Friday, September 30, 2011

New Scrapbooking Table for Kim

One of Kim’s enjoyments is documenting our family’s life in Creative Memory type scrapbooks, and she is quite good at it. But between that, and making flyers & stuff to support the Weatherly PTA, and helping Jared with his homework, she started getting cramped for workspace. In addition, since the folding tables being used were constantly needed for other activities, constantly setting up & tearing down was getting more irritating with each iteration. Permanent workspace, and more of it, was needed.

When she ran her idea for an L-shaped layout past me, I thought it did not work that well with the existing TV/VCR cabinet.

I believe she thought likewise, but may have thought the cabinet was a sacred cow to me since it came out of my shop many years ago. At the time it was built, though, it was supposed to be a prototype, and did not even get painted until a few years ago.

Kim appeared quite willing to run with my suggestion of yard-selling both the cabinet & TV, and replacing the TV with a wall-mounted flat-screen.

After adding new, higher, power & cable outlets, the new TV was mounted first just to make sure the project’s footprint still worked.

Home improvement stores usually do not sell plywood with which I am comfortable for cabinet construction. But the big orange one happened to be selling flat, ¾”, seven-ply, Peruvian plywood, which looked like grade AB to me, for a very reasonable price.

The shelves for the paper –holders at either side of the work table were planned to be ¼-inch hardboard. But neither of the home improvement stores sell it in full sheets anymore. Fortunately, a local lumber company stocked ¼-inch MDF. Although there is little difference between the two, anyone who cared would never be able to tell since the paper holders were to be painted.

The carcasses were made of 3/8” BC plywood left over from the porch project and converted to BB with wood filler. The end grain was covered with basswood strips.

The work surface itself was laminated with special-order Formica. Nowadays, Formica is thin enough to roll up for shipping. It flattens back out after being allowed to relax overnight.

The project’s construction was split into two phases – Table, and paper-holders. Wall-mounted ledger boards support the outside of the table while a book case and sideboard support the ends. To keep from having a leg in the middle of the “L”, a ¾” piece of angle iron was screwed to the bottom to carry unintended loads.

Biscuits were used primarily to keep everything aligned.

The table was then disassembled and after painting, reassembled in Kim’s room to make room for the project’s next phase.

Kim already had a couple of paper-holders which were each half the height of what was needed. At one time, double-height units were available. Unfortunately, a current search turned up nothing. So I got the “fun” of priming & painting each side of the 22 boards (prime, dry, flip, prime, dry, flip, paint, dry, flip, paint) which make up the two full-height organizers with shelves spaced to Kim’s specification.

To avoid paint buildup in the shelf dados, the cuts were made after the side boards had been painted. I had never dadoed a board after painting, and was concerned about the paint scraping off at the tablesaw. Fortunately, no touchups were necessary.

While I was happy with how the project turned out, Kim was simply ecstatic about now having lotsa permanent workspace. Jared thought it was pretty neat, too.

Well, that’ll about wrap it up for this edition of The New Southern Workshop. If you’d like a measured drawing…

Just kidding; no plans are available – I figure only the husbands of Kim’s scrapbooking friends would be inquiring, and I doubt they do so willingly.


What's Big, Tan, & EASILY Holds 250 Pumpkins?

The Mighty Suburban, of course!

Kim & one of her friends went up to Tennessee this morning to pick up the pumpkins for Saturday's Weatherly Elementary's Fall Festival.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Truth, Justice, and Tom’s Bathroom

The old master bathroom, where I get ready for work every morning, has bothered me since before we built what is now essentially Kim’s bathroom many years ago. The mirror, which we had installed when the room was still the current master bath, had a slight tint in the glass which reflected the blue-painted walls with an unappealing greenish hue. While the simple solution would have been to repaint the room a different color, room-prep due to paint “oopsed” on the tile grout, looked like it was going to take a lot of time. Between having no idea of what color to paint the room (I didn’t want a girl to pick one out), and the fact that I really don’t like to paint, the room languished.

I am a big fan of Superman as he was portrayed in the 20¢ DC comic books I used to collect as a kid. Although George Reeves pre-dates me, I remember enjoying some of his B&W rerun adventures as Superman, especially the times he would stand confidently while a hail of bullets bounced off but invariably duck when the goon threw the spent revolver at him.

My admiration for the Man of Steel never dimmed, and over time I collected a small amount of Superman memorabilia in “Tom’s room” which brought a smile to my face every time I walked by.

While shaving one morning, it dawned on me to consider wallpapering the room. After walking by my Superman collection on the way to get dressed, I immediately knew what pattern I wanted.

I had to get a girl’s help after my epiphany – After I was unable to find much more than a Superman room border, Kim’s help was requested, and she located two wallpaper selections online. We both agreed the Man of Steel’s reflection in the mirror would look better on a white background.

