An Introduction

By trade, I'm a mid-level manager in the IT industry, but by inclination, I'm an avid amateur woodworker. This site began as a place for me to share my woodworking projects, my ideas about design, and my commentary on the world of woodworking. I've expanded it recently to talk more about other things, such as politics, religion, pop culture, science and space stuff, and literature. Basically, anything that catches my interest.

I've been actively woodworking for about ten years. (However, I did take woodshop back in high school, and I completed a couple of one-off projects back in the last millennium.)  College, work, marriage, and kids have all taken any spare time I might have, and woodworking has often taken a back seat. But I finally found my way back to the hobby.

I work out of my basement shop in Roswell, Georgia, my third such shop in four years, and we're likely going to have to move again within a year, so don't look to me for ideal shop setups or prideful stories of my great wood crafting environment. Of necessity, my woodworking is pragmattic. I grab what time I can, and do the work I can accomplish with limited space. In terms of tooling, my woodworking is a balance of both the power and hand tool varieties. As are many of my generation, I suspect I'm the crafting-progeny of those two great Fathers of modern American amateur woodworking: Norm Abrams and Roy Underhill. 


 

Review: 'Making Shoji' by Toshio Odate

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Cover of my copy of Making Shoji by Toshio OdateBook review -- 'Making Shoji' by Toshio Odate.  Reviewed on 4/29/2016.

Recently, I've been thinking of ways to make my woodworking more . . . oh, I don't know, soulful, I guess. I do this hobby not so much to complete projects (based on my pace, that much should be right obvious) but to enjoy a sort of zen mindfulness. But I also do want to accomplish something. It's a personality flaw of mine that I can concentrate on something so intently that I slow to a crawl and don't make any progress. Woodworking with no progress isn't woodworking, it's meditation. (Or more likely in my case, ennui and then sleep.) But one of the ways I've been hoping to increase the mindfulness of my woodworking was to take on something elegant, simple and beautiful. I've always wanted to try to build a Japanese screen. Not one of those Western, free standing ones you saw in 1930's movies where the movie star goes behind it to change suggestively into 'something a little more comfortable', but rather those structural elements from Japanese homes. Shoji, as they're called in Japan, form an ultra material-efficient way to form rooms in a private home. And I'd like to make some, hopefully in a way that is less cultural appropriation and more a way to honor the masters.
 
With that desire in mind, I went on Amazon and ordered a book. I'd heard the name of Toshio Odate in recent years. He's known in the U.S. as a teacher and ambassador of Japanese woodworking into North American culture. The Amazon showed me that he had written a book on just this subject. I almost squeee'd with glee. I ordered it in about 14 nanoseconds and with the Prime account, had it on my doorstep in 23 and one half hours.

Prepping to Move

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In my current shop, it took almost 18 months after we moved in before I could really be productive. Between unpacking, and those things that you need on a project but just can't find in among the packing boxes, it just took awhile for things to settle down. (I *still* haven't located my RAS. It's a really nice Bosch unit and I miss that thing. No idea where it went.) So, I've been getting real work done in my shop for the last 6 months or so, so of course it is now time to move again. Naturally. Our lease is up in late June, so one-way-or-another, we are outta here!
 
In the personal negotiations beteen my wife and I over what features we want in our new home, I finally settled on only two requirements. And even those proved to be contentious. I wanted a place where I could set up my shop, preferably with an area of around 500 ft² in an unfinished basement or garage, and I wanted at least a half acre of fairly flat property. The space for the shop wasn't the problem, the land was. Finding a fairly flat lot in this part of Georgia is always rather difficult, we live in a hilly region and one full of trees. Mostly that's nice. But finding a half acre or larger (flat) lot in our price range was a bit of a challenge. When looking for potential candidate homes to buy in our target area, it took the list down from several hundred to less than 6 or 7 properties at any given time, and those seem to pop on and off the market at light speed.
 
