Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Excess office donation

This is for the kids, to read someday.  I think they're too young to fully appreciate it now.

Whenever there's a "gift collection" at work for a birthday, retirement, illness, or whatever -- I always put in about three(?) times what "normal" people put in.  (I have a standard amount.)

My reasoning is that my excess donation inflates the total, which then gives the recipient the impression of a greater number of supportive people.  This, presumably, makes the recipient happier, and/or feel more cared for.  This is a good thing.

I'm willing to spend a bit extra, if it makes someone happy.


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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Another hammer handle

Here's one where, instead of tightening an existing hammer handle, I actually made a hammer handle from scratch.  My younger brother has done a similar project, with an axe handle:  his turned out cleaner; mine is more... "rustic".

I worked on it during my week off between Christmas and New Year's, and finished it off this weekend.  I also worked on a hewing hatchet handle -- and I'll share the news of that once I do a little more grinding on the blade.

So:  it all started with a large branch that was lying on the footpath, a few houses down.  After it had laid there for about a week, I dragged it home.

Not sure of the type of wood:  some sort of eucalypt, I presume.

Here's a photo of the branch -- with my black rubber boot on the blue step-stool, as a size comparison:

I picked away at it, cutting it into firewood over a number of sessions -- but then I noticed that it had a number of straight-grained sections.  So I started to save the "clean" sections between knots as future legs of stools, and also tool handles.

I think that the branch had already long since been dead on the tree -- which is why it blew down in the storm -- so it had started to split.

What I did is I took the section that had already started to split and used a splitting wedge to continue the split all the way through (the red line, in the piece of wood on the left).  From one of those halves, I split it again -- resulting in a quarter of the branch.

And that quarter became the hammer handle.  (Bit of a spoiler:  the above is the hammer handle that I made.)  As you can see from the red portion of the completed handle (which is the "heart" of the branch), I strategically oriented the grain of the wood so that the impact would be "with the grain" -- which is the strongest orientation.

I already had a smaller hammer for pounding star-stakes (fencing stakes) and driving the splitting wedges -- but I wanted something heavier.  I could "choke up" on a sledge hammer -- but the extra length of the handle just gets in the way.  And I had a spare hammer head that I had bought at an estate sale (or something; I forget).

First, I rough-hewed it with a regular hatchet.  Somewhat ironically, I was working in parallel on handling a hewing hatchet:  hewing it with a hewing hatchet would've been a little easier -- but I didn't have one... yet!

Next time...   :)

After the rough hewing, here are the shaping tools I used:  a drawknife, and two inexpensive rasps (the trick is to wrap a rag around the tip of the rasps, so you don't cut your fingers).  Afterwards I made a "strap" of coarse sandpaper, backed with masking tape for strength, and rubbed the handle; and then I sanded it with the grain with a finer grit of sandpaper.

Here's the result partway through the process.  You can see where I've marked a section that I need to further remove.

Shaping the end of the handle to fit snugly into the eye of the head was the trickiest part.  What I did was get the end so that it would start to fit -- then tap the head onto the handle...

... and then remove the head and see the dark, smudged and rubby parts were.  These indicated the raised areas that were preventing the head from progressing further.

Note in the "whacking" photo that the hammer head is pretty much there -- and in the photo immediately above, that I've cut the slot for the wooden wedge that will tighten the hammer.

By the way:  as you can see in the "whacking" photo, and also in the photo below, I've made marks on the end of the handle, and on the hammer head, to indicate the orientation.  I wasn't sure if the eye of the hammer was completely symmetrical, so I wanted the hammer head to be in the same orientation to the handle each time.

I won't describe the wedge-making and wedge-inserting process in this blog entry, because I've already covered that here.

Here's the nearly-completed hammer handle, with my rubber boot as a size reference. As I mentioned above, I'd wanted a heavier hammer than my existing one (on the left).  The original one is 1.3kg (including the handle); the new one is 3.3kg (including the handle).  For the Americans:  that's 2.9 lbs versus 7.3 lbs.

And:  here's the final product:

Two differences that you'll notice:  one is that there's green stuff on the handle.  That's a wipe-on dye that I bought.  I foolishly didn't test it on a piece of scrap wood -- and it wasn't so much a "dye" as "vaguely diluted paint".  I didn't like it, so sanded off most of it.

