Monday, December 22, 2014


As it turned out, I was able to finish my television stand/quilt bookcase project with a week to spare. Here it is with two coats of polyurathane on it and the final project had a third coat on it but I didn't take another picture since it essentially looks the same. I'm very happy with the color of the finish which should match the woodwork in the farmhouse just fine.

The only thing that I really didn't like was that the plywood I got for the carcass appeared to have about an 1/8" veneer surface on it when I was cutting out my pieces. As it turned out it was only a fraction of that and if I left my sander in one spot for a touch through long I would burn through it and then I could see the cross graining of the layer underneath. After that happened three times, I sanded so lightly that after I applied the stain, I could still see lots of scratching in places where I had used the belt sander to make some of the solid wood face pieces flush to the carcass. It's not noticeable until you are within a couple feet but it is still noticeable.

So the lesson I learned from this project and what I would do differently if I were to make a second one is thus: I left the face frame proud of the surface of the plywood faces planning on sanding them flush later and this caused my scratching problem. In the future I will work to just make it exactly flush while glueing which means I must do it when it is warmer so that I have longer work times with the glue.

Come Christmas eve or perhaps a day or two earlier if a strong back appears, I will load it into the van for the trip down to the farm Christmas morning where it will be carried into its new home. I'm not sure yet what my next project will be until warmer weather arrives but I do know I have plenty to choose from.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Moving On Up To the Sky

What you can't see from this photo, is that every part of the house not in this picture has siding. So by extrapolation, what remains unsided in this picture is all that is left. Not much but what is left requires the most ladders to complete. I don't have scaffolding and my tallest ladder is about the same height as the one leading on the chimney in the picture, perhaps just a touch taller. If I could have found a way to suspend myself by the ankles from the top of the chimney, I might have been able to do the entire thing myself. I also could have just bought a lot longer ladder. Instead I hired a couple guys to help me do the siding and requirement one was they provide the required ladders. I made the right choice because as cold and busy as this late fall has been, I would still be working on the front side.

After we get finished siding up to the top of the chimney, then we need to spend a couple days doing some caulking. All the joints need to be caulking along with various areas around trim, windows, doors, outdoor fixturing, etc. We then need to finish reattaching all the stuff that came off like the front storm door, utility boxes, light fixtures, street number, etc. We also need to replace one window pane that accidentally got broke. After all that is said and done, I can call this project done and set my sight on phase two.

I showed in a previous post all the water damage to the sheathing that had occurred due to some flashing errors and grading errors be previous occupants or perhaps even the original builders. Since I really don't want to do all this again, I plan on digging out those landscaping timbers in the lower left side of the photo, removing the mulch that is higher than the house sill plate and try grading it away from the house. Since there isn't that much fall to start with, I may end up just putting in a french drain system combined with grading to fix the problem. However since the ground is frozen and the frozen precipitation isn't the kind causing the problem, I have a few months to contemplate everything first.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Santa's Workshop Update

Well the television/quilt display case has been assembled and not a moment too soon. It is my biggest piece of freestanding furniture I have built thus far and I learned a few things. When temperatures are barely above freezing, glue sets up fast even if the bottle has been inside all night where it was warm. When I glued the main carcass together, one of my clamps slipped while I was applying the others and as a result, one of the middle dividers pulled out from its dado a bit. It really isn't noticeable from the front but it is from the back. Fortunately that side will be against the wall.

Also, glue that sets up quickly is hard to clean up. In a normal project, I take a wet rag and clean up any glue squeeze out that occurs and thus when I go to stain, I don't get splotches. This time I ended up with frozen bits of glue smeared everywhere which means I will have to be meticulous when I do my final sanding or I will end up with splotching everywhere.

I never seem to learn this next fact despite it biting me in the butt from time to time. As I was applying the hardwood trim to the plywood edges, I kept getting gaps like I was making angled cuts. I really only noticed it when I was cutting a board on edge. Finally I grabbed the square and checked my miter saw. It was square to the fence but was not square to the bed. It was off by about one degree. When I carried it downstairs in a wheelbarrow during the garage remodel and then back up, I must have bumped it hard enough to knock it loose. Not really anything that a little wood putty can't hide but it sure caused me some frustrations.

The one disadvantage to using cabinet plywood is that you have to be careful sanding it so you don't sand through the veneer layer. I did in one spot and on the top no less where my hardwood edging ended up below the level of the veneer. It sucks and I'm sure I will notice it every time I will walk by the thing but you know what, it lets people know that it was hand built. Besides, it adds character.

