bookmark_borderRise and Fall of D.O.D.O., The

A Novel by Stephenson, Neal and Galland, Nicole

Anybody who knows me well enough to read this here blog knows that I enjoy reading books by Neal Stephenson. Some people, including people I otherwise respect, consider him to be long-winded and tiresome. “Long-winded” I cannot argue against, but I find him to be endlessly entertaining.

DODO is 742 pages of epistolary diachronical action. It is chock full of manuscripts, emails, journal entries, after action reports, radio transcripts, running around, helicopters, car chases through the streets of Boston, boat rides, sex scenes, battles, beer drinking, quantum physics, holiday parties, and team meetings.

It took me more than a month to grind through it all, but I enjoyed the whole thing.

bookmark_borderLantern Storage Box

I’ve only made three of these lanterns so far, but I intend to make six, so eventually I will need something to transport and store them all in, or they are going to get pretty beat up. So, another box.

Lantern Box, Closed

This was also yet another exercise in using up surplus materials from other projects. I wound up having to use a piece of MDF for the lid, because that was the biggest piece of anything I had left. The edges are off-cut from 2-by-4 lumber from when I was making pole by cutting square pieces from 2-by-4. It awfully satisfying to use up some of that stuff.

Lantern Box, Open

You can see that the extra height of the lid makes it easy to get the lanterns in and out of the box. There’s an extra half inch in each direction, so the lanterns fit snugly but not tightly.

The whole thing is finished on the outside with spar polyurethane, especially the MDF on the lid, to give it a little more water resistance than a cardboard box. I glued some blocks of wood to the bottom to serve as feet, so it won’t be resting entirely in any puddles.

Basically, the whole thing is constructed with glue and nails form the nail gun. The bottom is thicker plywood to make it bottom-heavy, and the rim on the body both supports the lid and reinforces the corners of the box. This is a design and method I’ve used before with some success.

A lot of the sizing of pieces can be done while you’re building. For instance, I make the body of the box, then I measure the outside of the top before cutting the pieces for the lid. That way the lid is sized to fit the actual box, and not just my best hope.

The whole thing is kind of rough, because it’s not supposed to be anything special. You can see in the photos that I didn’t even sand off the mill markings.

bookmark_borderHexagonal Propane Box

We have a small propane-fueled grill that spends all summer out on the patio. Eventually, we decided that it wasn’t super cool to have a tank of propane just sitting out in the rain and sun, so I decided to build a storage box.

6-sided 3-leggad Storage Box for a Propane Tank

The box is mostly made from exterior-grade 3/8″ plywood. It’s hexagonal, which is more work, but actually uses less wood. I’m especially happy that I was able to keep track of all the pieces and their orientation, so the face grain of the plywood flows around the corners nicely.

The floor and lid of the box are 3/4″ plywood for durability. The edges of the lid are made from pine 1-by-4. Once you have the blade angled over to cut the 30 degree angle for the sides, you can use that angle for the lid edges, too. The 3 legs are pieces of 2-by-4 cut into my standard karabitsu leg shape on the band saw.

There is a large hole cut in one side of the box for the propane hose to pass through. A couple of smaller pieces inside block most of the hole and secure it once the tank is in place.

Open box showing the hose arrrangement

There are also some hols drilled in the bottom to allow any leaked propane to escape. I glued some nylon mesh over the holes to keep bugs from crawling inside.

The whole thing is finished in heavy-duty oil-based polyurethane. I had though about painting the box, but after I saw how interesting the grain was, clear satin it was.

A little closer up

It will also come in handy in the winter. We can clean up the grill itself and store it in the garage, but you really should not bring propane tanks inside like that. With the polyurethane I used, this thing can probably just sit outside on the patio all winter.

bookmark_borderPiLC

Having worked in two different industries where proprietary, custom-built, custom-programmed, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) were the order of the day, it is difficult for me to describe how accurate the name “Revolution” is for this product line.

Revolution Pi

Industrial controls based on open hardware and free software really do have the potential to change entires industries. I mean, they probably won’t, but they could.

bookmark_borderBurgundy Oilcloth Shop Coat

I decided that I wanted to make one more shop coat. The other two are great, even though I have less opportunity to wear them lately, but I thought that a third coat made from oilcloth would be a handy thing to have. The oilcloth would make it water resistant, if not waterproof.

Then, I had to find a source of oilcloth. Most oilcloth you can find on the net is not real cloth, it’s that flannel-backed vinyl that people use as tablecloths. Real oilcloth is real cloth (usually cotton canvas) that’s been soaked in boiled linseed oil and allowed to dry. It’s easy (if pricey) to buy garments made from oilcloth, but not so easy to find the raw material, and I didn’t want to make it myself.

