Sunday, June 23, 2013


Time for a quick update to all things going on before everyone, human and animal, wake up to start the day.

The wooden shingle project is going well at the Latham house. The majority of the work is time consuming but quite enjoyable, with the exception of the stain, which is really making things hard to work. They look really good but I've come home many night covered with it from head to foot, the worse part is they get more slippery as the temperature warms up. They get a little better after a day or two of being on the roof, but not much. Ha.

The additional slickness of the shingles and the normal 12 over 12 region of the roof requires some additional equipment to work on the roof and not damage the shingles that have been installed. Most modern roofers just use roofing jacks which are quite bulky and expensive if one was to purchase all that were needed for the job. I was advised on how builders would have solved this problem prior to the invention of the roofing jack and have designed a really safe method to lay secure them. I'll dedicate a future post to it soon.

The big news this week is that my best friend who lives all the way on the opposite side of the United States has come for a visit and will help us get our first batch of home brew started. Known as "the beer man," Mark used to deliver and now brews his own. I greatly enjoy his continuing friendship (and beers!) 

Shae and I attempted our first batch of home brew last year using an old Mr. Beer home brew kit. The results, were...well, bad enough to have the finished product nicknamed "Mr. Skunk" and donated to the local drainage system. With his guidance, we are ready to try again and will finally put the "Beer" in "Beer n Lathing!"

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ready, set, egg!

Finally finished the chicken coop last weekend and now it's the bird's turn. 

The coop is actually just a major remodel of the old dog house that was on the property when we bought the house in 2012. Needing more up space, I removed the back wall and set it on top of the wall facing fenced-in pen. I then added some additional framing to the sides and the rear, allowing space for a door recycled from an older property. 

I reused the same piece of tin for the roof and sided the whole thing with board and battens using the old barn wood.  After adding a quick door latch, the exterior was complete.

I designed the nesting boxes as I went, because I really didn't know what I was looking for. They are all about 16"x16" and there are 8 total, 4 on each wall. I have been keeping an eye on the nesting material that I have in there and it seems that they have started using the lower ones at least. 

Now, it's their turn.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Caught red handed staining shingles

Over the last two weeks I have spent a lot of time preparing some cedar shingles for the Latham house. I don't remember the exact size of the roof, but I've been preparing nearly 8,000 shingles for this task.

It was decided early on that these shingles would be stained using an oil based product that could be obtained locally and thinned further using linseed oil. The linseed oil didn't actually thin the stain, but it only helps the longevity of the shingle and the coverage of the stain. 

Unfinished, the wood roof can last anywhere from 15-50 years depending on the species used. With a good finish this life cycle could be easily extended over 50 with proper maintenance. This life cycle is twice that expected from today's modern asphalt shingles.

I think the main reason you don't see many wooden shingle roof is the due to the fear of fire, which was the main reason for the introduction of metal roofing in the late 1800s. House and building fires were quite common and a wooden shingle roof would only feed the fire. However, tin and asphalt roofing still requires the same wooden sheathing underneath, making the actual roofing material a mute point. 

All 8,000 shingles are now ripped to widths between 3-inches and 7-inches and have all been dipped. Next week, Jason and I will start putting the shingle on the Latham House.

I'm quite anxious to start laying them down. I prepared the Norfleet House for wood shingles a few years ago, but this will be the first time I completely roof a project. I look forward to the experience and think it may effect my preferences for my house in the future.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The lobby

During the recent holiday weekend, my wife and I spent our time remodeling the lobby for one of the local businesses in town. I originally wasn't very keen in taking this job, but she talked me into it and assured me that she would help, in my opinion, she was the MVP!

This was actually the first time I had to make a materials estimate and figure out how long it would take in order to ensure we would have it done during the long weekend. Needless to say, I was a little nervous. Some of the game plan would be unknown until demolition day (Friday after closing) and I'm always ready for things to change, which of course it did. After all the totals were tallied, my estimate was only $100 too low which I am very happy with, especially with the changes that had been made after the original estimate had been worked.

