Jim Randolph

Feb 132017
 

Let The al fresco Dining Begin!

When our youngest grandchild, Sara Riley, was only a few years old, I got some rough-sawn cedar, planed and sanded it, and built the cutest miniature picnic table with two separate benches. A few years later our second grandchild, Charlie, came along, and his big sister now graciously allows him to sit with her.

After I finished this table, a lady saw it and said she wanted one for her grandchildren. She asked me, “How much?” I said, “For one exactly like this? Five hundred.” I put a lot of sweat and love into this little project. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while it was being built. Here, it shows the effect of aging in ten Kentucky summers and winters.

After I finished this table, a lady saw it and said she wanted one for her grandchildren. She asked me, “How much?” I said, “For one exactly like this? Five hundred.” I put a lot of sweat and love into this little project. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures while it was being built. Here, it shows the effect of aging in ten Kentucky summers and winters.

I wanted to make a picnic table for our two youngest grandchildren, Audrey and Owen, but I didn’t want it to be the same. When I found the plan for a round table with curved benches, I knew all I had to do was scale it down to their size.

The kernel of the project came from an old project book copyrighted 1970 titled, Wood Projects for the Home Handyman, by the editors of the Home Handyman’s Magazine. Its asking price was 60¢ at newsstands, 75¢ by mail. There is a collection of projects that you can make from the “durable, decorative and workable woods of the western lumber region.” To encourage the timid and the tightwad, the book proclaims “The table with benches can be easily constructed by the average home craftsman and will cost far less than comparable units available in retail outlets.”

I was shocked when I picked up the Western red cedar. So much for this project costing “far less.” Cedar had roughly doubled in price since the first table. But, so what? It was for the grandbabies. That’s always good justification.

Memorial Day weekend, 2014, I had the wood, the shop was clean, Brenda was out of town, the Forrest Woodworker II was sharp, and I thought, “I can start Friday night after work, go all day Saturday plus Monday and probably be finished by the evening of Memorial Day.”

I’m writing this January 25, 2017, and I just loaded the pieces onto the trailer last week. It was not a long-weekend task.

It was a fun project, though. One of the great things about having young grandchildren as your “customers”… they don’t keep track of time.

In fact, a serendipitous thing happened between 2014 and now. Granddaughter Audrey learned the term, al fresco, an Italian phrase that means “in the fresh air,” and she loves dining outside on the deck whenever she can. She and her little brother, Owen, will love sitting at their new al fresco table.

There were some interesting experiences during the two-plus years of this build, and I’d like to share some of them with you.

First, I learned that, although cedar’s price was up, the quality went down. Knots, on the one hand, are simply part of working with cedar. I knew that when I chose the medium. Other defects were not so expected.

Like the giant void that appeared in the edge after circle-cutting the top with a router.

I suppose that black epoxy is going to become a “trademark” for me, as I seem to find a way to incorporate it in nearly every project, much like Ernie Conover uses ebony plugs in the center of his drawer pulls. But, I’m used to having a defect to fill that provides its own retaining wall, such as a knot that has fallen out. To fix this edge, I was going to have to provide a wall. As Steven Johnson would say, I “noodled” on it for a while, and came up with this plan. Start with a curved retaining wall. As someone who finds roadside buckets nearly every time he gets in the car, I wasn’t shy about cutting a bucket to pieces. The shape is already curved, and, even though it isn’t the same diameter as the 48″ top, it is flexible. I cut enough of it to go well beyond the defect, stretched it tight with clamps, then put pan-head screws through pre- drilled holes in the bucket-dam, into the edge of the table, applying even more tension. The defect was bad enough that it went all the way through, so I needed another dam on the bottom of the table. For that, I used some off-brand Play-Doh. Building up epoxy in seven layers, I gradually filled the void. I was hoping that I’d avoid bubbles by using thin coats of epoxy. Alas, there were some, but they were small and not terribly noticeable. Epoxy is sandpaper-friendly, so no techniques have to be changed to accommodate it.

The bucket strip is stretched tight against the wooden edge with clamps and screws. Dollar-store Play-Doh is acting as a dam against uncured epoxy dripping out, and we’re ready for the first layer.

The bucket strip is stretched tight against the wooden edge with clamps and screws. Dollar-store Play-Doh is acting as a dam against uncured epoxy dripping out, and we’re ready for the first layer.

