Simple Platform Bed

The goal here was to make a platform for a twin mattress Design goals of keeping it simple, having it be strong, minimum investment.

As such, starting with a 4 x 8 of of 5/8 inch plywood, cut down to the size of the mattress, and three hemlock 2 x 6, shown above cut, one hemlock 6 x 6, and a sheet of masonite. Below you can observe said 6 x 6 as well as the last pieces of 2 x 6 that gather the load.

To those load gathering cross pieces I affixed the very short looking legs. It’s a tall mattress, is why, the top of which I’d like to have at a height of 25 or so inches.

I’m not sure that it could bear an elephant – in fact, I’m sure it couldn’t – but it would be most uncommon human who could damage it under normal use.

So low, it seems, and terrifying in its simplicity. The chair and stools on the left stood in as saw horses with the help of various scraps.

Low and sleek. I did later cut off the corners, about 2 x 2 x the square root of eight, because the mattress has rounded corners and shin gashes are needless.

And there, you see now it’s the right height.

In humble service, less than $100, 100 yrs > MTBF < 1000 years, or something like that.

Yes, this bed apologizes for not being made before being photographed.

Sill

Here’s yet another. I think I need a new category called ‘Repairs’.

Have a close look at how sorely decayed that prior sill. Nigh on hazardous it was. The new one is a nice sturdy piece of red birch. I thought that the piece might be partially under the sides and a pain to extract/insert, but nay, and I know, I should have painted it before I affixed the rubber tread.

The trim on the doorjambs could use a little work too, but functionality first. I must say that too little thought went into this. The sill was spongy and looking to break. Now, when I look up birch on the fabulous wood database, I discover it says of birch “Birch is perishable, and will readily rot and decay if exposed to the elements. The wood is also susceptible to insect attack”. Seems I’m led to believe that I’ll be revisiting this.

Another Rescue

This is a tiny tale. Once upon a time there was a butter knife with a plastic handle. Here is a picture of some of its siblings. Meriden Cutlery Company of Connecticut. Theirs was one of the first commercially successful plastic handles.

Comes a time for everything though. The blade design and execution are nearly perfect, in my opinion, for how a spreading knife should handle. When the handle on one of the ones in my kitchen disintegrated I set the blade aside. Of course, as they are wont to do, though I do not know who authorized it and I am not convinced of their much vaunted regularity, years passed.

Behold a small victory

The new handle has very poor ergonomic characteristics. The wood is sapwood of a California live oak. I’ve never re-handled a knife before, that much was fun. It saddens me that so many things that people once did will almost never be done again, that the skills and knowledge of how to take care of things are fading, as a percent of the population, that things being cheap and disposable has pretty much come to rule the world. Nonetheless, poor ergonomics or not, this is, as I said, a small victory. Butter, peanut butter, preserves, all these now call forth this excellent tool. Wood was used, metal and craftsmanship conserved, yet no Jabberwocks were slain in the rehabilitation of this artifact.

Further Tales of the War Spoon

There are so many questions you may ask. The original, the Progenitor, is woken! It is not known if he visited R’lyeh in his mute and broken time. The wise will form their own opinions.

It so happened that the war spoon faithfully say upon my desk. It would assist in scratching my back when called but otherwise abide in quiet readiness. It was unfortunate that the cleaning ladies did not accord him sufficient recognition. Thrice they accidentally cast him to the stone floor, perhaps more than that, but at least thrice was his beak broken.

The first two times ordinary repairs were undertaken. Considerable thoughtfulness was exercised in terms of grain orientation (for strength). Mahogany dust was mixed with the glue to give right color. The third time, however, insufficient thoughtfulness ruled the day. I’d carved a rough new beak and glued it well. By rough I mean that it was not fully shaped. The shaping I’d do after the glue had set. For some reason, however, I decided to use the tool of terror (there should be special music for this).

Aptly named, the tool of terror not only tore off the unformed beak but also broke the neck of the Progenitor. In two. Decapitated. Much worse than anything that might happen in the chair of a dentist. The corpse of Ted Williams twitched. For many moons did things so remain.

We can rebuild him! Better, stronger, faster … bionic spoon!

Pieces of orange osage were cut and approximately fitted. Ridiculous ingenuity was applied in the gluing the second bond in the neck.

