Thursday, January 31, 2013

Timmy Tim and the feeder crisis

I did get home early enough on Tuesday to have a little time in the shop, but the better half got home first and had a different project scheduled for me.
My task was now to build an elevated feeding area for the cat feeder. The challenge was to get it done within two hours (I've got beers waiting and an early bedtime).
In order to better understand the situation, I need to share the cat (and dog) status.
We have four dogs and eight cats, which I blame on being soft hearted rescue people.
Shae, my wonderful wife, is in the Veterinary profession and is a volunteer wild game rehabilitator (she nurses wild animals back to health and releases them when ready). She also spends a lot of time bottle feeding newborn kittens and puppies when the need arises for the local revues groups.
Every once in a while, we run into one that needs a little more special care and they end up staying. Timmy, is the most needy of the ones we have.
Timmy has a condition known as cerebellar hypoplasia, in short he lacks the balance and coordination required for walking, running, and even standing. He has no discomfort from this medical condition, it just makes him floppy. When he plays it also reminds me of the Tasmanian Devil with legs going out in all sorts of random directions.
Timmy is also very well trained. He waits for us to take him to the litter box and is rewarded with a trip to the good bowl. He is very spoiled and has a good life.
So the cat feeder has to be low enough that Timmy won't hurt himself as he flops down from it, but it also has to be high enough to keep the dogs out of it.
I built a wooden tray for Timmy a couple years ago when he was younger, and it had been sitting on a plastic storage bin the "normal" cats accidentally pulled it down with a loud crash in the middle of the night. I decided to reuse this tray once again.
I didn't want to permanently fasten the tray, because we also use it in the camper (Timmy is not good with change and he has travel with us). With that in mind I decided to turn it upside down and friction fit the top on to the legs.
I used some heart pine out of scrap 2x10s and made the stretchers from left over 1x4s from last year's timber framed outhouse roof.

Using pocket screws allowed the joinery to go quick, and it would have been even quicker if I hadn't added an extra inch to my measurement. I hate when I do that.

The final friction for worked perfectly and with a little sanding to soften the corners I had the project inside within 2 hours.

Timmy likes it a lot more than the old one. He no longer has to drag himself over the tray's 3 inch side, which allows for a much more flop to the floor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I think my movie watcher is broken

With all the nasty weather we had this weekend, I was able to talk my better half into renting a couple movies from the big red box in town.

Now, the name of these movies is unimportant, but what I realized is that everything I have watched lately has been recycled garbage. Now these movies make it big in the box office so I have to assume it's on my end.

Here are a few issues I had:

The stories are long, drawn out, and overly complicated. Every one was over 2 hours long, when did that become the norm? I can't even sit still for a 30 minute program.

What wasn't story was an over exaggerated action sequence. Wow! If a movie does something unseen in the action realm, every movie has to copy it extensively for the next 10 years. If your movie doesn't need matrix/300 style action scenes.. Don't use them, try focusing on a better story line.

I found the best part of the movies was keeping an eye on the background to study the furniture and architecture present in the film. With the bad story and boring action scenes, I had plenty of time to enjoy the finer points. ;)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nice day? Go to class.

Wow, what a gorgeous day outside...too bad I have classes.

I've noticed that to be the normal behavior of the weather this year. If I have the time to work on the workshop, the weather is cold or rainy and not much fun to play in. If the weather is nice, I have class or some other obligation (cough! Go geocaching with the wife. Cough!).

Since the nice weather last week, we got hammered by a cold front, forcing me to stay inside and work on other projects dealing with school.

I did get out to the shop for an hour yesterday to work on one of the cabinets, before I was requested in the house to help with some computer issues.

I stripped the extra material off the cabinet and trimmed the top flush with the sides. I also took a hand plane to take the edge off one of the side boards which had cupped in the last 100 or so years. Finally, I started scraping the paint to get rid of the loose bits before reprinting it.

I need to finish scraping, which needs a sharpening, which needs a day no where near as nice as today.

I think today, when I get home around 4, will be spent putting more nails in the workshop floor... If the weather holds up. ;)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Our guest, the old, bookcases

I got a message yesterday that some old cabinets had been taken out of a demo and that if I wanted them I could have them.

Of course, I wanted them. I would need storage in the up going workshop. So, I picked them up and brought them home.

Since the workshop is still going up, storage around here is premium realty. Not having anywhere else to stick them, I put them in the spare room of the house.

Knowing better, I made sure to mention the current guests to my wife and she saw them as we raided the closet for some cold weather gear. (We don't get a whole lot of snow here, so when we do the whole family has to go play in it.)

The cabinets are just typical early 20th century farm house cabinets made of pine with flat panel doors.

They have now been claimed for bookshelves. They will need some work of course; face frame for one, tops for both, and probably a paint job.

