dxmachina: (Plumbing)
I didn't manage to get the dishwasher installed last Sunday as planned, but by Wednesday night it was up and cleaning dishes. I certainly tried to get it all done Sunday, but you know how it goes.

How it went... )

Now I just need to get used to the different internal arrangement of the new machine. And I do miss the black and chrome trim on the old machine. The new one looks rather bland.
dxmachina: (Projects01)
Sears called tonight to let me know that the new dishwasher is ready to pick up. At least that's what I think they called about. I don't actually know for sure because I happened to be walking by the kitchen phone when they called. I picked up, and an automated messaged identified itself as being from Sears, and then told me to press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish*. My kitchen phone is a rotary, so I waited, figuring the robot would default to English eventually, but it didn't. It just kept insisting I push a button. So I hung up. I'll take a ride up tomorrow night to pick it up.

* I think. I don't know any Spanish, so for all I know they could be calling me an ignorant goatherder, but it's more likely they just wanted me to press a different button.

---
I stopped at Lowe's on the way home to look at some more faucets. I found one much like the one I liked at Home Depot for $30 less, so I bought that. The Depot one had a stainless steel finish which looked very nice, possibly too nice considering the rest of my kitchen. The one I bought is chrome, like the one it's replacing.

I decided to at least try to install the faucet in place, rather than yank the whole sink out. Who knows, it might be easy.
dxmachina: (Projects01)
Have purchased a dishwasher, a Kenmore (yay, sale!), however it wasn't in stock, so I can't pick it up until mid-week. No big deal. That'll let me start in first thing Saturday. I also stopped by the Depot to look at kitchen faucets, and found one I liked. It's mid-range at around $90. (By comparison, I could get one similar to what I have now for $20, but I really dislike the one I have now.) I'll swing by Lowe's after work during the week to see what they have.

So, anyway, now I have a good solid week to overthink all this. The key question is whether I'm going to try to install the faucet in place, which is backbreakingly awkward, or do it by yanking the sink out, installing the the faucet, and then reinstalling the sink, which is less awkward, but more work.

Ponder, ponder, ponder...
dxmachina: (Calvinball)
Easter weekend had terrific weather, but I was down in Jersey so didn't get a chance to ride at all. I did get to play a little wiffle ball with a niece and a couple of nephews. It's the first time I've swung any kind of bat in almost a decade, yet I'm the only one of the crew who actually hit the ball. Apparently none of them have their uncle's hand-eye coordination. I blame my sisters. Actually, I whiffed on my first two swings, then tomahawked a pitch that was about two feet over my head for a line drive that reached the street. Go me!

---
Al, Durrah, and I took a ride down to the hobby shop in Magnolia, then stopped at an LL Bean on the way back. Never been to one before. I spent most of my time looking at overpriced bicycle accessories and clothing. Nice stuff, but nothing I couldn't get cheaper at a local shop. They did have one bike, though, that I liked quite a bit. Alas, I already have plenty of bikes.

---
The weather continued to be nice for most of the week, and I did get a couple of rides in. And Thursday I tried to give the lawn it's first mow of the season, but was stymied by my old adversary, the Briggs and Stratton two-cycle engine. Wouldn't start for love nor money. So I bundled it off the the repair shop Saturday. It should be ready to take on the meadow outside my front door sometime later in the week.

---
The basement continues to dry out. Friday I tossed out a couple of loads of soggy trash, and with that and the dehumidifier still doing yeoman's work, by Saturday morning it was smelling a lot less musty down there. Still feeling pretty lucky about it all as one of my coworkers still has water coming into his basement as fast as he can pump it out.

---
I finished varnishing the cabinets, drawer fronts, and cupboard door for the hobby bench Saturday, and today I attached various pulls and hinges, and attached the drawer fronts to the drawer bodies. I just need to fill some nail holes and I can bring them both upstairs... Um... After I clear out some space in the nerd hole.

