Sunday, April 30, 2017

More Saguaro

Ralph over at The wanted to see a better photo of the Saguaro's arm. I'm not sure this is much better but if you squint you can see the remaining mature arm, the new smaller arm with flowers, and even 4 or 5 budding arms.

Click it to big it.

We live just a few miles from Saguaro National Park so the big suckers are everywhere. Here is a photo looking West towards the Park.

If you look carefully you can see the bank of the gully is covered with Saguaros.

Many folks consider the Sonoran Desert the most beautiful desert in the world, I know it is one of the greenest deserts and to a old Texas river rat it is close to perfect with beautiful 'Sky Islands', Saguaros, Iron Wood, Ocotillo, and even the 'Jumping Cholla' is pretty if you stay away from it. The other thing about the Sonoran Desert is the amount and diversity of the wild life. 

BTW, everything in the desert is tough, as I have said often, in the desert everything sticks, bites, or stings and it will kill you if you do not respect it.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Spring In The Desert SW, My Saguaro Is Blooming

A couple of years ago I thought our Saguaro was history. The top and two of its arms had fallen off leaving just one arm. BTW a Saguaro will grow its first arm between 75 years and 100. This year I guess it has decided to live and has five new arms growing. The largest of the new arms started putting on flower pods last week and some opened this morning. Saguaros support a large number of desert critters with Gila Woodpeckers making nests inside the main body which many other birds use once abandoned. The fruit, pollen and nectar also support birds and insects as well as O'odham Native Americans.The Tohono O’odham tribes celebrate the beginning of their summer growing season with a ceremony using a fermented drink made from the bright red fruit to summon rains. Bottom line I love my Saguaro and I'm relieved it may survive.

Photos of the blooms:

Slow progress is being made on Levi's toy box. The progress is slow because of OF aches and pains, for the last couple of weeks my back has been killing me and I don't have Ralph's excuse of working under a kitchen cabinet. My story and I'm sticking to it, was back in the 80's I spent a month on a UPS contract hauling freight in a SA227 and I'm paying the price today.

In spite of the slow progress the peanut's box is almost finished. I just need to install the bottom and make the dust seal for the lid. Then paint the outside, oil the inside and deliver it when we see the grand peanut in Balmorhea, TX the week of the eight.

Here it is after finishing leveling the top and bottom:


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spring Has Sprung and Passed On To Summer

I can't let Bob and Ralph have the last word on Spring, Ours hung around for a week or so and now we are into early Summer. The good part of Summer with hot days, cool nights and RHs in the single digits.

From watching The English Woodworker's videos I picked up a new tool. He sharpens a chisel with a 80 degree or so bevel turning it into a scraper chisel. All I can say is I wish I had know about doing that years ago.

I'm making a panel lid for the peanut's toy box and I can't express how much easier it is to fine tune the tenons to fit using the scraper chisel. I saw to fit and usually get pretty close but most of the time small adjustments are needed on some or all the tenons. Just like a scraper on a panel the scraper chisel takes off fine shavings leaving a great surface. Not that anyone will see them.

This will be a short post, Sam the Wonder Dog has decided I'm his pull toy this morning and when 110 lbs of dog pulls on your sleeve it's hard to ignore.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Working on Toy Box Lid

I had a couple of hours in the shop today. Some of the time was spent playing with different stones and different types of cutters. Only a sick puppy would do such a thing for fun....What can I say.

The results are always the same, oil stones and a strop will sharpen simple high carbon steel as well as any other system. It might not be as shiny and may even be a little slower time on the stones but when you add in the time prepping water stones it is a no brainer. I will not mention the water stone mess. The only system that give oil stones a run are the Spyderco stones.

In between sharpening I worked on the peanut's toy box lid. Rough dimensioning the center panel and the stiles and rails along with plowing the grove to hold the center panel.

Progress will be slow this coming week, no days off until after the 1st.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Have I told you lately

How much I dislike thick irons in planes? I have a LN #51 Shooting plane. It is a very good shooting plane and I was fortunate enough to have a O1 cutter in it. The other good thing about it is it doesn't need sharpening often and it needs a straight edge. If it did need sharpening more than every once in awhile I think I would pay someone to take it away. I can't imagine what it would be like keeping a A2 cutter sharp for the #51.

What brought this rant on was of course needing to sharpen the 51's iron last night. Even with a CBN wheel on the Tormek setting the primary bevel took forever. Damn there can be a lot of steel to remove. I had waited too long and didn't grind pass the wear bevel, so removing the burr didn't happen, I had to either go back and grind some more on the primary bevel or work some on the back. I decided to work the back then go back to the stones to redo the secondary bevel. Once that was done the burr came off with just a "pull" on the finish stone.

