All posts by Duane

Antelope Island 2010

I’m coming out of hibernation, and my bicycling muscles are sore! This is the morning’s ride:

I decided that for 2010, the nearby Antelope Island ride was too good to ignore. I bought an annual state park pass and an Antelope Island causeway pass so that I could do the ride as often as I please without being peeved about the $3 fee. Since I paid $85 on the deal, I guess I’ll need to ride 85/3 = 29 times. at 32 miles per trip thats 29*32 = 928 miles. That will help the old guy to feel younger.

Today’s counts:
31.4 miles
100’s of gulls
15 bison — who were about as energetic as a rock (thank you bison)
1 coyote
1 pheasant
12 Canadian geese
1 hawk
12 bicyclists
2 runners

Why would hiring a carpet cleaner in Clinton UT be a challenge?

ACT I Brand X
I thought this was a recession! I thought that carpet cleaners would be begging for work! I called Brand X last week and scheduled today at 1 pm. At 1:30 it was a no show so I called to see if they were still coming. They said “Gee we don’t have you on the schedule!” Needless to say, after spending hours moving furniture in preparation, I was a little disappointed. I expressed my dismay, and they said they’d have someone over at 5 pm. At 5:30 it was a no show, so I called to ask if they were still coming. The gal I talked to said “Gee I can’t understand that. You’re not on the schedule, and I remember talking to you earlier”. Again (and I’ll pat myself on the back for keeping my cool) I expressed my dismay.

ACT II Simply Clean Carpet & Upholstery Care, Clearfield UT
After leaving the Brand X call, I started calling local Google listings for carpet cleaners. I connected with Stephen Galloway, owner of Simply Clean. I told him my story of woe. Steve had already done a day’s work, and had just arrived home. But he said, “Gee do you have all that furniture moved? … OK … How about I come over and do the job in about 20 minutes?” 20 minutes later he was here setting up his equipment.

As you might assume, I’m writing this just because I believe folks who know how to provide good service should be rewarded. Well that’s Stephen of Simply Clean Carpet & Upholstery Care. I was totally impressed with his service attitude, and as you might expect, the cleaning was top notch!

If you are in Davis County Utah ( Clinton, Clearfield, Syracuse, Layton, etc) I whole-heartedly recommend this company for your carpet cleaning needs!

Simply Clean Carpet & Upholstery Care Inc.
Clearfield UT 84015

A jig for notching piano key tops

Result from keytop notching jig

After having done it the hard way, it is such a delight to find the easy way by virtue of someone else’s good thinking! Such is the case with the wonderful jig described below. When applying new key tops to piano keys, the notches surrounding the black keys present a significant challenge. Except for the notches, the sides of the keys can be trimmed flush with a flush trimming router bit, in much the same manner as one would trim plastic laminate on a counter top. But obviously, a flush trimming bit cannot do the notches. When I did piano rebuilding in the 80’s, this issue was handled with a hand held file. It was very tedious work.

In the June 1991 issue of the Piano Technicians Journal an article by Bill Spurlock describes a router jig for cleaning the notches. The jig below is an implementation of his excellent thinking.

Piano key top notch cutting jig

The jig is used once the sides of the key top have been trimmed flush using a flush trimming bit. When trimming, the notch is left untouched, and a perfect notch is acheived with this jig. The router bit is a 1/2" spiral bit. The stop is 3/16" steel. When I first fabricated the jig I had no steel in the shop and tried a stop made of 1/8" brass. The brass flexed resulting in inaccuracies. The 5/8" hole in the stop was drilled to accept a bench dog for clamping. When I replaced the 1/8" brass stop with the 3/16" steel, I found that clamping was no longer necessary.

Piano key top notching with router jig

One man’s dream: The Shop is “Complete”

I posted photos of the foundation pour 18 months ago. In the last month, I’ve made a pretty complete transition from working ON the shop to working IN the shop … but ever since framing was complete the shop equipment was in. So I’ve been tripping over things for quite a while.

I won’t say its done, because it probably never will be. But after finishing a project and getting ready to start a new one, it was pretty clean so I thought I’d share photos.

The sweetest part to me, right now, is the radiant floor heat. I did the final plumbing two weeks ago and fired up the heating unit (80 gallon 75,000 btu water heater in the attic). Temperatures outside have been in the teens. The shop floor has been a constant 73 degrees. Hmmmm. Nice. After Christmas I worked on a project with my daughter, Erin, who was in town for the holiday. I smiled when I saw that she’d kicked off her shoes and was standing in stocking feet while applying finish to the work.