Still to do are the bench top and a pair of sliding shelves for the cupboard. The plywood for the bench top is cut. The edges need to be trimmed out, then I need to finish it somehow or another, with something that can stand up to spilled paint thinner. I'm running a small experiment with epoxy appliance paint, which is only recommended for painting metal, to see if it'll work on primed wood as well. So far, so good.

---
Meanwhile, I've been hacking up my lungs since Friday. I'm not sure if it's a chest cold or allergy/asthma due to all the plants popping off so early. Am taking loratidine and tussin in the am and nyquil in the pm. Whatever, I've felt like crap all weekend, enough so that for another weekend I didn't get any rides in. Blehh!

---
"I always thought the knuckleball was the easiest pitch to catch. Wait till
it stops rolling, then go to the backstop and pick it up." - Bob Uecker


Charlie Haeger, a knuckleballer, started for the Dodgers today and turned in one heck of an outing, striking out 12 in six innings of work. Only ten of the twelve strikeouts actually resulted in outs as catcher A.J. Ellis was having as much trouble catching the knuckler as the Marlins' batters were having hitting it. Alas, it was all for naught as the bullpen blew another game in the late innings.

So Cold...

Jan. 9th, 2010 08:12 pm
dxmachina: (Hammer)
It's 50°F down in the basement, which means I actually have to bundle up some to work down there. It also means that my tenoning jig no longer works properly. Lemme 'splain.

When last we left our hero, the nerd hole bench project seemed a bit nearer to completion. Since then, all the drawer slides were installed, the drawers were built, and the facings for the drawers were cut to size, moulded, and sanded smooth. This all happened in the week of vacation I took between Christmas and New Years. What's left to be built are the benchtop, two sliding shelves (basically two very shallow drawers) for the cupboard, and the cupboard door.

I started working on the door this morning. It is to be a floating panel door. I picked up some nice 1 x 2" maple at the Depot for the stiles and rails, measured the door opening on the cabinet, cut the maple into four pieces of the proper length, and hunted up the moulding cutter for the table saw. I have a set of cutters for the moulding head that cut both the grooves for the panel and round over the inside edge of the frame. I also have a corresponding set of cutters that cut the ends of the rails to match the profile of the stiles so that everything fits nicely together with little extra work. Theoretically.

In order to cut the ends of the rails, they must be clamped into a tenoning jig, which holds them tight and vertical as the pass over the moulding head. A runner on the bottom of the jig slides back and forth in the miter slot on the top of the table saw, and it's supposed to be a tight fit. I wanted to do a test pass on some scrap wood, but when I went to slide the jig down into the slot, it turned out to be too tight of a fit. It wouldn't go. I checked both the runner and the slot for corrosion, and polished the edges of the runner and the slot. Still no joy. As near I can figure the cast iron slab table top on the table saw had contracted enough from the change in temperature that the slot was no longer quite wide enough to hold the steel runner on the jig. Only that particular tool, though. The crosscut guide that also uses the slot fit fine. Very odd.

I didn't need the jig to cut the profiles along the insides of the stiles and rails, so I did those. Now I need to figure out an alternate method the cut the rail ends. Thinking about it, the tenoning jig is not the ideal tool anyway, at least the one that I have. It only has a single clamp to fix the piece into the jig, and I'll need to have a second sacrificial piece of wood behind each piece to prevent tearout. I saw a homemade jig in a magazine recently that runs along the rip fence instead of in the table slot, so perhaps I can build something similar that would work.
dxmachina: (Bike Snow)
I had some extra vacation days I needed to burn before New Year's, so I took one Friday. I was hoping to maybe get a couple of rides in, but it was too damn cold Friday and Saturday, and it poured all day today. Instead I pulled the bike from the truck and brought it inside, probably for the winter. Feh.

---
I attached the face frames to the carcases, officially turning them into cabinets. I also added a pair of cleats to the back of each to support the back ends of the drawer slides, and even installed a couple of those.*

* I spent a good chunk of this morning fabricating a jig just to drill the holes for the drawer slide mounting screws in the face frames. Apparently they have to be placed just so or everything goes to hell in a hurry. One of the required measurements was 5/64ths of an inch (which is how far the slide needs to be positioned back from the front of the frame). Bozhe moi! I didn't even realize until today that I had a ruler marked in 64ths. OTOH, I made it from hardwood scraps left over from other projects, a piece of maple here, a piece of bubinga there, and some brass screws, so it's a thing of beauty.

