Workbench-Nearing Completion


03534 ATonight, I made a push to finish the workbench but things happen and I wasn’t able to put the bow on it.  However, I did get a lot done.

We left off with the untrimmed legs laying on the workbench surface waiting to be mated to the tabletop.  I began by assigning each leg to a corner then marking of the center of where the leg would be from the outside rail of the frame.  The plan was to secure the leg to the table top with a hex bolt. I didn’t get very far when I was interrupted and had to assume other duties.  While otherwise occupied (probably doing the dishes or folding laundry… some household chore), I started thinking about stability.  If I only use one hex bolt, over time, that will become an axle for the legs to pivot on.  Not good.  I rushed to my nearest big box hardware

Where we left off

Where we left off

store and picked up four more hex bolts, eight lock-washers, and 8 locking nuts.

The next day I measured out (from my center marks) the center for each bolt.  Once satisfied, I used my 1/2″ auger bit to drill out the holes.  I had a little trouble with this in that my 7.2V DeWalt and 12V Ryobi cordless drills didn’t have enough juice to get the job done.  I was afraid that they just didn’t have the muscle.  I did as much as I could then when the batteries gave up the ghost, I switch to cutting the legs to size.  Since I want the bench to be 36″ tall, I cut the legs to 34 1/2″ (tabletop is 1 1/2″ thick”).  This is cake using a miter/chop saw.  But it’s 11:30PM and I have children sleeping so this would have invoked an ass-beating of epic scale.  Since I want my wife’s encouragement and support, I opted for the hand saw.

wb-06-outside-leg-attachmentI really haven’t used a handsaw where it counts.  I’ve used them in the past to cut stuff up but not with the level of precision that I “needed” from the miter saw.  I found out, like with everything, practice is important.  My cuts on the leg are not square and just off.  Since its on the end grain, the plane doesn’t want any part in that.  I will need to use my palm sander to get this fixed.  Learning is living, aye?

The next day, I had fully charged batteries and a new attitude.  This bench was going down (or up?)!  I finished up drilling the holes into the rails (Yay! The drills still have some life left) and then marked each leg’s bolt hole location and then drilled all the legs separately.  I thought this was going to give me trouble because I can measure twice or a hundred times and still jack up a simple hole.  Well, I can tell you that I did NOT this time.  However, there were some minor variations in the alignment.  I think this is good since it helped lock in the legs once the bolts were fastened.

Now that the legs are drilled, I began by attaching the bolt closest to the tabletop firstwb-05-ahh-nuts then moving the the upper (lower? … the table is upside down at this point) bolt.  The first bolt is much easier then the second and I discovered how far my drill holes were off.  I didn’t have to alter any holes but I did have to use my BF Hammer to get some of them in.  Once I locked the first leg down, I pushed and pulled on it to see how stable it really was… <insert evil laugh>  It was gloriously solid and whatever stability issues I might have, it won’t be due to wobbly leg joints.

wb-08-wiggle-testI proceeded to attached the other three  legs and then went around and gave each bolt a final snugging up.  I still have to install the braces on the legs but I wanted to see the workbench on it’s feet.  I flipped it over and set it up (this was not the easiest one-man job).  I was surprised at how high it was.  Yup.  36″ is pretty high.  I also needed to see if it was going to be stable.  Meh!  This workbench design has a basic flaw in that it is long, narrow and tall.  If I chopped 10 inches off the legs, that would probably help but that means it’s back to the crinkle-back, all hunched over my work.  I want it this height.  The other thought would be that I could add one or two more 2x10s and widen it.  I think this would allow me to keep the height and give me more stability.  Space is limited so I am going to stick with this design for now and try the leg braces.  I can do my planing on the ends of the table which will prevent the tippiness.  Since I attached the legs to the long rails of the frame, I can simply pull out the short rails and put in longer ones.  I will have to do some serious disassembly but it’s something I could finish in an afternoon.  Something to consider.

wb-10-workbench-functionalSo, I threw my shooting board on the bench and started planing a scrap piece of wood.  I definitely need to work from the ends when doing planing or chisling (where permitted).  It’s a little wobbly but I still haven’t attached the braces or flattened out the feet.  I am planning to surface the feet with bicycle tire tread (I saw this done while making a dog sled on “How It’s Made” on the Science Channel).  Once flat, the tread should give a solid non-slip surface to keep the bench from sliding.  I don’t want to permanently mount the workbench to the floor.

