Sunday, November 6, 2011

It's that time of year again...

In our little family, the first weekend after Halloween is Tree Raising Weekend!

I'm not much for the commercial celebration of Christmas, but I sure love the feeling I get, surrounded by soft lights and greenery and... plaid tree skilts.

(Did I just coin a new word??)

I didn't used to feel that way. I used to dread the winter holidays. Some of my more dominant memories were always of people bickering and fighting about having too many or not enough ornaments on the tree and lots of hustle and bustle and parties where I had to behave properly (or, better yet, not be seen).

When I was still dating my wife, the topic came up as we were decorating her mom's Christmas tree.  Or, rather, as THEY were decorating the tree and I was sitting in the other room not having a terribly good time. That day I realized something - that I had to make my own positive Christmas memories, that I've changed a lot over the years and it doesn't have to be a holiday I hate!

So, the year we moved into our new house, we decided to start a new tradition and get into the holiday season a little earlier than most.  We always make a small party of it - invite a few close friends over to a good meal, good beer, Christmas music (this year's first album was Rob Crabtree's A Piper Christmas, which is a repeat from last year... it's a great album!) and then we went to something a little more hands-off, using Pandora to (mostly) play a good variety of holiday tunes.  (I say "mostly" because Pandora and I have been known to fight about what is deemed "good" music.)

We've minimized the dangers to Finley a bit by only using non-breakable ornaments. We try to stick to wooden ones, when we can find them, but also use cloth, pressed tin, and pine cone ornaments, as well.  He seems to be drawn to the simple ones, like little sleigh bells on a cord. He certainly had a blast last night.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the tree stays up all season without any major mishaps...

While the tree is the main decoration, it isn't the first. The first decoration I always put up is a lighted wreath out on the front porch.  I love seeing how long it takes my neighbor across the street to get a wreath up on his front door, too. I imagine the discussion with his wife to be something like, "Well THEY already have decorations up... why don't we??" "Alright, I'll get started on them this weekend... *mumble mumble* damned neighbor and his Christmas spirit *mumble mumble*"

(It's usually about two weeks.)

As per her usual, Baby Teeters took position under the tree before we even had it totally put together.  This time of the year, if the tree lights are on, you will find her sleeping under it.  She does look lovely under there, I must say.  She tends to leave the presents alone, as long as I leave a spot for her to sleep, but I have had to re-wrap a few over the years.

Let me be the first to wish you a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays!  I hope the season brings you the same kind of joy I get from it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Yes, this is pretty much how I felt when I was there, too...

I seem to be in a really good music groove lately.

When I first started listening to Mumford & Sons, it wasn't long thereafter that I saw them play a few songs on VH1's Unplugged. My only real disappointment was that the show was a half hour long and they only aired three songs.  I wanted more!

And one of the songs, England, wasn't even theirs!  It is by The National, an indie band out of Cincinnati, OH.  Fortunately, it's a great song. I love the original version.  But I think M&S made it just a little better...

I've only spent a week in London (two weeks total in the UK) so far in my life, and it was a while ago, but I still have very vivid memories of the general atmosphere, of the places we visited, and of the people we met.

I remember being awed into silence during the drizzly walk back from Westminster Abby after listening to the choir. I recall thinking it would be hard to sit in such an overwhelming and monumental building, listening to the beautiful sounds of the boys' choir, and not have your belief in a higher power be strengthened. And this was even in my rebellious, flop-but-shaved haircut, long black trench coat, spiked bracelet and boots days.

When visiting another cathedral (the name of which leaves me at the moment), we entered from the east and ended up leaving the grounds from the west. Upon exiting, I figured if I just turned left, and then made two more lefts, I'd end up back where I started. So I turned left. After about 15 minutes of walking, I realized I'd never come across any way of turning left! I looked back behind me to see the whole rest of the group following... as if I knew where I was going. I was having a good time, so I didn't say anything, but kept walking. Eventually, we ended up in a residential neighborhood, where we walked past a cemetery to see two men digging a grave out by hand. I waved. They stopped to stare at the punk teenager leading a group of people on a walk down a quiet street in the outskirts of London.

In Bath, while walking through one of the markets, I was approached by a couple with a German Shepard; they were panhandling for money. I'd seen most people shy away from them - two less-than-kept Brits with dreadlocks and a mangy dog. But, really, they were quite nice and the dog wasn't at all sickly or mangy-looking. I told them I wouldn't give them any money, but if they were hungry I would buy them lunch. (That's always my way of finding out if they really want the money for food or for something else.) To my good fortune, they agreed, and I spent an hour visiting with them, chatting about anything and everything and nothing - where they were from and where I was from and what brought us to that spot on that day. I remember the visit with the homeless British couple more than going to see the old Roman baths, to be honest with you.

