Tool Drool Ep. 1, Drills

2018 is my year of woodworking, and I’ll admit, it’s not so much about the wood, but the tools. I love tools.

Bosch PS32 cordless drill

For no good reason I was browsing drills over at Amazon and found this beauty. It’s a Bosch PS32. What I like about it most, is the small size and light weight. The battery is mostly embedded in the handle, making the drill more compact compared to other cordless drills that typically have large batteries hanging off the end. It also has a charge-indicator as well, which my current drill lacks. Of course, it’s a higher-end drill and has a price tag to match, so I can’t justify a buy at this time, but it’s definitely on my wishlist.


Black + Decker cordless drill

This is my current drill, a Black + Decker, purchased because of its price. It’s definitely a capable drill and performs perfectly fine. I don’t even charge it that often. Back in the day cordless drills sucked, the batteries couldn’t retain their charge over long periods of inactivity, took overnight to charge, and were very bulky. This drill is always ready to go and charges quickly. My one complaint is the tiny LED light, it could do better at illuminating the drilling area.


Hand Drill

And this is my Stanley hand drill — when I was a kid I found it in my father’s older toolbox, he never used it so one day I moved it into my toolbox. I probably asked him first. I do like using it, it’s very smooth and doesn’t overdo it like the motorized drills can. Besides speed and power, the main drawback is that it requires two hands to operate.


Schroeder Hand Drill

This one is a smaller hand drill, and it’s on my wishlist just because I like hand drills and wanted a backup for my old Stanley should the need arise. But for fine, delicate work, this would be a good guy to have.


Let There Be Light

Working with electricity! I purchased a simple lamp kit over at Lowes which included a bulb-holder with switch, a threaded stem with tightening nut, and some cord. I also purchased a second bulb-holder which came with a pull-chain instead of a push-switch (I used this one, not the switch that came with the kit). I got the kit because it was my first lamp project, next time I’ll probably just buy individual parts now that I know what I’m dealing with. The wiring step is very simple, I just followed the included instructions.

This is more of a prototype project where I was experimenting with lamp construction. In this lantern-style lamp I used actual parchment paper, utilizing a little bit of wood-glue to keep it in place. The primary frame is constructed out of 3/4 inch poplar squares. The lamp is about 19 inches tall and 7 inches wide and sits nicely on my desk. I’m using an LED bulb which doesn’t give off heat — but because it’s parchment paper (which is typically used in ovens for baking), and open on the top and bottom, I don’t think an incandescent bulb would be a problem.

As a bonus, I cannibalized the old lamp that the lantern-lamp replaced and made a scrap-wood standing lamp. I pulled apart the old lamp’s bulb-holder and un-wired it, pulled the wire through, unscrewed the threaded stem — then whipped up a simple standing base with whatever wood I had laying around. I reused the old lamp’s lampshade on this one though.

Odyssey of the Wood

It was almost Christmas, my wife mentioned that she needed a bookcase to organize a basket full of loose books in the living room. I had some time and some wood laying around, so I began to build. The wood was left over from previous woodworking projects, so just a random assortment. We’re not talking 2×8 rough-cut planks here, we’re talking small 3/4″ square-dowel-like pieces for the legs mixed with some 1/4″ thick by 4″ to 6″ wide boards tying them together, and luckily I had a short 1×10 plank for actual shelves (and some dowels for the bottom).

There’s no wood-shop by the way, just the floor in my office. I usually pick-up wood at Lowes since they have an aisle full of “appearance quality” wood with various sizes to choose from.

I actually had a pretty frustrating time assembling the shelf, although I was somewhat pleased with the final product considering the limitations of materials I had to work with. I was so frustrated in fact, that I had the feeling I was DONE with woodworking after this project, that it just wasn’t for me. And, I was ready to give up on tools in general. But after the bookcase was completed, I started thinking about how things went so poorly because I didn’t have the right tools for the job.


Then a revelation: I didn’t need less tools, I needed MORE tools!! Of course! As someone that grew up watching This Old House, The New Yankee Workshop, The Woodwright’s Shop, and as someone that wanders tool aisles with candy-store caliber delight, I couldn’t give up on tools. And so, I resolved to make this upcoming year, a year of woodworking.

