November 29, 2011

Photo of the day: 104

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:02 pm

Jake, his girlfriend Kylie, and I went to the KC Zoo for a couple of hours on the Thanksgiving weekend. The animals were mostly hiding out from the cold, and are pretty hard to photograph behind bars even on a good day. So I snuck up on a few plants while mostly watching the four orangutans do some very funny stuff, anthropomorphically speaking. They were cold, too, and someone had given them blankets, which they wore like dresses and capes. The wisest of them figured out how to get a whole blanket from inside the cage to outside the cage, by poking it at length and gradually through a small hole.

The splendid colors of fall are persisting at the zoo, somehow. At my house, ten miles away, they’ve gone to reds and browns only…or maybe I just can’t see locally anymore.

Yeah, there’s more than red and brown there.

This morning I was poking around in our front yard and noticed that the outlet for our sump pump was providing aeration and nourishment for all manner of green and blue beasties.

The tiny pond below the end of the pipe persists through sub-zero winter and sub-saharan summer.

This must be the best accidental bokeh I’ve ever gotten. Like candy. If you’d seen the ditch I was kneeling in, you’d be as astounded as me.

The neighbors who drove by while I was crouched in my drainage ditch would think I am insane if they weren’t so used to it.

The surface of the water was sheltered from the wind, so was quite still. The early sun was striking it acutely. I was able to shoot right through the surface so you can’t tell what’s above and what’s below. These bubbles are on the bottom of the tiny pond.

Half above, half below. And by “tiny,” I mean 12″x24″.

Lovely blue light, like electric fire. Only that much of the pondlet was reflecting the sky.

Another view.

Backing off just a little to the grass around the pond.

Here you can see the surface…because it’s reflecting sky and surrounding shadow.

Leaf edge poking through the water…brilliant sun spots.

November 24, 2011

Photo of the day: 103

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 9:54 am

I’ve been following the progress of these seed/fruit/knob objects on our trees since early summer. There hasn’t been any. They look pretty much the same now as they did six months ago. Same size, slightly different color. I’m tempted to say that their number has remained constant, too, but anyone can see that two out of five of the stems above are vacant. I suppose this tree fruit is working the way all tree fruit does: an inveiglement to birds, bears, and humans to propagate progeny. But these trees are terribly patient in their seduction.

Yesterday morning I took the opportunity of misdelivered mail to stroll about my neighbors’ property with camera in hand. I was heading vaguely in the direction of the right mailbox, hoping to cross paths with the mail lady on the way–our friend Carla Long has moved in with us, and now Patricia Long’s mail was showing up in our box (Patricia lives up the road). I envisioned a winter of schlepping mail from one box to the other if the confusion wasn’t sorted. The light was sporadically bright and shaded, leading to little photographic surprises.

This fence post is staking up one of James and Becci’s trees. I showed the photo to Jeanne just now and asked her, “What are the colors in this picture?” She said, “Nice.” I said, “No, what are their names?” She said, “Olive, cerulean, and peachy…but I don’t know if you want to say ‘peachy’.”

She went on to say that olive and cerulean adjacent are her favorite adjacencies, and kind of rare. But she is now walking around the house pointing out all the places we have olive and cerulean adjacent, so I’m thinking “not that rare.”

The mail lady pulled up in James and Becci’s driveway while I was capturing these bright red bird inveiglements. She sat in her little right-handed jeep blowing the horn. I knocked on her window and she rolled it down a crack. She had a package for Becci but is afraid of Becci’s dogs, who were arrayed in high bay around us. I exchanged my misdirected mail for the package. I’m in cahoots with the USPS.

Dying leaves have a weight and dignity. They seem to have gathered a lifetime of living in one summer.

Earlier in the morning, a man rang our doorbell. Eight is early for doorbell ringing–we were still in coffee and corn chex mode. He’d been stabbed and beaten, run across the marshy field from his assailants, and taken a seat on our porch. He asked to use our phone. Jeanne let him in, he went down on one knee, looking shocky, she suggested he sit on our stairs, he said he didn’t want to get blood on the carpet. We could see the long puncture in the back of his shirt, with a spreading circle of blood. His face was pulped, a swollen flap of skin hanging from his cheek. He held his heart. I said to Jeanne, “Call 911.” He said, “No.”