The sections that remain green are the recessed sections -- which I suppose gives the surface a three-dimensional feel.  Ah well:  I like green, so...

The recessed sections, by the way, are the result of my desire to have the handle go "with the grain", for strength:  in the initial stage, as I mentioned, I split the wood for the handle.  Some of the split ventured into the area that would become the actual handle:  hence, the recessed bits.

On the other hand:  it actually makes it nicer to hold, because you can feel where your hand is located along its length.  And it makes it a little grippier, as well.

The other difference is that I splashed some pink paint on the hammer head.  It's a little ugly -- but this is a "working" tool, not a purty "display piece".  I tend to work right up to the last available light, so I'm usually putting away my tools in the dark (or, near-dark).  So I always put some pink paint on my "yard" tools, so that they don't blend in to the dirt and leaves -- and I can find them.

If I totally hate it, I can always wipe it off with some solvent. 

Anyhow:  way more interesting (and personalized) than just going to the hardware store and buying a handle.


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Thursday, January 05, 2017

Where do I get it from

(Actually, that's bad grammar:  I should've called this entry "From where do I get it?" or simply "Where do I get it?")

It's probably normal to attribute personality characteristics to your genetic forebearers:  people like to find order and patterns and meanings in things.

Here's my interpretation of where some of my traits come from.  I'm only going to list my positive traits, because to list my negative traits -- of which I have many -- and then attribute them to various ancestors would be unkind.


-From my dad, and my dad's side (and some of my mom's side), I get my mechanical and spatial ability.

-From my dad's side, I get my verbal ability and wordplay.

-Sadly, I did not get my dad's sense of direction...

-From my mom, and my grandpa on her side, I get my general good nature and mostly-jolly disposition.

-From my grandma on my mom's side, I get my tendency to "take in strays".

-From my grandma on my dad's side, I get my "food is love" tendency, my hugginess, and my desire to compliment people and make them feel good about themselves.

-From my grandpa on my dad's side I get the (late-blooming) interest in woodworking, and the tendency to solve mechanical problems by building a wooden jig or device for it -- often un-bidden, and sometimes anonymously.

-Giving to charity I get from my dad.

-My artistic-eclectic nature I get from my mom.

-I can't directly attribute my musical interests to anyone.  My grandfather on my dad's side was able to learn music by ear -- which I struggle with, but Guitar Cousin does it well.  My dad gave me my appreciation for popular music, and the tendency to have music going while I do tasks around the house (which I currently don't do, because The Lady dislikes excess noise; but I listen to CDs via headphones at work). 


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Monday, January 02, 2017

Finally painted it

I guessing that most homeowners have goofy little repairs that they never get around to doing.  Here's one of mine.

We've lived in this house for something like eight years.  When we first moved in, the guy installing the screen door messed up, so he had to make it shorter.  However, that left a gap at the top -- so he filled it in with a piece of wood. 

Since he wanted to move on to the next job, we agreed that he'd just paint the wood with primer, give us a bit of a discount (for the inconvenience), and I'd paint it green to finish the job.

As of yesterday -- that is, about eight years later -- I still hadn't got around to it:  there was no fixed deadline, and no mechanical or structural need to paint it -- so it never made it to the top of the list.

But last night, I figured, "eh".  So today I masked it with painter's tape (which took longer than the actual painting), and painted it.  And a few hours later, gave it another coat.

So, before:

And, after:

Tomorrow I'll remove the tape.



Friday, December 30, 2016

Enjoys the tube

I kinda like personalized license plates. 

Here's one I saw, as we were driving through the local shopping mall's parking garage (I took the photo; my wife was driving).

You'll probably have to click on the photo to enlarge it. 


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General waste

This is a stupid quirk of mine, which is borrowed from How I Met Your Mother:  whenever I see a sign that says "general" (or another military title), I say the phrase (quietly) out loud, and (subtly) salute the sign.

"General waste!"



Almost a band shirt

My favorite band from Seattle -- and probably one of my top ten favorite bands ever -- is Bell*.

