Sunday, August 22, 2010

200th CraZy Post!

I've been getting the juice for wood-working and doing sizable projects at home. At work, I am refurbishing old, graffitied lab tables, turning them into like-new stained and sealed masterpieces. Masterpiece might be a bit of an exagerration, but they are, in fact, turning out far more superior than I expected. Which is good. This work has provided me with plenty of inspiration, and this brings me to me weekend adventure.

After deliverying a trailer load of trash to the Bentonville landfill, an ordeal in and of itself, I made plans to visit our local Rockler dealer in Winchester, McFarland's Mill. Their shop has a good dose of all the miscelaneous items you could need, and sells some serious hardware, too. But main reason for going was to peruse their rough cut timbers for a couple of wood-working projects. Clare, my lovely-wife, has been asking me about making castles for a long time, and so after giving the task some consideration decided to see about obtaining some real hard wood, not Lowe's grown in China items.

I also have it in my mind to try my hand at making some cutting boards after recently re-watching a how-to video over at the Wood Whisperer.

Anyway, walking into the hardwood room was just awesome. I was expecting more wood to be in stock, but what they had was really cool, albeit pricy for what I wanted. They were out of purple heart and the lone piece of rock maple they had remaining was just too pricy. Instead I snagged a couple of smaller pieces of dark walnut and a nice 2-inch thick slab of cherry. The grains and colors are stunning, and when they are sanded an finished, hopefully they will be mind-blowing.

My first prototype is that of Rapunzel's tower, to be sold in my wife's gnome shop (pics to come), provided it meets with her approval. Right now she is impressed, but I am far from finished. I too am pleased at how things are turning out, but as with any project I am desirous of more tools to work with (what tool junkie wouldn't be?) to make the process easier. Right now I have enough wood I think to do three towers and two cutting boards. Now I just need a jointer and a planer and I'll be rockin'.

That said, what I really want to do now is save up the cash to erect a 20x20 wood shop out back. Right now I have a mouse-infested barn that it is more well-suited to farm equipment and hay than my feeble attmepts at fine wood working. Going out there and finding mouse droppings and twigs on or around your tools is frustrating as can be, not to mention the hornets that tend to take up residence, or the rat I saw Friday night. Yeah, it's enough to make me scream sometimes.

So, that is the plan. New building which hopefully will lead to lots of side work and fun projects, and hopefully growth in skill.

Godspeed. Over and Out,


P.S.--Buy your preps now before the world blows up!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Get It Done!

So, this weekend I put the hammer down and went full-speed ahead on one of the mandatory, pre-winter, pre-baby projects that had hitherto been looming on my mind's horizon for months: re-insulating the exterior wall in our bedroom and deleting the old front door to the outside.

Last winter, and the winter before that, I froze my arse off. I swore to myself this last time that I would do whatever it took to replace that old door and whatever was behind the drywall with with beautiful R-19 insulation. It's nasty to install, but the pay off is well-worth it. I believe what was pre-existing was R-13, so I swapped it out for the good stuff. I was going to go with R-39, but aside from being pricy, there simply is not enough room for it to expand in our walls, so I stuck with the standard R-19

The project went remarkably smooth. I took a few pictures after the demo was done, but since they strike me as hideous, I will not post them. After installing the new insulation, I covered the interior of the wall with 1/2' OSB plywood, per my mountain-man carpenter neighbor's suggestion--a piece of advice he has followed himself in his house with great success. In fact, last fall, using this technique, he renovated his bedroom, which sits on the north side of the house and consequently gets blasted by the prevailing winds, and stayed warm all of last winter.

I've already noticed a difference with the A/C window unit we have in there. The place stays COLD until you open the door. Nice ice box cold. I'm hoping that come winter it will stay nice and toasty warm.

Installing plywood before the drywall is more work, but it the results are better: the room feels more solid (it is); the room is much quieter; and the extra layer or ply helps with the R-factor, or adds another layer of insulation, sealing out undesireable weather.

Anyway, I just felt the need to get moving on this, even in the midst of my 31 other projects I have going on around here. Slowly, but surely we are becoming more organized and slight more sane-seeming. Possibly. I don't know, but it sure feels nice to have this one off the shoulders and off the horizon.

Until next time...

Over and out,


Saturday, August 07, 2010

Thirst for Adventure


This morning I was up at 2AM, restless as can be. I've been fiending to spend some serious time in the woods for the past week, and today these moments had arrived.

The pics above are from the hike up to Buzzard Rock. It's two miles one way of moderately difficult terrain. Appalacia's infamous rocks line the trail in parts, making it the hike a bit more challenging. According to, the ascent is a mere 650 feet, but there's a lot of up and down along the way.

This was THE perfect hike for today. Before the trip, I emptied my milsurp bug-out bag (which needed to be cleaned out anyhow) that I keep in the vehicle, added 2 liters of H20 in USA made Nalgene's, some trail mix, the foldable doggy bowl, a banana, and some sugar cookies neatly packed in tupperware, this last ostensibly for the dog.

Leia and I were out of the house at 6:01 and at the trail head at 6:09, while my family was still asleep. Having not been out on a trail by myself in a long time, I was bit apprehensive first about plunging into the forest alone, just because. I was reassured, however, by the legally concealed Glock on my hip and my canine companion's enthusiasm and lust for adventure. After the initial adjustment to the change of scenery, I was overcome by the peace of the mountain and the Eastern Forests and energetically pursued the climb.

Leia and I made it to the first summit and overlook at the right moment. Even though she was tired, Leia did not want to stop until we made it, which was remarkable. She didn't want to continue upwards from there, though, so we copped a spot and pulled out the supplies. I gave Leia a sugar cookie, and she promptly buried it, which made me laugh. I gave her another, and she buried that one too. I guess these were gifts to the mountain, unless she plans on coming back to retrieve them later. Makes me wonder what I have buried in my yard.

One awesome thing about the trip was that it was still very cool under the forest canopy, making the temperature ideal for a hike. At the top, the steady breeze was chilly on sweat. I was wearing one of my fly-fishing Gander Mountain long sleeve shirts and jeans, but I wish I had a warmer garment.

>After snapping a few pictures and basking in the moment, we began our descent to civilization. As always, I was impressed with Leia's ability to pick her way through myriads of rocks, and I was heartened to see some skip return to her step as we began the up and down portion which signaled that we are on the last half of the trail.

We made it out to the Jeep by 8:01. I was impressed. Clare and the kiddos would just be waking up, and I satisfied my desire to be alone amidst nature and the denizens of the mountain.

A couple of reflections before I close. My work boots, which are stiff steel-toed Red Wings, from there Made in China Worx line, performed awesomely. I mean these things delivered better than anything I've worn previously on a hike; they made the troublesome stones along the trail much easier to navigate safely and kept my ankle well-supported during the occasional slip. Overall, I'd wear these things again in a heartbeat, but I am interested in seeing what Red Wing has to offer in their line of actual hiking boots.

Traveling light and traveling smart cannot be overemphasized. As always on a hike like this, my thoughts drifted to those intrepid souls who thru-hike from Georgia to Maine or elsewhere. Ultra-light is the way to go, especially since that frees up room for more ammo. But seriously, for things like a bug-out bag, where what's in your bag is your life, each item, at some point, needs to be carefully selected, especially if you have to travel through mountainous terrain.

One last thing. Waking up ass-early and getting out doing something awesome before the day starts is the way to go. Sometimes you just need to get off your internet ass and do something. I am really glad I did.

Over and Out,