---
The kitchen is clean, so there is now room to make some holiday goodies.

---
I was out doing some shopping Friday and spent way to much dough at Harbor Freight, home of the world's cheapest tools. Experience has taught me that it's usually better to pay a little more for well-made tools as opposed the the cheapest tools possible, but for things like clamps and such, where precision isn't really an issue, there is a lot of money to be saved by using the cheap stuff. Mostly I bought gadgets, but I did get a couple of 60" bar clamps for $11 apiece, with similar going for $30 at the Depot. I also got the world's cheapest double action air brush, on sale for $15. I'm treating it as a learner's brush, as I don't expect the quality to be very good. The thing is that a well mad air brush is anywhere from five to ten times what I paid for this one. And who knows, it could surprise me.

Face Frames

Dec. 8th, 2009 11:24 am
dxmachina: (Hammer)
One Face FrameThe Other Face Frame Finished the face frames over the weekend, and they look great. I also drilled out the pocket holes in the carcases that will be used for attaching the frames to the cases. I haven't done the final attachment yet, though, partly because it'll be easier to varnish the frames while they're still separate, but also because of the vague worry that I'll screw something up (e.g., misaligning the frame with the case) whilst doing the job, thus ruining almost two years worth now of work. I felt the same thing while putting the frames themselves together, having never worked with pocket screws before. Pocket hole joinery turns out to be pretty foolproof, but being no ordinary fool, I did manage to put one of the holes in the wrong place. Fortunately, once the frame is attached, no one will ever see the misguided hole again.*

* Though now that I think of it, if it had, in fact, been somewhere where it would show, I could buy a plug to fill it such that it would be less obvious. Actually, I may do that anyway for the holes I drilled in the case, which will show, at least in one of them.

Adding to my sense of unease was the fact that I also added some plastic glides to the bottom of the cases, such that now they don't sit level on the floor unless I stick some sort of shim under one of them.** They seemed fine before, but now I wonder why they aren't as level or plumb as I thought they were. Maybe I should get some adjustable ones.

** If these were to be built-ins, I wouldn't bother with the glides. I'd just use strategically placed shims to get everything plumb and level, but since these are to be free-standing, they ought to have them.
dxmachina: (Hammer)
Yesterday I had a long (24+) and speedy (14+) ride. I figured tonight my legs would be tired and achy, but despite their protestations, the legs were still pretty strong (14.7 for 16). I broke 1000 miles for the year. The only fly in the ointment is that the sun was setting as I drove home. I hate earlier sunsets.

I should probably mow the lawn tomorrow, and I have a ticket for a Pawsox game Wednesday, the first time there in more than three years, so the legs will get some time to recover.

---
I finally harvested a ripe, non-rotten tomato over the weekend. I picked some small tomatoes about a week ago, but they had rotted while they were turning red, and were thus inedible. Fortunately, Schartner's has had plenty.

---
I've been slowly making some progress on the workbench for the nerd hole. After a lot of experimentation and overthinking, I finally hit upon a stain for the mouldings that I liked, and a protocol for applying it. It took awhile, and I now have a boxful of little cans of different stain shades for my trouble. I was trying for a warm, dark reddish-brown. The last time I wrote about this, I tried Minwax's Red Mahogany, but it wasn't reddish at all. Red Chestnut was better, but not very dark. I tried mixing the two, but that didn't look good, either. A second application of the Red Chestnut looked better from certain angles, but I still wasn't satisfied.

For my next set of experiments, I went to Lowes to see if they had anything different from what the Depot had. Turns out they did. Where the Depot only carries the full Minwax line, Lowes has several brands, but with fewer choices per brand.They had some Cabot stains, one of which was Red Mahogany, so I got some of that to see it was redder than Minwax's version. It was, but it sets up very quickly, so you can't leave it on the wood for more than three minutes or so, or it gets very sticky and hard to wipe off. I'd been leaving the Minwax stains on the wood for 15 minutes or so. The shade was okay, but it was even less dark than the Minwax. I tried a couple of Minwax shades, but nothing really satisfied me.

