Monday, May 27, 2013

In memorandum 
Year 13, Week 18, Day Three (week 694)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-27-13 Monday - Memorial Day

88 degrees, loads of grey puffs with blue sky between, and no sunshine. We did get a couple dots of liquid Sunshine while driving but none fell on us directly. This Weather report is brought to you by the City Of Lantana Florida Department of Tourism.

It was Memorial day today. We decided to go visit Dad's grave in the National Cemetery in Palm Beach County.

My dad was born in 1917. He served in World War 2 as a Tank Destroyer driver with Patton's army. Many years after the war, he met my mom and convinced her to marry him. Together, they raised four children, I am the youngest of them, working at the Bethlehem Steel Mill in Seattle as a crane operator.

My dad was a can-do person. He built our house from scratch, digging the basement by hand in clay soil after the house was built. As I was growing up, He could fix cars, work electricity, put up fences, grow a wonderful garden each year, cook when necessary. He seemed to be able to do absolutely anything.

When I was in highschool, I was trying to decide what kind of person I should be. I was stunned when It dawned on me that I should be Dad. I have to admit that I failed. My brother is very much like dad.

In the late 70s, Mom and Dad moved to Florida, and six months later I came to visit and never had the money or brains enough to leave....

In his retirement which was at 58, Dad was busy with all sorts of projects. He learned many crafts and hobbies. He kept complaining that he was so busy he needed to retire.

In the years around 1999, I would come up to visit Mom and Dad and would sit and write on the laptop, or build wooden structures for my model railroad. Dad's main hobby at the time was wood carving. It dawned on me that he was in his 80s and I did not want that "I WISH I SAID, I WISH I HAD DONE" situations. I took a piece of wood and borrowed one of his knives and did my first carving. I am still proud of that carving. I did others. I jokingly tell people that the way Dad taught me to carve was to pat me on the head and say "very good, carve another one".

He did teach me to make knives, provided tools for many projects such as introducing me to the lathe. Ie provided inspiration to make even more carvings, and do them even when he was in the hospital.

I never realized how good a wood carver he really was until during his last few years. He did projects such as making clay faces of my brother's and sister's children that were so good you could recognize who they were. He intended to carve them in wood but never got to that. He made accurate elk, and chainsaw carved. His favorite subject though, was cowboys, golfers, and clowns, in the Ozark flat plane style of carving.

I did not accurately copy his style. Mine was more modern sloppy... I guess you would call it. I do love complex positions of the people, bent legs and arms, kneeling, sitting, When Dad carved a woman, you knew it was a woman even if she was dressed as a man. I have to use the hair and other features for my carvings to day "woman."

Now my dad, in his years, painted paintings, did string pictures, macrame, worked in clay and in wood. He tried just about everything before he settled totally on wood carving and scroll sawing.

Dad taught me to be a devout believer in hobbies. Up until the last couple months of his life, he was busy with is crafts and hobbies rather than sitting in a rocking chair and waiting. In his last days, scroll sawing was his hobby, making ornate clocks. Curves were very easy for him and he did them with great accuracy, but Mom had to do straight lines for him as he could not seem to cut a straight line any more.

Dad would likely have lived to be a hundred except he kept hurting himself. He was on a bicycle and having replaced the brakes, had them adjusted wrong. He hit the brakes hard because of a fast truck and he went head over heals and broke his hip. He recovered nice from there. Another time he was showing a friend a cut on the band saw and touched the blade with the back of his hand, cutting the tendons. Many years later, he pinched a nerve in his back and had pain in his leg after that. a while later he was bending down to pick something up and he fell down breaking his other hip. He did not recover as fast this time as he was afraid of falling.

One day, He was working on a scroll saw project in the garage. He walked out front in the bright sun shining on the white pavement and walls. He went into the house which was extremely dark. He could not see. He took hold of the arm of the chair and sat down, but he was on the wrong side of the arm, not grabbing both arms as the doctors tried to teach him. He landed on the floor and broke his arm. He went down hill from there. a few months later, his body started shutting down. He was able to attend Thanksgiving, but died a couple days later. Mom was with him and my brother and I arrived a few hours later.

He is now buried in the Lantana National Cemetery, placed there before it opened to the public. Usually, at least twice a year, Mom and I go and visit his grave and remember the wonderful times we had with him.

I am really ashamed to admit that he was my father. That is because I fear people will expect more out of me. The same goes for my Mom. They are both so talented and wonderful that there is no way I can live up to their standards.