The beak was carefully set

Careful shaping followed.

and once again, perhaps even better than ever, the Progenitor quietly abides. His current beak and the additional neck length have improved his back scratching ability. What a long journey even the simplest of continuities can be.

Box 19

discovered, had been thought to be unfinished, but after perhaps 5 years of quiet rest and self-contemplation decided that indeed, it was what is was, it is what it is, and that by itself it is complete, though lidless, complete, though imperfect, and actually neater than many boxes ever might be.

This probably should have been somewhere around Box 8, if a proper timeline gave the number of the box. Maybe it’s more like a box recognition number. It shows primitive but effective finger jointing at the corner. It features red eucalyptus cut from a great block. Has the standard 3/8 cedar floor. Is holding a nice piece of tiger iron.

No special remarks. It’s a rough piece conceived with ambitions but never gussied. Dignity and utility are likely simple things.

The Orb

This is one of those things.

When I was a young warthog – I should say when I was a child. The next door neighbors of my grandparents had a blue mirror ball on a pedestal. It seemed pretty magical to me, the way it captured everything, included me, changed the color – very far from an ordinary thing. Thus it seemed fitting to incarnate here in my world as I approach the age they must have been when I was little. Therefore, to eBay, where orbs built like giant glass Christmas ornaments, short neck and all, were not pricey at all.

For a pedestal I decided to take advantage of a trove of beams I’d recently acquired. What you see above this the bottom up view, the feet for stability.

The tool of terror must also have its moment of recognition. It’s not the angle grinder so much as the particular wheel, the absence of a guard, the fact that the on switch locks in place, and the such tools like to catch and buck. Every time I use it I question myself.

Nonetheless it is a very effective tool

I used drill and chisel to make a place for the neck of the orb.

Clearly a case of lo and behold

See how gracefully it portends Spring

(Twice) Repaired Milking Stool

In my workshop for years there was a novel three legged stool that I’d picked up at the dump. I call it novel because the leg braces were quite clever. Where they adhered to the legs they had a vertical orientation and where they joined to each other they had a horizontal orientation. I’d tried to fashion similar braces as some sort of homage, with the intent of making a copy, but that was a little above my skill level back then, maybe still is.

I used it one day to stand on while trying to get a rope saw thrown over some high branch. This was beyond the service capacity. Result below.

The pieces were saved, probably fallow for four years.

Repair me

While normally I never use metal in woodwork, here I sank screws through the legs into the braces.

The dowels that had connected legs to seat were half inch. I replaced with 5/8 oak, hoping to gain a little strength.

All in all a most satisfactory exercise, a clearly useful outcome. So useful in fact, that I must add this little post-script.

We know that it is stated that virtue is its own reward. As a reward for this virtuous repair I got to use the stool. One thing I used it for was to hold up a 20 foot oak 6×6 that I was cutting at the twelve foot mark. When the eight foot piece came off the weight on the remaining 12 shifted in such a manner that the little milking stool was again sorely taxed. The leg assembly testified beautifully, as did its adherence to seat. It was the seat itself that broke in half.

I quickly harvested this opportunity to repair the seat. All is well in this corner of Mudsville,

Table 3

Oh what momentum, a second table finished in a five day period, this is a boonful harbinger, yes boonful I say, for the coming year.

The top is of Padauk, (wood database, wiki), just a gorgeous wood both to look upon and with which to work.  The legs and bracing are cut from a single piece of black oak, which of course is in the red oak family.

There are many non-fatal flaws of imprecision in this piece.  The lower twixt legs cross beams are doweled to the legs (no error there) and likewise there are high twixt leg crossbeams, intending to be flush to the table bottom but in one case not succeeding.

The tops of the legs are rectangular and divided into two squares, one (one the side of the leg perpendicular to the table bottom) protruding half an inch higher than the other.  A corresponding shallow blind mortise is notched into the table bottom.  During assembly the table fop was set upside down and said cavities were filled with T-88 structural epoxy.  The legs were set into these, the high cross beams doweled at angle into the table top, and the overhanging second (square) portions of the rectangle (meant to be but not always flush to the tabletop) also doweled at angle into the tabletop.  Those joints should be of more than sufficient strength.

