Archive: » 2023 » April

Teaching Updates and Reminder

A couple weeks ago I had a terrific three days teaching “Shellac Finishing” to members of the Howard County (MD) Woodworker’s Guild.  A good time was had by all, but alas I left my camera behind so I have no pics to chare.

My teaching calendar for the remainder of the year is as follows:

May 20 The H.O. Studley Tool Cabinet and Workbench banquet presentation for the Annual Meeting of the Early American Industries Association, Staunton VA

June 19-21  Historic Woodfinishing 3-day workshop for the regional chapter of the Society of American Period Furniture Makers, at the Barn

July 17-19  Historic Woodfinishing 3-day workshop at Wood & Shop, Earlysville VA

August 21-23  Introduction to Parquetry  3-day workshop at Wood & Shop, Earlysville VA

I hope to see you there.


E.D.C. Upgrade

For as long as I can remember I’ve been wearing carpenter pants with a side pocket (for a while my favorite jeans from Bailey’s had them on both sides!), into which fit perfectly the best little flashlights I ever used.  These were machined aluminum case Ozark Trails flashlights, one of the proprietary brands from WalMart.  The first crack in this edifice was when WM discontinued this particular line of flashlights in favor of lesser but presumably more profitable models.   (I can only imagine Sam Walton spinning in his grave at the thought of what a malevolent entity his empire has become) The old ones were robust almost to the point of indestructability, a determination at which I arrived when I drove over one in my truck and it emerged functionally unscathed, although a little scratched.  It took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’.

But then came the inexorable tyranny of, to quote the inestimable David Bowie, “F-f-f-fashion.”  With the emergent ubiquity of “smart” phones (I think they have uses but on balance make the populace stoopider) the narrow confines of side pockets, originally configured for a folding carpenter’s rule, grew in size to accommodate these surveillance devices most American now carry.  What, you thought their purpose was communication?  Now, that’s funny!

Anyway, the newer larger side pockets were ill suited for my small flashlight as the flashlight just sorta wallowed around inside the bigger pockets, falling out whenever the opportunity arose.  Like whenever I sat down in my recliner or in a car.  I cannot recount the number of times I had to retrieve my flashlight from one of these locations.

This frustration led me to search for a new flashlight that fit the larger side pocket a little more better.  There are lots of options on-line but I generally like to purchase items after I can examine them in person.  Durning a recent trip to the hardware store I found a DieHard brand flashlight whose configuration fit the requirements perfectly.  It was a bit more expensive than its predecessor, maybe, ($35 2023 dollars vs. $15 2005 dollars) but fit the new side pocket size perfectly and was touted as a better, brighter tool.  I plunked down my money and started carrying it a couple months ago.

The real bolt-of-lightning occurred shortly thereafter, when I remembered just before bedtime that I maybe left the glue cooking on the coffee cup warmer and rather than fuss about it all night long I walked up to the barn to check it out (I had turned it off but had no clear memory of the event, a phenomenon that rears its ugly head periodically as I approach 70).  As I headed up, then back down, I turned on the new flashlight and WOW I was accompanied by a wall of light in the rural darkness.  My old flashlight was 150 lumens and the new one is 1000.  Just wow.

The new flashlight also appears to be a solid aluminum case, but I’ll only be able to confirm its robustness when/if I drive over it and it keeps on tickin’.

My Every Day Carry inventory has now been upgraded.

Big Doin’s on the Homestead

In addition to the first lawn mowing of the year, signifying (we hope) the end of winter (although our frost-free planting date is still six weeks off), our little cabin underwent a transformative few days as the new windows we ordered last summer were finally installed.  We can generally work in one big project per year, and this is the one for 2023.  Since the weather was sunny we were both working in the yard and did not get to watch/photograph every detail, plus the fellows worked so fast, but here are a few images.


The old windows were inexpensive double hung units with a triple track storm window grafted on to the outside, probably from the early 80s.  They were looking pretty shabby but even worse their performance could best be described as providing excellent ventilation, open or closed, year round.  Since we moved here I have had to tape plastic sheeting over the windows every winter.  Hint – if you have to do this THE BEST material to use is the transparent shower curtains from Dollar General.

Like I hinted, the fellows hit the ground running Monday morning.  They have done a lot of this so knew exactly what to do.  Actually, the window units were held in place only by the trim molding directly against them so once that was pried off the units just popped out.  I was amazed at the pace of work.

Sorry about the image quality, it was binding bright outside and our usual grotto inside.

The new Anderson units popped in place lickety split, and the trimming out was actually the slowest part of the process.  The living room windows went in first, and on Tuesday we were glad for that as the wind howled all day and into the evening, probably 30-40 mph.  Working out in the yard was like getting sandblasted.  But that evening as we were watching our nightly episode of The Chosen, there was not even a breath of air coming off the windows onto our necks.  Superb.

The most spectacular transformation is in the bedrooms upstairs.  It seems like the light coming in is twice as much as before.  That cannot be literally true but the new visual atmosphere is pretty wonderful.   BTW the trunk underneath the window is my suspenders repository, and it is almost full.  I rotate them out regularly.

The last part of the project is to replace the double windows in the dining room with a custom-made bay window which will both brighten the space and provide a shelf for some of Mrs. Barn’s plants.

We saved all the old window units and they will be repurposed into hot beds and cold frames for the garden.  That is in keeping with the motto of folks in the hinterlands: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.


Gragg Is In The House

Last week I finally took delivery of my Gragg Windsor rocking chair I bought on-line a couple months ago.

It is sublime.  Featherweight, elegant, exquisitely made, extraordinarily comfortable.

I’ve never had the hankerin’ to make a Windsor chair, but…

In The Rearview Mirror From Anno Domini 2023


Fun Woodworking Video

The folks over at Townsend’s posted this a few days ago.  You just might enjoy it a much as i did (I am a slappy for their videos).  Definitely not necessarily the way I do things, but a lot of fun nonetheless.

PS – loved the dovetail cutting with a bowsaw!

PPS  – gotta get one of those hats.

Seven Days Later (definitely NOT woodworking)

My heart aches and my rage consumes me.   I find myself rereading Psalm 69, especially verses 22-28.

Remember the names and faces of these victims, killed a week ago by a psychopath who chose to murder them.

William Kinney, 9; Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9; Hallie Scruggs, 9

Cynthia Peak, 61; Katherine Koonce, 60; Mike Hill, 61

Remember her name or forget her name, whatever is your disposition.

She chose to murder innocents.

She is not a victim nor a mascot, she was a fiend.

She chose to murder innocents.

I offer two thoughts for the day.

A useful description for insanity is the inability to recognize or comply with reality. — Thomas Szasz

My spiritual gift is that I don’t care what you think about anything. — Mollie Hemingway.

If these sentiments offend you, sit down and shut up.  Go somewhere else.  You are part of the problem.  I have no interest in what you have to say.

She is neither a victim nor a mascot.

She chose to murder innocents.

Remember them and pray for their families to find comfort.  And pray that my burning anger towards evil remains a consuming fire, and that I never become complacent.