I have loads of projects to do next week, along with materials that need to be used up. I am not going to even hazard a guess as to what I will end up doing. I will leave that to what interests me and what comes up at the time.
I will see what I actually do next week.

 Step ladder I picked up at a yard sale.
 A wind up alarm clock that I picked up at a yard sale
 Frog and turtle figurines I got at a yard sale. Might use them as something to go by when carving them.
 Knife set I picked up at a yard sale. I donated it to our minister's wife.
 Buffing machine I received for my birthday

 Mom behind Dad's gravestone.
 Me behind my father's grave stone
Dad's grave has the yellow flower in front of it.

Pasta roller / cutter I got for my birthday

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Year 13, Week 18, Day 0ne (week 694)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-25-13 Saturday
    86 degrees, sunny with clouds, nice wind. This weather report is brought to you by the City of Pompano Department of Tourism.   
Went Yard sailing. We hit several yard sales. At one, I picked up a set of twelve kitchen knives. It had six steak knives. These were on the idea of the "As Seen On TV" knives where they can cut pipe and leather without dulling them. I also got a frog and turtle figurines that can be used as go-bys-- you use them to go by while carving something similar.
At another yard sale, I picked up a aluminum step stool. At home I have a tall ladder and chairs in order reach something high. This step stool will help on that.
Mom picked up a buffer used for car finishes and handed it to me saying, "happy birthday." My birthday is next month, but tomorrow we are combining my birthday, my brother's birthday which is at the end of the month, and Labor day.

I've been digging into my kitchen to see what I will never use or have too many of. I found that I had a couple dozen cooking spoons and spatulas so I sorted them out and set aside some to give away.

I also had a bunch of wooden spoons and spatulas. Many did not look in fantastic condition. While packing to go to mom's it dawned on me that I am a wood worker. I can fix them up. I have the technology!
Later in the day, I sat outside and sanded on them to refresh the finish. A couple are soaked with oil, which is not a problem but that would not sand out so I did not try. I did sand the surface a little anyway. My sanding improved the look of most of them.
I gave mom a couple items from my kitchen stash. The metal stems of some scoops had a little bit of corrosion that a Brillo pad would not touch. I used the dremmel to knock down the corrosion and touched it with emery boards (the kind for your finger nails) There were a few little pits but otherwise they cleaned up nicely. I have some more at home that needs that kind of work.

I went to a party at about lunch time and donated the knives to the hostess. She thanked me when I gave them to her, and she thanked me again later. That always brings a smile.
I went to a fellowship meeting at night and gave the kitchen stuff I had gathered. I told them to keep what they want and pass on the rest. One of the women commented about five spatulas....

Tomorrow is supposed to be a combined birthday party and Memorial day cook out. My tendinitis is not cured yet so I won't try to bring my carving basket and carve figurines.

I will see what happens tomorrow.

