I spent a lot of time in the barn this weekend. I like being in the barn. The barn on the ranch where I grew up was one of my favorite places to be. It was huge and there were all sorts of nifty old gadgets in there... some of which I wish I would have brought here, like a couple of old horse harness collars. They were not useable, but were cool. Why didn't I bring that stuff? Probably was told not to I guess, hmm.
Okay, total tangent there, sorry, that just popped into my head.
So there's been this big saga with me and bench grinders. I don't know how much of this I've blogged about (versus mentioned on facebook so I'll just recap):
I need a power tool of some sort to use for sharpening engraving tools, because it takes me HOURS of precious time and makes my arm very sore if I have to get a graver from square to super fine pointy all with hand stones. Me no like. Now, the proper thing to do of course would be to get a power hone, which is made just special for that job. But I'm a tightwad and I don't really want to fork over several hundred dollars to buy one.
But I know it's possible to use a bench grinder also, and since there was an ancient one in the barn I thought I'd give it a whirl. I knew it was wonky, it was welded to a stand and if you wanted to use it (I think I used it once in the last 12 years) you had to actually put your foot on the stand (or ideally have someone else to it, because you kinda had to lean all your weight onto the stand) otherwise it would rotate itself in circles. Inconvenient, no? I thought it was a problem with the stand. So I bolted it to the workbench, flipped the switch, and it shook the room. Stuff fell off the workbench, tools on the walls vibrated madly. Um, not good. That's a problem.
So I asked for a bench grinder for my birthday (which is this Tuesday! Now you can't say I didn't warn you!) and off I went to Harbor Freight to fetch one last week, a bit early, yes... Got that thing all bolted down to the bench, turned it on, and it hummed to life. Nothing falling off the table. Ahhh. But then I swapped out one of the wheels it came with for the diamond wheel (what I need for sharpening gravers) and suddenly it was the same problem with tools falling off the wall. Crap! I think the problem is either that the diamond wheel is soooo heavy that it's throwing the whole thing off balance, or the diamond wheel itself is out of whack (doubtful, it's brand new). Anyway, bottom line is that isn't going to work with the diamond wheel, and I've about had it with machines lately.
I will likely keep the new grinder simply to replace the old one, which had some problems to begin with long before it ever met the diamond wheel. Meanwhile, an engraver friend has a tiny grinder set up with a diamond drum, tested, confirmed to work, no shake, very small and light weight, so I'll be getting that in the mail next week and if I like it I'll buy it... or I guess it'll be my new present. Whatever. I just wanna sharpen gravers! Waahhh!
Anyway, after I threw in the towel on that I still spent a lot of time out in the barn this weekend with other sorts of power tools because I decided to build a barn owl nest box. I'd been seeing a female barn owl around sometimes, and lately there has been a pair around the barn in the morning. The downside of owls is they are super messy, and I really debated if I wanted to do this. And I suppose they could be a predator if I had chicks or ducklings running loose. But I already have such a hawk problem I really can't do that anymore anyway, so I think that's not such a concern, and I think their mess will hopefully be offset by their expertise with rodent control. When you have animals, and hay in the barn, and live along a creek, you have rodents...
Unfortunately I have not inherited any of the construction skills that some members of my family possess, and that whole "measure twice and cut once thing" will always elude me when it comes to this kind of thing, but nevertheless I whipped up the ugliest darn barn owl box EVER entirely from scraps and managed to hang it all by myself, so I'm rather proud of that. And sore. Very sore. I hope the owls use it, and I hope I don't regret inviting them to move on in...
scrap lumber................................zero dollars
leftover hardware.........................zero dollars
hours of my own labor..................zero dollars
ugly but functional box.................priceless