2013 – The Lost Year

It is pretty easy to say that 2013 was a bit of a lost year. I only blogged twice last year and that was somewhat indicative of the amount of progress I made in the shop. The one “big” project I completed (Greene & Greene Inspired Towel Rack) I did blog about.

Despite the lack of posts there were a few other woodworking projects, fine and otherwise, that made varying levels of progress this year:

  • Flower Bed – In our back yard we had a pretty boring wall space beneath our breakfast nook. I happen to have some 4×6 beams that we dug out of the ground in the backyard (they had been used to line a swing-set area) that I could repurpose here. There wasn’t a ton of woodworking here – mostly cross-cutting to length and a handful of pocket screws to hold everything together.

FlowerBed

  • Raised Bed Gardens – The flower bed above isn’t the only dirt-filled box I built in the spring. My family did a ton of vegetable gardening this year and I put together the raised beds to make that happen. We built four beds that measured 4′ by 12′. Those beds were put together from construction 2x12s, held together with corner stakes and deck screws. In addition, there are two 4′ by 4′ beds (on the right) that took a little more effort. I used the same reclaimed 4x6s mentioned above to build these. Those boards were resawn on the band saw, then edge glued to give me the desired height.

RaisedBedGardens

  • Happy Knife, Happy Wife – The other “fine” woodworking project I actually completed this year was an anniversary gift for Michelle. She really threw herself into the gardens this summer and wanted a knife to use for pruning and harvesting the vegetables. I bought a Damascus steel blade and added wooden scales to the handle. I used a cocobolo turning blank for the scales and an O1 steel rod for the pins.

HappyKnifeHappyWife

  • Roubo Bench – I made some more progress on my bench build since I posted about my first leg tenon last March. I’ve since cut the top tenons on all four legs and hogged out all four mortises for them. There is still some fitting to be done (remember, these are the first four M&T joints I’ve ever cut for a project) before moving on to the stretchers. As can be partially seen in the photo, the bottom of the bench works fairly well as a bench itself as I’m working on bench parts or other projects.

BenchProgress

  • WFC Easel – The walnut you see in the picture above was purchased to participate in the Woodworkers Fighting Cancer charity build. I didn’t complete the project in time to benefit the charity, but at this point I’m almost finished. There should be a blog post (I promise to post more in 2014 than I did in 2013) in the near future covering this build.

That was pretty much it for shop-related work this year. I hope to finish the last two bullets “soon” with the easel completion being imminent and the bench being a labor of love that will be finished when it is finished.

MWA – Mid-Atlantic Chapter Inaugural Meeting

If you’ve been keeping up with the woodworking blogosphere over the last year, you’ve likely heard of Chris Adkins‘s brainchild, the Modern Woodworker’s Association. The MWA’s mission:

Today there is a vast amount of information that can be found online through woodworking communities, forums, blogs, and other social media such as Twitter and Google+.  Through these online connections, woodworkers learn from one another and build camaraderie with fellow woodworkers.  In a sense, we all belong to a woodworking club, the online woodworking club. The Modern Woodworkers Association is a place for the online woodworking community to reinforce our online connections and create personal ones in local gatherings in many regions across the country.

The MWA sprung out of what is now the Atlanta chapter. Since that time, chapters have formed on Long Island, Tampa Bay, Boston, and Seattle. Today I’m announcing the first meeting of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of the Modern Woodworkers’ Association.

There is a ton going on around DC and Baltimore the weekend of May 5th, so our first chapter meeting will be a scheduled double-header.

  • Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event at Exotic Lumber in Gaithersburg, MD – Lie-Nielsen will let you get hands on with their tools Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-5. Also demonstrating will be Chuck Bender of the Acanthus Workshop, attempting feats like cutting Bermuda dovetails in cardstock! Attendence is free.
  • Fine Furnishings Shows at the Maryland State Fairgrounds north of Baltimore, MD – The Fine Furnishings Show is a great show where many local(ish) makers are displaying the great things they are crafting. It is a great place to get inspiration, see what’s “current” in furniture, and rub elbows with people who are living on our hobby. Tickets are $10 for a day or $15 for any two days. The show is Friday 4-8, Saturday 10-6, and Sunday 10-5.

The plan is to meet at Exotic Lumber at 10AM Saturday morning for the open of the LN event. Hang out, play with some great tools, sort through rooms full of lumber, and try to leave with money still in your pocket (efforts in futility). From there, those who are hitting both events will drive the ~45 minutes up to Timonium for the Fine Furnishings Show. The plan is to meet at the show at 2PM.