Year 13, Week 18, Day Two (week 694)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-26-13 Sunday
    I have no idea what the temps were. I was under a nice cool oak tree all day long. The sky was blue with wisps of really high clouds. The breeze was just enough to keep things even cooler. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Fort Lauderdale Department of Tourism.
    We combined my brother's and my birthday parties and Memorial day. We are within a couple weeks of each other. The specific day is never important to us. For me, other than the presents, it would not bother me to forget the day.
    I realized I did not have a card for my brother, so I grabbed some colored felt pens. I was not sure what kind of art to do on the card. He has a red pickup truck that he is working on, so I drew a red truck. I then wondered what to do next, so I drew his shed. I then drew a person inside and then the stand for the machining lathe he has. I wrote Happy Birthday on the outside. I also added grass all around since that is basically what is around his shed. I then added a nice message on the inside. I even made his envelope and that was his card. It came out pretty good. He looked at the picture of the card and said "That is about it."  I forgot to take pictures of it.
    My brother's house is always dark and tends to be crowded so I stay outside all day. We have been lucky as our gatherings have not had more than a passing shower in all the years we have had them there.
    There were a lot of people I had not met in years, or never met so that made for good conversation.
    My brother had to go to a job so he did not come home until later in the day. Because of that, we did not do any metal working or any other project.
    My tendinitis has not healed enough yet to do any carving with a knife. Because of this, I did not bring my carving basket. I did not bring the Dremmel either. Too much hassle and not good to become covered in dust.
    The food was cooked in dribs and drabs and by the time they were done cooking, everybody was full. They had loads of food and I cannot eat anywhere near as much as I used to. I did over eat anyway.
    They finally passed out our gifts. I got a book on HEALING SECRETS OF NATIVE AMERICANS and I got a gift card. I then got a WOW gift.
    Mom gave me a pasta roller, something I have wanted to get for a couple years. All I could say for a while was     WOW!
     Every once in a while, I will make my own pasta. I use an egg noodle recipe found in a 1949 copy of GOOD HOUSEKEEPING COOKBOOK. The biggest problem I had was I could never get the pasta thin enough. When I used mixed grain flour it is so thick that it is like rubber.
    This pasta roller also has a noodle cutter attachment with it. This is one sweet machine. NO motor, but crank powered, which I kind of like. It fits with my crank meat grinder.
    It is going to take some doing to avoid making some pasta immediately. I may make some in the next couple weeks to try it out.
    Tomorrow, Mom and I are planning to visit my Dad's grave at the Lantana National Cemetery. I have no idea if I will work wood after that. We will have to see.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Year 13, Week 17, Day 0ne (week 693)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-18-13 Saturday
    86 degrees early morning, 94 as the high, mostly blue sky with the exception of a late morning Everglades thunder bumper that cried over us then disappeared. What momentary drizzle that came down, blown over us from the anvil head, evaporated almost as fast as it fell. A good brisk breeze kept the air feeling cool. This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    We saw two yard sales and they had nothing of interest.  I have started looking at what I have in my kitchen and considering what I will never use, with the idea of possibly gifting it, passing it on or yard sailing them.
    Mom got her back yard back in order again. It looks pretty much like it did before. The side yard is a bit of a problem as the lawn along side the neighbor's house has been replaced by sand. The wind blows it around, mostly onto mom's walkway. They are discussing solutions that do not involve a watering system for the lawn.
    Flowers are blooming like mad. Will have to get pictures into another note sometime later.
    The local Ace Hardware store is about three blocks away. Mom needed something so I went with her.
A couple months ago, they completely re-arranged the store. I was looking around today and found they have a whole “drool” isle. Most hardware stores have Dremmel bits on display. This store had all the RIGHT Dremmel bits on display. It had accessories for drills, routers, cutting tools, just about anything I would actually use. I forced , myself to walk through it fast before I grabbed an arm load. That will be for LATER.
    I went out back almost immediately and set up to get to work. Feeling a little lazy, I put up a folding table and brought out the little machine lathe. I've wanted to make a set of crochet hooks in black walnut for a while. Last week, I made two rods of the specified sizes based on a sizing template I have.
    Today I decided to continue making more rods. The template has sizes A throughF stepped at a quarter of a millimeter size, from two millimeters to 3 1/4 mm. Sizes G through K are half millimeter spacing up to 6 1/2 mm. L through P are single MM spacing ending at 16 mm.
    I was machining the rods as I would if they were metal, using all the same techniques except that wood is softer, easier to take big cuts, and a bit more flexible. I had an idea and decided to test it to get better accuracy in my turning.
    In the past, I would work from one end going down the rod to slightly larger than the size I needed, and then turn the rod around and work the next end. In this process, I would find the center of the unworked end when I turned it around which would cause some inaccuracy in the middle of the rod.
    What I did this time was to mark where my center was going to be on each end and then "rough round" one end of the square or rectangular rod with a knife (a grinder if metal). I would stick that end in the chuck. with metal working, the lathe has a three jaw chuck which is great for holding round stock but not suited for rectangular or square stock. I would mark the center on the other end and put that in the tail stock. I then machine just the end of the tail stock end until it is round. It does not have to be anywhere near the finished diameter, just completely round.
    I flip the rod around. The chuck is now holding a nicely centered round end. I machine the rest of the rod as far as the tool rest positioning will allow. To get the end by the tail stock, the width of the carnage of the tool rest prevents you to work near the chuck.
    I get the accessible rod close or even at the diameter I am after. I then flip the rod around and machine the first end until it is the same diameter as the rest of the rod. The whole rod is already centered and when I reach the already finished diameter it is in line. I usually will sand or file down to the final diameter I need.
    As I worked down to smaller diameter rods, I found a little problem. I have known about this but it became a bigger and bigger problem as they became smaller. The middle of the rod would bow out slightly as the tool passed over it. This caused the rod to be thicker there with each pass.
    A solution for this bowing problem is something called A STEADY REST. Depending on the materials and the size the steady rest could be wheeled or essentially metal surface. It goes behind the work opposite the cutter to provide the support to prevent bowing. A steady rest (wheeled ones usually) can also be used to support the work while working on the end of a long piece.
    I don't have a steady rest set up so I took emery boards used for fingernails and held them behind the rods to reduce the bowing. Since it was sand paper, it would assist in smoothing and straightening the work.
    Since I started early in the day and the first rods I worked on were fairly large and not subject to bowing, I had good production. Last week, I had made a L and K sized rods. Today I made six rods, J, I, H, #7 (which matches the knitting #7 at 4 ½ mm), G, and F rods.
    The rods will have to be sanded more before they the hooks for the crochet is cut into them. The simple rule is that if the rod fits into one hole in the template but not the next smaller one, that is the size of the rod. All my rods just barely go through the holes they are sized for. With sanding, they will fit better later.
    Having worked for several hours, I cleaned up and put everything away before taking it easy the rest of the day.

