2016 News Archives

This page contains the news updates from 2016, in order to keep the Welcome page from getting too big as I continue to add updates to the renovation project and web site on that page.

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Merry Christmas from the KesterHouse & Garden! (1 photo).

2016 Projects
The House: Another year has passed, and I still didn't manage to tackle any large projects on the house last year. I did make good progress on the bamboo containment project, took care of a lot of maintenance tasks (including replacing the control unit and on of the recirculator pumps on the boiler), and kept the old Volkswagens going for another year. I made very little progress on the joiner's bench, but have been turning my attention back to that more recently. I also finally started working on the ceiling project for the rest of the house, which started with cleaning out the attic.
The Site: As before, most updates in 2016 addressed the specifics of the bench build project, and it seems I went in to great detail on each step (the Joiner's Bench page is the biggest page on the site, and it's still not finished). All the updates from the year are available within the news items below.

2008 News Archives.
2009 News Archives.
2010 News Archives.
2011 News Archives.
2012 News Archives.
2013 News Archives.
2014 News Archives.
2015 News Archives.


Old News Updates


2016.12.30
The House: Wow... how did we get to the end of the year so quickly!? Let me think... what has happened since my last update back in July? It seems most of this year has been spent doing maintenance and repair work, and I made very little forward progress on any of the renovation projects that should have been taken care of long ago. I did get a lot done on the bamboo containment, with the installation of more barrier around the upper tier stuff, and a couple more fence posts installed. Late in the Summer that project was put on hold as I turned my attention to the Vanagon, which needed a major coolant pipe replaced and also got a new oil pump (no small matter, either of those), as well as new front shocks and brake work.
Once the Vanagon was good to go, we found our Munchkin T-80 boiler was having fits with error codes on the control board, and a bangin' noise coming from the pipes of the indirect hot water circuit. After a new control board and replacement Taco 007 IFC pump in the Fall, that thing is running smoothly once more. We then had a couple lovely Autumn storms that caused brief power outages, so I pulled out the Generac and found the fuel tank on that thing was a horror show. I have always stored the unit outside with an empty fuel tank, but I found that the tank had filled with condensation and become a mess of rust and sludge. I managed to get the thing to run (very poorly) after draining the sludge and filling it with fresh fuel, however when the power came back on I removed the tank and set to work getting it cleaned and restored to working condition. After pouring in a gallon of Evapo-rust link opens a new window, sealing up the tank, then turning it every day to let the stuff work on each inside surface, I then drained it, flushed it with hot water, and dried it with an old hair dryer. Now I need to give it a rinse with Acetone, then I'll pour in a quart of Red-Kote tank sealer link opens a new window and that should take care of any future rust issues. I'll likely add a tee to the fuel line as well, to make draining the tank simple after use.
I also managed to get the yard all cleaned up before the snow showed up in December, with the assistance from a couple high-school kids that were looking for community service work I found through a contact at church. This is the first time in a couple years we've gotten all the sticks and leaves cleared out before snow, so hopefully things will be a bit easier when it comes time for Spring garden prep next year.
The Site: So, with all that maintenance work happening, there's really nothing to add to the site this time around either. We did re-arrange all the furnishings in the living room to get ready to pull the ceiling and floor in there, but that will have to wait until after the Christmas tree comes down after New Years weekend. I just wanted to get some manner of status update posted before the end of 2016, and wish everyone a happy and healthy 2017!