Although I did all the prep work, we hired a man to hang the paper because I have known since my mid-twenties that I would never hang paper myself: My best friend Steve’s wife Sue was keen on wallpaper, and Steve got extremely good at hanging it. At some point, I would stop by their house and tell Steve how great I genuinely thought the current room looked. He would invariably respond with, “Yeah, I’m real happy with it too, except it you look right here…” He would then point to something I, in my wallpapering ignorance, would have never picked up on had it not been pointed out. I knew then & there that I would do the exact same thing if I were to ever paper a room. Ignorance can be bliss.

That’s a new toilet, too – 1.3 gallons per flush. Instead of a toilet close-up, here’s a zoom-in on the wallpaper pattern.

All’s now well in Metropolis. Every morning’s reminder about Truth, Justice, and The American Way definitely helps get my day off to a good start.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stereo Is Not Dead At My House

When it comes to enjoying music or movies, I am of the old “I only have two ears, and all’s I need is two really big speakers” school of thought. Dolby 7.1 is the rage nowadays, and if it had been around 20 years ago I would probably have 7 speakers & one subwoofer in my den. But for what I generally listen to, a decent stereophonic setup is fine.

I was almost forced to change my approach a few weeks when my third Luxman receiver bit the dust. None of the local big-box stores offered a replacement which only drove two speakers. While the Internet offered a small selection of suitable direct-replacements, my desire to upgrade to a tuner capable of decoding HD Radio signals reduced receiver offerings to zero. It was time to consider the individual component route.

Better sound quality & general versatility are the highlights of building a sound system piece-by-piece. But doing so is usually pricey due to what I consider a “snob cost” being added to each component by the manufacturer (real audiophiles should be willing to pay more). Fortunately, I only needed a tuner and pre-amplifier since main amplification is done by a very snobbish (back in the day) Yamaha amplifier.

Surprisingly, new HD Radio tuner prices are not that bad. That bit of cheer helped offset the fact that new pre-amp prices are still ridiculously high. Fortunately there’s eBay. I was able to win a more-than-suitable Onkyo P-3200 pre-amp for what I thought was a reasonable cost. And it worked as advertised when I got it.

After re-assembling Stereo Central with a new HD Radio tuner, and the gently-used Onkyo pre-amp, life appeared to be complete.

Unfortunately, my cordless headphones didn’t much care for the new setup.

Since I get a lot of mileage out of headphones at night when everyone else is asleep & I want to watch TV, the headphones’ disdain was not taken lightly.

The problem was that the headphones’ base station used to be plugged into the receiver’s headphone jack, and there is no headphone jack on the new setup. I had hoped the headphones would work well on a line out jack. They did not – the signal-to-noise ratio made them unlistenable.

Remembering that computer speakers have a built-in, low power amplifier, an old set was cannibalized for the effort.

Velcro is easier than driving screws into solid TN white oak.

Life is now idyllic again. A big shout-out to eBay-er onekg70 for helping it happen.


Monday, September 5, 2011

The Mighty Burb Even Impresses Kids

The Mighty '84 Suburban effortlessly guided us to & from the Smoky Mountains for the Labor Day weekend. I was quite pleased with the results of my first, real A/C repair - Kim needed her binky for both legs of the journey due to to how well the air conditioner worked.

We had to break camp in the rain, and at one point Kim was standing by while I was doing all the outside things us guyz do when a young person (10-13 yr-old) from the site next to us noticed the activity, and shared with Kim what an awesome tow vehicle he thought we had, and how impressed he was at the good shape it was in. He also commented on how neat the Airstream was.

The day before, a lady who I assume was the young fella's mom, had shared a similar sentiment while getting out of their Toyota Tacoma. The Suburban's amount of covered storage space probably caught her eye.

Our vintage combination does look good on the campground.

I wonder if a new tow vehicle is in that family's future?


Friday, September 2, 2011

A.C.E Cinematographers Like Wet Streets

Cinematographers appear to think the action scenes photograph better for movies.

I'm no A.C.E., but a freshly washed vintage Airstream coupled to a freshly washed vintage Suburban sitting on a wet driveway looks good to me.

We're headed out tomorrow at 0'dark thirty for the Smoky Mountains, and I wanted us to look good for the trip.

There's a favorite picture of mine that features my four-year old washing my Overlander in preparation of our first trip to Disney.

I wanted to get him involved with the latest effort, but it is now seven years later, and he was wrapped up with the academic team at middle school. We all know education comes first.

The original plan had been to leave today for the Smoky Mountains. But last week we found out our 6th-grader had already asked a girl to the first Middle-School dance tonight. Some things are more important than schedules - we'll leave tomorrow.