  Finished rods stuck into proper holes in template

    I have no idea what I will work on tomorrow. I have loads of projects and even more ideas for project (and even more wood than that).
    I will have to see what I actually do tomorrow.  
Year 13, Week 17, Day Two (week 693)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-19-13 Sunday
    88 degrees in the morning 94 degrees in the afternoon. Blue sky and sun all around except on the horizon -- ultra high thin wisps to the east, puffs far to the west. A good strong breeze made the air feel cool when seated for work. This weather report was brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    Before I went to Mom's house, I finished off a scarf I've worked on at Mom's house and doctor's offices for a while. I worked this scarf from end to end, rather than side to side. When you work side to side, you set the width of the scarf at the start, and then work out the length by the amount of yarn you have or your intended length. When you work end to end, you set the length, in this case six feet long, and then work to develop the width by how many rows you want to do.
    This morning I added the tassels to the ends. I still had lots of yarn left. Mom trimmed a few long tassels to make it finished, but she said it was really good.
    I did a chain for another six foot long scarf to do at doctor's offices and other places. This will be a burgundy (reddish purple) scarf. I am thinking of changing up the stitch as I work across it.


 Finished 6'-0" long scarf

    I set up the mini metal lathe to work with more crochet rods. I was having a problem with the automatic feed so I partially disassembled the lathe and made some adjustments. I found that an eigth turn of the adjustment screw made a dramatic change in the way the controls operated. Too tight and it would bind, too loose and there was slop. I got rid of some old sawdust in the tight corners of the machine and lubricated a few items before getting back together. It helps to know where the controls are so one can do quick adjustments while operating. A couple were plainly visible but I was thinking those screws were something else.
    Now I was doing what I figured would be the smallest rod I would do in my crochet hook set I am making in black walnut. My experience yesterday said that this E sized (3.5 mm) hook would be a little difficult to make due to the bending of the wood in the middle. I had a piece of wood bigger than it needed to be, but small enough that I was not wasting wood for this rod.
    I used my method of rough rounding one end, placing that into the chuck and rounding the opposite end, then flipping it and rounding the rough end. One thing about rounding the end is that you eliminate the flats of the wood if you miss the exact center. You know how much wood you are working with. If you really messed up on the centering, you would know it before you go any farther. You might grab another piece of stock and use this one for something else.
    I got the wood mostly rounded, except for some flat still showing in the middle. I found that the best way to get the middle down to size was to work back and forth over a short area, then move over more. I got it round and it looked close to the size needed. I tested and it was too big, especially in the middle so I worked on down.
    I was close but still a bit too big so I took two emery boards and squeezed the spinning stock between them, working them back and forth over it. This did two things, it sanded the extra thickness away and the two boards squeezed on the work reduced the give or bouncing of the wood.
    I found that part of the rod fit into the "D" (3 1/4 mm) hole so I ended up making the rod fit that hole all the way through. A quarter of a millimeter is not much material. In actuality, one removes half the material you want to remove because you are working with half the diameter when you are cutting. This is a very small rod and likely subject to breakage if used rough, but I made it anyway. This forces me to make one more small rod, the E rod. I won't go smaller. I have three larger rods to make now. An to think that I eventually plan to make several more sets of these.
    After that  one rod, I cleaned up and went home.
    I have no idea what I will do next week. I do have that one last rod to make. In crochet and knitting, there are two ways of holding the needles/hooks. One way is like a pencil, and the other way is like a knife. These rods will get a handle to make it comfortable for holding them like a knife.
    Like this week, I have loads of projects in process, even more ideas and enough wood to keep me busy for several years, "IF" I choose the project based on the wood. If I choose the project first and look for the wood, I don't have anything.....
    I will see what I actually do next weekend.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Image is adaptation of David Russell's original book cover
There are several milestones any writer hopes to achieve within their life and career, and thanks to the folks at Dynamic Ram Audio and Pro Se Productions, I have just reached another one.

