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Little Clamping Tricks

When you are building things from plans on the internet sometimes you have to deviate and other times you have to improvise.  While building my version of the rustic x end table from Ana White I had a little conundrum with the securing of the decorative x on each side of the two tables.

These are not load bearing in any way, so the pieces are completely decorative but merely gluing and securing with a few pneumatically driven brads seemed a little light in terms of construction.  The pieces were to be glued using end grain which is notorious from being a poor holder of joints.  Ugh, first world problems.

I decided to secure each end of the x with a screw driven from the top or bottom leaving only two ends in the middle to be secured in another fashion.  One of the x pieces was also secured with a screw driven through the full length x piece.  The screw head would be hidden by the final x piece that was going to be glued into place.

The final problem that remained was how to glue the angled piece and clamp it securely.  I cut the end a hair long so that it would have to be nudged into place with a little assistance and clamped everything down using a pair of scrap wood pieces with angles cut corresponding to the x pieces:

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It’s not perfect and it is not pretty, but it carried the day.

Not Quite Ana White Rustic X End Table

If you spend any time on Pinterest looking for ideas of furniture to build you will come across Ana White.  She is like the patron saint of Pinterest’s DIY furniture community.  From rustic farmhouse furniture to close facsimiles of high end lifestyle retailer’s furniture the titular Ana White is a source for a lot of ideas on how to turn a weekend and a pile of 2x4s into something for your home.

Unhappy with what was commercially available for our in-process remodeling of a family room—which was transitioning from some well-worn IKEA items to something more to our liking—my wife and I began sliding down the rabbit hole of Pinterest.  In the interest of full disclosure, we knew we were going to end up building furniture because I already had a garage full of woodworking tools acquired over the process of remodeling two prior homes and helping lots of friends with casework, cabinets, and built-in project over the years.

We chose to build a modified version the Rustic X end table, which is part of the particularly popular “x series” of tables on the site.  The real fun began when we started to change all of the measurements.  How much fun?

Most end tables that we looked at were too tall and so was the end table we were planning to build.  So, off came two inches on the height taken from the legs which begat changing the measurements of the x brace.  The table was also quite large at approximately two feet by two feet square give or take.  So, off came six inches in width to get something that matched the proportions of our couch a little better.  If you have an overstuffed or large leather couch the proportions may work quite well, but it just did not in this case.

Another deviation from the plan is the top.  Instead of joining 5 2x6s together for the top I chose to create a flat top with 6 boards.  To eliminate any grooves between the boards I machined one long edge of the two end boards and both long edges of the four middle boards.  On each pass with the table saw I took off ~1/4” so that in the end the overall width was quite similar to what was in the plan.  After some time with a belt sander, random orbital sander, and a router equipped with a roundover bit the top came out like this:

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There are still some machining marks and imperfections in the wood and the result along the edge is far from uniform.  It is not quite as rustic as what was in the original plan, but I think that the lack of grooves between the boards will be welcome since none of that gunk from tables will end up accumulating in the spaces.  Please note that sawing through a dozen pieces of 1.5” thick wood is a task for a fairly robust table saw equipped with a high quality blade.  Some “consumer” table saws will gak after a few passes and the blades will produce some awful chatter marks on the machined edge.  Also, if you take this route get ready for some serious piles of sawdust.  My compost pile got quite the addition of material.

Additionally, I did not attach the top using screws from to bottom.  I chose to use a tabletop attachment bracket which will allow the large wooden top to expand and contract without placing undo stress on the rest of the construction.  In a lot of these DIY rustic plans there is little effort to take into account the movement of wood through the seasons which will lead to unsightly splits, joint separation, and warping in time.

All in all, the tables came out quite well for something that started with a pile of 2x4s and a plan from which we deviated quite a lot:

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As you can see from the pictures I also went with a more traditional stain and polyurethane finish as opposed to the weathering and wax that was used on many of the examples shown on Ana White’s website.  One, I did not feel that the grey to blue tone of the weathering would look particularly good against the blue to grey couch.  Two, polyurethane is a much more durable finish as opposed to wax and these tables will be the victims of coaster-less drinks.  Trust me, I have two children who never think to use coasters.

Next up is a version of the rustic x console as a sofa table for behind the sectional.

