Monday, July 8, 2019

Shelfie- 18 feet long and with soffit lighting

This was a consolation project. To preface, the spring began with looking to improve the heating to our TV room. The fireplace insert in place at time of purchase had been removed as it was not worth repairing and the fireplace chimney needed repair. Well, to replace the insert, the chimney needed repair and to repair the chimney the foundation needed repair.

That was funded with our summer vacation fund. In the meantime, the basement/crawlspace dehumidifier needed a dedicated outlet. Thus an electrician was brought in to install said dedicated outlet as well as provide another line and outlet to the TV room so a space heater can be used there without overloading the circuitry in that room.
The consolation project comes in when we decided to add another line and switch for our library/music room.

While the room has great daylight, reading light at night became a problem when we added another couch. One floor lamp provided adequate light for one person and another lamp was good for ambient light but is not good for reading. One solution was a two-armed floor lamp and replacing the table top lamp. But I've had that lamp for close to thirty years and DW veto'd replacing it anyway. The cost for 2 lamps was not worth it given that DW did not like the looks or the price of the two-armed floor lamps we looked at.
She did like the look of overhead wall mounted lights. I did not like the work and expense in wiring three wall mounted lights. Meanwhile we were going to run out of bookshelf space probably within a year. Kondo-ing our book collection was an option, but we're not ready for that just yet. Just like with foundation and electrical work, the thought of book-culling does not spark joy.
When I proposed a floating shelf with built in lights to DW, she was skeptical given my-  'em limited ability to verbalize my ideas . She gave the go-ahead noting that prior projects she's had the same trouble with have turned out well even though they didn't sound so great as initially presented.
The design needed to be sufficiently wide and strong for art books and vinyl records throughout its length and sufficiently thick to be able to house canned lights. Given a 13.5" cantilevered width, it would also require some bracket support, thus it could not be a pure floating design but if the brackets  held it from above, it could visually maintain a "floating" appearance. This was what I thought I would be able to use.
Imagine my irritation when I pressed the purchase button on the screen with the ensuing "not currently available" reply. Obtaining the separate pieces was an alternative but not all of the hardware was available in black. Black iron pipe hardware to the rescue. Up to a point, for the local Home Depots had a shortage of 3/4" 45 degree street elbows. I had to make do with 2 3/4" inch thick supports in the middle and 2 1/2 inch supports at the ends.

Then there was the need to provide a sufficiently thick face to support the railing for the ladder. For these reasons and having 1.5 inch x 7.25 inch x 20 foot ceiling joists still left over from the 2012 raising the living room ceiling project, I decided to use a solid shelf design rather that the box shelf used for most of the floating shelves I saw while researching designs. For weight and aesthetic reasons I was hoping to keep the thickness of the shelf to about 2 inches to allow for installation of the recessed lighting fixture shown below. These really lent themselves well to the task as they have a shallow design, are directional adjustable and dimmable.
Barnwood Naturals here in Salem had two  18 foot actual dimensioned 2x4's  of old growth reclaimed fir with the desired silvery patina.  Cleaning with a stiff wire brush and hand-planing to remove the splintery areas allowed me to get them presentable while still keeping the darkened and worn appearance of the wood.
My initial plan used Skag 10" lag screws for attaching to the wall joists and the Shelfology brackets as above for additional support.  The 2 inch thickness made a for a bona-fide thick plank look while the side grain face provided a stronger gripping surface for the rail attachments.

 Even keeping the thickness at 2 inches made for a really heavy design and the length made it a tight fit for my shop space. Having movable workstation with Festool tops once again came in handy.

Festool dominos enabled lining up the three planks making up the shelf so they could be assembled and taken apart as needed for the drilling, groove-making, cutouts and final installation.

