Thursday, 26 September 2013

Thursday Sailing Pic...

Wednesday nights are sailing nights around here. Last night there was no wind, which makes for bad sailing, but good picture taking. I got a couple shots of our competitor "Still Time" with my blackberry...

Even though the sailing was meh, its great to get out past the noise and hustle, and just relax. A couple hours of sail therapy can put your head in a much better place.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Walking to School

Did you know that October 9th is International Walk/Bike to school day??

WARNING... This is gonna end in a challenge...

Our 2 boys (age 2 and 5) walk to school every morning. Do yours? Every morning we put on our coats and hats, grab our backpacks, and trot off to school. At the same time we leave, we watch our neighbours drive past in their cars.

We arrive at the daycare at the same time as Cuppa's friends. After he's checked in, we continue our walk to Buddy's school. It takes us about 15 minutes to get there, and 10 minutes for me to get back to the house sans kids.

The folks who drive, get into the schoolyard at the same we do. By the time parents deal with the parking at the school, and then get the kid out and off to the playground, they have saved no time at all. So why drive?

As autumn sets in we are enjoying fresh air and comfortable temperatures, leafs are changing, and friends are talking and sharing. There are crossing guards at all the busy intersections, and we get to repeat the ages old chant "Step on a crack, break your mother's back."

Parent Taking Child To Pre School

There are some nice pauses along the way too. Every morning we check the water under the bridge where the Chocolate River runs. I don't know why the boys decided its called the Chocolate River. They tell me it source is a chocolate lake. Who am I to question that.

Often I hear about how unsafe traffic is around the schools. I hear about near misses with kids running across the road and parents distracted by backseat shenanigans as they get close. I hear about obese kids and lazy kids and kids with no sense of direction. So here are some resources to help you get your kids out and walking to school. 10 minutes each way should be a good kickstart to get their blood moving (and yours) and should help get some of those cars off the road and make things safer around the schoolyard...

Back to The War Amps Home

SAFEWALK - War Amps of Canada -

The War Amps is all about safety for children. If you are worried about the dangers that come on your walk to school, consider their walksafe program to identify the sorts of hazards that your child could come in contact with. Things like wires and fences and snowbanks are all on their inventory for kids to beware of.

Safe Routes to School -

Safe Routes to School is an organization dedicated to safe walks for kids from an urban planning and transportation perspective. They are linked in to public health, but focus on the environment and congestion prevention. They offer some great community tools to get cars off the road. Things like walking schoolbus (our Daycare has one!) toolkits, School Administrator toolkits, idle free school zones, and school walking clubs are all covered by Safe Routes to School.

Participaction ® Let’s get moving.

Participaction Ontario -

I am surprised that Ontario's "healthy living" group didn't have more of a walking to school program, but here is their article on walking and the benefits it offers. I stole their pic for the top of this blog post - at least until I get one of our boys...

Walk-bike to School Day -

Ok, this is a USA - based program, but October 9th has been declared international Walk-Bike to school day. In order to encourage more kids to walk to school, everyone is challeneged to leave their cars at home,. and either join a walking group, ride their bike, or form an initiative to get as many kids as possible to walk or bike to school.

With all these tools at your disposal, lets see what you can do! On October 9th, I challenge everyone to get out there and walk to school with their kids.

Homeschoolers - take a walking adventure as part of your curriculum, or do the safety walk above.

Bloggers - I challenge you to get the word out about walk/bike to school day, and post some photos of your success! Lets see how many kids we can get out of the car and onto their feet!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Table saw Redux

In my last post I whined about how my table saw wasn't playing nice and now here I am with good news. We have identified the enemy.

So you may remember the saw looking like this in a recent post...

And that made me all kinds of unhappy and stuff.

