Growing Pains

Well, we made the decision to put our house up for sale as we were rapidly outgrowing it, especially the “wood shop.” We didn’t even need to list the house before it sold and we were suddenly in a jam to get tools in storage and get out. So unfortunately that means the tools are in hibernation for about a year, as is our Etsy shop. Hope to re-open in about 12 months, if things go smoothly. Now on the hunt for enough space to build a decent workshop so we can start cranking out wooden toys and other curiosities. Thanks all for the support. Be back soon!


Getting Back to It

Christmas came and went in a blur of snow, gifts, family, sickness, and lights. It was one for the books. We opened the shop for just a few orders and sent them out just before the Holiday. Some were marble runs and some were signs made with the new toy! (Which we will share more about soon. It is bomb and already part of the family!) Then we closed down to just enjoy the time together, because we knew at the first of the year everything was going to change. Things were going to pick up. And, indeed they have. Here are just a few of the things we have checked off thus far…and it is only January 15th:

  • Helped a neighbor with his Eagle Scout Project
  • Put our son’s “night light” on a timer so he won’t leave his room at 6am
  • Used the juicer 5 times
  • Ate out only 6 times (big deal for us)
  • Got pelted with “pepper balls” four days in a row (real job stuff)
  • Cleaned the entire house
  • Filled five garbage bags to donate
  • Visited with a realtor
  • Had her do a walk through of the house
  • Talked about our need for a larger plot and detached workshop
  • Boxed up some things for storage
  • Noted all the fixes that must be done before March 1st
  • Purged one bookshelf
  • Made a list of 10 pet friendly apartments in the area
  • Got contact information for a great contractor
  • Drove through a beautiful area of town, lot shopping

It is insane how quickly things are moving, but we honestly feel the time is right. With The Workbench LLC expanding and our garage overrun with tools and toys, we are just about bursting from the seams here. We like where we live, and will be sad to give up a few things likes friends, routines, and Google Fiber (yes, we are real attached to our internet provider). But we also know that now is the best time to jump on the market before things get crazy in the summer.

All this to say, yes! The shop will re-open, and soon. But we won’t be producing nearly as much product because of all the big changes happening right now. However, you can expect big things from us once we find, build, and get into our new place.

On the Job

iPhone August 452

There is so much to be said about being a parent and still getting things done. This little guy is so full of life and fun, it makes things like housework, job work, and yes even woodworking seem like the most dismal accomplishments in the universe.Sometimes the best you can do just has to be enough. At the end of the day it is better to have a list full of unaccomplished tasks and a happy child, than the reverse. So, superheros it is. I’ll be Flash and you be Flash, and Woody, and Buzz riding on cool airplanes. You will only be 2.5 once, Littleman. I don’t plan on missing it.

PSA: Gold Spray Paint

iPhone August 033Been working on a few projects for our new arrivals nursery and gold has really been the order of the day. We were originally thinking of doing a focal wall with big textured gold stripes, so we went looking for a gold spray paint that would match our vision. These cans seriously look like they could be the same color, one is just “hammered” and the other is not. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Before you spray paint anything, test it in a similar material. It will save you time, effort, clean up, and disappointment. For example, we would have been extremely disappointed had we painted anything for baby sister’s room with the Rust-oleum Hammered Gold Spray Paint. The coloring was very green, or brown, or something not really looking like gold. Even letting it dry did not change the hue of this paint at all. This was definitely a paint you would consider using on outdoor furniture, or something of that sort. Unfortunately that was not what we were doing.

As for the Rust-oleum Metallics Gold Spray Paint, we were really hesitant to try this one. This too looked like it would come out a green gold and would not provide the kind of results we wanted. In fact, of the two cans of metallic spray paint, this was the one we were most hesitant to try in the first place. However, Pinterest lead us to it, so it must be good right? Well, at least right in this case. This gold spray paint is bright, and yellow, and very much the metallic luster it claims to be. There is a bit of a gold tint, but nothing appalling. We used this paint on the edge of a decorative mirror, on the base of the crib, on hardware for the dresser–on pretty much every surface and material. The results were just beyond expectations.

Two thumbs up for the Metallics Gold Spray Paint and one thumbs down on the Hammered version.

Bike Rack Shelf

Bike Shelf 01

Well, I have officially experienced my first self inflicted dry spell. First the severed thumb, then the garage grounding, and then, even though I was fully capable of working in the garage, there was the dry spell. Things at work have been super busy for me lately and the last thing I wanted to do on my days off, if I even had any, was spend time in the garage.  I  just wanted to spend all my free time with my family. This has been going on for a couple of months, hence the lack of anything new and fun appearing here. Well, that is officially over. The dry spell has been broken. It took us a few steps to get here, but we made it!

First thing first was cleaning out the garage. It was really hard to be motivated to work in a space that was crowded and full of junk. Things had been collecting in the garage, there were heaps of stuff everywhere, and finally I had a spare weekend to just gut it out. The In Laws came over and we knocked it all out in one morning. Thanks so much to those guys who came over, it was awesome! 

Next up, I needed some motivation. I am the kind of guy who likes new projects. I will make the same thing over and over, sure, but what I really needed was something new I could design and work on. This motivation came from my wife. She needed something for an event, and she came up with an idea for something we would be able to contribute. It was new and interesting, and a few other people were excited about it too.