What should have been a 5 minute or less job, ended up taking most of an hour.

Now for the crazy guy yelling at you:

LV and Hock irons are "thick" as well but still much thinner than LN irons. The LN planes are a marvel of workmanship but I find I use them less and less just because of the thick irons. They are hard to shape and sharpen. LV and Hock iron can be used in LN planes but to do so requires modifying the adjustment prong and even though they are thinner they are still "thick" and harder to shape and sharpen. I would love to love the LV planes, I have one of the old style and one of the new style and they are both very nice planes but....there is that damn but....I have never mastered the iron adjustment, it just doesn't work for me, I have to remove my hand from the tote to adjust depth making it hard to do on the fly.

What I would like is a lite Bailey plane made to LN or LV standards with a modern but thin O1 cutter. I would pay the note to tote and I expect others would as well. Hell I'd be happy with just someone making good thin O1 replacement irons for Stanley planes. The best I've found are from Tools from Japan but they are not available in all sizes.

OK the meds are starting to work, I'll go back to the shop and shut up for now.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

New Shooting Board

The FedEx guy (not as good looking as the UPS girl) dropped off my new Evenfall Studios shooting board. While I haven't used it yet it looks to be first class. Rob was running a little behind on delivery because of illness in his family. Being the stand up guy that he is he upgraded my shooting board for no additional cost.

I haven't put it to use but here is a photo of the EvenFall next to my old shop made one:

Things change. I started this box to hold the charcoal grill for transport in the motorhome. And as usual I got a little carried away with the design and I've overbuild for intended use. As I looked at it I realized it was the perfect size to fit at the end of a twin bed and also close to the right height for a 3 to 5 year old boy to sit on.  Hummm....The grandpeanut will soon be 3 and he needs a toy box or at least gramps thinks he does. Anyway here it is with the lid, clean up, and paint left to go.

We are driving the motorhome to spend the weekend with the girl child, hubby, and the peanut in Balmorhea, TX the second week in May. I should have it ready to carry with us.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

'03 Dodge Truck

It may be time to sell my '03 Dodge Ram 2500 with the Cummings diesel. There is nothing wrong with the truck other than normal wear from 14 years of being a hard working truck. The reason I'm thinking of selling is with the motorhome I'm no longer pulling RV's and while the truck is set up to be a toad it really isn't needed and MsBubba's RAV4 would make a better toad. That's cold logic. But sometimes life isn't just about facts and reason.

Back in '03 my corporate flying job of the previous 20 years had gone south and I was flying LearJets for an Air Ambulance company and bemoaning my fate. That is until one morning I awoke to the realization I was having fun for the first time in ages and at the same time doing good. That the folks in the back, patients, family or medical crew had an appreciation for what the flight crew up front was doing.   

I was no longer worrying about finding a Wall Street Journal in Liberal KS before an early morning flight, or being sure the F.O. had picked up fresh milk for the coffee and not creamer or half and half. And of course the worse offense was if the FBO sent a "Limo" instead of a "Towncar" to meet the aircraft on landing. Working your way through, around, and over a line of Thunderstorms that stretched from Houston to Chicago and getting them to their meeting on time without sloshing or spilling their coffee with the fresh milk all over their Wall Street Journal was just expected but never forget the fresh milk. 

Enough of that, on to the story of the '03 Dodge Ram. I had dropped by the airport office to talk to Travis about the next day's flight, he mentioned that a new flight nurse would be working the back with him and Arturo would be my F.O.. A small digression, at the time I had been single for some time, working with The Houston Center for Photography and on its board of directors, and I had a few friends "with benefits" along with my flying job. In other words having a really good life in a wonderful city to be single in.

While Travis was talking in walked the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was in the B&C flight uniform of black pants and a red pullover with the Air Ambulance logo, topping it all was this wild mop of curly blonde hair. Travis introduced us and said Pat would be flying with us tomorrow. On the next day's flight there wasn't much time to visit but we, Pat and I, did get a few moments to talk. We had a few more flights together, on each I could see how wonderfully kind and caring Pat was with the family and patient. It went along this way for a month or so. Most of the flights for B&C Aviation were out and backs with only an occasional RON (remain overnight). The average flight would have a little time for the crew to visit while waiting for the ambulance to deliver the patient and family but not a lot. 

We had a flight to Reno to pick up a patient for delivery to Florida, he was going home to die. Because of duty time limits we had to position the Lear in Reno the night before and get our required "Rest" before flying from Reno to Florida. The crew was the same as the first flight Pat and I did together, Travis in back with Pat and Arturo up front with me.  In Reno we had a normal “crew dinner” afterwards Pat and I walked around the hotel and casino getting to know each other. Our good night at her room’s door was a little awkward.