I’m still a small-project kinda guy, so no power tools beyond a cordless drill (although sometimes I even opt to use my Stanley hand-powered-drill instead). For cutting I use Japanese pull-saws — so quiet and quick. I had the idea that I should bootstrap my woodworking by selling completed pieces on Etsy in order to pay for more tools and wood. But since it was Christmas, I received some cash-presents from family and used that instead. I still have to commercialize in some form to keep it rolling, I think — well we’ll see.

I’m writing right now because I’m waiting for some tools to arrive today. This is my latest piece, a shelf.


O Christmas Tree

Starting with a piece of 2 1/2 inch wide by 3/4 inch thick wood, I sawed out a basic triangle and a trunk. Then the whittlin’ began, just hackin’ away until a pine tree appeared. A rasp and file helped too. The saw was also used to trim out some outer branches. And once the woodworking was done, paint was applied. A couple different greens for shading and a couple browns too. Finally, a bit of white paint was added for a touch of snow.

A small amount of work for a decorative little item, standing at 3 1/2 inches tall. And as a bonus, the organic nature of the subject-matter makes mistakes of little concern.

Christmas Pyramid

My wife was at HomeGoods the other day and sent me a picture of a candle-powered spinny thing. I thought it was neat and wanted to see if I could create such a thing myself. According to my research, it’s actually called a Christmas Pyramid.

After a failed first attempt, I added more fins, shortened the spindle, and turned up the heat, using a total of 8 candles — and voila, it actually spun! Here’s a gif of the spinning action and a video’s included at the end.

Christmas Pyramid

Christmas Pyramid Prototype

This is only a prototype and includes no adornments. To go from here, I’d widen the spindle support structure and add a wheel-shape to the bottom, on which I’d place decorative figurines. We’ll see if that actually happens though.

The fins were formed from a thin basswood left over from a craft project. They’re attached with custom-carved holders that are inserted into a custom-carved octagon-shaped spindle-topper. The spindle itself is a pointed oak dowel that turns with suprisingly little friction within its wood-based support.

Tool usage primarily entailed measuring, sawing, chiseling, whittling, drilling, filing, and sanding. It was a pretty tedious process making the 8 fins and their associated tinker-toy style holders. But that style of holder does allow me to rotate the fins to whatever angle-of-attack I want.

It was only a couple of days in the shop to make and a pretty neat accomplishment. When I saw it just sitting still with 4 candles I was a bit disappointed, I even raised them to the point of slightly burning some of the wood — but then with the addition of 4 more candles — Ha! The thrill of victory!

Doing the Inevitable

I stared at the ceiling day after day, hoping the leak was fixed. But the flat white surface seemed to be changing, casting an odd shadow. Either new water continued to penetrate the roof, or pre-existing moisture started to settle in, warping the board above. There was already a paint-mismatch since the ceiling was a shade of off-white I couldn’t replicate — now the existence of a leak was even more obvious.

But then it happened: a new spot appeared, a smaller one, about a foot over. Great, I’ll have to go on the roof now. Last time, something odd occurred, a guy was soliciting in the neighborhood and offered to go on the roof and repair whatever he could find up there. I felt relieved in a sense, yet my pessimistic nature never allowed me to believe it would truly work. Of course I’d have to eventually get up there — and now I could delay no longer, I had to do what I was not comfortable doing: go on the roof.

I don’t like heights or ladders, so it felt a bit like buying my own guillotine as I loaded a ladder into the shopping cart. Usually I linger at the home-improvement store, today was quick and deliberate.

Climbing the ladder, I didn’t feel fear, but I was at a loss when I got to the top — now what? How does one transition from a ladder to a slanting roof? I’ve seen neighbors, one even in his seventies, stand on a roof shoveling snow off, so at least I knew it was possible. Essentially I crawled off the ladder and continued to crawl on my hands and knees across the peak of the roof until I reached the affected area. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a definitive hole to plug, so I patched all around the vent pipe, assuming it must be the cause of the leak.

Perhaps the inevitability, is calling a roofer.