Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wild Ride


Not quite three years ago, when I was feeling very low, some of the best friends a guy could have - John Laura, Holly, Maura, Chris, Susann, Christie and Rory took me out to the local carnival.

It was three hours of delightful diversion.

Now years, later (and happy as a clam, thank you) I edited together stills and footage that I shot on that evening and put together a very silly and, I think, fun, send-up of a suspense/horror movie trailer from the 1980's  Death Carnival of Fun Fun

You can enjoy it (or not)  here.

Art continues to imitate Life



Friday, October 21, 2011

A sad loss...

of a true heart.  Linda Sweigart.

Remember her here

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Other art

You may wish to go here to see some other stuff that I do.


Making a connection

From the house...

to the studio...

with rocks, bricks, and pea gravel.

Friday, August 26, 2011

of valentines, tattoos, and furniture

No sooner had I finished my Burnside Bridge bookcase than my wife Susan asked me if I'd make her a small bookshelf, very small in fact, something for bedside use.  I was happy to comply.  I chose to make her a bookcase and a valentine all in one.  This was on Tuesday.

By Wednesday morning I had the carcass glued up.  Made in select pine with no blemishes, the cutting, and assembley went like a dream.  As usual the screws were hidden with pegs and a cherry stain was applied overall.

As with all of the smaller bookcases I'm making this one has ergonomic hand-holds cut into the sides for ease in moving it about.

To personalize it I designed an old-school Sailor Jerry-style tattoo on the top surface.

First, I inked it in with a Rapidiograph pen,

the ink flows nicely even on the stained surface.

Then I added color, as usual using Prismacolor pencils which are always a pleasure to use, the colow seems to flow on, is very controllable, it saturates and blends like a dream.

The results were very gratifying, this is the valentine part I was referring to.

As usual, the unit was glued, clamped and screwed with pegs flush-cut to cover the screws.

I cut the hand-holds in more of a novel shape this time.

                                      Three coats of Spar varnish and it was ready for delivery.

                                         Two and a half days from concept to finished product,
                                                        The customer was very pleased!

Staying handy,


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Arsenal of Democracy

Those who know me are never surprised to learn of my ordnance collection; my artillery shells.

I've been collecting projectiles and shell casings since 1972 when I acquired my first one, a brass shell casing for a Naval 3" gun. I got it while it, and I, were still in the U.S. Navy. It's one of those things that "came home with me".

Shell casings and inert projectiles just seemed to gravitate toward me over the years, though more casings than projectiles. A few years ago, upon learning to operate a woodlathe, I began making the projectiles to go along with the empty casings.

Of my collection of twelve modern artillery shells (WWI to present) all of them are inert painted to appear active, and five of them are entirely made of wood.

Recently friends gave me a second empty three-inch shell casing. Last night I glued up five 5x14x5/8 inch boards as turning stock, and this morning I turned my latest projectile.

Here's my glued-up stock this morning.  I've just taken a mallet and driven in the headstock of my lathe into the center of the piece.  You can see that its just a big sandwich of glued and clamped boards.


I powered up my lathe and got to work making the chips fly...

and fly...

and fly.

I was using a profile that I had taken from an actual photograph of a 3" armor-piercing shell.

This profile served as my template for all measurements.

With my parting tool I dug down to a true 3-inch thickness as measured by calipers. 

Working from left to right, I turned the driving bands and, here, I'm roughing out the windshield - the lightweight steel cone that covers the nose of the armor-piercing projectile within.

Finish sanding as I went along, the piece is nearing completion.

Here is the blank, this morning at 8:00 a.m.

Primed, at 10:00 a.m.

Painted at 5:30 p.m.

And with it's shipmates this evening.

Can you guess which ones are wood?

Staying busy,


Monday, March 14, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


March 1, 2011.  Spring comes to my side of South Mountain.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Waiting for my Ship to come in.

There’s a port on a western bay
and serves a hundred ships a day
Lonely sailors pass the time away
And talk about their homes
And there’s a girl, in this harbor town,
And she…

That was as far as the song got before a sailor laid aside his pool cue, strode over to the communal radio, and disgustedly snapped it off.  Romanticized versions of Navy life as envisioned by hippie musicians do not play well in a building filled with bored and irritable sailors.

It was my second day at the transit barracks.  I’d just come off of 30 day leave following a 15-month deployment to the Naval Communication Station at Finegayen Guam in the Marianas Islands.  It was great to be stateside again and it was with some anticipation that I awaited the arrival of my first ship, the destroyer U.S.S. Dehaven.  I was literally “waiting for my ship to come in”.

The Dehaven was out on a two-week reserve training cruise and I had arrived at the Naval Station Long Beach, the Dehaven’s homeport, midway through that cruise.  Upon reporting for duty at the Naval Station I was apprised of the situation and assigned a bunk in the transient barracks to await the return of my new ship.

