Friday, December 31, 2010

Wrapping Up Another Year

It's hard to believe another year is ending. So much have happened this year following the difficulties of last year. Much of this year have been about healing and preparing to move forward once again. We're making progress in that regard and while the end of 2009 had a sense of relief that I got through it this time I look toward the new year with more optimism.

Happy new year to everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of Week 21: Final week before the holidays

The final week before the holidays saw some major transformation on the interior of the house. The drywall and tape went up which has really helped to define the look of the house. With the drywall installed, we can also get a better sense of the light from the sky light as it can now reflect the natural light more evenly through the house.

The house is also now completely water tight and have electricity. Over the holidays, a portable heater will be working to help dry the tape on the drywall so that in January we can start off with the first coat of painting.

Over the holidays, K and I will go in and try to work on some of the IT wiring.




Friday, December 17, 2010

End of Week 20: Insulation and Drywall

Just last Friday, I could see through the length of the house and by Tuesday the interior was all insulated and now the dry wall is going up. It's quite a transformation and what a different a week or even a few days makes. The roof is completed and the house is water tight. I'm hoping that the drywall will be all taped up before the holidays so that painting can start when we return in January.

This is the start of the week:


And this is the end of the week:







Thursday, December 16, 2010

The cost of software development.

I think running application over the web/cloud/internet is super useful especially now that we typical carry multiple devices and use multiple computers. Syncing data across these different physical devices can be real pain so having a centralized service somewhere where there are paid professionals handling the IT work behind-the-scenes is wonderful thing for consumers.

However, there is a cost to building web applications is sometime overlooked even by the companies that built them. The Web has often been touted as making software cheaper (no more packaging, update/patch disks and store shelf space to pay for!) and easier to build (HTML is simple!), but as any modern web application developer can tell you things are never that easy. Maybe during the first few years of the web where everything was basically static HTML and images it was true, but now the cost of software development for web applications goes way beyond what it used to cost to build shrink-wrap software.

This cost is maintenance. Shrink-wrapped software is run and managed by the consumer that buys it. Even if at some point the software is not supported, the user can still run it themselves. Online web application is not the same. There is never an end to an online application unless the plug is pulled and it stops completely. Engineers can't deploy version 1.0 and then move on to the next version because once it is available developers often become the system admins keeping the software alive. Companies often forget this and as soon as a version is done they jump on to the next "big idea", but the engineers aren't done with that version. Their work only increases following the launch.

Does this mean that cloud computing should be avoided? Absolutely not. Consumers needs to be a little smarter in what they chose to use. With cloud computing, it is the data that is more important to keep alive and not those WordPerfect install disks. So find companies and products that makes it clear what their data export policies are. Do they support data libration or are they a closed garden?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

End of Week 19: Getting ready for inspection.

Big push week 19 to get the house ready for some major inspections. The electrical, plumbing and HVAC are completed. I spent the weekend working on the low voltage run with the help of my good friend V. The goal is to have the first inspection on Monday, insulation on Tuesday and then drywall going up on Wednesday. All the while the roofing and skylights are getting installed. Busy, busy, busy...



HVAC ducts and eletrical:


Electrical panel:




Sunday, December 5, 2010

End of Week 18: Doors and Windows

Activity following Thanksgiving has picked up. Plumbers, painters, electrician, and HVAC subs are all on site this week, but the biggest visual change is that the windows and doors are installed!





Saturday, November 27, 2010

Retrospective On Woodworking

It's been about 6 months since I started woodworking and now it is time to take a serious look at where I want this hobby to take me. At the start, I was taking it very casually but over the past two months I've been testing myself more seriously to see how much I would enjoy doing it. I took a woodworking class and then started on a much more ambitious project of building a walnut/maple computer desk starting with rough milled lumber and taking it all the way to completion. The process has taught me a lot about woodworking, how I work and how I want to work in the future.

