Jim Randolph

Jul 112018
 

Shop time is precious. However, so is Mother Earth. We have only one, and we have only one lifetime to treat her right, both for our own good and those who will occupy her in the future.

Think “children” and “grandchildren.” Therefore, it’s worth the time to make a few extra steps across the shop each day to recycle.

These recycling bins are but a short walk across the garage from where most of my work is done. We also keep a bin in the laundry room, upstairs, and a big bin at work. Those who inherit the earth from us will appreciate that they don’t have to live in landfills.

Aluminum is the most valued recyclable, with more than two-thirds of all of the aluminum ever made still in use. If you’re sipping on a Coca Cola right now, rinse that can and drop it into the bin when you’re finished. Other scraps of aluminum you might produce in your work can also be recycled curbside, so keep your mind open to cutoffs and other sources.

Paper is a big recyclable item, and woodworking shops produce a good bit of it. Think packaging, plans, notebooks and mail. When I have scrap paper I may take a momentary break to walk across the room to recycle, or I may conserve my energy by making a pile until it gets in my way.

Steel is one of the most-recycled items in America, but more of it is recycled industrially than personally. That’s too bad, because we use and discard a lot of it. However, as easy as it is to recycle a steel English pea can curbside, other steel items might have to be stockpiled and delivered to a metal recycling center. I am fortunate to have one nearby, and I can store steel and large-format aluminum in my garage at work until I have a load to deliver.

If you prefer to be paid for your aluminum cans, you can save them and sell them at the metal recycling center, too. However, keep in mind that such high-profit items help your local government keep curbside recycling available to everyone.

I’ve never understood the attraction of bottled water, especially little 4- and 8-ounce bottles that are so inefficient. I prefer tap water, which is nearly free. However, America loves them, as evidenced by the “bottle mountains” I see in recycling bins every Friday. Sadly, when I pick up litter on my early-morning walk, I often see them in garbage cans I drop that trash into along the way. Plastic recycling is quite efficient, and the bigger your municipality, the more likely you are to be able to recycle even unusually-symboled plastic beyond common polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Wood scraps recycle, too. We have friends who use woodburning stoves and heaters, so I keep a 5-gallon bucket handy to drop in all sizes of cutoffs. When the bucket is full …

After one of many waste-company changes in our city, we ended up with a never-used rolling garbage cart. The company didn’t want it back, so I use it to store wood scraps until someone needs them for their woodburning stove.

The “3Rs” are reduce, reuse and recycle. They are listed in order of value. First, buy less and use less. Second, reuse what doesn’t have to be thrown away. Third, recycle where you can. Recycling can also include using cutoffs and “waste” in another project. Think of this as a ceiling recycle bin.

May I encourage you to find a corner of your shop where you can reduce landfill waste by saving your recyclables for the weekly pickup?

Jul 102018
 

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.

“Cheap” doesn’t have to mean inferior materials. I found some discarded sign material, aluminum with a rubber sandwich filling, and I knew it would be valuable someday. I just had to hang on to it long enough. And store it long enough. It was thin, flat and lightweight, so it lay under my boat, and has been waiting for it’s moment to be used.

Meanwhile, I’ve been watching the wood on the bottom of the door of our cedar deck deteriorate for a few years. The door is irreplaceable because of an imprint.

Our first granddaughter was only a month old when her mother, Regina, got the idea to make a terrific Father’s Day present for me: a tie with her hand and footprints on it.

As some of you know, my favorite saying in the world is, “Timing Is Everything.” This process started with timing.

Controlling where an infant puts her hands and feet is considerably easier when that infant is asleep, or nearly so.

Regina and Brenda conspired to have everything ready so that they could pounce when the baby was well into her nap.

What better present for a grandfather than a tie made from his only grandchild’s feet and hands?

Making the tie went so well that Brenda decided, on the way to the bathinette, the excess paint could be put to good use by planting toes and fingers on the door stile.

Now, I’m a grandpa, and, even though our first granddaughter hadn’t been on the ground quite a month yet, I was thoroughly head-over-heels in love with her.

However, when I saw those pastels on that perfect cedar door, Brenda said my eyes flashed for a moment. Soon, however, I was OK again and I’ve cherished those little manos and pies ever since.

When Brenda first got the idea to “paint” on this door, I was a little upset. But, what grandparent hasn’t said, “What the grandbaby wants, the grandbaby gets?” I will always treasure these foot and handprints.

Now that the door needs to be replaced, I’m torn. I can save that part of the door easily enough, but I’m undecided about what materials to make a new door from.

As I struggled with the decision, it occurred to me that a kickplate made from the aforementioned discarded aluminum might be just the thing as a temporary fix.