Finally, I needed a deadline. I only had two days to design, troubleshoot, and finish these Bike Rack Shelves. At first I wasn’t sure I could do it. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to do it. Then, my wife showed me pictures of a bike shelf and got excited about it too. Now I had to try, just for her. I like doing projects for her. Really her’s are the projects I usually end up liking the most. We glanced through a few different designs together and then I had what I wanted to build inside my head. I went out to the garage, checked my supplies, and went to work on making three of these wooden bike racks. 

The first design was fine, but not perfect. I had the measurements a little off for the bike size. So I trimmed it down and put them all together in just two days. It was a rush, and just the sort of thing I needed to light my fire about woodworking again.

She took my finished projects to the event and reported back that most people really liked them, so that made me happy. What is even better? I now have a couple of custom order bike racks for my father in law. He has five bikes and nowhere to put them. I have a bunch of mandatory overtime right now, but when that is over I am excited to get back in the garage and work.

Materials: two are made of plywood, one stained and one unstained, while the other is made of curly maple and purple heart.

Dimensions: L H W

*The last image in the gallery is from here, I added it so you could see how it works. I didn’t even find this design until after I had already finished making the bike rack shelves. They are pretty close, but still slightly different.

Marble Race

01 Marble Race 037

Finally it is finished. After a broken arm, a severed thumb, and a lot designing and troubleshooting the Marble Race Masterpiece is finally finished. At first this did not seem all that complicated to build. We came up with the types of tracks we wanted and simply started making them separately. Once we had two or three of the levels finished that was when things started to get complicated. We had to figure out a way to stack them all together. We picked an order, then had to change it around. We also continued to add to new tracks to the Marble Race until we had seven total levels.

At first we wanted to see if we could avoid gluing each level in place, you know, to make it easy to disassemble and ship if necessary. Sadly this brilliant plan was not meant to be. The four posts for the tower began to twist and warp because the tension was so high. In turn, this caused some of the tracks to slip out of alignment and marbles would fall off and fall out in all the wrong places. So, in the end, we bit the bullet and glued it all together. We coated it with a polyurethane protector. We even added a base (not pictured) to catch all the marbles when the race was over. It is stunning, and really really fun.

Our little boy loves to run marbles on this track. He has to stand on his tip-toes to even reach the start switch, and he cant see the first two levels just yet, because he is such a shorty, but once it hits eye level he smiles and follows the marbles running down, down, down. He always tries to catch the marbles in the plinko section before they drop down to the next level. It is pretty fun to watch him get so animated and excited with his fists full of colored marbles.

Here are the tracks in order:

1. start switch and two straight tracks

2. zig zag

3. helix

4. two straight tracks into bowl funnels

5. plinko

6. switch plate

7. half pipe

Top 5 : Tools in the Garage

Starting a garage workshop has taken a lot of time, quite a lot of money, and needless to say, a number of tools. Over time I have quickly come to see what tools work well for my needs. I love to work on a variety of projects, everything from heavy duty furniture to small detailed puzzles. As such, there are certain tools I just could not live without. These are just my top 5 tools I have in my little workshop.
Ryobi 15-Amp 10 in. Table Saw
My table saw is a love hate relationship. I hate how dangerous this thing is, but I love how useful it can be. Really the best thing about it is I can rip wide boards in half. I buy the cheaper value lumber and get twice the product. Boom! Also, I love how simple it is to use. Before I got a table saw I thought I really didn’t need it, but now that I’ve lived on the other side, I can’t seem to figure out how to do things without it any more. In my dream world I will one day be able to afford a “Saw Stop” table saw. I’ve just seen too many people with missing fingers to not fear the power of this tool.
This is the saw that I use the absolute most, without any question. Even though this one took a part of me with it when I sliced my thumb, I will still love the infinite uses this saw provides. I bought this saw back when we were building our backyard awning, wow over 5 years ago, and have used it on virtually every project since. I hope to upgrade to a larger one some day, but will never get rid of the one I have now unless it completely breaks.
PORTER-CABLE 8-Amp 12-Speed Drill Press
My Drill press has been one of the best tools in my shop for many reasons. First, I can make perfectly straight holes in my projects with this tool. Second, I can install a drum style sander in the chuck and use it as a sander for curved and small pieces. Third, I found that I was able to use it to polish the brass rods for the clock projects I have made. The drill press seems like such a simple tool, but it has been worth its weight in gold, so a special thanks to my wife for gifting this to me for xmas.
Ryobi 32 in.x 16 in.Universal Router Table
4. Router and Router
I have two of theses in my shop and it still isn’t enough. An old woodworking friend of mine once said that you could tell the quality of a woodworker simply by finding out how many router’s he owned. Its the truth. This tool was used to make the tracks for my marble runs, decorative edging on the entertainment center, rounded corners on the dresser, and the handles on the bed drawers. There are so many different uses to a router and so many different router bits that this is the ultimate tool and can easily become one of the most expensive when all is said and done. The router itself is not all that pricey (in comparison of other power tools) but after you get the router bits and a router table if you want one, the cost starts to add up fast. However, this is another dangerous tool that can easily grab the wood and cause some major damage to the project or the person so I am extra cautious when using it.
DELTA 1.3-Amp Variable Speed Scroll Saw
This has to be my favorite tool that I own, not because its the most useful (because its not), but because it is the most fun. With this tool I can make all the small intricate cuts in wood. With my scroll saw I’ve made animal puzzles, jewelry, clock gears (in fact build an entire clock with this tool alone), helix marble run, and so much more I can’t even remember all the things I’ve built with this guy. I also like that it is so easy to use and there is only a small risk of injury and no chance of loosing a limb.  I can’t wait to explore all the other ways to use this tool.