If anyone has met the lovely lady I have the privilege of calling ‘mine’, aside from her beautiful looks and flawless skin, you might have noticed a complete absence of patience. It’s something I bring up whenever an example occurs (hourly), as I’m a pretty patient person (read: pothead). One such example is Gage’s bedroom. One day she decided it would be a great idea to move her now teen-aged son’s room into the basement (which he and his friends currently monopolize), freeing up a main floor room which could be used as a den. Once I assessed things and agreed to do the work the kid was booted down to the basement, and work on the den began.
Then a million other things happened; work shifts changed, dens took forever, summer happened (read: pothead). It seemed like the room would never even get started, never mind finished. Now however, with me being only intermittently employed (not complaining) I am able to get a lot more done around here. Over the last week I got a bunch of help from The Dude, and on the weekend Ryan came and chipped in. There is only one small closet wall left to frame, then a bunch of insulation and vapour barrier, and it’s all ready for drywall. With any luck the kid will be fully moved in early in the new year, then I can begin fixing the rest of the basement he’s been destroying while in bedroom-limbo. The problem is I need to work in order to be able to afford to finish it quick, but if I’m working I won’t have time to do it. But I guess that’s how life goes. I just hope the room turns out okay, he’s happy, and Holly sees why it’s important to keep a guy with a beard and a hammer around.
A couple weeks ago my brother asked me if I could make a giant ruler looking thing with decorative pyrography (wood-burning to the laymen) geared towards my nephew’s interests. Well, sort of… here’s the message I got:
Once I knew what he was talking about, I was pretty excited to get started. I did however talk him out of the rickets / rockets / trains / planes for now. I will add stuff later, once we know what he’s into. I figure there is no sense burning a rocket ship into it at the six foot mark, unless he grows up to work at JPL (which would be totally awesome). I’d rather burn something relevant to his life at the times when Chris records his height. So for now it would be Thomas the train, tennis, and I believe baseball. But if I’ve learned anything from being around Gage and Roan the past few years, it’s that they change their interests more often than their underwear. For that reason, and so we can burn the heights and dates in as they go, I am forced to leave it unfinished (no stain or polyurethane) until he’s all done growing. Hopefully nothing gets spilled, or more likely, splattered on it before then or I’ll be doing some extra work.
I made it using a single piece of poplar I got severely overpriced at the Home Depot. It wasn’t too outrageously priced for poplar, but for the amount of planer marks I had to sand off, the snipe at one end, and the chunk out of the other end it was way overpriced. This was my first time practising poplar pyrography and it was bullshit! Poplar is not the best for the burns. It wasn’t the worst wood I’ve ever used, but it was up there. The grain is super tight (as hardwood grain is), which is usually nice for even burns, but the grain still has a tendency to differ quite drastically from spring growth to fall growth. The spring grain burns much faster and with less pressure because of the tree’s rapid growth in that season. The darker grain (the fall growth and winter dormancy) takes longer to burn and / or more pressure to achieve an even burn with the lighter grain. This is what causes little pockets or divots in lines, which end up looking like blown-out tattoo lines. I did my best to keep these instances to a minimum, but I’m no pro and it’s not perfect.
Hopefully both Chris and Felix like it, and it serves its intended purpose. I’m pretty pleased with it personally.
As I mentioned in my last post, a week ago I started a new job cutting reclaimed timbers into boat cribs for a local shipyard. On Tuesday I finished planing the last pieces, then labelled and loaded them onto pallets, and wrapped them up to be shipped. Unfortunately that means the end of my fun with chainsaws (for now), but in reality I’m okay with that. After 40 hours of chainsawing the arms, hands, shoulders and back get a little tight and sore. Luckily Holly booked me a massage later, so that should help a ton.
The above photo is the tow-motor I drive and a pallet loaded with the cut-off waste wood, which one of the other guys who works there is taking up north and using to heat his cottage. It should be great for that. It’s all solid oak that has been submerged under water and compressed under the weight of massive ships for years. I imagine it’s going to burn for hours. That tow motor saved me so much heavy lifting when it was working. Unfortunately on day one it got stuck in a soft spot on the driveway, then a valve decided to die, and it was out of commission until midway through the second day. So for that entire time I had no choice but to lift and move everything using only my totally awesome muscles.
