Friday, August 31, 2012

It takes two nuts!

Not too long ago, I was contacted by someone from Waddell Manufacturing with an interesting offer. Waddell is a wood component manufacturer, making things like moldings, turnings, and carvings, but they've spread out into other areas. Like furniture kits, which is what their offer involved.

I agreed to assemble one of their furniture kits, and share my thoughts about it. Want a full disclaimer? Yes, they sent it to me free-of-charge.

So what?

It arrived in two boxes - well packed and in good shape, once the components were unpacked.

The kit was make of pine, and the top was laminated from several boards, planed and then cut into a circle.

They even routed a simple profile in the top, which was a nice touch.

The hardware that came with it includes some corner connectors with hanger bolts, as well as some skirt fasteners for attaching the top to the base.

And then there were the legs - very nicely made. They called these their country pine legs.

To be honest, I had some thoughts as I was unpacking everything. I don't really build anything out of pine, but I was somewhat impressed with the quality of the legs. They were beefy, and if you know anything about the furniture I build, you know I like beef.

The first thing I had to do was cut a small slot in each apron, or skirt, as they call it. This is very simple to do on the tablesaw, but I wondered how easy it would be for the average homeowner to accomplish without any tools. (Note to Waddell - cut the slots in the aprons for your customers. If they can't build this table from scratch, they probably can't cut this slot very accurately.)

The corner bracket slips into these slots, and then bolts into place with a hanger bolt. Which brought me to step #2 - drilling the hanger bolt hole into the leg.

I measured to see how far from the top of the leg the hole had to be located,

and then set up one of my WoodPecker corner clamps to hold the leg while I drilled it.

Again - I wondered if the average person (i.e. - not a woodworker) would have a good way of accurately drilling these holes.

The very first time that I tried to install a hanger bolt (way back when, as we say) - I was stumped. If you've done this before, then you'll get the title of this post. If not, read this.

Here it is, after all the slotting and drilling.

Do this on all four corners...

and you'll wind up with a table base.

There are so many ways of attaching a table top to a base that I could write a whole blog post about that. And bore you to tears while doing so. (Especially you, mom.)

Waddell includes some beefy corner brackets with this kit, for attaching the top to the base. While these wouldn't be my first choice for table top attachment, they fit in fine with everything else included with this kit.

So - what's the truth here? Is this kit a smart purchase for the average woodworker or homeowner?

First - I will give you the good news, and this is really good news - this kit is worth every penny they charge for it. It is a screaming value.

You receive every single thing you need - the wood components, all the hardware, screws, everything. If you went to one of the big box stores, you would probably pay double the cost of this kit for everything they send you, so this is a real bargain. The legs alone, which are very nicely made, would probably cost what this whole kit cost.

Additionally, the average woodworker wouldn't have any trouble assembling this kit. With a few tools (a drill and some sort of miter box or power saw) - anyone could assemble this in an afternoon.

But here's the bigger question - if someone had a decent set-up of tools in their workshop, wouldn't they want to build something a little more challenging?

Or wouldn't they simply want to make the whole table in their workshop?

Waddell has taken a step in the right direction - offering quality components are a very reasonable price. That's to be commended. But - and here, I may be a woodworking snob - but this kit doesn't really appeal to me sense of aesthetics.

And let's face it - that's why we put a piece of furniture into our homes, right? We like the way it looks, we like the function that it serves, and (in this case) - we like being able to say we built it. That we saved some money and "made" the piece with our own two hands.

At the risk of losing any woodworking credibility I might have, I will make this recommendation - if you're new to woodworking and want to get some hands-on experience, then buy this kit. It's not going to break the bank, and it will teach you something. Especially about installing table hardware.

In the end, you'll have a decent little table that you can brag about. The bigger lesson here is that you'll see how the components work together, and - in the future - have a better idea about designing and building your own small tables.

And isn't that what it's really about?

Time permitting, I am going to finish this table using MilkPaint, to get some color on it. This article that I found will give you a ton of info on using MilkPaint, and is definitely worth the read. Take a look at it now, because after I apply some color to this piece, you won't even recognize it.

