Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

When we last left our hero …

Posted by joeabbott on December 17, 2013

My last journal-type post captured Saturday, when I completed the lighted chicken. Since then I’ve been busy but not necessarily industrious.

On Sunday, Suzy and I took part in an hour-and-a-half workout at the Y … and let me tell you, those Sunday workouts bust my chops! In addition to a solid cardio session on the bikes, we put in time with weights and calisthenics. I’m happy that the session no longer drives me both to a shower and then to bed for a nap (I can get by without the nap these days), but it slows me up the rest of the day, no doubt.

So what did I do with my Sunday? Finished Tomb Raider, enjoyed a pulled pork dinner (Suzy prepped, I pulled), and spent a bit of time on the computer, cleaning up this and that, moving from Live Mail to Outlook, etc. It seems computers in and of themselves take time to manage. Also, during my workout session, I really started to putting together the “major project” in my head.

I mentioned earlier about spending time looking over other furniture at a local store, reviewing how they put things together. I didn’t come away with anything profound, but realized there are no big secrets here: I know how to build things, I just need to do it. And while I’ve also mentioned other times about using SketchUp to construct models of items I’ll build, it’s also important that I have a complete mental model of what I’m doing: I go over load paths, consider connecting joints, know how it’ll look, and support itself.

I started that exercise in the gym and then continued it while at home. After this I pulled up the old SketchUp model I had and was surprised at how many of the design details I’d already known but forgotten.

While not industrious, that was my day.

On Monday I took the design from a mental exercise to going over all the materials I have on furniture construction and began modifying the model based on new things I’d considered. And I realize now that I’ve been talking in the abstract. Let’s make this official: I’m building a cabinet and bookshelf system for our front room! I’m purely focusing on the cabinet right now, but I’m keeping an eye on details that will be required for the bookshelf … which will come in time.


imageTo the right is the prior model of what I was going to build: it was 13’ and had three sections to it. I knew I had yet to tweak things, so I wasn’t worried that the end cabinet sections weren’t equal … they would be in the end.

However, since then I’ve modified my thinking a bit.

First, I reduced the overall length to 12’. While the area we plan on putting the cabinet would support the longer distance, most sheet goods (i.e., plywood) is sold in 4’x’8’ sections. Given that the cabinet depth is 24” (2’), reducing the overall length by a foot would allow me to economically use standard plywood sheets.

Secondly, after reviewing the look of some of the other furniture, the ~48” long cabinet sections just seemed too big, and I’ve created more of those sections and reduced the size. While this will limit the size of items we can stow in the cabinet, I don’t think we have anything than ~24”… the biggest item will be a standing mixer or bread machine.

Finally, I’ve started considering design aspects: which woods to use where, direction of grain, access to power outlets, and things like that. A bit daunting as I find my mind flying back to other details (support structure, how to tie into the wall, etc.), but it’s nice that I have all that information in my new SketchUp model (below). I’ll share more details on this as the week progresses but I’m at the point of buying final lumber … as we now play to use two woods (both bamboo … one “strand” cut, the other vertical cut), I’ll need a couple more sheets.

My plans have me starting to build this later in the week, probably Thursday. I’ll use today and tomorrow to get the final materials I’ll need and to make sure I completely understand this. As I noted with writing: I like to let a piece sit for a while before I publish it … same thing here: I want the design to sit a while before I go build it!


Thanks for looking in. While I don’t expect my Fitbit counter to indicate that I’ve done much, I will be busy! We’ll be checking in again tomorrow with what I hope is the final design.


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