Finished!

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The electronics charging station completed.
The electronics charging station completed.  Currently holding three iPads and a couple of phones.

I put the last coat of wiping varnish on the charging station last night. This morning I hung it in mud/laundry room.

I think I should have made it a little bigger, but it works. I think I’ll also add a power strip in the top section and try to hide the wires a little better. But a new power strip will have to wait until another day.  I’ll also need to order a couple of shorter (maybe 12″ long) lightning charging cables to keep it a little less cluttered.

This week is a good woodworking week. I finished a quick home project and have a toy box sitting in the workshop waiting for nice weather for delivery to Susanna’s school.  Two projects finished and it isn’t even February. Not a bad start to the year!

Snow, Snow, Snow

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Clearing the back stairs.
Clearing the back stairs.

The plan last night had been to shovel the driveway before letting the boys get on electronics.  Well, that isn’t happening. The snow on the driveway is probably 18″-24″ with drifts deeper than that. The snow is still coming down. And the wind keeps shifting the snow drifts, covering what we cleared.

The boys and I (well, mostly I) cleared a path to the garage and to the workshop. There is a patch of yard next to the workshop that the wind has cleared of snow. A patch big enough for the dogs to use as the bathroom. I’m not sure what Tucker would have done if we didn’t clear a path. The snow is over his head.

I turned the heater on in the workshop, though I’m not sure it will be easy to get into the shop after the wind blows snow over the cleared path. It was nice to head inside to a warm house filled with the smells of a good breakfast being cooked.

Susanna cooking breakfast on our snowy morning.
Susanna cooking breakfast on our snowy morning.

Getting ready for the snow. Maybe.

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The quiet before the storm.
The quiet before the storm.

The weather service is predicting a huge snow storm tonight and tomorrow. Up to 2-feet of snow overnight and maybe more tomorrow morning.

Normally I don’t spent too much effort to prepare for things like storms. We usually have enough on hand to get by. But today I decided to head out of work when the active duty staff in the building were told to go home and had two hours to kill before the boys got home from their half-day of school. So, what the heck, I may as well prepare for the storm.

We already have a couple of bottles of wine and plenty of beer. Susanna did grocery shopping yesterday. So we were good in the food and drink category. That left getting ready for a couple of days without power as well as heat for workshop. What the heck is the point of a snow day if I can’t get into the shop for a little bit? I mean, one can only watch the kids shovel snow for so long.

The generator was filled with fresh gas and moved out of the back corner of the garage. I ran the generator a couple of weeks ago, so I didn’t feel the need to start it today. No point in really being 100% prepared when 90% will do. Anyway, I’d rather sleep tonight with the belief that the generator will start right up rather than know it will start, but is a pain in the ass to get running. I also replaced the flat tire on the generator so it sits level now (and is easier to move around).

I filled the jeep up with gas – even though it will probably be buried beneath the workshop for a couple of weeks and not be driven – at least there is more gas available there if we really lose power for a couple of days. And heck, if we get two days at home, the boys will need a good project like digging the jeep out anyway.

And of course, I topped off the kerosene can for the workshop heater. Now to clean up the house a bit until the boys get home (and make it dirty again).

A couple of evenings in the workshop…

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Nearly complete charging station.
Nearly complete charging station.

After a couple of evenings in the shop, I have the charging station nearly complete. The glue-up is finished and the piece is mostly sanded. I do have to decide if I am going to add a piece on the top to hide where the power strip will go.

I also have to route two groves in the back to allow wires to run up and down the box when it is hung on the wall. Which leads me to the final decision I’ll have to make. How to hang this on the wall… But I don’t have to make that decision today.

I added short wood pegs on the front edge of the bottom shelves to keep tablets from slipping out. The third shelf will hold phones, and the top is for the power strip.

I’ll finish the piece with a coat of shellac topped with a couple of coats of wiping varnish.  I should be able to hang it early next week.

I’m not 100% sure on how it looks, but I’ll have to wait to see how it looks hanging on the wall. I tapered the sides, but think maybe a larger taper would look better. And the shelf spacing isn’t perfect. I think the top shelf could be maybe an inch higher. Though maybe I could just clip the top inch off of the sides to make it look right. Thoughts?

