Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Hell has frozen......

 No, really. 


Just kidding. Just because Dad has sent a birthday card so that it arrived early......yeah, it's amazing. LOL 


But he asked when I'd ever update my blog. Uhhhhhh, yeah it's been a while. So here goes. Updating a few things. My last post was about the garage table/work bench. Here's how I like it it.


It's great, except for when it's not. You may call me Captain Obvious. It's just the right size for having a mower on it except for when I want to tip the mower on the side. Then it's simultaneously too big and too small. Too big because it's too hard to reach the blade to take off to sharpen. Too small because I have to move the mower away from the side that it'll be sitting on when it's on the side. 


In case you're curious how to know which side to put it........always have it so the carb is up. Don't know where the carb is? it's where the air filter is. And it's on the opposite side of the oil fill/dipstick tube.  Carb up, so it won't fill with oil.......


I like the wheels, except when it moves around when I want it to stand still. The locks work, unless the wheels are pointing a couple of ways....because the ends of the legs are a little too big. But the wheels are nice when I need to weld something on the mower (or snowblower) OR did we know this when I posted the orig? The table is 1/2" shorter than the tailgate of my pickup, which makes it quite easy to transfer the victims. The table is way higher than the lesbian, so it's of no use when I haul one home in there. 



The height is just right, most of the time. The matching step is helpful, too. I put a shelf, about midway up, and it's nice....except for when the crap vibrates off when something is running. I hardly ever use the light I put on it, in fact it's off way more often than it's on. I don't often use the plugs I put on it, either. 

Did we talk about that light? It's a desk/utility lamp, the kind that has some pivots and will bend around a couple different ways. And it's always in the way...and doesn't bend around to look in the right way. 


There's a nail that sticks down thru the stringer stretcher horizontal frame piece on the end where I grab the table to move it into the right place. Probably the day after it perforates my finger I'll cut it off.  I'm happy with the wood that I used. I am happy that the white kinda peels off showing the blue of the old bench that I reused.


I use the table for other stuff, like potting plants and getting the charcoal ready for the smoker, and vacuum repair and probably a few other things that I can't remember right now. 


A few other things in life? Sure. Last August I took a job delivering truck parts, leaving the limo driving job. I work in the store a couple hours a day and drive  several hours a day, roughly 230 miles, in a 2018 Volvo VNL, with a 26' box.  Rated 33,000, and I don't even ever get half that. I have filled it a few times, and that's fun.  If you see my office view on the FB, you've seen it a few times. 


My elm tree and a maple got severely trimmed last winter. They took down another maple and an ash.......I had planted the maple when I lost the other elm. I planted the ash to replace the ?? that replace the other red maple that I planted when I got the house.  Now my swing gets NO shade in the afternoon and I'm rather not happy about that. I'm thankful the elm has survived, though.  BTW, the maple that also got trimmed was new in 2007; Val mowed it off once, and now it's more than 30' tall. A walnut was planted by a squirrel next to the elm I took down in 2014 and I'm trying to decide if I want to keep it. I'm thinking no. I've got a dead tree next to the neighbor's fence that needs to come down. There's a tree in my lilac bush that should come down. 


Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Garage bench/table

 When I bought this house in 94, I got a couple work benches at an auction. One was an entertainment center and one was not. The entertainment center was about 7 feel long, and the top was 2 2x12s. Of course they warped, cupped and was a real pain, so I replaced them with 2 slices of plywood. 


But this isn't about that. It's about the other bench, 5' long, about 2' wide and 2' tall. And it's about a round plastic picnic table sort of thing. It was 38" across and 28 or so tall. If you follow my Instantgrandma account, you know that I took a huge maple slab and made a King's Wood Shop sign. That slab is heavy, and when I put it on the table, bad things happened. The table has been around a long time, too, and was always outside. One winter a hungry squirrel or rabbit snacked on it which didn't help. And then one day I dropped something on it, which poked a hole in it, and then all covarona season I used it for various things, like lawnmower repair and other table activities.






Plastic doesn't like to be outside...UV causes it to degrade.  Degraded plastic that is also cracked doesn't like to be cold, which February is, and it suffered a catastrophic failure the other day.  It broke right in half in two, right down the middle, causing all the crap on it to fall to the floor. Nothing liquid or flammable, thankfully.  Watch closely for a dramatic recreation: 


Wasn't that exciting? 

So now what? It's still covarona season, so there's no work, but it's too cold to do anything in the garage, and I know spring is coming, so the only thing to do is to build a new table/bench in the basement and move it to the garage later. 

I had taken apart some pallets and built the table inspired by a tall skinny youtube guy that claimed to build his in an hour. Of course, he had designed it in advance, had a set of plans and all new wood, Plus he's young, skinny, and is able/willing to work on the garage floor. I made a few modifications due to my "unique requirements". I wanted the legs far enough apart to push a mower under it. I don't remember what the other parameters were. But I knew them then, and it fulfills them. 