The above picture is one that I took before sanding. As of writing this, I have rough sanded it and did some wood putty work. Hopefully tomorrow I can do the final sanding and perhaps this weekend, apply the stain. I've never stained when it is cold and being that it will probably be in the upper 30's when I do, I'm not sure how it will go. Worst case, I have to open the door to the house and heat the garage for a little bit to get the stain to cure so I can apply the protective polyurethane coats. I still have 13 days until Christmas (as of writing this), so I think I will be able to get it done in time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

School Project Blues

So as good meaning teachers are sometimes want to do, they sent home a school project that requested a significant investment of the parent's time to help their child complete. Basically this project was to create a presentation complete with a handmade artifact, about Christmas in a foreign country. All would have been good if my child had been assigned Chile or Zimbabwe or so country in which we have no earthly knowledge of Christmas practices but our child got the Philippines instead. Mama being Filipino, takes all things relating to her home country personally.

So we have spent several evenings hunting down things to include on the poster board presentation part and I spent several hours out in the garage making a parol which is a shooting star made out of bamboo and tissue paper. Being fresh out of bamboo, I cut thin strips of pine, glued them, steamed them so they could be bent into the proper shape and let everything dry. I thought that would be the extent of my involvement but I forgot about the one line in the directions stating that all pictures on the poster board must be in color.

I gave up on color printers a couple  years ago since I rarely used the color, it was very expensive to replace the cartridges which is why I always had it turned on black and white mode and still it went through the colors cartridges like candy. Instead I bought a nice black and white laser printer which prints fast, neatly and the cartridges last forever. So our options seemed to be to go to the local library and pay money to use their color printer, go to the school during school hours and use theirs, or just to print the pictures at the local same day print shop at the drugstore. We chose the latter option.

Trip one: We pull into a packed parking lot early one evening and make an attempt but the photo department has four or five people standing in line and people using the photo kiosks. We decide to go grab a bit to eat and come back later.

Trip two: A couple hours later we return to the store but the pictures my wife saved onto a thumb drive from the internet are too low of resolution to even print. So it is back home again.

Trip three: Not wanting to wait through long lines, I show up the next morning five minutes before opening and am first in line at the door. When it opens I make a beeline to the kiosk and in five minutes, the five pictures have been ordered. It tells me they will be ready in fifteen minutes. So I do a little bit of stocking stuffer shopping and come back to the counter twenty minutes later. The lady asks if she can help me and I tell her I'm just waiting for my pictures. "Oh honey," she says, "I have 800 pictures to do before yours. It will be several hours still."

As I found out, you can evidently submit orders online overnight for next morning pickup and they take precedent over those submitted in the store and no, they can slip my five pictures in between anywhere. Well hells bells. So I had to drive all the way back across town only to make a fourth trip sometime later today to pick up the pictures. I've probably spent four or five dollars on gas now just to print off five pictures for $1.37. It is no wonder I find myself becoming a hermit and avoiding all this insanity until after the first of the year when everyone returns back to their normal lives.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Santa's Workshop

In between all the other stuff involved with siding the house, I've been in my workshop playing Santa for my parents. I suppose like most adult parents, they are hard to find gifts for. They have plenty of money and buy the things they need. The things they don't need they just don't want. Lately I've been giving them gift certificates to various local dining establishments because everyone needs to eat. However, after mentioning how much she liked my built in bookshelves, my mom hinted a few times over this past year at how nice it would be to have something similar in their living room.

After questioning her over Thanksgiving, similar turned out to be completely different. She wanted a free standing shelf to display quilts instead of books and put their television on top. So after searching here and there over the internet, I found something similar that could be scaled and adjusted to serve her purposes. A load of wood later and I was on my way to building it. 

Just due to the cost of wood these days, I usually start off most furniture projects building a carcass out of cabinet grade plywood. You don't have to worry about joining large panels of solid wood. Of course the edges of plywood aren't the most pleasant thing to look at so I use hardwood to cover everything up and give it a more solid appearance. Below is the middle part of the quilt shelf/television stand after being face in solid wood minus two missing pieces for the vertical dividers. Next I will build a small pedestal assembly to get it up off the ground a little bit and build a top to balance everything out. I'll show more on that in a later post.