So after a long day of work one day, I dug into the saw. My saw is a Rexon model RXW-10 which is an off-shore hybrid table saw. Like many other things, a high percentage of offshore table saws are all made in one factory, then painted different colours and get different stickers. This same saw was sold at various pricepoints as a Delta, Craftsman, Busy-Bee, Grizzly, etc. etc. See the square holes in the table casting? Well look at any of those saw brands from the late 1980's through middle 1990's and you'll see they were all cast from the same mold in a factory in Asia called "Rexon Industries". Whats more, the motors and driveline are all the same too. All that changed was the stickers. Today, Rexon makes a lot of house brand saws with loads of plastic parts. This saw is from the Pre-Plastic era, and was a middle-of-the line saw for its time.

With so many saws all the same, you would think there would be a plethera of parts to rebuild the saw, but for some unknown reason, no one sells replacement parts for the dang saw. No one.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So After work one night I went with the boys, took apart the table parts of the table saw and turned the saw upside down, then disconnected the saw part from the stand part.

 With everything in pieces, its easier to see whats inside and get a good look at what is going on. I know my issue is with the 'elevator' bits so I focused my efforts there and decided to just replace whatever was replaceable.

After some investigative tinkering I had the key bits off the saw. This part is the angle-pointer thinggy. It also has a set screw in it that holds the shaft in place which guides the elevator screw. The set screw was badly worn, and its mating surface was all rounded and not nice.

And this part is the elevator shaft and screw. When you turn the handle to raise or lower the saw, the gear on the end of this does all the work. On this shaft there was a circlip and a roll pin that looked worn, and easily replaceable. So we took our mittful of parts and headed to Busy Bee to see what they could suggest as fixes...

Busy Bee tried to be helpful, but since the saw is 25 years old, there wasn't much they could find. I thought they would have generic circlips and roll pins, but alas, no such luck. What they did suggest was that I find the original length of the steel tube that the circlip holds in place (between buddy's hands in the pic above) - the ends of ours looked worn, and maybe that was the problem.

Of course they don't stock the part for my saw, but they can get the part for another saw with "Busy Bee" stickers on it. No guarantees its an exact fit. It probably is. I said I would do some research and then get back in touch.

We left with a longish face and went across the road to an industrial supply house that also sells woodworking stuff. I set my parts on the counter, and the guy started rummaging through bins. Quickly he found a match for the circlip (We put 2 on since they were thinner) and a replacement set screw, but he couldn't match the size of roll pin we had. I bought a new pair of pliers and he gave me the parts for free - yay to that guy! Here are the new bits (and old roll-pin) laid out ready for reattachment.

I reassembled everything, then paid close attention as I turned the elevator and tried raising the blade. There is about 1/2" of slop in the shaft that raises and lowers the blade, so no amount of messing about is going to fix it. Here is a close up of the roll pin and circlips, and the tube that Busy Bee suggested replacing:

So my plan now is to order the tube (its a spacer, part 109 in the parts manual) and see if the old one is worn down. After that's replaced, its going to be washers or something to space out the spacer a little more. That failing, I'll go to metal supermarket and get a piece of pipe at the diameter I need and cut it to length. Something's gotta give here!

Actually I'm 90% confident I can get the saw running properly again. Its just a matter of getting the right parts!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Laying out his crests for his camp blanket...

Apparently, I have a badge problem :-)  seems that as I've been collecting Girl Guide badges, the odd scout ome has snuck in, so I've put it away for the boys.... Tonight I pulled them out, and there were many more than I expected!

Friday, 13 September 2013


Last night I went to bed very late.

OK, it was 11:30, which in my 20's was normal bedtime, but in my 40's is very late for a school night. Except I don't go to school, but you get the point.

I spent a bunch of time making the parts for the next phase of the project. Little pieces that are quite pleasing to look at - if you know what they are going to be...

So why did I go to bed so late? Mostly because I was busy swearing at my saw.

You see this little project is coming along nicely, and I'm happy with how the tinkering has gone thus far, but now I am into the detailed work. Last night I was cutting tenons in those little pieces, and trying to get them to an exact size so they would fit an exact spot. That's how tenons are supposed to work. And if you cut tenons on a table saw, what you do is you set the blade to an exact height, and clamp the workpiece to a fence (I used my crosscut sled) and then everything stays precisely right to make the cut.

