Friday night in the workshop

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.

My existing chisel rack made from a spare piece of white oak.

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

Cutting the openings to the holes.

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.

Shaping the holes using 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.

Test fitting the new chisel rack.

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.

Workshop Airborne Dust Filter

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.

Air filter assembled and hung above the tablesaw. The blower exhausts on the left side of the box.
Fan blower and wiring – the wiring harness from the blower didn’t leave a lot of room to work with.

A weekend of small projects

Ben getting ready to pick up a crab at science night at PVMS

We started the weekend off with a Friday night event at the boys’ school.  It was science night.  There were lots of activities for the boys to do, and lots of exhibits to see.  Of course, the most popular event of the night was the soda rockets (drop a couple of Mentos in a 2 liter bottle of Diet Coke… and watch the mess – and yes it was done outside).

The weather Saturday was not very nice.  Cold and rainy.  But with a little coaxing (and some help), the boys cleaned their rooms.  And no surprise, the neighbor, Justin, came over to play for most of the afternoon (after rooms were cleaned).  Surprisingly there wasn’t too much conflict…

We also fixed Will’s bicycle on Saturday.  He had gotten the derailleur wrapped up in the rear wheel a week or so ago, and the new one arrived in the mail on Thursday.  It only took one trip to the bike store (we messed up the cable when we were trying to install the new derailleur) – but now seems to be working.  I’m sure it will need adjusting after a day of riding or so.

Today I had hoped to spend time and try to straighten out the barn.  I have borrowed a come-along and chains from a friend – but the weather threatened rain all day – so I didn’t feel like I should start that big of a project (which requires some outside work – I think – though now I mention it, maybe I can get it to work from the inside…. nah.. probably not).

I tried to get the tractor mower started (maybe get some mowing done before the rain).  Nope… battery dead.  So put it on the charger (note to self – take off charger before bedtime – it should be charged).  Couldn’t get the push mower running either.  So changed the spark plug, still didn’t work – next will try draining the gas and refilling.   I’m pretty sure it was a good plan to not try a big project today.  I was a bit frustrated by lunch time by the lawn equipment.   So instead of being frustrated about not working on the barn,  I focused on smaller projects (the never-ending joy of owning an old house).

I did successfully vent the dryer outside (the old vent had gone out the same window the new furnace power vent now occupies).  That project went pretty smoothly.  I replaced a pane of glass in one of the other basement windows with a piece of plywood (with a 4″ hole for the vent).  I even painted the plywood to match the house.

Earlier this week I was going to replace the concrete pad for the front post of the barn.  I got the concrete and post support earlier this week.  Then I started digging to try to dig out the concrete pad.  It is apparently a pretty big pad, and I didn’t feel like digging it out (nor did I have enough concrete to replace it once I dug it out).  So today, I added a 5th slab to support another post for the barn.  This one is pretty close to the front of the barn.  I think the ground is relatively soft near the front of the barn, and the posts have been sinking over time – so I’ll share the weight on an additional post.

The rest of the afternoon was spent working on the workshop.  It is getting closer.   I move some shelves and cleaned out the corner that the new stairs will occupy.  Now to try to straighten the barn.   Maybe that will wait until next weekend.


A busy, long weekend

The boys meeting the baby goats (kids) at Beltane Farm

I took Thursday afternoon and Friday off of work. and the weather was beautiful this weekend, so I had a chance to get a lot done.

I was able to complete a lot of house projects this weekend:

  1. I installed the new support post in the workshop.
  2. I installed shelves in the second floor of the workshop.
  3. I cleaned the second floor of the workshop.
  4. I removed shelves on the first floor of the workshop – and cleared out the right side of the shop (where I’m going to add a new set of stairs to the second floor).
  5. I finished a new set of shelves on the first floor of the workshop (they turned out pretty nice – cut from two 2×6 boards, with dadoes for the shelves).  They fit between the window and the dust collector.
  6. I’m sure I did more… but the weekend seems so far in the past… and it is only Monday.

The workshop is making real progress.  I can walk around the center island on both sides, and I have all the major equipment where I think it will wind up.