He used Jeanne’s cell phone to call a friend, asked that friend to tell another friend that he’d been beaten up. He asked me to take him to his car. I said okay, grabbed a towel to put over the seat of my truck, and we were off. Before we were out of the driveway, I said, “You need to go to the hospital.” “I will,” he said, “but first take me to my car.” It was several miles away. “What’s your name?” I said. “Rob,” he said. I said, “You’re going into shock, let’s go to the hospital first.” He said, “OK.”

“Is that the field you ran across?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “So you were beaten up where, right about here?” I said. “I don’t know Lee’s Summit that well,” he said. “One of them was my friend, I thought, the other one had a gun, and I’d just gotten paid. They were trying to get my money.” “Did they?” I asked. “No, I fought them,” he said. Then, “There they are!” He pointed to an SUV coming down the hill in the opposite lane.

I could see that the SUV was driven by a late-middle-aged woman. “Her?” I said. “No,” he said, “but that’s the kind of car they are driving, a Ford Escape.” “How are you doing?” I asked. “Why are you holding your heart?” He said, “Because it hurts. Where’s the hospital? Hurry up!” I’d been driving the speed limit, observing the stop signs. “The hospital’s just around the corner,” I said–it was, I could see it. We had a couple more stop lights to go and I wondered if I should run them. The light changed, we pulled up to the ER door, saw a cop car there. “This is going to be good,” he said. He got out, I went to park. Blood had soaked through the towel and made a big wet stain on the seat.

My cell phone rang, from a number I didn’t recognize. One of Rob’s friends had called Jeanne back, she’d given him my number, he wanted to know where I’d taken Rob. I said, “We’re at St Luke’s East in Lee’s Summit.” He said, “I know right where that is,” and hung up. I went in, saw Rob sitting in a chair, went to the admitting nurse. She asked, “Are you with him?” I said, “Yes, I brought him here.” A couple of nurses came and fetched Rob into a wheelchair. I asked the admitting nurse, “Have you called the police?” She said, “We need to call the police.” One of her colleagues said, “They’re already here.” A policeman came out of a door marked “Security” and asked me to wait.

A young man in a hoody came through the door from the outside. I thought he said to the admitting nurse that a friend of his had been brought in. While they were talking, a second policeman came out with the first policeman and asked me how I knew the man I’d brought in. I said, “I met him when he rang my doorbell a few minutes ago. But I think that’s his friend right there.” The two of them asked the young man to go into a back room with them. I got a magazine out of the rack.

I remembered that while I was talking to Rob’s friend on my cell phone, there’d been a call waiting from my son, Jake. I called him back. He was home for Thanksgiving and had been up on the landing watching Jeanne and I talk to Rob in our entryway. After I drove away with Rob, it had occurred to Jake and Jeanne that I might be entering into a dangerous situation. So Jake had got into his car to follow us. All they knew was that I was taking Rob to his car at 291 and Chipman, so that’s where Jake had headed. Now I called him back and said I was at the hospital and was fine.

A third policeman–a detective–came into the room and asked me more questions. Did I know what Rob’s car looked like? How did Rob get the four or five miles from his car to my doorstep? Did he describe his assailants? Where did the attack occur? Where has Rob’s friend gone to? The friend had slipped out of the ER after being questioned. Both he and Rob didn’t want to talk to the police. Things were getting curiouser.

I was the only one who would talk, so they talked to me. That drying blood on my truck seat had come to mind. Jeanne said ice cold water will get it out, but it’s best to do it before it dries. She came to swap our car for the truck so she could work on cleaning it up. A fourth policeman–“the sergeant”–showed up and asked me more questions: “Where is the vehicle you brought him in?” “My wife just came and took it, to clean the blood up.” Kyra Sedgwick in “The Closer” entered my mind, saying, “You, sir, have tampered with my crime scene.” The sergeant didn’t say that, only nodded as if cleaning up blood while it was still wet was a good idea. My truck wasn’t really the crime scene, I reasoned, more like an ambulance–and they could get more blood from Rob if they needed it.

