Clamps, clamps and more clamps

One thing I have learned is that you can't have too many clamps. I basically had enough to work on one board at a time, which means I'd have to wait for one board to dry before doing another one. Since I'm hoping to eventually build something in my lifetime, that was too slow. So I went to the store and bought another eight clamps. I seem to need 7-8 clamps per board. Now I can work on two at a time. Pictured below are the boards that I'd like to use for the sides of the bookcase I want to build. One is basically done and the other needs some more lathe. I'm out of what I've already sanded, so it will have to wait until I prep more boards.


I was trying to make these boards 12" wide and 5' long. The one in front is around 11 1/4" wide and I think that's probably good. The more I looked at it, I was thinking that might be too wide. But I think it should work out ok. My plan is basically to just build a box that's 5' tall and 3' wide. And then put two or three shelves in it. I was going to put a back on it, but I keep changing my mind on that. I guess it will depend on how it looks as it comes together.

Board Repairs

I thought I should try to fix the holes in the one board I made the other day. My idea was to mix up a bunch of glue and sawdust. Then try to fill and cover all the holes with this mixture. Here's how the board looked after I filled them all in. I wasn't too careful about making it smooth because I knew that I'd have to run it through the planer again to smooth it.



I think this will work. It's not going to be perfect, but I could probably use this board for the bottom. Here's how it looked after coming out of the planer. The board on the bottom is the repaired one.


More importantly, after planing it, I thought I'd put two of my boards together to make an approximately 10" wide board. I've just discovered that the boards aren't near to being square. So gluing them together is going to be impossible. This also got me thinking that I'm going to have to glue up the entire size board that I want to use at one time. I'm going to have to set up some type of template to clamp these very wide boards together. And running the big boards through the planer isn't going to be an option. So I'll have to use the belt sander to get them smooth. Hmmm. I see I still have a few more things to think about.

And just to document how much wood I have to recycle. Here are two pictures of the room where I'm storing most of my old wood.



Board #3

Here are all the boards I've made. The first is at the top, second in the middle and the last one at the bottom.


The one on the bottom needs to goo through the planer a few more times, but I think it looks pretty good. So lesson learned...cut off the bad parts before gluing anything together. Unfortunately, that last board went through the planer really slowly. I'm wondering if that's a sign that the blades are getting dull. I'll try it again tomorrow and see how things go.

These three boards are ~3.5 to 4' long and about 5" wide. That was just an easy size to do. However, now I should start thinking about what I want to build and how big I should make the boards to do what I want.

Early Lesson

I've now completed two boards out of old lathe. The picture below shows part of both of them.


The board on the top was made with longer pieces glued together. The one on the bottom was made with shorter pieces. On the bottom one, I'd put two shorter pieces together to make a longer piece. I don't know what I was thinking because look at all the holes in the bottom board. I didn't make clean cuts of all the edges, so there are holes where things didn't match up well. I guess I'll try to fix those spots by filling it in with some glue and sawdust. For the board I made tonight, I cut all the pieces so they'll have a nice square edge. And I didn't use any boards that have a big hole in it. I'm hoping that board will look as nice as the one on top. Guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Recycling Begins

I saved a ton of wood (mainly lathe) when remodeling my house and finally decided to get started on doing something with it. My first issue came last week when I tried to run both my planer and wet/dry vac on the same circuit. I kept blowing it. So on Friday, I ran a new 20 amp circuit to right above the planer. After that, things ran smoothly.

Today, I went beneath my back porch and pulled out some lathe. There's basically a pile about 10'x6' in area and almost as tall as me of wood out there. So I hardly made a dent in it.


The plan was to plane both sides of each board and then glue a bunch together to make bigger boards.

This is after about 1 1/2 hours of planing. I also separated the wood by length because I thought it would make it easier to glue together.


Next I used a paint brush to paint glue along each board and then stick boards together. The painting took a while and I should probably find a faster way to glue them up. But this did work fine. I clamped the boards together for a couple of hours to let them dry.


Lastly, I unclamped the boards and ran them through the planer again to smooth out the edges. It took a few passes, but it turned out ok. This is about a 4' long board by about 5" or so.


I only made this one board because I don't own enough clamps to make all the other boards. So I have enough wood planed to make a few more boards. Without counting the drying time, everything today took me around two hours. I'll definitely go faster in the future because I got more comfortable with the planer as I went along.

My only other concern is that I don't think the blades on the planer will last that long. I know that I can change the blades, but I have a lot of wood to plane and I don't want to be spending $80 just to make four boards. So I've been looking into a Shelix planer head to replace the blades. They're crazy expensive, like $500. But they supposedly last much, much longer than the blades. I'd have ordered it already, but I watched a couple youtube videos of people installing this cutter and it looks really complicated. I'd be willing to pay someone to install it for me, but I don't know that I could find someone to do it. Guess for now I'll just keep planing with what I have and then look into the new head when the blades get dull.