No fancy brass like the White House, as this will be temporary (famous last words).

Good as new! Well, almost. This aluminum won’t rust and the heavy-duty sign paint will resist scratches. The Festool Carvex glided through the aluminum just like wood. There is an identical panel on the outside (thus, the offset screw positions), which has given the decaying cedar enough support while I decide about making a new door.


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.

Jul 092018
 

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.

A Domino mortising machine is an incredibly versatile tool.

Recently, I had the opportunity to use it in a bench mount.

One of our employees made this statue as a Christmas present. It is made of olive wood from the Holy Land, which is really gorgeous material. It’s about 6″ high.

I’d had it only a few days when the top broke away from the base, revealing that the craftsman had simply glued the two parts together. It was destined to fail. Now, I could have drilled a hole through the base, a pilot hole in the statue, run a drywall screw in and been finished, but, where’s the fun in that? I wanted an elegant fix.

Step 1 was to remove the finish from the two surfaces, because varnish buildup was going to prevent the top from sitting flat on the base. Olive wood requires no stain, so refinishing would be easy with clear laquer.

Next, I needed perfect positioning. In a piece this small, any deviation from center, in either direction, would be very noticeable. Fortunately, the base is rectangular, which made finding the center quite easy.

With accurate marks in place on the base, the stable platform of the Domino’s fence and frame would make the alignment easy enough. One might think that the oscillating bit would tend to cause the machine to move about, but it doesn’t. I simply positioned the Domino vertically on the base, lined up the marks with the fence centering marks, and drilled away.

Sand off the finish, mark the center exactly, mortise perfectly.

Enter the next challenge.

The top was as rounded and irregular as the base was square. If it leaned in any direction, the statue was ruined. Ditto if I oriented the Domino bit incorrectly. Nothing could move during the drilling of the top mortise, and I didn’t want my fingers too close to the oscillating bit, either. I needed a way to clamp the statue to the fence that wouldn’t mar the finish.

After wracking the ol’ brain a few minutes, I remembered my Vise-Grip, Kreg-style clamps with rubber cushions. Non-slip and non-marking! I clamped the Domino to the workbench upside down, “benchtop style.”

These Vise-Grip clamps are perfect for many uses beyond pocket screws, and they fit the bill on this job, too.

I took my time with centering, measuring with dividers. Measure five times, mortise once.

To ensure I was square and not too deep, I aligned the statue with the frame using a piece of rigid plastic.

This plastic was the perfect fit to keep the top from going too deep into the mouth of the Domino, rigid but thin.

When the moment of truth was done, I had a perfect mortise to match the perfect alignment of the base.

Whew! Made it!

Some glue and finish and we could return our special Christmas gift to its honored location.

Clamping was probably overkill, but I wanted the base and top in tight alignment, not having to depend on finish to fill any gap.


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.

Jun 052018
 

This is all the cooling I need in my shop. It’s nice being nearly immune to the heat.

Do you have air conditioning in your shop?
Do you run it a lot?
Before Hurricane Katrina, I had a little 5000 BTU window unit that I would occasionally put in a casement for temporary use, but I had to be desperate. As a fan of hot weather, I don’t see the need for it often, even in our South Mississippi heat and humidity.

After Katrina, the point was moot, as the AC was sitting on the floor of the shop when the flood waters came, and few things electronic survived that horrible, nasty, hypersaline water.

For a couple of years after that, I would pass a certain house on my way to work where the garage door was always open. They had an identical unit sitting on the concrete, and I was tempted daily to stop and say, “If you’re not going to use that …”

One day, it was gone.

Not that I couldn’t afford to buy one; I think they are under $100. But, what isn’t sweeter when it’s free?

A while back I built the squirrel-cage fan “window unit”  that installs in 2 minutes and 4 seconds. I’m fortunate, though, I’m not affected much by the heat, and don’t even use the exhaust fan often.

Which means Lowe’s shouldn’t hold its breath waiting for me to come and pick up one of those $100 loss leaders.

Jun 042018
 

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 project might not be for everyone, but, if you’re tight like me (Alan, are you paying attention?), it will be right up your alley.

We live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. For the purpose of this article, the key word is “Coast.” Think “flat.” When we get rain, there is nowhere for it to go, because we’re already near sea level.

As a result, we frequently experience flooding in the yard between my garage at work and the back door of the clinic, requiring me to wear knee-high rubber boots to navigate the trail. When I get inside, I have to take off my boots for work, so I can either carry my dress shoes, along with all of the other paraphernalia I tote in, or I can keep a pair of “emergency” shoes indoors.

For years, maybe decades, I’ve had a pair of black Reeboks under my desk for such emergencies. Because they don’t get used much, and I never wear them outside the clinic, they still look much like the day I bought them.