“What kind of shirt was the stab hole in?”, the sergeant asked. “Like a thermal underwear shirt,” I said. From the moment Rob rang our doorbell, I had been trying to pay attention, imagining that I might need the information later. Now I realized that I wasn’t even sure about the shirt, which I had looked at very closely several times. I could envision the slice in it and the spreading blood, but the color of the shirt and its texture were lost to me. “Did he have blue jeans on?” he asked. I didn’t know. I said, “He’s still here, can you look?” The sergeant said yes, but he hadn’t been able to see him yet. “Is there anything else you can think of to help us?” I could think of lots of speculation, but nothing more I had observed.

They let me go home. I don’t know what happened to Rob or any of his friends after that.

November 23, 2011

Photo of the day: 102

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 7:59 am

My friend Janet makes interesting jewelry. When Jeanne and I were in Florida with her husband, Bruce, and her, she asked Jeanne to be her hand model. Eventually, that involved driving to Cocoa Beach to locate complimentary sand. To distinguish these poses from the others, we settled on referring to this series as “the dead body shots.”

With Jeanne artfully arranged in the sea grass and me crawling all around her on the dune, this feller came over to have a looksee.

Nice grass poking through salt-and-pepper sand.

Back in our room, I moved furniture and lights around while the model prepped by reading a magazine. There were more art directors on hand than you could shake a stick at.

Pretty nice bracelets, right?

These flowers were outside our screened porch. They lured me.

Elegant blue.

Back in KCMO, winter is nearly here. If you like variations on brown, this is your time of year.

My friend Barbara sometimes asks me if I’m in a brown study. You could call these photos a brown study.

This is what happens when, tiring of brown, you place a colored gel over your flash.

November 18, 2011

Photo of the day: 101

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 7:54 am

I haven’t been taking many photos on this Orlando trip. I dawdle something terrible when looking at the world as subject matter. It’s a highly present activity, in that you really see what’s in front of you, but not present at all in your availability for discourse. So I’ve been leaving the camera in the room, except for early morning forays.

And what I have been taking hasn’t been very good.

But I filtered out a few from the last several days that might be worth the bandwidth.

First couple are from a visit to the dog park in Lee’s Summit before we left.

Great Dane at play.

OK, I did take the camera to Epcot.

Back to the papery flowers on the tree outside our room.

These make me think of poisonous toads.

I liked the stark relief of these stalks in the pond this very early morning. I was so intent on the patterns they were casting that I didn’t notice the great blue heron standing right beside them until she took off.


November 15, 2011

Photo of the day: 100

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 8:17 pm

Last evening in Orlando I went out with my camera a little too late for the natural light. That meant trying to find places where street lights were bouncing off things, or where I could lean against a solid object to get a long exposure without blurring. This bird-of-paradise practically brings its own light to the show.

Jeanne and I are in Florida with our friends Bruce and Janet. They have a condo and invited us to join them.

These plants are at the bottom of our stairs. I was back to my macro lens after a couple of weeks with the 50mm on almost all the time. It causes me to see things differently when I have only one lens available.

A tree by the nearby pond has these pink blooms all over it.

This was an example of catching one of the sidewalk lights bouncing off a gas meter.

There were lights around the pool backlighting the blooms.

And what might have been the moon peeking through the trees…but was really another distant street light.

The tennis pro was giving lessons to two adolescent girls under the lights. They stopped for a drink and I noticed how the balls scattered around the court seemed to float fluorescently.

When the pro and his proteges came back to hit some more I started to leave, but he invited me to get some shots of them serving.

It was too dark to get anything really crisp, so I made the best of the blur and uneven lighting.

The pro invited me to come back during daylight to get some better shots.

November 12, 2011

Photo of the day: 099

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 10:28 am

“It looks like you might have a knife hidden in your shoe,” the nice TSA lady in Seattle said. “I need to look at it.”

On the strength of two datapoints, I can report that taking woodworking implements through security in your carryon bag will provoke. I am fond of my woodworking implements, which is why I was taking them through security in my carryon bag, why I was carrying them with me to Seattle, for that matter, and why I was careful to place anything that could possibly be considered knife-like in my checked bag, so it would not be seized. Still, when you hear a sentence like that from a nice TSA lady, you have some doubt that you’ve been careful enough. I’ve spent ten years on the terrorist watch list, since the days immediately after September 11, 2001, when the name “Paul Davis” must have been popular among terrorists, and even now I pause to consider whether typing the word “terrorist” here is tripping NSA filters and extending my stay on the terrorist watch list…do you think terrorists use the word “terrorist” self-descriptively, really? “Terrorist” is something you call somebody else. What you are is a “patriot.”

