Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Joint Book

The radiator cover previously mentioned was built just before Christmas and most if it was done with mortise and tenon joinery. I cut the tenons with the table saw, but the mortises I did by hand, and it...took...forever. With Christmas coming up, I expressed to everyone my extreme displeasure at the time it took to cut mortises by hand. I also discovered that cutting them by hand requires a lot of blood. I have a few new scars in my left hand now that I've worked with razor sharp wood chisels. Imagine my complete and utter surprise when my parents were kind enough to give me a benchtop mortiser for Christmas.

What does a benchtop mortiser do? It is essentially a drill press that cuts square holes. With the new tool, I was obligated to build another radiator cover. I had to see if it was any faster than my previous method. What a difference. It more than halved the amount of time I spent making mortises. I still made some mistakes. After all, power tools don't necessarily guarantee better execution. They do guarantee faster execution though.

Here it is in situ. Some of it came out better than the original, some worse, but its certainly good enough for going in an upstairs bedroom.

There have been a few things that I needed to build these radiator covers; a table saw, a benchtop mortiser, a set of good wood chisels, a set of sharpening stones for said chisels, a good metal ruler (marked to 64ths), a sharp knife to mark the wood, and one small book I picked up by chance.

The Joint Book

Originally I picked up the book as a joke, expecting it to be about something else entirely, but after I looked at it I realized just how handy it would be. If you are going to be doing any wood working and are at a fairly beginner level (as I am), look at getting this book.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Taunting

Several weeks ago I was having a particularly bad day (today isn't going much better), so I decided to head down to ye olde break room. The break room consists of two soda pop machines, one candy machine, one refrigerated machine and one coffee machine. All of these used to be vintage; but within the last few months our company changed to a new vending vendor. Now all the vending machines have shiny new lights, pleasing green and blue colors, the ability to take credit cards, and funny little antennas that communicate my junk food preferences to the agri-industrial, oligarchical overlords.

Prices have gone up too. My favorite (take note overlords) has always been the Reese's peanut butter cups, and they were a hefty $0.85 for two standard cups, when they were in stock. With the new vendor, the price is now $1.00. That's $0.50 per cup. At the risk of showing my age, I think it's criminal that the fun and enjoyment I used to get out of four video games is now distilled into a few seconds of questionable culinary pleasure.

I make this point only to underscore that it was a really bad day. Bad enough that I was willing to trade in 60 minutes of 1980's Rygar for a few seconds of potential happiness.

Of course it's obvious what happened. I did not get my Reese's peanut butter cup. After I put in my crisp dollar bill and punched in 156 (or whatever the code was), I watched the little screw mechanism spin to hopefully drop my packet of bliss to the bottom of the vending machine. The problem was that the new vendor had installed that specific screw, and only that screw, BACKWARDS. Right before my eyes, mocking me, as only a vending machine can, my little happiness bomb of sugar and fat slowly slipped...further...away.

Some days are just like that.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Radiator Covers

Winter tends to be a time of reflection and rest when it is too cold to work on anything outside the house. Usually I spend the winter reading. This winter though was unseasonably mild. Most of the winter had lows in the 20's and highs in the lower 30's. We had almost no snow to speak of. There were many days when winter here in the Midwest reminded me of the winter days we experienced in Cork, Ireland.

One nice thing was that it was warm enough to run out to the garage and cut lumber on the table saw in short bursts. This meant that I was able to finish a small interior project as a test. Ms. Huis and I have always liked radiator covers, and of course I've always thought that I could make something like that. This was the result.

This particular radiator cover is in the girls playroom, where any mistakes will be less likely to be noticed. Cost for each radiator runs between $100 and $200 when using standard red oak as a material. Cost to buy new runs $600 plus.

There happens to be 12 radiators in the house. Two are now done. With any luck, I can do a few more next winter. Of course I'd be a lot more productive if I'd heat my garage. One more project...