I hope........because it's still too damn cold to fool around with mowers, I'm not going to get one out to measure. (it's been like 20 minutes (of typing time) (or maybe you're a slow reader?) since I last complained about the seasonal (pretty normal) coldness)

But I did measure between the legs of the plastic table, and so they should fit. 

And if they don't fit, I'll always think they should have.........

I put wheels on it, and painted it too. No primer, just one coat of oil based Diamond Vogel paint. CS1331, Satinamel, if you must know, and the colour is OW1, and I know that's the colour of someone's bathroom. I know that because the label on the lid says so. I got it from the Olmsted County recycle center.  Free. I get a lot of my stain and varnish and paint there......it's great if you're not too fussy about the colour of paint. I've gotten lots of unopened cans of varnish. But that's another story. CS1331 has a low satin sheen, btw, in case that's not obvious. It's an interior/exterior paint, which is useful. 


Already using it.....paint is pretty much dry, and I need to varnish some boards for some wine bottle shelves. I will probably install a vise to it, and some electrical outlets, that I'll plug into an ext cord. Contemplating a light.....

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Cabinet/pantry repair

Opened up the pantry cabinet to find a bit of a mess. 


The side of the cabinet let go, causing the shelf pins to bend, break and pull out of the side of the cabinet. 

Oh, for disclosure, this is the 2nd time it's done that, I just drilled the holes a little more and put in different pins and in 2, long dowels.  Maybe it's time to fix it. But how, when there's only access to 2 sides. 

It's 30" wide and 23" deep, about 4 feet high (the bottom section was affected, not the top) and holds a lot of stuff. Too much stuff, actually. 


Here's what I did: remove everything from the cabinet, sorted for gluten free or not. Tossed a cardboard can of bread crumbs from 2013. Pulled out the shelves, sat and stared for a while. 

Pull out the fridge and spend some quality time cleaning both the fridge, walls and the floor...It's not been out since 2005. Found some cat toys.

Devise a plan: replace the pins on the left with cleats, and add cleats to the back, and that way, screws can be driven thru the left wall into those cleats to hold the wall tight. It's fine in the front, as the oak face frame has held together. 

Just do a little measure, a little math, some cutting, drilling and screwing. Took a long time to do, partly because to get to the basement when the fridge is out of it's hole, you, well, I, have to go out the front door, around to the back door and down the stairs. I only forgot a few things, a few duplicitous trips. 
 Use a stick as a spreader bar clamp to wedge the side back into place.



The pins and holes on the right side are ok, so I didn't fix it. 
I imagine that the hard part will be getting Dawn to not put everything on one shelf, packed just as tightly together as possible. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Dandelion jelly

I've got way too many dandelions. I know, I know. just spray. But you have to spray a lot for a couple years before they are gone. Due to being #stuckathome I've heard a lot about how nutritious and wonderful dandelions are...so I decided to pick some for jelly.

It's good exercise, get lots of fresh air, etc. Basically, just pick the flower, and get your scissors ready. 
Once they're picked, you use one hand to hold the petal part and scissors to separate them from the body, and this is when an observant sort will realize that dandelions are a lot like a thistle. 
Add water and bring to a boil, you're making a tea, or infusing the water with the dandelion-ness (essence) Once it boils, turn off heat and allow it to steep, overnight. No point in getting in a hurry about this. 
BTW, seems like the best time to pick dandelions is early to mid afternoon, unless it's hot, and then do it whenever they are in the shade.
I had picked the pot full of flowers, it was about half full once cut. And after I strained and squeezed out the 'tea" 

Adding pics from the phone makes it layout weird. When cooking, the tea smelled like broccoli. Once strained, it smells like and tastes like canned corn water. 

To make jelly, take some tea, add lemon juice and pectin, boil. Add sugar, taste. Adjust as required: more lemon juice, more salt, etc. Boil again. Put in jars. When it's cooking, it smells just like honey. Maybe it's due to me using some brown sugar with the white sugar. Dunno. 

I read a couple posts from people that made it, for one it didn't set, so she used it as honey. I figured if it didn't set that's what I'd do, too. Or as syrup. It might be great in a cocktail.  I also read a post about batter frying the flowers. 

It might be interesting to use the "tea" as vegetable stock when making soup, but I'm certain it's not worth the effort. While it didn't take too long to pick the things, it did take a long time to cut them. I imagine flavor of the tea is influenced by the amount of green that stays on, the amount of dog pee and the number of ants that hang on for the transfer. 

I picked every blooming dandelion in my yard. The next day there were just as many blooming. No wonder they take over an area. 

Try it.....you might like it.

Straw bale garden

A few years ago, I jumped on the straw bale garden bandwagon. A guy from MN got interested in it, devised a bunch of stuff, wrote a book or 2 and got somewhat famous. 

He has a FB page.

Fame, fortune. etc.

You may remember that I had a community garden plot a block over, but the property sold and we gave it up. I did enjoy the garden, and Susie had found this straw bale guy and tried it, with some degree of success. 

