Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Fruits of Our Labor

Originally uploaded by countrygirl30
We started working on these tomato plants back in May 2009. With daily watering, powdered eggshells as plant food to provide calcium for growth and strength, some fish fertilizer, and weekly pruning we have had a successful season. Today we have an excellent crop of about 50 tomatoes total. We see more tomatoes coming out almost everyday. The best part about this is when I need tomatoes for cooking I don’t have to go to the store. I can walk right out the door, pick however many I need, wash them off and use them. We know that we are getting the best quality food because we grow it ourselves. It was a fun activity to do and even my oldest son gets involved in watering them. It makes me happy to see that we can sustain ourselves through gardening. We’ve only just begun. There’s much more to come in our efforts to be self-sufficient.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Blockbuster Store Closing

This blockbuster store is in Raliegh, NC. I tried to take a pic of this last weekend but my camera malfunctioned. This weekend I finally got a picture.

Wood Working Hand Tools Purchasing Spree

I started woodworking at the tender age
of 10 back when I was growing up in India.
All I had back then was:
  • A hand saw,
  • A fret saw,
  • A hammer,
  • Couple of cheap hand planes and
  • Nails.
That's all I could afford back then.

I got a little too obsessed with the Power of Power Tools when I moved to USA.

During the last couple of years I have become more appreciative of my hands and the wonderful things hands can do. I do not plan to give up any existing power tools at the same time my future focus will be on hand tools.

Maybe indirectly this is power down for me. This is an appreciation for quality over quantity. Many woodworkers may question my last statement. I have seen very high quality furniture made using power tools.

The quest for hand tools made me go through old issues of Fine Woodworking, 2008 Tools Guide from Taunton’s and Hand Tool Skills 2008 by Taunton. I learned a lot from sites like:

  • http://www.ncwoodworker.net
  • http://lumberjocks.com/
  • http://www.sawmillcreek.org/

I started with a goal of acquiring hand tools almost a month ago. My initial hand tools research led to a sub-research on sharpening tools.

Sharpening Tools
The folks at ncwoodworker.net were very helpful in my research for hand tools. Here is a thread I started looking for advice: http://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/f31/need-advice-sharpening-tool-24591/

Mike Davis’s post in this thread really inspired me to take a serious look at water stones for tool sharpening.

A Trip to the Sharpening Doctor, Gary Rogowski’s video and article with same title from July/August 2009 issue of Fine Woodworking magazine was also very helpful in my research.

Eventually, I decided to go for a mix of hand tools and power tools for tool sharpening needs. Hand tools for honing and sharpening and power tool for grinding. I got 15% discount on the tools I bought from the physical store. I got free shipping from Woodcraft.com on the clearance items.

Hand Sharpening Tools
Veritas Mk. II Honing Guide
King Brand Deluxe Waterstone, 800 Grit
King Brand Deluxe Waterstone, 1200 Grit
King Deluxe Gold Polishing Stone, 8000 Grit

Power Sharpening Tools
Grizzly Wet Grinder T10010 [Not Purchased Yet]
Tormek Pro Angle Master
Tormek Square Edge Jig
Tormek Long Knife Jig

I plan to use Tormek Jigs on Grizzly Wet Grinder. That’s enough about sharpening tools. Let’s get back to the Hand Tools.

Hand Planes

I started my journey with hand planes.
There are expensive lie-neilson hand planes at one end and then there are many varieties of cheaper hand planes. Woodcraft has introduced their own brand of WoodRiver hand planes recently.

If you have some serious money and passion for hand tools there is Hotley Classic hand planes. I can’t afford neither these Hotley hand planes nor the hand planes from lie-neilson.

I hear a lot of good things about Stanley handplanes. Woodworkers usually buy them from flea markets and eBay. When I saw Stanley reintroduce sweet heart handplanes, I thought it was a great opportunity. The 15% discount this weekend from Woodcraft made the deal even sweeter. I felt like a kid in the candy store and I got them all.

• Stanley SW No 4 Smoothing Bench Plane
• Stanley SW No. 9-1/2 Block Plane
• Stanley SW No. 62 Low Angle Jack Plane
• Stanley SW No. 60-1/2 Low Angle Block Plane

Here is Stanley Plane Dating Flowchart.

Measuring and Marking Tools
I picked up a few measuring and marking tools to take advantage of the 15% discount at Woodcraft.
• PFEIL "Swiss Made" Marking Knife
• CROWN Rosewood and Brass Sliding Bevel 12"
• CROWN Awl, Round-Blade
• STARRETT Protractor Head For 12" Square

I plan on sharing my wood working experiences using these tools in future posts.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

You won't find this at retail stores.

Originally uploaded by countrygirl30
Most shirts, or clothing for that matter, you find in retail stores have no uniqueness, creativeness, or even appropriateness. Most of the time you can never find the right size that fits you just right. That's when I decided to make clothes for myself and for my family. It gives me the flexibility to choose the style that fits my personality and fits me the way it should, unlike those cookie-cutter sizes they sell in stores that don't always fit right. In this case, It fits my oldest son the way it's supposed to. Since he has a long torso like his father the front and back pieces needed to be lengthened so that it doesn't look too short on him. The sleeves were also lengthened so that my son can grow into his shirt making it last longer by at least another year or two. This was a practice shirt since I had never made shirts before, despite my sewing experience through high school courses. Credit also goes to my husband for his help since my mother-in-law made his clothes growing up. I have to confess though, this shirt was not made from a homemade sewing pattern but it's the first step towards making patterns at home. What I did was take measurements of my son and wrote them down. Then we placed dressmakers tracing paper between the commercial pattern and large pieces of paper to transfer the pattern onto the large paper. This large paper can be found at any office supply store. As we traced the pattern onto the large paper we added more length to the pieces that needed lengthening using our son's measurements. When we finished transferring the pattern we went over the pattern with a thin marker and used a yardstick for the straight edges. We also marked any darts, dots, arrows, and such onto the new altered pattern piece and also, with a ball point pen, wrote the notes from the commercial pattern itself. We double stitched the seams for a stronger hold. Here you see the finished project. My son is so happy about his new shirt that he wants to wear this on his first day of school. If you ever notice when you make something for a family member they will take extra good care of it. Why? Because it was made from the heart not bought from some retail store. He even got to pick out his own fabric. He picked out Lightning McQueen fabric and suggested to our son that next time he should pick something that's not quite so loud. Otherwise, he loves it and we enjoyed making it for him.