…so my response to her need to look at the knife I had hidden in my sneaker, when, after all, my role in the proceedings was to sit on a bench and look calmly aterrorist–she wasn’t going to let me touch my bag, my sneaker, or anything else–was, “…?”

She unzipped the bag, which she had carried, improbably, out of the security area and into the flow of traffic on the concourse–enthroning it on a high table with a flourish and that phrase “a knife hidden in your shoe” ringing out a bit triumphally to what had become a small gathering of cheerfully suspicious fellow fliers–they now looked at me, sitting on the bench, literally sitting on my guilty hands, looking up at them, and we all waited for the denouement.

She pulled my sneaker from the bag, held it at chest level. My sneaker is a size 14, circa 2003, inexpensive then, beneath reproach now. Into it, I had, as always on return flights, stuffed used socks. In one of the socks bulged a menacing object. Palpably menacing, even I, who could not now remember exactly what object, among many precious objects, I had stuffed into that particular dirty sock, would say. I was desperately hoping it wasn’t my gorgeous Lie-Nielsen curved bottom spokeshave in bronze with bubinga handles the previous owner had turned himself. That spokeshave has a blade–a very small blade, but in the right hands it could bring down an airliner–and so I was pretty sure I had stuffed it in yet another dirty sock and packed it in my checked bag.

She held up the sock. We looked at it, bulging. There was menace, we could all feel it. I wanted an arrest, a perp being led away in irons, as much as anyone.

Out of it she drew the object at the top of this page. It had been freighted with meaning, with a mob’s desire for that bad thing we had feared to come true. “What is this?” she asked. I got up to look. “It’s a woodworking tool,” I said, giving my brain time to return to what was really before us. “It’s used to hone plane blades.” There it was, the word “plane” and the word “blade” in one sentence. “Um,” I said.

We all leaned in, looking closely. There seemed to be nothing sharp to it at all. “Well,” she said, “you can see why the screener thought it was a knife.”

I woke up in Kansas City this morning. I left the table behind, in Bellingham. There it is.

Funny, it looks small now.

So, remember, it’s nearly nine feet long and four feet wide. It fits very comfortably in this space, though. It’s hard to take photos of big furniture in place–foreshortening makes the table look smaller and yet more crowded in the space.

My dad and I took the previous table apart and moved the chairs out of the way. While we carried the base upstairs, my mom was moved to mop the floor. How could you not, really?

Nigel and I carried the slabs upstairs. I’d been hoping to do that by going around the outside, avoiding several turns at doors and stairs, but there was a howling wind and rainstorm going on. It really wasn’t too bad getting them up there.

It’s little details like this that make me enjoy things made of wood.

Lying on my back on the freshly mopped floor, I put a couple of the lag screws through the base crossbar into the top, just to establish a starting point in getting the slabs flat and flush.

Then I installed the cross bolts from underneath while Nigel and Dad pressed down and pulled up to align the joined edges. The slabs have moved a little since being surfaced flat, and might continue to do so. There’s plenty of room to adjust things back to tolerably flat and flush over time.

That edge looks more dramatic all the time. I smoothed the sharp parts–it feels fine to sit at it.

So, that’s it for the table saga.

November 10, 2011

Photo of the day: 098

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 8:06 pm

This time my visit to Canada was almost as pleasant as last time, and only slightly longer. Uncle Nigel drove me across the border to the Vancouver airport at 5:30 this morning. A scan of my passport to bring up my ticket found only a Robert Scott Davis, an Australian chap. I went to see the ticket agent with a tiny foreboding. My normal state of character on entering airports is anxiety on high simmer, so a little foreboding should not be taken as too foreboding. He typed in my name. “Huh,” he said. Turn the gas on the foreboding up a notch. He asked for my confirmation number, for which I would need to turn on my laptop. Kind of funny to be worried about saving trees when I had spent the last two weeks cutting them up. We both waited that length of time it takes for laptops to turn on when you really want them on.