Once back in Houston we talked a couple of times and finally made a date for dinner. At the time I had a Chevy Work Truck, a great truck but a little noisy. Driving to dinner and home I couldn’t understand a word Pat said, the noise from the truck, my years of sitting between airplane engines, Pat’s soft voice and Scottish accent made understanding what she said impossible.  What to do, what to do…..My usual answer, throw money at the problem. The next day I went truck shopping and came home with the Dodge.

A long way around to why I’m having a hard time selling the Dodge, it has been too much of our life together. It moved us from Houston to McMinnville and to Tucson. It has pulled our pull behinds and 5th wheels all over the West. It will be like losing a good and faithful friend. Without the Dodge there may have never been a MsBubba.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Thoughts On The Shop and Sharpening

Small changes to the shop can make big differences in functionality. One of the greatest has been lowering the secondary bench and moving it off the wall into a central location in front of the main work bench. Several other changes have helped as well, the major one was moving the Moxon vise off what is now my planing and assembly bench to the back side of the main bench. All the changes effectively give much more room to work and things are set up for minimum monkey motion.

Here is a photo of the current set up:

Click it to big it.

That is a new pine box on the assembly bench, this has been the first use of pine in ages. I had forgotten how pleasant it is to work. 

The sharpening bench is off the left end of the main bench, convenient to both benches. Speaking of sharpening, Ralph over at "The Accidental Woodworker" has been exploring some sharpening issues and I have been  kibitzing from the sidelines. That of course has me thinking about sharpening, it doesn't take much because I'm one of those weird ducks that enjoys the process and sharpens to relax and for enjoyment. It takes all kinds, what can I say. 

First I think what got Ralph started was watching the sharpening series The English Woodworker is publishing. If you have any interest in having sharp tools the videos are some of the best I've seen. That could be because Richard validates all the things I've learned and/or suspected over many years and lots of money spent on stones and gear. 

For what is worth here are my thoughts: If you are physically able, freehand sharpening is easier, quicker and better than using a jig. If you must use a jig a grinder to set the primary bevel is a near necessity and then the jig can set the secondary bevel. All of this is unnecessary work for an edge that is not as strong nor as flexible in use as free handing and requires frequent returns to the grinder. 

Free hand is so quick and easy my irons are never dull, a short step to the sharpening bench a couple or three strokes on the stones and/or the strop and I'm back to work. There is never a backlog of irons that need sharpening.

Any stone that removes metal can give a sharp edge but the quality of that sharp edge depends greatly on the scratch deep and how random. Shine doesn't mean shit, you can have an iron that will blind you with shine and it can't cut warm butter.

Natural stones, Arkansas oil or Japanese water will give superior scratch patterns, random and with rounded walls while man made and diamond stones leave steep walls and ordered scratch patterns. 

A strop will strengthen the edge as well as leave a polish.

I currently use a two stone system for day to day sharpening. A course (med. India or Washita) and a fine Arkansas (Translucent or Hard Black) along with a leather strop. It doesn't happen often but if I want the best edge possible I will go to the Japanese natural water stones.  

And last for now: There is no need to test an edge, if it feels sharp and looks sharp it is sharp. All testing does is begin the dulling of the iron that you worked to sharpen.  

As always with anything wood, YMMV.

See y'all on down the road,



Monday, April 03, 2017

Maggie's Rock

MsBubba, Sam the Wonder Dog, Sweet Maggie Dog and I spent the weekend on Tucson's Beach aka Rocky Point, MX.  As always a great way to get away, Good WX, clear sea, and I even allowed myself a couple of beers with some tacos.

Best of all Maggie found her "rock". Maggie will try to fetch anything that is thrown including rocks. MsBubba was walking along the shore with Maggie and occasionally chunking a rock into the sea. Maggie would chase it, dig at it when found, and then they would repeat the game. This went on for several iterations until on one of them Maggie found her "rock" while digging in the sea for the thrown rock. She dove underwater picked up her "rock" and carried it to MsBubba's feet to be thrown.  After playing this game for awhile MsBubba distracted Maggie and they went on walking along the water's edge leaving Maggie's "rock" under water. When returning, as they approached the area where MsBubba left the rock, Maggie dove underwater and retrieved her "rock" dropping it at MsBubba's feet.

Only one thing to do, bring the rock back to the motorhome and keep it. The rock is now back in Tucson with us, I weighed it this AM and it weighs in at a healthy 10 lbs.

A photo of Maggie and her rock: