Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Deep Thoughts

There are a lot of panhandlers in Richmond that hold these raggedy cardboard signs. Whenever they're near me at a stoplight, I always feel like rolling down my window and saying, "Here's a dollar...go get yourself some decent card stock and indelible ink pens!"

Country Bench Finished

A couple of updates on the country bench. The top had too much flex in it so that whenever you sat down the legs would noticeably splay out. Plus it was slightly uncomforting sitting on something that looked solid only to feel like it was a water mattress about to spring a leak. So I cut rails for legs and just nailed them using 4d nails.
The top had developed a crack at one end (no doubt due to improper kiln drying. The wood was pretty moist when I got it and warped like crazy when I cut it) so I had two options: cut a butterfly key for it, or just screw a batten on the underside. I chose the latter since I was going to paint it anyway and it was quicker.
Because of the pitch pockets in the pine, I decided to use shellac to seal it and then start painting over it. If I had to do this again, I wouldn't bother using nice shellac. I'd go to Lowe's and buy the cheapest can of Bullseye and just have at it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Country Bench

The only good things I have to say about this project is that it didn't cost very much (a 2x10 8' costs about $7.99), I proved that I can actually work somewhat fast with handtools (total time under 10 hrs spread out over 3 days), and it's good practice for cutting angled tenons. I ended up having to wedge the tenons because I wasn't happy with the fit between the sides of the tenons and the very edges of the mortises. Aaaaand the southern yellow pine I was using had varying wood density so I started off chopping mortises in fairly dense wood which transitioned to much being much softer and resulted in the other side blowing out huge chunks of wood even though I had the top clamped down to a board for support. Aaaand because the wood had varying density, when I dressed it down to thickness and trued it, it began bowing like crazy. I ended up clamping the board to my benchtop for a few days with the concave side up, but you can only do so much.
I cut off 2' from the board for the legs and then trued the 6' board and planed off 3/4" with my jack plane to a 1 1/4" thickness. I cut the legs into four 2x1.5's with a 700mm length bowsaw and then trued them with my try plane pictured below.
The mortises came next. I bored out holes for them with an auger and squared them with mortising chisels. The tenons were cut with a 5 degree angled shoulder and I had to cut a small bit off the back so that the legs would slide into the mortise without much fuss. The only thing left to do for this puppy is to cut the legs to fit and paint and seal it.
trueing the legs

lay out for the tenons
dry fit before gluing and wedging
dry fit

Muy guapo

Friday, June 1, 2012

2008 ChunyunXiang Spring cake

I can't remember when I bought this, but it's probably been over a year ago. Since that time it's been sitting in my tupperware container that's been appropriated as a tea chest (I'll eventually draft or use Sketchup to get an idea for building a tea chest). The first couple of infusions haven't produced much apart from an airy sweetness. But once the leaves unfurl and begin opening up, a taste of melon, honey, and hay persist through different infusion times. I pushed it a little too hard, and the hay taste became more pronounced, bordering on vegetal. But unlike other green teas that are oversteeped, this didn't have the horrible burnt taste.
It's a little bit different from other spring cakes I've had; it's not light with a sweet, green taste to it, but rather richer. It actually reminds me a little bit of steel barrel aged white wine. But for how hot it's been lately, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.
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