.

What is wrong with them?  They can’t be used as a proper chisel (the rasp portion is in the way of close cuts).  They can’t be used as a rasp (you need to hold both ends of a rasp, the second end on this one is the sharp end of the chisel).  Maybe you can open cans of paint with them.  But mainly they will sit in your toolbox until you get frustrated enough to throw them away. 

I’m guessing whoever designed them had never worked with either tool before.  And the idiot in marketing that thought they should sell them…  The set is about $20 at Amazon.  Don’t purchase them.

This weekend I’ll spend some time cleaning out the workshop and getting rid of other tools that I don’t need or that don’t work.

Ben’s Saw Bench

Ben sitting on his new saw bench

It felt good to get back into the workshop after over a week out of town for work.  I took a little break from my workshop renovation to build a saw bench with Ben. He helped me mill the top from a piece of lumber (maybe wormy chestnut – I’m not 100% sure, could be wormy pine) before I left.

Last night he helped me get the legs cut from a piece of cypress I had below the barn.  He helped me mark out and cut the dadoes for the legs, but then got a little bored with the project.

I did most of the remaining work.  The stretchers are red oak (I had it laying around), and I didn’t make a bottom shelf.   I milled the lumber using the power jointer and planer.  However, I did nearly all the joinery by hand.  I can tell I need practice with the hand tools.

Ben helped me assemble the bench (glue and wood screws).   Tomorrow I’ll take the old workbench I made for the boys and put it on the second floor, leaving only the saw bench.  I have a thick piece of ash set aside to make the top of Will’s saw bench (when we get around to it).

One more project completed this year.  Now to the sharpening station (also spoken, “Kitchen table”) and sharpen some of my very dull tools.

Completed saw bench (I didn't have Ben cut a notch for ripping - I'm pretty sure it will be a while before he rips any lumber by hand).

Workshop Progress

Panoramic View of the Workshop

I had a pretty good weekend in the workshop.  Will and Ben accused me of being boring (spending too much time in the workshop – so I spend more time with them on Sunday).  It feels like there is a lot more room now that I am cleaning up the shop.   One more set of shelves and I will be done with the organization on the fist floor.  As promised here are pictures.

The new stairs (from the first floor)
Completed Stairs from the top. Missing hand rails (but if you look closely, you can see Tucker in front of the shop vac).


A simple woodworking project with kids

Last month I completed a set of pretty simple cutting boards with Will, Ben and Ben’s friend, Anthony. Making long grain cutting boards is simple, and was easy for the boys to complete.

I did all the milling before the boys arrived. I found a bunch of scrap lumber in the workshop and cut them to about 15″ in length. I then milled them all to the same thickness. The exact thickness doesn’t matter – I just made them all match the thinnest piece of scrap.

I marked then cut them into varying strips of 1/2″, 1″, and 2″ width. I marked arrows on each piece so the grain all lined up (so I could use the jointer/planet in the final boards to clean them up).

I then had the boys mix and match the strips into boards that were no wider than 7″ (so they would fit on the jointer). In hindsight I could have let them make the boards a little wider. The boys then glued up the strips into boards and let them sit overnight.

After the boards were dry, the boys helped scrape away the glue squeeze-out and I ran them over the jointer and through the planer to even them out. The boys can help at the planer, but have to stay away from the jointer.

I then cut the boards to size on the table saw, and the boys used the router table (with a lot of supervision) to round over the edges. They then hand sanded the boards and applied a coat of mineral oil/beeswax coating.

It was a quick project that required little prep and no cost by me (the scraps would have gone into the fire put if not used). The steps were short and simple enough for the boys to not get bored. And the boys had a chance to appreciate the beauty of different species of wood.