Third Low Workbench

What Happened to the Second One?

Yes, I forgot to write about the second low workbench, but that way there can be a flashback about it, as if this was a modernist novel. This latest bench is no modernist–it is based on a Roman wall tile image from 79 AD. The accompanying three legged stool is my design, which is pseudo-scandahoovian.

Have a Seat

The finish on the stool is the Walnut Oil Wax finish I made on my workbench. I will use the same on the Roman style workbench.

Proton Torpedoes Fully Operational, Captain

This is it with the peg/workholding 3/4″ holes drilled, which make this thing ready for work. I will use it mostly for carving, though anything else is game as well. At 6′ 7″ long, it will handle some large pieces.

I need to make four more legs, so it will have eight legs like the original from Herculaneum, which was buried in ash by Mt. Vesuvius, and which is why this design survived. Old school really is the only school.

The Great Di-Hydrogen Oxide Scare

CNN daily headlines always have at least one that shows that their editor(s) don’t really know English that well. Here is the most recent howler. ”A Tennessee jury orders Cracker Barrel to pay man $9.4 million after he was served glass filled with a chemical.” All glasses are filled with a chemical, even an empty one–it’s called oxygen. You could even say that chemicals R us.

Which brings me to the great Di-Hydrogen Oxide scare of a few years ago. I got all sorts of mileage out of this in my writing classes, as very few students figured out the whole thing was a hoax. Here are some of the dangers of H2O.

–It will kill you if it fills up your lungs

–it can swamp your car

–It can submerge all of the plants in your yard or garden

–It can sweep your house away

–If you don’t get enough of it, it can kill you as well

Water is almost as dangerous as oxygen. Too bad we can’t live without either. Alas, education in this semi-literate country. It can kill you as well. That must be why I prefer my H2O to be flavored with some alcohol.

Thomas Jefferson on the Public Interest and Judicial Supremacy

Thomas Jefferson ignored the Supreme Court whenever he felt like it, especially when the rulings were made by Arch-Federalist John Marshall. In his old age he summed up his feelings about the aristocratic status that judges had acquired.

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office.

Thomas Jefferson

Naturally, he always pointed to the fact that there are actually supposed to be three co-equal branches of the government, as mandated by the US Constitution–none is supposed to have carte blanche over the others. What a concept–democracy.

Now we have six unelected, Ivy League pseudo-educated religious bigots, deciding what the law is and is not. King George the Third looks like a little league dude compared to this arrogant bunch of buffoons, and the amount of power that they have usurped..

We have yet another Voltaire moment imposed on us, Voltaire being the writer whose bust just happens to be in the main hall at Monticello. We must cultivate our own gardens, and not recognize the corporate lackeys that have been installed as judges. I no longer shop at Wal-Mart and other equally repulsive big box stores, and I have never even considered having any dealings with a travesty like FarceBook. Take their money away, and watch them collapse.

We may very well lose the right to have majority rule, if we haven’t already. We can still always vote with our feet.

Hoya! Empty Shelves and Hyper-Inflation

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity will know what Hoya! means. It’s the stuff you don’t want to step in whilst in the Horse barn, or any other barn, for that matter. These days, I can’t even look at the news media on the interwebs without having a bushel of Hoya! chunked at me.

My two favorites–empty shelves and hyper-inflation. I have actually seen one empty shelf at the supermarket, but that was a year ago when all the toilet paper hoarding was going on. Even then, it wasn’t completely empty–some brands remained in stock. As I am not a a fan of any particular kind of this sanitary product, I grabbed some and left. No harm and no foul.

Gas prices? They have gone up, but buy a Prius like ours, and you won’t notice or care. We still have to buy a tank of gas every couple of months, but it is usually in the twenty buck range. Stop driving your Ford Extinction, and get over the worries.

And then there is the all-time world champion, the fate of the un-vaccinated. They are in fact dying like flies, but if you live with the intelligence of a fly, you are probably going to die like one. The CDC can issue all the mask guidelines it wants, but as the cliche goes, you can’t cure stupid. As my hero Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

In short, I am going to have to go back to one of my favorite writers, the nineteenth century American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce. He devised the most famous definition of the formation of a hypothesis, a procedure he named “abduction.” An astute person applies a general rule to a particular problem, and acts according, though the general rule MUST BE BASED ON FACTS AND REALITY, if it is to be useful. Four vaccinations later (three Covid and one flu), and I have not grown a single crocodile scale, or truthfully, even had a single noticeable side effect.

Maybe that is just me, but as HD Thoreau said, I don’t know anyone else nearly as well as myself.

Making Walnut Wax Finish

Light It Up

This is a simple enough project, melting wax in oil, to make a wax finish, which is not to be confused with a wax polish. I used the best smelling oil for this, walnut, which also has the highest oil content of any drying oil.


4 oz Walnut Oil

1 oz Beeswax

1/4 oz Carnuaba wax

I cook these with a Trangia alcohol stove, in a pan of water. This assembly is so safe I make this right on top of my wood Sjobergs workbench. Just keep an eye on the water level, as it boils out quickly.

Three Legs are Better than Two

My three legged Cedar stool had only a finish of cheap Linseed oil, and this wax finish brought it back to life. The next project is finishing my low workbench #3, which is a full 6′ 7″ long. I may need to cook some more finish for that.

A Workshop is a Workshop?

Stuff Happens in a Workshop

I was formerly suspicious of people who had clean workshops, probably because of my own slovenly habits. I get busy and forget to clean up all the shavings, as I produce gallons of them regularly. And please, don’t even mention the sawdust, which I am currently trying to transform into mushroom spawn–a new project.