The first book I ever had published, let alone the first installment within the HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE series, has just been released on audio!

Read and narrated by voice actor Pete Milan with engineering by Chris Barnes, this audio file is a complete and unabridged presentation of all eight stories that appeared in the first Hugh Monn book in a seven and a half hour production that can be played on your Kindle, Iphone, Ipad, Android, etc.

“Pete Milan,” says Tommy Hancock, partner and Editor In Chief of Pro Se Press and the publisher's new Voice of Pro Se imprint, “channels the voice of Lee Houston’s Hugh Monn perfectly. The Voice of Pro Se debut release, Hugh sounds like a 1950s type detective, but plies his trade in a futuristic setting. In just the same way Lee blended those two things seamlessly together, Pete’s take on the stories has the nearly hard boiled edge you’d expect from a great PI tale, but there’s also that flexibility a good science fiction tale demands of a narrator. Hands down, the team of Milan and Houston make HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE an audio book must have.

"I am a major fan of Audio Fiction, from old time radio shows to modern day audio drama and especially audio books. And our first trip into the medium was a great experience and to have Chris Barnes, our engineer the first time around and the man behind Dynamic Ram Audio Productions now, on board for this debut as well as what is coming, it just couldn’t be any better.”

Everyone can listen to the Hugh Monn trailer here:

The audio book, along with an excerpt from the production, can be found at here

Cover by David Russell
And of course, don't forget that the next book in the HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE series will be coming out soon as Hugh is hired as a security consultant when actress Ruby Kwartz comes to the island nation of Galveston 2 to record a new vid. But what was supposed to be an easy assignment turns deadly when Hugh discovers that everyone around Ruby has a hidden agenda, and someone wants to make sure this production will be her last.

So I hope everyone is looking forward to CATCH A RISING STAR, which is not only Hugh's latest caper, but is also his first full novel length adventure.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Year 13, Week 16, Day 0ne (week 692)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-11-13 Saturday
90 degrees, blue sky early morning, puffs appeared mid morning, and thunder heads over the Everglades blocked the sun in the afternoon and it cooled some. Showers came by after dark. We did get a moment of mist twice during the day, blown from the anvil of a thunder head. There was a good wind all day long taking away any heat there was. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.

We hit several yard sales in the morning. They had some items I almost picked up, except I remembered I already have one or two of them already. Nice as they are, I don't need another.... Later, we visited a friend who had a yard sale and I got a set of tools for removing drain plugs on cars and trucks. I gave that to my brother.

We went to a nursery that had a sale last week on impatiens. Mom asked if they were on sale and was told that if there were any, they were. We located them and got a flat of the plants. When we walked up to the cash register, I stepped forward with my money in hand and purchased the flowers. I told mom "Happy Mother's Day." She thought that was sweet.

We went to the local Harbor Freight Store. I intended to either buy Mom a new wagon, or get wheels for them. She did not want inflatable tires, which was what was on the wagon being offered. We decided not to get the replacement wheels as they were fatter than the ones on the wagon.
I did buy a belt, one for a tumbler drum, that will work with my mini lathe, and a "C" clamp for at home.
We stopped at a Farmer's market and while the baked goods were tempting, I walked out without getting anything.

Another stop was at the local Dollar Tree Store. This is one of those "everything is a dollar" stores. In some ways, it is as good as yard Sailing as many things we get at a yard sale is a dollar and not all that much better than at the store. Other than a pot brush and a pair of screens for the sink, Several packages of Pretzel rods looked sad. I gathered them up in my arms to cheer them up. When I got to the check out counter, they looked so cute they had to come home with me....

on the woodworking front, because the day was so busy, all I did was to empty out a box of wood stuff and sort through it, tossing some items. That is another box done. I am slowly clearing the work bench, a little bit at a time.
Mom planted half the flowers she got. She was not sure if it would actually rain so she watered them lightly. Bringing the hose to her and winding it back up was my job.
Mom's back yard is almost back to normal. She has her fence up every paver she had is now lain in place. She still has to spread some mulch over where the septic tank used to be. She also has to relocate a whole bunch of plants. It looks like a back yard again!!!

I am not sure what is planned for tomorrow. I do hope to do some real woodworking.
I will see what tomorrow brings.

