Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bye-bye blogger

After many frustrations in recent months on Blogger, I reached a point where Google’s ‘free’ product simply wasn’t serving me, or my readers, well at all, with particular regard to the commenting function.

In recent months, the notification of new comments on posts ceased, due to an unknown cause, and I had to visit blogger’s admin section and look for posts in a moderation queue. That got old fast.

Then there was an option to ‘upgrade’/switch my blogging identity from ‘blogger’ to ‘Google-plus’. I tried this change and discovered it had some curious outcomes:

– it allowed some folks who had been unable to successfully add comments in recent months to post now able to do so – yay!

– I now found comments on posts from months back, submitted by readers via Google Plus, which I had never seen nor received notification about. My apologies to those readers, like Ward in Seattle. I wasn’t ignoring you – I never received any notification, and the comments you made only seemed to exist in the Google Plus universe.

– when a reader comments via Google Plus the post author (me) is NOT given any notification as to whether a comment was left. And this applies to any post on this blog, going back, in this case, some 1020 posts back to 2009. The only way I would discover that someone had left a comment on an old post was by manually scrolling through the summary page for all 1020+ posts, and I’d have to do that on a regular basis. It would be almost a full-time job, and a very boring one at that.

-worst of all, on Google plus, there is no comment moderation, leaving my blog wide open to abusive comment content, x-rated comment content, or just the run-of the mill spam which comes in daily. No way that would work for me, and readers here I’m sure are not looking for that sort of thing either.

– if comments were made by readers with Google Plus, then reader without Google plus would be unable to see them. If i reverted back to ‘blogger’ identity instead of Google Plus, all comments left by google plus readers would be lost.

So, digging in deeper and finding these issues in blogger seem to be more of a feature than a bug, and Google isn’t in any particular hurry to do anything about it, I decided enough was enough, and though it costs me money to have the blog hosted here, at least I have ownership of the content, which is not the case with the Blogger platform, in which Google owns all your content. Whenever the product is free, then you are the product, as they say.

I’m so annoyed at google that I am thinking of canning all my Google accounts, including Youtube, gmail, and stopping using Google as a search engine. We’ll see how far I feel like taking it – for now, I’m happy to be here, and look forward to posting new content. I’ve placed a redirect on my old blogger site, so hopefully you will automatically land here when you visit the old site. Please update your bookmarks accordingly. And thanks for your steady readership! My apologies to all who were inconvenienced/annoyed/puzzled, or simply struggled trying to leave comments previously on blogger. Those problems are now in the past. Onward and upward.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

PVC Dust Catcher

PVC Dust Catcher

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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Garden Structures Update

A few years ago, in May of 2013 to be more precise, I created some planting beds and trellises for our family garden plot in the community garden space.

Here is a listing of those posts, in case you missed them

Tower of Power

Trellis All About It

Trellis All About It (II)

Trellis All About It (III)

Trellis All About It (Conclusion)

Three months after installation of the Jatobá trellis, I did an update:

Three months On Garden Update

And now it seems, 5 years on, another update is in order. As I explained at the time of making the trellis, these garden structures, while ostensibly for containing dirt and supporting climbing plants, are really a laboratory of sorts for me, to get a chance to observe how certain woods and certain kinds of joints do over time in the harsh conditions of the outdoors. Save for exposed end grain, none of the wood is painted or ‘sealed’ or has any finish other than what my plane leaves behind.

I am convinced that the hand planed finish does the best outdoors and all other attempts to apply coatings are simply doing nothing to make the wood last longer and just giving you a new bit of maintenance work to do, so I don’t bother. Planed is best, though I will note that the Black locust boards were not hand planed, but just machine planed, IIRC.

First up is an overview pic, showing all the structures in the garden:

As you may note, if you looked over the previous build threads, the black locust garden beds are now elevated, while they were, prior to this year, sitting right in the dirt. The reason for this is largely to combat Meadow Voles, which are now well established in the community garden and which caused a couple of my beds last year to really underperform. I’m not a care and share sort of fellow when it comes to rodents. So, this spring, I dug all the dirt out of the beds, re-leveled the ground, laid down some galvanized hardware cloth with a ½" mesh, then placed a perimeter of CMU’s, aka cinder blocks, around the edge, and then placed the wooden beds back on.

This should keep the voles out, and as a benefit the beds have twice as much soil and require less stooping to tend. It also allowed me to see the condition of the black locust a little more clearly.