I don't often find music that stirs such memories in me...

I want more.

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Little Kiltie Makes An Appearance

The St. Louis Scottish Festival is always on the first weekend of October. And unless I'm off on some damned fool adventure (like attending the Woodworking In America conference in Cincinnati, OH, which was my excuse last year), there's a good chance you'll see me there in one of my kilts.

And now there's a good chance you'll see Finley there in his kilt, as well. His new kilt (it was a new size, not a new tartan, which is Ancient Campbell) was delivered just in time, thanks to Neil at Baby Kilts. (You might also take note of the fact that Finley is one of the babies pictured on the front page of Neil's website... yeah, he's a model.)

It was interesting to see what aspects of the festival Finley liked and didn't like.  For example, we thought the pipe and drum bands would be too loud for him, but he loved them!  He kept leading us closer and closer, though we stopped far enough away that it wasn't too loud for his sensitive little ears.

On the other hand, he wasn't at all interested in the border collie demonstration, where they herded a bunch of sheep around the field.  I thought that weird because he always like dogs, but he really couldn't have been bothered.  Maybe it was the angle we had to watch it from.  Or maybe the police helicopter flying overhead was too much of a distraction.

At one time (this was before I was born, in the early 70's), I think my parents may have been the only proud owners of a herd of highland cattle in the state of Missouri. They didn't last but a year or two, though. Apparently highland cattle don't like fences and are quite deft when it comes to circumventing them. Or, at least, they were good at breaking free from the fences on our farm. After chasing them down one too many times, the diminutive bovines ended up on a shipping truck. I don't know if my mom has any pictures of them - if I find any, I'll append this post with them. 

Watching Finley's reaction to the two highland cattle at the St. Louis Scottish Games made me want to go out and get another herd!  He really enjoyed getting up close to them and they're small enough that they didn't scare him.  I venture to say he could have ridden one...

(As an aside, I think these cows were probably raised in America, because I didn't hear any kind of accent when they mooed.  Not even a bad Kevin Costner one...)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Heart This...

If I still used a CD player, my Sigh No More CD would possibly never leave it.

(Crap.  You know you're getting old when things you used to do have become "proverbial"...)

So I don't have the album on CD, but it is on my iTouch. And I listen to Mumford & Sons daily (I don't just listen to this album all day long, but it does get played at least once a day).

If you've not heard them yet, then here is a taste. 

I don't often come across new music that resonates in my soul like these guys do. Thought I would share...

Coming up... a few weeks ago, Finley came face-to-face with his first Highland cow.  Will post pictures before this weekend.  :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different... Part 01

Ever notice how The Inlaw Josie Wales...

has some striking similarities to Little Martha...

I wonder if there was some influence there, recognized or subliminal.  Or maybe I'm being influenced by the Hi-Rev coffee I'm drinking right now... *shakes*

Either way, both really great songs.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Could Have Been Worse...

Over the Labor Day weekend, on our way to visit the in-laws in Ohio, we stopped at a friend's house in Columbus for lunch and a brief visit.  While there, Finley did his duty (doody?) like a courteous little boy (i.e. he didn't do it while we were doing 80 mph on the interstate).  We asked where we could change him.

"Oh, anywhere is fine.  You can change him there in the living room, if you want."

Having had our share of diaper changing challenges when traveling with the baby, my wife and I exchanged furtive glances of concern. But we eventually consented (mostly because we didn't have much choice). The living room had two possible surfaces - an upholstered
futon and a leather ottoman.  We chose the brown leather ottoman, for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has changed a diaper with a very strong and willful baby.

He didn't flip and toss, but Finley promptly forgot his courtesies and peed everywhere during the 5 seconds he wasn't wearing a diaper.  Floor, ottoman, himself... me.


But, ultimately, it wasn't really a big deal and we quickly had it cleaned up.  We offered many apologies, which were graciously accepted. After lunch, we continued on our way.

The other day, we got an e-mail from that friend, making sure we had a good trip and inviting us back the next time we were driving through.  As an aside, she mentioned they now refer to that piece of furniture as "the pottoman".

I quickly replied, "Hey, at least you don't have a 'poopton'".

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Her Favourite Sesame Street Song...

