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!

Made at 173: 45-Degree Marking Tool

November 21, 2019

Trying not to drone on about my back, but it's still out so there's still no big projects here at 173.  The good thing is - 173 has always been a work in progress, so there's really no finish line to be in a hurry to get to!  In the meantime, I've been puttering in the workshop making little hand tools that someday will make work just a little easier at times!  In the last post I showed the wide center line scribe, which you can see in this picture...

For this next tool, I used that scribe to mark the center line of a piece of stock, then used the compass to mark out an arc:

Made at 173: Wide Center Line Scribe

November 17, 2019

Seems like all I've been able to do is tinker in the workshop and make these little hand tools.  I guess it seems that way because it is all I'm able to do.  In recent weeks I've made a holder for card scrapers, a large marking gauge as well as a small marking gauge, and recently posted about the center line scribe I made back in August...

Made at 173: A Smaller Marking Gauge

November 10, 2019

Yesterday I wrote about the marking gauge made here at 173.  It was a fun little project, again made of scraps:

Made at 173: Marking Gauge

November 9, 2019

Mikhail Baryshnikov, that great ballet dancer from the 1970s, once said, "Your body actually reminds you about your age and your injuries - the body has a stronger memory than your mind."  Have truer words been spoken?  I've been a little laid up with a back injury for a few weeks now so I still don't have any projects of significance happening here at 173, but for the last couple posts I've been making little shop tools.  The last post was about the center line scribe I made a couple months ago, and the post before that was my newly minted card scraper.  And of course, I like to do these projects with scrap wood just for the challenge (I defend myself - it's NOT out of cheapness!) of it.  This time I used a couple scraps from the snow sled rebuild:

Made at 173: Center Line Scribe

November 3, 2019

In my last post I showed the steps for making my card scraper holder, and in that post I mentioned I used the center line scribed made right here at 173.

I even mentioned the possibility of a post about making the scribe and wuddaya know - here it is! I guess the first thing I should mention is that a center line scribe is used for determining exact centers on the edges of boards when making biscuit slot cuts, drilling dowel joints, for assembly work and more. I should also mention that such a scribe can be purchased just about anywhere, and most are listed at less than $20.

So, obviously making one myself wasn't as much about the money as it was my insatiable search to find ways to use scrap wood left over from other projects.  Here's how I made it, so incredibly simple!  Besides my drill press and a hand saw, these were the only supplies required...

I used scrap pieces I had on hand including:

1"x2"x5" piece of pine
Two 1 1/2" pieces of 1/2" diameter dowel
A 1" drywall screw

After cutting the body of the scribe, I cut the dowel pieces...

Then I marked out the placement of the dowels and drilled the holes to 1/2" depth with a Forstner bit to the holes a flat bottom.

If you noticed, I marked out the lines for placement of the dowels and to find the exact center between them.  After the holes were drilled, it was just a matter of applying some wood glue and making sure the dowels were inserted at 90 degrees to the base of the body.

This is the most important part of the scribe, take the time to find the exact center between the dowels.  Once that was determined, I used my drill press to pre-drill a pilot hole to make sure the scribing screw went into the body at a right angle also.

From there it was pretty much done!  I screwed the drywall screw in slowly because only a tiny bit of the tip is needed to scribe the edge of a board.  In the picture below, the screw needs to be backed out a bit because even that little bit is a smidge too much.

Of course I also finished it with what's becoming the signature stain color here at 173 - Minwax Gunstock stain.

To use the scribe, the guide posts straddle the workpiece, rotate the tool so the guideposts contact the wood, and then scribe.  It's just that simple!  No muss, no fuss and no figurin'!

And all from scraps and a screw!

Made at 173: Card Scraper Holder

November 2, 2019

Betty Davis once said, "Getting old isn't for sissies."  Boy isn't that the truth!  That's relevant because in the past couple years I have more aches and pains than ever, all seemingly with no immediate cause, probably just my youth catching up with me.  Right now I'm a bit laid up with a back injury so there aren't any significant projects going on here at 173, but of course I'm always in need for some workshop therapy.  The other day I was watching a video on how to make a card scraper holder:  


This guy makes some good videos and this one inspired me to make one myself.  Fair warning - this is a heavily photo-centric post.  I started by cutting a card from a small sheet of tool-grade steel...

Of course, the trick is to cut the card as straight as possible to reduce the amount of filing after the cuts are made.

Then I just used my grinder to make the cuts.  Interesting little fact here, the grinder going through the steel and into the wood below caused some considerable amount of smoke in the workshop and guess what - the smoke detector didn't go off - hmm.

Then it was time to file the long edges of the card to make it square and sharp...

Then used my brand new burnisher.

If you don't know what that is, or what it's used for, Paul Mayer has an excellent article on Woodworkers Guild of America, you can read the article here.  After that, I made the handle, shaping it a bit to make it more comfortable on the hands...

And just for fun, I used another tool made at 173 to find the center of the handle for the tension screw, the center finder and marker.  Geeze, I should do a quick post on that one(And I did the next day)!

That done, I used a forstner bit to create a recess, then drilled a center hole for inserting a t-nut.

Before I went any further, I stained the handle with Minwax Gunstock stain, which seems to be my go-to color with these little hand tools made at 173:

I also learned the proper way to insert a t-nut by drawing it into place from the opposite side by tightening it with a washer and nut.  Of course, two whacks with the hammer accomplishes the same thing.  Here you can see why I recessed the front, just to set the t-nut close to level with the face of the handle...

With another small piece of scrap wood, I made a spacer that goes between the scraper and the handle.  The screw rests in the little hole I drilled and pushes the card to the desired curve, and also helps give a little stability and support to the scraper.

Here you can see the adjustment screw with that little spacer on the opposite side of the handle:

Here it is with the scraper attached with washers and screws.

The handle side:

And the scraper side...

I gave it a test run and it works great!  The one feature I want to redo is that I'll cut a new card a little wider and add notches on the sides to help keep the scraper from drifting up from the downward pressure.  Aside from that - an excellent little tool!

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