Monday, April 4, 2016

Wall Hanging

Okay. I give up. I admit being wrong about myself.

I will swear, up and down, that woodworking is not a hobby of mine. I'm not that good. I don't care to become very good. I just make things out of necessity and to give me purpose during the winter months.

So how do I explain this?

After a couple weekends doing nothing I had to make something. My winter project was done. It was too blustery to do much outside. Flipping through a magazine I saw something hanging on a wall and thought, "I can make that." I was a square frame housing pieces of carpet tiles.

I have carpet tile pieces.
I have a two-foot-square of unused plywood that has some water rot along one edge.
I can frame it with solid wood.

So off I went to the BORG to see what I could find. I could make the frame from pine and paint it. I could make it from poplar and stain it. Or I could make it from oak or...walnut. Walnut. That way, I don't have to stain it (always a plus) and it would look really nice. We don't have walnut, so this is an accent piece. It will help tie dark mahogany piano with the finished basement.

Construction was pretty easy, really. Here are the photos.

Materials: 1 x 2 walnut, 2 x 2 cherry plywood, carpet strips

Pocket holes around perimeter

Sand the bottom

Mark the solid wood for cutting

Cut pieces to length

Dry fit pieces to make sure it will come together correctly

Assemble frame

Polyurethane the frame

Then it was merely a matter of gluing the strips in and hanging this thing on the wall, between the piano room and the basement.

My wife is tolerant of this. I won't go so far as to say that she likes it. But I did remind her that I've seen worse. I've seen a bunch of broken dishes and cups glued to a board that had all been spray painted black hanging in a museum, so there's that. I remember the framed piece of graph paper titled "Tree" that adorned a museum wall. So just call this "Rainbow Field; Jungle Highway" and pretend to be a modern art snob.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Scrap Tables

The project after the project was making a couple tables out of the scrap hickory. I made an end table and a task table.

My wife was happy with them, and I'm glad to have used up the remaining wood so there's less clutter in my shop.

Very simple design. Just cabinet-grade plywood, edged with solid hickory. Hairpin legs screwed into the bottom face, and that's it.

Yes, the grain goes the wrong way. The edges are made from the most bowed and warped pieces I had. No one cares because they look better than the pieces they replaced.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

TV and Coffee Tables Done

This winter's project has been completed. On to the after-project project, which is making more furniture out of the scrap.

Anyway, here are the coffee and television tables.

And here are the construction photos for those who enjoy them.

The process went as follows.

I drew up the plans for the tables to figure out what materials I needed and what my cut sheet had to be. The materials got here around Christmas. Two sheets of cabinet-grade hickory plywood broken down to my specifications (character side up) and several lengths of solid hickory for the table edges and feet.

Each table top received a light sanding and pocket holes on its underside. The solid wood was cut to length with mitered ends. The top edges of the tops were covered in tape to catch any glue seepage. Spacers 3/16-in thick were taped to the top side to provide a stand-off for the edging.

Going proud on the edging was an important consideration. No piece of wood is ever straight and true. I don't have a planer and a joiner, so it is what it is. That small lip is the trade-off.

With the table top held off my bench by the spacers and with the edging held flush, I glued-and-screwed the edging to the plywood, making each table top.

Legs were made by cutting the scraps in four-inch lengths and joining them with wood glue and finish nails driven with an air nailer. Those legs were attached to the bottom using pocket hole screws. laid flat, the feet elevate the bottom table by about an inch. With the feet inset, it gives the appearance of the thing floating above the floor.

Before finishing I thoroughly cleaned my shop, which gets dusty with all the cutting, drilling and sanding.

Each table top was covered with two coats of an oil-based polyurethane. Acrylic (water-based polyurethane) is clear and raw hickory is very pale. Using an oil-based poly results in a yellowish coating, which looks better and matches the flooring. It's smellier, though and requires mineral spirits for clean-up.

Once everything was dry, the tables could be assembled.

I brought the parts into my family room for assembly, since the finished pieces would be too large and heavy for me to drag up the stairs. I used I-Semble steel brackets to tie the tops together, using a scrap cut off as a guide to keep the spacing correct.

The finishing touches were grommeted totes from Bed, Bath, and Beyond to act as storage. We also bought a large television with all the trimmings - which was the point of all this, actually.

I have to admit, though, that I really love the idea of having furniture that you can't buy.

Now, the remaining dark oak end tables in our family room look out of place. That means that there's more to come. Still, I met my goal for this year.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

In a Bag

I've always wanted to start a restaurant where everything is served in a bag.

Sandwich in a bag. Spaghetti in a bag. Soup in a bag. Strawberry mousse in a bag.

I haven't quite worked out the logistics of it all. I'm more of an idea rat.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Famous Daddy

In my line of work, I often give test facility tours. About half of them are to people unfamiliar with high vacuum testing or electric propulsion. I actually think I do fine with these, because rather than point at some big steel and spew a bunch of large numbers than no one can relate to, I try to teach a bit using colloquial terms and comparisons to everyday things.

Instead of saying that the water flow rate of Plum Brook's B2 test stand is a quarter-million gallons of water per minute, I compare it to the flow over the Bridal Veil Falls at Niagara. It's much easier to picture and appreciate.

Anyway, this week I was asked to cover a tour of the GRC Electric Propulsion Laboratory for a group of VIP visitors in to observe the re-enactment of the Center's ground breaking of 75 years ago. I was a test engineer there, a researcher, and its manager so I tend to be able to tailor my talk to a variety of audiences.

So I gave my spiel and found it well-received. Among the audience members was a local weatherman for the WKYC television station who, like everyone else, was busy taking pictures and asking the occasional question.

The next day, when I got to the lab I was greeted as "Hollywood" instead of the usual Jay Z. The guys had seen me on the news that morning. Heh. I'm quick to dish it out, so it was all good fun to be on the receiving end of the ribbing.

I don't know how long this link will remain active, so here's a still shot of me giving that talk.

No one was as thrilled as my daughter, though, to know that her dad appeared, albeit briefly, on television.