Before he was born, my wife and I made a conscious decision to not turn the TV on when our son was awake in the house. We asked family and babysitters to please consider this, as well, when he was in their residence.  The goal was to reduce his exposure to television to as little as possible for at least the first two years of his life. So far, it has gone well! In fact, he hardly seems interested in it at all when we chance upon a TV when out in public.

Yesterday, the 6-year-old daughter of one of our babysitters asked me (in the matter-of-fact way only a 6-year-old can ask) why Finley wasn't allowed to watch TV like other babies.

I explained to her that we feel this time in his life is the most important, as far as brain development is concerned. We want his interactions with the world around him, at least for the first two years of his life, to be based on direct and personal communication with his parents and extended family. We want him to explore, to sit with us as we read to him, to knock blocks over and poke at things with a stick.

I continued, saying it was a challenge to ourselves to not ever resort to "putting something on" to occupy him while we tried to do something we felt might be more important than raising our child. Since we both work full-time during the day, we only get to spend about three to four hours of each day with him, and we want to make the most of that time.

Was that too much explanation for a 6-year-old? Maybe...

Her next question was, "Is that ALL?" Maybe she was looking for something more like, "Because I'm a mean parent!"

So with that explanation done, it should be obvious to you that this is not Finley's favourite Sesame Street song. It is, in fact, his mother's...

Green Blogging...

In this case, it's just the savings of a few bits (or is it bytes?) as I re-purpose this blog to something associated more with my personal non-woodworking life.

(If you want to continue following my woodworking antics, please jump over to The Kilted Woodworker!)

First "new" post of this blog to follow soon...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book Review: The Anarchist's Tool Chest

I hate to do this to you, but... I have another link to the new blog post. Again, I'll just dual-post until I can get some background stuff figured out (you know, during some of my expansive free time). In the mean time, what's one more 'click' among friends, right?

Book Review: The Anarchist's Tool Chest



Saturday, June 4, 2011

Shaking things up a bit with a new blog!

So, after much thought and deliberation, I'm going to shake things up a bit here.

I've had an idea rolling around inside my empty head for a few months now - thoughts on how I want to improve my woodworking. Part of it involves skills - practicing to improve skills I have and studying to learn new skills - but part of it also involves my mindset and my general state of mind when I go down into the shop.

After two days of tentatively using WordPress to see how this new blog might work out, I was sold on it. (If you've never used WordPress for a blog, you need to. Now. I love, love, love it!)

Over the next month or so, I'm going to try and figure out how to transition my woodworking out of this blog and into my new one. I'll probably maintain Grey Stone Green as a more personal, non-woodworking blog. Should still be some fun stuff on here, but I'll have to see about making the switch on the Unplugged Shop so you don't see a link every time my little boy does something I think is cute. Until then, I'll post a link in here for new posts over on the other blog, m'kay? (Or you can always just follow the other blog with any one of the various methods available...)

Here's the main Blog page:

Here's the first post:
Let's Give This A Try

And here's something that explains more about the title of the blog:
Kilted Woodworking

Hope you enjoy it. I think the last link is probably the most important one for now, though I do already have two posts up on being green that I think are quite snazzy.

Sorry for being such an absent blogger for the past year. Anyone who has had a kid probably understands, but I'm trying to make a focused and determined effort to carve some much-needed "me" time out of each week.
It's there. I just need to sharpen my carving knife, so to speak.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Which Way Are You Going?

"A properly set hand plane should be able to plane in any direction."

That's how Graham Blackburn started up his discussion on hand planes.

Well, wait a second... that's not right! Doesn't he know you should figure out the grain direction, then plane WITH the grain? You pet a cat one way, and you plane one way. You don't want to raise the hairs on a cat's back just like you don't want to push your plane blade
into the fibers of the wood. He proceeded to talk about the myth of what I was just thinking - that you should always plane with the grain.

Then he paused. And he asked us if we thought, 200 years ago or 400 years ago, woodworkers always planed with the grain.

"What about curly grained wood, like maple or mahogany? What about crotch walnut and birds-eye maple or wood where the grain changes directions? And then changes directions again? Do you think people back then planed a little one way, then a little the other, then a little the fist way again, all the way across the board?"

No, they didn't. They set their planes up properly, they clamped their wood in their bench, and then they started planing!

To further illustrate his point, he pulled out a slab of Indian walnut and clamped it into the bench. It was several inches thick, with one live edge, some curly figure, a few knots, straight grain, ribboned grain - you name it, it was on this board.

And he pulled out a Lie-Nielsen smoothing plane, made sure it was set properly, then went left, right, up, down, and sideways on the board, taking smooth, tear-out free shavings each time.