The Magic of Thinking Big

The title of this blog post is the name of a book that I just finished reading. It was recommended by a blog I read, though I no longer remember which one. It's a basic self-help book by David Schwartz about believing in yourself. However, it's clearly written for people in business and especially for salespeople. Note how I said salespeople there. One of the first things I noticed in the book was how it was pretty much geared toward men. In reading the first few chapters, I noticed that women were only talked about as wives for business men. This made me look at the publication date and unsurprisingly, it was 1959. I decided to continue to read and just made a mental note remember that date when I found little things that bugged me.

The good news is that I already do many of the things that the book recommends. I'm a big planner and I do think I look at myself critically and try to improve. I know I only have one life, so I try to make it the best I can. One of the points the author makes though is about luck. He doesn't think luck has anything to do with success and I think it has a lot to do with it. Granted, I have to remind myself he wrote it in 1959. At that time I guess that heads of businesses were more concerned with regular employees and their progression than people are now. And how hard-working employees would be suitably rewarded and promoted. I almost laughed out loud when I read his line about how companies all have 10-year plans. I'm thinking that a lot of business people now are more concerned about the share price in the next quarter, much less the next year.

Would this be a book that I recommend to people now? Probably not. There are definitely better books to read about living a good life, which think is more important than thinking big. I'd probably recommend "A Guide to the Good Life" by William Irvine and "Turn the Ship Around!" by L. David Marquet. These cover the same information as "The Magic of Thinking Big", but in a way more relevant to life today.

Alpine on a Mac

I have just installed alpine on two different macs. On one, I used macports and on the other homebrew. Both seem to work just fine. I was also able to set up imap to our mail server without any problems. I did run into a couple of issues, but fortunately, have been able to find solutions to all of them.

Setting up IMAP
Our server is at and we have a self-signed certificate on that computer. Start alpine and press s for setup and then c for config. Set the following:

SMTP Server (for sending) =
Inbox Path = {}inbox

My mac laptop username is the same as my username on our mail server. If they were different, I'd put my server username in the above lines. Something like:


Mail folders on our mail server were missing
I noticed that pine only saw local mail folders on my laptop. Since I'm moving from pine on our server to pine on my laptop, I wanted to be able to continue to use my folders that were already on the server. I needed to set up a collection of folders. Enter setup again (s then c) and scroll to the "Folder Preferences" section. Put an X next to "Enable Incoming Folders Collection". Save the changes and quit alpine.

Now we need to tell alpine where our folder collection is. The easiest way I've found to do this is to just edit your .pinerc file. Look for the line called "folder-collections=". Edit the file so it reads like this:


Start alpine and press l to go to the folder list. You should see your folders on the server there.

Viewing Attachments
I had no problems with pdf, image files or word docs. I did have problems with PowerPoint presentations. If I tried to open it from Alpine, PowerPoint would start, but not do anything after showing the startup PowerPoint message. The fix for this was to create a .mailcap file and put it in your home directory. Here are the contents of my .mailcap file.

Application/VND.MS-POWERPOINT; /usr/bin/open %s

You should be able to use open for anything else that has a problem opening. The top line was for .pptx files and the bottom line was for .ppt files. Once I set up this file, everything was fine. (Thanks for the help from this site.)

Edit .pinerc and find the line printer=. I edited ours to look like this:

# Your default printer selection
printer=lpr -o InputSlot=tray3 -o Duplex=DuplexNoTumble -Pp1_example_com

I got the -o options by doing a lpoptions -p p1_example_com -l. For some reason, it was defaulting to tray 2. But in our setup, we have tabloid sized paper in tray 2. So I wanted it to specifically print from tray 3, which has letter paper.

Time Machine Transfer Issues with Office

I bought a new imac and wanted to transfer an account from an old imac. I created a new admin account and then used the migration assistant to transfer the old account. The old imac was running office 2008. We now are using office 2011. I installed office 2011 using the admin account and it seemed to work fine. When the user logged in to her account and tried to start Excel, it would just continually crash. I tried reinstalling Office 2011 as the user, but that didn't help.

The solution was to completely remove Office 2011 and 2008. I basically followed the instructions here. Then, I reboot the system. And then I installed Office 2011 as the user and everything worked fine.

Starting Off

My 2015 has started pretty well. I've already built myself a new workbench, which makes me very happy. And since I was about to buy one, I saved myself a couple hundred dollars as well. This has also inspired me to get started on another cabinet for my kitchen and the kitchen table.

The area that is going to give me a problem is my "not driving" calendar. Four days in and I've driven on two of them and not driven on the other two. However, I don't think that any of the driving I've done has been frivolous. One day was a drive up to my sister's where I helped my nephew assemble his Xmas gift and helped my sister assemble a bed frame. And the other day was a short drive to Home Depot, but it was to buy wood for my workbench. Tomorrow I go back to work. As of right now, the temperature in the morning is supposed to be 3 degrees above zero and lots of ice, since it's been slushy most of today. I can confidently say that I'm not biking to work tomorrow. In that weather, I'm not thrilled about standing outside waiting for my two transfers on public transit either. So I have a feeling that I'm going to be driving more than I'd like this winter. Personally, if it's cold, but not with a ton of snow, I'd rather drive. If there was a lot of snow on the ground, I'd probably take the bus. I'm just going to accept the fact that there are going to be a lot of frowns on my calendar for the winter.

