Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Not my typical type of build...

There was nothing typical about the job I just finished, but let's face it .... nothing has been typical in Las Vegas lately. 

We're still in recovery mode, and you can tell people are still in a state of shock. Strong, resilient, but... we've heard it all. Nothing really will ever surprise us again. At least that's what I believe. 

So when someone called the shop, asking if I could build something like a "tiny house" - I wasn't surprised, but I needed a little more info before I could commit. 

Turns out - a convention in town featured this machine - an expensive thing-a-ma-jig that no one could quite say what it did, but everyone agreed - it was a damn expensive piece of equipment. If I wasn't mistaken, I think this machine portions food products, but hey - that's none of my business. 

All I know is - they wanted a 2x4 shell built around it, and they had a limited budget.

 And sure enough - against my better judgement, I agreed to build it - complete with joists across the top of it, so that the tarps wouldn't flap in the wind and damage the machine. 

I suggested that we sheathe it with panels, to make it much stiffer. But with a low budget for the "crate" - they said the 2x4s would have to suffice. 

When the truck pulled up, it was pretty quick work to build this shell. 

 Luckily, one of the near-by businesses loaned us their fork lift, which helped us get the tarps up to the top. 

These tarps weighed close to 200 pounds, so it was hard enough unwrapping it. I can't imaging putting that tarp on my shoulder and walking it up a ladder. 

No way!  

But the driver told me he's done it hundreds of times. 

Getting it pulled over the shell was a chore, 

but with the two of us (the truck driver and moi), 

we got it pulled and tied down in no time. 

A job well done!

Imagine my surprise when the driver called me the next morning - to say that he'd overtightened the gut-strap, a horizontal strap that secures the tarps in place, breaking one of the corner posts. (If you'd seen the muscles on him, you'd know that he probably didn't even  use all of his strength, he was a beast!)


I had tried to persuade the company to let me sheath the 2x4s, for strength and added protection, but they said there was no money in their budget for the additional material.  


You're protecting a machine worth $750,000 and you can't afford extra sheathing?!  

Well, you know what they say..... 

Working on Sunday isn't my favorite way to spend the day, but 
  • A - It was their "emergency" 

  • B- Someone had to do it

  • C - Ch-Ching!

 So I made a quick trip to the local BIG BOX store to buy the sheathing. 

 I knew that stapling the sheathing in place would make the job a breeze - and BAM!...
Did I mention that I won the Senco Giveaway at the AWFS show? A huge booty of Senco products including five nail guns, a compressor,

 a new hose, 

a variety of nails and fasteners, and yes....

 ... a stapler. 

Just what I needed for attaching the sheathing!

This beast worked beautifully for attaching all 14 sheets, and just a few hours later, we rolled the tarps back in place, 

and my new BFF was on his way...  


Thursday, October 05, 2017

Out of the woodshop and up to a podium - when will this madness stop?

As you can imagine - it's been a rough week here in Las Vegas. 

When you drive around the city, there is grief everywhere.

(Click Here and then come back to read this post)

Almost five years ago, on December 14, 2012, wrote a blogpost on a horrific day, - as the shootings at Sandy Hook took place. As everyone walked around the CowBoy Christmas show, people cried and huddled over their phones, reading about the unfolding scene. The thought of losing this many kids at once is devastating... please don't forget about these kids.

Then a few years later - the Pulse nightclub shooting shook us all. 

The country united in horror and anger - how could this happen?

 The unfathomable idea that someone could mow down people who were simply dancing and enjoying life shook us all. 

Well you know what - it HAS happened again, and why are we so surprised? 

Like I said - when you drive around the city, there is grief ...everywhere.

 There isn't a single place you go without being reminded of the terrible tragedy that unfolded on Sunday night. Makeshift memorials, signs on store fronts, flags at half-staff, people on corners with collection jars, people crying in stores, or restaurants ... it's everywhere. 

While we once were labeled as the "what happens here, stays here" city, we're now sadly remembered as the place where the worst mass killing in modern history has taken place.  I don't know why everyone keeps adding the "in modern history" tag to it - I think it's the worst attack in history. 



 What a horrible legacy to own, but what's worse - someday, somewhere - another city will probably take that title away from us, having their own tragedy unfold. 

The woodshop phone rang off the hook yesterday, with countless queries about rush orders - could I cut, sand and finish 58 "State of Nevada" shapes in wood, and laser them with names? Could I build a temporary alter for an outdoor service? An urn? 

There are plenty of people cashing in on this notoriety, but I won't be one of them. I do, however support some great companies that are helping the city grieve.  

and the Lazer Ladies

Or this GoFundMe page

Want to give the gift of life? Try United Blood Services, but know that they will take donations by appointment only.

After you send in your donations, and shed a tear for the victims, and attend a memorial, or light a candle, or whatever you do to remember these innocent people... think about this... when is it time to start talking about gun control?

Here are a few excellent arguments for starting the process, and I am under no illusion that it's going to be easy.

If we legislated guns the same way we do abortions:

Wait, you don't want to control the gun? How about this:

Or how about regulating guns as strictly as they do cars:

Here is the bottom line - we need something done about guns. 

We need to start somewhere. 