This picture shows what might be a typical condition:

The black locust was purchased green, the only option in N. America it seems, and has undergone a fair amount of distortion, cracking and movement over the years. This was to be expected - the multiple through-tenons though have held on quite well, which is good to see.

Black locust is famed as an extremely durable wood in contact with the soil, with people stating that fenceposts can go 50 years in the ground, and so forth, but I am a bit underwhelmed so far. One bed in particular is undergoing significant degrade and rot:

The diagonally-opposite corner of the same bed also shows that it is rotting away, much faster than anticipated:

That’s a big disappointment. The other two locust beds aren’t nearly as bad, but they are still more deteriorated than I would have expected. Still, the locust, at $4.50/bd.ft., was cheaper than most other options in rot-resistant species, but still, I’m not sure I will be inclined to use it again, unless I could find it properly dried. Hah, good luck with that.

The Jatobá trellis, on the other hand, shows zero signs of rotting, and is holding together well, though the wood movement of this species overall is a bit on the high side it seems to me:

The Jatobá does not accept/retain end grain paint well, and does not degrade with much in the way of end-grain checking, so I guess in future I could skip the paint step with that material.

Next is the Spanish cedar pyramidal trellis with teak cross pieces fastened with stainless screws:

That’s doing really well, with no appreciable degrade save for the usual weathering to silvery grey.

The last one to look at is the newest bed, completed in the past couple of weeks in my spare time:

I’ve noticed that different woods have different abilities to retain end grain paint, with Jatobá being noticeably poor in this respect, and Honduras mahogany the most excellent. The new bed is made from teak, which is oily and difficult to glue, but which should last very well outdoors. I used a special epoxy for oily woods and sealed the end grain with that, then applied a clear coat epoxy with white pigment over that. It will be interesting to see how well it holds up over the years.

The corner joints are a place where various joinery options present themselves. I was briefly tempted to do a double-mitered half lap, but that joint, it seems to me, has certain vulnerabilities, so I went with triple rod tenons and 6 shachi-sen fasteners, making the corner joint using a separate nose piece:

I think this should hold together well, but we’ll see of course.

A view of a different corner:

A little gappy on that upper rod mortise, but I made these joints at a high rate of speed, and not the normal care I would take with furniture or architectural joinery. Nothing to see here folks, just move on….

The other outdoor wood/joinery experiment I have going on is the shrine lantern in my front yard, which is of Honduran mahogany and currently looks a bit forlorn:

There is a landscape maintenance crew which looks after the front yards in our community and last year a less-than-attentive mower operator, no longer with the company, caught the corner of the roof of the lantern head and tore it partially off, creating quite a bit of damage. I took the lantern head off last fall and brought it to my shop but I just haven’t had the time to deal with it yet. I need to make a new roof altogether.

I noticed of late that the support framing for the head was also damaged, so I have to take another layer off yet and fix a couple of sticks:

Hoping to get to that work before the summer is gone. Sigh! Otherwise, the mahogany is clearly the champion in terms of withstanding the elements.

All for this time - thanks for visiting.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Colgate EALL (9)

With the benches out of the way, I have a couple of items to finish up for the Japanese room before turning to the Chinese room and its woodwork.

One task that presented itself was to create the crossbeam which supports the alcove post, toko-bashira, and serves double duty as the upper sliding track, or kamo-i for a pair of sliding doors below. For those door, a sill, or shiki-i, also needed to be fabricated.

I cannot obtain avodire, at least not in the US, in the thickness required, so laminated some pieces together:

There’s more than meets the eye here, as the lower portion of the beam is in fact a piece of black cherry:

You may wonder, why is he doing this? As mentioned in the video which accompanied the preceding blog post, I find avodire to have a quality of having rather high surface friction when you are fitting things together. It is not a wood which slides around easily, so I think it would be a poor choice for the sliding tracks and the frames for the sliding doors. Black cherry, on the other hand has much more suitable characteristics, and is beautiful to boot, however this aspect will be largely out of view.