Several layers have built up the epoxy.

Several layers have built up the epoxy.

The first two of seven coats of finish are on, and the repair looks more like an accent than a mistake of nature.

The first two of seven coats of finish are on, and the repair looks more like an accent than a mistake of nature.

Some of the bench boards had defects that went all the way through.

Some of the bench boards had defects that went all the way through.

Repair of these through-knots started with fake Play-Doh, reinforced with plywood clamped in place.

Repair of these through-knots started with fake Play-Doh, reinforced with plywood clamped in place.

Then, the defect is ready to be filled. I use “charcoal” concrete-coloring powder in my epoxy to make it black.

Then, the defect is ready to be filled. I use “charcoal” concrete-coloring powder in my epoxy to make it black.

Sometimes you get lucky and two defects are right across from each other. Before filling, I used a Dremel tool with a burr to clean out all the loose material.

Sometimes you get lucky and two defects are right across from each other. Before filling, I used a Dremel tool with a burr to clean out all the loose material.

During the project I read about a home builder who epoxied a penny into the framing of houses he built. The year of the penny matched the year of the build. I expanded that idea and put state-specific quarters in the edge of the table. A “Kentucky” quarter from the years Audrey and Owen were born, a “Mississippi” quarter for the year the table was made, and a Texas quarter to represent the state of my birth. My Texas coin couldn’t be year-appropriate. Quarters hadn’t been invented yet.

During the project I read about a home builder who epoxied a penny into the framing of houses he built. The year of the penny matched the year of the build. I expanded that idea and put state-specific quarters in the edge of the table. A “Kentucky” quarter from the years Audrey and Owen were born, a “Mississippi” quarter for the year the table was made, and a Texas quarter to represent the state of my birth. My Texas coin couldn’t be year-appropriate. Quarters hadn’t been invented yet.

Loaded and ready for delivery. The finish is two coats of CPES: Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, topped with three coats of gloss Epifanes and two coats of matte Epifanes.

Loaded and ready for delivery. The finish is two coats of CPES: Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer, topped with three coats of gloss Epifanes and two coats of matte Epifanes.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Feb 062017
 

January is the month of resolutions.

February is the month in which you know whether you’ve kept up with what you’ve resolved, need to improve, or have failed miserably.

What are your resolutions for 2017?

I’m confident that a lot of woodworkers have intentions of being cleaner around the shop in the new year. We could sweep more, we could pick up cutoffs and other trip hazards as we create them, we could store the things that we use infrequently, and better organize the things we leave out.

Some of you might be like me, and have tools that you no longer (or never did) use.

Take my first Skilsaw. It runs, but the bushings (I doubt it has bearings) seize on the armature and it howls when it spins. I might be able to send it somewhere to be rebuilt, but how would I justify the cost and effort? I have a TS75, and a newer Skilsaw. Still, I can’t seem to let it go. I bought it at the Keesler Air Force Base Exchange in the 1970s and, if I remember correctly, paid less than $25.

With the exception of the TS75, this is still the best circular saw I’ve ever had. Not for sale. If I could solve the seizing problem, it would still be my go-to all-around circular saw. It would beat the pants off the Skilsaw I bought in 2005.

With the exception of the TS75, this is still the best circular saw I’ve ever had. Not for sale. If I could solve the seizing problem, it would still be my go-to all-around circular saw. It would beat the pants off the Skilsaw I bought in 2005.

Speaking of the BX, I have a Black and Decker one-speed, one-direction (neither reversible nor variable speed had been invented yet, I don’t think) drill that I paid just $8 for, also in the 70s. It still runs as well as it ever did. Well, maybe a little noisier. I’ll probably keep it if it ever dies. It holds some really good memories.

This is one tough drill. It came with a 1/4" chuck, but I exchanged it for a 3/8" chuck from a dead drill. Not for sale.

This is one tough drill. It came with a 1/4″ chuck, but I exchanged it for a 3/8″ chuck from a dead drill. Not for sale.

I have an Osborne Excalibur miter gauge that I’ve never used. Heck, it’s never even been out of the box. I won it in a contest and I already had a nice Incra miter gauge that I’ve always been happy with.

