Thursday, August 29, 2013

Television Stand - Part Deux...

Well, doggone it....finally decided to dedicate more time to this project and git er done! Figured I needed to be able to hog off some of the router marks left in the slabs after planing, and bought this heavy duty, magnesium 4"x24" belt sander from Harbor Freight. Suffice to say, it works (2nd photo).

Some of the gouges were also from my chainsaw. Those were a little hairier to get out, and the sander got shelved for that process. Instead, I used a 4 1/2" cup rasp wheel, also from Harbor Freight, that I was pretty impressed with (see previous post of my tool review on this product.

Anyway, I roughed each slab as flat as my eye could see - eyeballing isn't something I'm really too good at, but it got the job done.....Oooh, my aching back!

This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I had to keep raising the slab up so my 6'4" frame wouldn't have to keep bending over so far. Even at that, the reach across the piece was far enough that the main pressure point was right square in the middle of my low back, and now I'm sitting here typing with a heat pack on and thinking about pouring a nice tall glass of wine to help drown my sorrows and to numb the pain.

The next step was a little more complicated. A lot of the finished appeal of a piece like this is in the actual arrangement of the separate components. Everyone has their own ideas on how things should ultimately look, and I knew what I thought was right might not be the same thing as what Katherine thought. So, I asked her to come on up to the shop and take a look-see and provide some feedback.

Before she came up, though, I "arranged" the components how I thought they might look best:

Try to imagine the pieces in this photo without the concrete blocks in between the shelves and with the shelves attached to the two end columns. I thought that would be pretty appealing.

Katherine took one look and told me to get the column on the right out of there. Then she turned the other column piece completely upside down to try to take advantage of the twist in this piece of juniper.


I know the lighting isn't too good on the first photo above, but hopefully you get the idea.

The shelves will look almost like they are suspended when attached. I'll be cutting the top part of the anchor column off and leveling it to accommodate the lower shelf that'll be home to the electronic components like DVD player and sound bar. That's a whole nother process for the next blog post on this project.

Getting the bottom of the anchor post flat was achieved by using the angle grinder with the cup rasp wheel. Took awhile, again, simply because my eyeballing skills need to be honed a whole lot more before I'll consider them to be even close to kind of good.

This piece is so heavy, all I had to do to stabilize it while grinding was to lean it up against my sawhorses. It didn't move at all!

The end result (I still have a little more work to do on the bottom to get the angle it sits at just right, but I'm getting pretty close) should be a very stable, anchor column for the two very heavy shelves.

The lower shelf will be about where you see the branch sticking out from the trunk about 2/3 of the way up in the photo below, and the top shelf just attached to the spacer column in between the two shelves (pictures to come in the next blog post).

I sure do hope my idea is a good one when this all gets put together. Balance and stability are key elements, and I'm just not sure yet whether I have both in what I'm doing so far. Guess the proof will be in the pudding as a wise old man (my Dad) once told me.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tool Review - 4 1/2" Carbide Cup Wheel (Harbor Freight)

If I only had the money, I'd buy a Lancelot "Holey Galahad", but I don't have the money. Went to Harbor Freight and found this kind of a sort of a "knock-off".

To be honest, I was really, really skeptical how this would work. The first time I tried it was on some end grain cottonwood, and I thought "oh, crap, this was a waste of money". After all, cottonwood is soft and should be really easy to hog off. But then I figured what the heck....I'll try it for hogging off some of the chainsaw marks left when I slabbed some walnut, and was actually pretty impressed. End grain removal, even on cottonwood, mustn't be it's strong suit. With the grain, though, is something else altogether.

As you can see from the photo below, it definitely leaves marks in the wood which is to be expected given this is a very coarse grit of 24.

As a knock-off, I'd rate this product an 8 out of 10 with 10 being the highest. I've seen some videos of the "Holey Galahad" in action, and this one doesn't come close to the same amount of sawdust being made, but, for the work I do, this is good enough.

Plus, the price is right at a modest $9.99. I can go through a lot of these before I get to the price of a "Holy Galahad" at $79 each. That makes this product even more attractive from my perspective. Might take a bit more to "finish" grind the surface (essentially two more steps using router planer and belt sander, and another step for finish sanding) because of the relatively deep gouges made by the grinding wheel, but not all THAT much.

I even used this grinding wheel to take down a surface on a pedestal I'm working on that'll ultimately wind up being a television stand (looks kind of off kilter in the photo, but is actually pretty level all things considered):

I'll ultimately wind up using my router planer on this surface, as well, and on the other end of it (upside down in this photo) so they are parallel to each other.

This grinding wheel is an in-store purchase only. If you'd like more specs on it, go to the Harbor Freight page here.

It doesn't say if it's to be used with wood or not, but I did it anyway, and I'll say I'm satisfied so far. Still don't know how long it'll last, but hopefully long enough to make it cost effective. Labor intensity I'd be rating at a 5 simply because I'm old!

Friday, August 16, 2013


Awhile back, I saw a post on a friend's Facebook page, Knock on Wood, that bout knocked my socks off! This guy does some simply amazing stuff, but this particular work of art inspired me to try the style myself:



My first thought was "I need a 3D printer". Problem is I doubt there's one big enough to handle a project like this, plus making it out of plastic isn't something that really appealed to me being a woodsy kind of guy, ya know.

So, I went to my raw materials pile, and this is what I came up with:


Mind you, this was a gnarly old Ponderosa Pine that was fixin to fall over in the next windstorm because of pine beetle infestation, so we decided to take her down last year and let her dry and cure the old fashioned way - solar.

Went up to see how she was doing this morning, and decided to cut the main piece out of the tree itself.


That's a Stihl 440 Magnum with a 20" bar in front of the bench seat to help give a better perspective of the size of this thing.

The first photo is of the bench on its side cuz it kind of fell over after I cut it. The second is of it propped up temporarily using a couple of blanks I had laying around to support it. Man, that thing is still heavy. Wondering if one year is actually enough drying/curing time.

The last thing I looked at today (all this work really took the wind right outta my sails) was the rest of the tree and other raw materials that might work for some legs and a seat back. Ya'll gotta help me here and tell me which you think might work the best:


I'm kind of thinking maybe shaping the one in the photo to the left to contour to the shape and curve of the bench seat and the one in the photo on the right cut and shaped to support the seat from the back almost where the blank is positioned under the seat in the photo above to support it. Almost like a tripod kind of.

Time to go get Bobby and have him help me move this monster closer to the shop so I can get to work on it.