A nice, flat backyard for our potential new homeBut, I think we may have found what we were looking for. I see now that during the walk-through and inspection visits to the new house, I neglected to take any decent shots of the potential new workshop area. However I do have a good shot of the great back yard. Look, I'll even get a nice shed! 

My Attitude about Comments

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Those few of you who read this stuff I write, you may be curious about this site. Particularly, why do I post stuff, with no capability for feedback? The entire internet is built around community and feedback and comments and social-this and personal-that. Why no way to deliver a witty and scathing riposte?

Part of it has to do with why I keep this site in the first place, which is a topic I reserve for another time. (Some time soon, though. I've been mulling that one for awhile and it's about fully cooked in my noggin' now.) But mostly it has to do with what happens when I do open up comments. As anyone knows who has any presence on the internet, the stream of things that come back at you are various, mostly banal, and usually spam. Spam is the cholesterol of the internet. It's everywhere. A small fraction of it is actually good. But mostly it just sticks in the gears and gums up the works.

I occasionally break down and turn on the comments for an individual article or project update. I always regret it within 24 hours. It starts with a small dribbling of benign, but unfocused, random comments. Usually in pairs.

Sam123: Hey, <articlename>, do you know this?

Sam123: Hey, <articlename>, do you know this?

Then, usually about 24 hours later, that same tag comes back, but this time it's a longer post about how great a blogger you are and, oh, by the way, here's the link to my website: buyviagrafromrumaniafornotmuchmoney dot com. In 36 hours, the stream goes from about 5 comments an hour, to about 50 an hour. If I leave it open, and heaven-forbid, allow anonymous users to publish their comments without my approval, I'll be gettin' more than 500 comments an hours. And not one has one damned squat-bit of anything to do with the article they're posting on.

Back, six or seven years ago, when I started this particular website, I used to leave these open all the time. The acceleration wasn't as extreme back then. I'd get to about 50 comments an hour after a couple of months. For a long time, I actually went through every couple of weeks and deleted all the old spam comments, and GOLLY, occasionally found a real comment. The ratio, thinking back, was about one genuine comment out of about 4 or 5 thousand submitted comments. I finally gave up and shut it all down. 

This goes back to the basis of why I post at all. I can tell you right now, hearing feedback from readers isn't even in the top ten. It is occasionally nice, though. I've had some good feedback a couple of times. But the spammers and other jerk-wads always have to bury that in their shit.  I mean, I get it. It's all commerce. The internet went from the wild west, to the wild west run by Russian mobsters. Anything to get their clicks.

I think I'll run an experiment. I'll leave the comments ON for this one article, and I'll tell you what. I'll *approve* every comment for the first 24 hours. And leave that as a testament to all you ass-hole spam-bots, chinese state-sponsored hackxors, and SEO-seeking, mass-linkbacking, Google-rank chasing, PC-sweat-factory-living human drudges who generate most of this stuff. Here you go. This is the last of it. Then I'm turning off the entire comment function completely for good.

Sigh. I remember the early days of the internet, when most of its inhabitants weren't human douche-nozzles with pea-sized gonads. A sneak peak on that article about why I have this website and post the way I do? Here's the secret . . . . shhhhh, don't tell anybody . . . .in this place . . . .  I can say whatever I want.

And here, at least most of the time, you get to say . . . . NOTHING.

 

 

But just this once, have at it, boys: Say your Say. Sound your barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world. 


Finished door hardware, Primed the Roof

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Installed knobs and latch hardware on the small side doorsGot a bit more done on the aviary tonight. I bought the basic door hardware from the big box hardware store last weekend and finished installing it today. The hinges I had on already, but I've now installed the door latches, the door handles, and the knobs on the little doors. These knobs were actually in a box in the house we had in Florida. That home had been built by the builder of the development, and I found a box of about a hundred white ceramic knobs and mounting screws. I've used the heck out of those knobs over the years. I've only got a few left. Here I mounted two on the little side doors of Adriana's aviary. 

