Workshop Upgrades

I’m am currently in the throes of building a new workbench (hints of it seen in the photos below). I’ll post more about that project once the process is complete. However, I thought I’d share some of the workshop improvements I’ve been making recently.

I installed a new lightning system, composed of six high-efficiency LED strips. They are provide amazing illumination for the entire shop, using only 240 watts (2 Amps) with brilliant sun-like 5500K brightness. Since I’m running my entire shop of a single 120V outlet, I had to be creative with the wiring, but I managed to get everything connected and out of the way, while still allowing my power-tools to utilize up to 15 Amps of current when they desire.

The second upgrade I made was adding an air filtration system. The air has been seeming rather thick in the shop lately. I almost always wear a P100-rated air filter over my face, but it would be nice not to have to do so some day. The air filtration system claims to remove down to 1 micron-sized particles, which should do the trick for protecting my lungs. I’ll still wear the face-mask for sanding and other dust-producing processes, but afterwards I can run the air filter for 4 hours and clear up the floating particles. Yay! for lung health.

The Awakening Earth

Now that I have the catchy title, I can explain what I mean by that. For anyone that knows me, this is an idea that I love to bring up during deep conversations. Now I present this idea to a wider audience. I do not think I am the first to suggest such an idea by any means. However, here I present my particular telling of the story.

It begins with EMERGENCE. What is emergence? Emergence is a new state of being that is more than the sum of the parts. Such as you. By you, I mean your consciousness. That part of you that feels most ‘you’ like, your thought patterns, your thinking, and your internal dialogue. Your consciousness is an emergent property of your nervous system. You are the “ghost in the machine”, something that which exists due to the collection of your parts (e.g. neurons), but cannot individually be found in those parts. This kind of emergence is the greatest and most mysterious phenomenon of the universe.

What does this have to do with the Earth? Well, let us now imagine something similar arising at a higher level. What if you and I, and everyone else on Earth, served as ‘neurons’ on a larger scale. Our collective thoughts, interactions, and complex interpersonal relationships would form some kind of network. A network not that dissimilar to the complex network in which neurons interact within your brain. This inter-global network of interactions and relationships between people may act like a kind of global brain.

If this idea of a global ‘brain’ is true, then how does it ‘think’? It’s a hard question to answer from our perspective. Much as if an individual neuron questioned how your collective  consciousness thinks. In fact, I doubt that we, as collective members of the network, are able to even perceive the existence of a higher emergent consciousness. We can see the network connections, we can see where communication and messages travel and interact, but we cannot see the overall ‘whole’ at once. It is beyond us. Much like a single neuron in our brains cannot “see” the overall consciousness beyond its limited signal inputs and direct connections.

So, so far, I’ve argued that people on Earth form a collective network that may serve as a higher level emergent consciousness. Now I want to talk about time scales. It takes about 1 millisecond (that’s 0.001 seconds) for a neuron in your brain to send a signal to another neuron somewhere else. You might say that the “speed” of communication is on the order of milliseconds. I’d also argue that the “speed” of thought for human consciousness is on the order of seconds. It typically takes me a second or two to form a complete thought in my mind. Based on this analogy, it takes about 1000x longer for the emergent consciousness (e.g. me) to “think” compared to the timescale it takes for the underlying parts (e.g my neurons) to send messages among themselves. Additionally, it takes seconds (or even longer) to share those ideas and thoughts with others, and perhaps hours or days to actually act on those thoughts and ideas.

Therefore, if there was a collective, emergent consciousness formed by the collective interaction of humans on Earth, it might be fair to assume that this emerging consciousness “thinks” on a much slower timescale that we do. If we can communicate among ourselves on the order of seconds, this Earth consciousness might “think” on the order of hours, or even days. In fact, I’d probably take months or years for this collective consciousness of Earth to even act on its “thoughts”. Such a long timescale for a consciousness is hard to comprehend.

So, if this emergent Earth consciousness exists, when did it come to be? Another complex question, as its hard to define when any consciousness truly exists. There is no definitive line that is crossed. However, I do believe that the Earth consciousness has been developing for quite some time. Think of the advances in human technology that greatly enhanced our ability to communicate across the globe. Telegraph cables laid in the 1800’s were the early development of this global consciousness structure. Then telephone communications enhanced it even farther. The internet, however, was the greatest advance in the global communication network. I believe that the maturing internet is the great turning point in the development of the global consciousness. Cell-phone communications also greatly increases the point-to-point communication between individuals across the globe. Now, any two points across the globe can theoretically communicate and interact.

This vast network between human beings is far more complex and interactive than the connections of neurons in your brain. Perhaps, much like the network of your brain has resulted in the emergent consciousness that is you, our collective interaction has resulted in an emerging consciousness that spans the Earth. The Earth is awakening.

I hope I’ve convinced you of the possibility of a global emergent consciousness. Please SHARE if you find this as fascinating as I do.

Hand Planes

So far, I’ve been sticking with machine-based woodworking and only occasionally reaching for my cheap chisels to touch up a bad edge. I have recently been thinking about trying out some traditional, hand-tool woodworking. There is nothing smoother than a hand-planed surface. So I needed to get some hand-planes.

I headed over to the local antique mall and snooped around. Unfortunately, I only found two usable hand-planes: a beat-up smoothing plane and a small rabbet plane.

The smoothing plane is a Miller Falls no9 (circa 1941). However, it seems like the woodworker who last used had to replace some parts with Craftsman replacement parts (circa early 1950’s). Overall, the mixed parts seemed like they’d work together and everything I needed was there.

