Category Archives: House Projects

Pond Keeping and Construction

It’s been a long time again…life has kept me busy and while I have completed a variety of house projects, etc, very little woodworking has been taking place.  I hope to change that soon.

I did manage to build a decorative “pond” in our backyard with koi in it.  It is about 8000 gallons and has a rubber liner, a small waterfall, two pumps and a skimmer.  I used a natural bog filter design that should allow me to maintain the pond without chemicals…just adding natural bacteria to the pond from time to time and lots of water plants.  The pond is now three months old and we are really enjoying it.  The sound from the waterfall is really relaxing.  I will begin posting pond-keeping thoughts on this blog as well.

Below are some photos of the pond from back during construction.  I will post some more recent photos of the pond fully planted and the fish soon.

Overview of the pond before planting….water was still very cloudy

Waterfall with natural bog above it for filtration (before planting)

Natural bog filter above waterfall before planting – filled with red lava rock

Hope you are all having a good summer!

Hisey Bells – Beautifully Handmade

I had nothing to do with making this bell other than ordering it, but I want to post a very positive note about a craftsman that hand makes bells in Ohio.  I love anything that is still made by individual craftsmen.

My wife wanted a “dinner bell” for Christmas, and I found “Hisey Bells”  through the internet and ordered a custom cast bell (6″) that included our names and wedding date from way back in 1998.  The photos below are the result.  We are very pleased.  They are professional, and great to deal with and make beautiful bells.

Snake Bit

Yesterday was Saturday, and once again I tried to spend some time in the workshop…and once again our house intervened to stop me.  Two weeks ago when I entered the workshop I found an inch of water on the floor from a plumbing leak and spent the weekend getting it fixed rather than woodworking.

Last weekend was Halloween parties for the kids. Fun, but a lot of work.

Yesterday, I tried again to go to down to the workshop and it was filled with an overwhelming smell of natural gas.  Turns out our internal gas meter was leaking gas a significant rate.  By the end of the day Saturday we had a new gas meter, and the shop was no longer ready to explode…close call.

No woodworking again.  Frustrating.

Back to the Desks

I’ve return  to working on the Greene and Greene desks as the primary project in the shop. 

This past weekend I drilled the holes for the decorative ebony plugs in the tops of the breadboard ends and then mounted the breadboard ends to the desktops using biscuits.   Next I will route the slots on the front edges on the desktops to receive the decorative ebony splines.  I will not install any of the ebony accents until the desks are fully completed to prevent damage to them during construction.

Shop time was then interrupted when a cast iron pipe from the main floor of our house ruptured above the shop and discharged a lot of water onto the shop floor overnight.   So, I spent a few hours shop-vacing out the water and throwing out the damaged cardboard boxes and other stored items that were damaged by the water.  Luckily no tools were damaged this time…

I’ll leave the replacement of the pipe to our plumber, but since he needed to open up a sizable portion of plaster wall on our main floor to get at the leak…I’ve got a plastering job in my future.

“Visible Computer” Project

Its been a busy couple of weeks at home and work, so the workshop has not gotten much use.

I did manage  to crank out a bunch of house projects, repairing plaster, interior paint, etc, but not many fun projects.

I began ordering parts for a summer tech project for my son and me.  We are going to “build” a computer from parts using a completely clear computer case that I found on EBay (made by Logisys).  My son will learn the components that make up a computer, and I will end up with a new computer at the end of the project (he’s still too young to have his own at 6).  Also, it will be fun.

This project reminds me of the plastic “Visible V-8” engine model that I built as a kid.  The engine was clear plastic so that you could see the interior parts of the mechanics.  The model ran on batteries so that you could watch everything move.  I really liked it.  I see this computer project as our modern version of the “Visible V-8”. (WOW!  I just found that the old “Visible V-8” model is still for sale…click here for link)

The clear computer case is Acrylic, so it does not have the heat dissipation properties of a traditional steel or aluminum case, but with 3 fans, I think it will be fine.  We also might install some interior lighting in the case so that you can see the internal parts “working” after in the computer is finished.

Goals for the final machine will be:

1.  Lots of storage for the family’s multi-media (tons of digital photos and music)
2.  Strong backup capability to protect above (maybe RAID 1 drives)
3.  Inexpensive processing.  All we need is typical photo editing, web, etc capabilities.  No need for high end 3-D GPU until my son is older.
4.  Built in media card reader (for photo cards) and DVD burner (for backups)
5.  Components ready for Microsoft Vista OS when it comes out in 2007.  We will use XP Home till then.

A little bit of shop time, and spring fever.

I finally spent a little time in the workshop this past weekend, but not much.   After fixing the humidifier on the furnace and repairing our vacuum, I got to spend a little bit of time working on the band saw box project again.

I cut two S-curved pulls for the drawers out of some of the ebony that I had purchased for the pegs on the desk project.  The pulls turned out very well.  I like the ebony a lot. I attached the pulls to the drawers on the band saw box, and the entire box is now ready for final sanding and finishing.  I am pleased with how it looks considering it is my first project of this type.  I hope to do the final sanding and finishing in the next couple of days.  I think I will use a clear danish oil finish on the box.  I’m also going to try to "flock" the interior of the drawers with green-felt flocking.  This will be my first attempt at flocking.

I also spent some time in the yard yesterday getting spring fever, and planning the garden railroad expansion for this spring and summer    I want to extend the small loop of track that we installed last year by running a straight run of track for most of the entire length of our back fence to the left of our garage.  This will be about 120 linear feet of track with a small loop at one end to return the train to the other direction (on a single track).   The other end of the track will enter the garage through the small "hatch" that we had built into the wall when we built the garage, and then a small turn-around loop will be placed between the two cars in the garage (right on the concrete floor).   The "straight" run of track along the back fence will be suspended about 2 feet above the ground on a shelf attached to the fence.  I think I will make the shelf out of pressure-treated lumber for simplicity and low cost.  The far loop of track will use the raised "stringer" method of trackbed that I installed last year and talked about previously in this blog.  I have been very pleased with how the loop installed last summer performed through the winter.  This seems to be a very stable and weather and heave resistant construction method.

My goal will to have the new rail line built by June.  The two lines (last year’s line and this year’s line) will be able to run independently, so we will be able to run two trains at a time without conflicts.

A side project completed

I recently modified our kitchen cabinets to provide enough room for a new, much larger, refrigerator.  As a part of the modifications, I needed to cut the crown molding and replace it in a different arrangement.

I used a Rockler crown cutting jig for the power miter saw.  The jig worked great and made the crown work easy.  One problem.  On the last cut, it snapped in two at the joint between the base and vertical part of the jig.  The whole jig was plastic, and too brittle apparently.

Good jig, poor constructions.  I will build myself a stronger one out of plywood next time. 

Seems like I’m bashing Rockler in the last two posts.  I’m not.  I like Rocker, just seems like the products are well conceived, but need a bit more work on execution.  Price is right though.