Monday, October 22, 2012

Upcycled Dish Scrubby Buddy

This was one of my wife's brilliant ideas and since she has a brilliant husband, she knew I could make one. She handed me a couple plastic citrus bags and asked me to make a dish scrubby.

For clarification, the bags are plastic, not the citrus fruit, in case there was any confusion.

This was super easy to make and only took a minute or two. I simply wadged up one bag and stuffed it into the bottom of the second one, then twisted the outer bag and turned it inside out, twisted, repeat, until there was no more bag. Then I threaded a piece of string around the bag opening, pulled it tight, knotted it and vwahlah! Scrubby Buddy! Works just like the $2.50 one at the store. Only it cost $2.50 less, is keeping the plastic out of the landfill, and Scrubbybuddy Corp. will produce one fewer of their flagship plastic products (at what I now know is a 2500% markup).

Unfortunately, as I've  used this, the twists have begun to unravel. It doesn't look nears as good as it did in the picture, but still cleans the dishes as intended. Fortunately, looks aren't everything (just ask Steve Buscemi) And, I already have a solution for this problem. Instead of just threading the tie-off string through the bag at the opening I'll also make a single pass through each of the twists at that end of the scrubby to prevent them from untwisting.

If that doesn't work, I'll report it and my next solution in an update to this post. We're getting into citrus season so I'm sure I'll come across plenty of bags to experiment with while creating the perfect upcycled dish scrubby buddy.

UPDATE: 5.24.13 ~ The solution was a smashing success. The scrubby buddy held together for seven months before getting a tear (from cleaning a knife). To fix it, I stuffed it all back in through the tear and put it into a new citrus bag. Twist, invert, repeat and tie off as detailed. Works like a champeeen!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Plastic Bag Dryer

Plastic Bag Dryer

This is a second post about things I've made that make it easy for us to reduce our consumption of single use plastic.

The old way. :( Booo.
This one was a little more involved than the first, but still took me less than an hour. We reuse plastic grocery bags, produce bags, and Ziploc bags many times. Until they are torn, or have holes in them. Washing and drying them was kind of a pain in the butt. Not so much the washing - that's a breeze, but the drying. We would hang them from bulldog clips and they'd drip on the counter, put them in the dishwasher to dry but they took forever, or we'd put them over the faucet to drip in the sink, but then you'd have to remove it to use the sink, and they were always in the way. My wife had been asking me to make something for drying bags for some time.

In my head this bag dryer was very complicated. It folded up and twisted and would hide under the cupboards, maybe have a fan and a timer, some flashing lights and an alarm. Laser perhaps. I wasn't sure how I'd make it or what I'd make it from. Then my wife showed me a picture of what she wanted. It was muuuuuuch more simple than what I had envisioned.

We had an old end table that I had thrown into the fire wood pile. I removed one of the legs, sanded it, polished up the foot with steel wool, stained it with some leftover stain from the front stairs, drilled some holes in it, stuffed 1/8" wooden dowels in the holes and screwed a paint can lid to it for a base. Holds eight bags, fits on top of the fridge.

This makes it very simple for us to reuse plastic bags. We can reuse a Ziploc bag 10 or more times and produce bags up to 10 times. This dramastically (that's a word I believe was invented by one of the articulate frat bros in a business class I took) reduces the amount of plastic we put into the environment. Additionally, we haven't bought Ziploc bags in three years.
The New Way!  *<}:) Yay!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pack Your (Plastic) Bags, We're Going On a Guilt Trip

This post is about plastic and a few easy ways that I've found to help reduce my consumption.

If you're familiar with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch you'll understand that this planet doesn't need more plastic in its oceans and landfills. The GPGP is the largest of five major oceanic garbage patches and by some accounts is estimated at twice the size of Texas. That's larger than the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut  New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawai'i, Maryland, West Virginia, South Carolina, Maine, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Louisiana.