Then he showed us how he does it.

Rule #1: You need to have a sharp plane blade. Don't bother sharpening above a 12,000 grit waterstone. Your basic set should include the 400 grit, for shaping, the 2000-3,000 grit, for rough polishing, the 8000 grit for getting a really good edge, and then a 12,000 for the final mirror-like polish you need to get on the leading 1/8" of the face of your blade and on the bezel if you're going to be working with exotic woods. Most of the time, however, you will be working with just the first three (400, 2000-3000, and 8000 grit stones).
(Note: The face of the blade is the side without the bezel)

Rule #2: You need to get the cap iron (sometimes erroneously called the "chip breaker", as per Graham) fit tightly to the blade. That is, you should not be able to see even a slight bit of light between the face of the blade and the cap iron edge. So when you're sharpening your blade, you should work the cap iron, as well, to make sure the edge seats properly on the blade.

Rule #3: There were two parts to this rule...
One is that you should set the cap iron as close to the edge of the plane blade as the thickness of the shaving you want. For a smoothing plane, that's really, REALLY close. It isn't as close for a jack plane or a jointer plane.
The other is that you should adjust your plane to have the tightest mouth you can give it.

That is a simplified version, but... honestly, that's about it!

Hey, that doesn't seem too hard. If I could accomplish that, I'd be a pretty happy man!

This evening, I was in the basement with a bit of free time on my hands, and I thought I would give it a try. So I pulled out my #604.5, not without some trepidation, and grabbed a turnscrew. The blade was already sharp, so I just needed to set the cap iron properly and make a minor adjustment to my frog and then I could give it a go!

I choked up on the cap iron, moved my frog forward a millimeter or two, and then dug through some boxes to find something that I might not have attempted before. In this case, it was a chunk of curly mahogany I was saving for a tool handle.

I cleared a spot on my small bench (not an easy task, with the mess my basement is in), pushed the wood up against a stop (without checking for grain direction - not that it mattered much with this wood), and took a couple of swipes with the tuned-up plane.

Hey, that looked pretty nice! So I flipped the wood around to plane it from the other direction and watched as one thou shavings (and anodda thou... and anodda thou) piled up behind the knob of the plane.

Wow! It works! I went back upstairs to grab my camera, grinning from ear to ear.

Thanks, Graham! I'm looking forward to trying out all of the other tricks you showed us in class!

Oh, and now I also need to work on getting some of my other planes set up the same way...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

NOW I know what Chris meant...

In the opening chapter of his new book, The Anarchist's Tool Chest, Chris Schwarz mentions an interview with Graham Blackburn, and refers to him as one of his, "woodworking heroes."

I don't know about you, but from where I sit, that is quite the compliment. It made ME come to attention, anyway.

As it just so happens, today was the first day of a two-day seminar the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild is hosting with Graham Blackburn here in St. Louis. Since tomorrow is my wife's very first Mother's Day, I was only able to attend half of the seminar (today), but I felt it would be worth paying for the whole weekend, even if I could only attend a part of it.

I was right. And now I know why Chris calls Graham one of his woodworking heroes.

The seven hours of the first day that sixteen members of our guild spent in a room in the Creve Coeur Community Center seemed to fly by. I spent a lot of time frantically writing down quips and tidbits of information Graham threw out like he was overseeding a lawn.

He had so many great ideas and concepts that were just one- or two-line comments, like, "Jigs and guides make your work more accurate. The use of hand tools is not synonymous with 'Free Hand'," and "You cannot plane anything flatter than the flatness of your plane."

Which was shortly followed up by...

"You cannot flatten anything flatter than your sharpening stone."

I have a lot more in my notebook, but I'll probably have to read through it a few times to absorb the information before I write on it with any clarity. But I do want to share one part of today's session with you.

One of the first major topics we touched on was hand saws. He started off by asking how many of us had just two or three saws in our shop. It ended up being most of us. Then he spent a few minutes going into just how many different saws there were, from rip to cross-cut, back-saw to coping saw, dovetail to hack saw, and even how there were several different versions of each kind so that you could easily have 12 or 15 or more saws and actually use most of them at some point in the course of a year of making furniture.

Then he said he felt the reason hand saws have fallen into disuse is because nobody knows how to sharpen saws anymore!

(Still partially overwhelmed by the fact that I might need to know when to use 15 different saws, I had another possible reason in mind...)

