Power tool love

It’s true. I have a new best friend.

power drill

Table building will be a lot more fun (as if it wasn’t already!) from now on.

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Table, take 3

Originally published May 1, 2012

This is the third table I’ve built, and it will be the most complex, and the simplest, at the same time. It is designed to be “collapsible” so that I can set it up and take it down every day when Dad drives off to work and leaves me space to play in the garage. And by collapsible I mean it will sit on sawhorses. See? Simple.

The tabletop itself, though, is a whole other animal. This is the table that I will be pulling sheets on, and that is a very wet process. I did one batch of pulp last week as a dry-run-prove-my-setup-works sort of thing (and it does – almost), and the poor scrap of plywood I used as the tabletop will never be the same. It’s warped now, and has a furry layer of dried paper pulp drips on one side.

So the new tabletop has to be as close to totally waterproof as I can get it. I really wanted to avoid The Varnish Of Doom that I used on my first mould/deckle set, since it takes forever to cure and smells like death. That’s when my genius mother suggested linoleum. Brainwave! What a fantastic idea.

A waterproof tabletop does me no good at all if the water can just run off the sides, though. It also needs some sort of lip around the edge.

See how this is getting complicated? Just wait, there’s more!

Aside from being waterproof, I wanted this table top to be a strange shape – kind of the shape of a wingnut (does that say anything about me, in a Freudian way?). That way the vat can go in the center, and I can work on two posts of sheets at the same time. Table ergonomics – who knew!

Here is what things look like so far:

The tabletop, in all it’s odd-shaped glory

the unfinished tabletop

Check out the slightly OCD use of wood scraps! I think some of these are older than me.

woodsrcap mosaic

And, after many sticky adventures in the lino glue department, I got this.

linoleum tabletop

I got a remnant piece of linoleum for five bucks (sweet deal!) and pretty much winged it to get it properly glued down. I’ve laid tile before, but tiles are not three feet long and intent on curling into the glue. It was an evening filled with muttered curses, sticky fingers, and an eventual acceptance that glue smears are a fact of life.

And see those strips of wood at the top of the photo? Those are destined to be the water-catching lip. When I finally get done varnishing them, anyway.

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I am the cardboard queen

Originally published Mar. 29, 2012

In preparation for actually making paper, I am making myself a drying system. It will consist of cardboard-cotton-cardboard “sandwiches,” stacked on top of one another (since I can’t afford to knock down a wall and replace it with a heated stainless steel sheet). The cardboard, being corrugated, lets air circulate, while the cotton helps wick moisture out of the new sheets of paper. In theory, anyway.

This style of dryer works best when the cardboard is double-wall corrugated, which is just a fancy way of saying it is a little cardboard sandwich, itself.  Two layers of corrugation for twice the airflow! Problem is, double-wall corrugated is not as easy to find as regular ol’ normal cardboard. But I found a place that would let me order some, and I picked it up this week on Monday.

Well. I got home, unloaded, and realized that 48″ x 36″ sheets are enormous. So what did I do? I got out my trusty box cutter, and the hugest cutting mat I could find, and went to work.

Hours later, I had cut all 44 sheets in half, declared myself queen of all things cardboard, and hauled them down to their destination: the guest bath.

stack of cardboard spanning the bathtub

Let’s just hope this thing doesn’t touch the ceiling after I add the absorbent cotton layers…

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A Tale of Two Tables, part 2

Originally published Mar. 5, 2012

I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath to see how the other table turned out. Or perhaps not, but I’ve been eager to tell you in any case.

The first table was to support my awesome (in the old-fashioned sense of the word, the thing is rather intimidating) hydraulic press, and it will do the job beautifully. The second table is to support my lovely Hollander beater, known as The Critter. It’s from New Zealand, it’s collapsable, it’s green, and I love it. But it’s an odd shape.

I learned my lesson from the smaller table, and made an effort to keep things a bit more on the square this time around. Hooray for using tools in the proper manner!