Somebody could have been using this fine miter gauge for all the years it’s been sitting in my office. I’d like to sell it, but I’m not sure where to start.

Somebody could have been using this fine miter gauge for all the years it’s been sitting in my office. I’d like to sell it, but I’m not sure where to start.

I’d like to have a bigger jointer than the 6″ Delta that I have, but what would I ever do with the old Delta? It would be cost-prohibitive to ship, but I could deliver it if I sold it locally.

Sometimes a 6" jointer is all you need, other times, it’s just not enough. Still, no one needs two jointers. Or does he?

Sometimes a 6″ jointer is all you need, other times, it’s just not enough. Still, no one needs two jointers. Or does he?

I’ve also been torn about miter saws. I took the plunge into a Festool Kapex, for a variety of reasons, but I’m still attached to my DeWalt. It’s not a sin to have two miter saws, is it?

There’s nothing wrong with the DeWalt miter saw, and the Norm Abram stand is the cat’s meow. But, does one need two power miter boxes? I doubt it.

There’s nothing wrong with the DeWalt miter saw, and the Norm Abram stand is the cat’s meow. But, does one need two power miter boxes? I doubt it.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Feb 052017
 

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.

How cheap can a project get? Let’s look at the mobile grinding station featured in this month’s 1st tip. It starts with a free Craftsman tool stand from a Sears dumpster. Then, use some 2x2s salvaged from a friend’s trash down the street.

All of these 2x2s were already cut and painted, sitting by the side of the road for someone to pick up and give them a home. I was happy to oblige. To boot, I got them on my predawn walk; no pride was sacrificed in the making of this project.

All of these 2x2s were already cut and painted, sitting by the side of the road for someone to pick up and give them a home. I was happy to oblige. To boot, I got them on my predawn walk; no pride was sacrificed in the making of this project.

Add a scrap piece of plywood for the top.

Some of my best finds occur in the dark. I toted this back home one morning, adding calorie burn to my walk and a beautiful half-sheet of CDX plywood to my stores.

Some of my best finds occur in the dark. I toted this back home one morning, adding calorie burn to my walk and a beautiful half-sheet of CDX plywood to my collection.

A half-price grinder, a full-price mobile base, a few bolts and the rest was free. Not a bad deal for a mobile grinding station.

A half-price grinder, a full-price mobile base, a few bolts and the rest was free. Not a bad deal for a mobile grinding station.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Feb 042017
 

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist who loves woodworking and writing for those who also love the craft. I have found some ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop that might be helpful to you, and I enjoy hearing your own problem-solving ideasPlease share them in the COMMENTS section of each tip.  If, in the process, I can also make you laugh, I have achieved 100% of my goals.

Mobile bases are terrific. I like being able to move a tool to the location of the work, or, sometimes, just move it in order to clean.

Last month I posted about the new sharpening center. This month, I finalized something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. In the sharpening center post, I mentioned that I’d considered putting a low-speed grinder on the deck, but worried that it might be crowded, as well as the risk of mixing water and electricity. Still, I wanted to have the grinder close by when it was needed, and this is how I fixed it…

When our Sears store had a local repair center, their dumpster was sometimes a gold mine. They would throw out things that seemed to be perfectly useful. One day I’d been there to drop off my dehumidifier for annual maintenance, when a grey object caught my eye. I wheeled around to check and, sure enough, a Craftsman tool stand was just outside the dumpster. As the proud owner of a Craftsman radial arm saw, I thought I’d pick it up in case I wanted to mount the saw on it. I’d already built the saw into my “saw table,” but it was a prize too good to pass up.

Over time, the stand was in my way, and I was happy with the saw table setup, so I started looking for other uses. It seemed ideally suited for a grinder, so I took a scrap of plywood and bolted it securely. To the plywood I attached my little Craftsman grinder. It was a good working height as- is.

For many years after I started woodworking, I was a terrible sharpener. In an effort to improve, I looked at a Work Sharp 3000 Sharpening Center, Scary Sharp sandpaper and several Tormek sharpening options. While I’m convinced that Tormek is worth every penny, I just couldn’t quite convince myself to drop the necessary coin. Since Steven Johnson’s excellent video on the Tormek T-4 Sharpening System, I’m now a believer, but I was already committed to a slow-speed grinder.