Here's more perspective. Every single living human being on the planet, all 7,045,045,481 of us, would fit  on the GPGP and we each would have about 2,100 sqft of plastic gunk to ourselves. And lest we forget... there are four other major oceanic garbage patches.

Decomposed Albatross & Stomach Contents
Before I dismount Hoof Hearted (that's the name of my high-horse), the Midway Atoll in the Pacific ocean is home to the largest albatross population in the world. A recent study showed every single dead albatross on the atoll had plastic in their stomachs. All of them. In most cases, they contained more plastic than food. Dr. Seuss was quite the prognosticator when in 1972 he wrote of "crummies in their tummies." Sure, he was writing about the Brown Bar-ba-loots  frisking about in their bar-ba-loot suits and not albatross (or is it albatri?) frisking about in their albatross... floss..., but the important distinction here is that albatross exist. Currently. Aight, I've gotten way off track, but one final thing. If you have Netflix, I highly recommend the documentary Bag It. It's not all preachy and doomy, and it might give you some insight into the yin of plastic's yang. I've included the link, so half your work is done.

Edward Everett Hale wrote "I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything  but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."

Over the last 10 years I've tried to be a better steward for the earth. I've gotten so much better at being aware of what I purchase, what I throw away, what I reuse, etc.But it didn't happen overnight. I started out recycling a little and over the years have gradually found ways to improve how I use the resources, eliminate some of the things that I don't need, and purchase in a manner that uses fewer resources (eg. reuse our dish soap bottle by refilling it at a grocer that carries bulk soap, reuse produce bags, avoid packaging by buying from the bulk bins, etc). I'm a looooooooong way from being good at this. Ultimately I'd like to nearly eliminate single use plastic from my life, but because we live in a disposable society it will be very difficult to do so. And, I love Coke. I buy a bottle of it a couple times a month. I could stop buying it in plastic bottles but it's usually an impulse buy and they don't sell individual cans at the Quickimart, nor am I ready to eliminate that impulse. Perhaps someday.

Until then, here's the first of a few posts detailing some easy things I've made to help my wife and I justify my Coke addiction.

Indoor Herb Garden

My wife recently discovered a neat book called The Zero-Mile Diet. The essence of which is organically growing everything you need to eat year 'round. Beyond the fact that we greatly enjoy working in our garden and eating the fruits of our labor, one of the many things that we find so appealing about adhering to this type of life-style is trying to eliminate pre-packaged foods with single use plastic containers and wrappers from our lives.

We already grow some herbs in our garden, but we would like to have more herbs and have them year 'round, so we want to grow some herbs indoors. We are also motivated by the environmental impact most packaged herbs are burdened with. They typically come in single use plastic containers or bags which are often not recyclable.

Our House, In The Middle of Our Street
I've mentioned once or twice that we live in a very small house (which leaves us lots of room for a garden), so finding some space for an indoor herb garden was a challenge. It had to be near a window so it could get plenty of sunlight, but our house only has seven windows, and space beneath them is already occupied by things like The World's Greatest Cat Condo, other plants, the dinner table/pile of bills, the kitchen sink, the bed, a stairwell, etc. Then my brilliant, beautiful, creative wife "discovered" (as in Columbus "discovered" America, really she identified what was already there and then pointed it out to Europe me) a couple feet of unused space right in front of a window. Our kitchen cupboards extend all the way to the edge of the kitchen window but the sides of the cupboards were free to have something attached to them.

I bought a few screw clamps from Home Depot (with the gift certificate my brother and his wife gave me for my birthday), screwed them to an 11" piece of the cedar fence boards I got a steal on, with wood screws from our old screen door, and attached them to the side of the cupboards. Then insert a peanut butter jar, tightened the clamp, and voila! Indoor herb garden. Well, "voila!" once we planted the herbs. Anyway, took me all of 10 minutes and cost me a buck.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Couple More Easy Items

Wine Bottle Lawn Border (Wart Warning)

There are few benefits to knowing a violent drunk. Just saying. On a completely separate subject, my sister gave me a bunch of wine bottles to build this lawn border. In fairness, she didn't drink all of the wine. A few of them are mine, a few are from my in-laws, a few are hers, and she got about half of them from a restaurant that was about to throw them in a dumpster (good thing she woke up when she did). Wicked-cool landfill save! It isn't exactly straight. Actually it isn't straight at all, but like I said, "Warts and all."

