Thursday, May 15, 2008

Inactivity breeds anxiety...

I've really been off my blogging game as of late, and I'm not really sure I can offer a reasonable explanation as to why. I was out of town for a while (work), but... not for three weeks! But let me tell you - not writing for three weeks is almost like not going to the gym for the same amount of time! I feel all stressed out and anxious and twitchy...

I think the problem is that I've been inactive, as far as woodworking is concerned, and that means I don't have a whole lot of woodworking to write about!

But that isn't a very good excuse. I have been living and the reason I didn't give this blog a woodworking name is because I also wanted to be able to write about aspects of my life other than woodworking.

For example, last weekend was a key birdwatching weekend here in the St. Louis area. Tower Grove Park is a migration trap and for one or two weekends in May, the local birders have the opportunity to catch sight of some unusual birds for this area. I'm not uber-huge into bird watching, but I'm good at spotting and I'm good at giving directions, so my wife likes me to go along with her so I can help find the birds and then show her where they are (and for the companionship, of course).

I won't bore you kind folks with a long list of birds, but I will mention we saw both the black-billed and the yellow-billed cuckoo within a five minute time period. The black is highly uncommon in this area, so that's noteworthy in itself, but seeing both species so close together was a little exciting, even for me. Oh, and I was about 10 feet from a red-breasted nuthatch (the nuthatch is one of the few birds that can walk DOWN a tree; the white-breasted variety is the most common by far, so Dana was tres excited about seeing a red-breasted one).

What else has gone on that I could have blogged about? Oh, yeah... I turned 35 two weeks ago. I haven't felt any new creaks or aches yet, but they're bound to come. I heard from lots of friends and family throughout the weekend, which made it worth while. And I got a great card with a kilted man on it from a friend of ours from church - I'd love to know where she shops for cards!

My birthday dilema: I have some funds available to me, but I'm not exactly sure what I should spend them on. I'm torn between a more casual kilt I can wear hiking or to non-dressy social occasions or putting it towards a Veritas Plow Plane (w/all five blades).

The first would be a bit of fun to have, but the second would definitely get more use (and would help further my goal of using more hand tools than power tools in my shop).

I guess that settles it, then, doesn't it? The plow plane it is!

(I love how easily I can make decisions like that...)

My primary goal right now, however, is to get some woodworking projects done. Fortunately for me, I have a project that itsn't terribly huge but offers big returns - that danged board on the stairs! My mother-in-law will be in town for Memorial Day weekend and my wife is going to be out of town the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before then, which gives me both motive AND opportunity to tackle such a project.

I'll end this blog entry with some free-flow design thoughts about the project. I usually do this on paper - it helps me think through the project and spot potential problems before they come up in the physical world... But I think putting it into a blog entry is a right proper thing to do.

I have, in fact, already started working on it. I pulled the mahogany board out of the basement the other day and sanded out the planer marks with my recently-purchased Festool ROS 125. (I'm still in the break-in period, but so far very pleased with the results!) It didn't take long to get the board nice and silky smooth and I had very little sanding dust to deal with per the Festool CT22 dust extractor.

The next step is to make some transitional cove molding so the cap board flows properly into the wall. Unless I have some unforseen problem, the plan is to cut the cove into one edge of the board, rip it off, then repeat twice more so I have enough molding. After that, I can cut the board to measure and fit it to the top of the wall.

I'll need to cut a notch into the back of it... or do I? Hmmm. I'd already decided to modify the design a little from the existing piece. The current board overhangs each side by an inch or so - such that you can't really even see the transitional cove molding. I was thinking about making the new cap board thinner, so that it comes out 1/8" more than the cove molding on each side. That will make it look more like a finished piece of furniture than a board simply nailed to the top of the 1/2 wall. If I do that, then I probably don't need to notch the back of it to go on either side of the full wall at the full wall/half wall transition.

(Confused yet? It might not be terribly clear, per this is stream-of-thought writing. I'll try to take a picture this evening and add it to the blog for clarification.)

Ok; I've added the picture here. You can see the very top of the board is notched to go around the wall on either side.

The only other issue to deal with is the attachment of the board to the top of the wall. The current board is nailed in place with four finish nails and a swipe of putty in the holes. I don't think that will work for me.

So I was thinking of doing something rather interesting, like attaching the board with screws, but plugging the screw holes with pillowed square ebony plugs. Yeah, I'm a big fan of Greene & Greene...

(This design addition would allow me to carry the G&G style into a new cover for the doorbell box located in that same room, again with mahogany and ebony.)

I suppose I'd stick with my standard finish, which is just General's Seal-A-Cell base coat followed by three or four coats of Arm-R-Seal (semi gloss), rubbed out between coats with steel wool.

Ahhh... it is good to write again. I can feel the anxiety rolling off my shoulders. Sorry for the slight blogger break. I'll try to do a better job of keeping up with it in the future.

Tonight is the Saint Louis Woodworker's Guild meeting, so I don't think I'll make any progress with the project until the weekend. I'll try to find out if our little coup is going according to plan. If so, then I'll have another writing project to keep up with, as I'll most likely be the new editor of the guild's newsletter.


Kari Hultman said...

I know another bird you should have noticed in your sightings---a lucky duck! (you)
Congratulations on the soon-to-be-purchased Veritas plow plane. ; )

...and happy birthday!

Ethan said...

Don't tell anyone this, VC, but... my nick-name when I was a little kid was "Pucky Duck".

Apparently I couldn't say "puppy dog" very well...

Kari Hultman said...

Would a blog post on "Pucky Duck" constitute telling?

Ethan said...

On your own site, it might. I imagine your number of daily hits is a bit higher than mine.

Here, on my blog, only you and maybe one or two others would be privy to such embarrassing details as a nick-name I had when I was three.

Kari Hultman said...

Looking good, Ethan! The G&G ebony plugs sound like a nice touch. It's the little things that really make a piece stand out. Go for it! : )