Heat system controls

It was really none to soon. Most of the last two weeks have been “Red” pollution days along the Wasatch Front, and wood burning has been prohibited. (I guess it wouldn’t have stopped me from burning a good hot fire in the woodstove, but I really don’t want to be a part of the problem.)

A slideshow of the shop is here:
Slide show on Flickr

If you mouse over the show, you will find a “STOP” button in the lower left, which will allow you to progress at your own rate. If you click on the center of the photo a description will be displayed.

Overhead Router Jig for Planing Piano Keys

More photos at FlickrPreparing an old set of piano keys for new key tops is a critical operation. I designed and built this router jig to perform the operation of keytop planing with accuracy and speed. To preserve the geometry of the piano action, 1 mm will be planed from the key to account for the difference in thickness between the old ivory key top and the new plastic key top. This also produces a good flat glue surface for the new key top and a nice square notch at the rear for a professional appearance. The old ivories needed to be replaced because of extensive cracking, chipping, and missing pieces.

More photos at Flickr
The photo to the right shows the key after exiting the jig. Note that the clamping mechanism is a simple, quick lever which holds adequately and keeps the process moving. The loose plate between the key and lever is coated on the lever side with some beads of hot glue, to provide gripping surface that would not be present in the hard maple. The router bit is a 1-1/2 diameter flat cutting bit. Since the key is less than 1 inch across, this diameter provides a cutting surface for both left side and right side of the key. Order of operation is:

1) With jig against right shoulder insert into about 1/4 inch. move to the left to plane the front edge of of the key (and the existing key front).
2) Slide the sled in to plane the left side of the key.
3) Move the sled to the right, forming the nice edge at the back of the key.
4) Pull the sled out to plane the right side of the key.

This order of operation will provide for proper rotation orientation of the cutterhead and produce a splinter free surface.

The objectives of accuracy and speed are met. This set of 52 keys was planed in 45 minutes.

More photos at Flickr

The Paint Job

Ev Kreitzer had an attitude. I’m not sure if it was a good attitude or a bad attitude, but he definitely had one, and I liked it. The year was 1969, and I had a job at Dennis Company that suited me very well. It suited me especially well when I was driving trucks, zipping around in forklifts and generally doing a man’s work in the body of a boy who was just becoming a man. Ev was working as the mechanic out back in the shop, until as it happened, Jim Fuller became ill, and could no longer drive the semi on the long-haul runs. The other teamsters around there had no interest in that work. They were country boys, and driving the Freightliner actually involved trips into Portland and Seattle! But Ev had been on that turf before, and when the boss asked him to do the job — or told him he had the job as the case may be — Ev was in the driver’s seat again. Yes, I was envious, but I also knew that the job wasn’t going to go to a 17 year old kid. I asked him if he liked it, and all he really said was “I guess I saw it coming. I guess it’ll be OK” But if you ask me, I think it was a definite yes. I think he liked it.

One of Ev’s attitudes was, “The boss is not always right and the boss doesn’t need to know everything.” It suited him well, and by my observation, it suited the boss pretty well too, because Ev did his job and didn’t rub it in too much when the boss was wrong. This particular attitude came to bear on both sides of the equation one day when Ev and I were tasked with unloading some steel rebar from the flatbed trailer behind the Freightliner. Setting off to the task, I’m pretty sure that two things were true. First, I’m pretty sure that the boss told us to unload it by hand. Second, I’m also pretty sure that Ev said it was a damn shame that the company wouldn’t buy any decent equipment, because it just doesn’t make any sense to pull off all that re-bar by hand.

Ev described the job in slightly different terms than the boss. He explained that we’d hook a chain to the two tons of re-bar and link it up under the bucket of our ancient loader. I’d lift the load, and he’d pull the trailer out from under it. It was not a bad plan, except for the load rating and condition of the old loader. It was quite a contraption. It operated without modern hydraulics. The lift mechanism consisted of a cable and drum affair. When the lift clutch was engaged the cable would wind about the drum and the load would rise. The skill of the operator was much more important on the descent. A gentle nudge of the hand to the left on the control lever would cause the drum brake to slip and the load to descend. With the two tons of steel hanging below the bucket, I gave the lever a gentle nudge and the load began to descend with surprising speed. Then I made a mistake. For some silly reason I thought a slow descent would be preferable. I gave the lever a gentle nudge to the right and the drum brake grabbed with an absolute finality. Gravity took care of the rest and everything was instantly on the ground except for the rear wheel of the loader, which implies of course that the loader was no longer horizontal. It was definitely vertical. While my face was still plastered to the windshield, Ev came around and questioned, “Are you OK?”

