Projects, Projects Projects!

Hambot v2 EbookWhen last we spoke, lo these many months ago, it was on the subject of repairing an old dining chair.  Hardly the most creative project I’ve ever done, and one that probably ate up more time than it was worth — I’m sure I could‘ve replaced the chair outright for a few dollars used, and been done with it.  Which would have been a fine outcome for the chair situation, since it is no longer a dining chair, but sits in the basement and is used for doing laundry.  Nevertheless, the time and expense of these projects are almost never the point — the project itself is the point.  So was the chair.

I assure you I haven’t been idle since then, and have been busy with all manner of things.  There’s the day job, of course, but also coaching with a high school mock trial team.  Then, college hockey season took up a lot of time.

Somewhere in there I did find some time to work on some project or another, if only in fits and starts.  So, what’ve I been doing?

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Wooden Chair Repair

In my basement is a chair that was originally part of a dining set my wife inherited from her grandparents.  The dining set is nothing to write home about — the table is the sort of mid-century laminate crap sold that Sears probably sold in bulk and which everybody of a certain age has hiding in their basement.

Ironically, while the table was basically an MDF core with a laminate top, the chairs were solid of honest-to-goodness wood.  The chair in question today is obviously not in our dining room, but in the basement — like I already said — and I use it when I fold laundry.  Fun fact: in addition to building things out of wood, and making things out of leather,  and being an attorney in my day job, I also do the dishes at my house, and fold the laundry.  To be fair, my wife does the lion’s share of the cooking, and that’s the way we’ve divided our labor.

But I digress.

Despite the chair being better built than the table, it’s old, exposed in general to the damp — we live in an old house and while I keep the chair out of water, and keep dehumidifiers going, damp finds a way.  Which means one of the glue joints on the seat failed. 

Naturally, when I disassembled the chair to glue the seat back together, one of the legs de-laminated, coming apart vertically right up the middle at the glue joint.  Then, another glue joint in the seat failed.  Though a bit annoying to have a repair job actually seem to cause more damage — in a sense — it was perfect timing for things to come apart, that way I could fix it all.

You could call what I did a half-repair/half-restoration.  Which means I only did what was necessary to put it back together, and refinish the most important part — the seat. 
I started by pulling the chair completely apart, labeling the pieces as I did so it’d go back together the way it was meant to.  Next, I cleaned the glue joints, and sanded the finish off the seat — the finish had basically failed anyway, so this had to be done and really didn’t take much time. 
After that, I glued the seat back together, pre-applied finish, glued the leg back together, and reassembled the chair — all with Titebond III, for moisture resistance.  One note about refinishing the seat is that, because the old finish was tinted, when I sanded it away I found a blonde wood underneath, and thought it looked better, so kept it.
Either way, the chair is now as solid as it was new, and if I’m luck might last several more decades before needing further attention.  Which is a satisfying thing to say, even for a piece of furniture that is only every used in the basement for folding laundry,

Friendly Reminder Re: IKEA furniture


Just a friendly reminder to put finish on your bare-wood IKEA furniture.  Not only will it help the pieces keep longer, it gives them a warmer look.  You might not be able to tell as much from the photos here, but the second one does have finish on it.  It does look warmer.  And it will withstand more than the other, which would need sanding if it got dirty, as opposed to wiping down.

That is all.

Liquor Cabinet

20220909_152412If we all stopped and thought about it for a moment, no matter how terrible the pandemic was (is?), there was some sort of highlight for everybody.  Maybe it was more time with family, less spending on take-out meals, or more time outdoors.  Whatever it was, I’m sure if you looked, you’d find it.