For those of you who are interested in what it was I was doing, here’s how it goes:
I start by finding a decent timber (decent means: I have enough of an edge to layout my cuts, there is no rot or split lines that will compromise my finished piece, and there is a face for me to mark lines on; sometimes timbers are too wet, or rough sawn to mark a decent line) and prop it up on some other timbers so it’s a comfortable height to cut. I use the metal detector, in the photo above, to find any nails that might destroy my chainsaw, and remove them (if I’m lucky) or mark and avoid them. Then I measure and mark my cuts. I stay away from my layout lines when cutting (just like in timber framing and all that fun stuff with low tolerances!) so that I can plane down to them afterwards and have a nice smooth, even surface. Once planed, I label everything with wooden tags I brad-nail to the end grain, then stack them and wrap them.
Here’s an example of one piece I had to cut. Because the pieces were four feet long, and the cuts were on an angle, even a twenty-four inch bar wouldn’t cut these in just two cuts. Instead I had to make four cuts per piece. One from each end, then two in the middle on each side. The last cut always being the scary one. It’s the one where if something is going to go wrong, that’s when. And when things go wrong with a chainsaw, they go really wrong, and fast. But whatever, working all day, alone, with the risk of dying is what makes manly men… right?
After those four cuts you get a pile of chips like this. The picture doesn’t accurately illustrate the depth of the pile, but believe me, it’s deep. I know because the saw kicks the chips out its ass end directly onto my right foot, filling my boot up several times a day. At the end of the day it looks like I have one normal sock and one sock made of mulch. Thankfully that’s not annoying at all to walk around on for eight hours (/sarcasm). I spend about ten minutes at the end of the day with the air compressor trying to dust myself off before getting into the car. Then I spend the drive home picking shit out of my eyes.
After you cut all the cuts and plane all the planing, you get a pile of chips about twice the size of the one pictured above (the garbage bags are filled with chips…). That’s about thirty to thirty-five contractor-size bags full of oak chips, and there was only a little over forty timbers to cut in total. So basically less than two timbers cut and planed equals one entire bag of chips. At the end of each day I would use a snow shovel to clean up; a broom would have taken hours. Apparently the owner has a deal with the region, who take the chips and use them as mulch in their gardens. I would prefer cedar myself. Oak sort of smells like dill pickle chips to me.
I loved doing this job. Regardless of how hard it was on my muscles and back at times, and how crippled my hands still feel, it was perfect. I spent the day outside playing with chainsaws and other things that make lots of noise, got paid (well… will get paid), and made some new animal friends. There is a cat who lives at the shop named Sly, who seems to love me. Then there is the guy in the photo above. His name is Rex, and he’s one of the neighbour’s dogs who comes running over to say hi whenever he hears me making the aforementioned noise. He hangs out and sniffs things while I’m cutting, then runs over for some loving when the tools wind down.
I’m not sure when I’ll go back to work for them, or what I will be doing when I do, but I look forward to whatever it may be. It’s a great opportunity for me to do more and learn more about the things I like doing, all while getting paid. And so far everyone seems very nice and easy to get along with.
Suck it John Deere!
So as I stated briefly in a previous post, I (along with a bunch of others) recently got laid off from John Deere, after just over a year of working there through Manpower. In that year I managed to do a bunch of stuff. I had some of the best numbers in the place, was one of three people trained on a particular piece of equipment, the only ManPower employee selected for the Continuous Improvement Committee (which I cheerfully resigned from a few months ago after some bullshit I will post about another day), changed the layout of two major sections of the facility, and increased the efficiency of one of the major components vital in ensuring all deadlines are met.
Sounds like a decent list of things which might help a person get hired full time, no? No. Not there. At John Deere (at least the facility I was a part of) nepotism seems to be the almighty ruler of everything. I witnessed numerous instances where good hard working ManPower people got screwed over so that some full time slacker with an uncle in the office could get their way. It was things of this type that took me from being a motivated go-getter eager to secure a long-term, full time position, to someone who resigns from the C.I. Committee and openly admits their lack of respect for the supervisory and managerial staff in control of my life.
