Sanding “makes sawdust”

Question: “whatcha makin’ in the shop?”
Answer: “sawdust”

This has been a frequent exchange over the past few weeks. While it may sound like I’m avoiding the question, the truth is in the answer.

sand planing at 60, then orbit sanding at 60, 80, 150, and 180

sand planing at 60, then orbit sanding at 60, 80, 150, and 180

The first task this morning was sanding down two 21″x16 glue-ups.

90 minutes of work and a pile of sawdust.

Cutting a 2 degree taper

Most cabinet work is square but often furniture has tapers. If you cut tapers often then you likely have a tapering jig. I created a small one but nothing that can handle a 4ft long piece of wood.

taper guide taped to the finish wood
taper guide taped to the finish wood

One trick is to cut the taper – in this case 1.5 inches over a 46 inch length – in a piece of scrap. The starting width can be anything as long as the width is 1.5 inches more after 46 inches. I used an old piece of plywood and screwed a straight edge guide into it, following the needed taper. Then I cut along the guide with a portable circular saw.

Once I hade the taper, I taped it to my finish wood. I marked the narrow width on the finish wood and then set my table saw fence so the blade would match the starting mark. The result is a perfect taper – and it is reusable.

Upgrading the tailwheel spring retaining clip with a D-shackle

The rudder of a tailwheel airplane typically connects to the tailwheel with a combination of chains and springs. At each end, there is a teardrop clip. These clips will fail sooner or later – and usually at a very inconvenient tile. As was the case for me. One clip failed during a recent landing. Thankfully the landing was back at my home field.

Since others had experience with this situation I investigated their solution. Was there a better option? Yes!

A 3/16″ stainless steel D shackle fits nicely. A little safety wire insures the pun (oops, that should probably be ‘pin’) can not rotate and fall out.

retaining clip vs D-shackle

retaining clip vs D-shackle

In the picture, the top shows a standard retaining clip and then the D shaped shackle.

Now it’s back to flying!

Hinges, routers, and jigs

Pocket hinges or invisible hinges are a specialty item but some projects really call for them. Installing them requires very specific holes.

There are two methods for cutting the hole for the hinge – drill out most of the material with a series of holes cut with a forstner bit followed by a chisel; or cut out the material with a router using a guide. The first method is fine for a pair of hinges but when doing several, the router is faster and more accurate if you have a jig.

invisible hinge routing jig
invisible hinge routing jig

I don’t know how often I’ll be using invisible hinges but decided a jig would be a worthwhile use of a few hours.

The jig assumes the router has a 3/4″ collar and a 3/8″ straight bit. The end result needs to be 1/2″ wide slot with rounded ends and at two depths.

The jig I created has two ends – one end cuts out the large shallow area while the other end cuts the deep pocket for the hinge body. It fits snugly over true 3/4″ finish material.

Since it could be easy to forget how the jig is setup, all the instructions are written on it to indicate depth, orientation, and placement of the material.

I needed a couple test runs to insure it will work properly as evident by the hole on the right.

It is not be quite as clean as a commercial jig but this one is setup for the projects I complete and is less prone to error.

DIY Sous vide controller

Sous-vide is a method of cooking with a water bath set to the final temperature of the food, there by preventing over cooking.

Consumer units are readily available today starting at $200 with commercial units many times that.

There are temperature controllers without circulatory for $100. A DIY controller can be done for about $25.

project box with temperature controller and outlets
project box with temperature controller and outlets

This project took about an hour. The project box is 7.5″x4.25″x2.25″. The brains of the unit is the =digital” >http://amzn.to/1KsRnql]digital controller[/it’ll] which is often available from Amazon for under $15. Be sure to check the unit you order includes the temperature probe and has the greatest range available. This controller is good from -58F to 194F (odd range but enough for cooking).

The dual outlets made the internal wiring a little more work but since I had the inlet and outlets in the parts drawer, I decided to give it the flexibility.

True sous-vide cookers circulate the water. A kludge with DIY units is to use a small aquarium aerator to bubble the agitate and water.

Using this project is easy. Plug the unit in, set the desired temperature, and plug a simple slow cooker into the outlet. The controller will turn the slow cooker on/off to maintain the chosen temperature.

WARNING: this controller will not work with fancy slow cookers with a solid state power button – (insert face palm here) – since these units always default to OFF when they are plugged in. The controller is interrupting the power to the slow cooker which makes the cooker think it’s been unplugged.

I need a dumber crockpot. Flea market and thrift store time!

Windsock maintenance

Windsocks take a lot of abuse from the environment and eventually they need to be replaced. 

Windsock Replacement and Cleanup


This windsock has been in duty for four years and with the exception of two hurricanes, it has not been lowered.

It was time to bring down the mast and replace the windsock.
The new windsock is 8′ rather than the old 6′ sock. It is also of a lighter fabric. I doubt the new one will hold up as well as the first but time will tell.

In addition to replacing the windsock, it was time to cut back 3+ years of growth.

The new windsock is more visible and should provide a few good years of service before then next intervention.