Saturday, May 14, 2011


God, I love the smell of a paint store. I find painting to be relaxing, and nothing is more relaxed than a paint store. Think about it.

What kinds of deadlines can a paint store have? Seventy percent of your customers are drunks (remember the rule of "p's", any trade that starts with "p" are all drunks...) and are the types of people that enjoy, well, watching paint dry. That's what I'm doing now. Watching paint dry. Paint that came from the paint store.

God, I love the smell of a paint store.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

New Screen Door

The Bride has been wanting an old fashioned screen door on the back door for some time now and I just kept putting it off. But with the weather so nice and my own urges to leave the doors open kicking into high gear, the time became now.

I had to fur in the opening a little to make a standard width door work, but that all went smoothly and the door fit perfectly without any trimming so...

"You don't have to slam the screen door behind you every time you go in or out!" I hear my mother's voice echoing through my Bride... The sound brings back a flood of memories of summer days spent barefoot, the soft, hot tar on the streets burning our soles as we skipped across to check the mail box. Nights of catching lightening bugs and the slap of the screen door every time we went in or out... so, yeah sweetie, I do have to slam it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Does Anybody Else Miss The Furniture Guys?

Back in the nineties, it seems like eons ago, the little bride and I would watch a home improvement show called Furniture To Go with a couple of wacky but likable guys who would show you how to repair, refinish, reupholster and refurbish furniture. Even years later we'll still exclaim to each other, though admittedly in private, "Horse Hair!" Or, "spit coat!" And it amazes me how much of an effect the guys had on us without us realizing it.

When we replaced all the doors in our house a couple of years ago, I used shellac to finish them. Had my only TV influence in life been Norm, we'd of likely gone with some stupid spar varnish or other plastic finish. But the warm, natural hand rubbed and waxed finish on our doors just keeps getting better every day. And I probably wouldn't have even noticed this influence if it hadn't been for our latest project.

Somewhere in the era we were watching the Furniture Guys on TV we found an empire style sofa covered in the most awful 1970's da-glo stripey fabric. Someone really loved that sofa in between hits from the hookah. But the price was right and we always said that we could re-cover it and make it look nice. We watched all the Furniture Guys shows and knew all about horse hair and muslin and dust covers. They showed us how easy it is to tack the material down in the center, stretch it across to the other side and tack it down and then work your way around the piece. Voila! Brand new upholstery for the cost of materials. We always wanted to try it on that couch.

We carried the sofa around with us from house to house when we moved. Last I saw it, it was piled up with stuff in a corner out of the way. Then, last weekend the little bride proclaimed that now is the time. She bought black fabric similar to what may have been on it originally and we carried the sofa out to the garage and set it up on a table and proceeded to rip off all the old stripey fabric.

(remember, clicky the picky to make them bigger...)

Luckily everything came apart in a fairly straightforward way with no major surprises.

There was a wee bit of repair work that had to be done, thank goodness the Furniture Guys showed us how to do that!

And we started putting the new cotton batting and fabric on...

When we removed the old fabric from the back, we found a series of holes spaced suspiciously in a pattern. Looks like the original had button tufting! So we bought buttons and covered them with matching fabric (thanks again Furniture Guys) and started applying them to the back. Since the original actually had hay and real horse hair for stuffing, we tossed that and replaced it with a piece of foam (which we cut with our electric turkey carving knife) cotton batting and covering.

Replacing the pieces, one by one, we found an inscription inside one of the arms that was most likely the original maker. I couldn't make out the last name, but it was Fred something, Columbus Ohio, May 26, 1860. We tossed in our own little note and a swatch of the awful fabric we had removed and closed it back up.

The bride couldn't wait to install the piece in the living room. I think we're both pretty happy with the way it turned out. And to think, we learned everything we know about upholstery on television a decade ago. Thanks Furniture Guys!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Router Table

So many One of you has been clamoring to see pictures of the new shop built router table insert. So as not to disappoint all of you, here goes...

I found the hardware and stuff at a place called router table depot dot com.

some of the shots show my home-made feather board in place...

I hook my shop vac up to the fitting at the back and it sucks up all the sawdust and shavings.

Doors at Last

I know my doors are just a wee bit whoppy-jawed, but I think that's something I can work out over time with strategically placed magnets and wishful thinking. Either that or I can live with it. I still like 'em...

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Things that go crack in the night

All the Universe has conspired against me not being able to build the doors for this cabinet.

First, my router that I've only had for about five years froze up on me. It had been getting harder and harder to adjust it over the past year or so and finally refused to adjust at all. And I had already spent nearly $100 on those nifty cope and stick router bits.

So, we went and bought a new router. I determined that I'm not going to buy any more Ryobi tools based on past experience, and having had nothing but good experiences with Porter Cable, we bought the 2.25 horsepower fixed base P/C router at the local Home Depot. (they honored Lowe's $25 coupon so that helped)

It was when I got it home, anxious to try it out, that I found that my low-end, somewhat ancient, Sears router table wouldn't fit my new router without modification. My little bride is beginning to expand her vocabulary by osmosis, and not necessarily in a good way. But the old barn is good for containing such outbursts and I'm sure the neighbors have scarcely lost any sleep.

