latest on the blog

Gerstner & Sons Tool Chest Refurb

February 17, 2020

It's finally done!  The refurb of my Gerstner tool chest has been a long time coming.  It started probably 9 or 10 years ago when my Dad gave me this classic machinist's tool chest:

Just an Interim Update

February 9, 2020

It's been a few weeks since I posted anything, so I thought I'd take a couple minutes so y'all know I'm still alive!  There's no major project going on here at 173 right now, although I'm not sure why - there's always more to do.  But I am in the middle of a couple almost trivial projects.  One is the door that leads into the laundry room...

There's an interesting little story that goes along with the door but, I think I'll wait til it's done and I post about it to tell!  And, there's another little project -

That's the old Gerstner machinist's tool chest my dad gave me.  I'm not doing a total teardown, but I am doing a fairly thorough refurb on it.  Both of these little projects are nearing completion, so - see ya in the funny papers!

The Accent Table Megapost!

January 18, 2020

Welcome to the Accent Table Megapost combining both posts about the design and build of the little accent table made specifically for the end of the upstairs hallway in 2019.  

So, the class I'm in is winding up and I have a couple days off work so I wanted to get in the workshop and do something.  One thing I've been wanting to do is make an accent table for the end of the upstairs hallway.  Here's where we left of in October:

It's really difficult to get a good picture up there, but you get the idea.  The problem with that spot is that there are two doorways at the end of the hallway so whatever piece was to go there certainly could't be particularly big, otherwise you'r have to squeeze by whenever you went into a room.  I don't like that idea, so I had to come up with a solution.  I decided to make the table top in a half-round shape.  Lowes sells some round boards for making end-tables and the like, but they were too thick, which would throw things out of scale at the cramped end of the hallway.  So I figured I'd have to do something I've never done - cut my own circles.  I started with one of these boards from Lowes:

The Radiator Cover Megapost

December 22, 2019

Welcome to the Radiator Cover Megapost combining the 5 or 6 posts about the cover made for the dining room radiator in '18 - '19.

Winter came early this year!

Made at 173: Simple Toolboxes

December 2, 2019

As you probably know, I like finding things to do with scrap wood after a project.  In this case, I've made a few simple toolboxes, and if you read through, you'll practically get a tutorial!  The first was after the back porch remodel in 2011, and was just a decorative piece for the back porch...

It's painted Valspar's Golderod in semi-gloss, and just so you know - that's going to come up again in a little while.  I also lightly distressed it, and used Valspar's antiquing glaze to give it a bit of an aged look.  The second one I made maybe around 2013, was a toolbox for the workshop.

Most of the time I haul tools around in a 5 gallon bucket with one of those organizers, but sometimes it's nice to just throw a few tools in a box and head out...

Like the first toolbox, this one is of simple design, but I did make one seemingly goofy little addition.  I added a little magnetic cupboard door catch that I salvaged when I changed some of the kitchen cabinets.  I use this to hold some drill screwdriver bits.  Aside from that - simple!  The only other thing really different with this one (aside from no antiquing, etc.) was this toolbox is much larger, a full 30 inches long.

This time I made one to be used as a delivery vehicle for a Christmas present.  And this is where the bit of tutorial comes into play.  As is my wont, I started with a piece of scrap wood, this one left over from the dining room built-in project...

Then I laid out the dimensions of the end boards, using a compass so I could set the proper angle on the miter saw.  Quite honestly, this was a wasted step!  All I really needed to do was mark the center of the top of the board and cut from that point to where the horizontal line meets the edge of the board!  So much simpler!

After that, I clamped the two end pieces together and sanded the edges to make sure they were symmetrical.  If you look closely you'll spy a couple other things.  First, that 's 5/8" dowel that I used for the handle.  After I drilled the holes for the handle, I used the dowel to make sure the end pieces were lined up correctly for edge sanding.  The other thing, on the left of the picture you can see one of the two side boards, both of which were cut from another scrap piece.

And here's the dry fit.  Please notice the pencil marks - good thing I didn't go with my near slide-rule measurements!  

Then I used my corner clamp, which I've used for several projects now with great success, to make sure the corners were at 90 degrees, and glued them together...  

Ha!  See that bullseye on the side, that board was originally going to be part of the 45-degree marking tool I made a week or so ago.  And here's the dry fit with the handle in place...

Craftsman was the tool of choice for my dad when I was a kid, then they went into decline for a number of years, but I'm so happy to say they're making a great comeback of late!  Anyway, here's a beauty shot of my air finish nailer, that's worked well for me since probably 2000 or 2001.  Obviously, I used finish nails to complement the glue and give the toolbox some added, more permanent strength...

Then it was Thanksgiving Day, and the workshop sat still and felt a bit lonely...

After installing the bottom of the toolbox with yet another piece of scrap wood, I gave the toolbox two coats of Valspar's Goldenrod (told ya that was gonna come up again)...

Then it was time to distress it a little.  It's always a difficult step, to take a newly built, freshly painted project and beat it up.  So, over the years whenever I came across a little length of chain, I've saved it (don't make this weird) and you can see the little collection to the right of the hammers...


From that collection, I chose an old one with a but of rust and grime and gave the toolbox a few well-aimed whacks.

Then I strategically sanded the toolbox  back down to the bare wood at key points of the edges, imagining where there would have been some natural wear and tear.  Then dad's old ball-peen hammer gave it a few little divots.

Then I used a little (very little, I'm conserving my favorite glaze - which has been discontinued) Valspar glaze...

which helps tone down the Goldenrod paint, and sits in crevices and dings - giving the toolbox a slightly aged appearance...

And just like that, it was finished!

These toolboxes aren't only useful, they're quick, fun little projects.  I'm considering making a more sophisticated one just for fun - we'll see!

The Dining Room Built-In Megapost!

November 30, 2019

This is the first of the Megaposts here on House 173!  What is a Megapost you ask?  Well, when I'm doing a large, and sometimes not so large, project I end up posting the progress as I go.  As it turns out, even with labeling, getting the whole story can be difficult.  So I decided that on the larger projects, I would create a post that culls together each of those posts to create a kind of metanarrative. and this is the first - the great dining room built-in of '17 - '18!

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