“Huh,” I said. The flight I might have been on left on Wednesday, November 9. Today is Thursday, not November 9. “Well,” I said. I assumed a pitiful expression, which was not a ploy for sympathy…I was about to be pitied, knew it, and knew it would neither help nor hurt–it just was. The United agent suggested I go talk to the Air Canada agent, the airline that had issued the frequent flier ticket. The Air Canada agent suggested I call the Aeroplan people. I don’t know who they are, but I called the number. A nice lady said, “You were a no-show and we forfeited your ticket.” She couldn’t see how pitiful I was.

“When are you able to get me on a flight, and how much will it cost?” I asked. She said, “You can take the red-eye to Calgary tonight and get to Kansas City tomorrow mid-morning for 140,000 miles.” My round-trip had been 25,000 miles, and these weren’t my miles to fork over, in any case. We parted on cordial terms. I scanned the departures board for any flights going to the USA. Delta to Minneapolis, that’ll do. I took my pitiful face over to what I judged to be the most sympathetic lady at the Delta counter. I believe she really wanted to help me. “$1450 to get home today via Minneapolis,” she said. “Huh,” I said. “I’m sorry,” she said.

I went and sat down. Bruce and Janet are flying to KC today from Seattle. When does their flight leave? I called Bruce. Bruce is resourceful. In seconds he said, “I’m ready to press go on a ticket on our flight for $200…can you get to SeaTac by 11:15?” It was 7:30. I thought I could. It would require my dad driving up from Bellingham, crossing the border twice…Blanche Dubois inkled to mind: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” I really don’t pretend to be self-sufficient.

I was beginning to think of the bright side. Maybe I could finish the table after all. I asked Bruce to find me something tomorrow, he did, and I called my dad. They started driving and my thoughts turned to: “Whatever mistake I’ve made, it’s in the past, let’s find some coffee and see if I can do one of those Saturday NY Times crosswords that require a mind that can bend spoons.”

So I’m back in Bellingham, two more coats of finish on the table, these photos taken as the sun was setting, I’ll be home by 1 AM Saturday. The table will be upstairs in the dining room, ready to eat on this weekend.

Pictures of that, I hope, later.

Sunset from the deck.

November 9, 2011

Photo of the day: 097

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 2:51 pm

The last two days I’ve been applying finish to both slabs and the base. I start at 5 AM and end about 10 PM, but it’s relaxed compared to the days leading to this point. I don’t have to wait to begin work because it’s practically silent. By 7 AM I’ve sanded the previous coat of finish on all surfaces and applied another coat. Then I can stop for coffee and some breakfast. I give it about three hours before the next cycle. This morning after breakfast I chamfered and sanded the little diamond-shaped bubinga covers for the bolt holes. Last night I bored and countersunk the attachment holes.

The OCD among us will note that I didn’t take care to align the grain in the same orientation on every cover. I also didn’t have an even number of odd orientations. By random selection, there are six one way and two the other. So I will attach the pair of oddballs together on one stretcher and assign the six normal fellers elsewhere, in plainer view.

After getting a coat of shellac on the covers, I looked around for something else to do while the finish dried. The light was looking a little interesting outside…hadn’t used my camera out of doors for some time…packing up my tools could wait.

All of these flowers and leaves right outside the front door…I’ve been forgetting to stop and shoot the roses.

Love those little berries swimming in and out of focus.

By midmorning the bottom was dry enough to flip over and do a third coat on the top. Starting to get a little build now. I used a quart of finish on the first two coats–this maple is thirsty. The spalted areas are softer then the rest–when you apply finish there it disappears in an instant. I guessed it would take five coats, but it might go to six or seven or more–I’ll keep pouring it on there until it comes to the top or drips out the bottom. I like satin finish for most of my work, but I’m applying gloss for the first many coats–the satin has a clouding agent in it that will obscure the wood if you get it too thick. One or two coats of satin at the end will knock down the sheen.

I was hoping to wait to show it here until the build was a little more even. But I’m going home tomorrow…and sunlight coming through the window hit this spot. To the left you’ve got your curl/fiddleback/tiger-stripe, around the crack you’ve got some spalting.

The live edge is both curvy and coloful. If it were mine, I’d spend a lot of time running my fingers over it. Tactile. By the way, this is a good exhibit of how curl/fiddleback shows up in layer under the bark, too. See those ripples?