Friday Linkage 5/19/2017

At what point do we begin to point the finger for this entire Donald Trump mess at the people who enabled him.  Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s Morning Joe is partially to blame for giving Donald Trump a national platform for free in exchange for ratings in the early days of the campaign.  The entire Republican establishment is on notice for allowing this charlatan in orange to assume the Oval Office because they felt that it would be beneficial for their agenda.  Paul Ryan and the rest of his elected Republican cronies need to get in line and get behind the real investigation into the Trump campaign’s connection.

Furthermore, the American people need to demand that all of our elected representatives act as the Constitutionally mandated check to Trump’s deranged ambition.  I am sure of the fact that Donald Trump feels he has the ultimate authority regardless of law and will do anything to facilitate this delusion.

On to the links…

Under Trump, Inconvenient Data that was Previously Public is Being Sidelined—You don’t think that people like Scott Pruitt are loving this action.  This is an administration and a Republican party that is allergic to facts in general and almost violently reactive to anything that even hints at an opposing viewpoint.  It’s like your drunk Uncle Carl who yells about the “lamestream media” is in charge of the country.

Why Trump Will Make the Wrong Decision on Paris—I do not think this really needed a long explanation.  Donald Trump is an under informed reactionary decision maker who loathes anyone with more expertise or knowledge on a topic than himself thus he is prone to making bone headed decisions.  Furthermore, he surrounds himself with family and sycophants utterly dependent upon his wealth thus the toadies are always telling him how great he is doing.  Is it any wonder we are doomed?

Trump’s EPA Greenlights a Nasty Chemical. A Month Later, It Poisons a Bunch of Farmworkers.—Color me surprised, but I am not.  Chlorpyrifos is nasty stuff, but Trump’s corporate allies wanted it allowed so it was made so under the guise of…profits and screw everything else.  Only profits matter now.

The EPA Asked the Public which Rules to Scrap and Got Chewed Out—People like clean air and water.  People like it when toxins are not prevalent in their food.  People like health.  It must have been a real surprise to Trump’s denizens of death that people prefer to keep regulations that prevent profit seeking companies from polluting.

The Surprising Story of the Decline of Electricity use in American Households—It all comes down to LED lighting based on back of the envelope calculations.  Those are the same LEDs that talking heads like Sarah Palin derided as some liberal conspiracy.  Granted, most of those talking heads are nitwits who supported Trump.  And you thought those pictures of your high school fashion choices were embarrassing.

Three Reasons to Believe in China’s Renewable Energy Boom—China is all in on renewable energy because the leadership of that country believes it is critical to their staying in power.

By 2020, Every Chinese Coal Plant will be More Efficient than Every US Coal Plant—However, a coal plant still produces a lot more pollution than a solar panel.

Terawatts of Solar Power are Within our Reach—Solar power will soon reach a tipping point where it is like a large snowball going downhill picking up speed and gaining in size.  The victims of its destructive path will be old line fossil fuels and maybe your drunk Uncle Carl who hates hippies, Volkswagens, and solar panels.

New US Residential Solar Capacity Additions Drop 17% In First Quarter—So goes California…as California is responsible for almost 50% of residential solar installations the golden state has an outsize impact on the aggregate numbers for the U.S.  Other states saw smaller declines and it may be due to major installers pursuing more profitable installations over heady growth figures.

Coal and Natural Gas Are Foes, Not Natural Allies—This is the real inconvenient truth for Trump and his coal cronies.  Natural gas and coal compete directly with each other so any policy that favors both fuels—relaxed emissions targets, etc.—also favors the fuel that directly replaces coal.

Trump Coal Obsession Largely Irrelevant To Electric Utility CEOs—Those darned market forces just get in the way of a good campaign speech.

Stanford Study says Fossil-Fueled Cars will Vanish in 8 years as ‘Big Oil’ Collapses—I doubt it will happen in eight years, but I think there is a time in my lifetime when my truck will be a classic because of its fuel choice.

You May Live Longer if You Bike to Work—Let us count all of the ways that bicycles rule.

New American Study Confirms: Physically Separated Bike Lanes are Crucial for Safety—Add this to the list of things that seem obvious but that someone felt a study was needed to confirm.  As someone who rides both types of bike lanes I can assure you that the protected and/or separated bike lanes are the better option for a cyclist.

Denver’s Bike-Friendly Plans Seem To Be Panning Out—People actually like biking to work and play.  It’s a proven fact.

Running Rod Has Got to Go

The past week or so has made it abundantly clear that “Running” Rod Blum has got to go.