When my Steel City slow-speed grinder arrived, I was at first elated, then deflated. During shipping, the grinder must have fallen on its left side, because there were several parts bent. I called the company, and they were glad to take care of the problem. In fact, they sent me an entirely new grinder, and didn’t even want the old one back! I couldn’t be happier with the replacement. It was easy to unbolt the Craftsman, move it 90i, and have grinders back-to-back.

As Christmas approached, my wife asked me repeatedly what I wanted. Since I didn’t need anything, it was hard for me to produce ideas, but I settled on a DMT diamond plate and a universal mobile base. In no time I had a moveable grinder setup that could follow my wet sharpening system around the shop whenever and wherever they were needed.

Mounted on a mobile base, this grinder setup is ready to go wherever the work is, or just get out of the way of an oncoming vacuum cleaner.

Mounted on a mobile base, this grinder setup is ready to go wherever the work is, or just get out of the way of an oncoming vacuum cleaner.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Jan 102017
 

Wood storage is a challenge for nearly every woodworker.

It takes up so much room.

It collects dust.

And insects.

And, the occasional snake.

And it’s rarely organized sufficiently that one can quickly and easily access the exact material they want.

My wood storage evolved from a structural feature in our new-20-years-ago house. The heavy, concrete front porch needed the support of a wall, which had to be, you guessed it, in my garage. Our builder said it could be four to six feet from the front concrete-block wall, a row of studs about 19 feet long.

That made it too small to be a room, too narrow to store a boat, but nearly perfect for storing lumber and plywood.

The first iteration was all wood. That system worked fine until.

Until Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina’s eye followed the Mississippi-Louisiana state border, and our Hancock County, Mississippi, home lay in the right front quadrant. As hurricanes are most intense in that quadrant, and they push the most water in that quadrant, we got her full complement of a 35-foot storm surge. Our entire garage was flooded, just shy of the ceiling joists. We are still thanking God that the water stopped 18″ from our living level.

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One can get the idea of what the wood storage was like before Katrina’s waters rose. Plywood was stored on the top, and all of that plywood was originally for storm protection, except that many of the openings had rollup shutters by 2005, so the plywood was just waiting to be used in projects. The wood storage construction was simple, a 2×4 on edge nailed to the wall on one side and a vertical sleeper on the other. The soaking-wet plywood couldn’t be budged. One end was jammed into the ceiling joists and there was no way to pull any out. I had to cut a foot at a time off of the pile with a chain saw, as if it were a big log.

Wood tends to become plastic when it gets wet, which is why woodworkers wet it with steam when we want to bend it. Though Katrina’s floodwaters were cool, the effect of soaking beams and studs was dramatic. With the garage’s interior structures carrying the weight of two floors above, there was a lot of sagging.

The wall for the porch support didn’t fail, but it drooped, and needed to be replaced.

As it happened, a pet owner in the construction business had sought our clinic’s services while his regular veterinarian’s hospital was recovering from Katrina damage. Steel construction was the man’s specialty, and we struck up a conversation about replacing our sagging wall with steel track and studs. Within a few minutes we agreed on terms for materials, a teaching session and a helper.

At the planned time the construction boss showed up at our house with his man, Hollywood, a load of track and studs, a loaner metal-cutting chop saw and all of the screws, lead anchors and other things we needed for steel construction.

The boss got us started by helping us build the wall, teaching us the basics of steel stud construction, then he left.

This was the setup after Hollywood and I finished. Three levels and crossmember studs on edge for lots of strength.

This was the setup after Hollywood and I finished. Three levels and crossmember studs on edge for lots of strength.

Hollywood and I had the hang of the process, and all that was left was to keep repeating the steps until all of the track and crossmembers were installed.

I was measuring lengths to 1/32 and splitting hairs with the bubbles on the level.

Hollywood remarked, “We aren’t building furniture here,” to which I replied, “No, but we are storing the building blocks of furniture here, and if the supports are crooked, the wood in the furniture will soon be crooked, too.”

We had that conversation more than once. Hollywood was not a fast learner.

The three-level system worked well, except that wood with “character,” the kind I like best, often has twist, warp and bend along with its other defects. That makes it nearly impossible to store the wood flat and makes tall stacks fall over. Also, being restricted to three levels makes it difficult to conveniently segregate lumber by species. At best, two or more species had to share a level, often with species rubbing shoulders.

