View from the Garage

January 30, 2019

Torrey Pine Dining Table

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:17 am

zimg_0700I made this table from a Torrey Pine log that we milled into 4″ thick boards. I killed the beetles and worms in a home-made coffin, air dried the wood to 12% moisture content in my shop over a 3 year period, made legs and a trestle from 16/4 poplar boards I’ve had for 30 years, and finished with shellac/polyurethane. The teak butterflies are intended to check the splitting as further drying takes place. It’s a heavy table! Each board weighs nearly 100 lbs.



April 19, 2018

Garden Path

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 5:31 pm

I needed a better path to the upper part of the backyard. I think it came out really nice.

Path 2

The concrete work was done by Cesar Lomeli, a local craftsman. He placed the black and white pebbles, and black and white sand, in brown concrete. The designs are his.

The path started out quite a bit sloppier:

My friend Ken and I collected rocks at a huge industrial rock yard called Hanson Aggregates.  Here’s Ken looking for the exact best rock. We carried 4000 lbs of rock from the curb to the upper yard and lined the path.


Door frame

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:15 pm

Made a door frame in the outdoor woodworking. The wood is Western red cedar. I like the exposed joinery. More to come, here.

Path 3

Rusty metal

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 5:12 pm

Added some “rusty metal” panels to cover the treated lumber in the planters. The metal is 16-guage Cor-Ten steel that is supposed to rust on the surface but then slow down and pretty much stop rusting so that the metal doesn’t deteriorate completely. I pickled the clean sheets with vinegar, then sprayed with hydrogen peroxide to create the rust.


March 3, 2018


Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 4:06 am

Made some new handrails for home. They are Western red cedar. Nice, once in a while, to make something that is easily done in a day.


February 23, 2018

Cutting Board

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:36 pm

This is a cutting board I made for a friend’s son’s wedding. It’s purpleheart and maple.

Cutting board

Torrey Pine Bench

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:33 pm

In a previous posting, I described the milling of a large Torrey pine tree that grew in the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas, California. This tree was planted by the Larrabee family that lived there before the Garden was made. When the tree blew down in 2015, the Garden management wanted to have some of the lumber made into something that could be placed in the Larrabee house that is still standing at the Garden. So I made this bench, completely out of that tree.



The joinery is traditional mortise-and-tenon. The lets are set at a 7.5 deg angle from the bottom of the slab, making the joinery a little more challenging.

Bench (2)

The slab contained some cracks, especially around knots, and I filled those holes with structural epoxy.

February 18, 2018

“Japanese-style” joint

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 6:42 am

I wanted to make a strong right-angle support for a bunch of special plants in the yard. I decided to have a little fun and try to do my interpretation of Japanese joinery. So I set the diagonal member into the vertical and horizontal members and used mortise and tenon joinery to hold it together. The wood is Western red cedar, which is soft and easy to work.

Plant stand 5

Plant stand 6

Redoing the back yard

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 6:29 am

We redid our patio in the rear yard. Now it looks like this:

Back yard1

Our yard had a deck, patio, and overhead that was put in in 1988 or so. The deck and overhead were redwood and mostly pretty chewed up by termites. Worse, the drains in the patio were very badly clogged by roots and no longer functioned. So the first thing we did was cut the saltillo tile and concrete slab to insert new pipe. Before, the pipe had been white poly landscaping pipe with only sliding joints, and we replaced it with 4″ ABS pipe with cemented joints.


Then my friend Ken Olson and I tore out pretty much everything. (Later we also tore out the retaining wall you can see in the photo.)