I will remove the doors and save them, along with three others. They most likely end up being used in the workshop, if something else doesn't want them more.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

4x10x.... Short!

Just realized today that the stock I had set aside for my ceiling joists are short.

The lumber I have set aside is 4 inches by 10 inches and between 14 and 16 feet long. The span of the shop...16 feet. *face palm*
So, I'm left with a few choices.
1) move the front wall in a few feet, making the area in front of the side door a full length porch. I don't personally favor this idea because I would be moving the weight off of the footers.
2) have some new ones cut up. Those would cost about $55 each and I would need at least 5 of them.
3) have the only two 16 foots run the length of the 32 foot span with a post in the middle. Then adding 8 foot joists off that center beam.
I'm not really sure what to do at this point, but I do plan to drink and ponder.
If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Life is but a stage

The workshop floor is down! Today never got over 30 degrees (which is quite warm for most of the states), and actually normal for this time of year. A nice cozy bonfire made things bearable.

I still need to finish nailing everything down, add a small nailer, and saw the ends even with the frame. Unfortunately, these thing will have to wait until this weekend due to some weather coming in for Friday. We may even be getting snow.

I was also given some turn of the century windows (1900ish) yesterday that need some work but will perfect for the shop. The main house is about the same age and I will be making some windows for it in the future.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chugging right along

We've a few really nice days now in eastern NC. So nice that the tarp has been off the work shop frame since Friday.

I've had some much needed time to work on the floor and have been chugging along for the last couple of days. Progress is finally being made.

The only slow down I've had today was depleting one of the stacks of 2x10s and needing to move 350 board foot of 1x stock off of the last stack of flooring.

The stack is now moved and I'm chugging along once again.

Actually, I'm done for the day. Sitting in front of a big bonfire and doing some much needed chugging of a spiritual nature.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Great day at the Lie-Nielson event in Raleigh

I had the opportunity to visit the Lie-Neilson event in Raleigh today.

I hadn't really planned on going, but when I had an earlier appointment at the state archives I couldn't pass up the opportunity to drop in. It was even better that my wife was willing to go too.

The Lie-Neilson booth was great, let's face it, that's a top notch company. Especially when you compare them to my old relics.

We said our hellos to Roy, who asked how my Historic Preservation studies were going. After talking with him a little longer and playing around with his spring pole lathe, I spotted the table full of beautiful wooden bodies hand planes. It took me much longer to recognize Scott Meek than it should have.

I have been following Scott on twitter for a few years now. I was around when he made his move to Asheville. I was in the background when he started selling hand planes. I was even here to listen to him being interviewed on Wood Talk Online. I was absolutely thrilled to meet this man in person.

We had a great conversation and my wife even asked loads of plane related questions that Scott was happy to answer. I even got to play around with the jointer plane.

This man has some crazy talent and makes some absolutely wonderful hand planes. He definitely made my day and I look forward to talking with him again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wet and wonky

Nope, you're not reading that wrong, it's nearly the same post title as two days ago. Reason being today was nearly the same day as two days ago.

I started out today with big plans. First take up the floor I had previously put down on Monday, rip them to 10 inches using the sled I built yesterday, and then put everything back using shims to even things up.

That's when things started getting on my nerves.

I only put one nail per joist at this point, so pulling the floor up shouldn't be that difficult. (The plan is to lay them all and then backtrack to finish nailing.) I couldn't have been any more mistaken, after breaking a couple of the floor boards, I once again had a clean slate to work with.

I ripped the boards down and started putting them back down, installing shims when I could.

By the way, I forgot to mention that the whole time I am trying to do this, it's raining. Not one of those warm, hey-dummy-get-out-of-the-rain rains. Nope, it was one of those cold, just-enough-to-soak-you rains.

I kept pushing until I was back to the exact same stopping point I was on Monday and then called it. After a fire and a couple hot beverages, I am once again at peace.

I really shouldn't complain, it's the nature of working outside and I could be somewhere buried under 3 feet of snow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oh heck, I'll rip

Just a quick post to show the little jig I came up with to rip the rest of the floor boards. (I've since changed my mind since yesterday.)

The local hardware stores don't carry rip guides anymore and I would have had to special order one. The heck with that, I'll make my own.

And yes, I had to repair the tail. At least the trip to the hardware store wasn't a complete flop.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Wonky and wet work

Had some time to work on the shop floor today.

The floor going down are the 2 inch stock recycled from the barn I took down last February. The actual dimensions of the lumber is 2-ish inches by 10.5-ish inches, this makes for a pretty wonky floor.

I've pondered ripping the stock to all the width of 10.5 inches, but there really isn't much I can do about the thickness. Therefore, the floor stays as is.

I'll chamfer the edges of the thicker boards to get rid of the lip and stick some rope in the gappy bits between the boards.