I was once again haunting the stain aisle at the Depot when I decided to take another approach. I'd been using oil-based stains, but Minwax also makes some water-based stains. I'd skipped past them earlier because there were way fewer shades, and they didn't have a mahogany, but on looking at them again, they did have a Rosewood stain. I have a couple of Rosewood-handled tools that are very pretty, so I figured it was worth a shot.

The water-based stains set up fairly quickly, although not as fast as the Cabot stains did. I did a three minute application, and the color had the qualities I wanted. Still not very dark, though, so I did another application, and another. That finally got the color about where I wanted it. Time at last to stain the mouldings. One problem that crops up with water based stains is that they raise the grain of the wood some, so you have to sand the pieces after they dry, which removes a little of the color. In the end, I did four applications, and they look great. Or at least as good as a light, not very porous wood can look when attempting to make it look dark.

After that each piece got three coats of polyurethane. I used a spray can instead of brushing. I don't usually like to spray, but it was a lot easier and quicker when dealing with a bucnh of long thin strips.

That done, this weekend I cut to length the rails and stiles for the face frames. Now I need to stain those...
dxmachina: (Hammer)
Old Retainer
As I noted last time, the first order of business on Saturday was to install the air conditioners. Last year I finally solved the problem of providing fresh air to a room whose sole window was being used to house an air conditioner. To do this I fashioned a retainer to hold the a/c in place while allowing me to raise the window. Unfortunately, the lovely hardwood faced interior grade plywood I used to fashion the retainer didn't stand up well to four months exposure to the great outdoors. As you can see in the photo, the outer veneer is cracked and peeling, and the piece had bowed outward from the pressure exerted by the weight of the a/c. Clearly I needed something better suited to the task.

I replaced it with a new retainer made from 3/4" square aluminum channel, the remnant of which is sitting atop the old support. Took about ten minutes of work with a hack saw and a miter box. Aluminum is very easy to cut. I cleaned up the sharp edges with a file it was all set. Not only should it be much more structurally sound stronger than the original, but it's also an inch shorter, making it much easier to fit and adjust the screen that goes on top of it when the window is open.

And since today was much nicer and less muggy than yesterday, the a/c got turned off again first thing in the morning, and the window was opened.

---
Getting stains IN... )

dxmachina: (Hammer)
Shiny! Two days into 2009, and I've already finished a project, some shelves for my nerd hole. Okay, I started it in October, but still. The shelves are ½" birch plywood with maple facings. I stained them a "red mahogany" color, which didn't turn out either particularly reddish or particularly mahoganyish. So it goes. As you can see, I've already started piling nerd stuff on 'em.

This is all part of the nerd bench project for the corner of my office. I've actually finished building the carcasses for the bench, but they got put aside when my father took ill. Since then I've spent so much time trying to devise the world's best stop block system for my radial arm saw, that I've never gotten around to starting working on the face frame. Sigh...




dxmachina: (Garden01)
You couldn't have two more pleasant days to start off a summer than the two we've just had. Absolutely gorgeous. The good weather motivated me to actually do some stuff around the old homestead. For one thing, I finally solved a problem that has been vexing me for years. For some odd reason, whoever designed this place decided not to put any first floor windows on the south end of the house. That means there's only one window in the back room, which also happens to be the only window on the first floor that is big enough to hold an air conditioner. In summers past this has meant that even on nights with perfectly pleasant sleeping weather outside, it gets stuffy and uncomfortable in there because the window can't be opened because it's all that's keeping the a/c from falling out into the back yard.