Then my wife Melanie Jane, who should be up for beatification for putting up with all this grunge for years, bought me a copy of a French woodworking book, Le Bois. That just means wood, but the subject of the book is actually Swedish treen, aka kitchenware, though there is also a chapter on making Afro combs–seriously. I wasn’t aware that the French were into that.

Although the book was written by two Frenchmen, it was first published in Swedish. It must have done well, as barely a year later the French edition appeared, which is a good thing, because I read very little Swedish. It is an excellent book, with excellent photography. And then, there it is–a picture of almost the same workbench that I have.


That bench is a bit longer than mine, but otherwise identical. I assume it is a standard issue Swedish schoolhouse workroom bench-every school has to have one room full of these, and every student has to learn slojd–that’s crafts. They certainly turned out a winner with this young woman.

The very tidy workbench belongs to Moa Brännström Ott, who is a noted young Swedish woodcarver of the Willie Sundqvist variety. Judging from the few shavings at the base of her bench, I doubt that she is turning out pieces of this magnitude:

Work Bar

This 8 1/2′ long piece of Eastern Red Cedar was meant to be a workbench, but turned out looking a lot like a bar–hence our name for it is “work bar.” I’ll put it to work tonight cheering on the Crimson Tide, and cursing the despised SEC refs. They would call a ten yard penalty on their own mothers for holding a baby.

Win or lose, tomorrow will be the same as today–round stuff needs to be flattened, flat stuff needs to be rounded, and raw stuff needs to be cooked. That’s how we keep going on.

December 16–Pizza al Fresco


Yes, winter in the age of climate disruption. Technically this was late late last fall, but with temps in the mid 70’s, it might as well have been late late spring. In this situation, the only thing to do is light up the brick oven, and eat some pizza outside.

Our pizza sauce has evolved over the years, and I will simply list the secret ingredients, soon to be secret no more. Here it goes:

Balsamic Vinegar

Garlic Paste

Italian Tomato Paste in a Tube (like the Garlic Paste)

Homemade Pesto, frozen in an ice cube tray

Home canned local Tomatoes

It is possible to screw up the sauce even with these ingredients, but it can only be accomplished with some difficulty. Go easy on the vinegar and the paste, and all’s well that eats well.

I will resist the temptation to make another bad joke about Al Fresco. I could hurt his feelings.

Smokehouse, Part Three–It Takes a Village, or a Family, to Frame a Smokehouse

Moochers R Us

This project began with the gift of a bunch of cinder blocks, and a couple of wooden pallets–all unsolicited, naturally (I should add that cinder blocks are known as “see-mint” blocks locally). These came from BIL (brother in law) #1, who then added a few pressure treated 2x4s as well, which you can see as the sill boards on the smokehouse.

Not long thereafter BIL #2 got in on the action, giving us the lumber for the front and back walls, as well as the rafters, and some tin roofing. He really really wants this thing to be finished, as he has a whole list of meat smoking projects. We (gasp) actually bought the lumber for the two side walls. I have plans for a fancy door as well.

No Door Yet

I did all the work myself, with the exception of Melanie Jane helping me hoist up the first rafter. But, as my labor is free, as always, I did all the rest of it by my lonesome. That is, if you don’t count my actual supervisor on this project.

Get Back to Work

That’s Siegfried, more commonly known as Ziggy D. Dog. A finer nor a lazier Aussie has ever been birthed. The combination of the two traits makes him perfect for a middle management position.

MJ says that 16 square feet, the size of this structure, is big enough to sit in and smoke a couple of packs. My counter was that I would rather puff on a Bob Marley sized fattie (that’s a joint of Mary Jane, in case you just fell off the turnip truck). Truthfully, neither of us has ever smoked vegetable matter of any kind. I suppose we will have to stick with smoking meat instead.

Patagonia Tool Sak

The Sak is Out of the Closet

If you are a truly sick Gear Head, every day can seem like Christmas. Closets full of gear means that you can treasure hunt at any time you want. Stove parts and bags are every where in our house. We could probably move to a vacation home for a month or two without buying a box to pack in.

Article in evidence, a probably twenty year old Patagonia Tool Sak (they like purposely mis-spelling words as much as I do.) It’s a beastly bag, and currently it is the home of my DeWalt 20v electric circular saw. That and a speed square barely fill up a third of this bag.

The repair is courtesy of our late lamented old Aussie named Karl, who decided to see if he could chew nylon webbing in half. I caught him before he could complete his doggy mission, and fixed the cut with rivets, and yet more nylon webbing. That stuff really is strong enough to tow a truck with.

Besides the webbing on the front, the back straps also serve as backpack straps, making the bag something of a pack bag. It was originally marketed as a climbing bag, a label that most people rightfully ignored. Mine is a woodworking, catch it all bag, but it has had more uses than I can remember.

There is usually one of these on fleabay at any given time, often for less than the original retail price. As they are next to indestructible, they are a completely safe purchase, even used.

Smoke House, Part Two–How Firm a Foundation

I Need Cement

The smokehouse continues to grow. It is now completely framed (just like me), but here it is in infancy. Instead of laying every run of block with cement, I just put rebar into all four corners, hammered them into the ground, and filled the holes with cement. This foundation is not going anywhere.

The Fire Pit

As this is to be a cold smoke/hot smoke machine, I re-used a rusted out old Lodge cast iron grill as a fire pit. Under all those leaves is a nice thick layer of concrete, into which the old grill is buried.

We’ll break this in this spring and summer hot smoking some trout and a turkey or two, and connect the cold smoking stove next fall. I am considering hanging a sign above the door that says, “Smoke ’em if you got ’em.”

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