Charging station (and other workshop progress)

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Susanna putting a varnish finish on the second toy box for her preschool.
Susanna putting a varnish finish on the second toy box for her preschool.

Today was a good workshop day. Normally workshop time is alone time, but sometimes it is nice to have company. While, I did get most of the day alone in the shop, Susanna joined me after she came home from work. I had put the first coat of varnish on the toy box last night, and she sanded and put the second coat on this afternoon (while I glued up the charging station).

I took the morning to get started on the charging station for the new mud/laundry room. Our kitchen counter is a tangled mess most of the time (and all the time when the boys are here), so I’m constructing a simple wall mounted charging station.

The design is pretty basic. It is just a couple of shelves to hold iPads and phones. No hand cut dovetails or drawers. No back. About as simple as you can get.

The first step was to pull out a piece of cherry. The board I pulled out of the loft was about twice as much wood as I needed, but I didn’t feel like digging for a smaller board. Anyway, I have lots and lots of cherry, so no need to stress.

Rough cherry board for today's project.
Rough cherry board for today’s project.

I milled (half of) the board into two sides that are 5″ wide and 30″ long. I milled the lumber to a little less than 3/4″ thick – I think it will look nicer just a little lighter than the normal 3/4″. The sides taper from 5″ wide at the bottom to 4″ wide at the top. I milled four shelves at the same time, varying from 4 1/2″ to 3 1/2″ in width and about 12″ long.

I clamped the sides together (back to back) and cut four stopped dadoes for the shelves. The dadoes are 3/8″ wide – I picked it because 1/4″ seemed too small, and 1/2″ seemed to wide and I happened to have a 3/8″ router bit.

I set up the router table to cut the tenons to go into the dadoes. I was wanting to use the table saw, but my dado blades had a carbide tooth fall off (so I’m stuck having to get the blade repaired or order a new dado stack). Anyway, the router table worked fine.

Finally, I cleaned up the tenon cheek with a hand plane and chisels. I cut off the front of the tenon (for the stopped portion of the dado) with a hand saw and glued up the sides and the top and bottom shelf. I’ll add the two middle shelves tomorrow. I can’t do much work in the shop while the varnish dries on the toy boxes.

This is the first real project I’ve made from cherry (I made a bookshelf from cherry veneered plywood but that doesn’t count). I can see why everyone likes cherry – it is an easy wood to work with. My hand tools love cherry. It isn’t as soft as pine, but it is much easier on the tools (and me) than oak.

Charging station glue up. The middle shelves will be fit into the case tomorrow.
Charging station glue up. The middle shelves will be fit into the case tomorrow.

Remembering the Unfinished Project…

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Window sashes hung. Now to install the trim when I'm feeling motivated enough to get the compressor in from the cold.
Window sashes hung. Now to install the trim when I’m feeling motivated enough to get the compressor in from the cold.

I like to jump between projects. It is an ADHD thing. You wouldn’t understand. Okay, depending on who you are, you might understand. Also depending on who you are, you might not understand but have to live with someone who switches projects (sorry about that Susanna).

At least I live with someone who is (for the most part) pretty supportive and who doesn’t have ADHD. Which means that she is pretty good at nagging encouraging me to finish the projects around the house.

On Sunday, Susanna finished painting the remaining two sashes for the mud room. Tonight, I pulled them out of the basement, cleaned up the parting beads, and installed both sashes. I didn’t work on the trim – it was almost bedtime for the boys when I got the windows in, and didn’t want to keep people up with the compressor and finish nailer.

Once the window trim is installed and move the radiator back, the room will be for the most part finished. I have some projects I would like to do on the room in the near term:

– Install a shelf next to the washer and dryer
– Get a larger area rug for the mud room half
– Make and install a charging stations
– Install a sink and cabinet next to the washer and dryer
– Put a shelf/cabinet over the washer/dryer and sink and cover the dryer vent
– Put in cubbies (maybe not so soon).

Jumping Back into the Workshop

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Workbench moved away from the back wall and rotated.
Workbench moved away from the back wall and rotated.

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. What about the mud room? Of course you must have done that last little push to completion before diving back into the workshop.  Or, will the mud room fall to the bin of ADHD unfinished projects?