When I started, I researched a lot on how other woodworkers' work flow, tools, and techniques. One of the things I realized is that it is really important to understand yourself and how you work. Imitating others is a good start point, but pretty quickly I found that I work better in certain ways then others. For example, in building the workbench I researched what are important attributes for it based on other people's experience, but when I started to use the bench myself, I realize that I do things in certain ways that made me further modify the workbench to be more aligned with my workflow.

Similarly with buying tools, it's easy to pick up "tools you need for woodworking" lists from hundreds of sources and then spend $20k buying everything, but the result is likely that even though those tools are all very useful you might end up not using many of them at all because that's not your work style. One list might suggest a jack plane, but what if you discover that you're more a power tool guy? Ultimately, I found it best to follow the path of "buy it when you need it", but I fully sympathize the lure of wanting to buy those neat tools regardless of need.

Initially, I really didn't experience any frustration with woodworking since my projects were pretty basic. I had to tackle a hard project so I can experience the negative side of things in order to decide whether I like the hobby. I can honestly say that I enjoy woodworking, but don't like to be doing it under time pressure.

I love the feeling of coming up with an idea and being able to go to the garage and try it out instead of keeping it inside until I can find time to go to the shop. I don't like the saw dusts and messiness of the garage. I do like a mixture of hand tools and power tools, and more then anything else I like the feeling of being able to build something for my family.

End of Week 17: Thanksgiving

Being as it was Thanksgiving week there weren't as much progress this week. It was also cold and wet outside so I didn't bother to take any new pictures of the rough electrical that was put in. Fortunately, since we passed inspection last week, the roof is now covered so that winter weather won't be stopping the interior work that will be started on next week.

I have been thinking and researching what I'd like to do with the garage. Since I started woodworking, I have a greater interest in the garage and setting it up as workshop in addition to using it as a storage space and parking the car. The new garage will offer a lot more wall space then what I have now so I want to take advantage of it and the high ceiling will allow me to utilize some of the overhead hanging shelves for even more storage space.

I would also like to have something besides the cold concrete flooring that is typical of garages. The hard floor is not friendly to the feet and the tools and also tends to get ugly over time as oil spills on it and cracking occurs so garage floor tiles might be an option. It seems like it is also something that I can install myself before anything is put into the garage.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

End of Week 16: Electrical and Plumbing

The plumber and electrician continues to work on the rough plumbing and electrical while the roofing is being completed. We've walked through the house with the electrician to verify the placement of the various electrical outlets as well as going through the shop drawings for the kitchen cabinets.

A lot of details with the house are starting to become more apparent especially with lighting.

Before the skylight openings:







Saturday, November 13, 2010

End of Week 15: "It's starting to look like a house!"

The pace of things have picked up significantly since the arrival of the roof trusses and a lot of activity can be found at the site as well as the ringing of the cash register draining more funds. ^^;

With the trusses up, the crew have started to put up the wall sheathing and roofing. The electrician has been on-site to plan out the rough electrical and soon the plumber will also be out to prepare to do the rough plumbing.

I've been ordering the networking stuff in preparation for running the data/telephone/video wiring which will happen once the electrician and plumber is done and before we put up the drywall.







Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week 14: Roof Trusses!!!

Roof trusses arrived and the roof is going up. Should have the trusses and the plywood sheathing on the wall this week.


Mobile Tool Tote

I decided to leverage my newly built workbench and build something to organize my tools. I have a small Craftsman tool bag that I was using to hold all my tools, drill bits, etc. but it was becoming too small. Small parts would sink to the bottom where I'd have to dig around to find what I needed. Overall, things were getting pretty disorganized.

  • Mobility: I wanted more then a simple toolbox, but still mobile and portable. The wheels allows me to easily tilt the tote and roll it around the room and even up stairs if I needed to.

  • Step-stool: My workbench is also too high for my son so I wanted a step for him to be able to stand on.

  • Accessibility: One problem with organization storage is that they also required you to be organized and I'm not always organized. So I wanted things open that I can throw my stuff in when I'm in a hurry.I can easily reach in and grab the tools I need and just as easily put them back by just tossing them back in. The less used tool goes into the bottom shelf.