I'm hoping the punts on the wine bottles will also work as butterfly puddlers. As of now, I have only seen wasps drinking from them. My guess is that I'll need to put some sand and maybe salt in the punts.

Three-bin Compost System

A few months ago my wife and I were in downtown Boise having dinner. As we were walking back to our car we passed an office building construction site. In front of it was a huge industrial dumpster taking up a couple parking spaces. Leaning up against the dumpster were four pallets, each in excellent shape. I didn't know what to do with them at the time, but I knew they'd be useful. So we threw them in my truck and now they compose our new three-bin composting system.  I dug up the ground, leveled it with a rake, then attached the pallets to the fence using some wood screws.

Bulldog Clip Cabinet Latch

This one's just lazy, with little cosmetic appeal. We have some cabinets located on our patio, right next to our bedroom window, which we store lawn and garden tools and accessories in. Unfortunately, when the wind blows the door goes "ba-dap-dap-dap-da-dap-dap-aditty-dap-ba-dap-ba-dap-dap-dap (repeat 250x)." It's gotta good beat, but you just can't dance to it. Plus, it's real, real, annoying at 3am. So I used a bulldog clip and two screws I had laying around to solve the problem. When you flip the black clip to the left it applies pressure on the leavers and holds it soundly in place (or soundlessly from my perspective). I wouldn't do this on a kitchen cabinet because 1) they aren't affected by the wind, and 2) it's an old cabinet that's outside and I clearly don't care what it looks like.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting a Grip

In our daily quest to become more environmentally conscious I have switched from using a gas powered mower to my wife's push mower. It is quiet, costs less to buy, operate, and maintain, it doesn't create carbon monoxide emissions, helps free us from our dependence on foreign oil, and I can always use a little more exercise.

Unfortunately, the handle grips had worn out and torn on the push mower. As I mowed it would without fail hit a stick or thick weed, jamming the blade, causing the mower blade to stop, causing the handle grip to slide off, inevitably driving the exposed handle into my groin. Needless to say, this upset me greatly and gave me the proper motivation to fix the problem.

I had the great idea of replacing the grips with pieces of an old garden hose. The problem is that the hose is slightly smaller than the handle. I boiled some water to soften the hose hoping it would stretch enough to fit. I sprayed the handle with a silicon lubricant to help get the hose on. This failed miserably. Picture trying to stuff a marshmallow through a keyhole. After about an hour of struggling with it I had it about half way on. And the hose had cooled by this time and wasn't going to come back off the same way it went on. So I set the project aside and hadn't mowed the lawn since.

Then my dad gave me his pipe threader. Either because they don't have pipe in Hawai'i or because it costs to much to ship. So I threaded the handles like a screw. At this point it had to work, 'cause there was no undoing this. I used a heat gun to keep the hose pliable and set about threading the hose onto the handle. It still didn't go easily. 

As you can see there are about 70 threads and each time I rotated the hose about 90 degrees. So it took about 560 turns to get both handles on. It gave me a blister and my hands are very sore. But I got them on and the world is a better place for it. Next time I think I will go to the Boise Bike Project and find some used bike handle bar grips. It just wasn't worth the time or labor to do this since it took me over an hour and now I don't have an excuse to not mow the lawn.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gore Darber

Several months ago my new 'rents-in-law took an amazing vacation to the Amazon jungle and then to the Galapagos Islands. While they were away we had a storm sweep through the valley that struck their patio furniture with great vengeance and furious anger, breaking the glass table top. Well "breaking" is a bit of an understatement. I'm not even sure "shattering" does it justice. Picture a car windshield in all those tiny little bits. When I saw the table frame my wife said "Can you kindly make me a gourd arbor outta this?" I said "Hey, I just had a great idea. I bet I can make a gourd arbor out of that." And I did. 

