Our current ShopTalk project is coming along just great. It’s the 10 X 20-foot vegetable garden add-on to the side of the recording studio.
This week, I got serious about the “finishing touches” and – if you worry about radioactive leftovers – here are some of the design parameters that have fallen into place.
- Although it is not large, the room is loosely based on Square Foot Gardening. Although we’ve done hydroponics in the past, going “natural” and moving toward composting looked like a better long-term plan.
- The room will be lightly positively pressured. The inflow is down low, and a MERV 8 filter, one foot by 30 inches, will pre-clean incoming air. If you don’t know the MERV filter rating system, supply chain outfit Grainger.com has a great discussion here. Grainger also has other worthy content, as well. MERV 8 ought to take out a lot of hot dust- if not most- of the airborne issues. It’s a fine enough filter to take out mold spores which are a bane to greenhouse users.
- The trusty high output ozone machine is run about once a week until the seedlings pop up more.
- There are two swamp coolers (Hessaire MC37M‘s). One we bought new about 3 or 4 years ago, when it was half today’s price. The other is a recent used cooler in good condition. Spares may be an issue. So, consider the pump ($27) and fan motor (don’t remember the price – around $50?).
- The final piece of the puzzle will be a low friction-loss water filter to stick between the rainwater collection system and the inside water distro systems. Garden hose connections in and out (GHT is what garden thread hoses are abbreviated on Zon.
Although we didn’t put too much emphasis on making this a “radiation grow room” (which sounds a lot less dumb than it did back in October when we started twiddling on this design), it’s not too hard to cobble something up.
Just make sure your solar (and wind if you live near a capitol where the hot air currents run wild) are installed with transient voltage protection (TVS) for EMP. (Source TVS at Mouser.com) This may, not only will you be able to keep everything running skookum when the sun’s out, but you will be able to get rechargeable batteries for your night vision scopes. People being the biggest risk in war with a few geographical exceptions.
George II – Small Motor Genius
A week or so back, I wandered into the shop, hot, sweaty, and breathing hard looking for some cranky tiller motor starting help from my son. “Dad, what are you doing – you look like shit…”
OK, I was huffing and puffing and sweating, but that goes with life at 73 in the Outback. “You would too if you cranked a tiller 28 times with no joy.”
“Dad, chill dude – I got this…”
Whereupon he grabbed one of the variable speed, battery-powered drills, off the rack, loaded a fresh battery and selected one of those “fits all sizes” pin-based wrenches. Like this one.
Arriving at the tiller, he gave the starter a 2-inch pull to observe the direction of rotation. Next, he simply unscrewed the recoil starter mechanism, removed it, and chucked up the all-size wrench.
This was placed on the starter-end nut. Then, while holding the drill tightly, he began turning over the motor with the drill. After a minute, or so, fiddling with the gas feed, choke, and throttle settings, the tiller roared to life. No sign of sweat.
“Want me to leave the recoil off so you can electric start it?”
“Naw – fat old guy like me needs some exercise.”
“Suit Ure self.”
A few days later, one of the generators on a fire truck up at the fire station wouldn’t start. Taking the drill and socket, he did the same thing. A fellow firefighter wandered by and remarked (in typical East Texas style) “Why that’s one of the most intelligent things I’ve seen a Yankee do in a long time…”
Besides moving here?
Tool Slut Bingo
Two recent additions to the tool collection here may be useful to consider. When you get old enough to actually have a little “unallocated time” in your life.
One is a 4-inch Dremel Table Saw. Model 580. It was in pretty good condition and simply turning the slipping belt over (to the rough side) made it “right as rain.” The not-smooth turning knurled nut on the mini rip fence has a doctor’s appointment, too.
A couple of points if you find a micro saw screaming “Buy me!“: First, I picked up a 24-tooth carbide blade for it. Sure, the steel blade on it works fine. Machine appears only to have a hour – if that – on it. Pristine. But carbide does a better job of “making sawdust.” *(This is an easy way to compare efficiency between saw blades. Make a standard depth cut with each of two blades. The messier one is doing more cutting.)
Another thing is to order the right belt and keep at least one spare on hand. Belts for power tools are a real choke point for disaster recovery in event of flashington mushrooms of Xi simply gets pist, but I digress. Using the rough side of the belt (which by now is 40-years old) means it won’t last forever.
Second tool find this week was what? Well, somehow, I have taken an ADHD craftsman’s detour into the making of “smaller things.” Might have been touched-off by reading “Box Making Basics.” Monkey read, monkey do.
Anyway, there was a Dremel Lathe – superb condition and complete with the small turning tools – for all of $100 bucks including the shipping. Who could resist?
Then a Yaw-sawg
(Which if you aren’t old enough, is an old-time term meaning twist-and turn, this way and that…)
That led me to wondering if maybe I shouldn’t set up a “small things” area in my shop.
As you may remember, there’s a “file-by-pile” with workstations for:
- Wood turning small, and woodturning complex.
- Drilling (general).
- Sanding station.
- Big work and assembly bench.
- Specific stand-alone machines (table saw, band saw, mortising machine, dadoing table saw, wood shaper, jointer…)
- Grinders and sharpening station.
- Then on the metal side, there’s a milling machine next to a 9X20 gear-head lathe.
- Somehow (or other) gas, MIG, and stick welders plus a plasma cutter are shoehorned in. These usually get dragged outside due to fire dangers.
- A 3D printing area.
- And adjoining that is the CNC space.
See the problem?
There’s no “one place to sit and work with small power tools.”
Which has become this week’s Holy Grail project. You see, if I put “small power tools” in one place, then the Taig lathe, the Dremel mini, the mini Dremel table saw, and the Dremel (drill stand, plunge router, etc.) could all be right within reach. One chair. One desk.
Then I Got SERIOUSLY Off Track
ADHD is a blessing and a curse. You make connections between concepts and ideas almost too easily.
Because, while noodling the “perfection of a small (sit-down) wood and metal bench) I made the mistake of looking for outfits that (like Taig and Dremel) make kick-ass small project tools.
Find of the week to get lost in? (Warning: Do not click this link if you are in a hurry or late for something!) Byrnes Model Machines Home Page. OMG! Look at their table saw! It’s a freaking work of art. Shames the cheap Dremel and the feature set is awesome.
Now,, look at their model thickness planer! Why, match that up with the Box Making book and suddenly “What’s teevee?”
One thing leads to another, so it was while admiring the “taper jig” Byrnes makes, that I was reminded I had a taper jig on my list of add-ons for my ugly old 10-inch table saw.
Fulton seems to make a reasonable one – less than $30 bucks at Amazon. I would love to get one of the Byrne table saws, though. They (brilliantly) have the option. Never see that kind of thinking in Big Box land.
Byrne tools never seem to come up on the used market, though, Fact is, I can slide $100-ham radio do-dads, and super sales on 3D printing gear through the budget. But $600 for a tiny table saw? Not without a business plan and shop drawings to recoup a little something.
One Final Purchase
To make a note of: Because the Vegetable Grow Room is black, and because I am caulking joints, I went looking for black high-expansion foam.
Turns out someone does make it. Great Stuff. Not sure if it will be any more UV resistant, but most of the “regular” high expansion foam turns a puke yellow in a year, or less, outside.
My $11 gamble is this new stuff will hold up a little better. If you say something silly (“George, just cover the foam with paint, or a board…“) I’ll have to slap you…
Write when I get rich, (since at this burn rate, ain’t never gonna happen! But, WTF – it’s my circus and my monkeys.)