Adorable dog planter

It’s rare that advertising works on me, but I saw an ad for this planter online and within ten minutes I had hunted down a seller (the ad was from a shady source) and bought it off of Etsy. After all, a Samoyed is essentially just a big Eskimo. I had to have one!

I didn’t realize PDFs have a mode of printing that allows you to print a large document, like these plans, and stitch multiple sheets together. I did it for this set of plans and it worked perfectly. Since I will be making more than one of these, I also decided to try tracing the patterns onto some extra lexan I had laying around and cut them out of that using the scroll saw.

The end result was reusable lexan patterns for each piece.

I traced the patterns onto a 3/4 piece of pine I bought for the project. One piece of 48″ x 10″ pine did the trick. I carefully cut them out with my jigsaw. It was too thick for the scroll saw, and a band saw probably would have been faster, but I don’t have one of those yet.

Oh man, it’s already cute!

Paint paint paint and start gluing stuff together.

And finish it off by painting the details

And with a jaunty little head tilt, it is just as adorable as I’d hoped! First one goes to my friend Sherry, and I’ll make one for our patio as well soon.

This pattern is adorable and could easily make a variety of dogs. Paint on a different coat, or swap out the fluffy tail for a skinnier one. I will definitly make more of these cuties.

Airstream Trailer Remodel (Part 1)

I have a 1968 Airstream Caravel 17′ travel trailer.

I bought it in 2003 and camped in it that summer. Then in 2004 I did a partial floor replacement, welded up cracks in the frame, replaced the axel and replaced the fridge and heater, and did a few other miscellaneous things, but left it as original as possible. I have been enjoying it like that ever since, with tweaks here and there. It is time for an update.

The original layout was a dinette in the front, and a gaucho on the side, which is a couch that pulls out into a bed. My issue with the gaucho has always been 1) we have to pull it out every night and put it away in the morning. 2) the bed design is terrible and the legs fall off frequently while you are on it and then you have to get up and put them back in. 3) If you sleep with your heads at the back end the heater blows in your face all night, and you are right next to the bathroom with it’s bathroom funk (we keep it clean, but be real, RV toilets can be funky sometimes).

We like the dinette for sitting at and eating, playing games, etc, but much of the time we will have it folded down into a lounging area.

Barclay enjoying the dinette lounge while camping.

So I decided to do some upgrades to the layout. This was a hard decision for me, because I have always taken pride in my trailer being original, and just how people have enjoyed it since 1968. But my choices were coming down to selling it and let someone else enjoy its originality, and buying another trailer to remodel to my taste, OR redo it so I could enjoy it more. I decided to stick with ‘the devil I know’ and do a remodel.

The plan is to build a two person dinette on the side, and put a permanent bed in the front. The dinette will also fold down into a lounging area, and will have storage in the seats. None of the existing utilities will be moved, so the dinette must work around the existing ‘utility tunnel’ against the wall where the wheelwell is, and the water pipes and wiring runs. The bed will not disturb the existing water tank, and will lift up for access to the two big storage areas in the corners. I think I will leave the center section of the bed open because it is handy to be able to store things under it for quick access, Well, maybe half of it anyway, if things go too far back you’d have to crawl under to reach them.

So that is my plan. It is not undertaken lightly, I put a lot of thought into it. Because I love my trailer, and all the good times it has given us. I want it to be our vacation home for many years to come.

I started by piling the entire interior of the living space into the garage, so I had room to measure and work in the trailer, and got started building the dinette.

Mighty guarding the pile of trailer interior that buried my kayak.

Off we go…to be continued.

Woodsmiths Cutoff Bin

More woodshop organization. I was considering building Steve Ramsay’s Mobile Lumber Bin, but it is pretty big, and my shop is pretty small. I needed to do something soon, because all my projects were resulting in a precarious stack of wood scraps that slid all over everytime I tried to gingerly pick out a piece for a quicky project.

This whole corner is a bit of a disaster.

Someone in the Weekend Woodworker group showed their build of the Woodsmith’s Mobile Cutoff Bin, and that looked just my size! Much smaller, but still plenty of room to hold the little scrappy bits I have kicking around.