  • Portability: The back contains a compartment for holding the extension cord which I'll connect an outlet strip to so I can easily get access to some power.

So here is what I built:

tool tote

tool tote 2

tool tote back

I'm planning to make some holders for the sides for things like the drill bits, rulers, etc.

This project was inspired by an article I read on-line.

Friday, October 29, 2010

End of Week 13: Delayed by the Roof

Work this week was blocked by the delay in the roof trusses arriving. It's scheduled for Monday, but until then nothing can be done. Hopefully the trusses will go up quickly and we can make up some time. We still need to finalize a few details on colors and I need to get the home network planned out to order all the cabling.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

End of Week 12:

This end of the week brought rain so I didn't take any pictures. We're still waiting for the roof trusses to arrive, so the major work completed with the installation of the new few fence along with some of the plywood sheath walls.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

End of Week 11: Waiting for Trusses

It was hard to capture in pictures what was done this week which was more details in the framing. The garage, for example, got the parameter support beams and the interior walls were put in. However, the delay came from the trusses which is taking long to arrive so we'll have to work on other parts such as the fence while we wait on those.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Ryoba Japanese hand saw

I'm still eyeing the Festool TS55 plunge circular saw, but $500 is nothing to sneeze at so I'm not rushing into it. I do need something so I can at least do some basic cuts myself so I decided to buy a Ryoba-type saw. Japanese saws are different from their western counterparts in that they cut on the pull action which is said to make cleaner cuts and easier. Although this is still in dispute, the thinness of the blade definitely isn't.

I decided to get a Ryoba saw because it has teeth on both sides with one size for rip cuts and one side for cross cuts. When I did my first cut with this saw I was I shocked as how easily it went through the wood. Cutting oak took almost nothing as the saw just went right though it!


For $30 plus a $7 cutting jig, I'm now able to make straight or miter cuts that are finish quality (no circular cut lines from a power saw that requires sanding to smooth out).

Bench dog holes.

Continuing the evolution of my workbench, I drilled 3/4" bench dog holes aligned to the bench dog that is built into the vise. To drill the holes, I used a forstner bit on my power drill but did not drill all the way through the table. It's common to drill all the way through so dust, wood, etc. don't accumulate on the bottom of the hole requiring annoying clean ups, but that means the bench dogs would need something that prevents them from falling through the holes. What I did was to drill a smaller hole at the bottom that does go all the way through so that things can fall through but the dogs are still held up.


Next, I made myself some bench dogs by cutting a 3/4" dowel rod to size. Buying bench dogs can cost $50 for a pair, a dowel rod costs $2 and I can probably get 20 to 30 out of it.



Finally, I drilled two holes through a board that I can use with the dogs as stops in two directions.



Showing how I can use the bench dog with the vise to hold the wood in place:


End of Week 10: Walls, walls, walls.

Week 10 was focused on getting the wall frames up and a lot of progress was made.






Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mid-Week 10 Update: 3D upwards!

With the skylight situation resolved, the project is back on pace with the wall framing going up.


Seeing from one end of the house all the way through to the other end:


The garage also got filled with gravel:


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Woodworking Vise

I finally got around to installing a wood working vise on my workbench. I had already planned for a vise for the bench when I first made it, but I needed K's help to get it mounted on the table top since it was so heavy. I actually took off the top and flipped over in order to install it and then needed K to help me put the top back into place..

The vise is a Jorgensen 41012 Woodworking Vise which was bigger then I expected but fortunately fit perfectly in the 10" overhang that I had on the bench. My table top was exactly 1/2" short of the minimal thickness needed so I had to use a 1/2" plywood scrap underneath the top for the vise to mount against. Since I don't have a saw, I had to ask my friend, KH, at work to cut the pieces to size which I then sanded a little to get everything flushed. Installing the vise isn't difficult but the provided template to help cut the holes were actually a little bit off so we had to make some adjustments while we were mounting it.



There are three things left that I'd like to do to the bench: 1) install bench dog holes, 2) put a couple of wood blocks in the jaws of the vise and 2) apply a finish to the frame.