He then pulled out a Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw to discuss one of the more common saws we might have in our shop. He said the saw in his hand, like many of the dovetail saws on the market today, was a copy of the old Tyzack dovetail saw and that he wished he had one to show us because they were such great things to behold.

I opened up the portable tool chest I'd brought with me, pulled out an old maroon hand towel, unrolled it to produce a very small dovetail saw with great patina and rounded teeth and said, "You mean like this one?"

It was the saw I'd picked up at the Woodworking In America conference last October, the slightly smaller brother to Kari's (link possibly only visible if you're Kari's friend on FB) brass-backed Tyzack dovetail saw. And Graham got to use it as his prop for discussion on saw sharpening and sharpening techniques.

Shortly after that, we broke for lunch. But before we did so, he offered to help me practice sharpening with my little Tyzack dovetail saw if I wanted!

Let's see... personal help from Graham Blackburn on sharpening my dovetail saw? Yeah, I guess I could go for that.

Given several limitations (a saw vise that wouldn't totally clamp my saw blade properly, a triangle file that was a bit too big, and some pretty crap-tastic lighting), I think I did a pretty good job! He tried it out and agreed it was definitely a much more usable saw than when we'd first started out.

So I have a little more work to do on it. Not a big deal. I checked this evening and the saw vise I recently picked up from John Zimmers holds the blade perfectly. So once I get a triangular file that is the proper size, I'll finish taking down a few leveled teeth and be done. But even without the additional work, I'm happy to have a nice little saw that makes fine dust with the absolute lightest touch possible!

We spent the rest of the day talking about hand planes and sharpening techniques. I'll have to save those topics for a different blog post, but I definitely want to talk about it because there is some great information in my little spiral notebook.

I'm a little disappointed I'm going to have to miss tomorrow's session. But I have my priorities straight, and spending time with these two wonderful people is the most important thing I could do on Mother's Day.

I guess I'll just have to catch Graham at Mark Adam's school some time in the future, right? :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Purple Reign

So after a week of silence, I bet you thought I was already off the blogwagon, didn't you? You also probably thought I'd not done anything further with the shop.

Both not true.

Progress Report:
1. I've finished hanging the lights. They are bright! Yeah! They're wired so I can have overhead light just over the area where the workbench will be or I can have light over the rest of the room or I can have both (or none, I suppose...). Also have can lights against the back wall where I plan on installing a bank of base cabinets. I have plenty of outlets along the walls, so I can use portable lights for when I need to create a raking effect.
2. I've narrowed down flooring selection. Hopefully this week I'll be able to view samples of the three or four I'm going to choose from and will be able to put in the order. Would like to get the flooring ordered this week so I can get it into the room to acclimate for a few days prior to install. We'll be pushing this part to the wire. In the mean time...
3. *sigh* The walls. Ugh, I hate purple. So far, the exercise room purple walls, painted by the previous home owner, have defeated me. After three (3) coats of KILZ, I can still see a hint of it coming through. Is it because they painted virgin concrete? Is it purple paint coloring from Hell? Why can't I get it covered up? I'm going to let my third (3rd) coat dry for more than 24 hours and then I'll go down again and see what it looks like. Maybe I'll paint a test area with the semi-gloss top coat to see if it is giving me good coverage.

Wish me luck. And toss any advice my way you might have on painting purple walls.

Oh, and I had an interesting idea for the box commission I recently received. I'll toss some photos/descriptions at the person requesting the box to see what he thinks. If he likes it, I'll start working on dimensions and details. Don't worry; I'll probably let you know what I'm going to do.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shop Flooring - Light Or Dark?

This whole idea of setting smaller goals seems to be working! In the last week, I've installed my can lights, painted the ceiling (two coats, semi-gloss), replaced a few outlets that needed replacing, put all outlet and light switch covers back on, and installed two of five florescent lights (I'm currently using 5000 Kelvin color temperature bulbs for a natural daylight effect; it seems a little harsh, so I might change a few bulbs out with a lower color temperature to warm it up a little). I'll try to get some pictures up this weekend.

In order to complete my current goal list, I need to finish the lighting, paint the walls, and get the flooring down before May 1st.

Thinking ahead, I'll need to get flooring ordered within the week so I can let it acclimate to the basement before I install it. A life-long friend of mine, Ken, owns a carpet and tile store and is going to help me out with the flooring. I think he's partly interested in helping me because I'm going with a new product and he wants to see what it looks like when it is done. I might even be able to talk him into helping me install it for some beer and pizza... (good beer, of course).

