Putting Deck Rail Back Up

The last couple of weekends have been really nice in Cincinnati so we took advantage of the weather and decided to complete the railing on the deck. We actually started to replace the railing and some of the deck boards on the 15 year old deck before we got hit by the tornado a couple of months ago.

The railing is really simple, just some custom 4×4 posts, 2×4’s for the rails, plastic rail supports to hold the railing to the posts, and rectangle aluminum spindles. Simply measure the distance between posts and subtract 1/4″ of the total measurement for the thickness of the plastic supports. Then add back the 1/4″ for the top hand rail. The final step was to figure out where the spindles go by using simple math and spacing them 4″ apart.

These things are a God send and worth every penny. They’re about $5 for a pair and save a whole bunch of time and frustration installing the rails to the posts. On my old railing, I toe nailed them to the post with 3″ decking screws. Some rails held up, many didn’t.

To attach the posts to the side of the deck, I cut a notch half way through the post by running my circular saw over the notched area many times. Then I took a chisel and popped off the chunks, followed by smoothing the face with my Stanley 140 block plane. Then I bolted the posts securely making sure it was plum.

The trickiest post to do was the inside corner. This post I cut notched on both sides of the post and cut a square hole into the deck board, then slid the post inside and bolted it from the side of the deck.

When it came to installing the stair railing I had to take my time and figure out all the different angles. Because my stairs come off my deck at 45 degrees, I had to notch out the corners of the posts to attach my rail supports.

I had to cut the notch deep enough so that the plastic support would fit nicely inside. The support was temporary attached to the post so I could figure out the correct angle it needed to be.

Ideally the notch would be 45 degrees on the post, but my stairs were not a perfect 45 degrees of the deck. I had to play with the angle so that the railing would be inline with my steps. I simply eyeballed what the angle should be and cut more on one side of the posts to change the angle of the notch.

After a little trial and error, and constantly nibbling off the length of the rail, I got it to fit nicely between the posts. I attached the rail supports to the end of the rail and screwed it onto the posts. Then repeated the process for the bottom rail as well.

The next thing to do was to figure out the angles for the top rail. Since the rail is angled upward, simply cutting a 90 degree notch at a 45 degree angle on the board won’t work. The angle has to be more acute than 90 degrees and the underside needs to be angled back so the rail fits snugly against the post. I used my template gauge in order to find the right angle and cut everything using my reciprocating saw.

It’s not a perfect fit but it’s good enough for a deck. Once the angles were cut on both sides, I screwed the hand rail onto the top rail with 2 1/2″ decking screws.

Because of the angle of the step rail, the 32″ long aluminum spindles are too long. I simply cut off about an inch of length by cutting them on my chop saw, then drilled new 1/4″ holes on my drill press.

I figured out the spacing on the spindles an attached each one to the rails making sure they were plumb by using a torpedo level. I spaced all my spindles 4″ from each other using a scrap piece of wood that was 4″ long.

The next day, I finished the other stair rail. This one went much quicker since I knew what I was doing.

The railing looks nice from the yard and you can’t spot any of my mistakes. Even though you can barely see them in the photo, I glued some spacers under the bottom rail so they won’t bow down. We’ll stain the entire deck in the coming weeks. Now it’s back on to working on the inside of the house.

Back Home

After two months of living in a hotel, we finally moved back home this weekend. It’s been long journey having to put our home back together after getting hit by a tornado, but it’s nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even Bentley was getting sick of living in a hotel.

Since we were out of our home, Anita and I took the opportunity and redo our shower tile. It turned out to be a huge pain in the ass but we’re happy with the results. We redid our bathroom 15 years ago but it seemed a little outdated so we figured it would be the perfect time to spruce it up. Includung the new tile, we had the electricians install a can light in the shower so it wouldn’t be so dark inside.

All the rooms needs to be repainted after the drywallers replaced our ceilings. Anita is taking charge of this since she loves to paint and she says I’m terrible at it.

We had our hardwood floors refinished and I saved $700 by installing the shoe molding myself. I used my Stanley 150 miter box and it did a fantastic job. It was nice and small and it was a lot easier to use than dragging my power miterbox upstairs.

We put our kitchen back together as soon as we could so we could stay at the house and eat dinner. Fortunately, our appliances and cabinets were in pods in our driveway so we just had to put them on a dolly and wheel them back in.

With the house being a priority, the shed will have to wait a few more weeks until I decide how to take it down and what type of shed to rebuild in its place. Hopefully, I’ll get back to woodworking in a few months but there’s still a boatload to do, including putting up the crown molding in the dining room, the backsplash in the kitchen and the railing on the deck.

