Lots of Updates

Adirondack chair progress and the new Shaper Origin.

Shaper Origin

I’ve been wanting a CNC setup for awhile now, but I’ve held off for two reasons: cost and space. Cost is something I could reasonably overcome, in time, but there is simply nowhere left in my shop for a CNC with even a modest footprint. However, in the spring a bunch of YouTube makers published videos exploring the Shaper Origin and I became very interested.

The idea is a handheld CNC that uses computer vision to map and maintain the machine’s orientation with respect to the workpiece. I had a bunch of upcoming projects where it would complement perfectly, so I convinced my wife to let me spend the money to pick one up.

I’ve now had it for several weeks and have to say I love it with very few resignations. Thus far I’ve mostly been cutting cleat projects for my french cleat wall. It’s nice to get acquainted not only with how the tool works, but also the design side of the process too (see below for more on that).

Maybe I’ll put together a more comprehensive review post in the future, but for now I’m still putting it through the paces. Once I have a few more reps with it on hardwoods I think I’ll have a more complete set of thoughts, as until now I’ve used it almost exclusively on plywood.

Up-to-Speed in Illustrator

In conjunction with starting using the Shaper, I’ve bit the bullet and expanded my Adobe subscription from the Photography plan to the full Creative Cloud plan. They had an upgrade sale that gave me the full suite for $29/mo for the first year so I jumped at it. I primarily wanted Illustrator (I already use Photoshop and Lightroom to manage my DSLR workflow) to do SVG-based designs for the Shaper.

It’s been a few weeks with Illustrator and I’m definitely learning! I’ve designed a few of the cleat projects I’m testing the Shaper on in the shop, and I’m even thinking about uploading a few of them to Shaper Hub, where users can open source their designs for other users to download and use.

Example SVG that can be imported to the Shaper. This is a cell phone holder to hang on a french cleat.

Customized Charcuterie Board

For my mother-in-law’s birthday my wife and I planned on making a medium-sized charcuterie board. Now that I have the Shaper, though, I thought it would be neat to whip up a design to carve into the surface. I went back and forth between cutting negative shapes out of a light wood to fit in the groove, or using a tinted epoxy to fill it. Ended up going with the epoxy because I was running out of time, and it did turn out great!

Charcuterie board with epoxy-filled engraving

Adiorondack Chairs

Since I received the Shaper I’ve stalled a bit on the chairs, but I was making hot progress before that. They’re definitely past halfway, and I really just need to knuckle down and finish the build so that I can move on to sanding and finish. There’s a chance these damn things can be done before the end of summer and I’ll actually be able to sit in one!

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Slow and Steady

Front leg joinery on the Adirondack chairs is now done.

I’ve cleared out my backlog of household projects and gifts for neighbors. I’m on to working through the joinery on the Greene & Greene Adirondack Chairs that I abandoned more than a year ago. I’d abandoned them because at the time I realized that I didn’t have the workholding ability I required to do the shaping of the arms and legs. Now that the workbench is complete with two great vise options, however, I’m full speed ahead.

Marking the mortises and leg details on the front legs

I’m working my way through the lessons in the online class on this project, and thus far I have the mortises cut in the front legs as well as the G&G leg details routed in. I also MASKED UP and went over to Woodcraft for the first time since February and picked up a piece of ebony to use for the plugs in the chair.

We’re hitting the busiest part of summer so I’m not even getting time every single weekend to devote time, but I hope to have these chairs completed before the end of summer.

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Around the House

Catching up on the Honey Do list and debut of the Sewing Box project.

Quick round-up on some goings-on around the house! It’s been about 3 1/2 years since we moved into our house and it’s been nearly that long since we power-washed the rock retaining walls in the front and back. I borrowed the neighbor’s power washer this morning and set about getting myself all wet.

It was worth it, though. Check out the difference in that header picture! Left is clean, right is the dirty.

Also (♬ trumpets tooting 🎶) I’ve published the project page for the sewing box! I’ve been using this thing for the past few weeks and it’s been a fantastic addition to my sewing area!

Ok, that’s all. Just a quick update on some stuff but now I have to go out to Menard’s and buy an interior door to replace one that broke ok byeeeeeeeeeeee.

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Projects! Projects! Projects!

A little blog post check-in.

I haven’t posted a blog in awhile, but I have been active on the site! I felt bad that I hadn’t kept up on my project pages even while zooming ahead and completing project after project during the covid-19 quarantine, so for the last few weeks I’ve been focused on building project detail pages for all the stuff I’ve done since February.


First up was the Woodworking Workbench, which was a long-time plan that finally came to fruition this spring.

Next I documented a weekend project to make small floating shelves for our bathrooms. I liked this one because it went from idea to installation in just about three days and nothing to purchase except the floating shelf hardware.

Finally, I just posted my first Sewing project: a men’s short-sleeve button-up shirt. This was so satisfying to complete, and got me real excited to make some more custom clothing.


I’ll have a larger project description of the Sewing Box I recently finished.

I'm also currently working on a pair of sweatpants that I'm eager to finish once I get the supplies I was missing (drawstring, waistband elastic and eyelets).

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May Project Round-Up

Get caught up on all the new and completed projects in the shop for May 2020.

Completed: Workbench!

Three months of weekend warrior work are behind me and the new workbench is complete, including leg vise and end vise installation as well as dog holes, storage cabinets underneath and finish!

Ready for finish

I’ll be writing up a considerably larger project page, including step-by-step photos and more detail, but for now I’ll just glory in being able to chisel, plane, and clamp work pieces in ways I’ve never been able to before. Just weeks after finishing I don’t know how I lived without it for so long.

End vise with walnut jaws installed


Started: Sewing Box

My first significant piece to build using the new workbench is a sewing box for all my supplies. In mid-March 2020 when covid-19 descended on us I purchased a sewing machine so I could start making masks for family, friends, and to donate to the hospital if it came to that.

I was inspired by Jimmy Diresta’s white oak box he made for his sewing supplies, and back in the winter I’d found an absolutely perfect piece of walnut at the Restore that had so much character and color.

My plan is to roughly build the same thing in walnut with brass hardware. I have some locust wood from the same Restore trip that I’m going to use to make the removable tray inside.

Box joint test

Stay tuned for more updates on this!

Side Note: I May Have Fixed My DeWalt Planer!

I’m hesitantly cautious that I may have figured out the problem with my DeWalt 735 planer. For the first time I completely disassembled it this weekend to deep clean the parts and try to reason why the pulleys were not coplanar and the belts kept rolling off into the gears.

Ultimately I found that I think there was a spacer missing from the lower pulley so that it wasn’t tightened to the correct distance from the bearing, and thus was not coplanar with the upper pulley.

I cleaned the all the internal parts and re-ordered a new set of v-belts which should be here this Friday. Fingers crossed that I’ll be back to using the Shelix heads before no time!

Quick Project: Mother’s Day Mega-Frame

Finally, me and the kids worked tirelessly this week to paint and prep a very large picture frame that we’ve had for 10+ years without ever getting around to putting pictures in it.

It’s a 6 x 2 grid of roughly 10” x 10” squares. My idea was to do a progression of pictures for each kid, with a couple of open spots where can insert more pictures as our younger one gets older. We needed to repaint to a neutral color because the frame was originally painted (not natural or stained) an ugly brown color and I wanted to use black mattes and black & white pictures.

All finished, in the nick of time

In retrospect because many of our walls are grey tones I wish I’d painted the frame white, as I think it’s going to clash with some of the greys on our first floor. But I can easily pop the mattes out and repaint the frame again with a white or off-white.

Result: she really loved it!

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