Category Archives: Off Topic

Woodworking: Step-Up End Table Pair Project (Part 8)

Last week I’d finally gotten the always-challenging Table 2 at about the same level as I had gotten Table 1: The split was patched, and everything was sanded.

The issue of the knob design element remained.

I worked and worked sanding the knob design to remove all the old finish.

I tried to avoid flat spots, and i used my vise this time instead of going freehand.

I had long done this with Table 1, but I still didn’t like the knob design elements and was considering cutting them off altogether.

So after hours and hours and hours of sanding by hand and using a dremel, I’d actually reduced the size of the knobs to something that looked uneven and goofy. My decision was made for me.

But how to cut them? I didn’t have a table saw.

Jigsaw! It worked with the chair seats. It should work with this.

And after the scoring, there was no going back.

Slow and steady for the cuts, and they weren’t looking so bad!

A little rough and a little curved, but overall, pretty happy.

The roughness of the edge and slight difference in height should be easily rectified by sanding.

By the time I’d done this, Table 1 had been long completed, but at some point I’ll make that one match.

Finishing starts next week.

Woodworking: Step-Up End Table Pair Project (Part 7)

I left off last week having sanded the side pieces for the first table. All was well there. Now I get to share how the same pieces for Table 2 posed more challenges.

The challenges: Warped wood with a crack.

I had expected the solution to be easy! I have wood glue. I have clamps. I have time.

I’d need the wood glue really to get all in that crack so there would be good adhesion when clamped. I didn’t want to remove material to make a fresh surface because I didn’t expect the surface not to be ready for wood glue.

Plastic knives ftw.

And with my bar clamps, it was sure to dry properly.

Letting it dry for days would make the rest of the job go without any issue. Right? RIGHT????

But with the warping, it returned to its split state. And now there was glue that was messing with the surface! Yayyyyyyy!

So I used an Xacto knife to cut off all the glue that I could to prepare the surface for another attempt. This time I decided to dilute the glue some because maybe the plastic knife didn’t really get all the glue where I wanted it. The depth of this crack was no joke.

Well, the slightly diluted glue definitely made its way in, and I went through the clamping and waiting process again.

Based on where we are in this post, you know already that it didn’t work. But it only was a few days of waiting with anticipation only for it not to work, so it wasn’t like I lost too, too much time.

I learned that gluing was not the answer.

I made the decision to sand down the pieces and go from there.

Just like I’d done with the top of the table, I made my own wood filler out of dust from sanding and wood glue.

Back on track!

The knob design element issue makes a return next week.

I’m getting married tomorrow

It’s so crazy that it’s finally upon us, but Calah and I are tying the knot tomorrow morning.

It’s been a long time coming, but to make our relationship official in the eyes of the law is something that’s long past due.

Covid has required us to delay, and our reception and our honeymoon are delayed still, but it’s nice to resolve one key step of the process.

I’m so lucky that Calah has agreed to married me–and continued to agree as she’s gotten to know me more and more through our 517 days of engagement.

Calah is special in a way that gives me faith in the future. Sounds dopey and extreme, I know, but I mean it.

Calah is a person who sees the world and acts on her desire to make it better.

She’s been a registered nurse for years, but she decided to go back to school for nurse practitioner. But rather than go for a masters, she is doing the doctorate of nursing practice. She has to do a study on a topic of her choice.

Covid took away her original subject: Dental hygiene in oldtimers. I probably got it wrong, but I think that’s what it had been.

She saw the healthcare system get overwhelmed and thought there had to be a better way. One day she said to me, “Wow, it’s been a long month today” or something to that effect.

What she’d meant is that the day she had had felt like a month. From there, she and I talked about how some hours feel longer than others and that the stressors and demands aren’t equal each hour of a day or in every work condition.

From there, her topic of addressing nursing stress in the workplace grew and grew.

I could go on and on about her project, but that’s not the point of this post. What I’m saying is that she saw a thing that is broken and didn’t just say what a shame it was took action and is taking action to resolve it at a systemic level. And she’s not discouraged by people who say it can never happen.

That’s the thing about Calah: She does cross-discipline impressive stuff because she doesn’t seem to know that it’s hard.

I’m lucky that she said yes when I asked her out in July of 2019.