That is, they did, until one day I put them on and realized the sole of the right one had become unattached from the upper. I flopped around the hospital the rest of the day, vowing to figure out a way to save these otherwise perfectly good shoes.

A bronze-bristled wire brush made short work of cleaning the sole and upper mating surfaces.

Some dry-fitting allowed me to see where the spring clamps needed to be in order to put the flexible sole in perfect contact with the upper. Then, it was just a matter of wetting one side, applying Gorilla Glue to the other, and, voila!

With clamp placement already worked out, it was a simple matter to position clamps accurately after applying glue.

Clearly, I couldn’t see patients in these shoes anymore, but they cleaned up nicely with a rasp and wire wheel, followed by some Magic Marker to paint the Gorilla Glue black.

Well, it was voila! for a while. A few weeks later, the back half of the sole came loose. The challenges were different here. In the front, clamp position is easy and the sole is thin and flexible. In the back, the upper and the sole both become thicker and less flexible. Some edges simply were not going to lie down where they belonged.

Enter screw gun and drywall screws. That thick, thick upper allowed the screws deep purchase and made perfect positioning of the sole possible.

The steps were: 1, apply glue. 2, drive the drywall screws through the sole, holding in the upper. 3, apply spring clamps to hold down edges for a good final appearance. 4, wait.

There isn’t a better paper clip in the world for holding your building plans.

What else will they hold? Any sort of bag, like these bags containing black oil sunflower bird seed.

They’re good for pet food bags, too, but they won’t keep the kitty from chewing holes in the bag if you forget to put it back on its high shelf.

Talk about cheap: I bought these at the jot-em-down store, a dozen in a mesh bag for a few bucks. I’ve had them for 40 years. They were flooded in Katrina and still work fine.


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.

Jun 012018
 

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.

Spring clamps.

Are they, for you, like me, the clamps you love to hate?

I never have figured out how to apply spring clamps to hold two pieces and not make one or both workpieces move. Besides that small conundrum, I think they’re great!

I especially like to use them for holding things other than work. For example, I have a ceiling-mounted ShopVac Hangup attached to a ceiling- mounted cyclone separator. Its long, long hose will reach my worktable area easily. But, when I’m working further away, the hose wants to recoil. To keep it close, I hold it in place with a clamp big enough to allow the small-diameter hose to avoid restriction, which means it’s close by when I need some vacuum. A remote control allows me to turn it on and off right from where I’m working.

A spring clamp to hold a spring clamp. Funny, but it works. It might take two hands to compress this big boy, but the space in the jaws allows the 1-1/4″ hose to stay in one place, yet still pass plenty of air.

I also use spring clamps to hold a 4″ dust collector hose on the table of my drill press when I’m sanding. At high RPM, this technique can generate a lot of dust, and the high volume of the dust collector can catch it all.

When I was salvaging these perfectly good Reeboks I glued the soles back onto the uppers with Gorilla Glue. These spring clamps were invaluable.


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.

May 082018
 

 

Spring cleaning.

It’s almost a cliché.

Even the City of Long Beach is having a Spring Cleaning event.

Sometimes, it’s a joke, laughing about the cleaning we should be doing in the spring, even as we put it off.

We’ve discussed before how much I like cleaning my shop. Right now, because of the painting project,  almost everything in the shop is on hold, as I’m trying to finish painting completely so I can have that behind me.

That means the shop, indeed, my entire garage, is a huge mess.

I have a brand new Tormek T-8 that I’m dying to use and write about, and I’ve had time to take it out of the box, put it on my sharpening table and do the initial setup. There’s been no time to do much beyond that. I hope to have that article for you soon.

Meanwhile, the shop is just a mess, which is a problem for me, because I have to see it every morning when I leave for work and every evening when I get home.

When I do get to it, I like to vacuum with the Festool Dust Extractor. A separator ahead of your vacuum, regardless of brand, is a great way to save on replacement filter bags and HEPA filter elements. Highland carries a unit you can put on top of your metal garbage can, and another that works on a 5-gallon bucket.

I don’t believe there is a vacuum cleaner made that will clean the air coming out of it better than the Festool units (the Mirka is a rival), but a separator is terrific for everything from Shop Vac to Craftsman. Even the canister filters in those aren’t cheap.

A separator works by catching both large and fine particles before they get to your suction-producing unit. You could think of it as a filter ahead of a filter, except the separator has no parts (filters) that ever need replacing. Periodically, you just empty all of the refuse from the separator’s container, reassemble and go back to work.

Oh, well, I will get it done someday. Meanwhile, I’ll just apply the old saying, “This, too, shall pass.”


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.