I affirmed that I was just fine, though slightly upside-down.

Then the second part of the attitude kicked in, “We’d better get this thing set upright before the boss sees it!”

I had to agree. Ev pulled out a chain, brought over a little forklift, pulled on the tail end of the loader and it came down with a bounce.

In 1970, the aging Freightliner was replaced with a somewhat newer model. Ev was OK with that, but he did think that the boss fell a little short of the mark when he bought a new truck without power steering and with a pretty awful paint job. But Ev was up to the challenge. He bought a power steering unit with his own money and installed it on his own time. It was a successful negotiation, I guess. As to the paint job, Ev did the work, and I’m pretty sure that he got paid for it. Well, all except for the blue stripe. Every Dennis Company truck was white, without a hint of color, except for the red lettering on the side. Ev just decided that the truck was going to have a blue stripe. A small protest from the proletariat, but a protest none the less. I liked the paint job and told him so. It was then that Ev hit me with some country wisdom that I’d never heard before, but will always be with me. With his aw-shucks attitude he said simply, “A good paint job, can cover up a multitude of sins.”

This weekend I cleaned up my 1961 Delta unisaw, and gave it a good paint job. I’m certain that Ev was there in spirit. I think he’d like the paint job.

Before After

Adjustable height workbench / assembly table

In my early years of woodworking and cabinet building, I spent a lot of time assembling things on the floor. I’d never worked in a professional shop, and I didn’t have the room for an assembly table. When I went to work in the ML Bigelow organ shop, our primary assembly table was a dead flat surface of 10′ X 5′. What a difference! With a dead flat surface, assembling cabinets to square is so much easier. With the work off the floor, assembly requires a lot less expressive language.

For my new shop, and especially for piano action regulation I wanted a nice assembly table, but also I wanted it to be adjustable in height. The pictures below show my creation.

The adjustable height will allow me to do action regulation work comfortably in both sitting and standing positions. The table top is 3′ X 5′ and the surface is dead flat within 0.5 mm. The flat table was constructed in as a torsion box, pretty much as described by the “Wood Whisperer” in this article. It features an oak apron which sits 1/4″ proud of the table top. This allows a 1/4″ piece of masonite to lay inside the apron. When the work surface becomes marred, it can easily be replaced. That’s a nice feature!

I created the adjustable height mechanism by adapting an adjustable height cart sold by Harbor Freight. I removed the wheels and handle from the cart and fitted it to the base. The table top is fastened with lag screws and plenty of construction adhesive. There is a small amount of side play in the mechanism, so the table wouldn’t be suitable for much pounding and hammering, but that’s not what I had in mind. At all heights it is very stable vertically. The table has plenty of mass (about 300 pounds), which enhances its stability.

Adjustable height workbench and assembly table

Adjustable height workbench and assembly table
Minimum working height of the table is 24 inches.

Adjustable height workbench and assembly table
Maximum working height of the table is 48 inches.

Antelope Island Ride

It was a beautiful afternoon. Is it the last spurt of Summer? At 85 degrees, I think maybe so. I don’t ride out to Antelope Island often, just because it burns me that the State Park wants $3 for a bicycle and rider. Oh well, I still wanted to go. This is today’s ride, and a shot on the island taken with my phone.

Map of Antelope Island Ride 9/17/2009

This is today’s view looking north from the north of the island. It seems to capture the landscape’s ethereal nature.

Antelope Island View

The numbers from the ride:

  • 29 miles round trip
  • 1 horsefly bite. Those creatures are vicious! While riding at 15 mph, they’d pace me looking for an opportunity.
  • 9 antelope! Grazing at the north end of the island
  • Thousands of seabirds! Gulls, terns, sand pipers
  • 1 butterfly
  • Millions of bugs
  • 6 bicyclists
  • 4 other people outside their cars!
  • Woodturning 101 – homework

    Admitting my amateur status, woodturning is new to me! I’m going forward boldly, and I can see that I’ll need to be self-aware concerning addictive activities.

    Tuesday a drive spur arrived in the mail. More accessories are on the way. Tuesday I took hold of the dull lathe tools I acquired with the lathe, and attempted some turning. It wasn’t very satisfying!

    Tonight I spent a few minutes sharpening the gouge and skew and I transformed a 4×4 into a very satisfying enigma. The lathe runs smoothly, and in my ignorance I don’t know what else I’d ask for! (Unless one of you wants to come over and help me design and build an effective dust collection port for the lathe)

    First experience with the lathe