Sunday, 25 August 2013

Finally finished floor vents!

After several months of struggling with this project I finally completed the assembly and finishing of these floor vent covers.

They are red oak with a varethane transparent gloss finish.

I learned quite a lot from the build but it wasnt really much fun. Mass production is tedious.

Here are sompe pictures of the final assembly and the finished articles. Plastic grills fit into the holes in the front to redirect the hot air into the room.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Next Project: Tea Cabinet

The next project is a tea cabinet. It's based on this design but with the dimensions altered to store mason jars and to have a worktop-height surface to mix teas.

Sunday, 11 August 2013


After seeing someone paddle boarding at a reservoir in Canmore, AB in the spring, we have wanted to try it. Stand Up Paddle boarding is where you tell jokes to fellow boaters while balancing on a surf board.

OK, so I lied. SUP is actually a type of surfing in which you use a long paddle and a larger than normal surf board to explore the water. The boards are huge and surprisingly stable. Its a fun sport because its quick to learn and doesn't have to be too strenuous.

Here are some pictures from our watery adventures:

 Surf's Up

Steady like a rock

That's a paddlin'

Power stroke

Like a boss

Sea dog

Paddle boards provided by Surf's Up Calgary at Lake Chestermere, AB, Canada

Friday, 29 March 2013

Spring Reaches Calgary

Spring reaches Calgary and not a day too soon.

These photos were taken from alongside the Elbow river near, Bridgeland, Calgary.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Router Table Experiments

Here is a sliding dovetail cut on the router table:

Its a bit pony because its the first time we've done this. The joint is snug and only a few degrees off of square! The most import thing was that it took almost no time to make and involved lots of noise, sawdust and sharp spinning things. The router is my new favourite power tool.

Oak and Cherry

I'm going to be building a floor vent cover out of oak for one of the hackerspace members. I'm also going to build an end grain chopping board out of cherry. This was more than enough reason to make my first trip to the lumber yard. So many variates. The most interesting find was a piece of fir with half a bullet embedded in it. There was only half because when the log was sent through the saw mill the blade sliced the bullet along with the tree!

The top board is Cherry and the bottom one is Red Oak. A step up from pine...

The Finished Stool

Here is the finished stool:

Here is what I learned while making this:

  1. Bowed lumber, even if only slightly bowed, is a nightmare to work with. Unfortunately my jointer can only accommodate lumber up to 5.5" wide, so no use for this project
  2. My chisels are not sharp enough
  3. Portable belt sanders are angry tools. I need to bulk up so I can actually control the thing 
  4. Polyurethane should be applied sparingly and sanded between applications. My first two coats were far too thick and the finish was rough and drippy. The third coat was just thick enough to cover the earlier blemishes but light enough to leave a drip free and very smooth surface.
This stool is rock solid, and I take solace from this because I did all the joinery with hand tools!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Shaker stool

Here is my latest project prior to gluing. It's a shaker inspired stool with some slight changes from the plans because of the lumber available. Next I will glue, sand and coat with polyurethane for durable finish.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Next project....automaton

Just picked up some materials to build a wooden automaton. Can't wait to start! Pictures and plans to follow..

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Protospace on TV

Protospace was featured on TV here in Canada on Alberta Primetime. I happened to be at the space when they were filming so there are a couple of clips of me making the Shoe Rack.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Bike Shed Issues

Something I've long since suspected and now discovered that there is a law for:

"The boundless creativity of politicians and bureaucrats to develop new and more complex regulation is bounded only by the bureaucracy's inability to implement them.  The absolute size of the bureaucracy is constrained by external factors, so the only effect of automation can be to increase bureaucratic complexity."

Why it is Important that Software Projects Fail, 2008, Dr A Berglas

 And on a similar theme, Parkinson's Law of Triviality:

The time spent on any item of the agenda will be in inverse proportion to the sum involved."
Parkinson's law of triviality - Wikipedia

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Shoe Rack, stained and drying

I finally made time to stain the shoe rack that I've been building over the last month. It took about an hour and a half to stain. It turns out that staining is really hard to do well. I used a gel stain - 'Cherry Wood'. The manufacturer recommended applying liberally, however I found this just encouraged dripping and unsightly corners and edges. I used a brush to gradually apply the stain, re-brushing after a couple of minutes to even out the stain.

I spent a lot of time sanding to 220 grit before I started, but I think I could probably have gone a little further. I also could have been a little more even with the sanding - I'm pretty sure that is the cause of most of the blotches left after staining. 

I knew staining would show up my mistakes, I just didn't realise how many mistakes I'd made! Fortunately most of the mistakes are in hard to see places and the end result, observed from the proper distance is pretty acceptable.

I will write another post once it is dry and set up in its new home in the closet!

On to the next project - jointing and planing my own lumber from rough lumber.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Mail a Moose

This has to be the best novelty postcard ever. I found it on sale at a great second hand book store in North Calgary called Cabin Fever Books. Friends and family be on the look out for Canadian wildlife appearing in a postbox near you...

The company that makes these is called Green Banana Cards. Check out their store on Etsy