That all battle plans do not survive first encounter with the enemy proved for me to be true once again. Once I lifted said front face plank with guide rails in place I realized that relying on the dominoes to hold the front in place and 10 inch screws would be too short provide the needed torque to join the three planks once in situ. Amazon to the rescue with 1/2 inch thick 16 inch lag screws. I had a bit of anxiety as UPS sent a possible delay in delivery due to weather notice but the screws arrived two hours before the time they were needed in the assembly process. Also very helpful was our front door neighbor who was doing yardwork and, as always, was willing to lend a hand.  
After Russ's help
That DW was out hunting and gathering venetian plaster to patch up the holes made while installing wiring needed for the soffit lights was also a good thing as that step was difficult for Russ and would have been beyond DW's strength. Mind that she was the only help needed for all the other steps in the project.
The 4th of July holiday gave me time to finish installing the lights and the soffit covers.
Here is the shelfie- plenty of space for expanding the collection.

The cat is happy with the space as long as he has a grocery bag to lie on while listening to the audio setup.

Bonus- the rail works great as a pull-up bar.

 To end, it was a fun and satisfying project. More storage, much better night time lighting for reading purposes and kept me from being miserable about shelling out for foundation and electrical work.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Woodworking in Denmark and our visits with the Mad Rhykenologist

One of the great pleasures in traveling is the opportunity to engage in interests with more intensity and from a different perspective than in our everyday environment. Thus, take lots of photos, eat different foods, experience different approaches to shelter and cram in as many museums as time allows. Our side trip to Wetzlar was decidedly photo-centric in general and Leica-centric in particular and we expected the trip to be bike-centric given that we signed up for a bike tour along with Copenhagen’s well known cycling culture (Berlin was not far behind in that department to our very pleasant surprise).
What I did not anticipate was how relevant Denmark would be to my interest in carpentry and woodworking, even as we were looking forward to meeting Mads F in person having already formed an on-line friendship through Lumberjocks.
The first exposure to Danish woodworking came with our visit to Middelaldercentret. DW had been predicting how much fun I would have there; I figured it would make for some good photo-ops. How much of the living history museum featured wood and metal crafting in retrospect should have been expected given how important seafaring and predation were to the middle age Danes/Vikings. Not only was the technology way interesting but how it was presented was entertaining and photogenic as well.

The actors were in effect trained craftsmen in the technology of the era.

The place was also near heaven for those with a Wabi-Sabi sensibility- simple, well-worn and crafted.

Finally, Tormek has nothing on this set-up.

Christiania is well known for it's libertarian mindset, although in pursuit of mind altering substances rather than the Koch bros version. Another aspect of this spirit is a strong DIY/maker culture. There is a large shop area there, not as photogenic as Middeladercentret but sufficiently engaging that I lost contact with my group while exploring the area. Dimensioned lumber, sheet goods and moldings along with power tools demonstrates the communities intention to have control over the means of production (one thing Marx was right about).

My introduction to Mads came while researching Moxon vises on Lumberjocks. He had posted a Milkman's Workbench renovation which caught my eye as it could potentially be used as a Moxon  vise. I commented to that effect with a prompt response that that indeed was his intention. While I went in a different direction in my project, his craftsmanship both as a woodworker and a technical writer/photographer were impressive (not to mention that he's writing in a second language) and marked him as someone to follow. Upon meeting in person, we found him to be an entertaining and amiable polymath. We were fortunate to be able to spend a good part of two of our four days in Copenhagen hanging out with him. His workshop/studio was only a couple of miles away from our hotel in a very lively and eclectic part of Copenhagen.
While my projects arise more from necessity (furniture for the house, picture frames for photos, DW honey-do stuff, stuff for the shop), Mads projects (and he's been prolific) are non-commerical (see the sign on his front door) and run the gamut from the practical to the near-whimsical.

The sign on the door- "This is not a store!"

The sign on the window kindly request bicyclists from leaving their bikes there as just about any wall fronting a street is an invitation to a local needing somewhere to lean a bike up against.

As a souvenir, Mads gave me one of his chisel engraved with his trademark.