The legs and superstructure where sanded to 80 grit with all corners softened.   The tabletop to 220 grit.  Tung oil and limonene will finish all surfaces… food safe!  As an aside, this is my knee-jerk go to finish.  If anyone wants fancier, please, at your leisure proceed.

In that second photo note the chair at bottom right and the red vise top right of center.  Both formerly of my great grandfather, Walter, born 1885 and passed in 1974.  I remember visiting the last house he lived in and finding a wooden model of an airplane in his attic.  It occurred to me today that he would have been well a grown man before airplanes entered the mass consciousness.

Anyway, thank you kind readers

Table 2

Greetings to you all, the imagined motley horde that delights in all this narrative of experience, the pain, the beauty, the wisdom, the delicious nuance and plaintive sharing.  Today I have good news, though it will be broken into two segments, one per table, for today I have completed the second of two tables, tables that were for far too long in neglectful and partial states of completion.

This is a white oak (quartersawn) end table, suitable for a lamp and a book adjacent to an armchair or a couch.

The only noteworthy error is that the plane describe by the shelf is not perfectly parallel to the plane described by the surface of the table.  It is a small divergence, but yet a small divergence projected over a sufficient distance will certainly be observed – for example, the astronauts who calculate that they missed the moon by only 0.0000131 of a degree, which unfortunately translates into 1147 miles and a cold trip to eternity.  Thankfully no lives here depend on sufficient correctness.  I just would seem conscienceless not to report the discrepancy.  I consulted with two domestic authorities who assured me that the error did not matter.

Otherwise it’s basically very nice, click to see the nice quartersawn figure.  This table is an overdue gift for my mother.  It was inspired by her having purchased 3 imported end tables of low price and quality.  I’m no fan of the blithering CarrotTop but at the same time I have never been able to understand why it is not important to be able to deliver quality domestically at a decent price, especially when (as not at this moment) there’s not full employment.  So in a way this is a protest table.  Turn off the television, skill up, make things, make good things, make your time on the planet useful.  (This is a public service message)

Thank you all as always

 

Stairs

It’s funny how, in nature, that we see circumstances where like things clump – certain sizes pebbles, types of shells, leaves and seeds, etc.  No doubt it’s because the processes that sweep through the reality, currents of wind and water and time even itself grab each thing by what it affords to be held and change the position and character according to their influence – or something like that – but do take note, if you haven’t, of this.

So, stairs.  I’ve not given any thought to stairs per se much ever, yet this summer and fall no less than three sets of outside stairs required some sort of detailed review and partial rebuild.  Really, dear reader, you may skip entirely the tiresome monologue which is to follow, nonetheless it is one of the sorts of things I document, for insight hides in small things and perhaps virtue in the infinitesimal, (or maybe the reverse, but I know both are scarce and elusive).

I’m sure that little attracts your eye in the picture above.  It seems, though, the facts are, that perpendicular to the direction of the step treads, on the top layer underneath the planks, run lines of nails as if the planks were nailed to joists beneath them, those presumed joists presumably perpendicular to the planks.  Oh human folly and frailty!

Now to take off the planks to examine the underlying reality requires that some accommodation be made for the ‘decorative’ column on the left.  I call it decorative because it cannot be seriously structural – no structural element worth its weight would be deployed on top of decking, but I’ll save that monologue for another time.  You’re welcome.  One could take off the planks not beneath the column, put a temporary column behind the present column, remove the present column, remove the planks and lo, at what little effort have revealed what lies beneath.  Or one could say ‘Foo’ – the just saying of it is very powerful – and cut through the three planks that underlie the column, just next to the right side of the column, and even say ‘Ha!’, for then the revealing of all that lies beneath is a much simpler task, not that one has not introduced some issues in the reconstruction, but certainly fewer than the whole column swap exercise. This later path – Foo. Ha! – is the one I took.

I realize I have not said why yet.  Facts are that it was reported, and could be verified empirically, that along the rightmost line of nails on decking, those going into the presumably perpendicular joists, that a great softness was to be experienced, as if the presumed joists were rotting.  There was sag in the planks there, and, as the problem was noted but neglected for a year or so there came to be identified a similar softness and sag along the second line of nails at the front three planks (not counting the edge plank).  Presumably more rot, now in the second presumed joist.