The end grain is really sweet. I planed that with my low angle jack, left it a little beveled for more of that tactile.

I’ll get four coats on every surface before I have to get on an airplane. I could stay up all night and get six on, I suppose, but then it’d still have to cure for a few days before I rub it out and assemble it upstairs, so I guess I’ll sleep…then come back to finish the job. So close.

Hey, one of the rare times that red came out pretty close to right.

November 8, 2011

Photo of the day: 096

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 2:11 pm

More shots from the front yard in Bellingham. Keeps getting prettier.

Love the  bokeh on that 50 mm.

Pretty rich colors, for fall in a rainy place.

Couldn’t decide which of these three version I liked best…so I concealed the fact of their triunity by interspersing other scenes.

Two coats of finish on the base, one on the top of the slabs by 9:30 this morning. Then I returned the nine 50″ clamps I didn’t need after all, with that cross-bolting scheme having worked out. Then tools back to Vern’s. Now home for another coat of finish on the slabs. It’s looking pretty nice…but I’ll wait to show it until the finish builds a little.

In this photo I like the pattern of the ferns to the right, and the blurred iron yard dancer to the left.

I haven’t shown yet just how live these edges are. These two sides will face out, but I had them facing in to rout the connector slots. I counted the growth rings this morning, by the way: 96. Including twenty years at a stretch where they are no more than a sixteenth wide, then two or three years where the ring is 3/8″ or more. Big leaf maple grows fast when the conditions are right.

November 7, 2011

Photo of the day: 095

Filed under: Uncategorized — paul davis @ 11:43 pm

I’ve been back in Bellingham since last Wednesday. (These leaves are just outside the front door of the Thomson/Davis lodge.) On Wednesday morning we took the top to be thickness sanded. In the afternoon I made the bubinga butterflies.

All day Thursday I worked on cutting the recesses for the butterflies. By early Friday morning they were driven home.

After getting the butterflies in I jointed the long edges of the two slabs.

That involved clamping the slabs to the side of my temporary bench and letting my jointer plane find the high spots. A 22″ jointer plane riding a 105″ edge can make a banana, so my dad stood by to flip the slab back up to check for fit against its mate. At 150 lb each, “flip” is taking it lightly. Every time we fit it back we’d gained about a sixty-fourth. I was trying to get out about a sixteenth gap on each end. We didn’t need perfection–I wasn’t going to glue the slabs together. But when you can see you’re gaining on it, why stop?

I want the slabs to be able to move a little–they will get slightly thicker/thinner/wider/narrower with changes of relative humidity, so I needed a way to hold them tightly together, but not so tightly that they can’t shift if necessary. I also wanted to be able to finish the two slabs separately, and move them separately when the table needs to be moved. The table will break down into two slabs, two stretchers, and two base uprights. I’ve watched enough movers curse (almost) under their breath at the sight of my unbreakdownable furniture that I had mercy this time.

So I routed cross grain slots 2 1/2″ wide on the bottom of each slab–five of them at about 20″ intervals with 6″ on each end. The cross bar at the top of the slat is to hold the head of the bolt on one side and the nut on the other.

Now you just lie down under the table and insert those 4 1/2″ 5/16″ bolts up into the slot, then tighten them with two wrenches while your dad presses whatever side is high down from above. Also, you will need one hand to press up the low side from below. I managed to remember to leave enough room in the cross bar for the open end wrench to get in there and turn a little…but I wouldn’t have remembered if my dad hadn’t asked, “How are you going to tighten those?”

The last event for Friday was bandsawing the bevels on the ends of the top supports of the uprights and the foot crosspieces. I knew Chris up the hill had a bandsaw, so I took the pieces up there and asked kindly. I had 3″ and 4″ of cherry to get through. I had been expecting to be back at Bruce’s to use his big bandsaw, but it wasn’t worth the long drive for only four cuts. Chris’s blade was too skinny and had too many teeth per inch for this operation, is the reason I’m going on about alternatives. It was screeching with the blade against the guides and bellying in the cut, which is what happens when the teeth can’t clear the sawdust fast enough and the skinny blade bends backwards with the pressure you have to exert to push it through (when the blade is cutting correctly, it takes little forward pressure). Chris had another blade hanging on the wall, and I mentioned to him that I was asking a lot of his current blade with that much wood to get through. I was willing to make the blade change–it’s not as easy as changing the blade on a tablesaw–the saw has to be retuned after the change–but only if he suggested it. You don’t go changing blades on another man’s bandsaw uninvited. He didn’t, so I pressed on, staying way wide of the line just in case. At home I’d have been able to just leave the line, then swipe it away with a few passes of the jointer plane. Here I left a drunken eighth of an inch. I didn’t take a picture of those cuts–a crazed beaver could’ve done better.

