Got 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 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. They 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.
After 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.
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.
I 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.
After 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.)
I worked on the aviary some more this weekend. Building a piece of furniture is always an exercise in mental gymnastics, as you figure out the sequence of how things must be assembled and finished on the whole unit. Since the walls need to have grid material installed before final assembly, but since it's a modular unit that can be assembled and dissambled, there are some things that need to happen first and some later. I decided to add door jambs for the doors, to make it more certain that the doors close solidly, and also to prevent gaps through which a tiny finch might escape. I had a pair of spice finches in college for a short time, until they both escaped out of the Chinese bamboo cage I had purchased for appearance.
I started the work this weekend by cutting L-shaped moulding pieces to be installed on the inside of each frame where a door will be installed. These were done on the table saw, but then cut to size using one of my ryoba. For quick, smooth cuts where fine sizing is helpful, I really like working with the Japanese pull saws. At this point, I also finished sanding the walls to a fairly rough finish. And I did each of the jamb pieces as I cut them. I only sanded to 80 grit for time, and also due to the fact that it's just contruction material, and the birds will get it dirty soon enough.
My site here had a rough patch the last few days. I attempted an update to the content management system, which caused problems. But then backing out of that update caused the whole site to go down. I should know, working in IT, to depend on things going well when you upgrade. Luckily, I do have good backups. And we're back up and running now.
These shenanigans have prevented me from posting a bunch of updates recently. For a change, I'm doing a lot of work in the shop and I have lots of thoughts on topics I want to talk about here. I'm designing and building an aviary to hold finches for my wife's new bird-keeping hobby. We're in the process of hunting for a house, which frankly, has given me lots of insight into the U.S. mortgage lending industry. It's not pretty, folks. Oh, and my workbench project continues to make progress. I'll post updates here as I have time. (Time is always short, but especially now as I try to stand up an asset management system at work. Fun.)
After I went out last week to buy BORG lumber for this project, I got started this week cutting the 2-by lumber down to more useful dimensions. I had to stack all of my lumber outside on the back porch this time, since I'm out of room in the shop. Hopefully it'll stay dry for a few days until I can bring it in. (Note: It didn't, of course. We had the wettest two weeks of the year so far right after I posted this.)
Even though I dimensioned for 2"x2" legs, I just used the dimensions of the lumber define it. So all of the members actually ended up 1½" x 1¾". (That's ripping a 2" x 8" into four pieces.) Once that was done, I started the process of chopping to length and then butt glueing and screwing into place. The little birds have hatched and I need to get this thing done quickly.
This thing is going to be modular, so if it's too large to fit through a doorway, I can take it apart into four walls, a floor, and the roof pieces. So I started by framing in the front and back walls with their long legs. I extended the legs 10" below the bottom of the aviary so that it'll sit up higher. I've got a ton of long screws from the outdoor playset I built the boys back in Florida, so I used those with glue to hold the frames together. After the front and back, I built the side walls. The right side is a simple rectangle, but the left wall has members in the middle to support three little doors for feeding and cleaning the cage.
As I've mentioned recently, my workshop is a temporary construct. We've moved several times and will move again in the near future. This is the result of our evil banking industry and the fact that when they tanked the world economy, my wife and I were forced to accept a short sale on our Florida home. Rental is never stable, as we found out when our first Atlanta home was needed back by the owner last year. From a shop perspective, that was really too bad, especially since I had invested in a pair of 30Amp circuits in the basement shop in my las rental property. (You're welcome, Mr Landlord.) But the additional burden of moving a shop is that things just get lost. I still haven't located my random-orbital sander.
But lately, it's been getting even worse. The wiring in this house is absolutely horrendous when it comes to supporting a woodshop. The entire lower level, including our garage and my workshop, are on a single 20Amp circuit. That was bad enough, but then some time during the winter, that circuit just . . stopped. It hasn't tripped a breaker. I can't find a single problem wrong with it, other than the fact that there is no juice at the outlets or lights on the circuit. And since I'm moving soon, I refuse to invest the time and energy into tracking down the problem. Especially since we've reported a ton of fix requests with the renting company. I fear we're getting a reputation.
After a great pile of drilling, followed by a whole passle of chisel-poundin', I've managed to fit all eight stretcher tenons to mortises in the workbench legs. This is the quickest work on this project yet. The boys are 9 and 4 1/2 now, so I'm finally able to grab a half an hour here and there to sneak down to the basement and get some work done. (As long as I balance it with other fatherly duties.)
Next up, I set aside one four inch wide strip of silver maple to serve as the front edge of the workbench top. I had originally intended to carve a message into it, but the more I think of it, the more I want that edge smooth and unblemished for better work-holding. I think I may, though, carve the message into the front of the leg vice. I'll have to see what looks right. I think I'll still stick with my original message, from 'Two Tramps in Mud Time' by Robert Frost