Overthinking ventilation... )

---
Most of the garden stuff has gone well, except that the muskmelon plants died early on, which seems odd. I planted them at the same time as the tomatoes, which are generally regarded as the delicate snowflakes of the vegetable garden. The tomatoes are doing fine. They're at the stage where I needed to do something about supporting them. I planned to go with cages, but when I looked to buy some this week, I couldn't find any at the usual places. The Depot and Wal-Mart had 'em back in May, but they were sold out. I even tried Job Lot, but no luck. Then I had a V-8 moment. I live in what passes for farm country in Rhody. There's an Agway three miles down the road from me. They had great huge piles of tomato cages, and much cheaper than what I remember the Depot charging for them. Whoot!

The only other edible I planted this year was a pot of basil, which is growing like a weed. There's already more than enough growth to harvest some of it. Pity I don't really use basil that much, but if I need any I'll be ready.

It was a really good year for the tulips, and a few even lasted into June. I cut back the dried up foliage the other day, and today I dumped mulch over them to wait for next year. The pansies are still going great guns. Now I wish I'd planted some daisies as well.
dxmachina: (Hammer)
Office 5/08 - Before The sun finally popped out about six or so, but it was too late to do anything outdoorsy. I spent the day down in the basement doing laundry and working on my latest project, a workbench for the office. Turns out it's almost three years to the day since I originally decided to do this. I am the master of procrastination. The office's current layout is shown to the right. The only substantive change from three years ago is the addition of an old, but serviceable bookcase to the corner next to the desk. For purposes of clarity, the drawing does not display the enormous amount of clutter in the supposedly open areas of the room, especially the rightmost third. Anyway, the bench will replace the crappy kitchen table in the upper right corner, and I'll follow it up with shelving on wall brackets above, so I can put everything that's currently on the table up on the shelves. I purchased the brackets at least a year ago.

Overthinking cabinetry... )

dxmachina: (Hammer)
I didn't post a projects update last weekend, but that was more from laziness rather than lack of accomplishment. The first thing I did last weekend was to cobble together the second office chair from the leftover parts from the new chair and the two dead chairs. Not much to do there other than elongating two screw slots on the base plate to fit the old leather seat bottom. After that it was just screw it all together. Worked great.

---
Next up was a real project.Overthinking workshop furniture... )

dxmachina: (Hammer)
There are three ceiling lights on the first floor of my house: one in the office, one in the back room, and two in the kitchen... There are four ceiling lights on the first floor of my house: one in the office, one in the back room, two in the kitchen, and one in the hall... Bugger.

Overthinking interior lighting... )

---
Today I was up in the attic cleaning and straightening. Wound up taking an entire pickup truck load of trash to the dump, and still barely scratched the surface of what I need to do up there. I also made a list of stuff to drop off at the Salvation Army, which I'll try to do tomorrow.

---
It rained all day yesterday, and since I wasn't able to do my usual Thursday ride outdoors, I hauled the stationary bike up from the basement, and rode that for 25 minutes while watching an episode of the Muppet Show. Not nearly as satisfying as riding a real bike, but it's something. The bad news is that I think I pulled something in my back while lugging it up the stairs. It's not the same pain I've been having (which has mostly gone), and it was bugging me all day today.
dxmachina: (Bike 02)
Vacation is ended; now it's just the weekend. As usual, I got very little accomplished. My original plan was to finally build myself a shed. BJ's has a lovely vinyl shed for $1K that I've had my eye on for years, so I took the lid off the back of the truck so the two huge boxes it comes in would fit, and got ready to head up to Coventry. But first... I decided to read the assembly instructions (they're online), just to make sure I'd not be getting too far in over my head.

Foundation Trilogy... )
---
Out, Damn Drop... )
---
Biking Through Wyoming... )
---
Supposed to go riding on Block Island tomorrow with the VB crew. There is a chance of rain, but it looks like not enough of one to cancel.
dxmachina: (Snow)
I am feeling wretched, much like the weather outside. It's partly that I'm still saddled with the cold that refuses to die (two weeks now), and partly because I got up at 2 in the morning to to watch an eBay auction end and never got properly back to sleep. I had gone to bed at about 9:30, so I'd had just enough sleep that when I got back into bed a half hour after getting up my body decided that there must be some sort of mistake, and my brain decided that my time would be better spent reviewing every moment of regret I've had in the last year or so. Fun stuff. When I finally did fall asleep a couple hours later, my dreams were all more of the same. I've never been happier to have to get up early to take the truck in for service. The $400 for new brakes was worth it to get my mind out of that space. At least I won the auction.

