Friday, January 29, 2010

Cutting Big Boards

As I'm finally finishing the drywall on our bathroom ceiling, it's time to think about new trim in the bathroom. Of course, I'm a woodworker, so it's not much fun to go to Menard's and pick out pre-built molding.

Thus, it was not a difficult decision to make our own trim in the bathroom. Additionally, the style we wanted is "built up" from multiple pieces and difficult to come by at a box store.

For the project, I decided to make my first attempt at using rough-sawn lumber from our new wood working shop, CU Woodshop Supply. Even though I've been woodworking for about 8 years, I've mostly bought my lumber pre-shrink-wrapped at Menard's. They have a large assortment, it's usually in good condition, and it's generally cheaper than Lowe's. We've just never had a local source for rough-sawn lumber.

I chose poplar because we're going to be painting the trim in the bathroom, so the expense of a better hardwood would be covered up. I've found poplar is a little more resilient than ultra-cheap pine, so it doesn't get beat up as much. That's an important factor with four little boys running around.

After lots of tedious calculations, I figured about how many board feet I needed and headed over to the wood shop. Of course, I'd planned on 8 foot boards and most of their's were 10 feet. After some measuring, I decided I could use 10 foot boards, I'd just have lots left over. Because my Honda Pilot is my personal mechanical hero, the 10 foot boards fit fully inside on a very rainy day.

Fortunately, these were not totally rough boards. Both faces were jointed (which means the faces were relatively flat), and one edge had been jointed (so that it was clean and straight). Since I don't have a jointer, this is just the right wood for me.

My goal here was to turn these two 1.5" x 9" x 10' boards into several 1/2-5/8" boards for the trim work. Here are the process steps:
  1. Uncut boards

  2. Use my tablesaw to rip them down to less than 6" wide in order to fit on my bandsaw. Since these are 10' boards, ripping them required the full length of my shop, minus about 2 feet.

  3. Use my bandsaw to cut the boards in half (from 1.5" down to ~3/4"). This is called resawing. Resawing is a bit tedious. I've done it before, but never on such large pieces. The length made the process much more challenging, making it hard to maintain a straight line. I lost a little more thickness here than I would have liked.

  4. Plane the heck out of them to remove the resaw unevenness, and also clean up the rough-saw marks on the backside.

  5. Finished boards. Now, they are in the state that they usually are from Menard's (minus the shrink-wrap). One reason I opted for the resawing on this project was that I wanted 1/2" thickness. Menard's doesn't have that, so I would have to plane down 3/4" boards, which wastes a lot of money.

All told, these two boards cost about $60, and I still have more than half of one unused (~$17 worth). If I had bought this wood from Menard's, it would have cost about $64, with no leftovers.

Did I mention that it was crazy cold on Monday night when I did this and I didn't have my wood stove going? 35 degrees...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Parental Failure

While driving home from religion class with Ethan and Owen last night, I was smacked in the face with the fact that Kimberly and I have utterly failed at parenting in our first 8 years:

Somehow we quickly migrated from talking about Jesus and the church seasons to Owen declaring that he wants to be an Evil Scientist when he grows up. He already has particular goals, namely that he wants to be more evil than Dr. Doofenschmirtz (of Phineas and Ferb fame)!

This conversation continued with the boys discussing the evil things that Dr. Doofenschmirtz invents. Then Ethan commented that he wants to be an inventor. Thus far, his greatest idea (in his opinion) is a special perfume that can be sprayed on that will prevent you from having to ever take a shower or bath. He's just too young to know that this already exists and is used frequently by lots of people in Champaign-Urbana: Pachouli Oil!

I felt somewhat relieved when Owen later decided he wanted to be a paleontologist (thanks They Might Be Giants):

Next thing you know, one of the boys will want to be a professional athlete in some popular American sport (ie. not cycling).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ode To The Snow Blower

When we lived in Champaign, I always felt somewhat self-conscious when I pulled our snow blower out of the garage. It's not really a Central Illinois model, since we bought it when we lived in the mountains in Vermont, where it was requisite. You can certainly buy 8HP, 24in, dual-stage snow blowers here, not many people use them for personal use. I always enjoyed our neighbor's broom-sized Central Illinois snow blower.

However, since moving back to the rural life, our snow blower has continually proven to be my personal hero. Naturally, I'm too cheap to pay someone to plow and too stingy to buy my own plow. Despite the fact that our driveway is ~1/3 mile long, I can usually clear it in less than an hour, assuming there's more snow than I think the van can trudge through.

Yesterday was no exception. The recent 6" of snow, and a fierce wind had piled up a deep drift right in front of the garage. Despite having not been fired up since last April when I drained the gas, and recent near-zero temperatures, after a few pushes on the primer bulb, the AC-powered starter required just one short push to fire up the engine.