Sunday, April 21, 2019

Turning Bowl Blanks

Turning wood bowls can be a really relaxing pastime - but you need to be prepared first

I have always admired the craftsmanship that went into turned wooden bowls so I was always a bit keen to try my hand at making one.

A little while ago I found a small wood lathe that was on sale for a ridiculously cheap price at my local hardware store.So I took advantage of the opportunity and immediately grabbed it.

When I got the lathe home and set it up, I first thought it prudent to at least look at some how to videos on line to figure out to do wood turning. Once I watched a few videos, I determined that I got the gist of it and got right to it.

I immediately put a small block of wood on the lathe, fired up it up and armed with a chisel, took a stab at making my first bowl.

It didn't go very well.

While I could make a real nice wooden cylinder on the lathe, I ran into some trouble in trying to make the "bowl" part of the bowl. When the chisel got caught by the spinning hunk of wood and was flung across the shop where it embedded itself into the far wall, it was time to call it quits.

I figured at that precise moment that perhaps I should do a bit more than watch videos before I tried that again.

Fast forward a couple of months I attended a day long wood turning workshop at one of my local woodworking stores where I was able to get some hands on training on how to properly turn a wood bowl. A really nice bonus was that I also able to come home with a really nice bowl that I made myself.

For anyone who wants to learn how to do any sort of wood turning, I really do encourage that you find a course like this in your area.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Puttering in the Shop - The Internet of Stuff

A couple of small couple of small electronic parts and the world will know how could my home is

As a bit of a departure from my normal posts, I'm going to be getting more into software than softwood, but there will be a woodworking tie in at some point in the future. We just need to lay down some groundwork first.

In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz going on about having what used to be very mundane everyday household items become "smart" by being able to be connected to the internet and communicate with you or with other smart devices.

This concept - more commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things" (or IOT) - has unleashed an avalanche of smart thermostats, front door locks and refrigerators - all with the ability to let you know whether you need milk or that you've left the back door open and now the cat has escaped to terrorize the neighborhood.

Being someone who has made a career in the Information Technology field, I was starting to feel a wee bit out of the loop about these things - not a good place to be for any self respecting IT guy.

I could have just simply read up on IOT devices, but why waste a perfectly good excuse for a bit of puttering in the shop...

As I mentioned in my previous post, you can literally build anything with a little electronic "LEGO". A quick search of the internet showed me many examples of people building their own IOT devices in such a way.

One common thing that I found with these projects was that a lot of them used a small Arduino compatible device based on the ESP8266 board.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Project - Junkyard Compass and Thermometer

Junkyard compass and thermometer

This project was born from a need to address a couple of features that I wanted to have in my truck.

The first feature was to have an electronic compass to serve as a companion to my 2 meter amateur radio rig. As a severe storm spotter, knowing what the direction is of the weather that I'm observing is essential for when I need to radio in my reports.

The second feature is more along the lines of creature comforts. Many vehicles these days have an outside temperature read out feature, however you very rarely find one that will display what the temperature is inside the vehicle. I always wanted to know what the actual temperature is in the car when I'm driving (and it's a great help in solving those age old debates that you sometimes have with your passengers on whether it's "too hot" or "too cold" )

For more details on how you can build one of your own, just click on this Link

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Installing a Wi-Fi Enabled Dimmer Switch

Harnessing the power of the internet - to turn on your lights

A little while ago I gave a wall outlet in my house a bit of an upgrade by replacing it with an outlet that also doubled as a USB charging device.

I was actually pretty intrigued about the idea of adding additional little enhancements like that to my home. One thing that has always been a bit of a sore point in my household is that sometimes we go out for an evening, usually when it's still daylight out, only to come home to a dark house because we forgot to turn an outside light before we left.

I live in a rural area, so it gets pretty dark out and it can be quite the struggle to unlock the front door in the dark.

I had heard of new light switches on the market that could be connected to your smartphone via your home Wi-Fi and internet connection. Drawing on my fresh experience with the wall outlet, I thought I would take a quick look at them during my next foray to the hardware store.

Now my initial thought that the label "Smart" was just a code word for "expensive", but to my surprise, I found a pair of smart dimmer switches for about 20 dollars.

So, they came home with me.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Thrift Store Recon

Bargains as far as the eye can see


True to form, I am always on a never-ending quest for finding things that a lot of folks would otherwise consider "trash" with the intent of giving them new life in a new form.

As opposed to roaming the local junkyard or raiding the e-waste for raw materials for my projects, I sometimes go upmarket and occasionally check out the local thrift store.

The nice thing about thrift stores is that they are typically run by a charity where all the profits from the store usually go to helping others in my community. Because the proceeds are for a good cause, people typically donate items that still have a great deal of life left in them.

The fact that the items for sale in the store are dirt cheap is always a very nice bonus!

So I usually find my local thrift store a source of good cheap parts for my project ideas.

But I also get a great deal of entertainment in perusing the aisles. I often find things just make you wonder why anyone would ever want to buy it

For example, things like bowling trophies from 1986.