Yanno? If you're going to go to all the trouble of making your router table fit your new router, you may as well have the router table you want. And I've been lusting after a router station that I can use on my work table and put away when not in use. (Shameless plug) Google, as you know, is our friend. And Google introduced me to Router Table Depot Dot Com. I got the large router table build kit, and I have to recommend this place. It was fast, accurate, easy and reasonable. I'll post pics of my new router station next time I go to my secret offsite location where the pictures post.

So, I mount up my new router and take it for a spin, making a little raised panel door for one of the cabinets in my shop. As a prototype, it fit the opening and confirmed all of my measuring theories. But as a door, it's not a keeper. As a learning experience it was priceless.

Then the new router broke. And Home Depot only had the display left. And I wanted it now. So I talked them into letting me swap out the motors which was all I needed anyway.

Okay, back in business. I made the first two doors, stuck them in the opening and threw my shoulder out of joint slapping myself on the back. It was a gleeful meeting of the self-congratulatory committee of the self-admiration society. What an astonishing cabinet maker I am with so little training!

I quickly whipped up the next two doors and started gluing them together without a dry fit. I'm that good, you know. And they didn't go together real snug, but that's why God invented clamps, right? I squeezed those bad boys together making for a beautiful fit. Left them in the clamps and went in the house for a celebratory beer.

When I loosened the clamps I heard a sickening cracking noise and learned a really valuable lesson: Wood is the size it wants to be, not the size you wish it to be. And when you take the pressure off of it it shows you who is boss. And you feel a little sheepish about how cocky you were. And you realize that this stuff is harder than it looks. And you buy eleven dollars worth of boards and start over.

And you give it a dry fit before you put any glue in the joints.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The dearth of posting on this site has not been intentional. Far from it. I can hear all of you shaking your heads and saying, he's lazy, he doesn't post because he's lazy, and he's lying to us about that right now. But really, that's not the case. Really.

I've actually been trying to post this for quite some time. For some odd reason, when we switched over to AT&T's "Uverse" for our cable and phone and internet, I haven't been able to post pictures on blogger. (If anyone knows the solution to this, please comment.) So, I have forwarded these photos of our latest project to a secret off-site location that I go to during the day. And I'll post them from here. But keep that just between us, m'kay?

As several of you already know, the little bride has been after me to build bookcases in the den for her gi-normous collection of crafting/art/sewing/silliness books. I put her off for some time by telling her that we need a cabinet shop to do cabinet work, and she's been quite forthcoming in helping me to put that together. Then I put her off by saying that she needed to complete at least one project. I honestly can't remember if she actually did that or if she bamboozled me, which she is prone to do. But we began work some weeks back on the den...

First we set up a production line process to cut out the shelves and other parts.

remember you can clicky the picky if you wanna see 'em bigger...

we're kind of skipping ahead a little here, and getting on with the installation. The miracle of time-lapse photography...

Here's a peek at the adjustment system we wound up going with. I found it on Charles Neal's website. It works well and is a good use of the scrap plywood left over from cutting out the carcass.

The system consists of 2 strips of plywood, 1.5" wide for each side of the section. They're all taped together and run through the dado blade on the table saw in 2 inch increments, utilizing a shop made jig for the spacing (much like a box joint jig, only bigger.)

This keeps the spacing exactly the same across all of the units and you insert a strip of wood in the slots as a support on each end to hold the shelf up. You'll notice in the photo above that the shelves are all notched at the corners to fit nicely in the unit.

You can see in this detail that we've taken the three carcasses and screwed them together at the sides. This proved to make the installation of the face frame a bit (no, a lot) more difficult due to some bowing, but this was mostly corrected with some long pipe clamps and a lot of cussing.

If you look closely, you can see the cussing.

Here's a little detail of the top of the base unit. We found this behemoth poplar board that was 14 feet long and over 13 inches wide to use as the counter top. I think it would be really fun to say that I used one of my hand planes to do the molding on the edges, but I don't have that profile yet, so it was routered on there the old fashioned way - with a big Ryobi router. As a side note, this turned out to be Ryobi's last project. He had been becoming more and more difficult to work with over the years, finally to the point where I had to put a clamp on him just to adjust the depth. All of that came to an end after this counter top, when Ryobi refused to loosen up and adjust even a little.

So, we're not going to replace him, we're going to use this as an opportunity to work entirely with hand tools from now on. Ha ha! Gotcha on that one! We bought a Porter Cable and he's a little dandy!
But I digress. Okay, here's the first unit complete. Sort of. The bride couldn't wait to get her books in there...

I still have to build the doors that go on the bottom. More on that later...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pool Table

Our next door neighbors bought an umbrella to go next to the pool. After setting it up, we noticed that it said not to stand or sit on the base. The base is filled with water, by the way. So, I said, why don't we build a table to go over it and keep the kids off of it?

Coincidentally, I had just come into possession of a batch of nice cedar from the man with the sawmill up the street. So we banged a table together Saturday afternoon and put a couple of coats of spar varnish on it...

the varnish really makes the grain on the cedar "pop", don't you think?