The job itself was a basic remodel, the owner wanted new wainscoting, trim, and paint for the lobby and the small entrance room. Additionally, we decided to make a new counter top out of a couple oak boards and found a built-in shelf unit hidden behind the dry wall in the entrance. Here are some "Before" shots.

...and the "After" photos.

And finally, the Monday night celebratory demolition burn!

Even if it burned up a holiday weekend, it was a satisfying experience.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Never stop learning

Graduation has come and gone. I believed that I would have a little bit more time to myself after my studies were completely done but I'm happy to say that I am currently busier than ever.

My latest degree is in Historic Preservation. It's a term that I feel is a little overused in today's speech, along with calling something "green" and "sustainable." Watching and participating in this program for the last two years, I often wonder where it is going and whether it will withstand the rigors and challenges of our modern society and "technologically advanced" work habits.

I never felt the program had a defined goal in mind. For some, the goals were very open, like myself. I knew absolutely nothing about Historic Preservation so anything I ran across was always new and exciting. I was fortunate to really enjoy the hands on courses and found a true joy in historic research. I was also extremely lucky to meet with and work along side masters in the crafts and to have been apprenticed to one for the past year.

I did not always agree with the subjects being taught, or even the instructors at times, but the bottom line is that I did learn, more than I could have ever anticipated. And the learning continues.

In the past two weeks since graduation: I helped build porches on a 1760 house, dipped 8,000 wooden shingles, watched and learned as a chimney and firebox is built, and even had my own contract to remodel a business lobby in Tarboro, North Carolina. Like I said, I am extremely busy.

Does the fact that I graduated mean that I have stopped learning? Goodness no. I spend everyday learning a little more than the last, whether it's about chickens and coops, chimneys and mortar, or gardens and dirt. I have just finished one chapter of my life and am now ready to begin anew. My biggest hope is that I never stop learning.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Bantam Tractor

My wife and I finally came to an agreement as to what to do with the chicken tractor. Our 15 birds are pretty big and the feeling was that the tractor wasn't big enough for them all. I really didn't want to split them up so we decided they will all stay in the dog pen coop. For the tractor we decided to get three bantam pullets from a local breeder.

I'm not sure of the exact kind of bantams they are. Heck, I didn't even know they had different breeds.

These full grown pullets are tiny! I don't really know why they are so popular, certainly not for the meat and egg production. We are getting eggs from them, which is good even if it takes two to make a normal sized egg. We even had our first egg present while driving home.

My wife likes them and the tractor is now in use, so now we are both happy.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The sill "clamp"

As Jason and I were tearing apart a room yesterday in preparation to repair the rear sills, we came across this bizarre piece of 1800's ingenuity.

This chuck of wood acts like a clamp to hold the two sills together. The second sill was added probably about 30 years after the first. Normally, some sort of dovetail key is used but since they had to connect to an existing section of house, they had to come up with another method to secure the new sill.

The "clamp" was thin enough to slip under the existing floor boards and then rotated so that the notch straddles the sills. A massive wedge was then inserted to cinch the two sills together.

You can also see the chamfer that allowed the piece to be rotated down.

I really enjoy taking stuff apart and seeing how it was put together 200 years ago.

Friday, April 12, 2013

March...kinda harsh

I think it's safe to say that March was a harsh mistress. The weather was terrible and the plague ran rampant throughout the house causing major delays in blogs and projects both. I have a few comments to reply to in the posts but today will be a short "catch up" posting. Short, because that is all the attention I have.

The dog pen-chicken coop got a cover put on it. I wasn't worried about anything getting in from the top, but I was worried about the birds getting big enough to flutter their way out. I don't mind free-ranging but I will save it for when we live outside of town limits. I did have a moment of free-ranging when I left the gate open while installing the hood. Daisy dog was kind enough to help me herd them back in. Josie, the 14 year old healer l, not so much. I guess she is officially retired.