Continuing a theme of an eco-friendly (and not echo-friendly, which would just get irritating after a while) workshop, which will be the subject of another post, I think I'm going to give cork flooring a try. He carries a new product of cork flooring that is Greenguard Certified and comes in 4" wide planks, like a hardwood floor might. That should make installation easier (I can crosscut with my power miter saw in the basement instead of on the table saw in the garage). And it should be a tool-friendly floor when the inevitable chisel rolls off the workbench.

So now here comes my question for you, the general woodworking community. Should I use lighter cork flooring, like the image on the left or darker cork flooring, like the image on the right, in a workshop?

I'm trying to consider more than just, "a dark wood floor will always look dirty", which is exactly the problem I have with my 1100 square feet of Santos Mahogany flooring on the main level (which happens to show drywall dust cat prints really well). It's a workshop; it will be dusty. That doesn't bother me. But I do want something that is inviting and pleasing to the eye, in addition to being comfortable to walk and work on.

Things to consider when responding:
  • The ceiling is semi-gloss off-white paint.
  • The walls will be semi-gloss off-white paint.
  • I plan on setting up a totally movable tool storage system involving a permanent French cleat around the entire shop with smaller 2'x4' storage boards I can move around as needed, so the white walls will hopefully be broken up quite a bit.
So please, give me your opinion. Is the floor in your workshop darker or lighter? What do you like/not like about that aspect of your floor? Would you put your flooring down again?

(And no, this isn't some shameless technique for getting people to comment on my blog. It is a
very shameful technique... but I also want to hear what you have to say.)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Gentle Nudges Abound!

I like to think I'm pretty good at taking a hint. In the last week or so, it seems like I've received about five or six of them. That's a little excessive, isn't it?

Hint #1: This past Thursday was the annual Show-and-Tell for the St. Louis Woodworkers Guild. Always a good place to go and get inspired - if not by what you see, then at least by the actions of others. This is also the second year we've had silent auction tables. I already had a pile of duplicate tools (ok, ok... they were triplicates) sitting in a box to be sold on eBay or Craig's List or just given away, so I decided to bring them in. Oh, ho! I came home with $230 in my pocket AFTER paying listing and selling fees to the guild! (I didn't complain about the fees - it all went to the guild, after all.) That will go far in buying my new shop floor!

Hint #2: Earlier in the day on Thursday, I'd received an e-mail from Spike Carlsen, a fellow woodworker and author of several woodworking books. A few years ago, he gave a presentation at one of our guild meetings. In preparation for the meeting, I wrote a review of his book,
A Splintered History of Wood. He's just published another book, Ridiculously Simple Furniture Projects, and wanted to know if I would read and review it.

Hint #3: My friend, Alex, has been posting pictures on Facebook of the progress he's making on his new workshop. Jerk.

Hint #4: When I got home from the SLWG meeting, I checked my e-mail and saw that I'd received a possible commission request!

Hint #5: My little boy is getting baptized the first weekend of May. My wife's aunt and uncle could possibly drive down from Ohio for the event! Her uncle has recently become an avid woodworker and apparently this new interest was all started with the turned bog oak fountain pen I'd given him for Christmas one year. He has a pretty nice setup in the third bay of their garage. One of the last times I was up visiting them, I helped him install his Gorilla cyclone dust extractor. His shop is organized, clean, and fully functional. There's no way I can let him see the complete wreck of a room I call my workshop!

You think five hints is enough? I do!

So it's time for me to kick into gear and get some things done. First I need to get some things done in my shop - a bit of painting, hanging some shop lights, and installing a floor.

I want to get click-in cork flooring. I think it will work well in a woodworking shop - it is tool friendly and will provide some cushion for my feet. I don't have quite all of the money I need to buy the flooring, but I think I might be able to take a "loan" out of our savings account to cover the difference. I'll pay it back, I swear!

And... that's my goal - to get those three things done before May 1st. I don't want to set too many goals for myself that I get overwhelmed, you know? And when my wife's uncle comes to visit, that should be a good opportunity to get some ideas from him as to how I can set up the shop to achieve the best use of space.

Oh, there is another goal - to dust this blog off and get it back up and running. I haven't been writing anything lately mostly because I haven't been doing any woodworking. It is hard to justify the first without the second. But I have several blog ideas running through my head, and some obligations I need to fulfill, so I'll work on that, as well.

Sorry for the prolonged absence. Hopefully I'm back! My only excuse for the lack of blogging and woodworking is this guy to the left...

Now... who wouldn't want to spend all of their free time with this little Clark Kent wannabe?