Unless you have my saw.

My saw, which I bought at a great price, second hand, has this sort of mystic ability to know when I need an exact height, and then reset itself to bizarre depths of cut. So last night I cut one tenon just right. Yay. For the next piece, the tenon came out looking like an arrow head. Which is not cool.

So I decided to fix the saw once and for all. I ripped apart as much of it as I could and found the adjustment thinggy that is screwed up. And that adjustment thinggy - well it lives in the bowels of the saw and can only be reached if the entire saw is dissected. You basically can't get there from here. Which means that to complete this project (and start the next, which SWMBO has already shown me she needs) I need to take about a week off of projects to rebuild the saw.

Once the saw is rebuilt, I can only hope that I can get it back together and properly adjusted. Adjusting the whole saw will be a good exercise in tinkering, but its a very precise bit of work to do, and this style of saw is not built for that. A proper cabinet saw - yeah, but a hybrid like this - well it would take a lot of work.

So I dunno what my next steps are.


<Kicks saw and walks away>

Monday, 9 September 2013

Taking shape...

OK, so its not much, but here's what got done today. I'm guessing that by now you're getting pretty close to guessing the project, but I'll act as if you're still guessing anyways.

So I lay awake last night trying to figure out how to cut a radius on the end of my board without a band saw or belt sander. This would be tricky stuff.

 After some head scratching I remembered that the saw came with this weird sanding blade. Actually, that piece of genius struck at about 1:30 this afternoon while I was out on a site visit. After work, I rushed home to give it a try, but Buddy wanted the training wheels off his bike. Then he wanted to learn to ride it, then it was dinner, then I baked tomorrow's dinner (Boston baked beans - they smell wonderful) and then I finally got to the garage and dug out the blade...

 It is a strange blade. Really. One side is coarse grit and the other is fine. Its rougher than sandpaper, almost like little pebbles are glued to the sides of it or something. It burns if you don't keep the wood moving, but it really removes material well.

 After about 10 minutes, my board had gone from square to this:

With a nice radius on the board, I figured I would start working on legs. Just one problem. I'm short 2" of wood. I have loads of teak from boat projects, but teak looks weird next to the maple and cherry. Its looking like a return trip to the lumber yard unless I can find a board stretcher or come up with another genius idea. grrr.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The project continues...

Today's sailing was cancelled due to lack of wind. Too bad, but it meant I could do a little work in the garage...

First I planed my laminations.

 Then, once everything was 1" thick, it was time for the final glue-up.

 Now the fun stuff begins.

I suspect the guesses will be getting closer with this update!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Wanna guess the current project?

We start with some cherry and maple short boards...

And then plane the edges straight and square before gluing up a lamination...

So then we move along to glue-up #1, followed by glue-up #2

Which brings us to our current status, 2 laminations like this...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

I hear Crickets. Chirp. Chirp.

Yup it has been unapologetically quiet here for the last little while. There is good reason for that. I have been trying to do stuff and spend time with people instead of spending so much time at a screen. Being that I am prone to zealousy (is that a word) and going whole hog on things it is better to spend as little time on my addictions as possible, and make a real effort to be part of the life I share with the folks around me. Lets see if I can come back to screen time with more balance, and less addiction.

So what did you miss while I was away? You'll see in the coming few days/weeks (don't expect daily updates - you'll be disappointed). The list is pretty good though - the back yard renos are mostly done, some time has been spent in the garage on woodworking projects, we got away to the cottage, and replaced a toilet in the main floor bathroom. I've even managed to get out sailing a few times. Having good crew is awesome, and I have 3 regulars who are excited to get out on the boat and learn to race.

Fall is on us now that labour day is past, so we are in the midst of enrolling everyone in everything, scouts, soccer, music, swimming, drama camps, the list goes on (and on, and on)

And of course, school has started for another year...