The chicken tractor is done. I still have a few fasteners to add to the roof, but it's ready to go. I don't have any say as to who or what goes in, but I have my orders to finish the big coop. Which means the tractor will stay empty, or used for something else.

Currently working another sill replacement with Jason. More on that later.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The room of birds no more!

Once again, our days are cold and bleak. After one day in the 70's (which I was stuck inside being ill), we are back to rain and 45 degrees. Seems like spring needs a push start this year.

We cleaned the chicken room in the house and made the decision to never again raise chicks in the house. The amount of dust generated by these birds was unbelievable and took us a few hours to clean. The room is already back in use for the four kittens we are taking care of until they are well enough to get adopted. The room has also been claimed as the new craft room for my wife because of the constant sun it receives during the day. That means packing everything in both rooms (the spare room and the current craft room) and moving everything again. I put it on hold until I get my moving dolly back from my buddy and we are both over the plague.

In the meantime (and the rain), I nearly finished the chicken tractor. The front door is just a chunk of exterior ply that I cut a window into and stapled some chicken wire. I added a hard drive plate to the coop door to give the magnet something to really hold on it and ran some line to the front of the tractor to allow us to close and open the door. And I cut some extra tin in half to she'd the water from the coop. I also used some left over flashing as a ridge cap and a length of tar foil over the coop hatch to keep the water out of there.

I still need to finish securing the tin sheets to the coop and put the wheels in the back end, but the tractor is ready for business. She wants to put the younger birds in it full time, but we are at odds about how to show them that the coop is their new home. There isn't enough room under the coop for me to grab them, but I'm probably worrying about that too much.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The dog pen

Well the chicken birds are out, not in the tractor, but they are outside anyway.

I was laid out with an unshakable illness last week that kept me inside and unable to work on the tractor. The birds did not get this memo and continued to grow as they have been doing for the last month. I finally was able to get out of the house on Friday, and I took the birds with me.

We took the older Orpingtons out on a day trip to the outside a few days earlier, using the dog pen to keep them all contained for the day.

The pen was there when we bought the house but my dogs really don't use it, so it will be converted to the main chicken coop and run. It's already a 10' x 17' space with an attached dog house which is about 2' x 4'.

I added the heat lamp inside the box and threw a quick sliding door on it to keep them safe at night. Other than the adding an extra strip of 1" stock to the door frame to keep the smaller birds in, it is a ready temporary solution.

We will, in the future; add wire to the top, heighten the coop, and add nesting apartments. Basically, a rebuild of the dog house into a coop.

I had to laugh when I went to close them into the box last night. They were all huddled at the door waiting for me to carry them all back into the house. I had to show them where to sleep last night as I grabbed each one individually and placed them inside the box. They should get it after a few days.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Oh, hinge-ed things

Just a quick update on things being chicken and us.

I've got the roof sheathing installed on the secure side and have added a board and batten door to the opposite side. That side is hinged at the top and will be able to be opened to access the eggs. I've just added a simple brace to hold it open and not bonk us on the head. (The picture was taken before the brace.)

The door at the top of the gang plank has also been installed, but I'm not satisfied with the latch to hold it closed. Currently I have one magnet installed on the stop that was supposed to mate with a washer an screw on the door. Well, it does that, just not very well. So I think I'll epoxy a second magnet on the door and see if that works a little better.

My next job is to add the back wall which will have a feeder attached to it.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gang way!

The tractor is proceeding slowly. It's hard to get days to work on it, whether from the uncooperative weather or even other engagements like school and weekly geocaching excursions. I did have a couple of hours to spare so I came up with a floor for the nesting area and a gang plank.

The nesting area if the tractor will be located on the rear 4 feet of the tractor and raised up about 20 inches. Research advises to nest them above 18 inches. I had to rearrange the nesting box area to the side to fit all 4 boxes in. Originally, the plan was to nest them on the back wall, but there wasn't enough room for 4 boxes.