I could go on for hours about how fucked up it was working at the Deere, but I’d rather not. I’ll make a couple more posts I’m sure which will be related to things I did while there, or things that happened while I was there. For now I’ll keep it brief. I got a call from ManPower yesterday, telling me they had my stuff from my locker, and that I needed to return my I.D. swipe card, so I decided to have a little fun with some Sharpies before I hand it in. I’m a ninja.
Tomorrow I begin a new job. Not sure how long I will get to do it, but we’ll see. It’s for a company that does a lot of commercial and residential renovations, however my first task will be constructing boat cradles out of oak 12″ x 12″s at the shipyard! Chainsaws!! Fuck Ya! Day shifts!! Fuck Ya! John Deere…. FUCK OFF!!
A while back I made a few wooden belt buckles for myself and my friend, Jon. When I purchased the blank metal backs, I bought a single oval shaped blank to see if I could do anything with it. Unfortunately the edges are all bevelled, making it nearly impossible to glue a wooden front to. I had no idea what I would do with it and considered trying to engrave something neat with my Dremel, but my hands are still too shaky for that. Then one afternoon, Holly returned from a morning of garage sale hopping with a beginner’s wood burning kit for Roan. Inside was a few things I commandeered before we gave it to him: two leather straps and a small square of thin cork. The cork was flexible enough to adhere to the bevelled backing without being under an excessive amount of pressure, and it burns nicely.
I glued the cork to the blank that day, but it wasn’t until today that I decided to finally burn something onto it. It wasn’t because I got a great idea, but rather I got tired of seeing it waiting for an idea and I have had the urge to burn something lately. So I made another monogrammed pants controller.
I was going to do an ‘E’, then thought about ‘JC’, but that might lead people to think I am religious, so I settled on the ‘C’ . It works on a few levels. Clark, Cobra, cork, and if I’m wearing corduroys with a calfskin belt, well…. lookout!
This morning I woke up early (6:15 am) because we went to bed too early last night and I can only ever get a maximum of eight hours in a single sleep (and that’s rare). I decided to get out of bed and take the dog out around 6:45. Usually he doesn’t get let out until a little after 7:00, so this morning when he came out the moon was still brightly shining. As I stated in an earlier post, Dempsey is a bit of an idiot. Upon noticing the moon above the roof-line of the house, he instantly got into his defensive stance and stared directly at it for about three minutes. Eventually he decided to wander around the house, into the driveway to get a better view. He then proceeded to growl and bark at the moon until I brought him inside in an attempt to shut him up and not wake the neighbours. Once inside he looked up at the ceiling and let out a few more less enthusiastic barks followed by one of those yawning whimpers.
All I could think of was this: Would you like to yell at the moon with Buzz Aldrin?
It only took a little over two years, an iPhone and the absence of his mother, but my nephew finally started warming up to me. Anyone who has been around me and tiny children knows it usually doesn’t go well; we’re equally terrified of each other. My Mighty nephew is no exception. This photo above is literally the first time he’s ever willingly been in my presence, let alone within my reach. I’m not naive enough to think I had anything to do with it, the credit all goes to interactive Dr. Seuss book iPhone apps, but I’ll take it however I can get it.
Teeny tiny Mighty baby steps.
So once again it’s been a while since I’ve updated this stupid blog, but that may all change in the near future. One of the main reasons I wasn’t blogging was my job, which as of Saturday is no longer an issue. I’ll post more on that entire situation later, but for now I want to talk about the dork above.
He’s a handsome little pain in the ass that we decided to adopt because I didn’t want a dog at all and Holly’s a sucker. Since one of the sales tactics imposed on me was the option to name the pain in the ass I decided to take full advantage, and after a few days I settled on Tank Dempsey (for those who don’t know, Tank is a zombie-slaying American WWII hero from the Call of Duty game series). However, I seem to most commonly refer to him as Dump Truck because he has the grace and subtlety of a Clydesdale on bath salts. Although I didn’t want the idiot, he’s growing on me. And I don’t mean “he” as in I wanted a dog, just not him. I mean I didn’t want a dog at all. I grew up with dogs, had them my whole life. I’m familiar with just how annoying the responsibility can be, especially if you get a dog that’s difficult to manage. I just didn’t want to take that on at this point in time. The more I hang with him the more I warm up to the idea of having a dog again.
Look forward to more Dumpster posts in the future… or don’t. I truly don’t care.