Jim Randolph

Feb 022016
 

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.”

You know how easy it is to say to yourself, “This little task is going to take only a minute, and my safety glasses are on the far side of the shop, I’ll just knock this out real quick.”?

The ultimate woodworker, the one we all want to be when we grow up made this saying famous by repeating it week after week on The New Yankee Workshop. We are wise to heed it.

The ultimate woodworker, the one we all want to be when we grow up made this saying famous by repeating it week after week on The New Yankee Workshop. We are wise to heed it.

You can buy safety glasses for cheap.  Position some around the shop so that they are never far from where you are working.

You can have one or two pair of really good goggles or safety glasses, and still have some of these for those out-of-the-way places in the shop that might tempt you to work without going and getting the good ones.

You can have one or two pair of really good goggles or safety glasses, and still have some of these for those out-of-the-way places in the shop that might tempt you to work without going and getting the good ones.

And, while you’re at it, place some small squirt bottles of Windex around the shop.  You won’t want to wear those safety glasses if you can’t see out of them.  Inability to see clearly is a safety hazard, too.

I have one bottle of Windex here on my metalworking table and another near the sink. From this table I’m not far from the vision protectors I use most.

I have one bottle of Windex here on my metalworking table and another near the sink. From this table I’m not far from the vision protectors I use most.

I have some really expensive safety glasses, because I believe our eyesight is worth it. They are prescription, so I can see really well. They stay clean and protected in their bag, and they reside next to the table saw.

I have some really expensive safety glasses, because I believe our eyesight is worth it. They are prescription, so I can see really well. They stay clean and protected in their bag, and they reside next to the table saw.

This is a moderately-priced face shield. I didn’t want to go so cheap that the shield would soon scratch or discolor and be useless. Another plus: replacement shields are available for this unit.

This is a moderately-priced face shield. I didn’t want to go so cheap that the shield would soon scratch or discolor and be useless. Another plus: replacement shields are available for this unit.

Click here to read Steve Johnson’s review of the Trend Airshield.

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 012016
 

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist, not a professional, someone who loves woodworking, just like you do. I have found some better ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop and look forward to sharing those with you each month, as well as hearing your problem-solving ideas.

I have often said that the most valuable thing I took with me from my time in the Air Force was a concept of safety.  I especially am reminded of it at the beginning of an electrical repair.  When I was an Air Force microwave communications instructor, we never entered an equipment room without removing our rings and watches.  Having conductive parts attached to your body when working in the bowels of electronic equipment is never a good idea.

Air Force Technical Sgt. Dominick Maters showed me this trick back in the 1970s when we both worked in Jones Hall on Keesler AFB. A Twist-O-Flex watchband and a wedding ring make a secure pair in your pocket.

Air Force Technical Sgt. Dominicus Maters showed me this trick back in the 1970s when we both worked in Jones Hall on Keesler AFB. A Twist-O-Flex watchband and a wedding ring make a secure pair in your pocket.

When I turn on a grinder, I never do so until I have first protected my eyes.  Once, in college, I didn’t, and a piece of wire wheel flew out and embedded itself right in my left cornea.  Stupid.

Recently our youngest son sent a video of his own son sanding an axle for his Pinewood Derby car.  Without eye protection.  I was then inspired to purchase a potentially sight-saving gift for each of our four grandchildren, our two sons and our two daughters-in-love:  Eye safety for the whole family, regardless of age or gender.

Looking out for your children’s and grandchildren’s eyesight and safety gives a whole new meaning to “CARE” package.

Looking out for your children’s and grandchildren’s eyesight and safety gives a whole new meaning to “CARE” package.

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 302016
 
If I don’t know what to do with it, or it doesn’t already have an assigned place, or I’m not sure whether I want to keep it, this is the corner where “it” goes.

If I don’t know what to do with it, or it doesn’t already have an assigned place, or I’m not sure whether I want to keep it, this is the corner where “it” goes.

Do you have a junk corner like this?  My junk corner includes some things that don’t have a specified storage location, things I’m not sure I even want to keep and things that defy categorization.  Several things in this pile will be placed in storage drawers that need to have a new label printed and applied before they’re stored.
Right now, my shop is a mess.  I’m deep into a round cedar picnic table with three curved benches for our two youngest grandchildren, and there’s certainly no time for straightening, and very little time for cleaning.  If you’ve read this post, you know how much the mess is bothering me.
Interim storage.

Interim storage.