The other half of the floor consists of 1/2 inch welded wire mesh to make cleaning a little easier. I am starting to rethink this decision. Initially, I was all for the added ventilation, but I'm thinking it may be too much. I think i may add a sliding drawer under there to catch the waste and to facilitate cleaning. This would solve the issue of having it too breezy in there from the open floor.

The gang plank is 8 1/2 inches wide and about 42 inches long. I added some small battens to it for little chicken feet to grip. The end of the ramp hangs about 5 inches off the ground, which should below enough for the birds to hop onto. I braced it in place using a strip of 1x2 that can also be used as a perch for the chickens.

I'm working on a door for them now.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The chicken tractor

If you plan to keep chickens, you need someplace to keep them. Sure, we currently have ours in two blanket-style chests in the spare room, but they will soon out grow them and need some outside time.

(The bigger pullets are old enough, but the temperatures are still too cold for us to be comfortable with leaving them outside.)

Our permanent chicken structures will include a converted dog pen and a chicken tractor that allows the chickens to be relocated to different areas of the yard. (I didn't even know what a chicken tractor was until a few weeks ago.)

I decided to build the chicken tractor first. So it was off to the Internet to research and get a good dose of paralysis through over analysis. There are so many different options and requirements to be considered while building your tractor.

Each chicken needs at least a 4 square foot grazing area. With 15 birds, that comes out to 60 square feet total. So I decided to start with some 2x4s and shaped a rectangular base of 6f feet by 10 feet.

By the next morning, I took it back apart and ripped the 2x4s into 2x2s and added some corner braces. This would lighten the project a little and retain the strength required.

Next came the rafter system. I ripped some more 2x2s and built 6 trusses, adding them to the plate. I tied these all together using a couple lengths of 1x4 along the top. These will allow ventilation and a place to secure the "ridge cap". (I also secured some chicken wire under the ridge board on the forward section.)

If you haven't noticed, I'm kind of making this up as I go along.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chickens chickens!

It's been a long week of chickens chickens! We realized we weren't ready when they got here, but I don't think I realized just how much behind the power curve we were at that time.

We lost 6 of the original group, most likely due to the cold they had to deal with while being shipped, bringing us down to 9.

Well, we stopped by the Tractor Supply store to pick up some more feed and they had just gotten in a bunch of chicks (and ducklings). They had two groups of straight run chicks (and ducklings) and two groups of pullets (all female).

After a little convincing, we decided to add a little color to our Buff Orpingtons by bringing home 3 Ameraucana and 3 Rhode Island Red pullets. (We would buy the straight runs but don't want to annoy our neighbors. We personally like the sound of a rooster.)

With the addition of 6 more, much younger birds a new box had to be made. I grabbed three lengths of barn wood and slapped something together using butt joints, screws and rough barn lumber.

The bottom of the box is shiplapped and the sides are staggered so one board secures to the two boards perpendicular to it. (The dimensions are about 2'x3' and the sides are 18".) A light sanding just to knock the splinters down and inside it went to house the new girls.

The funniest thing is that Shae likes this one so much more than the one using milled lumber. She likes the rustic appearance I guess. That's ok, I have lots of barn wood to go through yet.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Fancy pants peepers

I had been recently informed by someone much smarter than myself that our new peepers needed a perch for to perch upon. So as she drove off to work, I headed to the work shop. (Actually, I headed out to prime the window frame, but it was much too cold so I opted to do this instead.)

The peepers are far from full grown and are still in their big box so I wanted to come up with a self supporting gang plank type set up for them.

Raiding the wood scraps once again I found a good length of pine with a little bark on the edges that would make a neat little detail. I decided chop it in half and join them together using dovetails. (Yup, dovetail...I had some time.)

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a pro dovetailer, but it's nice to practice from time to time. Not to mention, I would only be joining two boards together. I would rather practice a technique on that than on a dresser with a bunch of drawers.

I laid out the pins using a set of dividers and a bevel gauge, and cut them by hand. Some chisel whacking cleaned the waste out and I used the same chisel to part and clean the sides of the pins.

