AW Episode # 012 – When Life Interrupts Your Woodworking

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Oh my!  It has been forever since I was able to podcast!  Between loosing several weekends to illness / busting it at the office / and certain life events, I have not had a spare second.  Even though I am still sick, I wanted to publish a podcast to get back into the flow of things.  So, I am apologizing up front.  This is not my best episode, but I am releasing it anyways to get back into the flow of things.

Today’s subject really has a simple answer.   When life keeps you out of the shop and interrupts that big project, change your focus to little things, at least until you have the time to devote to that big project again.  What did I do?  I turned some pens and bottle stoppers on my lathe and started making wooden boxes out of scrap wood to protect certain electrical plugs around the yard.  My Christmas light obsession was being crushed by record levels of rain.  I was not about to spend 60 hours putting up Christmas lights and they not work due to the GFI tripping in the rain.   So, the problem areas were protected by small wooden boxes that I painted black.  I got 75% of my lights to work, despite the second highest amount of rain in Georgia recorded history.

I am looking forward to 2014 and making it the best year ever!  Until next time, I hope everyone can get into their shop and build useful works of art.

 

Starting the 2014 woodworking year off right

Hey Avid Woodworkers!

I know it has been a while since I have posted anything or published a podcast. It is not due to a lack of desire or passion to do it. It is, unfortunately, due to a series of life events coupled with another passion/obsession of mine. . . Christmas Lights.

Hopefully you will forgive me, because it is 2014 and this is the year that we are going to build a record number of Useful Works of Art!

In order to do that, I think it is helpful to sit back on reflect on what happened the previous year. Ask yourself, “Did I accomplish what I wanted to in the shop? Did I finish all the projects I wanted to?” If yes, then repeat that success for the next year and see if you can improve on your workflow so you can do even more or take on more challenging projects. If no, why not? Where you over ambitious? Did you get side tracked with other projects that were not on your original list? Or, did some unexpected life events really throw you off? If it was the latter, that is ok.

In case you are interested, here are my thoughts on what happened with me:

So if you have not gathered from my podcasts, I tend to fill every aspect of my day. I have trouble sitting still. That is great, except for when things happen that you do not expect or are not on your calendar. This year, I got sick almost a record number of times. More than I have in the past five years put together! So, I have to look back to the last time I was really healthy all year. It was 2007. I don’t think I got sick in 2007. Why is this important? Because I don’t have much time to woodwork. When I loose several weekends to illness, that has a major impact on finishing my projects (not to mention, podcasting on a regular basis).

What did I do in 2007 that was different? I had lost significant weight and got on a regular workout program. What happened this year? I kept telling myself I did not have time to workout because I had to get some time in on this project, that project, or podcasting. Did skipping working out give me more time IN TOTAL over the course of the year? No, not when you account for the negative health ramifications of gaining weight and leaving my body vulnerable to illness. So, I am going back to working out at least five days a week. Yes, that takes away thirty minutes a day, but staying healthy keeps me out of bed and in the shop.

So, please learn from one of my mistakes. Don’t sacrifice some form of exercise in exchange for time in the shop. If you are like me, it will catch up to you.

AW #011 – 5 Simple Woodworking Dust Control Tips

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The Avid Woodworker – AW Episode # 11 – 5 Simple Woodworking Dust Control Tips

In this episode, I talk about a 5 Simple Tips you can do to control dust in your shop as well as keep it out of your lungs, and your house.  Before I get started with the tips, I briefly discuss why this should be taken very seriously.

Background

For years, most woodworkers (myself included) have considered wood dust to be a nuisance.  But, with the sinus problems I started to develop in 2005, I started to realize that wood dust is harmful and should be taken seriously.   Frankly, the more research I performed, the more concerned I became and began to make changes in how I woodwork as it related to wood dust.  Here is some of the information I have found:

Episode #010 – Halloween Woodworking

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The Avid Woodworker – AW Episode # 10 – Halloween Woodworking

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In this episode, I talk about a simple project that you can work on over a weekend with your kids and have fun with it.  It is not a fancy woodworking project by any means.  Heck, some woodworking elite might not even call it a ‘woodworking’ project, but more of an arts and craft project made out of wood.  But, that is ok, it is just fun and if you have children or grandchildren, it is something that you can do together and then put it on display every Halloween.   I put this podcast together because I love working with wood, hence the title Avid Woodworker.  I don’t claim to be the Pro or Top Woodworker, I just claim to be an Enthusiastic Woodworker.   I don’t worry about what everybody else says.  When my neighbors see what I have done and want me to build one for them, that is all the affirmation I need.

The picture at the top is the 15 foot scarecrow I have in the front of my garage.  We will be building a slightly different, six foot version of this one.   

My Office Desk

Slab Attorney DeskSlab Attorney DeskSlab Attorney Desk

When I first decided that I wanted to make my own desk, I was thinking that I would make a traditional attorney desk with my own little flare. It was going to have drawers and fancy columns and I was going to use some Maple plywood to construct the basic frame of the desk.  But then I started to ask myself several questions.

1)  What do I want my desk to do?  I want it to make a statement.  I want it to set me apart from everyone else. Ok, then traditional attorney desks are out.  Hmmm.  What to do now?

2) Then I asked, do I really use my drawers?  I looked at what was in the drawers.  It was all junk.  Most of the junk I had not even touched in a couple years.  All my client files were in a central storage room.  The items I used on a daily basis were all in one drawer.  In addition, I have been moving to paperless for the past year anyways. Ok, then why did I need drawers?  I didn’t.  I had been using the drawers as basically a place to keep stuff that I did not want to deal with at that moment.

3)  So what do I really need this

Slab Attorney DeskSlab Attorney Desk

desk for?  I just need it to hold my computer keyboard, monitor, mouse, and laptop.  I need it to layout documents in preparation for trials and a need a place for clients to sign documents.  Wow!  I just need basically a table.  Something simple that forces me to deal with documents at that moment so that things do not pile up on my desk.  I want to present the image that I am organized and on top of my case load so that when clients walk into my office, I present the image of organization, which is often what they need when their life is in chaos due to their divorce.

Well, I could go by a table.  They are cheaper than desks.  But then I am back to looking like everyone else.  Anybody can walk into a store and buy a table.

4)  How can I make a table that makes a difference?  I was walking around my local wood source, Peach State Lumber, when I saw these beautiful wooden slabs.  Then it hit me.  Let the beauty of a solid slab of wood make a statement.  You can’t find these in any store.  Of course, that started me down a whole new journey of how to work with slabs of wood, but that will be the subject of another post.

At the time of this post, the photos were all taken with my iPhone, so the quality is ok.  They slabs were originally 3 inches thick, but after dealing with some twisting and cupping, they wound up being 2 inches thick.  They are Ambrosia Maple with a heck of a lot of curl in them.  I finished it with Waterlox.  More to come in later posts.