Saturday, April 20, 2013

Lumber rack

After living way too long with lumber on the shop floor, I finally rectified that situation. I got the idea from to make cantilevered shelves. I was planning to follow the plans, but while making up the lumber shopping list, I discovered Menards has the same thing prefabricated. They might not be quite as strong or smooth, but it sure took less work (and glue and screws) than assembling all that. I bought a few and slapped them up with 2x3's to hang from the floor joists, 2x2s to brace laterally, and one shelf for short pieces and miscellaneous material on the bottom. (By slapped I mean several hours of work and multiple trips to the store, of course.)

I feel much better!

The last photo looks distorted. At least I don't think the entire system is bowed like that.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fifty future banjos

Last week we had a yard tree felled. It was healthy but leaning enough to get sun to make me nervous about wind storms. This tree was black cherry, dead straight, and just wide enough to get me thinking about banjos. Said Eme after seeing the logs, "You should take them to the sawmill and get them cut into boards!" Exactly what I was thinking, my daughter!

The first step was giving the tree trimmers instructions to leave the logs. I asked for 6' logs, knowing that 5-6' boards would be perfect for banjo work and wanting to make it easier in case I couldn't find a sawyer and had to do anything with them myself.

Check. The ones with painted ends are candidates for cutting. The rest will go to my in-laws' fireplace.

I called around and found a guy with a portable sawmill who was willing to do such a small job. Today he showed up with his sweet machine and a helper.

Sylvie was excited and ready to go:

Setting up the WoodMizer:

With proper supervision:

Loading the first log:

Eme's interest waned to nil after her early Richard Scarry-inspired enthusiasm. Today she only cared about picking flowers. As far as Eme is concerned, every flower that blooms is intended to be picked. Just don't let her catch you ditching a bouquet she gives you.


The sawmill is a beast. It loads and turns logs with hydraulics and is operated by remote joysticks (the control panel is on the stand between the machine and the truck). The blade assembly zips up/down and forward/backward and cuts fast.

Cutting the first log and spewing sawdust into a pile that would fill an entire wheelbarrow:

As the first boards came off the saw, I got busy building a foundation for the pile:

While they cut everything worth cutting, I stacked for air drying. Here's the final result:

I stacked most of that and took a break to make coffee for the guys and pull out my banjo for some show and tell. The one guy in particular is a musician and was excited to see the banjo and pick on it a little. Deliverance was requested, so I fumbled out an approximation.

With all the prep and stacking, the whole job was a lot of work and cost quite a bit. As the sawyer reminded me more than once, I would have saved a lot of money had I left the logs longer to make less work for him. To do it over, I'd be a little smarter about it, or just go to Randy's place and pick from the hundreds of logs he already has. Live and learn!

Overall it was a ton of fun and I'm very pleased with the haul. I figure 174 board feet wet, 120 after shrinkage and planing. If I did my job right and much of it dries straight and flat, there's a lot of banjos or other small projects in that pile at well under retail cost on the wood (52.5 banjos, to be exact, if it all dries perfectly).

Garage organization

After three years with all our junk piled on the floor, we now have a big set of shelves to hold some of it.

And I recently finished this behemoth of a workbench for random jobs and storage underneath.

Big props to Monica for having the back strength to help me move it. It weighs a lot!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Basement storage #1

I've been working on non-banjo projects this winter while enjoying playing my incomplete banjo. Here's a set of freestanding basement shelves made from Menards shelf racks and clearance melamine shelving.