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I was talking to my sister today and, when I first got assigned as an ALO, she assumed that it would give me a lot more home time.  Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  In the past 12 months of this job, I’ve been away from home for 9 of them.  Yes, 9 of them.  That really doesn’t leave much wiggle-room for hobbies.  In fact while Pam and I were cleaning out the garage this past weekend (to clean and create more space), I had to have a heart-to-heart with myself about what I do and don’t have the time for hobby-wise.  Unfortunately, I think brewing falls in the latter category.  With a failed attempt at making a 10-gallon batch of IPA since I’ve been here as ammo (supplies were ordered, I just never got around to actually brewing it), I went ahead and cleaned/organized the brewery to pack it away until I can once again brew.  The decision was hard, but with less than a year to go in Savannah and a kid on the way, I just don’t see myself having the capacity to brew and drink the beer myself (since I really have no one around here to help drink it with anyway – and the wife can’t partake anymore for a while either).  Suck.  I’ll look forward to the day when I can unpack it for an inaugural brew session somewhere other than Savannah…

With brewing sadly on an indefinite hold, I did find space to set up my woodshop in the garage.  With free time in short spurts and only on weekends, I should be able to pump out a few creations before I leave here.  For my week off, I’ve decided to start with an attempt to build matching bed-stands out of oak.

In the past when I’ve built furniture out of oak, I’ve had no way of creating nice wide tabletops of solid oak.  I’ve always resorted to buying oak plywood sheets and cutting that to be the table surface.  It works fine but if you know anything about plywood, it leaves the edges looking very ragged and unfinished.  To cover up the plywood eyesores, I used 1×2 inch oak strips for all the edges.  Sure that works, but it’s not professional.  I’ve always seen it as more of a patch-job.

Under the premise of trying to make professional-grade furniture for us and a new kid, Pam’s allowed me to add a few new tools to the shop to prevent using plywood for construction. Luckily when I went to purchase them, Home Depot had a Power Tool Sale and I was able to get everything I needed with an instant $100 rebate.  Not bad if I do say so myself.

Newly acquired woodworking tools

constructing a flat surface without plywoodThe new additions include a biscuit joiner and a standing jointer/planar.  Also in the picture is my trusty compound miter saw… but it’s included with the new tools because I just built the workbench it’s sitting on so I can use it on something other than the chest freezer.  Anyway, the new tools will allow me to use planks of wood and combine them to make one wide/long surface without any seems showing.  For those that don’t know too much about woodwork, the capability of the jointer and the biscuit joiner is graphically depicted to the right.  This completely eliminates any required trim to cover up plywood edges.  The trick to this is to make sure the boards are completely flat while you combine them.  My Dad introduced me to this way of building a “table top” when we were working on the dog-table together and it turned out great.

With everything pulled out and ready to go, I now just have to take some measurements to start the first project: matching oak nightstands for the master bedroom.  In order to incorporate Pam and her hobbies into this, the concept includes a cabinet door that will feature Pam’s stained glass creations as an inset (don’t worry, she’s using lead-free solder).  To further accentuate the stained glass, I intend to put low-voltage lighting inside the cabinet area of the nightstand.  Not only will it aesthetically bring out the stained glass, but it will also give Pam and me a “nightlight” on both sides of the bed so we don’t trip on stuff while we get up every two hours to tend to a whiny kid soon.  The key to this feature is to design the cabinet door to be “lightproof” around the edges so you don’t get light spill-out from there.

I’ll be getting the supplies tomorrow to get started.  More posts to follow as I progress.

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