As you can see, little of the lumber here is “prime.” There was a lot of wasted space above the top crossmember. The twisted and bent lumber refused to be stacked neatly, and fell over if the stacks were too high.

As you can see, little of the lumber here is “prime.” There was a lot of wasted space above the top crossmember. The twisted and bent lumber refused to be stacked neatly, and fell over if the stacks were too high.

On the bottom two levels, several species are crammed together and few of the boards are “cooperative.”

On the bottom two levels, several species are crammed together and few of the boards are “cooperative.”

One day I got inspired (read “fed up”), and took every single piece of wood and plyboard out of storage and stacked it neatly in the middle of the garage. I made a plan to split each existing level in half, and double the number of levels. Vertically, I’d have less room, but isolating species from each other would make it worthwhile.

My first trip to the steel building supply store resulted in a mistake.

26 gauge steel is thinner than newspaper, and I worried that it might not be rugged enough to last a lifetime. I went back and got 20 gauge. The cost was almost quadruple, but the peace of mind was worth the extra expense.

My original plan was to put the crossmembers on edge, like Hollywood and I had installed the originals. While I was explaining my plan to Brenda, she said, “Aren’t you going to lose a lot of storage space?”

That made me reconsider an alternative I’d already thought of, then rejected: laying the crossmembers flat. I knew that would cost me some strength, but figured I had more strength than I needed anyway. To test, I installed one piece, then put one foot on it. So far, so good. I put my full weight on it. No ER visit yet. I jumped up and down on it. It had plenty of strength.

Hollywood’s boss had us attaching the studs to the track with self-drilling, Phillips-head screws. With their round heads they had a fairly low profile, but it occurred to me that a rivet, with its even smaller head, would be even less likely to scratch the stored wood so I went with those. Each crossmember would require four rivets.

Self-drilling screws are fast. And one step. Rivets, not so much. A pilot hole must be drilled, followed by a slightly larger hole the size of the rivet’s outside diameter. Then, you insert the rivet, slide a pop-rivet tool’s head over the pin, and squeeze. And squeeze. And squeeze.

A 3/16″ pop rivet is fairly easy to, well, pop. But, I was using 1/4″ rivets, and the chore became massive. It was so hard to squeeze the gun that it left my hands hurting. And weak.

This is the basic, Chinese version of the generic pop rivet gun. Fine for little rivets. Too hard to squeeze for the 1/4" size.

This is the basic, Chinese version of the generic pop rivet gun. Fine for little rivets. Too hard to squeeze for the 1/4″ size.

Seeking relief, I put cheater bars on the gun handles. That made the action easier, but now, when the rivet popped, the gun and both pipes went flying.

To give the little pop rivet gun more leverage, and make pin-popping a little easier, I used these cheater pipes. It wasn’t a perfect solution.

To give the little pop rivet gun more leverage, and make pin-popping a little easier, I used these cheater pipes. It wasn’t a perfect solution.

Annoying. And time-consuming, but better than the pain I was experiencing.

However, as time went on, the pain went up my arm, into my shoulder, and all the way to my neck. Between straining the ulnar nerve and aggravating an existing right rotator cuff injury, I was hurting, nearly to the point of quitting.

I had already searched online for a machine that would pop the rivets for me. The cheapest one I found was $500. But, when Brenda and I went to a celebratory dinner with her youngest sister and brother-in-law, the subject of pop rivets came up, and my Brother-in-law, Norman, said he bought one for under $100. He suggested I check Harbor Freight, which I did that very night.

A trip to Biloxi, a 20% off coupon, and $55 later I was the proud owner of a 1/4″ air- powered pop rivet gun! It sure made me wish I’d had it at the beginning of this project!

This little Harbor Freight jewel may have saved my right arm. Popping 1/4" rivets is a dream now.

This little Harbor Freight jewel may have saved my right arm. Popping 1/4″ rivets is a dream now.

I finished the remaining crossmembers in no time, cleaned up the metal shavings and scattered pins and loaded the now space-efficient storage.

I’m happy with the board storage, and expect little change to it over time.

Board storage is now terrific. Species are discretely stored, no overlap, and no tall stacks falling over.

