Monday, January 30, 2012

Boat, Bumper and Desks

Taking it from the top: 

Worked on the boat a little bit this weekend. The bottom and transom are ready for some sanding on the interior side and then I can glue and screw them together. I ran a couple of the side planks thru the planer to see what I was going to be up against on that part of the job. It's going to be a little tricky to pull the front in without cracking the planks - looks like I might have to get the steam box out. I have the board clamped up and marked, so after cutting it I'll see what it looks like. I have the set-up for steaming and have done a couple things in the past. The wood bends really easily after it has been steamed for a while. If that's what it takes, OK. On a side note, I went to the non-motorized transportation meeting the other night and they were looking primarily for input on bicycle, jogging and equine paths, as well as canoe trails. They mentioned the Iroquois River and the little light came on. That's close by and would make a nice maiden voyage for the boat. A couple of days on the river could be fun - the Traveling Pirate might want to tag along with her kayak.

Photo two is a bumper one of my students made for his Jeep. He put this one together at the welding shop where he works part-time but wanted to bring it in and show it to me and grind/sand it down a little. The kid does some pretty good work. He and another student are finishing up the big-ass log splitter that's been sitting in the shop for a couple of years. They've only got a couple of more things to tack together then it'll be ready for finish welding and out the door. That's if I can find the guy it belongs to. He hasn't been around for a couple of years.

Photo three is this week's collection of broken desks. I don't mind fixing them but damn, you would think someone might be taking an interest in how they're getting broken. It's deliberate damage. The fools sit in them and push back until the seat back falls off or it will break when someone tries to bend it back. 

Photo four is like the elephant graveyard for desks. I need to go in there and scab some screws off a couple of the seat bases so we can repair the broken desktop in photo #3. The desks have screws with a real aggressive thread to hold the seats and tops on. Of course the screws always get lost before they get to me.

Tying in to my last post, The Wall Street Journal had an article in Saturday's paper addressing the underlying cause of much of what I've been seeing. In What's Wrong with the Teenage Mind? they discuss how kids reach puberty earlier but adulthood later. It must be that everybody who's anybody has finally figured out that something is definitely wrong with the young-uns and people are trying to make sense of it all. They describe the result as a lot of teenage weirdness. I'd have to agree with that. The solution? Like the comment Traveling Pirate left on the last post: have them take auto shop. Should start way before that, actually. You never know, we might see the return of Sloyd and Manual Training. We could do a lot worse -  just look at what we're doing now.

Supposed to get a little warmer the next few days. I've got some work to get done in my shop at home and I want to start on the electric for the barn. Should be in the high 40's instead of the 5 degree temps we usually get this time of year. Maybe come straight home from work and get some things done. Regardless of the weather, I've got plenty to keep me busy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Educational Soap Box

My buddy Kevin, who managed to crawl under the wire and escape last year, sent me a link to a really interesting article in the Indianapolis Star about the state of education in Indiana. Everyone has an opinion about educational reform but the focus of the article is simply that Indiana has it all wrong. As I say, everyone has an opinion, but the speaker they refer to in the article, Pasi Sahlberg, is someone who truly does know what the hell he's talking about. Read the article.

Going along in the same vein, or maybe in vain, I'm currently reading the book Reviving Work Ethic by Eric Chester. My observations I posted the other day about the abilities of the Woodshop boys, he confirms with scientific data. The current generation of high schoolers don't have any type of decent work ethic and he gives a real good explanation as to why that is so. He also explains what employers can do to maximize the production when you hire one of these critters. I'm a little over half way through the book and it's very good - explains a lot and confirmed that what I've been seeing is in fact how it is and not just one old fart bitchin' about the younger generation.

I received my Imprimis from Hillsdale College the other day and this months feature is adapted from a speech by Charles Murray titled: Do We Need the Department of Education? He proceeds to make his case against the DOE from both the constitutionality aspect and the functional aspect. Regardless of which angle you take it from, he maintains the answer is not only no, but hell no. "Probably we are today about where we were in math achievement in the 1960s." "The Department of Education spends about $200 million a year on research intended to improve educational practice. No evidence exists that these expenditures have done any significant good."

