Garden Projects

I took some time off from woodworking after building the large bookcase. I need to step away and not have a massive project lingering over my head for a few months. It was nice to spend my weekends working on music again.

However, as the weather begins to cool again, I’ve gravitated back to the shop and put together a few garden projects.

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Side-Garden Trellis

I loved the first garden trellis so much, I decided to add another, smaller one at the entrance to our side garden. What my wife refers to as the “secret garden”. The support and arches were built the same as the larger garden trellis. However, I added a more decorative crosshatch for the sides.

I also built a new door mechanism using a steel rod and chunks of spare cedar. It is far easier to open and close than the metallic ones.

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Garden Fence

I also through together a quick garden fence with spare wood. It’s mostly just to define the space and keep the dog out. If I start seeing rabbits in there, I’ll probably put back the chicken-wire and attach it to the back of the wooden fence.

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Garden Obelisk

The final easy project was a garden obelisk. It was thrown together with spare lumber. The top is a piece that intended for our kitchen redesign that we decide not to use. Its the perfect spot for a globe-shaped finial.

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Song: Love is Pain

Love is Pain [2021]  (Piano Ballad)
This song is about breaking up with the one you love, and not being able to move past it, holding onto that pain as the last link to them. Until love is only pain.
In this recording I’m continuing my mostly live setup. I went back and touched up the vocals, as the live ones can sometimes not capture things perfectly. This song is another attempt at playing with the song structure of four-chord loops, featuring bass motion and voice leading. This concept has completely changed how I approach song writing.

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Check out more songs on my MUSIC page.

Song: Blues in My Shoes

Blues in My Shoes [2021]  (Blues)
This song I wrote years ago. I had been working on a lot of pop and rock songs and wanted to get back to my blues roots. This song is a celebration of those blues that got me into music.
In this recording I’m playing live again, with both vocals and piano tracked at the same time. I tried recording this song with a full backing band, but the timing kept feeling off. At 206 bpm, things move pretty fast.

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Check out more songs on my MUSIC page.

Song: Black Coffee

Black Coffee [2021]  (Jazz / Blues)
This song was just a spontaneous creation while playing around on the piano. It was nice to play some jazz after all the pop and rock songs I’ve been working on. Its about the monotony of the pandemic, stuck in quiet routines, forgetting yourself, and avoiding the indoors.
In this recording I’m playing live, with both vocals and piano tracked at the same time.

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Check out more songs on my MUSIC page.

Garden Harvest: 2021

We had quite the bounty this year. The new tomato trellis on the front yard worked phenomenally. Despite the drought that Minnesota was experiencing, my garden was thriving. I think it helped that the new garden is on the eastern side of the house. So, it receives excellent morning and midday light, but then is shadowed a bit for the late evening heat. This likely kept the soil nice and moist. Conversely, the backyard garden became very desert-like during the drought. I tried to avoid watering both gardens, hoping that the natural resilience of my design would work as expected. And to that point, the native flower-garden portion of the back yard was fine during the drought, it was only the annual vegetables that seemed to suffer with out water from their ambivalent caretaker.

Song: Dream Machine

Dream Machine [2021]  (Rock)

This song was written for my wife, who always is pushing herself on endurance runs. She is continuous source of inspiration for me, a true dream machine. This song is about pushing yourself to reach your goal.
In this song I experimented more with virtual guitars, trying out a harder, more distorted genre than I typically work within. It was a lot of fun playing around with different guitar sounds.

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Check out more songs on my MUSIC page.

Hardwood Bookshelf

I currently have a massive bookshelf in my room. It is from IKEA and it is grossly overloaded. The particleboard structure is buckling and the makeshift plywood back only serves as a stop-gap measure from the entire piece from falling apart, and scattering my collection of reference books.

I knew I’d want to build my own bookshelf to replace it. I spent a great deal of time scanning the internet for varying designs to try and find the right style for my room. I opened up Sketchup and began designing the structure and style of the new bookshelf.

I liked the idea of having a few drawers to hide clutter and nick-knacks and cabinet doors to hide my less appealing textbooks and larger reference books. It would be a two-piece structure. The top bookcase has most of the shelves reinforced by dado’d shelves, likely reinforced with small finish nails.

I decided I was going to paint the piece in the end, to go with the white furniture in the room already. That simplified my wood choice to using poplar, which is great for paint and considerably cheaper than other hardwoods.

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The Lower Cabinet

I first set up the aprons for the lower cabinet with some poplar scrap. These would be hidden from view anyway, but need to serve a strong support for the whole structure.

The next portion of the project was making an large number of wide boards. I had purchased 1×6 boards and 1×4 boards to edge-join together for the 12-14″ boards I needed for the project. I only have so many good clamps, so this process took a couple weeks before each board I needed was put together.

Eventually, I have a growing stack of wide boards for the bookcase.

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After some trial and error, I created a large cross-cut sled for my tablesaw to cut the wide boards with perfect 90-degree ends.

The sled was also perfect for helping me cut the dados required to fit all the pieces together.

Drawers and Doors

With the frame of the lower cabinet assembled, I attached the tabletop and started fitting the drawers.

The drawer fronts were a but trickier. I had to add some cock-beading to the edges to give it a fancier look. I used my 3/16″ cove bit on a piece of scrap poplar. I’d run it through the router to form the edge, then cut it off with the bandsaw. After doing that about 12 times, I had enough cock-beading for the edges of all the drawers. I made a small miter-box jig for the tiny pieces and cut them with my Japanese handsaw with perfect 45-degree miters. A little glue held them on.

In the end, the cock-beading looks great on the edges of the drawer fronts.

The bottom portion was starting to look good when all put together.

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Top Shelves

The top of the bookshelf was pretty straight forward, as it was just a large box with some dados to hold some center shelves for extra stability. It came together easily. I added the decorative top face, which was cut easily with my bandsaw. The arcs were traces from an old paint can, giving me nice circular shapes.

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Painting

The painting for this project was pure chaos and frustration. This was because my HVLP pressure sprayer I had bought last year was not working properly. It could not get enough material out and seemed like it would just take forever. I ended up using a mini paint roller on the whole thing combined with a standard paint brush for the tricky parts. I did two coats on most parts, sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between coats, then ending with a 1000 grit steel wool pad to get a smooth finished surface.

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Assembly

It was a bit tricky getting both pieces into the final space and stacking the top to the bottom. But in the end, it came out looking beautiful and elegant.