I realized that I cut them on the wrong side of the board, I wanted the bark up. Hmmm, maybe if I turn it over it would still work. Yup, I actually tried. That doesn't work, silly.

Oh well, I cut backwards off and cut them the correct way. Ah much better. The bark is on the bottom on one side, but the peepers don't seem to mind.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What a pane

If you have never reglazed a window before, you need to at least try it. Reglazing is an  art form that takes patience and experience. Perfection in glazing, as in many other aspects of woodworking, can be difficult to achieve, but is it truly that important that it should cause individuals not to try it at all?

I am way ahead of myself here. In order to reglaze, first one must deglaze. For the most part deglazing is a simple matter of flicking the old glazing from the muntins. Other times, you need a little help. I use my heat gun to soften it up and then flick it. A word of caution while using the heat gun. If you don't have an adapter to focus the heat on a certain area, you run the risk of breaking your glass as the heat causes a rapid change in the ambient temperature of the glass. Yes, guilty. The temperature in the shop was about 40 degrees, but I only broke a couple of them. Breaking a few pieces is also expected if you aren't that experienced at it...which I'm not.

After deglazing, I had to replace a total of 6 lights. A drive down to the big box store in Rocky Mount allowed me to get them cut to size. A second drive to the big box store allowed me to get 4 new ones cut 1/8 smaller. Here's some advice, the windows need a little spare room. I cut an 1/8 off of two of them using a Dremel tool. That wasn't fun, nor worth my time. (It amuses me the depths I will go to avoid spending another $5 on a project. Yes, it cost $5 to get 4 new pieces of glass cut.)

Once the windows were all installed and pointed, it was time to glaze. Nothing fancy here. Typical DAP 33 window glaze compound. You can add a little BLO to it if you need to and you can clean it up using mineral spirits. The application technique is simple.

Work the compound in your hands until it gets soft and malleable, the softer the better. Next you need to work it in to the gap and corner where the glass meets up with the muntin. The way I do it is to roll it into a snake and press it in with my thumbs. I then follow that up with the flat of the putty knife. Finally, I draw the knife at an angle to push it firmly into the corner and to cut off the excess. The corners suck, but don't work at them too much. At some point you have to let it go. Smooth out the rest with your finger if needed and move on the the next one. It's repetitive and takes time. (I'm still new at it, but it took me about 2 hours to do both sashes.)

I'm still waiting for the glaze to cure which is typical for the temperatures around here at the moment. I have them sitting in a heated closet for now, until I prime them.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Let's twist again

The window sash itself was also in need of repair from many years of water seeping into it from the sill and causing more rot. The damage was bad enough that a two part epoxy repair was out of the question due to missing sections of sash. But it still wasn't damaged enough to warrant replacing the entire rail and stile. That's when a couple of nice splices will do the trick .

To start with, I prodded the areas near the rot to access the extent of the damage and marked the areas to be removed. Using an oscillating cutter that I picked from Harbor Freight years ago, I cut out the sections to be removed and cleaned up the cuts using a sharp chisel.

Searching the scrap "corner" of the work shop, I pulled out a cutoff that was similar in species and in grain pattern. I then cut it down to size, planed to thickness, and adhered them using Gorilla Glue.

After the glue had dried sufficiently, I ran the sill over the table saw to trim the lower angle on the sash and sanded down the high spots. The real challenge was how to shape the inner trough of the stiles which were about and inch wide and rounded at the bottom.

Using a couple wooden round molding planes, I began the process of removing the extra material. After going as far down as that would let me, I shaved more off using a sharp chisel. This left a very rough and faceted surface that I wasnt' pleased with. I still needed some way to finish the rounded groove.
A little pondering and some ingenuity later I came up with something.