The only area in my yard with anywhere close to enough sun is on the north side, at the bottom of a hill, against the neighbor's chain link fence. So....I prop my bales against the fence, and used the fence to support my watering system. The straw holds a lot of water, but it holds it at the bottom of the bale, and the plants (most of the plants) grow from the top. You can put plants in the sides and bottom, too, if you want.

My watering system is some rebar bent on the ends 90*, slid into conduit welded to more rebar. That rebar is stuck into the ground and wired to the fence. The horizontal rebar has some bedframe angle iron welded to it and those lawn sprinklers that oscillate back and forth, in a big wave. You can adjust it so it's just one way, or just the other or just the center, etc. I mounted them upside down, set to the center, or just off, so that it rains onto the garden and not the lawn. I don't want to mow any more often than I have to mow....It works fine, or did........this year I acquired another bale. 

The first year I tried it I had 2, I think. Last year I got 4, and put what was left of the previous year's into the old recycle tub. so that measured 12', and worked great with the sprinkler. This year with another bale, I may have to turn the sprinklers over to get more use of the arc. 

Susie wanted a more automated system, and I had the brilliant idea that shower heads would be ideal. So we bought some fittings, some shower heads, I supplied some hose,  and since she had a broken ankle and Dawn had also recently had surgery, I put it together. I didn't work too well....not enough pressure, not enough water, something. The water just kind of dribbled out. Maybe her house has a bad prostate?

What is the point of all of this? Once upon a time when I was picking up pallets and free wood, I got 4 panels at a fireplace store, must have been a crate. They laid around for a long time, and then. THEN! I got an idea.  I put them alongside the bales, which shades them and also protects them from wind and of course that helps them to not dry. 

This year we planted a zucchini and a cucumber and a climbing flower. Hopefully they'll all climb up the fence and watering rebar. I might put some twine as vertical runners. We also planted a poblano, a jalapeno, 2 red bell, an orange bell and a couple of other peppers. A cherry tomato and early girl tomato.  I bought .58# white and yellow onions, at $2/lb.....so hopefully we'll have some onions. 
I also need another tomato cage, and I'm thinking about building one from wire. Just because I don't have enough frustration in my life.


So there it is, a tomato cage and onions planted. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

broken handle

Several years ago, when the city rebuilt the next street over, I picked up a bunch of oak timbers that the fire hydrants were shipped/delivered on. 3" x 4", white oak or live oak or something similar. Heavy, dense and hard, lots of interesting grain. 

I used the table saw to cut it down to the turning blank, and turned the handle. I tried a different shape this time, made it big, left it heavy, for more mass and hopefully more control of the tool. 

With the old lathe, with a 1/2hp motor and a very old vbelt, I didn't worry too much about needing a lot of control. This big lathe has a 2hp motor, serpentine belt, and believe me, it commands respect and caution. 

Wow, I got off topic fast, huh. 
Instead of the grain running lengthwise end to end, the grain switches direction where the nails were and where it broke. Yes, I was not using the tool as it was intended when it broke, but we're not going to talk about that. I've learned my lesson, for now, anyway. I smeared some yellow wood glue on it, after making sure there was no sawdust in the way, clamped it together over night. Works, good as ever again. 

FYI, the tool is made with a piece of shaft that I got from Steve, from where he works. Grind a flat spot on the end, drill and tap a hole and screw on a carbide cutter.
I get some cutters from AZCarbide, and some from Cap'n Eddie Castelin. 

Monday, April 06, 2020

top 10 list

How about another top 10 list?

crockpot
radio
gas grill
coffee
epoxy
cream cheese
free wood
cats
cheesepie
indoor plumbing

Friday, April 03, 2020

Genesis grinder

I went dumpster diving yesterday. 

Diving is not really accurate, since I hardly ever climb inside, but I almost did yesterday, but employing the use of some 2x4 levers, I was successful retrieving a 4 1/2" Genesis angle grinder. It was missing the extra handle that screws into the head area of it, but no matter, that's the easy part. 

Genesis brand....never heard of it. But,  of course Uncle Google was aware of it, and told me that I could get one at Home Depot, Amazon, and some other scumbag place that I don't remember or patronize. 

HD charges about $40 for one....so it's not the cheapest thing available....Harbor Freight holds that honor, if you use a couple coupons, you can get one for about 8. And for what I do, it works pretty well. 

I plugged the Genesis in, and turned it on. Actually, the switch slides, but whatever, and it came on, sounded normal, smelled normal. It has a cut off wheel installed, and that works too. The only obvious problem, aside from the missing handle, is the spindle lock button is damaged, broken, etc. 

So, I found some wood, I found a bolt, I found the lathe and some epoxy, made a handle and will put it all together. You can jam a screw driver in the right place to lock the spindle, and the wrench from my Skil grinder that Val gave me 20+ years ago fits. Maybe the ideal thing for this one would be a cup brush of some sort, so it doesn't have to be changed too often.  

I love it when people throw away perfectly good tools.....I neglected to tell you about the Makita circular saw that I found.....missing the cord. It too works great.