The rabbet plane is quite beat up. It appears to be a Sargent rabbet plane (circa 1940’s). It may be missing a the guide-bar making it most useful for cutting rabbets, but it does have the depth guide, so it’s not completely useless.

I took the planes apart and threw them into a bucket of white vinegar to soak overnight. Unfortunately, there was still a lot of rust on them. So I tried WD Rust Remover with more success. After 24-hours soaking in the solution, the tools began to shine.

Both planes are usable after a good sharpening of the blades.

While I was working on restoring the two hand-planes I had found, I had also begun shopping online (ebay) to see if anyone had some good restored planes that were already ready to be used.

Luckily I had come across Mark Nickel’s page, where he had professionally restored a number of hand-planes. His website (https://www.plane-dealer.com/) is a great resource for restoring these tools. I order a couple hand-planes from Mark to round out my collection. He even included a copy of his booklet on restoring and maintaining these tools.

I added a Sargent no 414 Jack Plane (1940’s), a Stanley no4 smoothing plane ((1942-1945), and a small Stanley no9 1/4 (1940’s) block plane. With these beauties, I’m ready for a glass-like finish on my pieces.

Workshop Layout

My workshop was now insulated and with my new infared heater, I was ready to do some work during the cold season.

After the insulation work was finished, I began laying out the furniture I already had to create some of the workspaces and flows that I had envisioned.

My first addition to this new space needed to be some storage cabinets. I threw together a quick carcass for a wall cabinet and threw it on the wall with some french cleats. The carcass was just scrap pieces of plywood.

Now things were starting to look a bit more organized. At least, I had some open surfaces to use again. My next project was a lumber rack. I wanted an out-of-way space to put all my long boards and nice pieces of lumber.

I threw together these racks over one day using 2x4s and simple cantilevers to hold the racks to the wall studs. My next project was to take an old shelf and turn it into some more useful storage.

I didn’t like the open shelves. They tended to invite sawdust to gather on anything stored on them. I decided to add some drawers to one side and a cabinet to the other. I added back panels to the shelf and some sides and a middle wall for the drawers. While working on the drawers, I also finally added the doors to my upper cabinets.

The drawers were made mostly out of 3/4″ plywood. The handles are traditional craftsman-style pulls made on my router and tablesaw. They look pretty worn and crappy, mostly because I used cheap pine and allowed the end-piece to be composed of end-grain. But at least they are functional and gave me a chance to practice the technique.

Already my workshop was beginning to look a lot better. I added cabinet doors to the other side and the whole piece was near complete.

Now my workshop was really taking shape.

Song: One More Night

One More Night [2019]  (Pop Rock)
This song is about getting over someone you just broke up with. Sometimes it can be hard to break that physical connection, even if the rest of the relationship was no good.
In this song, I experimented with special mixing techniques and improving my vocal processing. I love how the bridge shrinks down to a tiny mono signal, before exploding into a full-stero sound in the second chorus.

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Check out more songs on my MUSIC page.

Workshop Insulation

I knew winter was going to make wood-working difficult for me. I wasn’t willing to take a break for the winter, especially since Minnesota winters are about 6 months of the year. I decided the best way to extend my working hours would be to insulate my old garage.

So, I ordered all the supplies I needed and crammed them into my garage as rain and snow began to threaten the project. Space was very limited, so there was a lot of shuffling to get everything where it needed to go.

I used cheap OSB boards for the walls and ceiling panels, with R13 fiberglass insulation between the studs. I had to fill in numerous gaps in the walls and ensure everything had a nice seal where possible.

In the end, it was a great success. Now equipped with a small space heater and an infared heater, the place stays a comfortable 30+ degrees. More importantly, it keeps out the cold wind. I have to wear a coat, hat, and sometimes gloves, but I at least still get to work in the workshop during the cold season.

Now I could start putting together the layout for my workshop.

Song: 1 + 1 = 1 <> 1

1 + 1 = 1 <>1 [2019]  (Funk Rock)
This song is about how when you commit to someone you need to hold on to who you are and not get too lost in the new “us” and become someone else. Be interdependent rather than codependent.
This recording was a near-exact remake of a song written in 2013. I had lost the origin session files to a hard-drive crash. So, by painstakingly listening to the previous recording, I tried to recreate it note-for-note. It was a good chance to improve my listening and music theory skills.

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Check out more songs on my MUSIC page.

Song: Waiting on a Dream

Waiting on a Dream [2019] (Jazz/Blues Ballad)
This song is about feeling stuck where you are and yearning to get out and the world and do more.  I wrote this in 2008 when I was in graduate school. I felt like my life was being wasted and I wasn’t living up to my potential.
In this recording, I was trying to better capture the live feel of this song, which is a very free-form ballad.

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Check out more songs on my MUSIC page.

A Place to Sit and Plan

I decided I was moving my woodworking into the garage and desired to make that space into a full-fledged workshop. However, there were still a number of issues that I needed to sort out.

However, as I was standing in that space, trying to make plans, I decided I’d rather be sitting and planning. So, I looked online for a quick plan to make me a shop stool. I eventually chose to use Steve Ramsey’s shop stool plan, since it seemed easy enough and I already had all the parts.

This project took just a couple hours, and gave me plenty of time to think about other plans for my workshop.

Now with somewhere to sit, I began to draw up plans for my workshop. I laid out where I thought each piece of furniture should go and how it would improve my process flow.

I was working with an 11′ by 22′ garage. There were already very useful storage shelves at the back of the garage. Also, some not so good, temporary shelves along the walls.

I knew I would need to build lots of shop furniture to make the most of the space. That part I was greatly looking forward to. However, I would also have to deal with the biggest threat to my woodworking: the Minnesota winter.