Using a piece of dowel that was the exact width of the groove, I stuck some 80 grit sand paper on it and twisted a trim screw onto the end of it. Using the drill, I rotated the sanding dowel into the groove and cleaned the trough to match. The screw was aluminum, so it didn't last forever, but it lasted long enough to get the job done.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The missing inch

The window restoration has been taking up a lot of my time lately. We have a cold front coming through today and I don't have any heat in the workshop so I finally have a moment to post a blog.

One of the issues I ran into with the frame was that I rebuilt the sill too narrow. In my defense, the original had rotted off and I had nothing to grab a solid measurement on. The rest of the sills are all covered by vinyl trim, so I had to guestimate. Using the frame width and trim as a base, I added a quarter inch to make it match the other windows as closely as I could.

The rest of the build went great, the dados shown on the last post held everything tight and square. When I test fitted the trim, I noticed the sill was an inch too narrow. I had forgotten to account for the second piece of trim on the window. The trim that hides the window rails in this 1950 style window. I am used to building much earlier frames and hadn't thought about the second piece of trim. Unsure what to do, I packed it up and forces myself to ponder about it overnight.

I thought about taking the frame apart and reinstalling a newer, wider sill but I was worried about damaging the rest of the frame. I finally decided just to edge glue some left over stock to it with some Gorilla glue. The glue would be waterproof and with a coat of paint, the seam won't be at all noticeable.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Router to router plane

I was rebuilding a window yesterday and was able to experiment with my dado cutting techniques.

While working the sides of the window frame, I needed to cut some dados to join the top and the sill. It took me a few minutes to set up the plunge router and a jig in order to cut the dadoes for the top of the frame.

The dadoes for the sill were a little wider but the technique was the same. Due to slight irregularities in the work surface, I wasn't completely pleased with the bottom surface of any of dados, so I turned to my hand tools.

Using an old wooden skewed rabbit plane, I cut thin shavings out taking it to an approximate depth. After that I worked it to the final depth using the router plane.

It's one thing to know theory as to how a plane works, but it takes experience and time behind a tool to really understand how it works. With short, light, angled strokes, I quickly got all the dados to the same depth. I love using the hand tools when I can.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Parthenon Effect

We don't get company very often, so when we do it's a flurry of activity in the house. Like a mini spring cleaning, pretty hectic. We're not "messy", but with all the little critters running around, the place definitely has that "lived in" feel to it. (I promise we are not going to be featured on Hoarders.)

Armed with my list of things to do, I moved efficiently throughout the house getting things done and boldly crossing them off my checklist. Kitchen, check. Guest bathroom, check. Bedroom, check. As I whirled about things that have always been, began to annoy me, like the 6 foot tall and 2 foot 8 inch wide vertical hanging window sash with no glass standing in the hallway.

This sash has been standing here for months, I'm not even certain of how many months. March, maybe? That's a long time for an old, weathered, window sash to be anywhere, especially in the main hallway of the house. I would love to take the blame for it, but my beautiful wife collects window sashes. Don't ask me why, but it's a habit she has started ever since I began restoration. This is one of our "findings."

Standing in the hallway, seen yet forgotten, this sash stares at our daily routines. It even gets moved from wall to wall as we need to get behind it. Finally, I decided today was the day to move it or loose it. This sash was going up and I wouldn't have to avoid it in the hallway ever again.

There wasn't a whole lot of work to go into it, which is probably the main reason for procrastination. "Ah, it just needs this and this, about 5 minutes worth of work. I'll get to it later." This and this is proportionately equal to "pull four rusty nails out, clean it, and hang it on the wall." I told you it was easy. So I wade through the swamp to the shop and get the tools I need to get the job done.

With the nails pulled, I put it up on the wall and set it to be spot on level, not a hair off. As I stand back and look at my work, I realize that it "looks" crooked. What the heck? I put the level back on and confirm it is still dead flat. With a tape measure, I measure the edge of the sash to the crown molding and then to the door trim. Sure enough, not a matching distance on either edge. Well, that is one of the lovable quirks you have to contend with when living in a house which is over a hundred years old.

