Custom Project: Balcony Tray

Finished Tray

Not too long ago, I got a cryptic email from a work colleague. It read in part, “Take a look at this amateur drawing I did in 2 min. What do you think?”

The drawing was in an attached PowerPoint file. For a moment I wondered if I was being subject to a phishing scam. Or maybe this was a test of my email security practices? But after a thorough forensic analysis, I concluded the email was legit and opened the file. In it was an illustration of a tray with two sets of legs sticking down from it. My friend, it seemed, was asking me to make him a custom dining tray. I agreed and it turned out to be an engineering puzzle that was fun to solve.

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Duct, Duct, Goose

Centralized Dust Collector and Ductwork

As I’ve been working on more and more projects in my shop, I’ve become increasingly annoyed by the mess — not to mention the health hazards — caused by sawdust. It’s not like I’ve been letting machines just spew out dust willy nilly; I’ve been following the well-worn path of cheapniks everywhere by connecting a shop vacuum to my machines. But, shop vacuums really aren’t made for this purpose and it’s annoying (not to mention a tripping hazard) to move the vacuum to each machine as I work around the shop.

I guess you could say I had approached another one of those lines between adolescence and adulthood, like drinking amber liquids from cut-crystal glasses; hiring professional movers instead of begging friends for help; making beds after sleeping in them; preparing entire meals instead of opening a can of smoked oysters and a box of crackers. It was time, in other words, to be a man and install a central dust collection machine and permanent ductwork in my shop.

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Cornhole in One

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.

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Softening the Hardscape

As previously described, I’m incredibly lucky to have a large shop on our property in the form of a four-bay garage. However, being a four-bay garage, it sits as a rather large and imposing structure at the top of our driveway. It’s not exactly inviting.

In an attempt to rectify this, I decided what was needed were some wooden planters filled with colorful flowers. This would soften the brown and brick façade and also give me a relatively quick and easy weekend project to work on.

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A Dog’s Breakfast

It was a little over 13 years ago that our family brought a little chocolate bundle of joy into our lives. Milo joined our family as a palm-sized pup, but being a Labrador Retriever, he displayed an unflinching devotion to his food bowl and quickly ate his way into adulthood. I like to think he loves us, as we love him, but we also know that when the chips are down, Milo will absolutely snarf up those chips — and plead for more.

Recently, though, his food fixation has become increasingly disruptive. So much so, we’ve had to take action. And, I’m pleased to say, that required a trip to the woodshop.

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