Back yard 2

Then we put up a new overhead trellis, based on the one I’d put up 30 years ago, except that we used 2×8 Western red cedar boards instead of 2×6 redwood:

Orig yard (3)

We replaced the old planters with new ones made from treated doug fir rather than redwood, plus some stairs going up to the “breakfast nook”, an area with more winter sunshine than the rest of the patio. The Buddha statue came from Lotus Sculpture in Oceanside about 20 miles north, and the fountain came from Stone Forest. I fitted the fountain with a much smaller pump than recommended to make the fountain more restful. Behind the fountain there are two panels of Cor-Ten steel below the Buddha. This steel is supposed to rust on the surface (as it has now, because I cleaned it and applied hydrogen peroxide as an oxidizer) and then not further rust. It’s an experiment, we’ll see how it works out.

Back yard2

Ken and I put in the deck, also with 2×6 Western red cedar:

Back yard4

Here’s Ken and me working on the deck:


The pavers were put in by a local artisan, Cesar Lomeli. He also did a beautiful work on the stairs, using black, white, and multicolored pebbles plus coarse black and white sands:

Back yard 1 (3)Back yard 3 (1)

We had a little fun, adding some adornments to the quartzite pavers:

January 26, 2018

New cube chair

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 4:26 am

In an earlier post, I described a child’s cube chair that I have made many of. This time, for an esteemed colleague, I made one that uses no fasteners. Instead of a dado joint, it uses dovetails, and the seat is set in a sliding dovetail. The seat is placed first in the assembly process, and then the dovetailed sides are added. No need to screw anything!

Cube chair


Closet doors

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 4:16 am

Made some closet doors of red oak.

Closet door

Each pair of vertical slats was resawed and book matched from a 1″ thick oak board, and each lower slat is a continuation of its upper slat. This means I had 44 slats to keep track of the position of the ends and faces, not easy.

Closet door 2


Closet door 1

For the pulls, I carved an inset rather than a pull that extended beyond the door face, so that the doors could slide the full way without hitting the other door’s knob.

Closet door detail



Heater vents

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 4:02 am

Made a few heater vents, again from red oak and purpleheart. Much more attractive and warmer than the painted steel ones!

Heat vent 2



January 25, 2018

Floor lamp

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 6:11 am

This floor lamp was needed for the new chair in the den. It’s made from tapered laminations of poplar, with a cubical poplar base. The bulb is an MR16 LED, so not too much heat is generated. I couldn’t find any convenient way to incorporate a switch in the feed to the LED,so I used a HomeKit=controlled switch at the outlet.

Floor lamp 1

With the chair:

Floor lamp 2

Construction: ripped the laminations from a 1 3/4″ poplar board using a tapered jig against the fence.

Floor lamp 4

Glued up the laminations against a plywood form using Titebond III glue for its long pot life and rigid joint.

Floor lamp 3

The power cord runs through a slot cut in the first bundle of laminations. Then a few more laminations were glued on top of the cord.

Floor lamp 6

Bath cabinets installed

Filed under: House work, Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:53 am

I finished and installed the cabinets in the two bathrooms. I made both from purpleheart panels and frames of red oak. The colors of these woods harmonize. The countertops are granite and the mirror frame is purpleheart.

Downstairs master bath:

Den bath cabinets 1

Downstairs guest bath:

Den bath cabinets 2

Den bath cabinets 3Den bath cabinets 4Den bath cabinets 5

December 7, 2016

Myoporum lumber

Filed under: Uncategorized — thefusionguy @ 6:03 am

Many years ago, when the kids were little, there was a young man who lived in a small house made from a garage on a neighboring lot. This young man fancied himself a renaissance man, and he played a musical instrument until he got less bad, then he’d turn to another instrument on which he was really bad. But he seemed to have a way with women, and occasionally he’d get carried away a bit in his outdoor amorous pursuits. I figured I’d better find some way, quick and cheap, to keep the kids from seeing him and his girlfriends. So I went to the nursery and explained my problem. The clerk recommended I plant Myoporums. He said that was the plant of choice for those seeking to shield a few marijuana plants from prying eyes. So, good enough. But now, some 30 years later, those Myoporums have grown into much huger trees than I ever expected:


So last week when we had to remove the trees, I thought I’d see if I could mill some interesting parts of the tree trunk into lumber for later use. First, I made a plywood sled to hold the trunks while being sliced on the bandsaw:



Then, using a fence, I re-sawed some thin boards. It’s a tedious process, because the green wood sticks to the bandsaw blade and builds up. So after every slice, I have to scrape the blade with a card scraper, then wax it. It’ll take a year or so before I can see whether the boards could be useful for a small box or something. If so, I bet it’s the only Myoporum box you can get!