If you can make either event (or both) it would be great to connect offline! See you in Maryland.

Planning the New Year

If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, you’l know that I’m terrible with deadlines or timeliness, at least when it comes to woodworking and blogging. So a mere three weeks into the new year, I have my 2011 summary and plans for 2012.

If we jump in the WABAC machine and head to November 2010, you see a plan I laid out to get my shop into better order. That idea was quickly put into chaos three weeks later when I had my accident at the jointer. It was a sufficient mental trauma that it was quite a while before I did anything in the shop. One thing did happen though – I got the shop organized.

Back in late May, we moved to larger house which included a larger 2-car garage destined to be my shop. As seen in my last few blog posts, I put an insulated wood floor in the garage, along with a couple of electrical circuits below the floor. I have the big things in their final positions:

I finished moving the tools into position the Friday before Christmas, which brings us up to 2012.

For this year, I have three specific woodworking projects that I’d like to complete:

  • Arts & Crafts Hanging Bookshelf: My wife asked for a new cabinet in our kitchen to hold her cookbooks. I volunteered to build it for her. It seems like a good project to both get used to my new work flow in the shop and to get back in the groove of building something, before I jump into…
  • Roubo Bench: I have had the wood for some time now, so I’m going to jump in with everyone else at the Wood Whisperer Guild and finally build my bench.
  • Entertainment Center: I’ve needed an entertainment center for my big screen plasma TV for some time now. I also have a receiver and some external speakers I want to hook up, but I need a place to put them. I have some initial sketches, but those are likely to change as that project approaches.

So that’s the plan. I hope you’ll stick around to see the projects come to fruition.

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Today marks the second anniversary of this blog. Two years ago I starting writing about the tools I had (and didn’t know enough about) and the bookshelves I just finished, hoping that someone would be interested. As it turned out, enough of you have been interested, for which I’m far too grateful to express in words.

The anniversary comes up at an interesting time, as the Taylor Garage has recently become much larger! We recently moved (within the local area) to get another bedroom, a lot more land, and some more shop space for yours truly. I have an amazingly supportive wife, who has given me the entirety of our two-car garage to work with as a shop space – provided I leave an open path from the interior door out to the driveway. This reboot has given me a great opportunity setup shop with some forethought and do things right. This is my initial envisioning for the shop layout:

I’ll get into the details of the layout, flooring, wiring, insulation, etc. over the coming weeks. I did reach one milestone yesterday – the county inspector signed off on the additional 200 amp panel that was installed in the garage!

This is the first step in many to getting the “New & Improved” Taylor Garage up and running. I hope you’ll stick around through this build and the ones that follow. Thanks again!

The Sawdust Chronicles Build Challenge 2010

It’s September 1st, which means we’ve come to the kick-off of the Build Challenge put on by Rick Waters over at The Sawdust Chronicles. I listened to the kick-off podcast twice today, trying to get a feel for this year’s theme of the challenge: Surface.

If you are unfamiliar with TSDC’s build challenges, you can check out this year’s rules. It’s also worth checking out the results of last year’s two challenges: the 30-Day and 60-Day challenges from last spring and fall, respectively.

As I was listening to the podcast this morning, I came up with a couple of possible ideas for my entry to the challenge. They are just initial, rough ideas – I can’t even fully formulate them into good sketches yet. If nothing else, they will give me fodder for my design exercise. Give today’s podcast a listen. If you have the time over the next few months, I highly recommend participating.

The Blog Comment Challenge – Completed

After extending my “challenge” an extra month in an effort to catch up, I”m calling an end of sorts to the effort. Some thoughts:

1) There are a lot of good blogs out there, churning out a lot of interesting content. I wouldn’t say there is too much good stuff out there, but keeping up with the small number of folks I follow definitely took a concerted effort.

2) Finding something worthwhile to say is hard!  I don’t know if I went through all of the stages of grief, but I definitely went through one (Bargaining) before getting to this point (Acceptance). Originally I wanted to comment on everything I read.  Then as I slipped behind, I rationalized “I’ll only comment on real posts, not podcast episodes or “I won’t be posting for a while” posts. Then I eventually decided if I couldn’t think of a relevent comment within two minutes of reading, I just wouldn’t comment.