First, Rod Blum voted to pass the House’s American Health Care Act.  It is bad enough that he voted for a bill which will lead to tens of millions of people in the United States being denied affordable health insurance.  It is even worse that he basically said he voted for the bill even though he disagreed with the process and the content.  Rod Blum is such a shill for Paul Ryan and Donald Trump that even when he knows a bill is bad for Iowans he will still vote for its passage.

Make no mistake, the AHCA is horrible for Iowa.  The AHCA slashes hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid in order to fund tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  Rod Blum could care less about the approximately 680,000 people in Iowa that Medicaid serves. [1]

Furthermore, the cuts in Medicaid and the changes to our nation’s health care system proposed in the AHCA are just the first step in Paul Ryan’s master plan to gut our safety net.   Paul Ryan has is eyes on Medicare and Social Security as ways to pay for his vision of tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  [2]  The game plan is to cut taxes to such a degree as to precipitate a budget crisis.  As the party of fiscal discipline the Republicans will demand “shared sacrifice,” which is right wing speak for screwing anyone no capable of paying membership fees at Mar a Lago, that will come in the form of draconian cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  Rod Blum has proven that he is little more than a toady for Paul Ryan so he has got to go.

Second, Rod Blum finally decided to hold some town hall meetings and it did not go so well for him.  Instead of actually answering people’s questions he regurgitated bland politician speak carefully calibrated to not say anything of importance.

Third, Rod Blum refuses to answer questions about why he is unwilling to answer questions from Iowans that he does not represent yet he is more than willing to accept money from organizations that are not in his district.  In a show of complete political farce Blum stormed out of an interview with KCRG’s Josh Scheinblum when asked that exact question. [3]  It was made even more farcical by the presence of school children brought to the interview by Blum as some sort of junior human shield.

Rod Blum has shown that he does not represent his district, he is a shill for his Republican boss from Janesville, and that he is incapable of answering questions about the way he conducts his political business without getting all huffy.

I do not know who will eventually run in opposition to Rod Blum in 2018, but short of the literal Prince of Darkness I am voting for the person.  Running Rod Blum has got to go.

 

References
  1. http://dhs.iowa.gov/sites/default/files/15-6_Improve_Health_Status.pdf
  2. https://thinkprogress.org/paul-ryans-next-move-is-an-attempt-to-privatize-medicare-a96eb9ac0a23
  3. http://www.kcrg.com/content/news/Blum-walks-out-of-exclusive-interview-with-TV9-421676713.html

Friday Linkage 5/12/2017

Is this how it ends?  With a complicit Congress, an ineffective opposition party, and an egomaniac in the White House do we end up miles down the road to tyranny in just a few years?  Or does America pull its collective head out of its ass and do something about the ridiculous state of affairs?

Considering how well things went during the prelude to the Civil War I do not have the highest hopes for a peaceful decade.  Maybe Dwayne Johnson really will be our next president.  Or Michelle Obama.

On to the links…

EPA Dismisses 5 Scientists from Key Review Panel—Let me guess what the industry panel members are going to recommend…regulation bad…oil and gas good…EPA bad…emissions are good for you…money is even better…and so on.  Your government is owned by fossil fuels and Russians.

Here’s How Easy It Is to Get Trump Officials to Click on a Fake Link in Email—I imagined that it would be as easy as saying “Click here to support Bill O’Reilly against all those evil women.”

Watch Anderson Cooper Roll His Eyes at Kellyanne Conway As She Tries to Defend Trump—And the Oscar goes to Anderson Cooper:

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A New Book Ranks the Top 100 Solutions to Climate Change. The Results are Surprising.—Maybe the solutions are within our grasp.  Drawdown is on my reading list at the library.  I just happen to be about ten people back in the queue.

Remorseless Coal Baron Gets Out Of Prison, Has Twitter Meltdown Over Mine Disaster—Do you notice a trend with Donald Trump and other narcissists like Don Blankenship?  In their mind’s eye he or she is never wrong.  Even when convicted in a court of law and sent to prison he is going back to the well that he did nothing wrong.

With a Letter a Day, West Virginian Tried to Remind Coal Executive of his Role in 29 Deaths—Don Blankenship was complicit in the conditions that directly led to the death of 29 people.  He does not care nor did he ever care about actual human beings in his employ as long as the coal kept coming out of the mountains and the profits kept flowing to bank accounts.

California’s Drought May Be Over, But Its Water Troubles Aren’t—Judging long term climatic conditions based on a single season is a bad idea.  Climate scientists, hydrologists, and anyone with half a brain has always said that but as California “exits” the recent drought it needs saying even more.