As bad as this experience has been, the worst part of it is that my cat died. She was 18 and in poor health. We couldn’t bring her to the hotel every night so we kept her outside as she was an inside and outside cat her whole life. I would feed her at night as we went to the hotel and then again in the morning to let the contractors in the house. I saw her around for the first couple of weeks but then I never saw her again. I asked my neighbor if he had seen her and he said he did at first but hadn’t seen her in a few days. I assume she went off in the woods to die. She had stage four renel kidney failure. The vet said she would only last another six months when I took her in two years ago. She had a great life. I’m just sorry she died alone.

The Clean Up

It’s been a few weeks since we got hit with the tornado and Anita and I have spent most of our free time cleaning up the mess. We had a remediation company come in and tear out all of our ceilings down due to the wetness of the rain. After they got done, our home felt like an empty shell.

I took a video of the demolition to give you a better idea of how much they destroyed.

While waiting to hear back from the insurance company about the approval of the drywall estimate, we had our kitchen rewired. Thankfully, we’ll start to get drywall put back up next Wednesday. It will take seven to ten days for them to be done, then it’s onto the floors.

I spent a weekend cleaning up the rest of the yard. I disassembled my shed as best as I could by removing the windows and doors. I’ll have to figure out how to take down the rest of the shed, but right now the house is the priority.

Thankfully the roof has been completely replaced. It was done a couple of weeks ago since it was an emergency service. The company did an excellent job and they were done within a few hours. As soon as the drywall goes up and the hardwood floors get refinished, we’re moving back in, even if that means sleeping in the basement. Hotel life is getting old.

Tornado

Just when you think life can’t get any tougher, God laughs at you and says “take this buddy.” Wednesday night, my wife and I survived being in a tornado.

Around 11:00pm we were watching Ozark on Netflix when I started getting Severe Storm alerts on my phone. At first I was pissed that I kept getting them but Anita said we should turn on the news to see what was going on. There were storms rolling in directly at us. I then heard the sirens so I went out front to see what was going on. The air was real still and it was raining a little bit but nothing bad. Then I started to feel the wind pick up. I went back in and told Anita the wind was picking up so she went to the screened in porch to see things herself. When she got out there she yelled for me and Bentley, our dog, to go the basement as she heard a train coming. No longer than 30 seconds after we hit the basement did we feel the pressure of the tornado above us. It felt like my head was going to explode as the  pressure of the tornado went through our bodies. As soon as I felt it, I knew it was bad as it was something I had never felt before in a storm. We hunkered down by the basement steps until it passed. We both smelt smoke and later figured out that it was the wind blowing down our chimney and blowing soot into our house. After waiting the storm out for a few minutes, we ventured upstairs to see what was going on. Anita immediately saw that there was water gushing down from our ceiling light fixtures. Oh fuck! Now I knew it was a tornado. I went out in the screened in porch and I saw my elderly neighbor’s garage was completely destroyed. I ran over next door in the rain to make sure they were both alright.

The rain kept pouring in from our ceilings so I grabbed as many buckets and bins as I could to try to capture the water. After a few minutes in shock, Anita called our insurance company. They had a crew come out to our house around 2:30am to tarp up our roof to prevent any more damage from happening. By then, the storm had passed and everyone in the neighborhood was out checking on all the damage.

After only getting a couple of hours of sleep, I walked around my house in the morning to see the extent of the damage. My neighbors garage took a direct hit. As we drove around the neighborhood, you can see the path the twister took as it took out several large trees.

The arboviate trees we had planted at the side of our yard were all laying down on their side. We lost five trees in the storm. Three pear trees, an apple tree and a huge pine tree in our front yard.

I was missing my garbage cans and ended up finding them later that afternoon 200 yards from my house down in a creek.

Yesterday my friends came over helped me clean up the yard. We stood and staked my arboviates upright again. Hopefully they make it.

Our insurance company put us up in a hotel right now. Anita has been talking with our insurance agent, contractors, and insurance adjusters for the past few days. Every ceiling in our house has to be removed, we need a new roof, and we need our hardwood floors refinished. We’ll be out of our house for several weeks. Not sure what will come from the shed. We’re lucky no one was hurt but it makes me think of the famous quote from Mother Teresa. “I know God won’t give me anything I cannot handle, I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.” Happy Easter!

Over the Moon Show Cancelled

Right now, my wife Anita and I, should be in Lawrenceburg, Indiana doing the Over The Moon Vintage Market but, it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus.