But wait! Let me tell you about it, and include pictures!

This project was very easy. It probably took me 20 minutes to make and 10 minutes to stick it in the ground. My wife and I had wanted to plant some birdhouse and dipper gourds this year and we need something for them to grow in/on/around. This table was perfect!

Side story - Last summer I got a steal of a deal on some cedar fence boards (only 40 cents per (compared to $1.60 at Home Depot)) so I took all that they had left. The wood had been stacked on two 10 foot cedar 4x4s, so I asked if I could have those as well which they were happy to throw in since they had been sitting in the mud. 

I simply drove four 3" deck screws threw the table frame and into the 4x4s. At the base I took two 4" scraps of wood left over from the Greatest Cat Condo Ever Built and drove a handful of screws from the Brother Printer every two inches. Then I ran some hemp string from the screws to the inner leg support for the patio table. Finally, I dug two holes and planted the arbor about two feet deep. Easy as pie!

I don't know if any of you have ever grown gourds. If not, I highly recommend you do. They are a fascinating plant! The leaves are huge with beautiful patterns and they grow in a sort of funnel shape in a column. When it rains the water flows from one leaf and funnels down to the subsequent leaves. When it's hot, the leaves wilt and hang limp, but as soon as the temperature drops in the evening, they perk right back up. We planted 12 birdhouse and 12 dipper seeds and only got five plants. As you'll see, that was more than enough. At first we didn't think they would grow at all because they took 21 days to germinate. 

They have these little finger things that grow straight out and they rotate until they touch something. When the do, the rotating motion causes them to start wrapping around the object, coiling up, and drawing the plant up against what ever it has grabbed.

Once the little fingers grabbed hold of the hemp twine it was ridiculous! On one strand from one plant on one random day we measured 10" of growth in 24 hours! In the past month they have grown from the ground to the top of the arbor (8 feet) back to the ground and as much as 6 feet along the ground! 

Here's what it looks like now. I'm guessing we're gonna get around 100 or so gourds outta this thing. And it's still growing. It's grabbed hold of the tomato plants and the fence and whatever weeds were sticking outta the ground. Soon it will have breached the patio and started up the trellis.

 And here's what the gourds look like right now. In a couple of weeks I'll update this and show you what we've done with the gourds!
Birdhouse Gourd
Dipper Gourd

Sunday, July 29, 2012

LP Bowls

I figured I'd better get in at least one post this month. I haven't finished many projects this month since I went from being unemployed and unmarried to employed and married. Being employed has cut drastically into my spare time. And weddings are an unbelievable time suck. It's been exhausting watching my wife write thank you notes and put our wedding albums together. I offered to help but apparently my handwriting can only be read by chickens and seers.

I have moved several projects to near completion, but am not ready to post them just yet. On the horizon are a solar oven which works pretty well, but I want to make it hotter, and a very cool gourd hanger/grower thingy made from patio furniture. I'm just waiting for the gourds to finish growing. Stay tuned!

Briefly back to the solar oven - I've built one and it was plenty hot for my latest project - bowls made from those old records that my parents had. One, of which, I made the cubicle clock from. I have an old meat thermometer that I'm using to test the temperature in the oven. The thermometer only goes to 160 degrees (which I find quite odd since that's the minimum temperature meat should be cooked to) and the oven will peg it. Pointless story short, I haven't the foggiest idea how much hotter it gets in there.

I did say I'd share my projects, warts and all, so here is one of the warts. It was my first attempt at making a record bowl in the solar oven. I tried setting the record over a mixing bowl with a peanut butter jar full of water on it for weight. Very little went well. It folded weird, the jar tipped over, I punctured it, etc. On a positive note,  future generations will not be subject to this Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians recording. You're welcome.