On the plus side, when I turned on the MLB feed this afternoon for the Dodgers game from Vero Beach, Vin Scully was doing the call for the first time this spring. I haven't been all that much into spring training this year. I have been listening to the games when I remember to turn them on, but without much enthusiasm. However, listening to Vin today while looking out the window at a world o'slush turned out to be way more cheering than I would've believed. I wasn't even paying all that much attention to the details of the game. It's all about the voice.
dxmachina: (Snoopy Dance)
Am feeling particularly geniussy today. The nice weather outside today contrasts with the deluge of rain we got yesterday. With all the heavy rain, and since I had to do laundry anyway, I decided to head down to the basement to see how well the concrete caulk I'd pressed into the gaps around the waste pipe was doing at keeping the water out. Turned out not as well as I'd hoped. There was still some water getting through. Not a lot, so perhaps another application might work.

The good news is that my plan B worked splendidly. At the time, I had all this caulk leftover in the tube, so I used some of it to make a silicone lip on the wall a couple of inches below the waste pipe. The idea was that if water were to get through the sealant, rather than running straight down the wall to the floor, it would be directed outwards so that it could then drip into a bucket below the lip. Damned if it didn't work! There was drippage into the bucket, and not so much as a damp spot on the floor.

I can still improve it, I think. I've been looking for a tall, rectangular wastebasket to catch the water, rather than the current circular bucket. That way more of the containment device can be snugged up to the wall directly under the entire length of the lip, with the requisite increase in water-off-the-lip catching efficiency. I've also thought of putting a long piece of acrylic sheet in the container, and leaning it up against the wall just below the lip to direct the water into the container.
dxmachina: (Rain)
In the "Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead" number in the Wizard of Oz, there a bunch of Munchkin soldiers marching about in time to the music, and I was just wondering why they were there. The Witch of the East had ruled Munchkinland. Were the soldiers the ones who rounded up any Munchkins that stepped out of line? Why else would there be soldiers? And what happened after Dorothy danced down the yellow brick road? Did the rest of the Munchkins exact rough mob justice upon their oppressors? And where exactly does the red brick road go?

Perhaps I'm overthinking...

(And yes, I have read Wicked.)

---
Not a good night last night. Overdid it yesterday, and the body stiffened up badly as I tried to sleep. I finally gave up around 5, after narrowly escaping from a dream where someone played by Sean Bean was about to stick a knife in me, and got up. At least that meant I was one of the first in line at one of the Dept. of Health's roaming flu shot clinics. That was at 8 in Wickford. I wanted to run down to the Shaw's in Wakefield, which I thought didn't open until 9, so I had some time to kill. It was raining, but I decided to take the long way around, driving down "scenic 1A" for the first time in, like, years. I followed 1A all the way down the coast until I got to Pt. Judith lighthouse, then I cut over to a near deserted Galilee before finally heading back northwards to Wakefield. It's been so long, I'd forgotten how empty the shore is in the off season. Empty beaches and no traffic at all.

In my travels, I managed to drive by all but one of the places I've lived since the ex tossed me out (I've lived on or very near a lot of main roads), which was a depressing thing. Not so much about the tossing out part, but rather that given a chance to start my adult life over, I have so little of value (to me) to show for it since.

---
The rest of the day was a mixed bag. I made soup. I applied another coat of primer to the door down in the basement. I also managed to collapse the table that I had all sorts of mostly clean laundry on down there, dumping a good bit of it on the very dirty floor. Bother. I decided to spend the rest of the day watching TV while playing Spider Solitaire on the "difficult" setting. On the plus side, the spot on my arm where they gave me the flu shot doesn't seem to be the least bit tender. Now I'm worried it was a placebo.
dxmachina: (Hammer)
Weekends seem so short in standard time.

I did very little on project attic, instead concentrating on project basement and project back room.

Overthinking Home Improvement, Chapter Three... )
 

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