Meanwhile, thanks to the people at Waddell for offering this kit to me - I enjoyed assembling it and writing this review.

Here's their video on assembling the table.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

There, I fixed it!

Can you tell I've been on a bit of a break this week?

Classes don't start for another week, and I've had a chance to get caught up with a few things around the shop. I've been working on a few blog posts, but right now, nothing is finished enough to post, so I thought I'd share some pure silliness - some pictures from one of my favorite waste-of-time websites - There, I fixed it!

You've gotta love the resourcefulness of some of these repairs!

Like this headlight repair - wouldn't it be cheaper (and easier) to just buy a new headlight, instead of having to turn on each one of these flashlights?

Maybe they couldnt' find one of those Waterpik shower heads?

Speaking of shower heads...

If your oven door won't stay shut, a 2x4 oughta fix it!

I've heard of police budgets being cut, but this is crazy!

Whoever came up with the idea of using cheap plastic lawn furniture for their kid's swingset is an absolute moron.

I'm not sure which guy is in a worse position - the one on the ladder, or the one at the bottom of the ladder. At any point - did either of these guys think this was a bad way to move this couch?

Based on the thickness of those chain links, something tells me that a plastic cable tie isn't going to do the trick here.

I'd rather not wash my hands at all.

The caption says it all.

I don't even know what to say about this car door repair.

Or this tail gate repair. At least they added some artwork!


And finally - my favorite....

I'll be back soon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why Study Industrial Arts?

It's hard to believe this film was once taken seriously. I'm so happy I wasn't born back in this era!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My 2012 garden - be it ever so humble...

Right around the end of January, my heart starts pumping faster. Thoughts of digging in the dirt, shopping at the nursery, planting, composting, of fresh vegetables - you get it, right? Everyone appreciates a home grown tomato.

I planted these tomatoes on February 26. Yes, I keep a Garden Journal.

Here they are six months later. I quit trying to wrestle my tomato plants into cages, and let them cascade down into vines. I think they prefer that.

In those six months, I have grown the perfect cherry tomato,

and filled bowl after bowl of them, perfect for salads or a fresh marinara.

The peppers did well too - here they are the day they were planted,

then a month later,

and this morning.

But damn - when you notice this around the base of your plants, you have serious issues. Gardeners everywhere will recognize these black droppings.

Who the hell is eating these leaves?

These bad boys are hard to see, and they do some serious damage to everything in their path.

I used to be seriously afraid of these hornworms, but this year, I sat and watched one for about an hour, happily chomping on a pepper, and pooping the whole time. It was a very zen garden moment, and changed my way of thinking about them. I know, that sounds sort of crazy.

There is sort of a gracefulness about them - this one devoured a pepper in no time.

Does that mean I let them have their way with my plants? Hell no, I still dispose of them, but this year, I've felt a little bad about it.

Speaking of pests - the spaghetti squash plant was growing like a weed, twenty feet long, across the garden and down across the rocks until these melon beetles invaded.

Before you start thinking the whole garden was a waste of time this year, let's look at a couple of these gems - like Art, the choke.

and this perfect specimen.

The basil always does well,

it just grows like a weed.

This year I tried growing lettuce - and I have to say,

I was so pleasantly surprised. It died off once the really hot temps set in, but I plan on planting more in a month or so, for a winter garden. Hell, it's warm into November here!

The nectarine tree exploded in color in March

and I actually made a nectarine pie this summer, when they were ripe. Amazing. Someone told me nectarines don't make for good pies - they were wrong!

My friend Becky is a Master Gardener and the other day, she put this photo on her Facebook page.

This picnic table had its center board swapped out for a piece of rain gutter. Fill it with ice and put your favorite beverages in it, to chill while you're eating. Say what you want about the internet, but I find some of the coolest ideas while poking around.

All in all, I'd give my garden a solid B- for this year, it wasn't as good as in the past, but I'm hoping to make up for it with a second planting. I started composting this year (one of my New Year resolutions) and that has been a benefit - both in adding some wonderful (and free) nutrients to the soil, and in reducing the amount of waste going into the trash.

How was your garden this year?