There is not one straight line on the Parthenon. It was completely built to "look" straight. So that would have to be the technique used here. Put away the level, force back the nagging quest for precision, and just eyeball it. After a few tweaks, I was happy because it "looked" right. The final distances are a 3/8 inch difference from the top to the crown molding and about a 1/8 inch difference on the side. Sometimes you just have to forget about logic and go with what "looks good."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Get over it and woodwork!

I've been wanting to write an article for Tom Iovino's "Get Woodworking Week," but I've been getting frustrated because I wasn't sure what to write about. I'm sure everything has been covered before, and much more articulately than I am capable.
(What's new, right?)

Instead of moping about that and comparing myself to others, I'm going to do what I want.

I still consider myself a beginner woodworker, I'm sure that will never change, so here is my advice to other beginner woodworkers. (To other bloggers, I advise to edit before you post.)

1) You don't need every tool. You will never own everything you think you need. Even if you can afford it, you will always think of something else you need before working on a project. This will cause a never ending paradox and destroy the space time continuum as we know it. Please don't let this happen. Take what you have and make it work for you. (For all of our sakes.)

2) You don't need a shop. Yes, a shop is nice, but is it necessary to woodwork? Not at all! Find a space and "make" it work! My most memorable years in woodworking were when I traveled across the states in my RV repairing and building things for friends along the way. All by using basic tools and no wood shop. (With the price of gas going up, I couldn't afford any power tools.)

3) Woodworking takes time. I know, crazy right? You can't just wave a magic wand and get a project completed, it takes time. Once you figure this out, the better. The next step is to convince your spouse and customers. If I had to put a time on it, estimate it to take four times longer than you originally think it will. Also, get more done by breaking it into manageable chunks. Work a little when you can and before you realize it, you are pushing a project out the door.

4) Prepare to be frustrated. This is a warning, and a gaurantee. Things will go wrong. Things won't fit correctly. Things won't look as good as pretty as you thought they would. Get over it. Move on and try to do better on the next project. This stuff takes experience (and time...see #3). The more you do it the better you get. The goal is to have fun, not to drive yourself to an early grave.

5) Finally, get out there and do something! You can get ideas from reading book and watching videos, but you will never train yourself to become a better woodworker without getting out there and learning to do it for yourself. This is the absolute biggest hurdle to get over. Just do it, go have some fun in the workshop. Fun, nothing else. When it becomes a burden, it may be time to rethink your hobbies. Have you looked into knitting or Tai Chi?

There are many more excuses I could highlight, but the sun is finally coming out and I've got a window rebuild scheduled for this morning. (And my wife told me that I need to edit my blog before posting it.) It's wet and cold, plus a huge lake puddled up in front of the work shed, but I'll get over it. Why? Because I love woodworking.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A box o peeps!

My wife got it in her mind last year that she wanted chickens. I told her to give us a year to settle in and get things ready for them. Well, today was the day...and of course we weren't ready.

In eggs two days ago, 15 Orpington pullets were delivered to the local post office from Texas this morning. Since Shae had to be in class, I had to go pick them up.

I wore my best barbecue bib and got our little peepers home. One poor girl didn't make the trip, but we have 14 that seem active and healthy.

These birds are destined to be egg layers and we will ultimately adapt the dog pen to hold them and also build them a mobile tractor to bring them to various parts of the yard to feed. The dogs are old and we walk them normally, so reusing the dog pen won't bother them at all.

Until they are big enough to move outside, we have them living in a pine box I had made while living at the train station. It was originally meant to be a blanket chest, but I wasn't quite pleased with the look and size of it.

I made it all with hand tools. The panels are all edge glued and rabbits were my joint of choice. I'm not sure why now, but I used modern screws to cinch the rabbits tight.

It's been sitting in the corner of the workshop since we moved here, holding junk off the floor. When we were talking about getting something a little bigger than the plastic tote for the chicks, I knew I had finally found the reason for this box's existence.

Now I can plan to make a blanket chest that will please me.