The dried wood turned out to have very fine, hard grain, making it suitable for a platter for serving something like crackers and cheese. The parts with the green heartwood add a nice contrast to the wood. Here’s a tray from one of the more colorful boards. It has a very nice feel!

Cutting board

November 16, 2016

Bathroom cabinet

Filed under: Uncategorized — thefusionguy @ 6:09 am

This is a cabinet made to replace a very old one in our guest bathroom. It will have a granite top, after it’s installed. The woods are red oak and purpleheart.


October 27, 2016

Plant holder

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 4:49 am

Made a new holder for a Crassula ovata ‘Hobbit’ bonsai from San Diego Botanical Garden. This plant holder had to look more sturdy than the previous one, in order to be more consistent with the nature of the plant. Made of redwood, unfinished.

August 31, 2016

Wine rack

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 12:36 am

Here’s a wine rack I made from some leftover redwood 1x and some red oak. I had bought the oak for another project, but it turned out to have lots of internal voids and splits, so it wasn’t useable for something that had to be really stable. But I was happy to put it to use for the wine rack. The rack is built into an existing cabinet in the kitchen.


Here’s the jig I made to cut the 72 mortices for the redwood pieces. The eye is very sensitive to slight inaccuracies in spacing in a matrix like this, and there were a lot of mortices to cut. So rather than measure the location of each one, the jig takes care of it by referencing the next mortice relative to the previous one.


Burl box

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 12:22 am

When I retired, a colleague gave me this slice of rosewood burl.

I’ve never used burl, but it seemed like bandsawing a thin slice would be difficult since the slice might crumble. So I consulted another SDFWA mentor who specialized in veneering, and he made the good recommendation to apply ‘veneer tape’ to provide some structural support while the slice was free. I also had to overhaul my old 14″ Delta bandsaw with a new Woodslicer resaw blade, new urethane tires, and a new segmented drive belt to reduce vibration. I also had to fashion a better fence. All that worked well, and I got good slices of burl veneer.

Then I made boxes of some afromosia with East Indian rosewood handles, here showing the cutting of the dovetailed corners.

I glued the veneer to the lid, then applied water to dissolve the glue holding the veneer tape to the slice so the tape could be non-destructively removed. With the thin top and thin sides, there was no place to put hinges, so I made the tops free. I lined the bottom with some black felt.

March 16, 2016

Killing the Bugs

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 11:45 pm

Turns out, the lumber from the fallen Torrey pine has bugs. That’s not too unexpected. But when I moved the 4″ thick boards from the field to my garage, I found several kinds of new insect life around. This put me in a bit of panic, so I turned to Google. I can fumigate the boards; well, no. Or I can heat them to 140 F (60 C) for an hour or so. Well, that didn’t sound so hard, and might help with the drying as well. I heated a smaller cedar board a few years ago by enshrouding it in a plastic box and using the sun to heat it, and inside a day it was plenty hot. That did seem to kill the boring insects that I know it had. But the Torrey pine lumber is much wetter, and therefore has much greater heat capacity. So I decided to try using an electric heater.