I used my portable grooving machine to rough out the tracks in the beam:

And with a change in the depth setting, the sill-piece was similarly roughed out:

Then I used a router with edge guide to trim the grooves to a more exact width:

The top of the beam is formed into a tongue which will carry some spacing pieces that support both the alcove floor panel, toko-ita, as well as the floor panel under the staggered shelf assembly. I roughed out the tongue on the table saw, then cleaned up on the shaper:

The result:

A few more steps remain on this beam, however my attention next turned to the spacing pieces which attach to that newly-formed tongue on the topside:

The alcove post, toko-bashira, will sit on the beam in the divide between the two spacers. The fit of the t&g joints, though not too tight, is sufficiently snug that with the high sliding friction of avodire I am disinclined to fully put the parts together at this time, not wanting disassembly struggles.

Another view:

All for this round - thanks for tuning it to my site. Comments most welcome.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Colgate EALL (8)

A bit of water has flowed under that proverbial bridge since the last posting, and in the interim, I’ve made good progress on the project, specifically the benches, which are now complete.

A stray pic from last time, showing the use of a chisel to clean up a trimmed through tenon:

Another stray - a look at one of the leg assemblies after the lower stretcher tenon has been wedged, prior to trimming:

The wedges are in avodire, in an attempt to make the through tenons, which are numerous, a less overt design element. The wedge stock is prepared from flat-sawn stock, then the wedges are cut out on the sliding chop saw:

The medium bench after the two leg sets have been fitted:

And a little further along, the two smaller benches are nearing completion:

Then came the larger bench, the assembly of which i decided to video tape - the editing and publication of the video that followed is the primary reason why the 8th post in this thread was slow to eventuate.

Here’s a video I put together showing the assembly of the long bench:

There were some additional pics which didn’t make it into the video, for various reasons. I had intended to show more of the finish planing, however on that day my camera’s video card became full just as I got into some of the planing, and a video of planing which I thought I had taken ended up only being a 5 second recording of nothing. I did manage to snap a couple of pics from one of the shorter benches however:

Here’s one where you can see the portion of end grain and wedge within the wider shaving, which I think looks kinda neat:

I find avodire very pleasant to work in general, save for the dust, which if I breathe in any significant amount, say while cross-cutting on the table saw, I find my lung capacity becomes a bit diminished for 24 hours. Like a short term asthmatic reaction. Maybe some people would have a worse reaction to this wood, so if you tend to have reactions to wood dust (which I don’t, knock on wood), then caution would be in order with this species. I’ve found simply paying attention to having the dust collection going even when doing minor tasks seems to take care of the issue.

A final step, not shown in the video as the hardware arrived on the scene only in the past couple of days, was the fitting of some decorative nails, or tacks (termed byō in Japanese). I put these in because they are somewhat common on the Japanese benches that I have come across. I decided however not to use these tacks in any way as an actual fastener, but purely for their decorative effect alone. The tacks I obtained are only as long as the boards are thick, so they perform no mechanical attachment function.

Here you can see a bunch fitted to the mid-size bench:

I think fitting nails to board in such a fashion, if they were to actually go all the way through and fasten into the supporting crosspiece below, is not the best idea given that the bench seat boards will tend to widen and narrow with seasonal moisture swings. Now, in this case, the bench seat boards are vertical grain material, and the bench is an indoor item in a conditioned space, however I stick to the principal of designing around wood movement all the same.

The budget for this project did not allow for more elaborate all-wood joinery solutions, so I instead fastened the middle of each board to the supporting crosspieces with a trim-head screw, as you can see in the above picture. Of course, in no way did I want these screw heads to be visible, so I came up with a way to cover them with the decorative head tacks, which were only a bit larger in diameter than the screw heads.

I cut a notch in the side of the screw head using a thin cut off wheel with my portable 4.5" disc grinder:

Another view:

As you can see, these are torx drive trim screws. My though was that this form of drive would exert at most only modest forces into the screw head (trying to split it), and thus, even with the head slitted like that, the screw head would be tough enough to withstand re-insertion in the hole, and such proved to be the case:

Then the tack can thereby be driven nearly straight over top of the screw:

The result is a concealed screw head which, if need be, could be accessed again in the future:

I found this approach worked really well, and only had a couple of tacks out of the total which didn’t work out on the initial try and had to be replaced.

The mid-size bench complete, with all the tacks in place:

A view from a bit further back:

The small bench was the quickest to nail:

The avodire has some nice figure and chatoyance which my pics do not do justice.

And nailing the long bench took a while:

That’s all for this round. Look for a follow-up post in the near future, and thanks for visiting the Carpentry Way.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1859: Our Goals Regarding Creating

I have a new blog post regarding our goals and creating! Come and read! (and like and share if you like it!) :D

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