At least one of the merchants at Pennsic usually carries oilcloth, but there was no Pennsic this year and none of the merchant websites listed oilcloth. Eventually I found Hamilton Dry Goods. They have a selection of real cotton oilcloth in stock and their service was reasonably fast.

Anyway, here’s the coat:

Burgundy Oilcloth Shop Coat

Because it’s meant to be worn in wet conditions, exterior pockets seemed like a bad idea. Because the oilcloth feels a little greasy even when it’s dry, I decided to put a lining in the coat, and put pockets on the lining.

Lining with Pockets

I had some of this rosy poly-cotton fabric all the way down in the bottom of one of my fabric supply bins, held in reserve for a project I was unlikely to ever make. It was a good hue match for the burgundy shell fabric, and a better feel against the skin.

The pattern doesn’t include instructions for adding a lining, so I had to figure all that out on my own. I only messed it up a little bit, at the lapels. I managed to effect a save without ripping out all the collar stitching.

A quick trip to the fabric store for some brass buttons, and this project was complete. Some time I need to figure out how to make one of these with a zipper instead of buttons. Not soon, though.

bookmark_borderNew Banner

My old shibori-dyed personal banner is getting a little faded, and my silk banner is too delicate to hang outside in the rain, so I decided to make a durable banner that I can mistreat.

Banner in trees

It’s 15 inches wide and 6 feet long of cotton duck fabric in this wonderful deep-yellow color. The black parts of the design are painted on with Jacquard Textile Color, with details on the bunny in gold Jacquard Neopaque fabric paint. The textile color is a really thick pigment type paint, that doesn’t forma film the way the acrylic Neopaque does.

I made a simple 8-strand suspensory braid in some polyester yarn, so that I won’t have to worry about it, either.

bookmark_borderCherry Andon Lamp

An andon is a type of Japanese lantern that is usually used indoors by people who are seated on the floor. I think that, technically, any “framed paper” lantern is an andon, but the word is most often used to refer to the floor-standing version. That may be because most hanging lanterns you see are the collapsible paper chochin type.

I’ve been wanting to make a tall, floor standing andon for about five years, and took the opportunity to cut pieces for this one when I was preparing materials for the Cherry Solar Flicker Lantern project.

Andon, from cherry

This andon is about 34 inches tall and 7.5 inches deep/wide. It’s made from cherry. To keep it from being tippy, the base is a solid block of cherry two inches thick. It uses a different lighting system than the hanging lanterns. This one is designed to suspend a NEBO Tools “BIG Poppy” lantern inside.

The view inside

Here you can see how the Poppy is suspended from the diagonal crossbeam. This is also a better view of the handle. I cut the through-mortise into a rectangular block first, then cut the curved handle from that block. You can also see the seam where the paper is taped closed at the front corner. Even in the light it doesn’t look bad.

bookmark_borderCherry Solar Flicker Lantern

This is the third lantern in a series of at least six. This simple Japanese frame lantern is made from some Western Pennsylvania cherry lumber that I bought a bunch of years ago and am still working scraps out of. It follows the same design as the Oak Solar Flicker Lantern and Maple Solar Flicker Lantern before it.

Lantern in cherry

I have a new method for applying the paper that I think yields a much tighter and smoother result. I’m using Warlon Taf-Top shoji paper, so I can’t just dampen the paper to shrink it. Unless the lantern is perfectly square, wrapping a correctly-sized strip of paper around it leaves wrinkles or bulges. Instead, I cut the paper oversized, apply it to the lantern, then trim the paper down so that it is perfectly straight and flat. It watses a bit more paper, but I think it is more attractive.

The shoji in the background were made about a decade ago, and are made from cedar. I bought the bunny painting from an antique store.

bookmark_borderStorage Box for the Stuff of my Sweetie

Just another lidded storage box made from birch-face plywood and maple (it turns out they are maple, not birch) scants. This one is custom sized so that it fits in the storage cabinet over Sharon’s desk.

A useful box to put things in

The cabinet has sliding doors, and the box she was using was too bit to fit nicely. If she put the box in long-ways, the door couldn’t slide shut. If she put the box in sideways, there was all this wasted room in the cabinet.

Old box, boo!

This box is a little shorter, and a little wider, so it fits in longways. Even the inner sliding door can shut, although the clearance is about 1/16th of an inch.

New box, yay!

the only real difference (besides size) between this one and the Storage Box for the Coronet of a Duchess is that I finished this one with “Garnet” shellac instead of “Blonde” shellac, so the color is deeper.

Storage box, open