Year 13, Week 16, Day Two (week 692)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-13-13 Saturday

94 degrees, sunshine and blue sky in the morning, heavy puffs appeared, flowing from the Everglades by afternoon, sometimes blocking the sun. A nice brisk wind, strong enough to make one to pull hats down harder on the heads. I drove through some showers on the way home, but nothing in our area. This weather report is brought to you by the City Of Pompano Department Of Tourism.

I had a pair of wheeled baskets, one would not open. It acted like it was stepped on, crushed down. they happen to have good wheels on them so I took them with me in case the wheels would work for the wagon. No, they are too light for a load. I figured out that I was trying to open the basket all wrong. I straightened some of the rails and wires and that helped.

My brother and his wife took Mom out for dinner at the CRACKER BARREL STORE. That is a fun place. The walls in the restaurant section is decorated with old time stuff. I had a good view of some old time woodworking tools - planes, drills, scrapers, etc.
I walked nearly all the store and saw nothing spectacular, until I was about done. That was when I saw a bunch of Cast iron pans of all kinds. they kicked me out because I was leaving too big a pool of drool in the area.

I dug through another box that had blanks for Christmas Ornaments. I would make blanks with the band saw and lathe, and then remove excess wood and create the finish on them. These blanks are from the past couple years of ornaments. I never had time to finish them up. I had made just enough at the time. These are projects that should be finished up when my wrist is good enough to handle it.

I found some tiny bowls I had started. A couple of them were supposed to be ducklings, I had turned them so there would be a foot beneath it and planned on carving some duck heads to attach to them. Another carving project for the future.
I had some small bowls I started and never quite finished. They were made between centers with a post in the center of the outside, left from removing wood from beside the tail stock. I removed the post from two of them and ground the stub away. I have a lot of finishing to them, heavy sanding, but they will be nice. I think I planned on working on them more. One is in Rosewood and I forgot what the other was, but it has bark on the edge. I will figure it out later. I was concentrating on getting a tiny bit of work done.

I have no idea what is going on next week. There is a turning club meeting this week but I cannot make it to the meeting.

I will have to see what happens next weekend.


 Bottom view of mini bowls
 Top view of mini bowls I removed the center post from.
 Wheeled baskets. One in back was the problem basket
 Mother's Day Flowers
 Sockets from yard sale
brush and screens from Dollar Store

New clamp from Harbor Frieght

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Year 13, Week 15, Day 0ne (week 691)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-04-13 Saturday
    A cloudless blue sky early morning. Soft, puffs appeared in the early morning, a real surprise as I never saw them coming. They were heading to the beach to get some sun. 80 degrees When I got out back, 85 in the afternoon, nice brisk breeze made the day quite comfortable for everything except working hard. This weather report is brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
    We only saw one yard sale with nothing we could not live without, so we headed home. Mom took a nap while I puttered in the back yard. I had several projects going at the same time.

When I got off the walker and the pain medicines, my left wrist started hurting. I tried hard to get a doctor to even look at it, but they were interested in the bigger problems. The wrist was the reason I never carved any ornaments for Christmas last year. I tested a design and found that my wrist could not handle it.
Last month, I finally got someone to look at it. I have tendinitis in the thumb. the cure is to isolate it so it does not move.
This week, I picked up the proper wrap to cure it. I should wear it for six to ten weeks for a full cure. The great thing I learned is that the wrap has no effect on my typing. It is as bad as ever....... I also learned that it gets dirty fast. I did just a couple quick projects and it was filthy!

The sand pile is smaller than it was. The really wet weather we had this past week, spread the sand out some. While walking to my truck I stepped into a slumped part of the sand pile. My foot sunk in like it was quicksand. I checked the "impression" later, and it was four to five inches deep. I stopped sinking only because of the concrete beneath it.

 My footprint in quicksand.
 The sand pile  eaten up by the storms.

We have been doing construction and materials accumulate in the way. Also, over the past year, I really have not done much woodworking. Last week I used the bandsaw and was using it in a way that really was not recommended as I could not get into the right position without a whole lot of work. I pulled all the stuff that was in the way out, relocated them and then put something that will move easily in their place. Now I can access the bandsaw safely.


 These popped up this past week.