Men must follow their conclusions, this perhaps being the hardest of lessons, and any foo ha notwithstanding, with azebiki in hand (there is no azebiki wiki, unfortunately, or I’d link you there) (an azebiki is a type of Japanese hand saw where the blade is curved convexly and so can cut into a flat surface, really a great tool) I cut the planks adjacent to the column.  I removed the edge planks and the first three boards.  I found two unexpected conditions.

First, as you’ve probably intuited, the joists did not run perpendicular to the planks at all – that would be just too simple.  They ran parallel and then between them were inserted and nailed spanning sections of 2 x 8, <joist emulators!?> into which the planks were nailed.  There was no rot in the joist emulators, rather that two of them were barely affixed to the true joists and over time had become loose enough as to no longer provide the support expected of their role in service.  Failed joist emulators.  Bad joist emulators.  Woe unto the improper affixer of a joist emulator, may your perdition match your indolence – woe I say.  But really this turn of events was bright and rather than having to replace the whole presumed rotten joist now it was merely a task of properly affixing the failed joist emulation sections.  Frabjous.

But wait, a second condition was revealed in the frame of the platform.  The outer box of the rectangle supporting the deck was made of  2 x 10’s, doubled, faced by a white 1 x 10.  Just taking the edge planks off revealed a considerable nest of carpenter ants, mostly in the outer 2 x 10 of the left side, a little on the left side of the front 2 x 10, in each case behind the white facing board.  No so frabjous.

Therefore some careful removal of rotted/infested material followed, the usual insults to reason and rightness subtly interwoven, and then a very sound reconstruction featuring the addition of an additional joist emulator, fittingly underneath the line that first my abeniki had taken.  With grace I made additional mahogany sawdust and mixed it with epoxy resin so that when I got the planks back on I could putty the sawn gaps in a manner both strong and matching.  Then finally I re-stained the deck.  I try to regard the whole exercise as a joy.  Such a tale.

More steps, you ask?  Yes.  I asked the same question.  It was during the time that the aforementioned steps were cordoned off so that the stain could dry.  It was during that time that it was discovered that no less than all three of the bluestone flagstones were significantly loose, so loose indeed that they would tip and might even injuriously (spell-checker wants ‘ingloriously’ and that would be true as well) bite one in the back of an ankle – a very undesirable prospect.  Actions to repair followed the next day.

Those actions were very pragmatic.  The most right thing to do would probably have been to take each flag stone off, chisel out all the ‘thinset’ mortar between the field stone risers and their former treads, mix up new thinset, apply, and properly re-set each of the treads.  However, to sweep the existing thinset, to examine it and find that it was barely degraded at all, to identify that masonry adhesive might well do the trick at least for the winter if not for years … Foo.  Ha!  The job was done very directly, less than an hour of total work, and in the morning no amount of my most manful lifting would dislodge the treads from their rightful places.

This last set of steps, I know, the narrative is quite a bit to bear, has a long history, as does the cause for their repair this summer.  Briefly I had built these in the spring of 2006 from a few slabs and a few bricks, nothing special, not even cement.  This spring I noticed an unusual amount of ant activity on them, even some swarming, as if a great big nest were being built underneath.  Indeed, and in my kitchen above for the first time ever in fifteen years there were scavenging ants lugging breadcrumbs and whatsoever back to their not so traceable homes.  I put two and two together.

I mixed a good measure of boric acid with a few cups of sugar in a gallon of water.  My daughter and I removed the first slab – what a trove of eggs and scurrying colony members (picture to follow).  We were merciful.  We had a wheel barrow.  We shoveled out the earth into the barrow, repeated for the next two slabs.  We took the ant earth back to edge of the land and dumped it.  Got fresh earth, and as we put each layer in laced it with our antagonistic liquid.  A clear message to ants thinking of living there again, stragglers trying to return home, etc, but a problem solved without resorting to genocide.  We are so talking ‘Foo Ha!’.

So stairs, surprisingly, have taken more cycles this season than ever I would have imagined.  Is there a unity in these experiences that transcends the unity in the one having the experience?  And there’s a little more, that thing you see on top of the steps, the orange head that looks like it belonged to a Cyclops before he was struck by a thunderbolt and a big part split off.  That story will follow shortly enough, for I think that stone has asked to become a bird.