For the wife and I, there were lots of positives in there, but none of them are really germane to this topic except that it revealed a true appreciation of whiskey in my family.  At least, an appreciation amongst the male members — the wife is not so much a whiskey fan, though she does enjoy a liqueur from time-to-time.  Which is like liquor, but not quite.  In the same way pink is like red, but not quite.  Still, her appreciation for liqueur goes to prove what Mary Poppins said, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” Continue reading “Liquor Cabinet”

Clamp Champ

POWERTEC 10 in. 330 lbs. Capacity load F Clamp Heavy-Duty F Style Bar Clamps  for Woodworking (2-Pack)-71592 - The Home DepotI think it’s pretty accepted by woodworkers that if you want clamps fast, and in quantity, without paying through the nose, the best option is going to Harbor Freight.  Certainly, Harbor Freight gets a bad rap in some circles for being cheap, and is why your snootier woodworkers, who aren’t me, will clutch their pearls at the very notion of using anything from Harbor Freight.

But I’m not snooty and never subscribe to the notion that ‘cheap’ means ‘not good’.  Hell, some of the best tacos I’ve ever had were basically dirt cheap.

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I Have A Bandsaw

20211201_150047A couple years ago I bought a 9-inch Ryobi band saw off facebook marketplace.

I won’t tell you what I paid for it, but let’s just agree I paid too much for it.  This overpayment proved especially true when you consider the thing never properly worked, even after I replaced the tires and bought a new blade.  Even my son couldn’t even get it to work, and he’s the one with far more patience working through and calibrating the machinery than I am.  In the end, that bandsaw has basically sat unused since purchase, which means it’s spent two years being nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

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This Is A Door

20211029_141615There are some projects I take on because of a particular need.  Or, if not a need, then a want.  For instance, a couple years ago I upgraded an old Sauder media cabinet with this beauty.  It was not the easiest thing to build, and it certainly has lesser capacity than the old cabinet, but it also looks so much better being built out of maple and walnut,  and even if there are some flaws to it — my dadoes could be better — I’m still proud of it.

20211027_08210020211022_135850 20211026_063753

Then, there are those projects we take on simply for the challenge of it.  For instance here’s a small angled box I made, just for the thrill to see if it would work.  To some extent, this design might make a pretty interesting coffee table.  Eventually this design morphed into two other items that, again, I made just for the thrill of making them.  But, because these were all unneeded, and somewhat impractical — the red and black one is only 8 inches high — they are basically art pieces.  Especially the red and black one, which sits on my desk at work.  Of course, the tallest of these art pieces is such a piece of art that it serves as a stand for a fan in our living room.  

(By they way, my advice when making things that are wholly impractical, or just for the fun of it, is thinking of it like an art piece.  It’s amazing how calling something ‘art’ will justify the existence of pretty much anything).

Then, finally, there are the projects you wind up doing not because you needed it, or wanted something, but because some bozo decided something truly unnecessary needed to be done around the house.  In this case, the bozo is my son, and the truly unnecessary thing is new bedroom doors.

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This is a Coffee Table

This is a coffee table.  Like all things wood it started as a tree.  Although, if we’re more precise, it started off as a seed that fell off another tree, at some point became a tree, and finally ended up as this.  Or, it started out as multiple seeds, on multiple trees, because the parts of this table were 100% not coming from the same tree — more on that later.

But, really, all that is beside the point.  What is the point is before this coffee table was this coffee table, it was actually three different things.  Or, five different things, because two of these things were the same exact type of thing, and two other of these were the exact type of thing, too.

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Chair Build 1.5

20210716_113826So, last year I built a chair.  You probably remember it – the chair I didn’t actually need and built on a whim just to give me some experience at building a chair.  As if I was magically going to switch careers and go into chair-making and needed the experience.

Anyway, I built that chair from a little more than one standard length 2×4 and a small piece of a plywood sheet.  When I built it last year this was actually a pretty cheap build for an experiment.  And, while the pine in a 2×4 is generally pretty lousy, it is fairly strong.  That said, if you’ve seen the cost of dimensional lumber lately, you know it would have cost a pretty penny if I went down the rabbit hole this year.

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