Sunday, May 31, 2020

Fitting Slab to Base

I've moved to the back garden to fit the slab to the base. Mostly because I need the room to work. It is not as convenient as working in the shop but having room to move things as needed makes up for the need to find and move tools. Now it is time for the required praise of the portable Moravian bench, you have heard it before, bottom line it makes it possible. 

Working on the base:

From the other side showing the portable bench:

This part isn't difficult, just fiddly with doing a little, checking work, doing a little more, once close, moving the slab back and forth until the sucker is nailed.

I dropped one of my long levels this morning, the plastic was so old and brittle it broke in the middle. So far I'm getting along with out it but I may need a trip to the tool store before finishing.

The other hold up is it is only 0800 and I'm already sweating like a pig and needing breaks often. We had another Monsoon type storm last night with rain and very strong gusting winds. I expect the RH is high because my sweat is not drying quickly, instead it is getting on my glasses and in my eyes,

That is the bad news, the good is the sooner it is too hot to work outside I'll come in and make a Mincemeat pie. Then MsBubba and I will probably jump in the pool for a bit, mostly to clean up the mess that was blown into it last night and maybe have a drink or two. Life is good in the desert.


Friday, May 29, 2020

The Fat Lady Returns

The table slab is out of clamps and looks good, nice and flat with a clean joint. One of the base units is ready for finish, the other needs a little work. I may get this sucker finished.

Slab out of clamps:

We had our first Monsoon type rain of the season this afternoon. It wasn't really part of the Monsoon, the temps have not been high enough for long enough to bring enough moisture up from the Gulfs. Our RH has remained under 10%. For Monsoon we need to get the RH over 25% for a few days. But it was non frontal monsoon type rain. Because the RH is so low most the rain was Virga with little reaching the ground.

BTW, even though our days are hot, today's high 110F, the evenings, nights, and mornings are delightful. Many nights need a blanket or you will be cold. Once Monsoon and the high RH's arrive all that changes and the evenings stay hot. Several years ago I had a 0400 takeoff out of Scottsdale where I had to restrict fuel because it was still 103F at takeoff time.

View to the North with easy to see Virga:

The Sonoran desert may be the most beautiful desert in the world. Unlike many deserts there is abundant vegetation and life. Most of it either sticks, stings, or bites but whatever, there is plenty of it.

View to the West:

The Saguaro have almost finished producing beautiful white flowers, next is setting fruit which when ripe will split open revealing a red pulpy flesh. The birds love it and for weeks everything is covered with red bird poop.

BTW, I was asked if I would consider returning to work in a couple of weeks. Sorry Charley it ain't going to happen till it is safe.

Take care, wear your masks, protect yourself and others.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Fat Lady Left The Building

The fat lady decided she needed her nails done or some such. After trimming the table top to size it decided to do some stupid wood tricks.  I had finished with both the scrub and jack planes and had started working with the big sucker and the slab was getting close to needing the smoother. Not so fast shaving breath, when I went out yesterday the slab had bowed, not a lot but enough to see if you look down the slab. Back to step one, out comes the scrub and jacks.

Oh well, I need the exercise.

This being retired changes things, of course money is one of them but mostly time. Because of time I find myself slipping into old fart things like growing tomatoes and peppers. Here in the desert there are challenges with the tomatoes and I expect most other plants. Bottom line even if the plant needs full sun it does not need full Arizona afternoon sun. Which was my next project, a place to hold the tomato plants that would allow some shade and keep 'em safe from the "pigs". It is not pretty but was planned perfectly, I ran out of holes at the same time I ran out of screws.


Cloth that can be re-positioned for shade to be added.


Sunday, May 17, 2020


For the first time in my life I've filed for unemployment insurance. Here in AZ you can do it over the internet, so far it has been painless. My layoff is until August, at that time I'm not sure what I will do if recalled. If nothing has changed I will retire. A good friend who is also one of the smartest people I've known and is a Doc sent me a link on the risks of Covid-19. It is well worth your time to read.

The Risks-Know Them-Avoid Them

I may get to like this retirement thing, MsBubba has been on my case for years to do it but I've resisted for reasons. Who knows what they were but they were damn good.

When this started I tipped the scales in the mid 230 pounds, now I'm 207 as of this AM. The only things that have changed are because of Covid-19 I'm not eating out and because I'm not working there is no "fast food". That is reason enough to retire plus with the needs of Casa Chaos, the shop, and MsBubba's watchful eye there is no time to get bored.

MsBubba has been on my case to find some way to protect the Motorhome tires, for good reason, they cost about $3000 USD to replace and they always age out before they wear out. The problem is the store bought covers will barely last a couple of seasons and good ones are not cheap. Being from Texas I came up with redneck tire protectors.

They work pretty good even in high winds and are kinda fun to make because they are not fine furniture. A gap or two makes no never mind. In fact all the joints were cut with a Stanley Hard Point panel saw.

Frame in glue up:

In between all the other things I'm still flattening the table top. The upper surface is ready for the long planes. The lower surface I'll get close and then just finish where the table top sets on the base.

Working on the lower surface:

One last thought, Pre-War Marples chisels are close to perfection. The only current production chisels that come close to the steel, balance and feel of the Marples are from Ashley Iles and they only come close.

Read the link, use the information, and be safe out there,


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Flatting The Slab

The back side of the slab has a hump down the middle like the joined edge was not square. There is no twist and the join lines are good. I thought about splitting the slab and re-glueing for a couple of seconds. Instead I'll just plane the hump out, "just" he says. I expect some noodle arms and a lot of moaning and groaning by the time the job is done. That's the bad, the good is I have a couple of wood stock Jacks and a ECE scrub to do the job. I've already dulled all three so it is time to take a break before sharpening.