Saturday morning I decided to go out to Vern’s to use his shop to work on the base again. I had been turning over the timeline in my head. It was clear I wasn’t going to be able to get five coats of finish on both the top and bottom of the slab before I go back to KC on Thursday. But I might be able to get three coats on the base if had it done by Monday. My dad and Uncle Nigel thought they might be able to apply the finish to the slabs, if we could get one or two on together before I left.

I like working in Uncle Vern’s shop very much. He made his workbench out of maple long years ago. It has a 2″ chop on the face vise, a classic shoulder vise, and square dogs you get to kerwang on with a hammer.

I wish I had a row of windows over my bench. Those are two of the table legs caught in the benchdogs. I had just finished routing the mortise for the stretchers–finally made a decision about where to put them.

The stretchers are held in place with 5 1/2″ 5/16″ hex bolts threading into a square nut captured in the hole bored in the side of the stretcher, left above. You’re looking at the mortise on the right, with the hole for the bolt in the bottom of it. Because you can rely on the strength of the mechanical fastener, not glue, the tenon can be short–it could have been as short as 1/2″, but I used 1″. The parallel lines from the tenon end to the nut hole are my guess of where the bolt bore might have wandered to going in. I was standing on a step stool boring down through the leg and into the stretcher, and I’m not that great at holding plumb under any circumstances. You form your guess by sticking the bolt into the wayward bolt bore and sighting along it. As long as you find the bolt bore somewhere in the path of your 1″ nut bore, you’ll be okay.

In front is the 1″ counterbore for the washer and hex head. Imagine the bolt going through that front hole and the nut dropping into the far hole, and you’ve got the idea. It’s very strong–these are called bed bolts because beds have traditionally been held together like this. I also built my workbench this way.

Another view, if it helps.

The interesting part is getting the nut on the bolt way down in that too-skinny-for-your-fingers hole. I’ve tried magnets, needle-nose pliers, and this time I hit on the idea of sliding it down a chisel…which worked great! You can buy a thing called a cross barrel nut, which looks like a barrel with a hole threaded crosswise through it, but you have to think far enough ahead to do that, and they cost ten times as much as square nuts. Once you get it on there good and tight, you can fill the hole up with caulk. It is firm enough to hold the nut in place but not so firm that you can’t back the bolt out. Then next time the nut is right where you want it.

Here the legs are friction fit in the foot and the stretchers are bolted in.

And here the top crossbar has settled nicely onto the leg tenons. This was the first moment it all stood up. There were a dozen ways to screw up the location of the mortises–until now it was only an idea I’d been looking at in my head–and I can easily picture the discovery that those stretcher mortises are on the wrong side of the leg, say. This is also where getting stuff really four-square a week ago pays off–when those crossbars dropped on with only a pat of my palm, I sighed.

You can see those captured nut holes on the inside of the stretchers. I’ll make some bubinga covers for those. Nothing has been finish planed yet…that’s for the next day.

Back at Vern’s, planing in progress.

Before planing I used Vern’s drill press to make the counterbores for the lag screws that will hold the top down…I suppose that gravity will do that all by itself, so the screws will be to hold the base to the top when you pick up the table…if you have three strong friends.

A nice wide full-length cherry shaving, not much thicker than .001, though it would be vain to put the calipers to it.

A small sample of what piled up on the bench and the floor. Between making shavings I was gluing and clamping the uprights. By the end of the day yesterday I had the uprights assembled. That made today into sanding day. Mostly the slabs would be what got sanded–the uprights needed only the sharp edges eased and a light pass with 220 to wipe away any plane tracks.

Tonight at 8 I applied the first coat of finish to the uprights. Tomorrow morning early I’ll start finishing the slab–overnight the dust can settle out of the air.

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