If it comes out of the wayback of my car and isn’t going upstairs with me, it usually ends up in “Interim Storage.”  Of course, if it’s a new tool that was delivered to work, chances are good that I’ll take it over to the shop space and unpack it before going upstairs for the night.  I might even fire it up and try it out on a piece of scrap.  Recently, when I got a supplemental holddown for the Kapex, I had to go install it and clamp a piece of scrap wood down.  It was my woodworking fun for the day.
The corner of my workbench differs from this other spot, which is where I put things right behind my car that I just don’t have time to put away yet.  These things are in the way, so they will be addressed before long.  Think of it as “interim storage.”
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 052016
 

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.”

Good light reflection is supplied by white pegboard on all shop walls.

Good light reflection is supplied by white pegboard on all shop walls.

To make the most of the light fixtures installed, almost everything in my shop is white, or very light-colored.  I purchased white pegboard, which cost more initially, but saved a ton of time and mess compared to painting natural, dark brown pegboard and dealing with the inevitable runs as paint drips from the peg holes.  When we first moved to this home on the bayou, bass fishing was my number one hobby, and I never intended to get so heavy into woodworking and furniture-making, much less having virtual visitors in my shop.  If I’d known, I might have put a white ceiling in before installing the lights.

On the other hand, if I had covered the ceiling, I’d have lost all of this good storage space.

On the other hand, if I had covered the ceiling, I’d have lost all of this good storage space.

Wooden tool cabinets are either painted white or finished in their natural, light wooden color.

Even in areas where there is no wall-covering, I’ve lightened up the decor by painting natural-color studs with leftover white paint when working out brushes and rollers.

Everything that can be a lighter color is painted or covered to maximize reflection of light.

Everything that can be a lighter color is painted or covered to maximize reflection of light.

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 042016
 

Welcome to “Tips From Sticks-In-The-Mud Woodshop.” I am a hobbyist, not a professional, someone who loves woodworking, just like you do. I have found some better ways to accomplish tasks in the workshop and look forward to sharing those with you each month, as well as hearing your problem-solving ideas.

As you might imagine, I’m much too cheap to have hired a lighting designer to help with the process of choosing and placing illumination fixtures in my shop.

On the other hand, I didn’t scrimp on the number of lights, and there were several good reasons:

  • Insufficient light in a workplace potentially creates unsafe conditions.
  • Poor lighting might lead to mistakes and do-overs, which cost time and money.  Such mistakes might occur in missing a needed repair, sanding or even finishing.  Not being able to see one’s tape or rule could lead to a major boo-boo!
  • As we age, we need more light on our work.

We built our house 19 years ago last Thanksgiving, when I was only 43.  I haven’t needed additional lights because I was generous with them in the beginning.

Still, there are times a task calls for intense light.

It’s dark in there!

It’s dark in there!

I have the work lights you see pictured, and I’m quick to set them up when a job will require extra light for a significant time period, such as installing drawer slides inside a cabinet.

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A story goes with these lights picture above.  They were in the garage when Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters came, and I was ready to throw them into the trash pile.  One of our sons, Andy, wanted to plug them into the generator so we could continue our cleaning work into the night.  With my background in electronics, I was more than a little nervous, to say nothing of protective of our children, who had come all the way from Kentucky to rescue us.  We switched both lights on, plugged them into the silent generator, then pulled the starting rope.  To my surprise, the lights came on, and have continued to operate flawlessly for the subsequent ten years.

There are other times localized lighting is needed for just a few moments.  Enter my mother-in-law.  Well, not exactly, but the Christmas present she gave me several years ago.  Since she doesn’t read the column, I’ll admit what I thought when I opened my Christmas package a few Decembers ago:  “What the heck use do I have for this?”  Little did I know!

For years, I underestimated the value of this little headlight until I used it one day. Now it sees service regularly!

For years, I underestimated the value of this little headlight until I used it one day. Now it sees service regularly!

I kept the headlight on a peg hook for emergencies when the electricity went out.  One day, I needed a lot of light in a small space, didn’t want to drag out the big lights, and thought of the headlight.  It fit the bill perfectly.  Since then I’ve used it many times to illuminate a hard-to-see project step.  It’s especially useful when working in the inky darkness of the inside of a table saw.  Elusive nuts and washers suddenly appear in its halogen blue-white glow.

You can get a perfectly suitable headlight from $12 to $30 at any big box store. There is no need to spring for the $1600 Heine model!

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.