3) I found the best way to keep comments useful was to ask questions.  It kept me from posting “Wow, that’s nice” type comments.  It also has the nice side-effect of engaging the blog writer and commenter in a conversation, rather than just the blogger writing and hoping someone will read.

I ended up making ~70 comments at over 20 different blogs.  If anyone is interested, I can add the list of links to those comments. As I look at the list, I notice that my type-A personality came out a bit in the results.  The blogs that came first alphabetically (and thus appear atop my favorites list) had more comments than those near the bottom.  This is likely due to me trying to “catch up” on my list and starting from the top – hardly ever getting to those blogs named near the end of the alphabet.  Please don’t take offense, Kari or Tom!

Hopefully I’ve left some interesting questions, ideas, or observations throughout the online woodworking community. I want to thank the other bloggers who have taken their time not only to produce great content, but to take my “bait” and engage with your readers.

Postscript – I don’t intend for this to signal and end to my commenting, but rather an end to my attempt at commenting on everything.

Woodworkers’ Blog Comment Challenge

Warning – This post is the culmination of several different thoughts & ideas, spurred on by a single Tweet.

Being new to both woodworking and blogging, I’ve been wondering how to get both more traffic to my blog and how to get more involved with the growing online community of woodworkers. I take part of that back – I’m not interested in raw numbers of visits, unique users, or page views.  I don’t have any banner ads, referral programs, or an online store.  To be honest, I’d rather have 10 people who visited and commented on a regular basis than have 100 unique IPs view my homepage.

They key to this desire is that I know I’m not the only one.  Many of the woodworking blogs I visit seem to have a similar level of participation. I know for a fact another woodworking blogger does feel this way – Stuart Lees over at StusShed had this tweet earlier – “How do you get reader participation in comments?” I replied to him that I wish I knew the answer, which in turn inspired my writing this blog post.

I understand how much community interaction can drive creativity and growth.  In fact, a post by Tom Iovino over at Tom’s Workbench was the impetus for me to starting to write here.  So here is my personal goal and my challenge to all those who read or write woodworking related blogs:

Comment.  Comment everywhere.  The blogroll on my site isn’t just a list of blogs I could find, it is a list of woodworking blogs I check on an almost daily basis.  I enjoy reading them, but how many more posts would there be if I commented? I know that I would post more often if I knew I had a group of people who were checking in daily for updates. So I’m going to be a vocal member of that group of people for the other blogs out there.  So for the next month (through Labor Day in the US), I’ll be commenting on every new post at the woodworking blogs I follow.

Imagine the woodworking community we can build if we all participate like this. I know I wouldn’t mind the comments ;-)

Welcome to My Garage

I decided to put together this little blog to keep track of and share the wood related projects that I’m throwing myself into these days. I make no promises with respect to frequency or quality, given I expect few people to be reading this with any regularity.  I imagine most hits will be coming from me pulling up the site on other people’s computers to talk about some picture I took.

Despite having the domain name purchased and WordPress installed, it has been a few weeks and I haven’t done anything besides leave up the “Hello, World” post.  I finally tripped across a sufficiently interesting idea for how to kick off this blog.  Tom Iovino posted a question (both on his blog and on the WoodWhisperer forums) – “Who have been the three most influential woodworkers who got you started woodworking?”

I’m not sure I have a good answer to that question. At least, I don’t have three names to list. Until most recently, I really hadn’t done much with wood. I had a few pinewood derby cars and I’m pretty sure I also built a birdhouse in Cub Scouts.  I’ve felled and split wood destined for a fire pit.  One spring break in college I helped start building cabins at a summer camp, although we didn’t get much past the framing, given the weather in March in the foothils of Colorado.  I guess that all adds up to a lot more than I thought before I started writing this paragraph…

I’ve always had a can-do attitude about most things. The recent popularity of HGTV and DIY Network have certainly boosted this consumer’s D-I-Y genes. Wood just seemed like another things I could do myself.  Maybe its the combination of the creative and the technical. Maybe its the smell of sawdust. Maybe I can’t describe it in words. But  I do know that I love wood and wood furniture.  With the execption of some bar stools that belly up to a high kitchen counter, every piece of furniture in our house is wood.  It’s warm, colorful, and inviting. I probably have my mother to thank for those sentiments.  I know she shares the same feelings about furniture. Growing up I always used to give her a hard time about which $300 piece of wood she was going to buy next, as if it was some sort of vice.

I guess that now I’m addicted too…