From what I can remember, I wanted a band t-shirt -- but they didn't have any.  However, Vanessa Veselka, the "brains of the outfit" (songwriter, guitarist, singer), had started her own label:  Yeah, It's Rock.  And she had a t-shirt for the label.  And that was as close to a "band t-shirt" as I got.

That was about 1997.  So, about twenty years later (yikes!), here I am living in Australia (instead of Seattle), going to the movies today with my family while wearing my Yeah, It's Rock t-shirt.

I'm not sure that I have a specific point -- except that the probability is very high that this is the only Bell-related t-shirt in Australia.


*Get one of their first two albums:  A Clear Sense of Beauty is my fave, and has two songs on my "To Cover - Someday" list (and it's easy to find on Amazon); Perfect Math has the song "Already There", which is good.  Cruelly, they never "went anywhere" -- so if you pick up their album you can be hipper-than-thou about a cool yet obscure Seattle band from the '90s.   

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shot some footage

I had a good day today.  For the last few weeks I've been wanting to shoot some footage for a future "Gye Greene and Tall Guy" music video, to accompany a song that I have in my head but haven't yet recorded.

There have been a few days where I've wanted to shoot, but for one reason or another it didn't work out.

Today it worked out.

The first scene shows me getting ready to run.  Here's two examples of the unedited footage:  a push shot, and some other sort of dolly shot (don't know the technical term).

BTW -- it was three in the afternoon on a sunny day -- so the black asphalt was burning my fingertips.  The look of "concentration" is actually me suppressing the pain in my fingers.

The middle scene -- no footage yet -- has me running, running, running (vaguely inspired by Run, Lola, Run).  I'll shoot those takes on another day.

And, here's one take of the final scene.

Note that in the actual music video, all the footage will be flipped:  I'm envisioning it as me running from left to right...

One of these days I'll actually record the song; I can't edit the footage until I have the music to synch it to.

At the moment, I'm just going with whatever creative endeavor -- songwriting/recording, woodworking, video work -- I'm inspired to do at that moment.

Special thanks to The Girl for the camerawork; the tall next-door boy cousin for the dolly work and the camerawork; and The Lady's brother for traffic spotting while we shot footage while standing in the road.


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The robustness of old wood

Back in late June of 2015, my church cut off substantial portions a major section of a leopard tree on the church grounds.

I grabbed a few of the larger pieces -- but because I didn't have time to slab them (by hand!) at the time, I put them in my kids' wading pool and filled it with water.

And now, late December of 2016 -- so, literally a year and a half later -- I finally slabbed the last one!

I had them soaking in water to "stop the clock" and this gave me time to slab 'em: I have a one person crosscut saw that I re-filed to rip -- but it still takes me about a half hour per slice to slab them.

I was pleased that none of them rotted. **No** splitting or checking occurred in the interim.

Here's a snapshot of the yechy-looking outside (blue garden hose for size reference)...

and the purty-looking inside (after a few swipes of sandpaper and a quick rub of oil).

Note that I scrubbed off the "pond gunk" with a wire brush prior to sawing -- leaned the log up against something for a few hours to dry, prior to sawing.

I'm just offering this experience as a data point for anyone who has a chunk of wood that they want to "put on hold" for a while.

If you don't have a wading pool, I presume an old ice chest, a dis-used garbage can, and etc. would also work.


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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Labelling my saws

I'm guessing that most hand tool woodworkers don't have any trouble keeping track of which of their saws are rip-filed, and which are crosscut.  But I've always had a problem with it.

Yeah, I know that you just sight down the teeth to tell -- but my eyes are old and weak, so I keep second-guessing myself.

My old way was that I'd write on the side of the sawblade with a permanent marker:  either "RIP" or "X-C" for "cross-cut". But I didn't like the look -- and besides, after a while it would wear off.

But today I'm trying a new way:  I bought five bucks of yarn -- a skein of red, and a skein of blue.   "Red" is for "rip", and "cyan [blue]" is for "crosscut" (or just "not-red".

We'll see how it goes.

Yeah -- most of my saws are filed for "rip".  I'll explain some other time.  (And:  these aren't all of my saws...)   ;)


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