Monday, August 15, 2011

Build a Bad Guitar

Go Build Bad Stuff

A good reason to go out there and start a project. I need to do this, having been waiting to fit a class in on cabinets so I don’t waste too much wood.

Instead I need to just do it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Roof Repairs

Not on the house, and not much sawdust involved, but some splinters for sure.

A few years ago I built a couple shade shelters for the horses. Essentially just roofs on poles that provide some shade from the sun in the summer and protect from moisture in the winter if we feed out there. I never completely finished trimming them, mostly because it's a pain to drag tools out there and that came back to haunt me. My wife noticed one of them had metal loose on the edge, and it was flapping around. With a forecast of winds gusting to 50mph, I thought I should work on it.

When I got out there,I found that along the edge, the screws had pulled through the OSB board and that was why the metal was loose. My first action was to screw down a few of the screws into the wooden joists, which weren't in line with my other screws, but no one can see the roof, so it's no big deal.

As you can see, there wasn't a side trim piece, so my plan was to add a 2x4  to the end with hurricane straps and then add a covering piece of metal trim. The wood is below, and it was a bit of a challenge to try and secure it while up in the air myself. I managed to measure the spot and then screw the strap to the 2x4 first before attaching it to the structure.

That done, I screwed down the metal to it, lining up screws with the 2x4 and other joists while it started to rain. To top if off, I was 1000' from the barn, further from the house, and the drill battery started to die. I managed to get enough screws to hold (I hope), load the ladder on the ATV, and ride back.

Only one side done, another needing to be done this weekend, but at least this should keep the metal intact in the weather.

A small rip is in one end piece as well, so I'll need to go patch that at some point as well.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Back Railing

My wife has been asking me to put a railing up on the back porch for a few years. However our kids were old enough and we didn’t spend much time there, so I hadn’t worried about it. Actually, I was hoping to build a deck there sometime and the railing seemed like a temporary project. However we got a new puppy, and he’s not too bright. He fell off once, and as you can see, it’s a good drop, so I decided to work on this:
That’s two stories, straight down. I have some cleanup to do down there as well.
Here’s what I started with, an 87” space. A few years ago my wife tried to motivate my by buying a pre-built rail, but it was 6’ long and wouldn’t work. I thought adding a post somewhere in here would look dumb as well, so I needed a new plan.
I measured things and went to the hardware store. I came back with a pre-drilled rail, a top rail, and a bunch of balusters. I also had a couple 1x2” pieces for trim. I based my design on some pre-built (6ft) railings I saw at the store.
I added some 2" screws and some 1 1/4" screws, both exterior, thinking that I'd need them. As it turned out, I only used 8 1 1/4" screws to attach the L-brackets and only one piece of trim.
At first I couldn’t decide how best to do this. Should I build it in the front yard and then move it and attach it? I decided that was a bad idea and went with top down. I’d put the rail up, then add balusters and finally trim.
railing_gMy first step was to measure some spaces, left to right to get the distance on the outer post and also the height of the balusters. I used a couple L-brackets to get the railing up there.
These were easy to attach, and I screwed them into the post and the house. They seemed as though they would be plenty stable, and it’s not like this railing gets a lot of use or it really would be leaned on. This is a side of the porch that basically as an old grill and a bunch of chairs stacked up.
This post is against one side of the cement foundation, so I used that as my offset. I measured the post, got the middle, placed that bracket up there (as shown to the right) and screwed it in. I then measured how far it was from the end.
I took that measurement to the other side, measured away from the foundation wall, and then up and screwed in the matchine L-bracket. It might be slightly off, but not enough for my wife of anyone to really notice.
Once this was done, I screwed in the rail bracket and as you can see, it looked good.
And it was level. I actually checked this before I screwed in the second bracket.
Next I attached balusters. I had to use 2” screwed to get through the railing, but as you can see, I’d put a few in, then add a baluster and screw it down.
As I screwed them in, it looked good. I got almost done that afternoon. I couldn’t finish because my wife had one set of balusters in her truck and I had to wait until early evening to get them back.
Once she got back, I screwed in the rest of the balusters. I took my other two L-brackets and attached them to the trim board at the bottom, and then attached that to the house. That was tricky with the balusters in there and I had to remove a few of them. Lesson learned: get the supports up first.

