Monday, May 30, 2016

Toolboxes shipped

These were two separate orders that came in weeks apart but just happened to wind up with similar specs.  One will be a gift for a graduate and a black-gold scheme and the other is an anniversary gift made to mimic the original prototype.  Because they were delayed a few weeks with all the moving I included some complimentary Initiative tabs when the boxes finally shipped.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Move Status Update IV

I've been working on orders again for the past couple weeks but due to the nature of those orders (DM Toolboxes mostly) and the necessities of continuing to work on permanent work spaces it's been slow going.  When it's all finished I'll have a workshop where I can do the prep work of cutting, banging and making routine messes and a studio for the finer work like carving and staining.  So far the Workshop is pretty much finished and there's probably only a week left before the contractors finish up with the Studio.

I would write more about the furniture in the Workshop but I have a map to carve so it can ship in a couple days.

Practically Finished Workshop:

Studio in Progress:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Move Status Update III

It's been another busy week and now I've got a functioning workshop going.  Between staying out of the way of contractors and finishing up a long line of about-the-house tasks I've managed to start working on some of my standing orders.  I even shipped an order yesterday, though only because it was something I already had in stock.

When we first moved in the room that is now my workshop was certainly in need of some work.  It was full of clumbsily painted cabinets and a bashed together closet.  The walls were marked and scratched up pretty uniformly and there was a shag carpet that's probably missing from the set of some 70s b-grade movie.  On top of that, a leak around the window meant that the drywall around the window has been rotting out for who knows how long.


I tore out the carpet, spackled the many various holes in the wall, and tossed up a fresh coat of paint.  I also laid down some hard-pack rubber tiles over the concrete foundation.  Once I fashioned a new cover for the hose valve in the wall the place is looking a lot better.  The window is beyond my scope but since we have contractors over anyway they'll be tackling that.  I've hung a pegboard on the wall and the printer's been rolling for the past 24 hours printing out hooks.  The furniture for the room is pretty much built though there is a large workbench/cutting table that's waiting for the window repair before it's assembled.


Stock Cabinet & Scrap Bins: Finished 16May

It's a relief to be able to start working on some of my orders but it'll probably be another week or two before I can really focus on catching up.  There's an optimistic hope that the contractors will be done with the studio by Friday but even after they finish it'll take me time to build more furniture in there.  A lots been done in the last month and there's just a bit more to go.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Move Status Update II

It's a few days shy of a month since we first gained access to our new place and I've been working round the clock since then to get everything ship shape.  I did take some time off to go see Civil War last Friday (which was great!) but otherwise it's all been about the move.  Accordingly, a whole lot's been done in a relatively short period of time.  Half of the rooms have been fully painted, lots of small (and not so small) problems fixed, and a metric whack of furniture constructed.  Most of our living spaces are pretty much settled so as of this morning I can start focusing on my workshop.  There's some furniture bits that need refining, a moldy window to repair, lots of scrubbing, painting, and various bits of finishing work to do to bring it up to snuff.  I'm hoping to have all that done by sometime this weekend and if that's the case then I should be able to start working on the orders that have been piling up.  That's the hope anyway...

I have blurbs to post for some of the furniture I've been building, with the usual glut of pics, and I'm going to try to get some of those up this morning.  I'm probably going to back date them to when they were finished though (using time stamps on the pics since I can't day anymore) but I'll stick a summary below.

Coffee Table: Finished 03 May (Monday)

Kitchen Table: Finished  06 May (Friday)

Gaming Table: Finished (ish) 09 May (Monday)

The house is old enough that it still has aluminum wiring.  While a pain to work with and somewhat less efficient than copper wiring that's usually workable if certain precautions are taken.  Unfortunately the previous owner wasn't very familiar with those precautions.  We've had contractors working in a spot that's transitioning from garage to studio for the past week and there've been some "interesting" discoveries along the way.  One of which was made at 00:42 one morning when a junction box abruptly exploded.  Not in the hollywood way of ball of flame and giant boom, or in the practical way of shockwaves and little fire, but in the electrical way of flashes of light and buzzing that wakes you up despite being behind a closed door or on another floor.

In this junction box there had been a 60 amp aluminum power line connecting to a 60 amp copper power line.  There wasn't any paste, or even the proper marrettes used to join the lines.  They'd just been twisted together and wrapped in electrical tape.  It was only dumb luck that the short didn't happen until after that particular room had been cleared of anything flammable.  It could've shorted at any time in the last couple decades and the problem would've been a lot larger than being woken up in the middle of the night.

tl;dr: Wire things correctly so you're house doesn't explode.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Custom Gaming Table

This was something I've wanted to build almost as long as I've been playing D&D.  There are a handful of companies that make some pretty awesome dedicated gaming tables but I specifically wanted to build one, not just own one.  Fortunately I had 3-4 months to plan out exactly how the whole thing would go together so there weren't too many surprises.  In fact the only "problem" that's come up was due to a copying error when I was making my cut list.  I'd modified the draft at one point and somehow the cut list didn't get updated so the lips on the "short" sides of the table wound up being 59" when they should've been 61.5".  I'll print off some corner caps to fix that problem though.

