September 24, 2010

September Odds and Ends

I pulled a load of pictures off the camera today and figured since I haven't posted in awhile I thought I might as well put up some of the highlights.

I haven't been working on any major projects but have a few interesting odds and ends from the last month or so.

First of all, Laura and I decided to go skydiving for her birthday. Free falling from 10,000 feet is an amazing experience and I would recommend that if you've ever thought about it, just go for it. We jumped with Green Bay Skydivers and all in all they were great. My only complaint was that their plane was too small and after being cramped in there for 20 minutes strapped to another guy I was ready to jump with or without a parachute.

Here is the view of the landing zone from the plane.

Compared to jumping out of a plane the rest of this seems a bit boring...

Awhile back the grocery store had a huge sale on pork shoulders so I picked one up. The freezer was getting a bit crowded so I thawed it out and decided to take a shot at smoking it on the weber grill.

Since the goal is to smoke the meat at about 225-250 degrees for about 10-12 hours I started out by building a "fuse" of charcoal around the outside of the grill. I then lit some charcoal in the chimney starter and got one end going. I placed a few hunks of soaked oak on the coals to keep the smoke going for the first 3 or 4 hours.

Above is the before shot of the pork shoulder. Since I used lump charcoal rather than briquettes I ended up having to adjust the grill vents quite a bit to correct for the random sized pieces and keep the temp within a reasonable range. I think I would probably use standard briquettes next time.

After about 7 hours on the grill this is what it looked like. At this point the charcoal was finally dying down so I pulled it off the grill and finished it in the oven for another 4 or 5 hours until it hit 190 degrees. At that point I shredded the whole thing and served it over texas toast with a bit of BBQ sauce and it turned out to be worth the wait.

On different note, I decided to take my first steps into the world of working wood with hand tools buy purchasing a set of chisels and a dovetail saw. I was curious how difficult it would be to hand cut some dovetail joints so I grabbed a few scraps of oak and started hacking away. While the results were not picture worthy the joint wasn't half bad. Before starting anything else I had to sharpen the chisels so I picked up some sharpening supplies and went to it. I'm cheap but wanted sharp tools so after a bit of research I settled on a combination of wet/dry sandpaper and a granite slab for the lower grits and a 1000/8000 grit combo waterstone for the final polish.

Here you can see slab/sandpaper setup and the waterstone soaking as I flatten the back of the first chisel. I'm still not a pro at honing the bevels free hand but I think it went fairly well and was amazed at how sharp these chisels could get.

I wanted to give the freshly sharpened chisels a try so I took a piece of 5/4 cherry and resawed and planed it down thin pieces just under a half inch thick to make a small box. The dovetail joints improved with each corner and ended up holding the box together fairly well. I glued up a small panel for the bottom and ran a grove in two of the sides to hold it in place. I finished it with 4 or 5 coats of wipe on poly and am really happy with the natural look of the cherry.

Laura liked the way the cherry turned out as well and since she was asking for something to hang her necklaces from I threw this together a small rack to hang on the wall.

Since I still had a few areas in the garage that weren't already packed with tools or lumber I couldn't help myself and picked up this pile of white oak from a listing on craigslist. There are 9 2"x12" planks at 8' long which comes out to about 140 bdft. Being 2" thick I'll have to do some resawing for most projects but it will be nice to have plenty of thick stock for table legs and other large components. There are some major cracks and a few knots and other defects but for less than $0.50/bdft it was a steal. I'm curious to see how the white oak finishes compared to the red oak I used for the coffee table. It should be fun turning this into end tables at some point.

The garage is now full. I promise I will not purchase any more lumber until a significant portion of what I already have turns into furniture and moves into the house.