A transit barracks is an earthly manifestation of limbo, or perhaps more like a very pleasant jailhouse, a jailhouse where the inmates can come and go as they please and order in pizza.  A sailor in transit, if clever, has no duties while in that status, unless, of course, that sailor carelessly announces his presence to the notice of the Master-at-Arms (MAA) the arbiter of law and order in a division or transit barracks setting.  The plan of the canny sailor is to evade being placed upon the MAA’s watch bill, that roster of unfortunates which assigns specific duties to those enrolled upon it.  Generally, a clever sailor can avoid the shackles of the watch bill by spreading the word that he is scheduled for oral surgery.  When morning roll is called and the MAA enquires “Where’s Smith?”  more than one witness will attest to Smitty’s preexisting medical/dental commitment, and generally the matter will be dropped until the following morning.  Usually, after two or three days of this, the elusive Smiths’ ship has come in and he affects his escape from the domain of the MAA, however, such  evasion grows increasingly difficult with the length of incarceration in the transit barracks.

(embiggen through clickage)

Characteristically, it behooves shirkers to stay away from the barracks during working hours, say eight in the morning to four in the afternoon.  Beyond four-thirty the coast is clear and all the prodigals return; swelling the ranks of the barracks residents considerably.  The evening is consumed going to and returning from the mess hall, watching television, drinking ripple, or smoking tobacco or weed;  sleeping the hours away like stateless nomads, refugees in flight, orphans with nasty habits.
The very transient nature of the denizens of the transit barracks is not conducive to forming friendships, or in tipping one’s hand to any great degree regarding personal status or situation.  That’s sort of the jailhouse mentality part of the transit barracks.  However, if you run across another sailor who’s reporting to the same ship as you, that’s an entirely different story.  The two of you, now shipmates,  instantly bond into an unbreakable alliance against all “those other assholes”.   Find a shipmate in transit and it can be very “smooth sailing” indeed.

My shipmate, Rick, was just as glad to find me as I him.  Seems he had broken his glasses, quite severely, one lens was missing and the other was haphazardly held together with a band-aid.  He was a steward, essentially an officer’s valet and cook “I think I’m the only white steward in the fleet” was his bewildered self assessment.  I think he may have been quite right. 

Rick and I joined forces on that second day and managed to form a fine alliance to get us through the remaining two days of our incarceration.  We’d watch each other’s belongings when one or the other had to leave the building,   we’d take turns making frequent calls to the harbor master’s shack inquiring as to the status or imminent arrival of the Dehaven, and we’d take turns providing each other with plausible alibi’s to explain each other’s absence at morning muster.  We were a working model of how to successfully navigate the rocks and shoals of the transit barracks milieu, a living embodiment of the phrase “shipmates stand together”.  A lone wolf in a transit barracks, a county lock-up, or a family reunion is the picture of vulnerability, easy pickings for the sharks and maiden aunts that patrol such places, shipmates, however are invincible in their unity.

On the fourth day, our deliverance, like Ricks new lenses, was at hand and we were summoned to the MAA’s office with the news that the Dehaven was clearing the breakwater and would be tying up at piers 17 and 18.  After delivering this welcome news, the MAA surveyed both of our faces and enquired, “How long have you two jokers been aboard my barracks?”  Rick swiftly replied for both of us;

Just got in last night chief”.

Shipmates, stand together!

For a really accurate depiction of the transit barracks lifestyle, check out the outstanding Jack Nicholson film, "The Last Detail".

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Something I've been working on

I took delivery on a new mortising machine two weeks ago.  This may be the last major piece of machinery that will come through the front door of Victory Wood Working.  With this powerful tool I can drill square holes.

How 'bout them apples?  The magic is done by driving a hollow square chisel containing a rotating auger into a piece of wood.  It's pretty cool and will allow me to quickly and accurately make mortise and tenon joinery in my furniture projects.

Every large tool such as this needs a bench or stand to anchor it on for stability.  What I've been using are these machinery stands which I get from Sears:

They work just fine, though they aren't particularly attractive and certainly add nothing to the 1942 theme of my shop.  So I decided to use this opportunity to start making my own machinery stands with a period look.

Two-by-fours, sheet MDF, and 5/8" plywood, mostly on-hand, were dragooned to get the project underway.  For stability I filled the base with several pounds of ceramic tile that I've had lying around waiting for something to do.

Here's the stand carcass with the  mortiser in place.  Generally, I make wooden tool lockers for all of my major machines, this time, however, I used the opportunity to build one right into the pedestal itself.  The pedestal is also the same size as my shop trolleys which can act as "wings" for this stand.

So, here comes the "design-ey" part...

Chevrons and stacked vertical buttresses provide classic art deco lines.  Here, primed and ready to paint in a two-tone green scheme (like the rest of the shop).

I installed the door with classic (and simple) kitchen cabinet hinges with a little wooden ball as an elegant little pull.

The chisels, attachments, and tools have plenty of breathing room.  This is also a perfect place to store the operating manual.

All I need now is a little King Kong clutching a diminutive Fay Wray scrambling to the top.

Making the chips fly,