I tried to pick the straightest bits of lumber I could manage, particularly the maple boards I was using for the lips but in the ~10 days the lumber was being stowed and shuffled around a lot of it developed a bit of warp.  Not enough to compromise the structure but enough so that the lips don't quite line up as nicely as I'd like.  More screws and brackets will probably fix that.

The table is 5' wide and 8' long with a 3" inset for our map.  I sanded down the cut-outs for the inset so they could serve as a cover.  It's nice since the grains all line up and look proper purdy.  A 2x3' slab of 3/4" ply is heavier than the covers really need to be though so I'll be doing some lightening with a forstner bit somewhere down the road.  I also have a nice dragon design courtesy of my wife to burn into the covers.

Because the frame under the table doesn't extend to the edges I was worried it might sag over time.  The lips are meant to mitigate this somewhat (since they double as a rigid frame) but I added a couple of supports on the catty-corner edges.  It's nice that they can double for storage to keep all my DM supplies and books handy.  The two "unsupported" corners seems pretty solid so far but if they develop any noticeable sag over time I can knock out another pair of shelves to shove under them.

All in all the table might not be "perfect" (yet) but we've been making good use of it and it works really well for our games.  Having the inset actually makes it easier to reach across the map to move minis about and all that surface area means nobody's crowded.  There's ample elbow room to squeeze in character sheets, books, and cheezies.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kitchen Table Retrofit

Within a few weeks of my moving up to Canada (back in 2012) my in-laws found us a perfect little dining table and set of chairs.  Someone had just left them on the side of the road so they were an Acquisition of Opportunity.  The only catch was the table was missing its surface and a pair of pins that held the base together.  Back then I'd built a new surface out of a couple pieces of pine shelving.  I remember regretting that I couldn't use a solid sheet of wood but the shelving was what would fit in the car and apartment.  I knew it wasn't going to be the best long term but it got the job done so it seemed a reasonable compromise.

Not unexpectedly there were a few problems that developed over time.  Most notably the pine warped pretty noticeably and the joint between the two pieces was always catching bits of crud.  So with the move I took the opportunity to replace the top of the table with something a bit more solid.  Instead of laminated pine shelving I used 3/4" plywood with a maple veneer (a convenient cut-off from the Gaming Table).  The original surface had a centerpiece that my wife had drawn up so I made sure to use the same design again (albeit larger and with a few small modifications).

Original Centerpiece:

New Centerpiece:

The original surface was stained with Red Mahogany since for some reason I thought that would match the base pretty well.  And it did a pretty good job on the original table but only because I wasn't mixing the stain well enough before applying it.  This time the stain came out with a bit more of Mahogany's purpleness so it's not as good a match for the base.  I'd liked to use some glue as a resist around the centerpiece but it was too late by the time the idea occurred to me.

I'd originally used Tung Oil to varnish the original surface which definitely influenced the color.  That wasn't really an option with all the projects I was juggling this time around so I tried out Polyurethane for the first time (on wood anyway).  On the up side I was able to ladle it in pretty thick to fill in the burned designs (they shouldn't collect nearly as much dust now).  On the down side applying the polyurethane with a cloth left lots of streaks that I'm not particularly pleased with.  

Otherwise the table's turned out pretty well.  The dimensions are a bit different than the original table but it fits much nicer in our new kitchen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Coffee Table Retrofit

Long ago we were in need of a coffee table and fortuitous serendipity yielded a few pieces of lumber.  Most of it was scrap from a friend of a friend but in particular we received a laminated, solid oak slab from my brother-in-law.  So back then I employed my burgeoning carpentry know-how to slap all these parts into a coffee table.  And for awhile it worked pretty well.

As it happened I didn't anticipate that we'd get in the habit of propping our feet against the surface of the table.  Of the course of the last four years this caused the table to develop a pretty noticeable wobble.  I shored it up with some brackets about a year ago but it really needed to be rebuilt.  So since I was juggling construction and lumber anyway I used this project as a bit of a "warm-up" for the bigger projects.

The new structure is the same fundamental design as my workbench so it's relatively quick to assemble (took me about half the day) and solid as all heck.  I'll be surprised if there's any wobble in the next 5 years.