In Friday's Wall Street Journal an op-ed piece by Lenore Skenazy addressed the issue of the importance of child's play. The focus of the article is about a study that found preschoolers spend only about 2-3% of their day in vigorous activity. The main reasons are fear of injury and resulting law suits and falling behind educationally. The result: "In striving to make our kids super safe and super smart we have turned them into bored blobs. Fortunately, the remedy is as simple as it is joyful: just see the playground the way kids do. Not as an academic wasteland. Not as a lawsuit waiting to happen. Just the very best place to spend a whole lot of time."

My Man Mitch has proclaimed February 1st as Digital Learning Day in Indiana which coincides with the national day for the same thing. I got some e-mail thing all about it complete with links to see testimonials about how digital learning saved my life (to be honest, not sure what they said. I didn't check them out). While looking at the Wisdom of the Hands blog the other day I checked out a link he had posted that stated some of the geniuses in Silicon Valley who create all the technology send their children to a Waldorf school where the use of technology is limited.

So now I'm going to attempt to tie all of this together: We start by keeping kids off the playground because they need more educational time or we're afraid they're going to get hurt. This of course deprives them of the opportunity to learn how to interact  with others, develop their motor skills and fall down gracefully, which means that they will hurt themselves when the inevitable fall does occur.

Next we send them K-12 to a school in Indiana that, according to the man from Finland, is doing everything wrong. In addition to Indiana's misguided reforms, the feds, in spite of spending billions of dollars, can't get the math scores up any higher than what they were in the '60s and have succeeded in making college degrees just about worthless as well. And because they've managed to screw things up as royally as they have, the answer apparently is to have the little darlings sit in front a video screen even more than they do now and have digital learning come to the rescue.

So the end result of all of this is an education that allows a kid to graduate from high school with no real skills, no work ethic, a college degree that's not worth the powder it would take to blow it to hell, but he's got some really nice tattoos and he gets to wear flip-flops instead of real shoes. It's no wonder they can't make a simple footstool in the woodshop.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


I've got a couple of boys in the woodshop who are making a tool tote. The plans call for dovetails and there was a dovetail fixture in the back room but no instructions. Since I don't know shit from fat meat about cutting dovetails, I did an internet search and found the instructions but after wading threw those, I figured out that we didn't have the proper dovetail bit, straight bit or guide bushing. Those came in yesterday and after once again looking at the instructions and the new pieces, and some serious head scratching, I finally figured out how to work the whole affair. I went down on my lunch and put some scrap in the fixture and gave it a go. I need to adjust the depth stop for the one cutter a little, but other than that, it looks like I might be a woodworker after all. I'm going to have the boys cut some scraps about the same as the sides of the tote and do another run through. If everything looks good, we'll tackle their project.

While they were waiting for the dovetail parts to come in, I made up a fixture for them to drill 50 holes in a block of wood. A former student/gym member is getting into reloading of pistol ammo and mentioned that he needed some boxes to keep the cartridges in. The fixture's pretty simple to use. You put pins in the one set of holes to the left of the block, snug the block up to the first pin, drill the hole, remove a pin, snug the block, drill. When you get the first series of holes drilled, flip the block over and repeat. When you get those done, remove the spacer block on the backstop and repeat the drilling using the other set of holes in the fixture, etc. It's kind of boring but it kept them busy doing something useful for a couple of days. We're going to make a few more of the blocks and then make a little shelf unit/box you can stack the cartridge blocks 4 or 5 high. Maybe put a hinged front or a slide dealie of some sort so you could take them to the range safely.

The rest of the group is still working on making footstools/scrap wood. I'm still amazed that most of these guys have never made anything before. They haven't developed any sort of spatial reasoning or the ability to follow oral instructions even with an included sketch. It's just a real good thing that our school still offers some shop classes. I had a couple of my guys take the entrance exam to get into the Pipefitter's Union about a week ago. I've seen the prep booklet for the test and most of the guys in that woodshop class wouldn't stand a chance. Damn shame, too. Some nice kids but most of them couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

I picked up the wood for the sides on the boat Tuesday before Open Shop. Might be about all I get done on the thing this week. I had a meeting after school yesterday and I have another this afternoon. I'm planning on leaving the gym early tonight to attend another meeting later in the evening. This one will be at the town hall. The Big Cheese for regional transportation planning will be hosting the meeting. It's scheduled to be about bicycle lanes, paths and such. I want to hear what's what on this stuff. Maybe get my two cents worth in. From what I've read, this guy is pretty bicycle friendly. There is no more efficient means of transportation than a bicycle, other than a fish, that is. It'd be good for all of us to get a few cars off the road and to get some much needed exercise.