 I initially protested with the lame excuse that it could pose a problem boarding our flight. DW noted that could be solved by checking my bag instead of carry-on. Once home, it sharpened up nicely, held it's edge and took its alongside the rest of my arsenal of chisels

The best source for things to do when visiting come from locals, thus part of our chats were recommendations for places to check out.  We had already been to the Design Museum. That had been an easy choice with minimal research needed to given our interests as makers and predilection for museums being one of the more worthwhile things to do. Sure enough, both DW and I found much that was relevant to us. This image would have saved me some time as it contains much of the information I had to forage through on-line when learning about seating and workdesk heights. In addition, it’s an art-piece in its own right.

It seems that anyone who’s shopped for furniture has come across Danish chairs. The exhibit featuring the variations on the generic Danish chair was so comprehensive that there had to be a tongue in cheek spirit in its presention.

Courtesy of Danish Design Review

This sense of playfulness was “on exhibit” elsewhere. Being a longtime PNW resident, bicycle “woodies" is old hat, though

Roorkee chairs had been on my mind’s list of future projects thanks to Chris Schwarz’s writings. He has a book on campaign furniture which includes plans for one. The museum had a nice version on display- always a plus to be actually able to see the actual chair.

Our bicycling tour-mates had gone to the Roskilde Viking Museum earlier in the week and had recommended it even though it involved a train ride. We were thinking we had already seen one living museum and there was still much to see in Copenhagen, thus were inclined to pass on it. Mads persuaded us otherwise. Thus we added another sorta wood-centric experience. Ship building demands a particularly high level of woodworking craftsmanship which make it interesting even if one is a landlubber. We were not able to see the woodworking demo's but just seeing the shop area was plenty gratifying. Their workshop area was the bitchin-est I've ever seen.

And I wonder what would have been the price and shipping charge if this guy had been for sale?

Thus Denmark turned out to be kinda busman's holiday- and DW very much enjoyed it also. Really!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Berlin to Copenhagen: Copenhagen

Berlin to Copenhagen Bikeway Finish: Copenhagen.

While the Freewheeling tour had ended, we continued to hang out with each other while pursuing our agendas as most of the group had booked added days at Hotel SP34.  We avoid guided city or museum tours in general and DW does not like urban bicycling but Jesse persuasive person that she is, talked her into it. She sold the concept as a great way of getting a more bird’s eye view of the lay of a city as one covers much more ground than walking and is more engaged with one's surroundings and able to stop when desired compared to using public transportation. Pretty much the same reasons why we like bicycling vacations. Thus the day following our arrival in Copenhagen, our Freewheeling group (minus two who had left town earlier) went on a guided city bike tour.
Our guide was personable, experienced and patient.
 We were able to take in many of the tourist-y attractions in Central Copenhagen.

and were able to spend some time in Christiania.
I briefly lost track of the group while wandering around the craft area of the enclave. As mentioned earlier, we had many experiences in Denmark that were relevant to my interest in woodworking- in the spirit of if you’re a hammer the world looks like a nail; enough to merit a separate post. Our guide took the Cristiana group photo.

I had become online friends through LumberJocks, a woodworking site, with a fellow hobbyist who as it turns out, keeps a workshop space within walking distance from our hotel. Our visits with him were a wonderful memory and evidence that us humans tend to treasure experiences with other humans over places and things we have seen and done.

Not only was Mads great company, he provided us with one of my favorite photos of DW and I and the cover for our cat-centric holiday card.

In our walkabouts, DW noted  the abundance of hotdog stands. 

Being a foodie, she had been looking forward to elegant dining while in town. But she knows that hotdogs are one of my favorite, if infrequent, indulgences.  Reading up on it, it turned out that Copenhagen can make the claim to being the Hot Dog Capital of the World. Thus, after some research as we wanted beer along with our hotdog as well as a sit down setting, we went off to the meatpacking district to have dinner at Johns Hotdogs.

My all time favorite hotdog remains the chilidogs we ate regularly at House of Burger in Watts. A childhood memory, my sister and I still wax nostalgic about that place 50-some years later.

John’s however made it to my top three and takes first place for breath of selection.

Tivoli Gardens was DW’s top priority destination having been advised having been advised as a must see attraction by more than one of her friends. Arriving in late afternoon, it felt sorta Disneyland/Universal City.  However we lucked out with our timing as it became magical at night and indeed was a memorable experience.