A few months ago, I built and wrote about a cantilevered tray a colleague of mine asked me to make for his apartment balcony. I was really pleased with how it turned out, but the practicality of it ended up being less than ideal. It was too heavy, my friend said, and because the legs had to be inserted from under the tray, it would be too easy to drop a leg or the entire tray from his 13th-floor balcony to the ground — a mistake that could be quite deadly.
I felt bad that they tray wasn’t working for him; I wanted to make sure he had a something that would do the job. We discussed changes to the one I made — hollowing it out to reduce weight; changing how the legs would be inserted — but I didn’t love any of the options. Better, I thought, to just make a new one using a different design.
Continue reading “Tray, Take 2”
A few months ago, I decided to make some outdoor games for when friends come over. I started with a simple oversized Jenga set using leftover 2x4s from the dog kennel demolition. And while folks do seem to love Jenga — especially when a falling tower has the potential to break a toe — I decided I needed to add a less destructive game to the mix. Cornhole to the rescue.
Continue reading “Cornhole in One”
When one of my nieces finished graduate school and celebrated her 27th birthday last year, I told her I was making her a present and it would be done “soon.”
“Soon” is a relative term, of course, and by geologic standards, she barely had to wait at all; I ended up only a year behind schedule and finally gave it to her a few weeks ago. I thought I’d take a moment to write about its construction here.
Continue reading “The Box Is the Present”
As I’ve written about in recent posts, I’ve been doing some work in our living room and on the fireplace in particular. Re-painting it and re-crafting the mantle were two projects from this spring. Both projects turned out well, but something was missing. The room just wasn’t “finished.” What it needed was some crown molding to give it that final flourish.
Continue reading “Crown Molding: Adventures in Angles”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been busy working on a wide variety of projects, including rebuilding small engine carburetors, taking down fencing, building garden plots, creating a wildflower field, replacing a well pump, and minor auto repairs, among other things.
It’s one of the “other things” I’m writing about today: building and hanging birdhouses. A dozen of them, actually, from small chickadee abodes to huge owl boxes. They’re fun to build, relatively easy, relatively cheap and provide joy for years. Building them is the easy part. The hard part is mounting them high enough on trees. But that’s nothing a little cleverness can’t solve.
Continue reading “For the Bird(houses)”
A few weeks ago, I decided to update the appearance of our fireplace with whitewash. The results were great, but the change highlighted how deficient our mantle was. So on a recent Sunday, I decided to tackle the mantle and give the fireplace a proper finished look.
Continue reading “Fireplace Finishing Touches: Mantle Edition”
Making things is fun, but even more fun is making things with and for other people. Last year, my sister moved into a new house and in her basement, there was a perfect place for a big workbench. Too bad she didn’t have one — until recently.
Continue reading “Workbench for My Sister”
One of the first things we did after moving into our new house was to install a wood-burning fireplace insert into our living room. In the months since, we’ve made ample use of the fireplace, but it never felt quite right. Finally one recent weekend, I decided to do something about it. Hopefully I don’t come to regret it.
Continue reading “Another Brick In the Hall”
This site has been dormant for quite some time, but like Brood X cicadas and humans re-emerging post-pandemic, this seems like a good time for a revival.
In part, this re-emergence is due to my diving into a new hobby since the pandemic began — woodworking. At the start of the pandemic, we had a little-used basement with a couch and a TV. By the end, that basement had turned into a full-scale shop with a bandsaw, table saw, router table, workbench, dozens of clamps, shelves and more.
Continue reading “Branching Out”
It’s easy to forgot how unlike the “real” world the academic schedule is. It’s not just summer break, or the fact that campus is nearly empty on Fridays, or that every holiday is honored. There are the lenient hours, the extra breaks, and the flexible schedules. That’s not to say people don’t work hard. Just that the schedule is unlike what you find in the non-academic life. Another example: winter break. Continue reading “So Much Time, So Little Time”