I blew the dust off the VW the other night. I'm going to try and get a little bit done on that in the near future. Make it my Open Shop project. Might not get much done but it's a plan. It was pretty busy the other night. I even welded up a couple of little pieces for my buddy so he could mount a Ducati 125 Bronco motor on his engine stand. I'd never even seen one of those motors before. He's got a complete bike he's going to try and get running by May. That's pretty cool - looking forward to seeing that when it's done. Maybe even bum a test ride from him.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Busy, Busy

Scarf Joint

New Interior Wall & Cabinets

Busy weekend. Did some plowing and shoveling Saturday morning. It was cold out but a nice sunny winter day. Sunday was supposed to warm up, and it did, but the sun never came out and it started to rain a little. My old bones are not a fan of the cold and damp. I was going to work in my shop a do a little machine work but took a pass. By the time I got it warmed up it would have been time for football.

I did finish putting up the OSB and the handrail/top cap in the upstairs of the barn. I also hung a couple of cabinets the woodshop boys made. They're nothing fancy but they'll do nicely. We inherited a bunch of cabinet doors, the rest of the stuff is leftovers. I've got a cabinet in my shop that has most of my woodworking hand tools in it that I'll get around to transferring one of these days.

I went over to school and got the two pieces of plywood for the bottom of the boat glued together - did a couple of other little jobs and put some grades in the computer while I was there. I still need to spend a little time sorting and organizing but not sure if there will even be a woodshop program next year. The state is changing everything to Career Pathways which is more vocational. I'm scheduled to go to a meeting about all this in a couple of weeks, so I should know more then. We'll probably be good for next year and that should take care of me.

My screws, glue and copper rivets for the boat came in last week, so I should be able to get the bottom on the boat this week. I'll pick up some wood for the sides and maybe be able to get a couple of boards hung on this week as well. I got my oars, oarlocks and oarlock brackets ordered. I'm fired up about the project now, plus I'm starting to get some real money invested in the thing. No point in sitting on it. I'll be able to go fishing in my Martin skiff this spring.

I put a new link up to the Handverker blog. The guy teaches machining/design/metal working at the college level- puts up some beautiful work of both his students and himself. He seems to be a lot like me. He's into bikes, both with and without motors, VW's and making cool things. Unlike me, he's got one hell of an eye for design and the artistic side of metal working. Lots of stuff made with the latest and greatest CNC. Definitely worth a look.

Have a good week. I'm going to build a boat.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Week End Update

Welding the Trolley Beam

Boat With Battens

Scarf Joint 
The weather has definitely decided it's time for winter. It got cold last night and we've gotten quite a bit of snow this afternoon and evening. I was going to stay after school for a little bit and work on the boat but decided it was a better idea to just head home. 

The lower picture shows the scarf joint on one piece of the plywood that's going to become the bottom.I wasn't real sure how to best go about putting the scarf on the sheets but I figured I darn sure wasn't good enough with a hand plane to cut them. I finally settled on making a fixture for using a circular saw. The saw rides on the ledge created by the board clamped on in the photo. I set the angle to give me a scarf about an inch and a half back on the 1/2" plywood and just ran the saw across the end of the sheet. I didn't get the two glued together due to the weather but I'm hoping to get over to school some time this weekend and take care of that.

The middle picture shows the progress on the boat itself. I put some battens on to determine the placement of the side boards/strakes. I got the inner stem glued to the chine logs and those planed so they blend into the stem nicely. I need to fasten the chine logs to the transom yet and then it'll be time to put the bottom on. Again- might be able to get in there this weekend and get that taken care of. If not, next week for sure.