I love it when a plan comes together. Smooth moving doors all around.

Added Grids, Lights

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Opening the roll of PVC-coated wire fencing to start fitting it to the aviary partsI spent about 12 hours this weekend working on the aviary. I finished attaching the doors and door handles over the past week, so now it was time to add the grid or cage material and to finish up some interior work before adding the roof. I mentioned in a previous post that I had ordered the grid from a New Jersey fencing company. It's nice stuff, but it wasn't cheap. Well, it was actually not that bad, per unit area, but I ended up ordering much more than I needed just for this project. I wanted 24" wide pieces, so they'd fit naturally on the 24" wide sides and easily cover the bottom and doors. The label from the Academy Fencing spoolThey didn't have the 24" x 50' spool in stock, so I ordered a 24" x 100' spool. That was $90. But that thing was HEAVY, probably close to 60 pounds. Thanks to that, shipping was another $45. I ended up spending as much for the fencing as I did for everything else on this project. I was a bit surprised by the label. It seems they manufacture the stuff, or at least they repackage it themselves. 

Cutting the wire grid with a Dremel tool fitted with a cutting diskAfter opening up the spool, i had to figure out how to cut the stuff. I tried tin snips, which did work, but it was slow and it would probably have a) ruined my tin snips, and b) killed my hand by the end of it. So I went and hunted down my trusty Dremel tool and cutting disks. Luckily, I found them in my wife's stained glass supplies. (She steals my tools from time-to-time to finish up her glass projects.) The Dremel worked well, but had to be careful to wear safety glasses and be careful as I cut each wire. Cutting through the PVC coating and then through the wire usually resulted in a little "CHICKt" at the end of the cut, just as the disk exited the back side of the wire. This was the disk catching on the edges of the wires. I went through about 20 cutting disks, each one rather startling me as it exploded off the end of the Dremel. A couple of times I heard the pieces hit the ceiling or the far wall of the shop. Oh, and the smell of the PVC as I burned through it with the cutting wheel . . . not pleasant.

Aviary with doors, grids, and lights installed

Doors and sidewall gap filler

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All of the door parts dimensioned and organizedAnother weekend, another update. I'm getting into a rhythm here.

This weekend's goal was to build the front and side doors. Unlike the main structure, which is out of southern yellow pine (SYP), I'm building the doors out of whitewood, which is significantly lighter. I don't want the doors to sag. 

Crosscut sled set up to cut half-lap joints on the door frame partsI ripped an 8' 2x6 down into 1" by 1 ½" strips on the table saw, then cut them to length on the chopsaw. The plan is to half-lap the corners for strength. The doors should be light enough, even with the cage material attached, to stay square. I set up the crosscut sled on the table saw to cut the half-laps. This took some dialing-in. I set it up for less than half the depth and then inched up on the correct fit. I didn't bother installing the dado stack, I just nibbled away with multiple cuts. (AKA, 'The I'm too lazy to set it up' method, or better known as the Norm Abrams method.) Here, you can see that the depth is *not quite* deep enough. Another half-turn on the blade height knob and it was perfect. I also tweaked the location of the stop block a touch to make the overlap perfectly square.

First fitting of the half lap joints on the lower side door. Still a little shallow. I'll need to raise the blade just a touch.AHalf-lapped joint on the corner of the lower side door. Still dialing in the length of the tenon at this point.fter cutting the joints, I then went back and touched them up with a sharp bench chisel to remove any loose cruft between adjacent 'nibbles'. This also smoothed the cheeks of the inside joint enough that the glue joint should be strong. I glued up all of the doors and allowed them to dry for about three hours.

I'm using the quick clamps for everything these days, since most of my nicer clamps are all still packed away in a box somewhere. The sad part about that is that I built a really nice wall-mounted clamp rack for all of my clamps back in Florida, but I just don't have the wall space in this shop to put it up. (Not that I want to drill any more holes in the rented walls in any case.)

Progress has been made. Started mounting the doors.

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