Well, no, the mud room isn’t finished. And yes, I know, all of us with ADHD have basements/workshops/houses filled with great intentions and unfinished projects. Heck, come to think of it, there is probably still a sixth-grade science fair project sitting in my lifelong unfinished projects bin. But I promise, the mud room won’t be put in that bin. Of course, saying I’ll finish a project and actually finishing it are two different things.

It is always easy to make an excuse for an unfinished project – so I’ll make one now – I’m waiting on the paint to dry on the last two window sashes. They should be dry by tomorrow, so hopefully by this weekend I’ll be able to finish that window (and for the most part, the mud room) and post that to the blog.

But back to the workshop. I recently added a thermostat for the kerosene heater, and have started adding insulation so the heater would actually head the space to a usable temperature. I spent several evenings over the past week working on odds and ends projects in the workshop and the house.

In the shop I cleaned up most of the mess that had accumulated through a fall house renovation project. I also decided to move the workbench away from the wall – I think it may be useful to be able to access the back side of the bench while I’m working on a project. I’ll have to see how it works.

More progress in the workshop.
More progress in the workshop.

I also moved the dust collector back to the center of the shop, and moved the tablesaw and jointer over a little bit (to accommodate the dust collector). The bandsaw was moved to the corner where the dust collector had been, but it isn’t a great place for the bandsaw. I’ll still have to find a better home for that tool.

In addition to cleaning and improving insulation in the shop, I was able to get back to the toy box construction. The second box is nearly complete. I attached the top this week and glued up the door panels today. If the weather/heating supports finishing, I should be done with the second box by the end of this week.

Plans for 2015

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We hosted a New Year’s Eve party here – the first real party here since our wedding reception. Thankfully the New Year’s Eve party needed less preparation than the wedding reception. Of course, (mostly) due to Susanna’s work, the party was a success. I think all had fun. Even Will, who was grumpy the two days leading up to the party, wound up having fun at the end.

Of course, what does this have to do with my resolutions/plans for 2015? Well, one of the games at the party was an ice-breaker where we introduced someone else at the party to the group. One of the questions we needed to ask the person we were introducing was what he/she was making for a new year’s resolution. The questions were posted on the wall at least 24 hours prior to the party, so maybe I shouldn’t have been caught off-guard when I was asked what my resolutions were. But I was. I didn’t have an answer. So after a few beers some reflection I have come up with the following goals for 2015:

In the workshop:

  1. Build at least one piece of furniture
  2. Finish the toy boxes
  3. Improve insulation and replace the front door to the shop.
  4. Finish one wall and improve organization.
  5. Replace the bulkhead walls on the sailboat.

For the house:

  1. Finish the mud room/laundry room
  2. Build cubbies for the mud room.
  3. Add switches and outlets to the master bedroom.
  4. Reorganize and clean the basement.
  5. Finish re-plumbing the house with PEX.
  6. Add grape vines and blueberry bushes to the back yard and clean up the netting for the berries.

With the family:

  1. Go on vacation to Mexico.
  2. Go to Sweden for Sofia’s wedding.
  3. Road trip to St. Louis to visit family.
  4. Get out overnight on the sailboat.
  5. Do more hikes/bike rides with the family.
  6. Spend less time playing on electronics and more time enjoying life.

Personal Goals:

  1. Exercise more.
  2. If the opportunity opens up, sail to Block Island again.
  3. Keep finishing projects (Damn you ADHD).
  4. Another year of blogging.
  5. Print blog books for both boys and for myself.

And most of all have fun!

A good start to 2015 – a short hike on the Narragansett Trail

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Today we started the new year off right with a short 2.5-mile hike on the Narragansett Trail. The section of the trail we hiked was a short drive from our home. The whole family (minus chickens and cat) went on the hike. We hiked out to a beaver dam and lake. And Tucker didn’t even throw up in the car (he did however throw up on the walk).

… and why do I want to keep adding a “n” to the end of beaver dam? I can tell what vocabulary I am used to writing. I guess I need to find more water slowing features to describe and lay off the cursing in 2015.

Will and Ben playing by the beaver dam.
Will and Ben playing by the beaver dam.
A view from our turnaround point on our hike today.
A view from our turnaround point on our hike today.