Tomorrow night, I plan to add the leg braces then flatten and surface the feet.  If I have time, I will start planing the surface and get the MDF for top.

Oh, I almost forgot.  I had to make some alterations to the dimensions.  Here is the cut list.  Keep in mind the following:

  • 2×10 = 1 1/2″ x 9
  • 2×4   = 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″
  • 1×4   = 3/4″ x 3 1/2″

Cut list:

  • (3) 2x10x54 (table top)
  • (2) 2x4x50 (long rails)
  • (3) 2x4x20 3/4″ (short rails and center brace)
  • (8) 2x4x34 1/2″ (legs 2 laminated together to make a 3×3 1/2 post)
  • (1) 1x4x51 1/2″ (long leg brace)
  • (2) 1x4x20 3/4″ (short leg brace)

I have also listed below, the hardware and tools I used:

  • (8) 1/2″ x 6″ Hex Bolts
  • (8) Disk Washers
  • (8) Lock Washers
  • (8) Lock Nuts
  • 1/2″ Wrench
  • 1/2″ Socket and Ratchet Wrench (long is leverage)
  • 1/2″ Auger bit
  • Tons of screws (I forget the specs… I’ll come back to those)
  • Countersink bit
  • Powerful Drill (or in my case…)
    • (2) Weak-ass Drills
  • BF Hammer
  • Swanson 12″ Combo Carpenter’s Square (these are da BOMB!)
  • Tape Measure
  • Titebond Glue
  • Sandpaper (60 and 120 grit)
  • Sharpened Pencil
  • Plenty of Diet Coke
  • Plenty of Sam Adams (for after the job)

Here is the gallery of images taken since my last post.

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Digital Recording


Happy New Year! 

It’s hard to believe that 2009 is here already.  20 years ago, I was just getting back from Nebraska from a Christmas trip with my family and getting ready to continue my studies at Full Sail.  It’s funny how things seem to come full circle.

Over the past few months, my wife and I have been talking about providing our customers with recordings of their performances.  With some great help, I settled on SAW Studio.  Since my initial needs are small, I have opted for the economically prices M-Audio MobilePre USB digital pre-amp.  I am running SAW on a Dell Latitude 110 and though I was dubious at first, it gets the job done.

So the week prior to our first outting with the new gear, I spent several hours thinking about how I wanted to track the performances.  I have plenty of hard drive space so I could just hit record and go sit down and drink Mai Tais until it was time to strike.  I could also track each performance on a new track or leave everything on one track and only record the performance.  Since there really isn’t much going on during the gig for me, I elected to track each performance on separate tracks.  I labeled the performance by the singer(s) name then the song name.  By the way, you don’t get much of a label to work with so you sometimes have to be creative.

In retrospect, this technique worked out fantastic for me.  Since I had several back-to-back performances, I wasn’t able to mix the performances until I had a lull.  If I had just clicked record and walked away, I wouldn’t have been able to easily find each song and get them mixed quickly.  I was able to identify the performance, mark my beginning and end points and rip out a mix in under a minute for each.  By the end of the night, I was able to spin up several disks for customers with anyone’s performance.  Though I had a separate laptop ready for burning during the night, the crowd was light so we didn’t have a lot of takers but we did about a third of the cost of the MobilePre from the CD sales.  

So, in a short matter of weeks, I went from being a slug, worrying about weeds in the lawn to recording for a living again.  It’s not the Record Plant but it’s fun as hell and I can suppliment my gear envy with the proceeds.