Saturday was a busy day.  In the morning, the boys and I drove to Beltane Farm in Lebanon CT to get some goat milk and cheese.  I thought we would try something different as I work with Ben on trying to discover foods that don’t bother his allergies (cow and goat milk seems to bother him – but yogurt doesn’t seem to).  If you think gasoline is expensive, you should try goat milk.  The boys were patient while I purchased the milk and cheese, but totally fell in love with the baby goats.  They agreed that they should get a farm when they grow up – and discussed if they were going to get a horse or goat first (I think they agreed they would share a farm, and Will would get the horse first and Ben get a goat first).  I would work for them and do the garden and make the stables for them.  Susanna would work as a preschool teacher.  They figured that having a goat would be easier than planting a garden…

Saturday afternoon the boys went to a birthday party… they spent over 4 hours at the party.  I wound up having the afternoon free to clean out the workshop (which is why I got so much done).

This week I plan on replacing the support post under the workshop that is closest to the road.  After that post is replaced, I will make an attempt to straighten the barn (on side now leans towards the road).  After straightening the barn, the next step is building a new set of stairs to the second floor (with a wall/door so I can more easily heat the barn in the winter).

Sunday night was date night.  Out for Indian food and a movie (“The Hunger Games”).   The movie was good, but I shouldn’t have believed Mark when he told me that the lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence, is the same one that played Susan in the Narnia movies (Anna Popplewell – thanks to IMDb).  Oh well, but not really disappointing at all.

Enjoying the early spring weather

Ben building the hidingspot in the bushes

We have had a couple of very nice days here. The weather has been perfect – even warm enough in the evening to eat dinner on the patio (note to self – pay attention when grilling the veggie burgers – Will doesn’t like his burger blackened – I was hoping to hide it under the cheese – there is no fooling Ben with his non-cheese burger).

Will and Ben spent the good part of the afternoon/evening yesterday building a fort/hiding spot in one of the bushes in the side yard. They started trimming back the bush so they could easily get in. Not quite a professional landscaping crew, but hey… they are free… who cares if the bushes have carved paths underneath them.

They aren’t quite the best hiding places yet. But it should be pretty good once the leaves come in (and the thorn bushes start growing back).

I spent this afternoon building shelves for the workshop. The sides are built – now I need to pick up a couple of pieces of plywood to finish the shelves. Will spent the afternoon taking apart and reassembling a toy tank. According to his blog post, “It had a pain lot of screws….” Speaking of blog posts – both boys are keeping up on their postings – and it is pretty interesting to read about the day from their veiw.

Tomorrow is another day off of work. I have a long list of chores to finish before guests come over for dinner…. hopefully I’ll actually finish some of them.

Will working on the fort (picture by Ben Curtis)


And finally, Spring (and spring projects)

Okay, I know I have been posting a lot here recently.  The good thing is no one is forced to read it (ok, except Susanna).  And my life isn’t really that exciting (posting three times in one day is a good sign of how unexciting my life is).  In reality, I am am inspired by the booklet I printed from this blog earlier this year.  It is a scrapbook of sorts of what I did for 2011.  And since I don’t have the patience to sit down once a year and make a scrapbook (or the memory to remember everything I did) – I will turn this into my scrapbook.

Will and Ben were reading though the stories I wrote last year – it reinforces my belief that they should write their own blogs – they are fun to reflect on.  I have been encouraging Will and Ben to post once or twice a week.

Hmm.. this really doesn’t have much to do with spring… or spring projects yet.

Workshop step/landing completed

I did complete the two projects I had planned for the day.  I finished the footing this morning, and this afternoon I finished the step/landing in front of the workshop.  It turned out pretty nice, and will hopefully keep shoes from getting muddy when going to the workshop.  I only had to do one extra trip to Home Depot (to get more sand).  The lumber was picked up off Craigslist a couple of weeks ago (with the wood I used for the lumber storage rack), and the pavers were left over from the patio.

As you can see from the first picture, I wasn’t the only busy person today.  Susanna cleaned out the garage (or at least the bay with the kids toys/bikes) and got the patio furniture out and set up.  It was nice to take a break and sit out on the patio for the first time this year.  Now she is filling up the bookshelves I finished this morning…  It’s nice to not store all our books on the floor.

The weather should be nice this week – though still a little cool in the evening to eat dinner on the patio.  I did clean off the bicycle – ready to ride into work tomorrow if it isn’t too cold.