Friday, March 23, 2012

Playing with Power Tools

So, I decided that I'd skip the sorting of the basement if favor of playing with B's power tools.

While the cat's away the mice will play!  At least, that's what I've always been told, and it sure seems to be true.  While he's home, I'd defer to him in the power tools and carpentry department.  After all, his dad was a carpenter and woodworker, and B worked with him a lot.  This makes me feel like my paltry experimental attempts at cobbling something together are probably gone about bass-ackwards and crookified.

But, since he wasn't here to tell me how to do it better, I played around with scraps of stuff, and I think it turned out pretty good.  The only gripe I've got is the feet are a bit uneven, but I'm not about to stick my hands close enough to a spinning blade to shave off the itsy bits that would even them up.  He can do it when he gets home if it bugs him.  :-P

I save everything... you know this.  So does it really surprise anyone that I save the scraps of wood leftover from B's carpentry projects?   While I was going through some boxes today, I found some old upholstery foam that I'd bought ages ago.  It came in a four pack, and I only needed two of them.  So, naturally, I socked the other two away for some other something someday.  I also had a scrap of gingham check fabric that I kept meaning to turn into a kitchen curtain, but kept putting off because B hasn't gotten around to making the rest of the curtain rod brackets, yet.  I found a rectangle of what I think is birch, and a couple of ends from some 2x4s in the shed.

Wouldn't you know, each end of 2x4 was 36 inches long?  four 18 inch legs, just waiting to happen.  But, I got to thinking, I know I'm not great at working with wood.  I've had no practice at it.  So I thought it might be more stable if I used 8 legs, like L's by splitting the 2x4 in half.  I didn't do such a great job at that, because 2x4's are not 2x4's anymore, so I was off by about 1/4 inch or so.  I also didn't want to have to try to match up the corners and all that stuff, so I just put two legs kitty-corner on each corner.  When I got the legs on, I realized it was going to be way wobbly, so I used the leftover strips from where I cut the 2x4's long-wise as braces.

I cut my foam to the size of the seat, and had two scrap pieces left that just happened to be half the width of the seat.  Triple layer cushy awesome :-)

Then, I just wrapped the fabric over the padding and the seat, tucking the corners sort of like hospital corners when making a bed but not so neat, and used my staple gun to tack down the fabric.  When the fabric gets too dirty or worn, it'll be really easy to pull of and change out.

What a day!

B's been gone almost a week now, and I've been trying to keep myself occupied.  It's ridiculous how you can tell yourself "he's just down the way, still in the state, even.  He's not, like... gone."  But you don't listen to yourself, and you miss him like crazy, have trouble sleeping, and find out just how much of your day centers around that person.

Well, maybe you don't, but that's what I've been doing.  Fortunately, I've been busy with some payed work lately.  If you were wondering where I've been, I've been exactly where I am right now.  Plopped in front of this darned laptop pecking away.  I finished my third job in a row just yesterday, and I promised myself that today I was really going to take advantage of B's absence and get some big stuff accomplished.

I went a few days ago and got some secondhand (but really really nice) dressers.  It was a tall chest of drawers, a long dresser w/mirror, and a matching nightstand.  I was thinking they would be typical modern fodder.  Light enough without the drawers for me to carry by myself.  Hell, no!  These things are beastly heavy and solid wood throughout.  Not even plywood for the drawer bodies.  I had to recruit my neighbor's husband to help me unload them and get them upstairs.  (I hope B keeps to his usual oblivion about my blog, because I want him to be surprised when he gets home!)

I was going to get some bookshelves, but the lady who's selling them kept putting me off, until today.  She sent me a message at 3 pm saying she'd be available till 5.  I was in the middle of my power tools project at the time, so needless to say that didn't happen.  For the past two days, she has been dangling a string in front of me about the shelves, so I'm a bit irritated with that.  Maybe this is a hint that I need to pare down my books yet again?

Speaking of which, I've moved my "office" to the spare bedroom, along with all the bookshelves and their accompanying books.  With the clothes now stored in actual chest of drawers, the little plastic drawer hoojies I got from Wal-Mart can be delegated to other purposes.  I've put paperbacks in them for the time being.  That actually cleared out a lot of room on my bookshelves, so I can start to bring books up from the basement.  I also put some more books into the get-rid-of pile.  I've no idea where I'm going to get rid of them to, because I really don't want to throw them in the trash.  (Sacrilege!!)