So my next projects are:

  • Mix about 20 multi-track live recordings from my cousin’s band.  These were tracked on a Roland VS-1680 and converted to SAW.
  • Learn and track the bass part for Rush’s Natural Science song.  This is an on-going project my cousin started a few years ago.  We only have one in the hopper (Cities on Flame by Blue Oyster Cult)
  • Upgrade my gear.  I need to invest in some decent near-field monitors.  I also want to be able to track more than two inputs at a time
  • Work with my Cousin in getting our mobile recording business more business.  We’re investigating some potential revenue streams.
  • Build some gear.  There are some incredible pre-amp kits out there that I really want to tackle.

Though this is not by any means an earth-shattering event, it was an eye opener and it woke me back up to a time that I very much enjoyed.  Now I have the experience and the means to make it not only a fun hobby but potentially a profitable one as well.

Cafferty Questions: Should the U.S. Attack Al Qaeda Without Permission?


soldier2Tonight, I decided to catch up on some of my reading and I had to stop at John Cafferty’s blog, The Cafferty File.  He has posted the question, Should The U.S. attack Al Qaeda without permission?  I read though hundreds of responses both for and against, with many excellent responses on both sides (and some just plain ignorant).  Though I did see hints of it, I didn’t see anyone mention our country’s responsibility for global leadership. 

As a proclaimed “Super Power, how our government executes it’s foreign policy sets the standard for other countries in how they interact within their own spheres of influence.  It is nothing new that we project to the world a contradiction on a most global scale.  In one hand, we hold freedom, honor, respect, peace and love as values that all people should strive for.  In the other hand, we hold a bloody dagger of rage, torment, anguish and revenge.  It’s no great wonder that our enemies hate us with such loathing and that even our allies turn their backs on us or at best, tisk and shake their heads. 

Each of us has our own idea of what is means to be an American.  A question I often have is what do other people in the world think is means to be and American and how do we want to be seen by them?  Are we arrogant, militaristic, dictators pushing our beliefs on those who want nothing of it or are we a strong, rugged nation of people that cry foul and intervene on behalf of those who are powerless to stop the international hooligans?  Are we really still the world police force, commissioned to right the wrongs of the world?  The full spectrum of these simple questions spawns so many more but it comes right back to how can America be a world leader, spreading the values of freedom, honor, integrity, and peace by casting world opinion aside and just doing what we feel is the right thing to do? 

Many could argue that it is simply the right thing to do and we must act to prevent the evil-doers of the world from gaining a foothold.  Others would say that we are arrogant for even thinking of acting alone without a coalition of nations and we are no better than those who run around blowing up cars in crowded marketplaces.  Never before 9/11 did I think about how others saw us; saw me. 

However, things change.  Out children will never know what it was like to wonder if we would ever be attacked.  Our children will have to wonder will it happen again?  If we as a nation do not stop and focus on what it is we want to be, then we will become what we fear the most; a memory.   Each and everyone of us needs to be committed to the values that our country stands for in the world: Honesty, integrity, Honor, Strength, Bravery.  Should the U.S. attack Al Qeada without permission?  My question is why is it up to the U.S. to shoulder this burden alone?  Why must others reap the rewards of freedom that were purchased with the blood of our fathers/mothers/sons/daughters? 

When others are too weak to defend themselves, we have a moral obligation to intervene.  We also have a right to defend ourselves from those who would see our way of life destroyed, but always, ALWAYS in an manner that doesn’t violate our core, American values.  When our nation begins to start acting like we want others to see us, then the image of America may return to that of a nation that is a beacon of hope for the people of the world.  Today, let’s take a minute to reflect upon what it means to be American.  Let us consider the cost for our role in in the war not only now but for the future of our children.  Let us consider the price already paid by our Armed Forces and the sacrifices that they have made.  Let us consider what it truly means to be a leader in the the world community. Then, perhaps, we’ll be able to leave to our children an America that is a better and a world where John Cafferty won’t have to ask that question again.