I expect the plywood storage area to be more fluid. I won’t be stockpiling; rather, I’ll buy plywood as I need it for a specific project and mostly be storing cutoffs.

Plywood storage is sufficient for full sheets as well as cutoffs varying from oak to CDX to hardboard and pegboard.

Plywood storage is sufficient for full sheets as well as cutoffs varying from oak to CDX to hardboard and pegboard.

Thus, the plywood storage is a bit of a hodgepodge. It’s organized by species and size: 1/2″ oak is all together with 3/4″ oak, 1/2″ and 3/4″ CDX on the same level, etc.

Each section of boards is labeled, and those labels are easily changed if the system needs to be rearranged.

Each section of boards is labeled, and those labels can be easily changed if the system needs to be rearranged.

Mission accomplished.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

Jan 042017
 

Everyone knows that heat kills.

Saw blades. Overheated edges sharpened on a grinder. Motors forced to work harder than they were intended.

This label is a little droopy, isn’t it? No wonder. When I spent hours at the grinder, wire-wheeling items rusted by Katrina’s flood, I should have given the little grinder a rest. Heat didn’t kill it, but I’m sure heat shortened its life expectancy.

This label is a little droopy, isn’t it? No wonder. When I spent hours at the grinder, wire-wheeling items rusted by Katrina’s flood, I should have given the little grinder a rest. Heat didn’t kill it, but I’m sure heat shortened its life expectancy.

Nothing is susceptible to heat damage like electronics. Stereos, computers, high-intensity lighting with electronic controls.

I almost never turn on my laptop in the shop. Sometimes, if I need it for just a minute, I’ll fire it up in the back of my car, diagonally opposite the part of the garage where the most dust is generated. Otherwise, I go upstairs where the living level of the house is clean, and go back and forth to use it. It’s a little extra effort, but clogging the cooling fans and processor radiator fins with dust will shorten the life of your $1000 to $2000 investment. If you have a Mac, it’s even more.

While I could put my stereo’s amplifier upstairs and just run wires to the speakers, I change sources and volume levels too often for that to be practical. Sometimes the old iPod, sometimes Music Choice from the cable TV, sometimes the news off my TiVo app.

This iPod is so old that its battery no longer holds a charge. But, as long as the power supply holds out it will continue to play all 13 gigabytes of my stored music.

This iPod is so old that its battery no longer holds a charge. But, as long as the power supply holds out it will continue to play all 13 gigabytes of my stored music.

As a compromise, I have a reminder in my computer that tells me when it’s time to blow my stereo out every six months. Compared to tube-type amplifiers, today’s electronics run much cooler, but the manufacturer put cooling fins on the power supply for a reason, so I like to keep them dust- free.

Work in the shop without my stereo? Not on your life.

Work in the shop without my stereo? Not on your life.

Jan 032017
 

No Southern-fried Southern boy wants to be called a Yankee, but we share the characteristics of shrewdness and thrift. Thus, each month we include a money-saving tip. It’s OK if you call me “cheap.”

This is a Matt Cremona tip, but it’s one I just had to share because it revolutionized sharpening for me. Matt didn’t invent this, his just happened to be my first time to see it. The way Matt gets the perfect angle on his blades every time is by using a jig that quickly establishes the distance from the tip of the blade to the locked position of the sharpening . Thus, if you want a certain angle on your blade, set the distance from the tip of the blade to the guide device, and you get a repeatable bevel every time. It’s not important if it’s 24 degrees or 26 degrees,repeatability is the key concept. I had been under the mistaken assumption that I could hold the chisel at a consistent angle while hand-sharpening on a stone. Wrong, resin breath! The other problem I always had with the guide was getting the blade square to the stone. The jig does that for you! Having the proper setup, a few passes with my 3/4″ chisel and I was amazed at how well it cut.

Instead of a separate assembly, I incorporated the “jig” right into the surface of my sharpening station. Right now, I have just a 25 degree block, but it will be a simple matter to hot-glue more blocks for additional angles. CLICK HERE to watch Matt and his sharpening setup.

This pretty little cedar block gives me the exact distance from bevel tip to holder for a 25i angle. It’s hot-glued in place.

This pretty little cedar block gives me the exact distance from bevel tip to holder for a 25 degree angle. It’s hot-glued in place.


Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home.Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.