I've turned the old office into something like B's dressing room.  His uniforms are in there in that closet anyway, and I've made a stool for him to sit on to put on/take off his boots.  I'm thinking the night stand might make a nice little chest of drawers for his PT clothes, then all his military daily stuff can be in one place.  It'll also keep him from having to paw around in the dark at 0-dark-thirty trying not to wake me up.   I was thinking I could put his desk up there, too.  It's primarily just a catch-all surface for the random stuff he pulls out of his hundred-and-one pockets, so keeping all of it in one generalized location might help him find things better.... maybe.

I've still got more cleaning and sorting to do.  There are boxes of miscellaneous crap that I really need to look through again.  And as always, there's laundry and the kitchen to tidy... but for today, I really think I'm done.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Hidden Treasures

The other day, I went on a treasure hunt in my Gramma's old desk.  I knew what I wanted, and I thought I knew exactly where it was.  I had seen it, had my hand on it, put it right back where I had found it... so I thought.  

See the problem was my sewing machine needed tending.  It needed brushed for lint and oiled badly.  I'm ashamed to say I honestly have no idea when last it was serviced.  It had developed a truly nerve wracking squeak on every downward thrust of the needle.  At full tilt, this became a mind numbing eekeekeekeekeekeek that could no longer be ignored.  

It took me ALL DAY to find what I thought I could go right to.  It turned out to be in the desk, but in a different drawer underneath a whole bunch of other goodies.  

These unassuming cases held what I thought was a fascinating find.  I have no idea if I can use this as an attachment on my much more modern sewing machine, but isn't it cool as hell??  

It's a very old buttonhole attachment, complete with a full assortment of templates.  

I also found the mother load of needles.  There are sewing machine needles, hand sewing needles, upholstery needles, quilting needles, tapestry needles, embroidery needles... if I ever buy another needle again in my life, I will be surprised.  Very VERY surprised.  But that's not all I found.  

I know that by making these pictures this large, it is going to throw off the blog's proportions, but I think this is awesome.  Check out the antique sewing machine needle.  How awesome would it be to stumble across the sewing machine itself some day?  I know that's not going to happen in my basement.  If I had a gorgeous antique sewing machine down there, I know I would know.  I also know that it is't in my grandparents' old workshop.  I think Gramma held on to this needle as a keepsake.  The shears sharpener, however, will be useful just as soon as I find my shears... For some reason I can't put my hand on them anymore in spite of having an awesome desk to store all my crafty stuff on, in, and under.

Another rather useless but interesting find:  a cigarette holder.  

And thread...  The wall do-hickey was given to me by a friend.  She didn't use it anymore and thought I might be able to.  Oh boy can I.  

More thread.  This little number has brackets on the back, so it can also be hung on the wall.  Some of these spools are wooden with 5 cents burned into the wood for a price tag and brand information etched in reverse relief.  O.o  I plan to keep the wooden spools for something or other.  I really have no plan at this point, but I think they're awesome and don't want to toss them.  

This tackle box looking sewing box was a gift from my Gramma, and not included here because it was a recent treasure find.  It is included here because it is also FULL of thread!  I may well have to buy more thread in my life, but it won't be for a long, long, long time.

This is the complete user's manual, not just the front page.  The staples are long gone, but every page is accounted for.  This and the needle I mentioned earlier are all that is left of this gorgeous machine, but maybe one day I'll stumble across one just like it in a thrift store or yard sale.  What happened over the years to "useful" and "beautiful" not going together anymore?  Everything of yesteryear (with some exceptions) was functional, attractive, and meant to last a lifetime.  Now things are not nearly so pretty, almost never so sturdy, and half the time not as useful as the commercials want us to believe.  *sigh*  It makes me sad.

But!.... the day was not completely wasted.    I found this!

It is the complete user's guide and quick reference flyer for my Gramma's machine.  Now all those weird bells and whistles I didn't know what to do with before can become nifty gizmos and settings to play with.

And finally....

I found what I had been looking for all along.  The danged sewing machine oil.  I had to take the housing off and oil parts I had never messed with before, but I finally got that squeak to go away, and the old girl is running like a dream again.  :-)   Now, I need to figure out if she's strong enough to embroider around a name tape, because my fingers are not feeling this job at all.  I have to put a name tape on one of B's t-shirts for work.  Wish me luck....