So I bought a couple full sheets of plywood, and some conduit pipes from the front, and got after it. First Dave had to help me break things down to their approximate sizes using the circular saw and a straight edge, leaving me with a pile of pieces to cut to their final size on the table saw.

One challenge was that I did not account for the blade width between the boards and that resulted in me doing some bad math that ended with needing to dig through my scrap pile for a bit extra to glue onto one of the inner dividers, but it was no big deal. Good lesson though.

I bought a forstner bit for my drill press to ensure I got these holes nice and straight, and drilled through them together to be sure they matched up.

I was quite impressed when this started coming all together! I measured the length I needed for the pipes and cut them off with the jigsaw, and used the forstner bit to make little indnts in the boards on either end for them to fit into so everything was snug and the pipes were secure, and it all fit perfectly.

I had one more set of heavy duty casters waiting for this project. And this thing is HEAVY!

And it is absolutely perfect for my space, and my slidey-lumber-pile is under control! And it’s so easy to find what I’m looking for without causing a lumber-avalanch! I’m very pleased with this.

The plans are free on the Woodsmith site, along with a helpful step by step video. I’d say this is a winner!

Kitchen drawer dividers

This was just a tiny project to try and organize the kitchen a bit. The silverware drawer is shallow, so I built dividers for it to replace the ill-filling silverware tray that was in there.

This was a little tricky because the bottom of the drawer was sagging a bit, it was only made of 1/8″ plywood and it is all original, and The Rancho is 50 years old! I added a piece of 1/4 plywood, and that made a nice bottom that the dividers could sit flat against.

This project was the first step in an ongoing kitchen remodel. Next I plan to make a two level divider for the bigger drawer with ladles and spatulas, and a sliding upper tray for the smaller items that live in that drawer. Eventually I’ll be redoing the countertops and doing a light refinishing of the cabinets, but I love the dark woodgrain of the cabinets as they are. I just want to add some color to brighten the place up and make it pop a little.

Anyway, I have lots of plans, and the ability to do them at my own pace, because I don’t think we are going anywhere soon.

Extra Fancy Coffee Table

Continuing my working through the lessons in the Weekend Woodworker course, I got to try out my new (used) tablesaw in building a very nice coffee table. Unfortunately I don’t need a coffee table, and I have a very small house, but I thought this might work as a patio table on our covered patio, so I planned to follow all the steps and then paint the top to help protect it from drips we get out there from condensation coming off the patio cover. For the top insert, I wanted to use some leftover floorboards from the pergo in the kitchen, which I found stowed away in the garage.

Lots of clamps!

This was a great project to get warmed up to my new tablesaw. The lumber needed to be ripped down to size. Most of the crosscuts happened on the miter saw, which I was already comfortable with. To make using the table saw safer I have my push block, push stick, and featherboards to help control the wood. I’m getting pretty comfortable with using it now, but I’m very cautious every time, and follow all the directions from the course, including setting everything up and planning each part of the cut from beginning to end.

I’m still loving all the versatility of the roll-around tool carts. It’s so nice to set the tools where they work best for each project.

The little outfeed table I built for the table saw wasn’t as useful as I thought it would be, because it turns out the wing of the miter saw cart works equally well. So I got the idea that if I cut that table down, I could mount my router on it, and put the router table at the same height as the table saw, so with the saw dropped down, it would also double as an outfeed table.

I even added a drawer! Note: Navi is not allowed in the garage when tools are actually in use, or when things are dusty. Safety first!

So now all my router bits and accessories are in the drawer with the router. Perfect. And this project gave me the chance to practice routing the rabbet on the table top frame to inset the center insert. I did a bunch of proacticing on scraps before doing it to my work pieces. Now I’m pretty comfortable with the router too.

I tried really hard to get the mitre saw adjusted to get perfect 45 degree corners, but I couldn’t quite do it. It was close, I just filled it in with wood filler.

You WILL BE square!

Then I got creative and decided I wanted to add a lifting top to it. I wish I had decided this earlier in the project, the tolerances were a bit tight, and I ended up using a chisle to carefully cut away some wood that was interfereing with the hinges. But when I got done, it worked!