I have a BBQ cart I acquired and since my accident, I have used that as my machining table. Before this, I would carry the whole lathe box out from the shed each time. That cart had a loose board right on the end. I had, a couple times, considered clamping something to it and that board made sure it would never happen.
One bolt was holding it in place and it did not have a nut. I dug through the nuts and bolts in jars within the shed and found some nuts that fit. It also had bolts the same size, but too short. I searched in the shed some more, then went to the garage. Digging there, the first thing I found that would fit was a toggle bolt. I grabbed that and headed back out. I positioned the toggle nut to follow the supporting tube of the cart. It needs to be trimmed, but it will do for now. I may trim it later.

In metal machining, one develops something called a CHOWDER BOX. It is a box of bits and pieces of metal that might be just what is needed for a project. I have a small one. It has blocks of metal waiting to be machined into parts, sheet metal bits that might be used as shims, rods that might become parts or tools, and so on. Because of the size of my lathe, I don't have a lot of really big pieces of metal laying around.
I knew I purchased some fender washers, really big washers, sometime in the past and thought I might have stuck them in my chowder box. I dumped out the box onto the table and re-stacked the box again, big stuff went in first along the side and then the small stuff on top.
I did find a small washer that was big enough for the BBQ cart repair. I had some pieces of metal where my brother drilled a hole in a pipe and gave me the waste pieces. I have used these to help hold a work on the lathe while machining, more than once.
Also within the chowder box was some cutting bits and grinding bits that accidentally ended up in there. They are now in the lathe box itself. The chowder box is too heavy to also have in the lathe box.

Over the past couple months, I have had a problem with my truck. Once in a while, I would place the key in the ignition and have power. I would then try to start the engine and everything would shut off. I would have to mess with the battery to solve the problem.
A couple weeks ago, I learned that the wire going into the terminal clamp (I learned later is a universal) had pulled out some and the wire clamp was loose. I tightened it to get going.
During the week, I talked to my mechanic and he told me how to solve the problem. I removed the wires entirely, and with a wire brush, I cleaned the terminal, the clamping surfaces, and cleaned the wires (they really needed it). I then put it all back together. I made sure it was tight. Now I will see if I have the computer problem, which could have been caused by low power going to it.

Mom needed some paving stones for her patio. I talked her into getting some mulch while we were at it. I was happy as I was going to see what my truck was going to do with a nice load on it.
We ended up getting 45 of the 12"x12" patio stones and six bags of mulch. I forced myself to let the workers load the truck without any help from me at all. I am not really in great condition, my messed up leg and a wrist in a wrap, to help anyway.
The drive back was nice. the truck rode smoothly on the rough road, had good pickup and stopping power. That truck, with the overloads in back, is supposed to be carrying a load.
At home, mom decided she would use a hand truck to move the load to the back. I went back while she went inside to drop some stuff off, and I got the handcart. I loaded five of those stones onto the handcart and pulled it to the back. Mom was coming out just at that time.
I don't have much range in walking and both my wrist and my leg was unhappy with the work. Mom took over moving and unloading the handcart, while I stayed at the truck and helped her load it up. She took eight stones each time. Individually, the stones are not too bad to lift. I was mainly lifting them a few inches off the tail gate of the truck and lowering them to the handcart. Not much work, and mom did half the load each time. 

Half the patio stones already taken off

All the new patio stones

Sand bin and new mulch. the mulch is leaned against the boards to help hold back the sand.

I put two bags of mulch on the hand truck each time after the stones were gone and mom took them back.
My back was really no different than before the project, but It let me know that it would not be happy if I did any more than this load.

Several years ago, I received some black walnut two by twos. they were out in the wood pile, in the weather for years. I finally got them into the shed for protection a couple years ago. Most of them have some rotted wood surface. A quick hit with the disk sander removes the bad wood and exposes the good wood again.
My little lathe cannot handle very long pieces of wood so I had cut some black walnut sticks into shorter pieces. I grabbed two of them and after clearing the path to the disk sander, I sanded the mess off the surface.
Had I given it a moment's thought, I would have removed my wrap for this project. I touched the stick to the disk and powder flew up into the air and right into my wrap. I would hold my breath while sanding, step away and inhale the clean air, then do it again, since I did not have a dust mask. I finished the project, shook the wrap out to get as much dust out of it. it now looked dirty.
The sticks I sanded will be cut up long ways until I have sticks small enough for my crochet hooks, while not wasting a whole bunch of wood.

Resting after unloading the truck, I started on a project I planned to do before the shopping trip. I took a box of "stuff" off the BBQ cart and emptied it out. There was a whole bunch of sandpaper, there were tools, and lots of wood.
I would pick out a piece of wood for a project and then things would change and it not get done. The box was also partly a catch-all for everything that had to be unloaded. I found cutting bits for the little lathe, I found a salt and pepper grinder set that I planned on disassembling and making out of wood.
I sorted everything, put the wood into the box in a bit easier way to find, and the bits and pieces of sandpaper in a basket that I set on top. Packages of sandpaper for power tools went in separately. It was nice to get everything under control there.

