Producing a Lot of Crap

I was reading some notes a person took on a book and found something that I really like a lot. In the book “The Geography of Bliss” (which I haven’t yet read, but now have a hold on at my library), the author writes that in Iceland, they produce a lot of crap. I guess the idea is that lots of people there produce art. So, of course, with so much art being produced, a lot of it is junk. But instead of thinking that’s a bad thing, it turns out that all the crap produced encourages even more people to produce art. So basically, all the bad art is working as fertilizer to help make more art. And every so often, something great is produced. I think that’s great! My immediate reaction is that I should start producing more and just accept that most of it will be bad. But, hopefully, it will work as fertilizer for me as well and maybe I’ll make something great.

It’s Funny

I’m a huge fan of YouTube for learning how to do different things. I’ve been watching tons of YouTube videos for woodworking while I try to build stuff with my reclaimed wood. Last weekend, I decided got a beanbag chair that had no cover. So I decided to make a new cover for it and in the process broke something on my sewing machine. So I was looking around YouTube for some help on fixing it. In the process, I watched a bunch of videos on sewing. It was so funny to me how the genders of the people hosting the videos just changed. For woodworking, I can think of one female who made videos. Everyone else was guys. For sewing, it’s all women. This just struck me as very funny.

Final Fun

Before I even think about going back to work tomorrow, I decided to try to do something fun in my basement. My project is to make something to hang coats by my door. I have a couple of boards that I made out of lathe that are around 6″ wide and maybe 30″ long. I sanded them down and painted them red with milk paint. Once they dry, I’m going to pound in some of the original nails to use as hooks. Then I’ll hang one of the boards on the wall by the door. I haven’t yet decided if I’ll hang them both. I think I’ll see if I like the one by itself first to see if I like how it looks. And how the nails work as hooks.



Full Circle

Lathe are strips of wood that are nailed to studs when building a wall. Before drywall was invented, plaster and lathe were how walls were put up in houses. My house had all plaster and lathe walls on the first floor. Here is a picture of the back of a plaster and lathe wall, as I was gutting the room that is currently my bedroom.


While gutting, I broke up all the plaster and then tried to save all the lathe to use later. Well, it is later and I’ve been doing some work with the lathe. The first step was to either plane or sand the lathe clean and cut all the edges. This would make it easier to glue the pieces together to make a board. This picture shows some sanded lathe in the back and lathe that still needs to be sanded in the front.


Next I glued a bunch of pieces together to make a board.


I then cut the edges of the boards and planed them to around 1″ thickness. Here I’m testing a few different stains on the boards to see how they would look.


And this is the first piece of furniture that I made with my lathe. My intention is for it to be a stand for my tv. However, I’m not sure that it’s going to be wide enough. So it might just be a bookshelf. Interestingly, I used two stains on it. The shelves were done with the stain espresso, which I had tested previously. The sides were done with provincial, which I ended up liking when I was at the store. I think I may use provincial more, though I may decide to not use any stain on my next project.


It won’t win any design contests, but I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I very much like the idea of taking garbage and making something useful out of it.

And here it is, in my living room with a tv on it.


A Splendid Torch

This is the true joy of life, the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

–George Bernard Shaw

The Secret Life of Machines

I’m very grateful to someone for posting all the episodes of The Secret Life of Machines online. I LOVED this show when it was first on. A while back I actually looked to buy a dvd of the shows and couldn’t find it. This makes me so happy!

The Secret Life of Machines

In the vacuum cleaner episode, Tim builds a magnet with a battery, nail and some wire. I remember doing that exact same thing just to prove to myself that it worked. I’ve also used that same demonstration with my nieces and nephews.

Unexpected Time Off

We had a bit of a storm here yesterday.


That’s 19″ of snow in my backyard. As a good resident, I got up really early and shoveled my and my neighbors’ sidewalks. But then realized that few other people had shoveled and my street had yet to be plowed. So I made the executive decision to not schlep to the bus stop (which would also have a lot of snow) to wait for one of the two buses that would take me to work.

Instead it’s back to work on my wood. I thought I’d give a little overview of the process I follow. I have a big pile of wood that looks just like this.


I basically bring in about five armloads of lathe. I then trim both sides to give me a nice clean cut on the ends and roughly sort the boards into four piles by size. This lets me look at the boards a bit more closely and to throw out any that are in awful shape.


This picture shows my sorted piles as I started sanding. The furthest pile away has already been sanded.

Here all the piles of wood have been sanded. It probably took me a couple of hours to do all the pieces. It’s not too hard, though my arms do get a bit tired. However, it is very loud and pretty dusty. So I wear a mask, googles and hearing protection while doing this.


Then, I just start gluing pieces together. Here’s probably the widest board I’m making.


The last steps on this board will be to trim the sides and then plane it until it’s smooth. This sounds easy, but it’s not quick. It’ll take a number of runs through my planer to get it done.

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.