Dec 212015
 
I came to wear overalls for woodworking as a result of a gift.  My cousin, Beverly, is an inveterate bargain hunter.  Yes, it runs in the family.
I was visiting my Uncle Sam and Aunt Polly one weekend when I realized I hadn’t brought any work pants with me.  “I have some cargo pants I bought at the second-hand store.  You can wear them this weekend,” Beverly offered.
I fell in love with those pants!
The famous Beverly cargo pants. I’d never seen so many pockets before! I never took advantage of the zip-off legs. I’m just not a “shorts kind of guy,” I suppose.

The famous Beverly cargo pants. I’d never seen so many pockets before! I never took advantage of the zip-off legs. I’m just not a “shorts kind of guy,” I suppose.

Before the weekend was over I was begging Beverly to let me keep them.  To be honest, it didn’t take much begging.  Beverly is incredibly generous.  And, she had only a couple of bucks invested in them.
I wore those cargo pants every time I had any kind of work to do around the house or outside at work.  I loved the pockets and had certain items allocated to each pocket.  A hammer permanently hung from the hammer loop, whether the job required a hammer or not.
The legs were much, much too long, even for six-foot-tall me.  I didn’t care.  Sometimes I rolled them up, sometimes I just walked on them.  I felt a little closer to home, a little closer to Uncle Sam and all of my family when I wore them.
One day, it hit me that the “cargo” characteristic found its fullest expression in overalls.  Even more pockets!  Now I had a place for four pencils.  One pencil slot even has space for a ball-point pen.  I could clip the dust collector remote control to them.  The remote control for the Hang-Up Shop Vac could clip in another place.  Click here to read that post.  There’s a pocket for the stereo remote control and one for the retractable knife.  There’s a loop for a hammer, too, but it’s so big the hammer always falls through.  I tried sewing through the loop with an awl needle and heavy waxed thread, but I didn’t make my knots secure and it came apart.  Good thing that doesn’t happen with my surgery patients!
My one and only pair of overalls. Well-worn and a little bit smelly...just the way I like them!

My one and only pair of overalls. Well-worn and a little bit smelly…just the way I like them!

You can never have too many clamps, you can never have too many pencils.

It was natural that I would turn to overalls.  Uncle Sam wore them exclusively as work clothes.

You’ve heard of “The hardest-working man in show biz?” Uncle Sam was the hardest-working man in dairy farming, and his overalls showed it.

You’ve heard of “The hardest-working man in show biz?” Uncle Sam was the hardest-working man in dairy farming, and his overalls showed it.

 The only time he wore anything else was church and horse shows.  He loved to get fixed up in a good-looking cowboy hat, a Western shirt with snaps, jeans and boots with spurs.
Sam Burrell looked sharp in his best cowboy clothes, and he knew it. He had a certain confidence and swagger when he wore them.

Sam Burrell looked sharp in his best cowboy clothes, and he knew it. He had a certain confidence and swagger when he wore them.

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.

 

Dec 022015
 
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.”  
We’ve previously discussed an inexpensive way to keep one’s dust extractor hose and power cord above the project, allowing maximum versatility.
Here is the first generation of do-it-yourself overhead Festool dust extractor hose management.

Here is the first generation of do-it-yourself overhead Festool dust extractor hose management.

Of course, if you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, Festool makes the Festool Boom Arm ready-made to perform this function for you.
Now, Festool has come out with a new system that encloses the hose and cord in a cloth wrap that will prevent the hose from marring your workpiece.  You can order one by clicking here, and choosing the “Anti-Static – Sleeved with Power Cord type” in the options.
Here’s my El Cheapo version:  Use Velcro straps to tie Festool sander power cords to Festool vacuum hoses as they travel together to the Festool dust extractor.  The generously-long cords of Festool tools make this part easy.
I had a bunch of these Velcro cord wraps, with little use for them, until I stole this idea from Festool. Most of them came from uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units that power our computers when the electricity is off.

I had a bunch of these Velcro cord wraps, with little use for them until I stole this idea from Festool. Most of them came from uninterrupted power supply (UPS) units that power our computers when the electricity is off.

Alternatively, there is a rubber version of cord wraps that works just as well.

Alternatively, there is a rubber version of cord wraps that works just as well.

I looked for a small-diameter drainpipe sock that could serve as a cover, but was unsuccessful. Darn!
Just in case you don’t know what a drainpipe sock is, feast your eyes.

Just in case you don’t know what a drainpipe sock is, feast your eyes.

You have to hand it to those Festool designers:  they come up with some great ideas!

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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.