The top photo shows the boys welding up the trolley beam. I need to make a plate for the bottom of it on one end for bolting it to the column and weld that on. And then make the column, of course. Hopefully that'll get done next week. We knocked off a little early today to get things cleaned up real well. I've had them shut down the school early due to the weather with very little warning in the past. Figured today was a good day to do a good cleaning and sweeping and if they sent us home early, the tools would be all picked up and the floor swept at least. I filled in for the department head at a meeting the other night and the boss mentioned getting things cleaned up and spit shined for our up coming visit from the outside inspectors. He didn't mention me specifically but he didn't have to - I got the hint. I was already working on that anyway. Always a good idea to clean house when company's coming.

Have to see how the weather is in the morning and how much snow we ended up with to decide what I work on at home this weekend. We got the 2x4's for the wall caps cut today and I brought them home. I've got a job in the milling machine I want to finish up also. So it'll be one or all of either boatbuilder, machinist or carpenter - after I get done shoveling and plowing, that is.

Stay warm.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Photo From Here
A louver press, that's what I need. When I made the little midget thing for the grandson a couple of years ago I could have used one on that project. If I ever pull the rag out and start working on a couple of my car projects, I wouldn't mind throwing a couple of louvers into the mix. I also need a sheet metal brake. We've got a little 24" one at school but a 48" box and pan brake at the shack would be just the ticket. I did get started back up on the wooden boat project today - louvers probably not a good idea there, though. I ordered some screws and the copper rivets to start putting the thing together and did a little fitting on the false stem after school. I need to turn up the jets on that project. I should have the plywood for the bottom scarfed and glued together this week. When the screws come in, I'll be able to see some real progress. We shot the first instructional video today in the Weld Shoppe - setting up the oxy-acetylene torch, lighting and making a cut. We just kind of winged it, no telling how it turned out. We'll be making several more in the future. I want to do one on the TIG welder next. Trolley beam's coming along right smartly - almost done. Next step is to make the column to support it. We've been tearin' it up on the projects.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wrapped Up

I got the aluminum wrapped around the boards on the peak yesterday. I also installed an eye bolt and a pulley, might be kind of hard to see the pulley in the picture though. In spite of the modern doors, it gives it a little "old-timey" look. I took down most of the scaffolding and I'll take back the stuff from school this morning. I need to see if I can get a piece of treated plywood for the scaffold planks in 7/16". The plywood slips inside an aluminum extrusion and 1/2" is too big. I'd like to fix the planks before I return them as a thank you for letting me borrow them. I'll load up the remaining scaffold section and get that back this week as well.

The cheapie drill did much better with a full charge when I screwed in a few of the sheets of OSB. I need to get  my circular saw out to trim a couple of the sheets before I can finish that job but after finishing up the flashing, taking down the scaffolding and screwing in the sheets, my hands were cold and it was lunch time so I said good enough.

I need to start thinking electricity so I can get a couple of lights in there and get the automatic garage door opener taken care of for the Missus. One outlet and a couple of lights downstairs should be good enough. Upstairs I'll need a couple of lights and enough power to run the saws and jointer. No hurry on that, but I'd like to start on a floor plan of where everything is going to go, so I can get the conduit run to the right spots. We're making a router table at school that's about done and I want to make a table for the miter saw also. I figure I've got about a year and a half before I no longer have access to the school, so it's not a rush. I also know how I am about procrastinating. Might as well stay busy. I'll see about building the deck off the end this spring and pouring a sidewalk. That and the stairs and it's a done deal.

Have a good week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter's Here

I had yesterday off due to the snow. We didn't really get a lot but it always drifts out here in the country. I spent about an hour and a half outside shoveling and plowing. Walked the almost 1/4 mile down to the mailbox later in the day and found out that the only mail in the pile that belonged to me was the newspaper it was wrapped in. So I took another walk to give the neighbors their mail - they had a piece of mine by the way - and all of this was after the mail lady dropped off a package at the house. If she comes up the driveway to deliver a package, the mail still goes in the box. So I got almost a mile in of quality walking in the cold and blowing snow. Spent the rest of the day screwing off. However the day before I got some stuff done, by golly.