Still, some of these boards are monsters, weighing about 60 pounds each (they are yellow pine), and I have to carry them about 100 feet.

I only got 4 courses done today, but I blame it on the stop and go rain that had me covering it and taking a break.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

With a box full of shavings

A box full of plane shavings is a good way to start a fire with wet wood. You have to drink the beer first, which is always a bonus.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Some tools just don't know how to behave

After working the orbital sander for a while on the laundry sorter, I began missing the sheer ferocity of the belt sander. The same belt sander who was still sitting outside the shop from where I banned it last week. Not expecting much, I brought it back inside, pulled the trigger and wouldn't you know the darn thing still worked. Now if I could figure out how to fix sheered drive.

I stared and stared, waiting for the answer. Suddenly, I figured it out! Drilling a small hole between the shaft and the wheel, I broke a small machine screw into it. Ha! Worked like a charm. All I had to do after that was change the paper and get to work.

On the last set of legs, the drive belt snapped in half!

Some tools just don't know how to behave.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Skip the sheathing

Glad to say we got all the skip sheathing installed on the Latham house, although Jason did most of it while I was in classes on Tuesday. All we had left to do was the small area over the rear door.
The two sections of roof are at two different slopes due to the porch rafters meeting the main rafters almost 3 feet up and the side rafters running straight to the side of the house. To make a long story short, our preacher blocks were no longer usable.

Instead, Jason matched the hip angle and then we measured from the bottom most sheathing board and nailed the far end to match. I still hate those ring shanks.
I got a great picture of Jason as he shaved the protruding edges of the hip with his saw. The man is a circular saw master, and uses it like a large angle grinder. A technique that would make most hobbyist woodworkers cringe.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Just to fill you in, my joinery needs help

I make gaps, I mean really big gaps. My joinery needs more work, and they will only get better with practice and experience. Until I get to the level where my woodworking is as awesome as I feel it should be, there is filler.

Bad joinery, wonky wood, blow outs, all of these are part of woodworking, and sometimes we need some help. I used to use premixed off the shelf stuff, but I've moved on from that (graduated?). My recent go-tos for are Bondo and Durhams.

The Bondo works great! It's very stable and it has a really long shelf life since it comes in two parts. It also pares nicely as it cures. I like paring it close, then plane, scrape, or sand to final prep for finish. The downside is that you have pretty much just promised to deliver a painted end product.

The Durhams is a water putty that comes in powder form. After adding water to the desire consistency, it hardens and doesn't shrink. It hardens almost too hard, causing some nicks in edged tools.

It also has the base wood color that most wood fillers have, matching close to but not exactly to any wood species I have ever used. Of course, dyes and wood dust can be used to tint the filler closer to the desired shade, and it also claims to be stainable, although I have tested it.

I used the Durhams on the laundry sorter and have decided to paint it since I'm using three local species; barn pine, barn poplar, and scrap oak.

What kind of fillers and or techniques do you use on your projects?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sheathing vs sawhorse

Our next step at the Latham house is to get the porch ready for a roof. If we would have thought about this step months ago, we wood have had our woodmiser guy cut us a bunch if lumber so we could have had them kiln dried. Instead, we got some 5/4 pressure treated decking boards to make our sheathing boards.

We began by ripping all the stock in half and decided to do lunch in order to let the saw cool off. By the time we got back, the weight of the wood had broken the saw horse and smacked one of the posts out from under the plate.

After fixing the plate, we ripped down the stock to 2 1/2 inches wide, taking the rounded edges off.

The shingles are 18 inches long, and Jason explains how they will have a 6 inch exposure, setting the distance for our sheathing boards. (He likes to try and show his middle finger in my photos. He's normally too slow for me.)

Using some "preacher" blocks, we put a few boards up to see how they look. My only complaint is my dislike of ring shanked nails.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Vinyl, record breaking decay

One of the projects I am currently working on is a window and frame repair job for a friend. The window is one of the renters taking up space in my workshop at the moment, although I forgot to mention it in the post yesterday.

The outbuilding this window came out of was only built in the 80s, but the windows were recycled and were probably manufactured in the 50s or 60s

The building is completely wrapping in vinyl siding and the window casing was covered in the same garbage leading to its demise.

As the water runs down the wall and behind the "maintenance free" window casing, it becomes trapped and rots everything from the inside out.

The windows are an odd size, so even though I don't have any heart burn in replacing it (and the three others) with modern manufactured windows, I may have to rebuild the window and frame, which is why it is now sitting in the workshop.

The building framework had to be torn into, the rotted portions removed, and rebuilt, which is what I did on Friday.

Now I just have to figure out which path to take on the windows.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Time enough to do the laundry, sorta

I have got way too much in the workshop waiting patiently enough for their turn at the bench.