It sucks because we spent months preparing for the show, buying inventory, painting antiques, making home decor items and pricing everything. Some of the items that Anita wanted to sell, she now has listed on Mercari and Facebook Marketplace in order to drum up some cash. She’s doing okay with it, but it’s nothing like what the sales would have had been at the show. What really sucks is that the two antique malls that Anita sells at are currently closed so money is really tight right now.

Here are the garden spoons I made back in the winter that I wrote about. I was hoping they would be a hit so I could determine if I should spend the time to make more. Now I’ll just have to wait.

Unfortunately, my huge display cabinet I built a couple of months ago will now have to remain in the basement until the next show in December. I was really looking forward to seeing how Anita would decorate it.

In all honestly, with everything that’s going on in the world, the cancellation of the show is small potatoes compared to what some people are going through with this virus. It’s during times like these you really need to count your blessings. Hopefully, things will be back to normal by the middle of June. Stay safe everyone.

Scrap Wood Mobile Base

I spent some time this weekend cleaning up my basement when I came across a set of casters lying around. I forget why I bought them, but they were just sitting in a box for some unknown reason. When I saw them, I thought to myself that I could use them to make a mobile base for my jointer.

I’ve owned a 6″ Delta Jointer since I was a kid. I use it from time to time but eveytime I do, I have to drag it out from behind my band saw so I can plug it in. The jointer isn’t huge but it does weigh over 100lbs so it’s kind of a pain in the ass to move. I thought about buying a mobile base for it but they run between $80-100. I’m too cheap to spend money on something I wouldn’t use that often so the jointer has never been upgraded with mobility.

When I found the casters I looked around for some scrap wood to make the base. The base of the jointer stand is 19″ wide by 35″ long so the inside of the frame it needed to sit in had to be 20″ x 36″.  I grabbed some scrap 2 x 10’s and ripped them 2″ wide to make the frame. I wanted to make the long rails of the frame 40″ with 20″ stiles but as luck would have it, the longest piece of 2 x 10 I had was 36″ long so I had to make the rail of the frame 36″ and the stiles 24″ long. After the frame was screwed together, I took 1/2″ plywood, cut two squares, then cut them diagonal to make four triangles. Then I screwed, glued, and barbecued everything together.

Now is the part where I messed up. Since I was building this thing on the fly without plans, I didn’t think too much about the space the casters needed. I originally took a 2 x 8 and trimmed it to 6″ wide by 24″ long and attached it to the frame. The casters fit on the wood but they didn’t have enough room to spin around.

So, I had to add 1 1/2″ wide piece of wood to the 6″ to make the overall width 7 1/2″ wide or basically the width of a 2 x 8. Doh! Overall, I’m happy with the way it came out (especially since it was free). It actually took me longer to write this post than it did to make the mobile base. Now I won’t have to struggle dragging my jointer from behind my band saw everytime I need to use it.

No 1 Odd Jobs

During my last post, one of my followers was asking about a special tool I used to build a cutting board and I told him I’d write a post about it. It’s called a No 1 Odd Jobs and is based off a tool Stanley made back in the early 20th century.

I bought it at Garrett Wade about twenty years ago and is one of the handiest little tools I use around the shop. It’s made by SMTC. I have no idea what the letters stand for but I assume the TC stands for Tool Company.

One side of the ruler is metric which comes in handy when you ever have to deal with metric measurements but can’t find a ruler to help you out. Honestly, the only time I deal with metric measurements is when I’m messing around with Festool tools so I hardly ever use the metric side of this ruler.

The simplist part of the tool is the 90 and 45 degree marking gauges. Because of the tool’s size, it’s easier to mark 45 degree measurements with this than a large clunky combination square.

The tool comes with a marker but I never use it. I always use a pencil instead. You can use the marker to strike a line and use it like a marking gauge.

I use the tool most as a depth gauge. Either to gauge the height of my table saw blade, or to measure the bottom of a groove or mortise I cut.

There’s a pin at the top that makes it useful to use as a compass. I own a regular compass so I never use it for this either.

There’s also a bubble in the middle of the tool. I never use it. Maybe useful to help leveling pictures or small shelves but that’s about it.

Overall I love this little guy. I paid $40 for it 20 years ago and it’s still about $40 on their website. The original Stanley No 1 Odd Jobs go for around $40 without a ruler so, forget about saving some money by buying the original antique.

Here’s the link to the tool. Apparently, Garrett Wade is branding the tool with their name now and is no longer made by SMTC. By the way, I get nothing from this. I’m a nobody in the woodworking world so no one wants to use me to promote their tools.

