dxmachina: (Rats!)
So, I roasted an oven stuffer last weekend, and buoyed by my stock making effort for Christmas dinner, yesterday I took the stripped carcass of the roast, threw it into a pot, added veggies, herbs, and water, and set it to simmering. After about four or five hours, I strained out all the bones and stuff, and simmered it some more to reduce it down to about a quart of liquid. Then I set it on the counter to cool off some before sticking it in the refrigerator, and forgot all about it until this morning. Nothing like some good ol' salmonella soup. Rats!

What I should've done was just stick it in the back of the truck last night, because it was the coldest night of the winter so far. It was 11° when I woke up. It's only 21° as I write this mid-afternoon. The cold is putting a crimp in my current project. I need to paint it, but it's too damn cold down in the basement for the paint to apply, much less cure, properly. I tried using an electric heater down there yesterday, but not much joy. I was able to get it warm enough to apply primer with a roller, so that's something, but the spray cans I have for the main coats have to be used at 65° or above. It's 50° down there today.

Staycation

Oct. 13th, 2011 11:33 am
dxmachina: (Hammer)
I am at home using up vacation days, and so far I've been pretty productive. Yesterday I replaced the storm door on the front of the house. There was nothing actually wrong with the old door, but it was getting old and it's various operating parts were starting to creak, as aging mechanisms (and aging people) do. It also wasn't particularly attractive, and since a new storm door isn't very expensive (compared to other home add-ons), I figured what the heck.

Door Number Two... )

---
Another thing I did was I finally reassembled the incredibly heavy jointer I bought two years ago, and installed it on a roll-around frame for machine tools. Now I can shove it out of the way until needed. Time to consider a woodworking project.
dxmachina: (Bike)
Mother Nature finally remembered to flip the switch on her the heating system last Sunday. It's been warmish since, even for the couple of days of rain we had mid-week. The winds have backed off a bit, too. Now they're merely annoying rather than absolutely brutal. The upshot of this more reasonable weather is that my body now aches like an achey thing after three straight days of riding. And despite the brutality of the weather, I managed to have my second best month of April ever, mileage wise, and my times have been a full mph better than this time last year, so there's that.

---
Things continue to bloom. The Bradford and rhododendrons are in full splendor. OTOH, the cherry is almost all green now, and the forsythia are losing their blooms but fast. On the gripping hand, krabappel #2 is showing leaves, and even the dogwood is finally showing signs the it is not just another dead stick. Whoot!

Of course the downside to all this growth and rain is that I had to mow the lawn this week, and will have to do so again tomorrow. There also seems to be a wee bit of a dandelion problems out there that will need to be dealt with.

---
I have some mini-projects scheduled for the very near future, as in after my current credit card cycle recovers from the damage done to it by the Machinamobile. A new front storm door to match the one I installed on the side, replace the light fixture that got smashed by the previous side storm door, and perhaps a slightly larger garden with a raised bed. Ah, the Home Depot, where dreams become reality...
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: (Plumbing)
Before...
Two projects for the weekend: install the new dishwasher and replace the kitchen faucet. There's also one other mini-project, to glue the porcelain cap back onto one of the cabinet door pulls. I decided to start with the simpler of the two jobs, replacing the faucet. There was nothing wrong with the old faucet other than it being old, ugly, and not very easy to use with greasy fingers. Also, the sprayer rarely worked properly, usually only working when the water pressure was really low, which sort of defeats the concept. I wanted one of those shiny, new fangled jobs with the goose neck spout (like they have in chem labs). I bought a Peerless at Lowe's earlier in the week. Time to get to it.

This should be simple... )

Man, was I ever stiff and sore when I woke up this morning.

Now for the dishwasher...
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...

Storms

Jan. 9th, 2011 03:58 pm
dxmachina: (Hammer)
Snow last night, about 4", on top of the 1½" we got Friday night. Still, it was light and fluffy and easily moved. All I needed yesterday morning to clean the walk and driveway was a push broom. Today I used the shovel, but mostly as a plow. So looking forward to spring. Already. Although I will note that sunrise in these parts finally started creeping back yesterday*.

* Celestial mechanics fascinates me sometimes. Because of the way the earth spins around the sun like a gigantic gyroscope, and because of the shape of the orbit it follows, the earliest sunsets of the year in these parts (YPMV) occur at 4:16 p.m. from December 3rd through the 13th, while the latest sunrises (7:13 a.m.) occur from December 31st through January 8th. So solstice has neither the earliest sunset nor latest sunrise of the year. It's just that that's when the two moments are closest.

---
The good news is that I managed to hang the new storm door last weekend.

