From Trash to Table

When I started to demolish the extraordinary well-built kennels in the garage, I assumed I’d throw everything into the trash dumpster. But I quickly realized that a significant portion of the debris was in the form perfectly usable pine 2x4s and 2x6s. Throwing them away would be a tremendous waste. And with wood prices being as high as they are, reusing the timber would not only be good for the environment, it’d be kind to my wallet.

Among the ways I could reuse the wood would be to build bench tops by laminating them together. I figured this would be a fairly simple weekend project. As usual, I was wrong.

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Plane Stupid

One of the things I like about woodworking is that it requires thinking and planning ahead. I spend as much time, if not more time, thinking about a project than I spend in the shop working on it. How am I going to make that cut? In what order should I do these steps? It forces me to slow down and be patient, two of my weaker qualities.

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From the Dog House to the Woodshed

This past summer, my wife and I realized that with our daughter heading to college, we no longer needed to be in the large suburban house we had been renting since selling our Capitol Hill house a few years before. Concern for commutes (thanks remote work!) and school districts were replaced by a desire for nature and a different kind of space. So, we did some searching and found a lovely house on 12 acres about 40 miles west of D.C. It’s far enough to be away from the madness, but close enough that we can come in when necessary.

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Have a Seat

This weekend I made another set of Adirondack furniture — two chairs, an ottoman (I should have made two) — and a table. These are fun to make, but time-consuming, as I’ll describe below. By the way, folks have inquired about buying them and I’m happy to say that yes, I will make them to order for purchase. With current lumber prices, the cost for pressure-treated versions of the chair is $275 and for the ottoman and table, $125 each. (Cedar versions are $425 and $250, respectively, due to the cost of materials.) All screws are high-quality outdoor stainless steel. Delivery is included for local drop-off; small fee if I have to go outside my neighborhood. If you’re interested, you can reach me at hatchmade@icloud.com. I make them upon order, so turn-around time varies depending on the calendar, but you can expect them to take 3 to 4 weeks.

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Branching Out

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.

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Tools for Reporting and Writing

After the end of my KSJ Fellowship at MIT, but before the resumption of my job at The Chronicle of Higher Education, I found myself in a position to do some professional writing for the first time in a while. I’ve missed writing, so I was happy to get back to it. But, I was also a bit nervous; For the most part, it had been a few years since I last wrote something for publication. I didn’t want to embarrass myself to peers, editors or readers.

On the other hand, I was excited to put those muscles back into action, to learn about the topics I’d be writing about, and to try out some new reporting and writing tools.

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Goodbye, Mom

Today we held a memorial service for my mom, at which I delivered the eulogy below. Special thanks to Alex Newman, Amy Eisman, and Rose Engelland for the feedback they provided as I worked through putting this together.

It’s been 78 days since my mom died… one more day than the years she lived. On each of those days, I’ve made a conscious effort to conjure different memories of her.

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