First I made a bottomless box out of 1/2″ CDX plywood and lined it with R-13 fiberglass wall insulation.  This box barely fit the particular boards I had. For a heat source I started with a $10 hair dryer, which I put in the box with it aimed into an aluminum foil tube made for clothes dryer vents from Home Depot. I perforated the tube in 7-8 places. The idea of the tube was to distribute the heat along the board and to keep the hair dryer end from getting too hot. To measure the temperature, I used a TMP36 temperature sensor, a marvelous $1.50 device that looks like a transistor. You put 3 to 5.5 volts across two terminals and the voltage on the third is 0.5+T/100, where T is the local temperature in deg C. Works great! I bored a hole in the center of the end of the board, about 2″ deep, and put the temperature sensor there.


But hairdryers aren’t made to run continuously for 6 hours or so. And I had to enclose the hairdryer completely inside the box, because I didn’t want the wood to dry out, just get hot, so keeping minimal air transfer to the outside is beneficial. So the entire dryer also gets to the cooking temperature. First thing, there’s a thermal cutout that I had to bypass. Then with that bypassed, there’s a thermal fuse that I also had to short out. Also a ground fault interrupter that I deleted. So all the safety mechanisms were removed. And I knew the dryer might fail, I was just worried about what the failure mechanism might be, so I kept a fire extinguisher nearby. But surprisingly, it seems to work.

I estimated the time it should take to heat the wood. Guessing the plank as 120 lbs or 55 kg, and the temperature rise as 60-25=35 C, and assuming the rather wet wood has an average heat capacity half that of water, the heat needed is 2 J/gC * 55000 g * 35 C = 3.85 MJ. The dryer puts out 1.5 kW, or 3.6 MJ/hr, so the heating should take about an hour. But another thing that affects the time requirement is the time it takes for heat to diffuse into the core of the wood. Heat diffusivity in dry wood is about 0.16E-6 m^2/s, according to experts. Here the half-thickness is 5 cm, so the soak-in time is 4.3 hours. But since there’s 2 sides to the lumber, should be about half this time. So several hours can be expected to be needed for the heat to reach the core of the wood. In practice, it looks like this, which should be enough temperature to kill the bugs.


March 4, 2016

Drying Torrey Pine Wood

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 6:34 am

The lumber we sawed from a fallen Torrey pine tree (described in my Feb 16 posting) was starting to split and crack, probably due in part to the drying process taking place too rapidly. So we got the 4″ thick boards moved to my garage where the drying will be slower and more controlled. I hope that will reduce the splitting. Also some evidence of boring insects in the wood, and I’m truly hoping that the bugs are gone and won’t invade my house! May have to make a solar kiln to off the bugs. Each board weighs 150-200 lbs, so I’m hoping they will be more manageable after they dry.

IMG_2951 IMG_2948

March 3, 2016

New plant shelf

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 12:27 am

Added this new plant shelf to replace some ugly tables. It’s made from a mahogany board said to be 50 years old that I got at Tropical Exotic Hardwoods. Cutting this wood made the shop smell wonderful for days, as the wood has a powerful aroma.


February 16, 2016

Milling Torrey Pine lumber

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 11:20 pm

A couple Torrey Pine trees were blown down a few months ago at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. These trees were planted in the early 1900s by the Larabee family, who lived at this site at the time. The Garden decided to make some period furnishings from the pine, so a volunteer with a portable sawmill offered to saw some TP logs into boards, and I helped him. We cut some beautiful clear boards 4″ thick that I think can be made into an extremely attractive table for the Garden Gala. But first the boards have to dry, taking probably 6 months or so.


November 13, 2015

Big Staghorn Fern!

Filed under: House work — thefusionguy @ 5:58 am

Bought this huge staghorn fern at the San Diego Botanic Garden sale. But then, I had to mount it! I made the backing board out of the same cedar that the house is sided with, but together the plant and board must weigh more than 100 lbs. I made a support bracket from redwood and screwed it to the studs, but getting the plant up to in involved getting a block and tackle. Now that it’s up, it looks pretty good I think.

IMG_2628 (1)


Redwood plant stand

Filed under: Woodworking — thefusionguy @ 5:43 am

Made this plant stand to hold a planter purchased at the Gala of the San Diego Botanic Garden. 

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