butchering an old friend

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Today was both invigorating and melancholy.
The wife's hospital bills are mounting up, and while I don't yet know what the final damage is going to be, it's a sure bet it isn't going to be cheap. We're at $25,000 so far, just for the hospital itself. Not the surgeon, the anaesthesiologist, the radiologist, the ultrasonologist, the ER attending physician, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, and anyone else who will see fit to mail us a bill before this ordeal is over. I'm guessing it's going to hit $50,000 before it's all over. Ouch.
I'm not sure what my piece of this action is, but it ain't gonna be cheap. Thus I must needs come to terms with the fact that my termite-infested, half-rotten, undersized corner of heaven is going to be my home for years to come. I can't afford to build a new shop for 5-10 years. It thus behooves me to make the most of what I've got, to gut it, re-evaluate it, and see what else I can do to make it a more suitable working space.
And so I come to my point at last. My workspace is reasonably well refined from the doors to the area on the far side of the line between the far side of my drill press and the back of my table saw. The space behind the saw has been a, well, a fuster cluck for years. I had a tool cabinet lined with pegboard which I brought with me from our last place. It was situated in such a way that it left about an 18" square area in one corner that was utterly useless for any purpose. I couldn't even store things there effectively, because I couldn't get to them without a lot of effort. To the right of this cabinet is an area that has been occupied by various irksome bits of machinery. A horizontal bandsaw that needed plenty of feeding room, a router table, a table saw. Most recently this space has become the outfeed for my new contractor's saw, which is really too damn big for my shop, but is a true joy to use anyway. It was occupied by a shop vac, a collection of hoses, some odd little piles of random scraps, and some thus and such.
So anyway, the fateful day finally arrived today. The tool cabinet, one of my first projects, and my most successful and functional large project, simply had to go. The door wall is all door. The roof slopes down to meet walls about 4' high at the sides, so the only place it could go was along the back. It was situated very badly in relation to everything else. I had two huge multi-drawer bits and bobs organizers attached to the outside of the doors, and these added another 6" or so to a cabinet that was already about 13" deep. 19" of depth about 4' long, mostly to hold a bunch of air and odd bits of things that I hardly ever use.
When we moved out here, I nailed that thing up but good. I used sixteen buttloads of spiral nails across the top and the bottom. In the process of attempting to extract it in order to move it somewhere else, somewhere outside the shop, I completely obliterated it. Every board is shredded to the point where I could only get usable odd bits of lumber out of the wreckage through the use of a bandsaw, or a monumental planing effort. Seeing as how the whole thing was just jummywood anyway, I elected not to bother. So a source of pride and joy that has served me well for the last decade has been reduced to a pile of splinters stacked up to be the Beltane bonfire in a few months.
It brought a little tear to my eye when I finally got the back away from the wall. D. Michael McIntyre 6-20-95
Rest in pieces old friend, rest in pieces.
I'm going to put pegboard and shelves on that wall, and get much more storage out of far less depth. I'm moving the DP away from the workbench, moving it to the back wall, where I will be able to put wider stock on it without hitting anything. I'm moving the lathe where the DP used to go, and I'm building an outfeed table/machine table behind the TS, which can be used to host either the Norm table or the crawl saw.
I'm also seriously contemplating building a new workbench, even though it pains me to think this after I just spent the last four shop days reorganizing the old one, and hanging tools on the pegboard behind it. I have 2' at the door end that used to be a metalworking station. I don't do metal much anymore, and I could live without the anvil and pipe vise, I think. Put the vise on a board to mount in my face vise. Use the anvil on the floor when I need it. I can't use the space for anything because all that stuff is in the way anyway, so I wouldn't miss the width. I could build drawers underneath to store some of my more unwieldy bits and bobs, like my saddle square, my pencil sharpeners, dovetail markers, and sundry other things that don't lend themselves to hanging. I could also build cubbies or drawers to hold all my portable machinery, so I could utilize the whole vertical space underneath. It may be more cost effective to doctor the bench I already have again, but I'm tempted to build a new one.
I'm still thinking and planning. First I have to figure out what to do with all the stuff I have now made homeless. I want to try to work through this mess without moving everything five times.
So anyway, it's a sad day because I completely obliterated an old friend, but it's also a happy day because I have solved a problem that has been annoying me for months, and I feel like I have a world of potential for innovative ways to squeeze just a tiny bit more utility out of my tiny little space. I'm trying to work toward giving the monster saw a little more feeding room, so I can actually work on furniture-sized projects. I almost had a kickback doing that 30" tall printer stand because I inadvertently wedged the feeding end of the board against my lathe, and I went into the blade cock-eyed. I need to spread things out more, or else get a smaller saw. The small saw just ain't happening though.
Once I get it all sorted out, and cleaned out, and spiffed out, and tricked out, I'm going to go through with Mom's new digital camera and put together a compleat shoppe toure to show everyone my pathetic, termite-infested corner of heaven. I guess I'll keep using it as long as it's still standing. The bright side is that while it has definitely been damaged by bugs and moisture, I can fix the damage a lot easier than I can build a new building from scratch. Only one end of it is sitting directly on dirt, and that's the only end that's well and truly rotten.
Hell, at this rate, I might actually get through all the cleaning/sorting/arranging, then get back to my on-going sharpening/tuning, and then finally I will be ready to actually build a real project out there for the first time in what will then be almost two years. Right in time for it to be gardening season, I expect. Sigh. Oh well, the up side there is that I am a lazy gardener, and I have planted a lot of self-sustaining perennial stuff. I only have one little annual bed, and all my regular stuff eventually grows taller than the weeds, so I don't really have to maintain much for long.
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SNIP