Today (when I walked to the grocery store) I bought walnuts still in the shell. I did not like nuts at all when I was a kid, but have grown to enjoy them more as an adult. My favorite nuts are walnuts, so I thought I'd see what it was like to get them in the shell. First mistake was either eating a rancid nut or eating something inside the shell that shouldn't have been eaten, as it was disgusting. After that though, they were pretty good. Then for fun, I thought I'd try to glaze them. I'm pretty sure that glazed nuts are what's on my favorite salad, so I gave that a try. They turned out even better than I had hoped. So perhaps I'll be making myself a salad with glazed walnuts soon. Though, they're pretty good just by themselves too.

To 2015

Happy New Year!

Another year, another time to make plans. If I have learned nothing else the past few years, it's that I can accomplish quite a lot, but I need to have a plan. It doesn't need to be very detailed in that I work this hard for this long, but I do like to have a solid plan of what I'm trying to do. I rarely set arbitrary time limits. I have learned to be patient enough to take as much time as is needed. I know that I generally like to work in the mornings to early afternoon and then I'm done. I'm not one of those people who will dedicate a weekend to a big job and then work 16 hours on each day. A few hours here and a few hours there and it'll get done eventually.

So, 2015...what's the plan?

Amazingly, for the first time in years, working on different things in the house is not the main focus of the year. Yes there are still things that need to be done, but I'm nowhere near as desperate as I've been in the past.

  • Dining room table - I've hosted a few parties now and have used two plastic foldable tables from my cousin Janet. They've worked ok, but I'd like to have a real dining room table. Ideally it should seat eight regularly, three on each side and two on the ends. However, when for parties, I need it to be expandable to seat 12 or more. I have an idea for a design. I want the table top to be made out of the lathe I pulled down from the walls. After thinking about it, I'd like to make the legs out of steel. Which leads to ...
  • Welding - I have wanted to learn how to weld for years, pretty much since I bought the house. I took the one-day welding class and that was a good taste. But, let's face it, to do anything I need to get a welder and start welding. I'll make a lot of mistakes and that's how I'll get better.
  • Back porch - My back porch is full of a lot of crap. I need to throw most of it out and make it a better storage space until I decide what I'm going to do back there.
  • Being Active - Last year was good and I'd like to keep that up this year. This winter I'd like to do more ice skating. Fortunately, Chicago's parks have plenty of rinks to use. I want to keep riding my bike a lot, especially on trips out of town. And I'd like to keep running, though I want to keep up continued use of my knees. So I may limit the amount of running that I do.
  • Health - One drawback of not having a kitchen for so long is that I ate out a lot. This lead me to gain a bit of weight that I now need to lose. I weigh myself everyday, so I know exactly where I am now and where I want to be. By the end of the year, I'd like to be 25 lbs. lighter
  • Travel - Keep up with last year. Trips to cities where I also take my bike tend to be the most enjoyable for me. Lots of cities have great bike paths. I'd like to go back to Indianapolis and ride those paths again. Also see what else is out there in other cities. Part of me would still like to take a multi-day bike trip somewhere. I'll have to do some more research on that.
  • Build stuff - Making the press I used for Xmas gifts was possibly the most fun I've had in a long time. I'd like to do more of that. I want to set up my workshop in the basement and see what other crazy ideas I can come up with. One that seems like it would be a lot of fun is to make a marimba. I'll definitely be looking into that. And if I could learn to make furniture, I'd be really happy.
  • Make a dent in the mortgage - I just refinanced my house to a new 10-year mortgage. I'd like to make some extra payments to reduce the term by as much as I can. In my utopian dream, it's paid off by my 50th birthday. A more realistic possibility would be a few years after that. But current me has to do it so that future me can enjoy it.
  • Hang out more with my friends - I've always been really bad about this. Once again, I'm going to try to see these people more often.
  • Volunteer - I've been pretty good about donating money to charity, but really lousy about donating my time. I'd like to find a volunteering gig where I could help out on a regular basis.
  • Drive less - I've been driving a ridiculous amount of late. Mostly that's due to the fact that I got a new car that I still love. However, I need to knock if off. Specifically, I need to bike to work more because there's really no excuse for driving all the time. I guess anytime that I'm driving by myself and not getting on the expressway to go a decent distance, I should be questioning whether I should be driving at all. To remind myself of this, I'm going to hang my new biking calendar and put a smiley face on any day where I don't use the car at all. I'll put a frown on days when I do drive. I'll want to see a lot of smiley faces, so I'm hoping this will inspire me to think twice before taking the car out.

There are other things that I'd like to do, but I think if I do all of these, I'll have a happy and successful 2015. One thing to note about this list is that there really isn't much about work on here. I think I'm doing pretty well there and I'd like to focus more on my life away from work.