It has been just fine out on the patio so far, I may cover it up to protect it for the winter. I plan to add a couple new couches to the patio next summer, and then I’ll share a pic of the whole set. It’s a bit of a mish-mash right now.

Good project, I learned a lot, increased my confidence with the table saw, and the router, and produced a perfectly nice piece of real furniture! Success!

Cheese Cutting Boards

I took off on a little tangent from my woodworking class to try something different. Cutting boards – or at least little Cheese Cutting Boards! I found the hardware on Etsy, and they came with dimentions for the boards. I had bought a set of hardwoods for cutting boards on Amazon a few months ago. Time to make some cutting boards!

I decided to go with a ‘Hood Stripe’ type pattern, as I knew I wanted to give one to friends who are into classic cars. I ripped the pieces down to the widths I needed on the tablesaw.

Clampy clamp clamp!

These are Maple, Walnut, Cherry. Lots of clamps and then also clamped them between boards covered in plastic wrap (so they wouldn’t get glued together) to try and keep the whole thing flat.

I sanded it until it was buttery smooth and then rounded over the edges on the router.

I dipped it in Mineral Oil and let it soak in for a while, then attached the hardware. Because the pieces of wood were sized for full size cutting boards I trimmed off the edge, which left me with a nice little matching paperweight. I put little rubber feet on the cutting board and paperweight. What a cute little set!

But, I thought I could do better, so I flipped the colors around and did one more

So many clamps!

Same process, look at those colors pop! So pretty!

They came out really nice – one for me, one for my friends! Perfect!

Vacuum Cart

My table saw is great at cutting wood, and even better at carpeting my garage in wood chips and sawdust. So adding some dust catching moved up on my list. I have a little shop vac which has been working fine, but it does get clogged up sucking up all the dust. So I needed some sort of dust separation to help it work better.

My woodworking group recommended this video on youtube by Chris Notap, where he builds a clever cyclonic dust separator system from parts available cheaply at the hardware store.

I assembled it and tested it out, and it worked great! Just as advertised!

So now I had buckets and hoses and a tiny vacuum, and it was sudden chaos in my tiny space! These things needed to be organized somehow. I searched my woodworking group and found instructions for a vacuum cart. My dimentions were going to be a little different because they had a bigger shop vac. So I adjusted them, cut everything out, put it all together in one long evening of work, puzzling over how to clamp things together so I could do it by myself, and in the end…

It rolls around easily, keeps the hoses under control, and has a fold down flap in front for removing the vacuum. I realized I needed that at the last minute, and by some miracle, I had all the hardware in my junk drawer!

When I got done I vacuumed up all the sawdust I had made, and the inside of the vacuum was clean, and the inside of the bucket…

Exactly as intended!

The next addition is an electrical switch which allows you to plug in your tool, then soft starts the vacuum a few seconds after the tool starts, and stops the vacuum a few seconds after the tool stops. This way you can get all the dust, while not having to turn it on individually every time.

I’m really happy with how all my mobile tools are working out. It makes for a very flexible workspace.

My Extra Fancy Paper Tray

The next project in my woodworking class was to make a papertray. Not because it’s cheaper to make a papertray than to buy one (it isn’t) but to learn a bit about precision by building something small that you will handle up close and notice the details, and to learn to use the table saw in a variety of ways.

I really like being able to shove my mobile tools around to the most useful places as I work.

The teacher recommended making the first one out of pine, which was a good idea, because I put the rabbets on the wrong sides of the tray, and it was almost square when assembled, and not big enough to hold a sheet of paper. Oops. I turned it into a drawer on my mobile bench, to hold my safety gear.

The second one was made out of Oak, and I was very careful with it. I still managed to have a litte gap to fill with wood putty, but overall I’d say it was a success. I’m definitly more comfortable with the table saw now.

For the paperweight I did a transfer from the inkjet printer of a line drawing of my trailer. It actually worked pretty well. Here’s how you do that.

And that’s it. I put a coat of laquer on the tray and paperweight, and it really looked nice when I got done. The ink didn’t react with the laquer, and everything is good. On to the next assignment.

Random Wood Shop Report

I had a nice weekend relaxing in the woodshop. Lots of little chores waiting to be done.

