Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An indoor bench

I own five stationary power tools. A baby drill press, a wet grinder, a Taig minilathe, a jigsaw and a bandsaw. The bandsaw lives in the shop, and is unusable during the winter; the other three live inside the house. The jigsaw sits on the kitchen table. Until recently, they sat on Workmates -- the greatest UK invention since the steam engine. But that meant that when I had to use the Workmates, the tools had to go on the floor. Besides, the lathe bench blocked my refrigerator door. So it's time to build a new bench. By careful measurement, I contrived to guild a bench that would just hold all-but-the-jigsaw. It is also an exercise in drawbored mortise-and-tenon joints. I have made many mortise-tenon joints, but always tight fits, secured with glue. Not until I read Peter Folansbee's blog did I realize how these joints really work. They are made for a loose fit. The hole in the tenon is offset towards the shoulder of the mortise. You drive a peg through it, and it pulls the tenon into the mortise. It is bomb-proof. Peter's blog (and website) have some pictures of the process, and see John Alexander's green woodworking website.

Anyway, off we went. I should have taken more pictures. Here's the bench under construction:Observe the Workmate, holding a piece of wood so I can cut the tenon. I don't show the floor, but it looks like chaos. All the wood is scrap, found lying around. I wanted a top made out of 2x6 but couldn't find them in the snow. Maybe next spring... so I used plywood to make the top. The result is
Cost USD 0.00. Now let's put some power tools in their place:
Much nicer. And I have two freed-up workmates, sitting on the porch ready for action. And I can now open the refrigerator door all the way! Long live drawbored joints. It is much easier to make a loose joint than a tight one.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Antlers away!

About this time of year, male moose start shedding their horns, which they only sport during mating season. There are two big bulls in my neighborhood. I have named them Ricky and Racky. Racky has, of course, the larger rack. They are pals; they go about together. Unexpected behavior to me, but then, I am no moose expert. So I was out skiing a few days ago, and behold (and also lo!) what should I see by my feet but an antler, freshly dropped:
Couldn't tell, of course, whether it was Ricky or Racky. But it's big. The tape is pulled out to 95cm (about 34") -- a large rack indeed. I searched all over for ithe other one but couldn't find it. Amazing: in the snow, almost anything looks like a moose antler, but is usually a rotten log. Camouflage at work.

We had a moose convention in the yard today. I was out in the wilds, skiing, but my son recorded the jamboree. But that is another post.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Logo

The Chalupy Acres blog now sports a new logo, designed by my son, who is a graphic artist and musician. It is, of course, Darth Spader, Vader's little-known agricultural cousin. Observe his elegant Darthhartt overalls. (For those who are unfamiliar with the reference, Carhartt is a high-quality purveyor of work clothes, a byword in Alaska and elsewhere. I practically live in Carhartt's products.)

Darth Spader is, of course, a horticultural genius. One of Darth's creations is the Salad Trooper:
There is, of course, all kinds of symbology in this image (also by my son) . For two summers, I have grown radishes the size of a large potato. Give ol' spud a fright, they will. Hence, the head of the Salad trooper: a giant radish. This is all a part of Darth Spader's plans for agricultural domination, which will be revealed as we blog along.