Woodwork Outside of a Piano!

The past few days, the woodshop has been put to work on a project that is not a piano!    In December we installed new hardwood flooring and planned that we would fabricate baseboard molding on our own.   I favored a lighter contrasting wood, and my creative wife suggested a laminated baseboard with a walnut detail.    I endorsed her idea despite the extra labor.   I’m going to like it!

Here’s the flooring as completed in December:   20151225_184524

Here’s the baseboard in process in the shop today:

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It’s put together with poplar and walnut.   With exposure to light, the poplar will darken.   I’m looking forward to seeing it with some polyurethane finish.

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Thoughts on Smoke Stacks

Sometimes I think I was born 70 years too late.  70 years too late to participate first hand in the excitement of the industrial age.  Every day, though,  I touch work that was created decades ago, and have the opportunity to behold the  craftsmanship and industrial techniques of piano manufacturing. The work that I do today, rebuilding old instruments, is the same work that was done by original craftsmen decades ago.

As I work, I frequently run across lithographs of piano manufacturing facilities – sometimes stenciled inside a piano lid, and sometimes in historical marketing materials and ephemera. Always, I find these industrial lithographs to be ironic when viewed against today’s  environmental strictures.  All of the representations of factories show very active smokestacks. It would seem that the smoke, which could have been edited out, was prominent because the smoke implied industrious productivity!

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Sometimes I think I was born 70 years too late!  But I did come along at the back end of the industrial age. From Riverdale elementary school in Raymond, Washington when I attended from 1958 to 1962, the expansive south-facing windows provided a fine view of the Weyerhauser mill across the river. I could freely daydream from my hard wooden desk watching the smoke patterns against the occasionally blue sky.

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Later, when I was in high school, I washed the sidewalks of soot and sawdust in front of The Dennis Company every Saturday morning. One of the old timers in town came by one day and asked if I knew what I was cleaning up! “Sure,” I said, “dirt”.

“No,” he said, “that’s Pay Dirt!”. I learned something about industrial era economics and attitudes from the old guy. He knew, even though I did not, that all that soot and sawdust meant paychecks for everyone in town.

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This is your brain

A theory on the learning of complex manual tasks suggests that we need 10,000 hours of practice to master a complex skill. For instance, playing tennis, flying an airplane, playing the piano, or driving a car. A theory of brain science suggests that the nervous system of homo sapiens did not develop primarily for thinking, but for appropriate reaction to learned stimuli. I think these two theories are closely related.

From 1974 to 1978, I spent approximately 7,000 hours mastering the skill of driving a transit bus (Metro Transit, Seattle) while meeting the needs of riders.

This afternoon, I was driving my Dodge RAM pickup while towing my piano hauling trailer. That’s the closest thing I own to a bus. As I was slowing for a right turn, I simultaneously approached a bus stop. I observed two girls there waiting, and as I approached, their subtle change of posture indicated they wanted to board my bus! AUTONOMOUS BRAIN! STOP IT! You are not driving a bus, and haven’t since 1978! My thinking brain quickly engaged, and caused me to look in the rear view mirror, where a UTA bus was approaching one block behind me.

Don’t you just love thinking about your brain? flxible

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New Musical Fun

Once a barbershopper, always a barbershopper? It could be.

A new barbershop chorus formed in Davis County, Utah in 2014 … but they forgot to let me know. Well … I found them anyway, and I’m ready for some old fun repeated and some new fun with new friends.

The chorus is the North Front Sound. You can visit their website, or have a look on Facebook

Last night was my first performance with them. We shared a venue at Northridge High School in Layton, UT. For me it brought back many fond memories, and it was just plain fun to be a part of an enthusiastic and talented chorus.


Throw-back Thursday? The photo below was from a “few years ago”.

ThatOldQuartetOfMine

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Reveille

This morning, I got up at 5:20 am, then went downstairs to practice jazz improv for an hour at the piano.   I then moved into hunter-gatherer mode, and walked a mile to Maverik to get a quart of milk for the morning cereal.   On the way home at 7:30 I heard:

Reveille!

Yes, Reveille was playing on the huge loudspeakers of Hill Air Force Base – two miles away.  What a sweet sound, from a distance!   Now the distance is not just two miles.  Also the distance from that place is one year, since one year ago I left my half-time work at HAFB to become the full-time piano technician.   I like hearing Reveille from that distance.

It is a distance of one year with no regrets.  Just a more centered and joy-filled life.

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To the good motorists of Roy, UT

I would like to thank the good motorists of Roy, for a pleasant morning.   I rode the Denver and Rio Grand rail trail from Clinton to West Haven through Roy at the morning rush.  At each of the half-dozen road crossings in Roy, motorists readily stopped to allow me to cross safely!  I appreciate your good driving manners and safety attitude.

Perhaps you could train the drivers on 300 N in Clearfield at the Burton Street crossing.  They could use some of your good nature.

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2014 – The year of the deck

We’re gearing up for deck building this summer.   Sketchup has been invaluable as a design tool.  Notes:

  • Detached shade structure is sized for optimal shade through out the seasons
  • Shading material is planned to be cloth supported between the joists, with flexibility for rolling back
  • Shade structure is to be steel because of the large spans
  • Decking is to be hardwood for durability and beauty
  • Hot tub?  May be an item for 2015.

east july 21 3 pm

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Outfeed table for tablesaw

I recently took the time to re-learn Sketchup. I’m still inefficient with it, but its capability for joining conceptual drawing with accurate scaling is awesome. I really love it! Though I’ve played with it a number of times in the past, I think it’s finally in my toolbox.

Here’s the outfeed table I spent time designing last night. The over-hang on the right provides clearance for dust collection piping on table saw. Still coming in the design:

  • router table inset
  • storage for router and tablesaw accessories

Outfeed table annotated

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Occasional observations of Duane McGuire