I bought a set of sturdy casters for my mobile bench (as well as 3 other sets for the other mobile stands). It rolls super smooth now!

My goal is to have everything mobile, and at the same level, so any of them can be pushed together to make room for working on bigger projects.

Sherry gave me a cabinet that got water damaged when their water heater broke and flooded the garage. I removed the water-logged bits and added plywood to get it back to shape. That’s going to be my new paint/finishing cabinet. Right now that stuff is everywhere!

It passes the Navi inspection

That was some good practice using the table saw. Definitly getting more comfortable with it. I thought this was a good time to build the push stick and push block for safer table saw use.

And then the final project was to move the vise. The vise has been mounted on the back corner of my stationary bench, which was fine in the old house, but completely unaccessable in the new layout, and I’ve been tolerating it for 8 years because I don’t need it often, but it’s frustrating when I do. So I removed it and mounted it to a piece of plywood that can be clamped to the bench when needed, and stores under the mobile bench when not being used.

And while puttering around, I organized my sandpaper into these nice plastic containers leftover from Dave’s shipping labels. He went through enough of them at Christmastime to organize my sandpaper perfectly.

Next project, the extra fancy paper tray! And I picked up some hardwood to do a little intarsia project with. Oh, and I have a nice set of hinges coming to fix the somewhat saggy wings on my miter saw stand, and when I do it will get the upgraded casters too. Also, I’m going to clean up the garage shelves and remove some of them to make parking the woodshop tools out of the way easier. Lots to do in the woodshop!

Woodworking Project: Pin Looms

I do not know much about weaving, but my friends in 4H do, and when one of them said they needed some pin looms for the kids to use to learn weaving in the new Fiber Arts Workshop they were organizing, I thought that sounded like a job for my new workshop. And also an excuse to go buy a drill press.

Going with pictures online, and the plans on this website

I set out to make 15 5.5 inch pin looms. I started out by taking 1 x 2s and ripping them in half on the table saw, then I cut them on the miter saw, using a stop block to make them all axactly the same, and cut the 60 sides I would need.

I glued them together using this neat frame clamp, but I had to bring them inside and do it on the dining room table, because it was too cold out in the garage for the glue to set. Then I drilled a hole in each corner and glued in an oak pin, to help hold them together if the kids dropped them, which is sure to happen. I sanded it all smooth so hopefully nobody gets any slivers. To sand them, I created another little jig on my bench that I could set them on to help hold them still while I sanded without risking having the sander whip them out of my hand, or sanding my fingers.

Then, using a guide clamped on my drill press table I used the template from the website, printed on heavy cardstock, to drill the holes in the correct positions, and the guide on the table ensured they were all in a neat line on each side. Then I just had to gently tap in about a million wire brads. The pre-drilled holes made them go in nice and straight without splitting the wood. The benchtop jig was again handy for keeping the frame still while I tapped away.

And in no time, it was done:

I was happy to be able to do this for the 4H club. I think its such a great program and helps the kids learn all kinds of life skills in addition to the animal care and craft skills, while having fun and making friends, of course. And I know the club would be hard pressed to have paid for these looms at a retail price, especially since they didn’t get to do their Christmas Tree Sale because of Covid this year. They cost me less than $20 and a bit of time, and I got to use ALL my woodshop tools, including the table saw for the first time(!) and I got practice using stop blocks and guides, I got practice creating a thing and then figuring out to make 14 more of them in the easiest way possible, and I got the satisfaction of a job well done.

Also, the last time I worked in my woodshop was when Barclay was sick, I finished staining and finishing the Garden Bench. He liked to come hang out with me in the garage and sleep on the floor because it was cool, even before he got sick. I didn’t really feel like getting back out there without my buddy. Then Christmas came and Dave was using the shop for his toy business, so there was no hurry. This was a nice little project to do to warm back up to it all.

I couldn’t have done this without the Weekend Woodworker course teaching me to think about jigs and stop blocks and things like that. I have owned my miter saw for about 20 years, building stuff on stage and around the farm, and not even once did I ever thinking of using a stop block! So the course has already made me a better woodworker, and I’ve only done three projects! I can’t wait to proceed to the next one!