Pinewood Fat Man Derby

I just got volunteered for a project: Help my nephew with his Boy Scouts’ Pinewood Derby car.

From what I understand, I was chosen as I have a lathe and it may or may not prove useful. Well, I can’t tell the kid no.

So, here’s what the idea is: A wheeled model of the atomic bomb “Fat Man”. Now, what’s with kids these days and their mania for learning history? Back in my day we had Thundercats and we were damn glad.

Sorry for the lousy photo. It is the first and last I will take with my new tablet:


The plan calls for a bomb to be carved out of the supplied pine block. With paint and logos like “Uranium 238” and the like.* Here is a rough draft of the technical drawing we’re going with:


I figure we should mill some test blocks of wood and do a few mock-ups first. Then I plan that we chisel the shape rough and rasp and sand away the rest. Hopefully it warms up soon and we can get out to the shed.




*and the first nerd who wants to tell me that Fat Man was a plutonium bomb or that’s not the right isotope or whatever gets to paint this car as punishment


400 N. Lake Shore Drive

Going back to look at old projects I had worked on in a drafting class, I found this made-up logo I had put on a title sheet:


The address 400 N. Lake Shore Drive was the site of where Santiago Calatrava was supposed to build the Chicago Spire. Evidently, I had figured on buying the place and setting up shop there. With my millions of dollars, I suppose.

This is the spire as designed:



However, the site is still a disappointing hole in the ground.

I see that Gensler has a concept drawing out: Report on Hopefully something comes of it. I need a decent office space.



John Glenn – A sunset in space

A couple of months back I got into learning what I could about space, astronauts and the engineering involved. One of the books I read that gave a great insight was John Glenn’s book “A Memoir” that dealt largely with his  everyday life as he worked on his space missions.

The part that stood out best for me though were the free flowing prose about going through the earth orbits: the sights, the sounds, the weird lights out the window, how the spacecraft vibrated.

His words on seeing the sun set for the first time:

“This was something I had been looking forward to, a sunset in space….Wonderful as man-made art may be, it cannot compare in my mind to sunsets and sunrises, God’s master-pieces. Here on Earth we see the beautiful reds, oranges and yellows with a luminous quality no film can capture. What would it be like here in space?

It was even more spectacular than I had imagined, and different in that the sunlight coming through the prism of Earth’s atmosphere seemed to break out the whole spectrum, not just the colors at the red end but the greens, blues, indigos, and violets at the other. It made spectacular an understatement for the few seconds’ view. From my orbiting front porch, the setting sun that would have lingered during a long earthly twilight sank eighteen times as fast. The sun was fully round and as white as a brilliant arc light, and then it swiftly disappeared and seemed to melt into a long thin line of rainbow-brilliant radiance along the curve of the horizon”.

RIP John Glenn

Playing with Inventor; sharpening stone holder

I recently dusted off a copy of Autodesk Inventor, a 3D drafting software. I had used it before to make models for engineering projects and wanted to give it a spin again.

You start of by sketching and extruding parts, similar to like you would in Sketchup, but views and drawings are easily generated.

I went about seeing if I could do a mockup of a sharpening stone holder. Design what you know, I suppose. Continue reading

Róisín – A little guitar amp.

Here is a little diversion from the woodworking posts I’ve been putting up.

This is a guitar amp I made a while back. Her name is “Róisín”, which is Irish for “Little Rose”. She was named as a companion for a larger amp I had called “Rosie”, named after an AC/DC song.

Researching cabinet design is one of the factors that sent me down the rabbit hole of woodworking.


Continue reading

Making a mallet from a log

With some inspiration from the title of the book “Make a Chair From A Tree”, I worked on a new project: making a mallet from a log.

The point of the exercise again was twofold: The first being that I wanted a mallet and the second being that I wanted to see if I could make something entirely from a part of a tree using only hand tools. Continue reading

New to me: cabinet scraper. Oh! The shavings!

Last weekend I had the good fortune to make a road trip to Covington, KY to visit the open house and tool sale at Lost Art Press. This was hosted by Chris Schwarz and if you read this blog and don’t know who that is, then I suggest you check out his book “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest”.

About fifty or so equally-minded individuals descended on the small store in  a melee that would be remeniscent of an estate sale crossed with a Comic-Con.Everyone was super nice, just I hadn’t expected such a rush. Chris was off-loading some of his own tools that he didn’t need anymore. To be sure, the author of “Handplane Essentials” does not have much junk, so it was worth a look. Continue reading