First project of the new year... )

 
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.
dxmachina: (Dizzy)
So, I started coming down with a cold last Saturday, which by Sunday was full blown and nasty, so further work on the bench got postponed. I managed not to miss any days at work, but I was miserable all week, even more so than when I had the flu in November. The symptoms finally started easing Friday, so yesterday I finally felt good enough to head back down into the basement. It was also mild outside, almost into the fifties, so it wasn't quite so cold down there, definitely good news.

Measure once, cut twice... )

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)
Now that the flight sim desk is done, I'm back at work on the nerd hole bench. Over the weekend I attached the mouldings to the sides of the carcases, then drilled the holes for the pocket screws in the already cut parts of the face frames. Figuring that it would be easier to finish the individual rails and stiles while they're still detached from each other, I started staining them tonight. If they behave like the mouldings, it's going to take four applications of the stain to get the color depth I want. One down, three to go.
dxmachina: (Hammer)
Happy Thanksgiving!

It's kind of a crummy day out, but it's not pouring or snowing, so small blessings. I managed to fulfill my major Thanksgiving related task last night with a lightning quick raid on Schartner's pie counter not ten minutes before closing, securing a package full of fresh pumpkiny goodness. (I was worried because I didn't get out of work until 5:35 because I volunteered to wait for the FedEx man to arrive. Schartner's closes at 6:00 during the winter, so it was a near thing indeed.)

Today it's off to Jersey for dinner with the family, then a visit with Al and Durrah, with side orders of hobby shopping and pie eating.

---
Meanwhile, I finished my nerd hole desk project, aka, the flight sim station. Details to still come, but here's a couple of photos.

Photos behinds the cut... )

Projects

Sep. 15th, 2009 09:00 pm
dxmachina: (Garden02)
It's been a busy couple three weekends project-wise. Having finally managed to get the mouldings stained and the face frame pieces cut for the nerd hole bench, I haven't done much else on it. I got sidetracked by another nerd hole project, a flight simulator friendly desk for the super-duper gaming computer that I bought six months ago but have barely used since. That's really turned into a saga worthy of its own post once it's finished, so more at a later date. But there have also been some smaller things, especially this last weekend.

Velcro, Windows 7, and Smoke... )

---
I planted a tree last night, a little 7' tall crabapple I picked up at Lowe's. It's in the front yard in a such position to eventually block the direct rays of the setting summer sun from blinding me whilst I sit at this here computer. I may name it Edna, after Edna Krabappel. My grandmother was also named Edna, so there's that, too.
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: (Computers 01)
Lots o' humidity yesterday and today, with added heat today, but the three days preceding were fabulous, especially Saturday. Good thing, too, because it made for a splendid day for vw's graduation party.

---
Yesterday I gutted the grill and replaced all the internal organs with replacements from the Depot. New burner, new drip pan, new grill surface, and new igniter, although the last doesn't seem to work. That was the one part I didn't buy. It's been sitting on a shelf in the basement for years. I bought it for my previous grill, but it was the wrong one, so I never installed it. It wasn't the proper part for the current grill, either, but I adapted it. Or so I thought. Shrug.

---
A couple of tomatoes have started to turn yellowish, and the spaghetti squashes are growing so fast you can almost see them expanding. At this rate maybe in a couple more weeks I can hollow one out to use as a garden shed.

---
I've had a Facebook account for a while now, but I never did anything with it until Saturday. The impetus mostly was because I was apparently collateral damage in the DDOS attacks on LiveJournal last week. It seems that at least one of the attacking machines must've been nearby, because even for most of Saturday I couldn't get to the site. They later explained that some of the steps they took to mitigate the damage might cut off folks on the same local nets as the attackers. Just to make sure I wasn't one of them, I ran a packet sniffer on my home network for a little while, and came up clean.

Anyway, in the meantime I decided to have a look at Facebook. I friended a few people, and was in turn friended by a bunch more, which is kind of neat. Previously, the only person who'd ever tried to friend me was a retired school teacher from the south somewhere who seemed like a nice lady but was a total stranger, so I passed. Probably a misidentification.

I don't know how much I'll use it. The people who I've friended and been friended by are all folks who I can see on LJ anyway, and the interface is strange and offputting to me. One odd thing about me is that it appears that none of my immediate family nor any of my meatspace friends are on Facebook (or LJ, for that matter). They all use the net, but apart from some of my nieces and nephews, none are into any kind social networking. Well, except my mother, but she hangs out over on the MSN WebTV boards. This was one of the reasons Friendster seemed so useless to me. I brought nothing to the table in terms of connections.
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: (Writing 01)
Previously in the Plentiful Vintage: It rained for forty days and forty nights, and our hero had to shell out a lot of (fairly moldy) dough to get new tires and a battery for the Machinamobile. Also, it was air show week.

Two weeks... )

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