2017 News Archives

This page contains the news updates from 2017, 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.

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

2017 Projects
The House: Yet another year with little progress on the house renovation. Looks like it was mostly yard work and the seemingly unending joiner's bench project. I also made more progress on the bamboo containment project, which was brutal work. Then the VW Vanagon also got some serious front-end rebuild work, but that was about it.
The Site: The handful of updates in 2017 addressed the specifics of the bench build project, and a fair amount of detail regarding what I did to the VW. All the updates from the year are available within the few 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.
2016 News Archives.
2018-21 News Archives.

Old News Updates

The House: The weather turned very warm this week, so I spent some time doing yard work between getting coats of finish on that double-screw vise. I'm happy to say the bench-on-bench double-screw vise appliance for the joiner's bench is now completed, and turned out very well. The only things left to call the joiner's bench project done are to make a few minor appliances (a couple bench hooks, a shooting board, and a sticking board), and then a tool storage cabinet to fit under the bench.
The Vanagon is also back on the road after a pair of new tie-rods and an alignment, so I'll be able to get the lumber to start work on the ceilings in the living room and bedroom soon. Other projects include giving the pond a major clean out, then I can get back to that bamboo behind the pond, and see if I can get the rest of the containment barrier installed and the fence up before we get too far into Summer.
The Site: I've added a new section detailing the build of the bench-on-bench double-screw vise to the Joiner's Bench page, including over twenty photos of the construction process. As usual, that new chunk of information warranted a site search index refresh, and an update to the Project Timeline.

The House: I've made some good progress on the double-screw vise appliance for the joiner's bench, although things are slowing a little on that project as I get some finish applied to the interior bits prior to assembling the thing. I should have an update with lots of photos of the construction process soon.
As I mentioned last update, I received the replacement right radius rod for the Vanagon, as well as the bushing and hardware kits for the rod end bushings on both sides. Getting that 28-year old suspension hardware apart was no picnic (I snapped the end of my 18-inch breaker bar trying to get the rod end nut off the left side), but with a little patience and lots of leverage, I got everything taken apart with no further breakage. Before putting in all the new parts, I gave everything a good coat of VHT ®SP229 Rust Converter link opens a new window, then hit it all with some black enamel. I set the length of the radius rods pretty close to where is was before taking everything apart so the vehicle should drive okay, but my first trip will be to the shop to get a proper front end alignment. I also picked up a pair of tie rods and steering rack boots, so I'll have the guys at the shop replace those when they do the alignment too. Hopefully that'll take care of the Vanagon for the Summer, so I can get back to house and yard work.
The Site: No major content update this time, although I've been taking lots of photos of the bench-on-bench double-screw vise, and once I've gotten the finish applied I'll update the Joiner's Bench page with that information. I did recently purchase a couple more Stanley planes (a No. 48 and a No. 171), so I've updated the Vintage Hand Tool Data and Vintage Tool Gallery pages with the appropriate information.

The House: After far too much time tinkerin', I've finally completed the mechanism I dreamt up to lift the bench dogs out of the row of blind holes along the front of the joiner's bench. I'm still doing a little work re-fitting the dogs to accomodate the lifters, and re-applying finish to the few I needed to shorten, but that part of the bench project is basically taken care of after months of occasional work.
Other stuff that's going on is that I had some fun with the Vanagon recently… fun being that while running errands with the thing I hit a pot hole and snapped the right front radius rod (which pretty much holds the rest of the suspension components in place). With the radius rod broken, it's not like the wheel or control arms can fall off the vehicle, although driving the thing home after the break was a little freaky. The replacement part for the Synchro Vanagon has long been unavailable, but I was fortunate enough to find a used one from GoWesty. As long as I need to go under there for front end work, I'm going to replace the rod bushings for both sides while I'm at it. I'm just waiting for things to dry out a bit outside (we've gotten a lot of rain recently) before I tear in to it.
The Site: I've added a new section with all the details and plenty of assembly pictures of the bench dog lifters to the Joiner's Bench page. I was also recently checking the site for a power tool owner's manual, and realized I've purchased a few new power tools over the last few months and neglected to update the information on the Power Tools Specifications page, so that has been taken care of with specs and PDFs for a new Porter Cable Router, Dovetail Jig, and a couple more Milwaukee M12 cordless goodies. The Project Timeline and site search index have been refreshed as well.

The House: Like last year, I've been less than diligent with my web site updates. The good news is there has been some activity toward getting to work on the house again, although it hasn't been anything exciting… Years ago, I had a problem with trying to find boxes to pack stuff for moving. As a renter, I always assumed I would need to pack up the contents of the house again someday and move, so whenever I purchased anything of significance (household appliances, computers stuff, home entertainment items, etc.) I would take the box full of packing materials and toss it in the attic. Then when it came time to move, I could re-pack anything I had back in the original box for moving. We then managed to buy the house we were renting and negated the need to pack stuff up again. No big deal - it's not like an attic full of boxes was bothering me while working on the house and yard, until recently.
The next few projects for the house renovation involve work on the living room, bedroom, and walk-in closet areas. To get started on those areas, I need to remove the existing Homesote ceiling, shim out all the rafters to level things, then install lighting wiring, attic insulation, and a new ceiling. That means lots of work in the attic, and the attic is packed with boxes full of styrofoam packing materials. Aargh - all that stuff needed to go away.
So that's what I've been fiddlin' with since last Fall — cleaning out the attic. Not as easy it sounds. The way our municipal trash collecting works is each house gets a town provided rubbish barrel for weekly pick-up. We may also put out as many recyclables as we want each week. Put it all on the curb and it goes away. There is no town dump, so if you have more stuff than what fits in the rubbish barrel, you need to purchase specially marked, blue "town trash bags" from a local hardware store to add to the curbside heap. Since styrofoam is not considered a recyclable item, it all needs to go in the trash. Basically I've been cutting up boxes to fit in the recycle bins, then breaking up all the styrofoam stuff to fill an extra blue bag or two each week since last November. I got the last of the empty boxes out of the attic last week. Like I said, there were a lot of boxes up there.
There's still a fair amount of stuff in the attic, so now we're working on getting everything into 12 gallon, lidded plastic storage bins. We have off-season cloths and boots, bedding, and lots of the usual "attic stuff", although I'm trying to make as much of that go away as I can. The bins stack nicely, slide around the floor to move out of the way, and are clear enough that we can see the contents without having to open each one. With a bunch of stacked bins in the attic, I should be able to start working up there soon.
Of course the other project I'm still tinkering with is the joiner's bench. The last thing I did on that was get some tool racks with power strips and lighting installed. I also filled all the blind dog holes holes along the front edge with a bunch of home made bench dogs to prevent the holes from filling with sawdust and shavings. That led to another issue to resolve: how to remove the front row dogs when they're buried in a blind hole behind that big front apron. This was something I'd given some consideration to back when I designed the bench, so recently I've been working on that dog removal problem so I can move forward with building the lower tool storage box. I should have some information to post regarding how I did that soon.
The Site: Nothing much to add to the site, even though it's been a few months since the last update. I haven't been snapping pictures while I break up styrofoam and cutting up cardboard boxes, and no one wants to see that anyway. I did go through each page of the site and verify all external links. It seems many of those were not working, so they've been editted to work properly, or removed in a few cases. I've also done the yearly clean-up to this home page by moving the handful of 2016 news items off to their own 2016 News Archive page, then updated the Project Timeline and site search index, as usual.