Since my first attempt was clearly unacceptable (no one in their right mind would pay $19,105 for that abomination) I had to come up with a better way to make the bowls. I made a template with a scrap 1/2" wood dowel and a piece of particle board that broke off of the Greatest Cat Condo Ever Built (it has since been replaced with plywood and the Tundra Hog kitty has been put on a diet).

The second time around I placed the record on top of the dowels and put the weight in the center. I closed the lid and in about five minutes the result was a very pliable record. I can tug on the sides and move the record around to the position and shape that I want (within the strict constraints of six wood dowels and physics (I'm pretty sure I can shape a gravy boat, though)). Then I remove it from the oven and wait one or two minutes for the record to cool and harden.

The final result is much more acceptable. This bowl is clearly worthy of its "Stereo Gold Award." Although, kitty is not so sure of it. She's under the impression that this bowl doesn't hold as much food as her last one.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wheelbarrow Thing-a-mah-doo

We don't have a garage and my work shop is (no exaggeration) 9' x 12'. We have no place to put our wheelbarrow so this is how we've been storing it.

This morning I was watching 'This Old House' and they showed a very clever, but complicated, way of storing a wheelbarrow. It involved latches and bolts and other things I found completely unnecessary.

So I simplified it and stuck the wheelbarrow to our fence.

I took two scrap pieces of 4" cedar fence boards, created a 1/2' lip with them and screwed them to the fence about an inch below the lip of the wheelbarrow.

Instead of purchasing and installing a latch to hold it in place I simply used a 3" scrap of wood, a 1 5/8" wood screw, and two washers from the Brother Printer I took apart.

Now, I simply wheel the barrow up to the base block, tip it up and turn the latch to hold it firmly in place. It's a complete coincidence that it fits exactly under the top board of the fence.

Next I'll need to do something about the wheelbarrow handles. One has to wear gloves during use or they'll get a fist full o' slivers.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cubicle Clock

 As my parents abandoned moved out of my childhood home to take up more permanent residence in Hawai'i, they discovered that they had amassed a tremendous amount of stuff they didn't need. They had a small collection of records that they had no hope of ever selling at their yard sale. Crap like Andy Williams and the Carpenters. I decided to take them off of their hands so that I can melt them into bowls. But that's another post. I still have to finish making my solar oven to melt the records. Again, another post.

After staring at the records for a few weeks I decided to turn one into a clock. Buried amongst the hot hits of the late '40s was an old 78 record called "Holiday for Trombones." I thought this would make a perfect clock for someone who is stuck on a cubicle farm all day.
A few months ago we had to replace our keyboard when my fiance spilled a glass of beer in it. I saved all of the keys from it hoping to find a nice project for them. This clock seemed like the perfect project. I used the F1-F12 keys for the hours. And since this is a clock for a cubicle, using the "Escape" key for 5 o'clock seemed apropos.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pur-guh-luh, Pur-go-luh. Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

Pur-guh-luh? Pur-go-luh? It doesn't matter how you pronounce it, someone will correct your pronunciation. I'm not sure which one is correct, and honestly I don't care much since prior to April, I'd never used the word. But with some help from my sister, Kris; my fiance, Lesley; and long-time friend, Doug, I built one. I'd like to say that I used recycled wood from a century old barn or built it from pallets, but I didn't. All this wood came from a lumber yard. And it was expensive. It was $100 just for the brackets and through-bolts. And have you priced lumber lately? A 16ft 2x6 is $25! But I built it for my sister, so she paid for it.

Now, I've never built anything remotely like this in my life. The only thing close are these stairs I built on my fiance's house. My sister took a tremendous step of faith in asking me to build her a pergola. And a giant leap of faith asking me to build her two. Especially considering she wanted them done before my wedding and I had just had back surgery and still can't lift anything.  Anyone weight a green Doug Fir 6x6 lately? Trust me, it ain't light.