The photos show the artsy-fartsy piece I made and the beginning of the trolley beam. I made the iron work around the outside of the "art work" piece a couple of years ago at the blacksmith shop. I found the raccoon skull along the railroad tracks a few years back. Figured the two of them should go together so I cut a piece of copper left over from another job and fastened it on with some 8-32 screws. I need to shine up the iron just a little more and then put some linseed oil on it to keep it from rusting. I'm not sure where I'm going to hang it yet, but it's one I can put in the finished column. To the right of the artwork is the clip for my bib overalls. The piece on the bottom broke so I soldered it back together. Now I can wear my flannel lined bibs. We got another desk into the shop but didn't get to it due to the snow. I did fix the popcorn machine, though. It's a curse, I'm telling you.

The trolley beam won't take long to finish up. I'm planning on taking the circular stair into school this week and fixing it. When I get them both done I'll paint them both at the same time. The building inspector came by last week to check out the barn - told me if I didn't here anything from him, all's well. So far I haven't heard anything. I was a little concerned about the couple of sheets in the back that I just stuck back up where the stair hit it. I'm planning on getting those swapped out as soon as weather permits anyway. We'll see if the phone rings next week. I did get my flashing for the peak bent up today. I'm planning on installing that tomorrow and then taking down the scaffolding. My cheapie cordless drill came yesterday when the mail lady came up the lane. While I was outside doing my walkies, I drove a few screws into the OSB for the upstairs wall. It didn't do much but I'm hoping it just needed a charging. I'm planning on hanging a few more sheets up tomorrow after finishing the flashing. I'll pick up some 2x4's and make a railing around the top of the 4' high wall and that'll be good. I'm planning on cutting one edge of the 2x4's at a 45 degree angle so I won't be able to set anything on the railing or hang something from the edge of the sheet. After that, I'd say I'm about 99% done on the barn. I'm ready to move on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Going to End Well

Photo from here

You can pretty much tell this isn't going to end well, at all. Even the great ones like Geoff Duke sometimes have a bad day at the office.

My day actually went pretty good yesterday. I got the boys in the Woodshop started on building an Arts and Crafts style footstool. It should be made out of oak but were taking the cheaper approach and using pine. The project doesn't take much material and should keep them busy for awhile. Besides, they might actually learn a little somethin'. If I had more time I would have made one up ahead of them like Norm does on the New Yankee Workshop. They'll have to use most of the tools in the shop to complete the project, so it'll be a good experience. It'll be interesting to see how well they do on something a seventh grader would have made 40 years ago. I'm continually amazed by how little these guys know. However, one nice thing about it, it's not too hard to tell if they're learning anything or not. When they get the stools finished up, I'll post a photo and you can be the judge.

I did a little artsy-fartsy work during Open Shop last night. I should have the project completed in a couple of days and I'll post a photo then. Actually it was tying up a loose end rather than starting a new project - so that's a good thing. I'm working on cleaning up the shop at school, doing a little long over due cleaning out of the corners, some maintenance, etc. I've got a couple more little jobs that need to be finished or thrown out as well.  I'm actually working my way over to the Volkswagen. I got a little work done on the trolley beam for the barn last night too.

I talked to my colleague who does the video productions and we're going to start making some instructional videos next week. I can post these on my Moodle page (when I finally figure out how to Moodle), so if a kid is absent or needs a refresher, he can check out the video. I've been wanting to do this for a couple of years. I think I'm going to start with  oxy-acetylene torch set-up and operation. If that goes well, put a short video together on operating all the rest of the welders and the plasma cutter.

Yep, good day.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

All Closed In!

The barn is finally all closed in. I got the last of the sheet metal hung this afternoon and I celebrated with a big shot of limoncello that I've been saving since I went to Italy this spring. I measured up the pieces on the peak and I've got a piece of flashing large enough to make what I need. I think I can get that bent up and installed this week. The weather man is still forecasting warm temperatures at least until Wednesday. If I get that done I can tear down the scaffold and return it.

Now I'll watch a little football and grade some papers. Boy it feels good to have that wrapped up.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pert Near

Another beautiful day for working on the barn and doing just about any other thing outside except winter sports. I'm almost done with hanging sheets. I need to put the trim on the last fly rafter and then cover about nine feet of wall to call it done. Hooray! The weather should be plenty good enough to get that done tomorrow. I still need to trim out the peak but after looking at it, I think I just wrap the 2x6's that stick out and leave the bottom side open - maybe get a hook and pulley up there like the old hay mows would have had. I'll measure the length tomorrow and figure out what I need to finish trimming out the doors downstairs. I'll get some more aluminum and the brake and bend everything I need at one time.