When I break I'll spend some time going through more of the photo files. It is a slow slog going through the "Raw Download" files. First there are a ton of 'em. Back in the day I had a rule that I had to shoot a minimum of 80 square inches of film a day. That was at least four 4X5 or one roll of either 35mm or 120 film. That's the bad news, the good is most of the photos are on film and only the last few years were digital.  BTW, the negative files and prints will follow.

Here is one of the photos I found last night, if you look real hard you can see MsBubba in a white shirt (it should have been red) next to the rock:

One from the airport:

One more from the Houston Family series:


Monday, May 11, 2020

Short Rows

The two slab pieces are waiting on the glue pot to warm, once the glue is up to temp I'll join the slab half's. The base units have been cleaned up and drilled for draw boring, same story waiting on the glue to wqrm up.

After many years of "yes dear, I'll go through the photo archives tomorrow", well tomorrow has finally arrived. It is a good thing I've retired because it is almost like the stables, there is no end in sight. That's the bad news, the good is it for now is kinda fun.

The big difference in my self photos is my hair was dark brown, almost black, now there is a little less of it and it is mostly brownish grey.

Ugly Dude on the Beach with Flag:

A photo from a Series on a Houston family:

And one from the Ogden Street Project:

last one for the day:

These are easy, mostly just loading files off too many CD's to count. The work will come when I start going through the negatives and prints.


Friday, May 08, 2020

Not Much Exciting

The last of the slab boards is waiting glue up. The stretcher tenon shoulders have been cleaned up and squared up. One foot has been cleaned up, one to go. Nothing too exciting or even photo worthy but things that have to be taken care of to finish the table. Shop is hot so I'm finished for the day, a whisky and maybe some time in the pool before dinner. Such is the life of a retired shelter in place guy and S.O..

BTW, we watched "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" last night. What a hoot, close ups of darting eyes, a story line that made little sense and bad history, and if IRC shot in Spain. I have to give MsBubba credit, she stuck it out to the end. Most of the time when we watch my nostalgia movies by mid movie she is out of there.

Be safe guys. We have idiots running most of the U.S. that on purpose or not are trying to kill us.


Thursday, May 07, 2020

Clean Up Day

One half of the slab is glued up and off the bench. I'll start stock prep on the other half this afternoon. The base units are together and waiting on final fitting and clean up. This morning some time was spent on the chisels used to get to this point, while most were sharpened in progress, six were on the sharpening bench.

The other half of the the slab will take two to three days plus another to fuse the two sides. My thinking at this time is to do some basic clean up on the slab and then take it to Woodworkers Source for finishing. They have a 36" stroke sander and the slab will just fit.

One half of the slab off the bench:

 While I feel like I'm in the short rows, it will be another week before the fat lady sings.

Levi, our first grandchild has just finished being read the "Lord of The Rings" and watched the movies. Now he wants a fairy garden with a fairy door. Between MsBubba and I we kinda made one, surprisingly without a visit from the local Sheriff.


Tuesday, May 05, 2020

New Shop Mascot

I was standing at the bench with loupe in hand looking at a cutter edge when out of the corner of my eye I saw a black snake about a meter long slither out from under the bench heading for a corner of the shop where stuff was stored. Once over the startle effect I googled "black snake Arizona" and came up with a Black Kingsnake. It is rare and only found in the States along the Mexico border.  They are harmless, other than heart attacks, and live on other snakes, mice, and rats.

Bottom line, as long as he/she doesn't crawl up my leg the snake has a home for as long as he/she wants it.


Started the Slab Glue Up

First two boards are in the clamps. This is/will be a hot hide glue rub joint glue up. The reason for the clamps is I did a light "spring joint" of the boards to put any gaps in the middle.

I'm getting too old and weak to wrestle timber, it kicks my ass anymore. That's the bad news, the good is as long as we are sheltering in place any new project will be small using the wood in the wood pile or cutoff pile. Maybe a few boxes, display cases, and spoons are in my future.


Angled Mortise

I'm chopping the last mortise for the kitchen table. The mortise front wall needs to be, maybe not a perfect 9 1/2 degrees but it should be pretty damn close. As with all angled mortises a chisel guide helps maintain the angle.

Here is mine. I used the wedge to set the table saw to cut the guide that way the angle doesn't matter.

In the photo is my new favorite mortise chisel for mortises that are too wide to use the 1/2" pig sticker. The Narex firmer chisel has a Hornbeam handle which will work with a metal hammer, I'm not a fan of wood mallets or soft faced hammers for mortise work. The cutter while not great is good enough.


Sunday, May 03, 2020

Table Test Fit

This really isn't a test fit other than the stretcher. I just wanted to get  rough idea of how the table will look once finished. BTW, I like.

Tomorrow I'll chop the final two mortises and make the associated wedges along with starting the slab glue up. Usually on large glue ups like this slab I will only glue two sticks at a time that means the slab glue up will likely take three days to finish. While the slab is being glued up I"ll clean up the base units and peg 'em. A week or so and this sucker will be finished, it is kinda nice to not have a day job.


Saturday, May 02, 2020

Stretcher Placement

The pressure to finish the kitchen table has increased, we moved the old table out to MsBubba's studio so all we have is a folding table to eat on.

I clamped the stretcher to the leg uprights to get a feel for stretcher placement.

The stretcher is about 70mm to 80mm high in this photo.

Four mortises, clean up the two bases units, glue up a slab and this sucker will be finished.