2016.07.18
The House: Over the last few hot and dry weeks I've spent most of my time continuing to make progress on the bamboo containment project behind the pond. I have the barrier installed around the lower section and have started to backfill all that, and I'm now moving some big rocks around to get the barrier installed as I work up the retaining wall to the second level. Slow and steady, with no crushed fingers so far.
I've also put a little time into figuring out some goofy stuff I plan to add to the joiners bench, which included dis-assembling a fairly old, store bought portable woodworkers' bench I had kickin' around to salvage a couple nice Maple bench vise screws for use on the new bench. That also freed up the old straight-grain Douglas Fir legs, so I found a use for those... Each year our mail box up on the corner gets over run with Daylilies the grow up right in front of the thing, and I've noticed lately that the mail box was getting a little loose on the post. Our post is Black Locust that was put in by the homebuilder in the 1950's, so it's not going anywhere, and I thought it'd be nice to get both our boxes onto the same post. I talked with the neighbor about doing that and he said that'd be fine. I started by moving the tall Daylilies from in front of our box post around to the back of the post, then moved the Hosta he had around his box post over in front of ours. Next, I scrapped all the old blue paint off our post, then got busy with a hand saw and chisel to add four chunks of 4 x 4 Fir at an angle to support a pair of new mail boxes (I didn't want to build the typical cross-post, forty-five degree thing everyone seems to have, so came up with this sixty degree array instead). Before mounting the mail boxes, I gave everything a couple coats of Sikkens Cetol® Marine finish to seal everything. I also used stainless steel hardware to assemble the post and attach the boxes, so unless someone runs the thing over with a snow plow, it should last quite a while.
The Site: No content additions this time around, other than the photos of the new mail boxes above. I have been snapping pictures as I work on the bamboo, so I'll likely add a section with all that stuff to the Garden section eventually.

2016.06.11
The House: It seems I'm getting into the habit of quarterly updates, rather than weekly updates, but at least this time around it's because I've been quite busy on a variety of projects, rather than illness or injury. With a dry and relatively mild Winter, I was able to get a good start on leaf clean-up and yard work throughout the Spring. This year we enjoyed some assistance from a couple of high school kids that were supplied by a friend from church, and they did some really impressive work to help get the yard cleaned up. With the kids taking care of the mundane leaf collection and tidying up, I was able to get the pond ready for another season, and even managed to get a fresh coat of stain on the tsukimi-dai section of the deck.
Of course plenty of time was spent tinkering away on the joiner's bench, although that also contributed to the long delay in this update. Part of the problem was that I was working on multiple over-lapping tasks, so I couldn't publish an update that would make sense until I got them all taken care of. A poor excuse perhaps, but much has been accomplished. All that's left for the joiner's bench now is the tool storage box, and a dovetailing or "Moxon" vise. I also made some more progress on the bamboo containment project, although it's been very slow going. Our odd Winter weather last year took quite a toll on the bamboo, with a week or so of very cold temperatures (consistently below 10° F) and no insulating snow cover, all of the above ground bamboo was frost damaged and killed off. I thought perhaps the containment problem had been solved, but after a few days of cutting off all the damaged canes, I found the roots had survived and were sending up a load of new shoots. At least the stuff doesn't start running again until late Summer, so I should have time to get the new containment barrier installed over the next few weeks.
The Site: As mentioned above, other than a lot of yard maintenance tasks, much of my time over the last few weeks was spent working on projects for the Joiner's Bench, with lots of new information added to that page (and over 30 new photos!). I updated the table of contents there to make finding the new sections easier, then added detailed sections about making a load of wooden bench dogs, installing the bottom shelf, building a couple un-planned tool racks, and finally some power distribution, and task lighting fixtures. All that new information naturally warranted a site search index update as well. Enjoy!

2016.03.08
The House: That's right, four months since the last update, and I have very little to report regarding progress on the home renovation. We did have a very nice holiday season, but then right after Christmas I got the flu, which lead to bronchitis and pneumonia. It finally cleared up by the end of January, and luckily we didn't even get any snow until February so I didn't have to deal with that while I was sick. Now the weather is getting a little milder, and things are starting to dry out, so the leaf clean-up from last Autumn can continue soon.
I did keep pretty busy over the Winter, with plenty of time in November and early December dedicated to finishing the workholding fixtures on the joiner's bench project. After the holidays while battling the flu, I spent a lot of my time working at the computer on projects for our church. I've also done some work on a wall hung cabinet that will hold the hymn board for our recently remodeled sanctuary. With the church projects getting wrapped up, I'm finally getting back to work figuring out what to tackle next on the house and bench... After I do the taxes, of course.
The Site: Even though it's been a few months since the last update, I had plenty of photos of bench progress as I worked on the last of the workholding fixtures, so this update adds a few new sections to the Joiner's Bench page. I suppose the bench proper is finished, since all that remains is to add the bottom shelf and tool storage, then a few small bench accessories (bench hooks, shooting board) and a "Moxon" vise. I've also done the yearly clean-up to this news page by moving all of the 2015 news items off to their own 2015 News Archive page, then updated the Project Timeline and site search index, as usual.