Fortunately, I have found a couple handy tools for helping me build things like this. One is the internet. I swear you can find out how to build anything on it. Need a time machine? No problem. The second is Google Sketchup. If you like to build stuff this is an awesome tool. You can sketch what you're building with Sketchup and then you have all of your measurements and diagrams at your finger tips. It's free and it's invaluable. Here is my Sketchup of the pergola.

Getting the brackets placed right was easily the hardest (hmm... "easily the hardest") part of the whole project. They needed to be exact, and I've never done this before. Once the cement is mixed it starts setting, and then you're committed. I gave myself a ballpark of about an hour before I couldn't move them anymore thinking I'd leisurely measure, level, reset, repeat. Nope. More like 10 mins. So you have to go fast, set all four brackets, and make sure they are square, level, and equidistant. I never did find an easy way to do this so we kinda winged it. But we got everything within a quarter inch of perfect.

Doug was kind enough to dig the holes, drill the holes for the through bolts, and help Kris carry the 6x6s. I know it was hard work and it doesn't help that Doug's back isn't much better than mine and Willard Scott is going to be showing Kris on a Smucker's jar soon, but I am extremely grateful for their help as I would likely be in surgery again had they not been there.

I notched a decorative end to each 2x6 with my Skill saw and then finished the cut with my jig saw that Kris got me for my birthday. I had to get a new jig saw because I have a lot of my grandfather's tools and they no longer make blades for his old jig saw. It's too bad, 'cause that thing was ol' school. It was all stainless steel and shiny. The new one is plastic but it can cut a 2x6 like toast through my fiances skin (if that doesn't make sense to you, you need to ask me about the time my fiance cut herself on a piece of toast. I'm pretty sure her skin is made of meringue).

Once the 6x6s were in place the rest was pretty easy. We bolted 2x6s to each side of the 6x6s for girders and then laid the remaining 2x6s across the girders. I toe-screwed them in place with 3" deck screws at the bottom. Then I ran seven 2x2s across the top and drove a 3" wood screw through and into each 2x6. It's solid as a rock. Three days after completion it withstood 60mph gusts of wind. Kris plans to plant some wisteria around the base of the 6x6s to help create some additional shade.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wine Barrel Hoop Yard Globe

I've made a few neat things out of this wine barrel that I got for $35 off of Craig's List. So far, a few candle holders, a couple clocks, and a wine rack. Since I broke the barrel open I've had several ideas for what to do with the hoops. If I were to cut them up they'd make nice accents on the candle holders or wine racks. I might even find a way to use them to make Roman numerals on the clocks. At this time, I don't have an easy way to cut them up so I decided to use them whole.

The hoops are oxidized and weathered and should make some wonderful yard art, I believe.  Perhaps placed between the jockeys and gnomes, but in front of the crudely painted, not-so-funny, plywood cut-out folk art.

In an earlier post I commented that my wine barrel anatomy was sub par. Not so anymore. Prepare to be amazed:

Since the two bilge hoops encompass the widest part of the barrel they were the outside of my globe. These were followed in succession by the quarter hoops and finally the head hoops. I measured the diameter of the bilge, quarter, and head hoops individually, multiplied it by (go team hold that line) 3.14159 to get the circumference, and followed that up with some wicked division (by 2 & by 4) to figure out where to drill the north and south pole holes in the bilge, quarter, and head hoops, to make the poles fall on exact opposite sides. I used some extra mounting bolts from my TV for the poles. Unfortunately, I didn't have any nuts that matched the thread so I had to run to Home Depot and spend about $2 for a dozen nuts. I place a nut between each pair of the bilge, quarter, and head hoops and tightened the whole business down with my drill. 

To finish it up, I rotated the bilge, quarter, and head hoops to roughly space them equidistant apart, and then tossed it in the flower garden.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bike Tire Belt

Yesterday I noticed a funny bulge in the rear tire of my road bike. I had a sudden swell of pride arise within me when I realised  I had worn out my first bike tire! It felt just like the first time I had to replace my running shoes. Because I had run 700 miles in them, not because they were the same color as my lawn. I put 2,732 miles on that tire in the last three years, and I'm damn proud of that (in case you're thinking that's not that much, I also put in 2,700 on a spinning bike in the gym). Being this was the first time I had to replace a bike tire I learned this tidbit - road bike tires cost the same as car tires, but are 1/20 the size.

