The week before last I took some leave from the Army to get a couple of commission jobs done for clients. The plan was simple, I would wake up and hit the shop just like I would if it was my full-time job. But before we get into just how productive I was going to be with an entire week in the shop, I need to mention a little hiccup that would cause a couple of ripples over the week. So there I was the Friday before my big week off running a few twelve-inch red oak boards through my Ridgid thirteen inch thickness planer (13-12=1)… well the math works out, right? After a couple passes I hear a terrible noise a planer just shouldn’t ever make and quickly turn it off. Somehow even with the powerful fan on the planer to eject the shavings and a 2hp dust collection sucking them out, a large amount of chips got jammed up in the dust ejection port causing the loud noise and commotion. This not only broke off several blades from the fan it broke the belt that powered the fan and whatever else unseen damage. Now I’ve owned this planer for a while now and it has worked perfectly up till now. I get little to no snipe and the blades are not only cheap and double-sided but also easy to swap out. So long story a little shorter, I contacted Ridgid’s Warranty department and they had no record of my warranty. The lady then told me I could take it to my local Home Depot and they might be able to help me. Well after speaking with the folks at Home Depot that handle their tool rentals and repairs I was able to drop it off for repair and wait to see if it would be covered under warranty.
Now, let’s get back to my week in the shop. Of course now this week is over shadowed by the fact my planer is in the shop… no big deal right? It was awesome to be able to wake up every morning and get right in the shop after some breakfast and coffee. I really hope that this week is just an image of what my post Army life will be like. One project that I needed to finish this week would be a couple of Plaques for the local chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB) which is a Veterans outreach organization that I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with. I used my CNC to engrave their logo and some text on the Red Oak blanks that I made. This of course was made possible by a local cabinet shop that planed the wood to thickness for me since all the events above left me without a thickness planer. I used paint (yes, I said PAINT) to really make the logo and text stand out against the natural grain of the Red Oak.
With one project down, it was time to knock out the next one on the list. This one was for another non-profit organization who serve Veterans. The Augusta, GA Chapter of the Retired Military Police Association commissioned me to build a Military Police sign that they could hang at the restaurant where they hold their chapter meetings. For this project I used my CNC to cut out the letters for the sign and then mount them on a board with a pair of replica Harpers Ferry Pistols. This is the insignia of the US Army Military Police Corps.
The week was a productive week even with the loss of one of my tools but it would have been nice to get a couple more projects done. The Army much have realized that I needed just a little more time and last weekend we received a four-day weekend. This allowed me to get one more final commissioned project finished. The wife of a couple I know who both serve in the Army had contacted me about making an American Flag Coin Rack to give to her husband as a retirement gift to celebrate his 20 years of service. For those of you that might not know, in the military it a tradition to get what is commonly referred to as a challenge coin. This is a way Commanders can give a small token of appreciation for doing a good job. So needless to say that one could collect quite the collection of coins over the period of a career. The design that I came up for used Walnut, Sapele, and Hard Maple to make up the colors of the flag.
Luckily, I received a call that my thickness planer was repaired under warranty and that I could pick it up. The folks at Home Depot couldn’t have had better timing. This coin rack would be the crowning project of the week. I was filming the build in hope of making a video for Woodshop Confessions, when what was destined to be a pretty sweet overhead shot of me ripping down one of my boards for the flag went horribly wrong. I had mounted my GoPro on one of those small adjustable tripods and then used the flexible legs to attach it to my rip fence with the camera hovering over the blade. That my friends is when it all went down hill fast. Oh and by downhill I mean GoPro vs. Table Saw! Let’s just say that the table saw one. To add insult to injury I didn’t even get some sweet footage of the demise of my GoPro.
I still hope to be able to put together a video of the build when I get some time. I tried to shoot as much video using my cell phone as I could. The only issue I have with filming with my cell phone is that I don’t have very much available memory so I can only shoot for a few minutes and then I have to download it to the computer. Which wouldn’t have been so much an issue other than a big PITA… but I can’t even count the times I thought it was recording only to find out that it had used all the memory up and had stopped recording. But more to follow on that. So back to the build… I found a website that gave me the ratio used for all the parts of the flag. The stars were cut out using my CNC and then the rest of it was constructed using more “traditional” means. To hold the coins I made some trays using the maple so it would blend in with the “white” stripes of the flag. The rack will be mounted on the wall with a french cleat (yes, I know… I love french cleats). I made a small frame on the back of the coin rack that would allow for the cleat and lift it off the wall by about 3/4 of an inch and create a nice visual effect.
I was very happy to be able to cross a couple of projects off the list and get some valuable shop time. This time also concreted even more in my mind that this is what I need to be doing. But doing this full-time will have to wait a few years. In the mean time I plan on continuing to get in the shop when I can.