Readers of this blog can thank her for my current 312-day posting streak because when I was feeling really down 300+ days ago and couldn’t even bring myself to post about the crossword, she told me to put something down after she got fed up with me being inconsolable. And that got me out of my funk.

I’m frazzled right now in anticipation of the wedding. I feel like there’s a lot left to do that I’ve forgotten but can’t figure out exactly what that is.

And with Calah spending the time up to the wedding away from me, I can only rely on her notes to make sure I don’t royally screw stuff up.

I’ll have more to share after the wedding, but I can’t wait till Sunday morning.

Woodworking: Step-Up End Table Pair Project (Part 6)

I left off last week with Table 2’s boards planed and ready to go. I haven’t been focusing as much on the first table because the 1/4-sheet palm sander took off way less material per pass. The crazy-good sandpaper that never clogged might be part of the random orbital sander’s effectiveness, so that’s something I’ve learned to watch out for.

That would be important for the remaining pieces of the table.

These tables are far more complicated than that first step-up end table project I’d done. Rather than just two side pieces, these had a back piece and a drawer. They also came with a knoblike design element that I didn’t care much for and was debating whether or not to amputate.

Table 1: 1/4-sheet palm sander

The outside part of the right side of the table:

The inside part of the right side of the table:

The outside part of the left side of the table:

The inside part of the left side of the table:

The back portion:

I noticed that with the back part, an edge veered away from being straight. The alignment didn’t allow for the board to be cut down to be straightened out, and since it would not be in an exposed area, I decided not to do anything about it. I figured that was the manufacturer’s thought process, too.

The grain that was exposed on all the boards made me eager to get to the finishing stage. It had been hidden for so long under the dark stain but was sure to glow.

For this table, I decided I’d keep the knob design elements. So I sanded and sanded with folded sandpaper.

Just some of the pieces I used

I don’t know how this happened with so many elements of Table 2, but the preparation of that one would not be nearly as simple. More on that next week.

Missed Schedule?

The other day I noticed that two of my scheduled posts were still in the scheduled section. That is to say that they hadn’t published.

I was bummed when I saw that the first new installment of the step-up tables didn’t drop on time! I don’t know what’s causing this just yet, but I hope that I’ll be able to resolve it so it doesn’t continue to happen.


Woodworking: Step-Up End Table Pair Project (Part 5)

First, a note:

I don’t know how this happened, but the prior post missed schedule. That is to say that it was all set for automatic posting at 10am, but WordPress didn’t do it. I posted it Friday of last week when I realized it hadn’t gone out.

I left off last week having sanded both tables. I had gotten rid of the rings on each one. But I’d noticed something that took Table 2 (the one with the random orbital sander) off the rails.

Rather than being smooth and flat, the surface of table was uneven like rolling hills. That was no good. It was not up to my standard.

Also I noticed that the upper board was cupped.

This was bad news.

And it would have to change.

I mean, at least Table 1 (1/4-sheet palm sander) was fine. But how do I smooth out Table 2?

Rather than go back to Angel City Woodshop–a place I respect thoroughly to do amazing work–I decided to hand plane.

I had last used a real plane (not the tiny one I’d used for the seat cushions) back in Mr. Bartkowski’s woodshop class in middle school. I turned to YouTube to guide me.

This was the best video of all I’d watched.

So I went out and got two Stanley planes: a 9-3/4″ inch bench plane and a 14″ bench plane. I was determined to get these boards flat.

From McMaster Carr.

But I’d also read that I should make sure to sharpen the blades to make cutting super easy.

I bought a jig to make sure that the angle was set up right for consistent sharpening. It was worth it.

From Amazon.

I sharpened the blades and got to work.

Welllll, I sharpened a blade and looked away and nicked my finger on a blade while looking away to grab a paper towel. I knew my sharpening was done, but I had to grab the Krazy glue before continuing. Gotta love the Krazy glue skin repairs.

Since I don’t have a proper workbench yet, I set up a folding table and clamped pieces of wood to it to use as a backstop for the planing. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked! I used cinderblocks to keep the table in place.

This was not a single-day activity. Not even close. This took many days, and I tore up my hands because I didn’t have the right callouses yet.


But when I finished, the boards were flat again. They were ready for sanding. I mean sanding again. This time it wouldn’t be so much work because I didn’t need to focus on any single area.