A few years ago my fiance bought me a belt made out of a road bike tire. It's been my favorite belt for some time now. I figure that turning this tire into a belt would be a fitting tribute to the blood, sweat, and gears that tire has been through with me. That tire was there when I was hit by the car. And it was there through the three triathlons I trained for (and the two I competed in (refer to the part about being hit by a car for why I didn't compete in all three)).

If riding a bull for 8 seconds gets you a buckle, I think 200 hours on a bike should get you the whole frickin' belt. So today, I turned it into a belt.

It took me about an hour to make, and as always, I'm sure I can do the next one much quicker.

The hardest part was cutting through the steel cable that makes up the bead that holds the tire on the rim. I tried cutting it with my tin snips, to no avail. Then I tried wire snips. This eventually worked, with some manipulation, but it was very difficult. The best way through it was using my Dremel and a cutting disk. Once through the bead, I was able to cut the tire very easily with my tin snips.

My fiance has a special hole punch/rivet squisher/snap fastener tool that I used to punch the holes in the belt. Then I cut a small 1/2" section out of an old mountain bike tube for the strap. She also had this belt that was long past its prime. I'm assuming it didn't have a great deal of personal meaning to her (like she'd used it as a tourniquet to save a life, or to snag a large ring of skeleton keys from a bumbling guard's belt in some sort of epic prison escape).

Since the belt was shot, I removed the buckle and connected it and the strap to the tire using... now I hate to have to digress here. In past posts you've had to deal with such juvenile things as "high torque movements." But even in my most juvenile moments I can't make this kinda stuff up. I asked my local Ace Hardware guy for a specific type of nut and screw to attach the buckle to the belt. I explained what I needed to him and he said "Ah, you need a sex bolt and mating screw." I said "Beg your pardon?" I'm beginning to suspect that some middle-management suck-up in the parts department of Acme Hardware and Clock Parts asked his son's 8th grade gym class to name a couple of parts in their spring catalog.

So, sex bolts, mating screws, and all, I now have a trophy representing the 5,400 miles of cycling I've put in over the last three years.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wine Stave Candle Holder

I seem to have hit some writer's block on this particular post, and therefore haven't posted in over a week. Perhaps you don't mind. For starters, I just did a post about candle holders. Also, part of my humor revolves around being self-deprecating.  Since I made these candles holders as Christmas gifts for my soon-to-be in-laws I couldn't hardly write "look at this crap I built for the most amazing in-laws a guy could ever ask for."

In reality, I'm very proud of these candle holders, otherwise they would still be sitting in my work shop with the candle holder that I wasn't too proud of.

I've gotten quite a few miles out of this wine barrel so far (a couple clocks and a wine rack). And I've still got a couple ideas left in the chamber. As you can see from the picture there are 17 staves in just half the barrel, so there's quite a bit of lumber in it.

The incredible purple color of the wine lends itself well to being used for decorative purposes.

For symmetry I chose the staves that were approximately 3" at the middle (the staves varied from 2.5" to slightly more than 3.5"). Since the tea light candles are 1" I wanted there to be about 1" of wood on each side.

I cut off the ends and used one of them for the base. Using complex math that I still don't understand, I determined how far apart to drill each of the holes so that they would all be equidistant from each other and the end of the stave. Miraculously, I got it right by adhering to the old carpenters creed of "Measure 67 times, cut once."

Because the staves are curved, I had to brace it before drilling. The hole for the candle must remain parallel with the table or the hot wax will drip out of the candle.  Once the holes were drilled I ran a wood screw through the center of the center hole and into the base. Because the wood is fairly rough I used a highly flammable spray lacquer (nah, I'm just kidding. I don't know if it's flammable or not) to give it a nice sheen.