Here are a few of them:
1. Refinishing old sewing desk
2. Repair turned leg on a chair
3. Glue up an oak top for a previously glassed top end table
4. Two Wood Whisperer guild bookshelves, the wood for these is currently in the RV
5. A laundry sorter for the house

I'm sure there are more, but these are the ones taking up all my breathing room in the shop.

Sunday, I was fortunate to have time to work on the laundry sorter. Last to get on the list, but the highest priority type of thing.

All from recycled barn wood, it is put together mortise and tenon joinery and pegged with mahogany. I made the bag holders fit into oak holders.

There is still some filling, sanding, and painting to be done, but I like the way it's coming along.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Friday, January 4, 2013

Guesstimate, or just plain lucky?

It's taken many years for me to learn how to undertake large projects by breaking things into smaller goals. Yesterday, we finished reframing the porch roof on the Latham house. That leaves me with a sense of accomplishment.

The most difficult part of doing the roof was the new hip going around the corner. The hipped porch roof was an original element to the house that had been removed during a remodel and one that we had to explore and recreate.

There are ways to calculate angles needed on the main hip beam which intersects two planes and reaches from the main house to the porch plate, but these formulas are only understood by engineers and architects. I have never met a craftsman that didn't just guess and scribe to make the beam fit correctly. The more experience a carpenter has equals directly to amount of time required to guesstimate and scribe correctly.

Here is our guesstimate beam in place and properly modeled by Jason.

And the completed porch roof frame!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Take it like a Polaroid picture

Demolition is part of the restoration field. Not every old structure can be saved, although I firmly believe ALL structures are worth saving.

Yesterday, we performed a little demolition in an attempt to allow the cold and rainy weather to pass through before working on the Latham house.

The house is a story an a half timber frame structure built during the civil war era, give or take a few years. The frame was originally hand planed and open to the residents. The walls between the two main rooms were large 14 inch wide boards that were also hand planed and shiplapped together.

Unfortunately, the house was "remodeled" during the 1960's or 1970's in order to turn it into a rental house. This remuddle included installing Sheetrock.

During the rental period, the house became run down and infested with termites, which worked their way up the walls behind the sheet rock destroying every bit of sap wood they could find.

This house would take a lot of work to be saved, but we will be able to ensure a small part of this house survives.

The owner of the house is planning to push it over, but we have the permission to salvage as much of the original floor as we can for the Latham house. As the weather wasn't cooperating, we spent a few hours pulling floor board to see what we would run into.

The boards on the main floor are about 17 feet long and were butt jointed together. The joints were so right that there was no gap at all between the seams.

Closer inspection reveals holes in the floor joists that were augered out to place a large iron rod. Wedges were then placed between the rods and the floor board driving them tight to the floor board before it

The floor boards were readied by planing the surface and then truing the edges. A gauge was used to mark an even line and a rebate plane with a fence was used to bring the material to the gauge line. Finally, an adz would be used to work out material were the floor boards met the floor joists.

We also found this Polaroid photo taken around 1998 and took a current picture of the same view.

And today.

We only took about 6 boards with us today, but we'll be back for the rest soon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winter wets and blues

I love this time of year in North Carolina. The weather is not too cold, nor is it the nasty hot and muggy that is summer. Unfortunately, the rain comes and goes in waves.

In this area the weather continually shifts from being too dry to dumping gallons of water for weeks at a time. The dry is ok, but the wet makes working outside a real headache. Yes, I'm talking about working on the new workshop

I had a few minutes of sun yesterday so I bleached the frame to kill any active molds that showed last winter before I stickered (?) the wood. This morning, in the rain, i covered the while mess with the big blue tarps. The rain is scheduled for the next 3 or 4 days.

Since I don't have a floor and the frame looks like 32 foot long ice cube tray once it starts raining, I've screwed on some battens around the perimeter to hold the tarp as flat as possible. (Less water equals less weight and a smaller change of ripping the tarps.)

The next step in the build is to put the floor down. Once I plug those large 2 foot by 8 foot holes, the tarp will stop wanting to pool up with water and I can use fewer battens on the tarps.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Scrape your sander

Ever notice how a tool will always fail to perform just as you are on the last little bit of tasking that you need it for? Yup, me too.

I decided to add a a bit of a taper on the bottoms of the legs for laundry project last night.

After laying them out I cut most of the waste off on the band saw (which needs a new blade badly).
I then proceeded to work the taper to my mark using a belt sander wearing a 50 grit belt.

Zoom, zoom. Quick work.... Until I get the final taper, when the aluminum drive shaft on the sander sheared.

I picked up the Ryobi sander within the last 2 years and haven't used it excessively. I guess when it gets broken in, you get a new one. This is one of the reasons I would much rather buy an older but much more reliable model.

Anyway, I ended up grabbing a chisel to hog away most of the waste and cleaned it up with a card scraper.

I guess I'll be on the look out for a new belt sander.