So rather than putting all four legs together in a haphazard fashion, I put the two sides together first, like so:

side of table with stretchers

This is where having only two C-clamps began to cramp (or clamp?) my style. They only opened far enough to clamp a single two-by-four to the workbench, so I had to muscle a few things into place. But even so, I got two of these in short order:

table side standing up

And neither one fell over! Or wobbled! I was getting the hang of this carpentry business. Or so I thought. But I soon realized that keeping a flat piece square is much easier than keeping a boxy piece square. And it’s even harder when the thing you’re building is heavy, as my table was turning out to be. So I got distracted from taking pictures until it looked like this:

table with lower shelf and stretchers added

Oops. You’ll just have to imagine me, standing inside the thing before the shelf was added, madly tapping and rapping on the corners, desperate to get things perfectly level, perfectly square. And then I added the shelf. Now that it’s done, I wonder if thinner boards might have been better, but part of me likes the big hefty two-by-four shelving. It’s so solid.

The only part of building this table that truly annoyed me was putting the top on. One of the stretchers across the top was a bit (a teeeeeeeny bit) wonky, and stuck up above everything else by about an eighth of an inch. Argh!

putting the top on

I had to sand it down, or risk the top flexing too much and splitting. Sadly, that meant sanding it down by hand. Not so sad, though, was my clever (if I may say so) technique. I have no idea if this is something real carpenters know and do, but this is what I came up with. I had a scrap of two-by-four that was about eight inches long, so I wrapped a big piece of sandpaper around it, and stapled it in place on one of the two-inch sides of the scrap. That left me with two big level surfaces that were covered in sandpaper. Voila! No tears in my sandpaper, no splinters in my hands.

After much sanding (and a little swearing), I finally got the top on. It was even level! Mostly.

the finished table

The top is made from two shelves that were sitting in Dad’s woodscrap pile. I didn’t even have to trim them! And somehow the dark finish adds a little somethin-somethin.

But wait until you see what I did next! Coming up … adventures in varnishing.

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A Tale of Two Tables, part 1

Originally published Feb 28, 2012

It’s been a while! I’ve been in the garage, building stuff. What stuff, you ask? Tables! I decided that it would be cheaper (and certainly more fun) to build my own tables to spec than it would be to hunt around at Ikea and various secondhand shops for tables of not-quite-the-right-size. All you DIY people know what I mean.

Of course, the last time I did any woodwork was … never. So never let it be said that I lack ambition when it comes to building stuff.

But I found an amazing site full of furniture plans. Thank you, Ana White! Armed with a plan (yes, carpentry puns!) I headed off to Lowe’s. And then it snowed. Remember my lumber, languishing in the back of my car? Yes, that lumber. Anyway, after the great thaw, I went to work. With some pretty retro tools:

It may be old, but it still has a lot of life (and sparks) in it.

old school black and decker drill

Who could resist such a pretty saw?

retro handsaw with floral detail on the handle

These are my dad’s. I suspect they are older than I am. But they sure do work. And although I was handicapped by only having two C-clamps (oh, the humanity!), I made quick progress on Day 1:

Table legs!

table legs

Legs, meet stretchers:

table legs with stretchers

“Measuring” boards for the top:

putting on the tabletop

And by the end of the day, I had this sexy little thing:

a finished small table

It only wobbles a tiny bit (I forgot that the square only works when you actually pick it up and use it), but since this table will live outside on a gravel surface, a bit of rocking really doesn’t matter.

Stay tuned for the saga of the big beater table!

Categories: business, DIY, papermaking, update | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Snow Day!

Originally published Jan. 19, 2012

I finally got my rear in gear and went to Lowe’s to get my lumber and assorted other necessaries for table making, and then … it snowed. So the back of my car looks like this:

fresh cut 2x4s

It’s too cold to be out in the garage all day without warm gloves, and gloves + powertools = nasty accident in my mind. But in the meantime, I’m knitting like mad (snow and ice is perfect knitting weather, truly) and getting inspired by all the winter scenery. Behold:

icy trellis

iron sunflower

icy rose

frozen rosemary

swirly grass


frozen grass

icy olive tree

Categories: business, DIY, papermaking, update | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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