What I’ve been up to and other recent projects…

So… I haven’t been completely idle this past year; I just haven’t been doing anything in any sort of pre-planned and extensively- researched way. Mostly, I’ve been keeping myself busy when my hands were too idle and my brain too active.

Here are some of the recent projects to roll across my workbench.

Inspired by an article by Chris Schwarz in Popular Woodworking, I built a modified 6-board chest for my wife out of offcuts and scraps of VG fir from the window and door manufacturer where she works. (They were fished out of a dumpster with permission. Always get permission before dumpster-diving.) It was assembled using copper boat nails (for no particular reason) and finish with red milk paint and a coat of varnish. 

She uses it to store her video games and accessories.

Since I wasn’t really doing this one for the blog, there weren’t many in-progress shots. I did a few oddball things with it, though, mostly for practice, including this boarded bottom which I made using the next item on my list…

Last fall, a Craigslist post netted me this box of dusty and rusty planes. Most of them were Sandusky moulding planes, which made them a real find and worth the effort (in my opinion) to sharpen and lap the irons back to usable condition.

This box…

Begat this shelf of oiled, and ready planes. And I’m only short one iron after all is said and done, which is a bit of a miracle if you’ve ever bought a box of moulding planes. (I have irons for the two in the back that are sitting empty, they were in progress when I shot the photo.)

I used them to tongue and groove the bottom of that chest.

I have continued to practice at the lathe, turning out piles of oddments like these threadreels, which I based loosely on some of the reels which were found on the shipwreck Mary Rose. They’re fun to make and an excellent small project to practice with the tools.

And because not everything I do generates sawdust, I’ve also been exploring puppetry.

Why puppets? Because I’m part of the Jim Henson generation. Also because when you’ve had a year like I just finished, you find yourself looking for other mouths to express yourself through, be they monster or monkey or felted frog…

This is the one facet of what I’ve been working on that has required a significant amount of research, which began the first time I saw Grover on Sesame Street, extending across the decades to this past year when I was sitting at a table where the nearest pile of raw materials were foam and faux fur.
This is what sketching looks like when you’re making puppets.

Ever wonder how the puppets from your favorite television shows were built? This isn’t the place to really discuss it, but I have documented these pretty thoroughly and might need to set up a static webpage or use them for a guest post on someone else’s (more appropriately themed) blog.

Anyway, this is what’s under all that fur and felt you see on TV.

The above was a commissioned piece, actually. I’ll have to share the videos that his owner ultimately makes with him after he takes delivery.

In the meantime, I’m warming up the workbench (Literally. The shop was 24 degrees Fahrenheit when I was out there yesterday) and getting ready to begin the next project. In the meantime, here;s some puppet video my wife shot while I was testing the build on the big grey fellow. This is Mr Grumpigus, who is having issues.

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