Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Shop Notes

This past Christmas I made and gave Shaker oval boxes. For 2 dear friends I installed a music box movement. A few of the boxes had minor problems, but I kept those and used them as storage in the shop…one has to store copper tacks and cut up toothpicks in order to make oval boxes. It has been roughly 6-7 months since I completed the boxes.

But I never cleaned out the water tray, nor did I put away any of the supplies. They sat on my workbench in case I needed to make more boxes. That day came Friday. I got an email from one of the friends who received a music box. She would like to BUY a music box just like hers to give to a young lady who is graduating college. Unfortunately, my supply of completed boxes is depleted. I told her it would take about 2 weeks to get a music box made and she said that would be fine. So I suppose she gave a promise to the young lady.

Making one box is not a very efficient use of time, so I decided I would make 6. I cut and milled all the thin strips last night and got them all prepared for their hot water bath. But I now have a problem. The inside of my galvanized steel water tray is rusty and stained (recall…I never cleaned up 6-7 months ago). So now, before I can bend these strips I must refurbish the tray. Over the next 2-3 days I will clean up the rust and paint the tray. It was recommended that I use high temperature spray paint. At Lowe’s I picked up a can of BBQ grill paint. After that I got some distilled water at the grocery store. Minerals in water can cause wood to discolor, so distilled wood is recommended. Since then I thought that maybe water collected from my dehumidifier would be just as good, and free. I have an abundance of it and use it to water my lucky bamboo plant.

I am going to try the dehumidifier water. And after these 6 boxes I will make sure to empty, clean, and dry the tray, then put everything away.

In the shop I recently installed a mobile base under the table saw. That helps very much in moving it, so I can clean underneath and set up another tool in its place. I have a large open end sander that needs floor space too. The problem is that the sander does not have a mobile base. The base has been ordered, but the item is on back order. Last night I “muscled” the sander into place so I could use it with the whole shop dust collector. I love that dust collection because it gets all the fine stuff, BUT what a pain to muscle the tool into place. Can’t wait till the mobile base comes…probably next week.

There are some modifications to make to the dust collection system. First, I would like to have a hose that can reach anywhere in the shop. That will allow me to vacuum up dust and shavings, rather than sweep. Second, I want to run dust ports to the workbench (for using a palm sander or other small tools), the drill press, and the lathe. Currently I have ports going to the table saw, the jointer, and the planer. Ports are selected by opening and shutting appropriate gates. It is a wonderful system and I will take and post pictures when I clean up the shop some more.

This year’s Christmas gifts are underway…I’m roughly 1/4th done. On hold until I can get some more boards out from under the shop, but after that I will blaze through and should have them all done way before it starts to get cold.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for the next installment.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The World on the Moon, etc.

Last weekend was such a treat. It started Friday night with a fun little opera called “il mondo della luna” or “The World on the Moon.” I don’t know if I have blogged here about our School of the Arts, but it is a school of very talented young people. Someone recently told me that they shot some of the footage for the movie “Fame” here. This opera is by Haydn (I didn’t even know he wrote opera). It is about a young scientist who tricks a man into believing he has been transported to the moon, all to win the hand of the man’s daughter. Act 2 takes place “on the moon” which is really the decorated backyard of the young scientist. He uses a couple of friends, who are themselves interested in the man’s other daughter and chambermaid, in his trickery. Wonderful farce and humor are throughout. If you ever get a chance to see this opera, do. The person who did the translation and made the English supertitles took some modern liberties…one of which cracked a lot of people up…”resistance is futile”…spoken by one if the “moon” people.

Playing the part of one of the daughters was Jodi Burns. No, you haven’t heard of her, but I am making a prediction that you may one day. She is an absolutely lovely young lady with a beautiful voice and great stage appeal. I saw her last month playing the role of Adina in Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’Amore” and she was just wonderful. I spoke with her parents (then and now), who were visiting from Ohio for the performance, and they said she just took third place in a competition at New York’s Met. She will be graduating from the School of the Arts soon, and I believe she will take the opera stage by storm. Last month I met them in the audience by chance, having sat directly in front of them, and we chatted during intermission. This time we actually bumped into each other at a pizza place that is open late…what a coincidence.

Continuing on for the weekend, I spent Saturday in Blowing Rock, NC. What a nice place to visit. The weather was very nice and I walked the main street, stepping in at various stores up and down, and eating lunch at “Kojay’s”. They have a web site. Later on I drove a little way along the Blue Ridge Parkway and took a half hour hike to some rushing water (cascades). That walk reminded me of some trails in the Florida Everglades, in that there were markers placed to assist in identifying various plants and trees. I learned that the Hemlock tree grows in groups and always very close to water. Yup, sure enough, once I knew what one looked like I could see them all along the water.

Sunday I spent HOURS on my first ever trip to IKEA. There is a new one near Charlotte, roughly a 1.5 hour drive from the house. This store is amazing and I thought there were a number of great home ideas and great prices. BUT I am not sold on revamping my house just because I can. Everything has a decidedly European flair and after a little while I was easily overlooking things. I purchased a few things though. A step stool that took me 30 minutes to assemble, a couple of glass vases, some bamboo placemats, a 4 bottle wine rack that mounts on a wall, and a neat little lantern for burning tea candles. I used one of the vases to transfer a “lucky bamboo” plant that was given to me a couple of years ago…it was alive and green, but not growing well in the smaller container. Now it has a lot more room and still looks lovely. Will take a picture sometime soon.

All in all, it was a good weekend. I just wish it didn’t have to end.