Monday, January 30

Work day begins: 7:00 AM This is Day 5 for the Mission Rocker project, and today we will be cutting the long tenons on the seat rails and fitting them into their mortises in the legs. But first, I’m replacing the florescent tubes in most of my light fixtures. We made a supply run to Morristown on Saturday and found a good deal on good tubes. I made a mistake when I set up this workshop: I needed to add A LOT of light fixtures and didn’t have a whole bunch of money to spend on good florescent fixtures, so I bought a whole mess of ShopLight fixtures – because they were cheap. Hey, a florescent light fixture is a florescent light fixture, right? Wrong. The problem is that the tubes made to go in these fixtures are only 25 watts. Two tubes per fixture means it only gives out 50 watts of light, which is kind of dim. Regular tubes are 40 watts, 80 watts per fixture – much better. But most regular tubes say right on the box, “Not for use in ShopLight fixtures”, and if you use them anyway, they light up well – for about a week, then they burn out. Replacing them every week is costly. Lowes had some 40 watt tubes that say “For use in all florescent fixtures”. So I bought a bunch of them and will give them a try. I would have been better off to install good fluorescent fixtures as I could afford them than to get in a hurry and try to light the shop adequately all at once on a shoestring budget. I have since learned that if I choose fixtures with an electronic ballast, I can avoid the problem of the lights flickering and putting out low light levels in cold weather. Once regular ballasts warm up they work just fine, but in severe cold, this can take hours. Electronic ballasts however provide full power to light the tubes even in the cold. I was in the process of replacing the tubes when the power went out. That’s why I’m spending so much time blathering on and on about light fixtures. With no power, there’s not much I can do. It’s dark in there. But our computers have battery back-ups to protect them against power outages and I can type by the light the screen gives off. We get a lot of what I call power blips: the power goes out for a second, then comes right back -- just enough to mess up the alarm clocks, telephone, VCRs, and our computers if they’re not protected. Sometimes, the power will go out for a longer period, but usually not more than a half-hour. Today is one of those longer periods. If it runs true to form, it ought to be coming back any minute… And there it is: almost exactly a half hour. So, it’s back to work for me. Well, this turned out to be one of “those” days. I’ve had visitors dropping in all day long. One of them wants me to make the doors for a large kitchen island that he’s building for a client, so we spent a considerable amount of time discussing design details, trying to match stain, and producing a sample board for a color for which I had no sample board on hand. I was setting up to make 10 stain sample boards for a fellow in Massachusetts, so this was good timing. The power went out again this afternoon, then kept popping in and out – totally flubbing up any chance to get anything done with power tools. But I did get to finish the stain boards. In the afternoon there is enough light coming through the side window to see by, and all of my finishing was done by hand and with aerosol cans of lacquer -- no sprayer required. Then a weather front came through with a vengeance: very strong winds that were making the girls really nervous, so I relented, closed the shop early and we all went in the house. Workshop closes: 4:30 PM I have a few small web site chores to tend to, but they won’t take long. Then I’ll post my notes and head for the shower. We’ll just have to go for a do-over on Day 5 of the chair. To view the detailed construction article on this piece, click here.

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