California Set an Ambitious Goal for Fighting Global Warming. Now Comes the Hard Part—The goals are ambitious.  We have to hope that California can be the model for the rest of the states because there will be no guidance from the capital.

Could Trump Dismantle the American West?—Why don’t we just come out and say that Donald Trump is bad for America?  Who stands to benefit from anything that has happened in Washington D.C. recently?  Jared Kushner maybe.

The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Just Shut Down a Diesel Plant—It’s not a huge victory, but every dirty power generation source that we can shut down is a victory.  In the age of Trump and Pruitt I will take what I can get.

Iceland’s “Thor” Volcano Power Plant can Generate 10X More Energy than Oil or Gas Wells—Geothermal is the odd cousin who comes to your wedding who turns out to be a pretty cool guy that makes the weekend all the more fun.  This geothermal plant is the rock star cousin who owns the weekend.

Germany Breaks A Solar Record — Gets 85% Of Electricity From Renewables—These headlines are a little misleading, but generating this much renewable energy for this large an economy is a big deal.

Arrogance of Space—People ask me why I think bikes are such a great way to get around.  If I had to pick one photo to illustrate many of the reasons it would be this:

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Imagine what our infrastructure costs would look like if we were managing a world of cyclists instead of a world of single occupancy automobiles.  Believe it!

Dan Barber on the Future of Food—Dan Barber can get a little preachy, but so can Michael Pollan and Anthony Bourdain but I still listen to what they have to say about food.  Dan Barber is no different.  His thoughts on food matter because he is an influencer of chefs and what not the world over.

Rod Blum’s Terrible, No Good Couple of Days in the Cedar Valley

Rod Blum is having a terrible time here in the Cedar Valley the past couple of days.  Hot on the heels of his miserable performance in an interview with my new hero Josh Scheinblum where he stormed off after being asked a question about campaign contributions, the congressman for the 1st district held town halls in Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls.  Things went about as well as anyone could have hoped.

In Cedar Rapids the crowd was primed to ask lots of questions about health care and ask they did.  You can see the highlights of the town hall here. The gist of things is that people are unhappy that Rod Blum voted for a health care overhaul that was pushed through congress without a score by the CBO, without any substantial hearings, and without any substantial public comment.

Remember, Paul Ryan—the beady eyed leader of this gang—criticized the passage of the Affordable Care Act for all the same reasons even though that process took a year.  I guess that Republicans were just all too giddy to screw people over.  Just look at the happiness in Jason Chaffetz’s face as he comes back from surgery on a pre-existing condition to gut your health care:

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His heart is racing with the possibility that now is the time he gets to put his big boy pants on and really screw over some little people.  Gotta’ get more tax cuts for the millionaires and billionaires who make the Republicans go.

Back to our embattled congressman Rod Blum.  Things went even worse for Blum in Cedar Falls.  Seeking to placate the crowd he told them how he did not agree with the process of passing the bill before knowing the costs.  Instead of voting against the bill, which a single vote from any Republican would have killed the passage, he vote for the bill.  Nothing shows how resistant you are to something like voting for its passage.

Rod Blum does not represent the first district of Iowa.  Hell, he does not represent the state of Iowa or any of our interests.  He represents Rod Blum and the people who pay to keep him in Washington D.C.  Who is that?  Outside groups like American Action Network spent big to keep him in office.  Who is the American Action Network?  It’s a dark money front founded by Norm Coleman, the former Republican senator from Minnesota who lost to Al Franken.

Rod Blum is a No Talent Clown

No he is not Michael Bolton.  Not Michael Bolton the computer programmer.  You know, the other Michael Bolton.  I digress.

Rod Blum is apparently a think skinned, no talent clown who happens to represent the 1st district of Iowa.  During an interview, which he requested, KCRG’s Josh Scheinblum wasted no time and had zero chill for Blum’s bullshit.  Check out the full exchange here.

With a group of school children watching Rod Blum got to question two before going all “boom, outta here.”  The question that got him was about his willingness to accept donations from out of his district while claiming to not represent anyone outside of his district.  These are some real tough questions Rod.  The problem, as many Iowans in the district see it now, is that Rod Blum represents moneyed interests with names like Adelson and Koch.  We will never know because the groups that give Rod Blum his campaign cash do not have to disclose their donors.

Things did not get any better for Rod during his scheduled town hall in Dubuque when he was asked to defend his slavish adherence to the Trump-Ryan agenda.

How do people think things are going to go in Cedar Rapids tonight?  The suspense is terrible, I hope it will last!