More next week.

Quick update on my Indochino suits and DHL

I had been tracking the progress of a couple suits I got from Indochino. It’s important that they arrive before the wedding, and if alterations are needed, it’s best I have them in my possession a week ago.

The suits shipped from China on Thursday last week. I watched as DHL tracking was slow to update no matter how many times I refreshed.

On July 27, I got my first update: The package arrived in the Cincinnati Hub and cleared customs.

But there it stayed.

Yesterday (by the time this posts), I saw another update: Shipment on hold.

I don’t want my shipment to be on hold. I want my suits! Calah wants me to have my suits!

So I took the advice of many redditors who had responded to other people who have had this issue, and I called DHL.

The number, appropriately, is 800-CALL-DHL.

I was given the option to have them call me back, but I found it suspicious that they didn’t tell me first how long I’d have to wait on hold.

I opted to wait.

Then I got the ringing tone and was connected to a person immediately. That was a relief.

The explanation I got was that the package was waiting for a connecting flight to Los Angeles, but all was still right because it wasn’t lost.

I shared that I had been hoping to get my suits today in case alterations were necessary, and the customer service person told me that while they don’t work on the weekend, she would tell them to get my suit to me on Monday.

I got a notification from DHL that the estimated delivery will be Monday!!!!

I’ll update you on what actually happens.

Woodworking: Step-Up End Table Pair Project (Part 4)

It’s been a number weeks since Part 3 of this series, but I’m back with the new installment!

I had left off with the gluing up of the top of the second table.

Each table was ready to sand: The first table with the DeWalt 1/4-sheet palm sander and the second table with the DeWalt random orbital sander.

The potted plant rings were not limited to the lower part of the table and would be a chore to remove. I started with 3M 60-grit sandpaper and turned the the speed wheel to 7 (max).

In just two minutes of steady sanding, I had made progress and suffered the setback of seeing a ring I hadn’t known was there. So I would have to remove not two but three rings.

Three in, and things were already shaping up. Could this be easier than I’d expected?

At the five-minute mark, I started to notice some stripes in the lower-right quadrant. I didn’t know if those were spills or what, but it didn’t make me comfortable.

At 15 minutes the large ring was not giving up, and the ring in the upper-right corner remained stubborn. But those lines looked to be part of the wood! If the teak oil were to make it glow, that could be amazing.

Grit changes from 60 to 100 to 150 to 220 got me here. I could see the rings faintly, but I had stopped making progress. I felt there was little more I could do if it had gotten that deep.

I also didn’t want to run the risk of uneven sanding.

Total time from the first picture to the last for table 1: 71 minutes.

On to table 2 with the random orbital sander.

A reminder: This was done about six weeks after table 1 and with a slightly different setup.

I started with the 3M Pro Grade purple 80+ grit Cubitron II disc. What a name, right?

Two minutes in and wow. Really, wow.

The seam from the gluing would go away as I continued to sand, but that was a lot of material gone in such a short time.

I decided to see if I could use my tiny plane to make my work easier. Tiny but mighty. Also at the time, my only plane. It didn’t do much, and I figured I’d only gouge stuff out. I went back to sanding.

At the 15-minute mark, things were looking up. Now, not all of those 15 minutes were spent on sanding. I had taken the plane out, goofed around with it. Put it back. But timestamp-wise, this is 15 minutes in.

I was having trouble determining if the wood was just darker or if there was stain that wouldn’t go away. The seam was softening, and the 80+ grit sandpaper was holding up well.

Then I made my first big goof: I forgot that the sander is dangerous.

I picked up the board to sand along a side rather than using my vise to hold it in place. That was dumb. And the sandpaper sliced into my left index finger.

I don’t have pictures of that because I was too busy running to the sink to wash it out and apply pressure and then alcohol and then krazy glue. It got me pretty good and shook me up, but it could have been a lot worse.

I realized that using leather work gloves was not a bad idea after all. I put those on and changed my approach. Why risk holding things in the air?

I swapped in 100-grit regular 3M Pro Grade and followed that up with 120+, 150+, and 180+ of the Pro Grade Cubitron.

Total time from the first picture to the last for table 2: 78 minutes.

It seemed to be going well, but then I noticed something, and the table 2 process had gone off the rails.

More next week!