I picked up some OSB the other day to put the walls up on the inside of the upstairs. Next time some extra hands show up I'll have them give me a hand passing them up. I'm going to make a four foot high wall around the perimeter which will give me a 16 x 32' area for my woodshop/he-man women haters club. It won't take long to get those installed - just put them up against the vertical members of the trusses and screw them in. I bought a new cordless drill that should make the job go pretty fast. It should be here Monday. The old one gave it up about two weeks ago. It was just a cheap one from Harbor Freight and I bought another cheapie to replace it with. I was concerned about spending the money for a good one with the lithium-ion battery because I had heard they didn't work very well in the cold. Since I'm about done with most of the heavy construction on the barn, the new cheapie drill should be good enough. I've been using a corded drill to fasten in the sheets and it's not much of an inconvenience. I have to run the extension cord out there to use the nibbler and it's not like you can travel far while you're on the scaffold.

Still have got plenty to do but it should be closed in tomorrow.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

South End

From This
To This
Pretty good day yesterday. I got the scaffold torn down on the north end and then got everything moved and set up on the south end. I did some work on the inside as well. First thing was to cover up the hole where the stairs go and put up a railing so I wouldn't fall threw the hole while I was working that corner. I then tackled the big doors. They got a little whacked out of shape during the big crunch. I had made up a "wishbone" kind of thing to put over the doors to strengthen and line everything back up, so I got that installed. It took a lot of the shake out of the top of the wall over the doors. The doors open and close pretty well now but I'm going to make up some gussets for the top corners and some plates along the side so nothing will shift back out of square. I'll make those up next week at school. Hung a few purlins and got the one fly rafter wrapped with aluminum. All in all, pretty damn productive day.

The weather was absolutely beautiful for the 4th of January. It got up to about 40 and the sun was shining nicely until about 1:30. Nice working on the south side with the sun shining on my back. It wasn't quite so nice when I was inside working and had to look out but I'm not complaining. Nice of Mother Nature to throw me a bone. The weather is supposed to be decent again today so I'll keep on keeping on.

I'm not sure how I'm going to trim out the peak yet.That might call for a little head scratching. I'll be able to tell a little better once I get the scaffold moved and start the trim up to the peak. Looks like I might be able to get it closed in by Sunday. The peak and the doors will slow the sheeting down some but I'll just take my time and whatever gets done, gets done. I don't want to get in  hurry and screw something up or get hurt.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Waitin' for Daylight

Photo from here
I got a chance to see Agostini and get his autograph a few years back at Mid Ohio.  One of the greatest, if not the greatest, road racer until Valentino Rossi came along. 
Can't remember where I saw this one - just looking for an excuse to post it.
Photo from here
Exotic MV Agusta. Still came with the crappy Italian electrical switches though.

Killing a little time on the computer this morning while waiting for the sun to come up and burn the frost off the scaffolding. I finished the north side of the barn yesterday - a little cold out but no wind to speak of. Trim and sheeting all installed and looking pretty good. It's the side I can see from the house so it's nice to see it all done. I've got some cleaning up to do yet before it's a real picturesque scene, but it's the picture of progress. I'll post a real picture later. I need to straighten out the big pile of firewood and move some junk but the first item on the menu is to get the scaffold set up on the south end.

The south end still needs a little repair work and the purlins installed before I can start hanging sheet metal. It's going to take a little work setting up the scaffold due to the ground sloping away from the building but I've got concrete blocks and the 2x10's from the lifting cradle. Like everything else, just a matter of time. The weather looks to be good the next few days so I should be able to get quite a bit done. I've got to go to school Friday but hopefully, I should have most everything finished by next Monday. I hope so. I'm getting too old to be climbing up and down scaffolding and ladders all day and the Building Trades class might need the scaffold platforms back. The building will be closed in and fully functional after that. That's going to make me happy. It'll be back to building a boat and motorcycles after that. Yippy-skippy!