I also got out my trim nail gun and added nails to the front trim piece that you see here. Once that was secure, I added the top railing and nailed that down to the rail that holds the baluster.

That was last week. This week I started painting with primer. My daughter helped and we got one coat down. Now I need to get the matching paint for the house and add that on top.

 As you can see, there's a little more work to do.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


One of the things that I’ve been wanting for a long time is some system to hold the air hose on my mini-cart. I’ve looked at some of the air hose rollers at Home Depot, but spending $50 for one of those seemed silly. So I’ve wrapped the hose around the handle for a year, but it kept falling, and it was hard to drag the cart around.

So I had some time recently and decided to build this:


This is the final product where I have six hooks screwed on the back, holding the air hose on the back.

I started by cutting one hook, roughly, on the band saw. I had drawn it, sketched out a rough size that I liked and then cut it large. Here’s a quick look of my first one.


Once it was cut, I then used the random orbit sander to clean it up and round off the rough parts. I then checked the hook against a large coil of air hose to be sure that it would hold it all, with some spare space, and also be as small as possible. I ended up cutting it a couple times more and sanding it to make it better.

Then I grabbed a 2x6 and traced out 5 more copies of this.


These were all cut on the bandsaw, and then rounded on both sides with a 1/2” roundover on the router table. It was a nice day outside, so I spent 20-30 minutes sanding them further to make them smoother and less likely to catch on anything.

Once that was done, I removed the back of my cart, and measured out a circle, marking 6 spots on it. I didn’t try to be exact, but rough guessed where I’d want the three axis to be, drew them, traced the six pieces, and then screwed them in, one at a time with a single 1 5/8” screw.

This was the result, and it works great at holding the hose, and also letting me drag the cart one handed.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fixing a Chair

I had a number of things to work on this weekend, but with the cold weather, I decided to tackle some inside projects. One of those was fixing a barstool that has had a broken support.

I don’t know what happened, but the kids broke one of the cross pieces in a bar stool that’s in the kitchen. The four legs are each connected by two sets of cross braces, as shown below. The lower one at the bottom of the picture was actually broken and missing, resulting in a creaky chair that Tia was worried about.


I had been thinking about what to do here and decided to make my own new cross brace, after all, I have a lathe.

My first step was to cut a piece of pine down to about the right size. I measured the space, and the hole depth in the chair and added a bit of pad, about 1/2”. I then used calipers to measure the center diameter of an existing brace (1 1/4”) and the ends (3/4”). With all that written down, I put the wood on the lathe.


That’s the square piece of wood on the lathe, and the dust collector behind it, which works OK. Not great, and something to fix. I don’t have a chuck, which is a hassle. I used friction to hold things there and started turning.


Using a lathe is pretty easy, and I made a lot of shavings and dust, as you can see. Once you get the hang of it, the hardest part to me is relaxing your shoulders as I find I tense up with this piece of wood spinning around.

I started working the piece round at the edges.


This is early on, and you can see that it’s still square in the middle of the piece, looking at it sideways (short sides) and in the middle (long ways). It took me about 30-40 minutes, with a few breaks, to round this off. Once that was done, I started to slowly turn the center down to the 1 1/4” diameter.  Once the center was the right diameter, I worked my way towards the edges, bringing those down.

I found that making pencil makes at the center, and the ends, helps me to focus on how much to turn down.


This is near the end, and as you can see, it’s tapered. Not perfectly, and not even, but not bad. I found that I had to take it off the lathe and go compare it a few times with the existing braces on the chair. Once I thought it was done, I cut off the edges (couldn’t turn them all the way down, and tried to fit it in the chair.

It was too long, of course, so I turned down the edges thinner, and then trimmed them again, getting it in the chair, as you can see at the top in the first picture.

Now it’s time to stain it. I glued it in first so it would be in there, and I’ll work on the stain this week.