Workshops, like lives, are works in progress. The shop that's organized to the level of filled tool silhouettes on the pegboard, clean benches and floors is ready for viewing - "doesn't it look like itself?"
Every cluttered corner is a bit of yesterday to be revisited like a memory, every brief cleaning or rebuilding shows confidence in the future. Sounds like it's time to do some cleaning around the edges to make room for the life you and the wife will be living. Just don't destroy the core clutter of what you have.
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George -
I hate to sound mushy but your post is the most poetic post I have ever read about woodworking and I say that in all seriousness. It made me pause a bit and think.
Thanx,
Vic
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 00:55:09 -0500, Silvan
Please forgive the top post, but this is a LONG post)
So, how is your bride? recovering well I hope!
Change for the sake of change is a bed thing, I've heard... but change for progress and improvement is reportedly a good thing...
It's hard to part with things that you put time into making and emotion into remembering that time as you're using it... but as your needs change, so must your storage, tools, mind set, etc...
Since you're rearranging almost everything in the shop, I'd suggest putting everything possible on wheels or making it somehow mobile.. I do this as a reflex now, nothing gets built or added that can't be moved around... This not only saves time when you get a new tool that always seems to call for rearranging the shop, but in a limited space (I share the garage with a washer, dryer and family junque) it's very handy...
I find that since everything rolls around, the stuff that doesn't get used often can be rolled out of the way.. and in better weather, a lot of it gets rolled outside to the driveway to use, especially the CMS and belt/disk sander... true dust control. *g*
Anyway, houses go up and down in value, tools, projects and shops change, but IMHO, what holds everything together is family... and you've got a mom back for the kids... Everything else is just money and stuff, which somehow we used to be able to be happy without, right?

mac
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mac davis wrote:

I'm betting they'll yank that tube out of her when she goes back for her second post-op visit on Tuesday. She's doing much better. She's starting to eat with some enthusiasm again, and she's moving around. I've taken her with me every time I've gone shopping and such, and let her get out of the house and walk around. At least this should be the end of the months of problems that lead up to the surgery, and she seems to be tolerating life without a gallbladder just fine.

Yup.

Not really useful in my shop. The floor is too irregular to roll anything anyway, and there's no "out of the way" to move things to, except for the yard. :)

I used to do more outside than I do now. There's a commercial building across the street from my shop doors. Lots of traffic. I try to keep a low profile. If I ever do build a new building, it will have doors facing some other direction.

Almost back. Not quite fully wearing the mantle of Mommy just yet, but at least I don't have to do the laundry too much longer. :)
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 20:51:14 -0500, Silvan

life is good..

ahh.. but she's home.. if you've ever been hospitalized, you know how damn nice it is to get home...
mac
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mac davis wrote:

Yes, in fact SWMBO has officially ceased to be "the wife" and has proclaimed, in her own words, that "swim-bo," as she calls herself, is now officially back.
Hah, then just when she's up for laundry duty, the damn dryer breaks! Woot!
That turned out to be an interesting adventure. There was a leak in a duct inside the dryer. A manufacturer's defect. Improperly installed gasket. It filled the space inside the dryer with lint. Eventually enough sticky lint paste grunked up the motor enough to stall it out, and SWMBO kept pushing the start button over and over until she smoked it but good. It didn't work. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. No, it still didn't work. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. No, it's still not working. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Maybe if I hold the button in until the 50A breaker actually trips it will start working then. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Nope. Better call Michael.
With all that lint in there, I guess I'm lucky she didn't manage to let ALL the smoke out of the dryer. The motor is definitely too questionable to put back in there.
Oh, and I destroyed a $90 blower assembly too, trying to figure out how to disassemble everything. Oops. Nothing like a $90 part that's made out of recycled soda bottles. Quallllllllllity.
So, $200 in parts, $400 for a new dryer. Sigh. Planned obsolecence in action.
Well, I guess she knows what she's getting for our 11th anniversary tomorrow. Well, actually, later today. Wow. 11 years. It seems like about two.

