Friday, December 23, 2005

I blame the holidays!

About the only place that presents can be dealt with here where the kiddos won’t venture is the area I had been affectionately referring to as the “finishing area”. There have apparently been a couple things down there that my wife hasn’t wanted me to see either, so I haven’t been able to venture down to the dungeon much at all this week.

That’s all going to change tomorrow! I just don’t handle Christmas Eve very well. I’m not sure if it’s the kid in me or what, but I just can’t help but pace about the house in anticipation of the biggest dang day of the year! So my wife has already warned me that instead of dealing with my goofy ass hanging about the upstairs driving her nuts, I’m being cast off the dungeon to do what ever it takes to stay out of her hair.

Now what will I do…that's the big question... there are a couple options available. I have a few pen kits still kicking around, I can work on those. I need to build a drawer for that Red Oak nightstand. That could be a good option as it’ll take some time to tinker with the dovetail jig to make sure everything is just right. I also have enough Pine to put another Adirondack chair together. I’ve got a guy at work that would like an unfinished one…

I guess you’ll just have to check back and see what happens…

Friday, December 16, 2005

Better to give than receive

This saying comes up quite a bit this time of year and seems to really go well with today’s experience.

I made another pen today. This one was for my father-in-law. I gave one from the first group to my mother-in-law and apparently the father-in-law felt a bit slighted. I designed this one differently from the rest. One of my favorite aspects of making these pens is that every single one is different.

So while my wife was making dinner, I trotted off to the dungeon and began turning some wood. Everything was going well. The shape of the pen came out just how I had pictured. There are a few things that I think could be improved, but let’s not forget, this is only pen # 6. I know I’ll get better, so I’m really not sweating the small stuff. AND I think the pens have been coming out fairly nice so far.

After snapping a couple of pictures and showing the new pen off to the wife and my little assistant, I headed to the in-laws. They live right next door, so it wasn’t a long trip! I handed the pen to my father-in-law who was, as usual, in his recliner watching six different TV shows all at the same time. I told him this was his pen. Apparently this is the perfect example of how “it’s better to give than receive”. I felt pretty good about giving him something that I made specifically for him. He didn’t seem overly impressed with the shape I went with…

So here’s what it looked like:

who knows, perhaps I'm just reading too much into his reaction...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The gift that keeps on giving

I mentioned earlier that I’ve already opened my Christmas present from my wife. That’s right, the lathe. I had the opportunity to make my first “thing” on it today! Rather than turning a square piece of scrap wood into a round piece of scrap wood, I made my first pens.

I did get a little anxious though. I don’t actually have any finish for them yet. (Apparently shellac is one of the top recommendations...?) So I had to improvise a little. What I ended up doing is sanding the pen blanks down to a 400 grit sand paper and then wiped them down with a tack cloth. I used an old linen napkin to then buff the residue from the tack cloth to remove that sticky (or tacky!) feeling. I’m pretty happy with the results.

Here is a picture of all of the components used to make a pen:

This is the first pen I made:

Here is a picture of the three pens that I made today. The first pen is on the bottom, the second pen in the middle and the third on top:

All three of these were made with Rosewood. Now that I kinda know what I'm doing, I'm really looking forward to getting several different types of wood to see which I like the best! My favorite online store Woodcraft has a great sample pack of exotic woods that I want to get.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Back to the Beginning

Having little girls running around the house introduces mass amounts of Disney movies to the home. And Disney, being the pain in the ass that they are, can’t simply use the simple card/paper type boxes like everyone else. Noooo, they have to use these great big bulky plastic air-filled things! These cases are of course bigger than any other movie, and we must have close to 75 movies with this style case, so none of the traditional movie storage solutions really work well for them, and this is where my story starts…

I’ve never really been a true “handyman”. One of my best known projects (not because of what was accomplished) was the installation of a toilet paper roll hanger in our bathroom. At that time, we only had our oldest daughter Jasmine. Well, due to the unbelievable stream of “sailor talk” coming from my mouth and the random screwdrivers being thrown about, my wife and daughter sought shelter on the front porch until this little task was complete. I have matured, a little, since then…

At this point in my life, I had precisely ZERO tools. But I had to find a way to store these movies and get them out of the way. My wife had one simple request: “please keep it small, I don’t want this thing taking over the living room!” We recently had a Home Depot open up locally, so this place was going to be my new “home away from home”. I came up with a design that I thought would get approval from my wife and set out to getting my supplies and borrowed a miter saw from my brother-in-law. After a bit of initial hesitation, and my wife telling me to “get down there and get it done.” I set off to work. I made sure to keep the cardinal rule in mind through out this project “measure twice, cut once”. Oh, and the other one “don’t cut off your fingers!”

Everything went together rather nicely. A quick painting and we were in business!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sweet Success!

Not only is the Vin Rouge project complete, but it's still monday! I get to hold my head high knowing that I hit my goal and got the chairs done this weekend. Ok, so it's not much of a victory, but it's still a victory! It'll help me go to sleep even though I have to head into the real job in the morning...

So do you want to see the end result of the Vin Rouge project? ok then, let's take a look...

I must say, I think they look pretty sweet. I'd like to find a similar shade of blue to make another set. I think I'll be waiting for warmer weather to paint something that can't be completed in the dungeon though. It's too cold to do anything on the porch, and I'm not going to risk my little one getting her hands on anything that I'm working on! I've reached the point where I can tolerate painting now, but I'm certainly not ready to touch up something that hasn't even left the house yet!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

My Assistant

you may not have considered that I would have an assistant, but I do. And if you've read my profile carefully, you might even be able to guess who it is!

My four year old loves the dungeon. anytime I go down there, she's usually hot on my tail! she's got projects of her own you know. in fact just the other day she assembled a new measuring stick. apparently this is a device that can be used to track how tall she and her sisters are getting! it's amazing what can be made of scrap oak and packaging tape. of course for this project, I was her assistant. I don't let her use the box opener that I've got (hopefully for obvious reasons) so I was tasked with supplying her with pieces of tape. I think I did an ok job!

I got a lathe for christmas. of course I've opened and used it already!

The lathe is used for woodturning. round chair or table legs are made with a lathe. One of the reasons I wanted one was to make my own pens.

Apparently this is one of the latest hot hobbies among woodworkers. seems cool none the less. I'd also like to take a shot at turning my own bowls, but first things first.

I find it kinda fun to have one of my kids take an interest in what I do, so while I was flipping through my Woodcraft catalog tonight looking at some of my options for pen blanks I decided that perhaps I should get the opinion of my assistant. Well, the girl's got taste, because she wants to get some Padauk to make some pens with. It's not an overly expensive wood, but it is a cool looking reddish wood that comes in from West Africa. It should be fun to give her one of these pens when I get them done. with her help of course!

PS~ thanks to Woodcraft for today's pictures!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

FEAR: the great motivator

I threw down the gauntlet the other day saying that I'd like to get the Vin Rouge Project out of the dungeon this weekend since I have Monday off and all. The last thing I want to do now is to have to come up hear and report: "I laid around and did nothing all weekend and the chairs haven't moved..."

So I got my @SS down in the dungeon today and got to work!

It has even paid off. I got one chair up in the living room so I could get the arm rests attached and get the wood filler in the screw holes so they can dry overnight. Chair #2 will be coming up tomorrow.

I ended up going with six coats of Vin Rouge on these babies and I must say that I am happy with the results so far.