Dining Room Table Rework

Last summer I built this farmhouse table to sell in our booth at the Ohio Valley Antique Mall in Fairfield, Ohio. I built it from construction grade 2x10s and my wife stained it a rich brown color. I thought the table would sell pretty quickly since I spent the time making real breadboard edges and Anita stained it to look like walnut. But after it sat in our booth for a couple of months, that wasn’t the case. We decided to bring the table home so Anita could paint it white.

When we put it in our dining room, Anita sat at the table and said that it was too tall. I built it to 31″ with 1/2″ protective feet on the bottom. She asked me to cut the table down 1″ so I grabbed a compass and handsaw and cut all four feet 1″ shorter. The feet turned from a tulip shape to a squished ball, but the legs still looked good.

Anita painted the table with white milk paint and distressed it to give it an aged look. I’m under a strict nondisclosure agreement so I’m not allowed to discuss her painting techniques. : ) Anita has people asking her all the time to give away her secrets so, all I can say is she paints with milk paint.

You can see the detail of her technique as she makes the grain pop through the paint.

A few days later, we bought four wooden chairs off of Facebook Marketplace and Anita painted them black. We ended up with a really nice dining room table for the time being until I build the table Anita really wants, a farmouse style trestle table made from white oak.

My Basement Shop

I’ve had this blog for almost nine years and I’ve never bothered to show you my shop. I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I don’t think it’s all that special but below is a short video I posted to Instagram the other day.

I’ve had this shop for the past seventeen years when I bought the house in 2002. Before that, I had a shop in my parent’s basement when I started working with wood when I was a kid. Back then, I had a bunch of bench top power tools. Almost all of those tools have been upgraded. The only power tools that remains from the shop in my parent’s house are the band saw, jointer, and drum sander.

The king of the shop is my tool cabinet which I finished building in 2001. The inside has changed a lot over the years as I added to my tool collection. I doubt it’ll ever be finished as I’m constantly buying new tools to put in it and selling the tools I don’t use that much. It sits behind my workbench for easy access. The majority of the tools in the cabinet are antiques that I restored but I do have some brand new tools in there like a Lie Nielsen dovetail saw and a Veritas shoulder plane.

The workhorse of the shop is my Roubo workbench. Made from southern yellow pine, I based it off Chris Schwarz’s Roubo and Roy Underhill’s Roubo workbench. I use the hell out of it so it’s dirty. I never get any visitors to my shop so I don’t care that it’s not made from hard maple and looks perfectly new. I just use it.

At the end of the bench is my Emmert Turtleback Patternmakers Vise. I LOVE this vise. I bought it 20 years ago at an antique tool auction for about $500. It’s worth every penny. This vise gives me plenty of flexibility when clamping work pieces in it as it swivels 360 degrees and swings up. If you ever have a chance to buy one of these vises, do it! You won’t regret it.

In the middle of the shop is my SawStop table saw. I have no complaints about the saw. I tripped it three times. Twice was from the blade hitting my aluminum miter gauge. The third time it was the tip of my thumb. I was ripping thin strips of wood and every time I ripped the stock to make a strip, my left hand got closer to the blade. Like a dumb ass I didn’t notice the position of my thumb until it was too late. Luckily, it tripped and the tip of my thumb was spared. I sent the tripped cartridge back to SawStop and they sent me a free replacement. My thumb just needed a band-aid.

Another nice vise I own is a blacksmith vise. Because I do a lot of antique tool restorations, this thing comes in handy whenever I have to do some metalwork. It’s another one of those tool you don’t realize how nice it is to own until you use it.

On one side of my shop are my power tools. I’ve owned them for years with the Delta jointer going back to when I was a kid. I souped up my Delta band saw with a 6″ riser block and a 1 hp Baldor motor. My 15″ Powermatic planer is one of the best tools I ever bought.

In the corner of my shop is my lumber rack. I buy lumber when I need it so the majority of the boards on the rack are scrap wood. I have one or two boards of certain species but not enough to build a piece of furniture. I simply don’t have the money or the room to stock up on lumber.

One of my favorite power tools I own is my Jet oscillating edge sander. I wanted one of these for years until I pulled the trigger a couple of years ago. I love this machine as I use it on nearly everything I build. For years I used a home made disc sander jig attached to my lathe. My only regret about this sander is not buying it when I first wanted it.

All in all, I’m happy with my shop, I just wish it wasn’t in my basement. I’d love to own nicer power tools like a 12″ jointer or a heavy duty lathe, but there’s no way I could get them down basement steps. Or more importantly, get them back up when I move.