Archive for July, 2010

Curve Front Cabinet 1

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Another “learning experience”: I need to spend more time working with wood stain.  This cabinet deserves a better stain job than I did.  It’s a little frustrating seeing all of the design work and woodworking marred by blotchy stain.

More on this project later, though.  There are a few points of interest.

(I’ve put up a reading list link on the right side of the site.  I’m only allowing myself to enter books that I haven’t read before, as an incentive to finish the numerous books on my “too be read” shelf rather than rereading Sherlock Holmes or Raymond Chandler.  Again.)

Nature wins again

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

My apartment complex could be described as slightly worn, and so it not as pleasing to the eye as it could be.  My apartment number was evidently painted over during the last maintenance period, and has been restored to contrast with the door by the scientific application of a marker.  This level of art was at the back of my mind recently while I was painting pieces of a table on the walk outside my door, feeling slightly proud of my attempts to make *something* look better.

Then I looked over at the crack between the brick face of the building and the walk:

“That’s really pretty,” thought I, realizing that these flowers are essentially a weed that is flourishing in a small gap in the pavement.  (That’s the brick wall at the back of the picture).  Nature wins again.  My painting won’t result in anything that pretty.

When I went to pick up the dried items later, I looked again:

With the afternoon shadow upon them, the flowers closed up.  So… not only do they look better than my work, they adapt to the sun over the course of a few hours.  All this from a 1/4″ gap in the cement.
Nature, and humility, win again.

Ignition Spaghetti

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I was recently advised to change out the plug wires in my car.  Actually, the shop offered to do it and I declined, figuring that I could do this of all jobs.  Pleasantly, I could, which has historically not always been the case.  I like to think of my optimism when confronted with this sort of decision as being endearing.

This is one of the easiest jobs to do on an old engine – everything falls readily to hand.  Later engines (I’m looking at you, transverse V6es) can be much harder to do this work on.

The new wires went in with a pleasant “click” as the ends clipped onto the plugs.  Due to the age of the old wires, I hadn’t realized that this was supposed to happen (the clips had long since lost their springiness).  It is entirely possible that some of my recent ignition problems were simply due to loose plug connections caused by the aforementioned loose clips.  One of the problems with learning a subject with old/broken/suspect gear is that you don’t necessarily understand how it actually functions, working backward from the problem rather than forward from knowledge of the correct behaviors.    The problem is that learning this way means you need to repeat the past mistakes of the engineers who designed the item so as to understand the current design.  When confronted with what appears to be a nonsensical design decision, it’s usually a good idea to assume that there is an historical reason for it.  Whether or not that reason is a good one is a often decided by time.

Veneer Weave

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

The qualified success* of the laminate veneer pen stand I made needs qualification.

Laminate veneer can be very strong, even when bent into curves.  Lots of plywood is just laminate veneer, and everybody depends on plywood for the workaday sheet wood needs of their life.  Curved wood is more interesting, though, particularly for someone interested in certain eras of furniture and art.

I made this little weave some time ago, using a tube of wrapping paper as the jig and duct tape as clamps.

The two strips are made up of two pieces of edge veneer, and they are glued together at the points where the two strips meet, and the component veneers are glued back-to-back along their entire lengths.

While I’m not entirely surprised at how strong this is, given the use of woven patterns for roofs, chair seats, baskets, and battleship masts, it’s still gratifying to see how resilient this assembly is:

It’s flexing, but it is also holding.  What is it being crushed by?


The weave sprang right back after removal of the book.  I’d like to figure out a way to use the larger (3/4″) strips of edge veneer to make some sort of three-dimensional structure that is useful, contra the weedy little 3/16 strips used in the aforementioned inkwell.

*note: not guaranteed to be a success at all