I have loads of future projects coming up. Messing with the BBQ cart is the first step on cleaning the workbench and getting stuff put away. We are running out of room. I do want to make a complete set of crochet hooks in black walnut. That is sixteen different sized hooks. I really would like to make several sets.
I have metal machining projects in line. I have a dragon to continue to carve on. I have a vase started that is supposed to have five faces carved into it. I have several wood piles that need to be used up.

If my brother comes up tomorrow, we may be moving sand. If not, I will see what trouble I can get into.

I will see what I do tomorrow.

Year 13, Week 15, Day Two (week 691)
(January 17, 2000 was my first carving day.)
05-05-13 Sunday

80 degrees when I got out back, 85 degrees later in the day. The sky was filled with thick white puffs that sometimes blocked the sun. The wind was brisk and kept the day nice. This weather report is brought to you by The City Of Pompano Beach Department of Tourism.
I stopped at Harbor Freight Toy Store, I mean Tool store on the way to Mom’s house. I needed a clamp as the meat grinder I got has a little tiny problem. My counters have a false edge that is about two and a half inches thick. The clamp of the meat grinder opens only to an inch and a half. I have to clamp it to a big cutting board I have. I needed to pick up a clamp to hold the cutting board in place as the meat grinder moves the board when you crank the handle.
I was lucky to escape there with only four items. That was really hard to do.
Santa told me that if I am good, I will get the full contents of one of those stores. I sure do hope he does not know about all those incidents..........
I forgot to put on my leg brace and while walking around the store, my leg bothered me more than normal. It was when I was walking out that it dawned on me that I was not wearing my brace. Too far to go home to get it just for the short times I would be on my feet. I have to walk differently with the brace than without it.

 I have tested the meat grinder with pork and it works nicely. Now the grinder comes with three cutting bits. That controls the size of the “grain” the burger meat has. The three bladed cutter makes for large grain while the twelve and twenty four make for even smaller grain. I tested the three bladed cutter during the week and liked the results. Today I tested the twenty four blade and, at least with pork, almost created mush that would not come off the cutting bit without help. The finer cutters are for harder, courser meats like the cheap cuts of beef.  The plunger I made last week works great, though it is almost not needed as the screw inside draws the meat in quickly and easily.. The clamp I got helped to hold the cutting board in place, but the spot I was working would not let the clamp be at the right angle to work properly.  I should have moved a bunch of stuff and worked in a better location.

At Mom’s house I brought out of the garage a folding metal table and set it up near my mini lathe. I then could not figure out what I did with my extension cord for the lathe and had to steal one from my big lathe. I set up the mini lathe. I had a small piece of black walnut that was not quite square. I marked approximate center at both ends and started machining.  The chuck for this lathe has three jaws which is great for holding round materials, but horrible for square or rectangular.
I am machining the wood like it were metal. One places the cutting tool in a tool rest carriage and you turn a crank to move the tool down the length of the lathe. It is great as the wood becomes the same diameter the entire length. Many times when working by hand, you might have one end or another a different size than the middle.
Now the design of the carriage for the cutting tool prevents one from cutting from tail stock to chuck. One has to stop a short distance from the chuck. Because of this, I have to swap the ends of the material around if I want the entire length to be even. One problem is that when you flip the piece around, it never lines up exactly so that when you get half way through the piece, there is a wobble that causes some cutting of already machined surface.

 Mini lathe with finished rod and rod in process using new system.

I don't have it perfected yet, but I figured out that what I need to do is to round the end of the piece right at the tail stock first. I then flip it around, with the three jawed chuck holding the nicely rounded end. I then machined the new end round, before I started working the length. I prefer to flip the work at least twice just to make sure the rod is straight. Luckily, with the crochet hooks, sand paper can fix the transition and no one will notice it.
I made two rods that will later have the hook added to make them crochet hooks.
It should be noted that making something small in wood takes only a little less time than making something big in wood. I am not exactly sure why but that is the way it is.

Finished rods next to sizing gauge. these are size K and L.

After I finished my second rod, I decided to clean up and get going. I ended up taking most everything out of the lathe box and re-stacking it so I can get the lathe out without having to move half the stuff in there.

I will have to see what I do next week.