And just for the record - I am a gun owner. I own several, and I sleep better at night knowing they are there. But I don't own clips that hold huge numbers of bullets. I don't own semi-automatic weapons, though I know a lot of people who do. I don't own bump-stocks, nor did I even know WTF that was before this week. So don't bitch at me about gun ownership. I am talking about regulating people who shouldn't own them, or have access to them. 

I am not smart enough to know the exact solutions, but I do know this - if I sat down right now and made a list of people that I know who are ardent gun owners and have even the slightest potential for going off the deep end, I could probably come up with a decent list of names.  More than a handful, that's for sure. 

Could you?

Don't you find that chilling?

Please consider writing to your elected officials and urge them to do something. Here's a link about how to do just that...

Finally - I am attending a memorial tonight, and again tomorrow night - but know this - if anyone sends me idiotic comments about this post, I won't humor you by posting them. 

Quite simply - I'm sick of people's bullshit about their guns... go find a blanket and a pacifier. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

When you can't find it... make it!

A few months ago, I refurbished this tired Mid-Centurytury Modern desk with its sagging typewriter return. It needed some TLC, and some structural work - including raising the return about five inches, 

updating the privacy panels,

and rebuilding the drawers. 

One major problem was a missing handle - and with hours of searching and research, I still couldn't locate a replacement part #19305.

This missing end didn't really seem all that complex, and I always kept the thought about making one in the back of my head.

 Then I met a woman who had spent some time in the local Maker Space, and she mentioned 3D printing, and how she might be able to get one of the ends made.


It took a little time to perfect the dimensions and the details of this end piece,  but I'm thrilled what she and the techies came up with! 

Now it's time for me to make the wooden insert - luckily I had one to use as a pattern.  

Slicing a piece of walnut and shaping it was easy, but cutting the angled tenons on each end was a bit of a challenge. 

I pulled out a few tools and within a few minutes, 

the tenons were perfect!

When I put everything together, I realized that only one of the new ends was threaded.

Here's the tap and die set to the rescue... 

cutting the threads always makes me a little nervous.

But everything came out perfectly. 

I added a little spray paint and distressed the new parts a bit, so they matched the set that was 60 years old. 

And just like that - I had a matching handle that blends in well with the original.  Can you tell which is the original and which one is the replacement?

I'm working on one last piece to complete this set - stay tuned for a modern transformation to a common office dilemma... how to hide a beast of a copier.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Rustic Coffee Table with a Surprise....

Let's face it - we live in a tumultuous world - with home invasions, road rage incidents, and a variety potentially violent situations that we often don't see coming. 

So when a student recently asked about making a coffee table that might hold some of his weapons - it seemed like a pretty interesting idea. He was hoping to  use a live edge slab from Reclaimed Secrets, a local lumber mill that sells some dope slabs.

The big challenge was finding the hardware - in this case, we needed a heavy duty, full extension drawer slide so that the tabletop could slide open, without sagging or binding. 

It took a few calls and some online research,  but we finally found a 500 pound capacity slide that was rigid enough to handle the job. 

I feel sorry for anyone who thinks they can drop in on this home!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Woodshop Headphones ... what's in your ear?

If you knew how many hours I spend in the woodshop, then you'd understand why ear buds are so important to me. In fact, they might be one of my most important "tools" in the shop right now.

 With commissions piling up, I've been doing a ton of work with loud machinery, and this set by Plugphones perfectly deliver crisp sound in my ears. I'm a huge podcast listener, and these earbuds not only fit your ear better, but they have noise reduction qualities, so I can actually hear spoken words while the planer is roaring, or the dust collectors drone for hours.

 A while back, I attended a convention and wandered up to a booth, discovering these. The best part about conventions is that you learn about new products, or find things that you've never seen before. 

When these are in my ears, I can work and enjoy great programming at the same time. Seriously - the noise they block is amazing!

So.... what are YOU listening to in your shop? 

If I had to list my top favorite Podcasts, ones that I tune into weekly - I'd have to say:

 If you're interested in upping the sound quality in your shop, check out the links to the right. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Wanna find your niche in woodworking?

Who knew that there was such a need for piano legs? When a sweet older couple wandered into my shop with this broken leg, 

 and it sent me down the rabbit hole, trying to locate a replacement. 

As with most older customers, they didn't have a ton of money to throw at a replacement leg, which is what it turned out to require. 

One piano restorer quoted me $1500 for a replacement!

After a discussion with the piano owners, who told me their piano was simply for their grandchildren to bang on when they visited,  we decided to make two new legs. They explained that their piano bench was a hand-me-down, and was of a different style, with straighter tapered legs. So - if I could match that design, they'd be satisfied. 

As they said - they don't have to be pretty, they just have to hold the thing up!

I'll tell you this - measuring this leg was the hardest part! 

There wasn't a flat surface on the leg, except for the very top, and getting and end-to-end dimension was tough. Years ago, I'd come across a similar situation, and used my tablesaw to get an accurate measurement. 

Here's the leg, butted against the fence, 

and just touching the blade. 

My read-out told me the leg as a hair under 25 1/4" long. 

Sweet. I found some thick stock and laminated a couple of leg blanks, 

and after they dried - I milled and tapered them. Even added in a little decorative kerfing to dress them up a bit.  

A bit of sanding and some stain and lacquer and my clients were on their way. 

Who knew?!  I'll tell you this - if you want to start a whole new cottage business - teach yourself how to make piano legs. There's a whole market out there, waiting for you to show up!