Gye Greene's Thoughts

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

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Applied beeswax

Part of building my "crate backback" (sorry -- no links; haven't yet posted it) involved poking holes in heavy fabric (for the shoulder straps). 

However, the optimally-sized punch had an uncomfortable handle:  it was a metal cone, with an open end:  imagine an ice-cream cone with a icepick protruding from the bottom.  It looks like a user-made tool.

I used it a little bit like that -- but my hand started getting sore from the exposed metal rim digging into the palm of my hand as I pushed.

Yeah, I could've just worn a glove:  but I thought, eh -- may as well build a solution.

So, I got out my "beeswax-melting toaster oven" (dedicated to this purpose).

After the jar of beeswax (I keep it handy; someday I'll have to top it up with addt'l beeswax) was sufficiently hot, I took the pliers (pictured above) and poured the melted beeswax into the hollow handle, thus filling the void.

Instead of holding the punch (hot drippage!), I poked it into a piece of wood.

And then, kind of like old-timey "dipped" candles, I'd dunk the end of the handle into the melted beeswax; let it cool; dunk; cool; and repeat.

And:  here's the result.

Rounded, comfortable, and reasonably sturdy: a room-temperature block of beeswax is surprisingly hard.

And, it smells nice:  like honey.


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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Suitcase drum kit

Saw this on YouTube, and I thought I'd share.

Using some leftover drum parts (he buys used drum gear inexpensively, then mods them), this guy made a usable drum kit that fits inside an old hard-sided suitcase.

There's a link in the top left corner, at about 0:03, that shows a video where he demonstrates that it all indeed fits inside the suitcase.

Skip to about 6:05 to see him actually playing it:  all of the video up to that point is showing him building it.

It would be good for busking -- especially if you showed the audience how it all comes out of the suitcase.  You'd probably get more tips (because it would be more impressive) if you packed it away and re-assembled it every few songs.

And, inspired by that video, here's some more YouTube folks for suitcase drum kits.  I excluded videos where they simply use the suitcase as a drum, rather than having a functioning drum kit that fits inside the suitcase.

The one that I embedded, above, was possibly the most complicated of the ones that I found.

This one is a little bit of a cheat, as he mounts the ride cymbal on the outside:  it seems like you could just use a slightly smaller-diamter cymbal.  But, it's a remarkably complete kit.  Not as geeky, though, to have "regular" stands that are just folded up inside the case:  I prefer the above approach, where the suitcase is also the frame.

This one is a minimalist set-up.

This one is just a simplified kit where everything fits in the suitcase:  he intentionally didn't modify the suitcase at all.  But I included this one because he sits on the suitcase, instead of a drum throne, and he also uses the suitcase as the kick drum as he sits on it -- like a cajon.

I think this one's toms fit inside the suitcase -- although he doesn't actually show this aspect.  I like the drum rim:  a really good kick drum sound..  Another one of these drum videos (I forget which one) mentioned that if it's an old plywood suitcase the kick drum sound is already pretty good -- but if it's a softer, floppier plastic-sided suitcase then it would benefit from the extra effort to install a ring.

This one is pretty simple and straightforward. This one doesn't show the gear fitting into the suitcase:  but given that the guy has added dolly wheels to the underside of the suitcase -- plus the nature of the brackets on the high hat stand -- I'd expect that it would.

As you can see, there are several different approaches.  There's more -- but I just chose the ones that I thought were better ones.  Although there's a bunch that I didn't take the time to review.

Oh:  and this one (below) violates my rules:  it's "just" a drum used as a kick drum.  But I like the "double beater" approach -- especially with the metal "brush" and the license plate -- so I included it.

So:  another project for my "To Do" list.  I have some ideas.  ;)


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The drummer not the drum kit

Found this YouTube channel on drumming:  some good tips and hints.

I liked this one, where she plays a drum solo on an inexpensive "children's" drum kit:

It's not the quality of the drums -- it's the quality of the drummer.


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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Repaired a chair

It's the first weekend of a week's vacation -- and I like to spend my vacation "getting things done".   Here's one of my mini-projects.

People around here sometimes leave "givaway" items along the grassy strip near the road, in front of their house.  I picked this chair up a few weeks ago.

I sat on it before throwing it in the truck.  Yup:  comfortable.  Surprisingly so. 

Someone had used some sort of gummy construction adhesive to try to glue the loose slat.  It hadn't really worked, so the slat was held on with a long strip of packing tape.

And the person had also glued it in the wrong direction:  the curved front of the slat was towards the rear -- but the other three were towards the front.

So, first I used a chisel to get rid of most of the crummy adhesive.  Then I finished up with some sandpaper, for the residual crud.

Here's my glue-up.  I'm using little wooden wedges to fine-tune the side-to-side alignment of the slat -- and clamps to align the ends of the slat with its neighbors.

And, of course, clamps on either end of the slat, to hold it in place until the **decent** glue dries.

Hm!  I thought I'd taken a photo of the finished product -- but I guess not.

Well... you can imagine.

Anyhow:  I gained a free, sturdy, comfortable chair, for the cost of a little labor and a few squeezings of woodworking glue.


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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.