Early Gift to Me

Since I had been doing a bit more work in my basement, I was continually using my old workbench and it was annoying me more and more. It's more of a cheap worktable than workbench. But the big issue is that it was just really too tall for me. It was around 36" tall and I think that I'd prefer a workbench that was quite a bit lower. It really hit me when I was trying to use a handplane to clean up some old lathe. Along with being too tall, it was also too wobbly, which made planing impossible. So I found a design online that didn't look too hard. I took apart the old table and made myself a new workbench.

Old table:
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New workbench:
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The height is definitely better on the new one. It's really only 30" tall. I'd like to say that it's incredibly sturdy, but I think it still wobbles a little. I only know this because I was trying to plane the top completely smooth. I did an ok job of screwing the top boards together, but one did stick out a little more than the others. While trying to plane it, the whole table did move around a little. Part of the problem is probably due to my handplane not being very sharp. The other is just the design. I think I might put a lower shelf on and then fill it with some old bricks I have lying around. That should give it the heft I need to make it be a good workbench. I might also buy a nice piece of mdf or plywood to put on the top so I don't have to plane or sand the whole thing completely flat.

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.

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Black Friday

Today is "Black Friday", which means that I'm spending it relaxing after hosting Thanksgiving yesterday. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I believe yesterday was quite enjoyable for everyone. The wild turkey got deplucked and turned out ok. My turkey breast roast, made out of a bunch of pieces, was good. The roasted sweet potatoes were good. And as always the desserts were finished off without a problem.

I had fun yesterday posting to twitter about all the things I was thankful for. And we ended the evening by introducing my sister's kids to the beauty of Star Wars. Since we normally have a Christmas viewing of Star Wars, I'm not sure what we'll do then. We may have to move on to "The Empire Strikes Back".

Today people will shop, which is a little weird after spending yesterday being thankful for what you have. While I have no desire to "go shopping" ever, I know that I ran out of laundry detergent yesterday. So if I want to wash all the dirty linens, a trip to a store might be needed today.

As I now have three full days over which I don't need to think about work, I have a couple of personal projects that I'd like to take a crack at. One is the letterpress-printed save the date cards for my brother's wedding. I'm hoping my plates get delivered today, though they may not. It would be nice to be able to play around with that today. Another is to build a little project with some of the wood I have in my basement and to try out the milk paint I bought as a finish. Lastly, though it's supposed to rain for most of the day, I'd like to go for a bike ride. It's supposed to be in the 50s today, which will make for a nice ride.

Working with Wood

I have written before how I'm trying to reuse the old lathe that I saved when I redid part of my house. The procedure was basically to plane the lathe, glue it together and then plane it to a smooth thickness. This has produced some very nice boards and I've made a couple of nice things with them. The problem is that I'm not enjoying the process. First of all, the planer is freakin' loud. I wear ear-covering sound mufflers and it still sounds loud to me. I tried using a sander and wet-dry vac, but that's crazy loud too. As I get older, one thing I've noticed about myself is that I like quiet. Another problem is that the planer seems to be breaking a lot. I've spent a lot of money on a new set of carbide blades, which have worked well, but cost $249. And I've replaced the belt twice. It also generates a tremendous amount of sawdust that gets all over the place. But the main problem is the noise. I like working in the mornings...the earlier the better. But I don't want to make that much noise. I'm sure my neighbors could hear some of it and I don't want to be a jerk.

I still want to do something with the lathe though, so what to do. Perhaps I should be planing them by hand. I know, it's crazy. I'm taking an already ridiculous slow task and making it even slower. But I tried it a little today and I think I might like this more. I took a very old plane that I had and tried planing a piece of lathe. I actually enjoyed it. The scraping makes a very pleasant sound as you go across the wood. It generates thin strips of wood and not sawdust. This should be easier to clean up. I think it might be kind of relaxing to do this after work. I could listen to music while I'm doing it, which would be great. Problems? Yes, this is even slower. More importantly, I don't really have a good way to clamp the lathe down while I'm trying to plane. I also think it would be nice to have a shorter table to plane on, since I could see my back not enjoying the height of my current workbench. I also don't know much about hand planes. I'm guessing I'd have to sharpen the blade a lot and I have no idea how to do this. But even with these problems, I'm liking this idea. I'm going to give it a try and see how it goes.