I was only 10 years old, so I can't quite remember.
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<snip>

Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt. $104, but then, I bought the warranty on the parts. Remember, I've seen this movie before. Got a plumber's snake, and snaked out the dryer vent pipe. When I hooked up the exhaust of the shopvac in BLOW mode, we had most of a bushel of lint come out the vent in the side yard.
The clothes were dry in half the time thereafter.
My wife got the new washing machine last year. I was just glad that there were no fires.
Patriarch
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<snip of "life">

Sounds like she's on the mend. The *most important thing*, isn't it?
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patrick conroy wrote:

Well yes, yes indeed. Don't get me wrong here. I'm not sweating the medical bills, and I'm not whining about it. I'm grateful that she came through this alive. Maybe as little as 50 years ago and this would have killed her.
I was just musing about changing gears, I guess. For whatever reason, this is the path before me now. I had been thinking of the shop as a waypoint on the road to building a good one in a year or so. Since it is no longer a temporary thing, but my home for some considerable time to come, I am merely addressing some of the deficiencies I have let stand too long. It's not much of a place, but it's what I have to work with, and so I'm making the best of it. I was just in a bit of an introspective mood after taking a sledge hammer to one of my first successful projects, that's all.
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 20:57:25 -0500, Silvan

Interesting that you put it like that (shop being waypoint)
We've been looking for a smaller home on a larger lot, so I could build a shop and we'd have RV parking... (yeah the "golden years" approach)
so, for at least 3 years, all my plans, fixtures, storage, etc. has been temporary..
We just decided that the money would be better spent on my wife's education and a vacation home, so I'm right where you are... "wow.. this IS my shop!"
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On Wed, 12 Jan 2005 00:55:09 -0500, Silvan

Just remember NOT to make any repayment contracts with the hospital. Pay them on your own terms and don't let them bully you into anything. And make sure to ask for a discount since 2/3 of that cost was to repair the damage he accidentally caused to your wife during a simple operation. That should take your bills WAAAAY down if not completely away. Best of luck on that.

There ya go!

You had a point? When did THAT start? <gd&r>

Speaking of which, I should build a storage bin beneath Dina's right wing. She could shelter more tools and/or cutoffs under there.

Now you know what drywall screws are for, huh?

I understand that multi-year thing, Mike...erm, Silvie. I'm going on 3 years here and still haven't built enough cabinets for the tools so I can actually see what I have to work with, so project time consists of 3/4 hunting for tools and 1/4 woodworking. I got 1 open-faced cabinet up and stocked it with Stanleys and billdrits, but there is a bit more to be done.

Gardens which outgrow the weeds are heaven-sent things, aren't they?
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Hell no. Here's your $10. I'll pay you more next month if I feel like it. I've been around this bush before. With the kids. I loved how they would send a reminder every month that I could help lower the cost of medical care for everyone by putting the full amount on my Visa or MasterCard today. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

I think this is what the -$9,000 "adjustment" was for. I should try to badger them into reducing it even more.

I promise not to make a habit of it.

I'm thinking about putting the shop vac under there, and completely re-thinking the out-feed area. First I have to figure out where to put all the stuff that doesn't have any place to go until I can make some place for it to go. What I need is another shed. Or a bigger shop. Or maybe the dining room. :) Hrm.

On the bright side, spiral nails hold very well.

I really need to cook up some tidy way to organize my various billdrits, vises, flungums and plantablats for the drill press. Maybe one of those chests.

Indeed. It looks like crap until about June, and then who cares? :)
I have some kind of praire coneflower stuff that grows 8' tall, and some kind of perennial sunflowers that do the same. A bunch of tough as nails hybrid "floral carpet" roses. Everything is kind of wild and out of control, but I like that look personally. I like anything that requires almost zero maintenance. I did the manicured thing at the old place, but then I moved here and got introduced to nutgrass and ground ivy. It is not possible to win a battle with nutgrass or ground ivy, both of which will re-sprout a new colony within three days if you leave 1/3 of a stray root cell in the dirt, but it is possible to plant things that grow taller.
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Silvan wrote: ...

That's the problem, there's not <enough>...we've about 19 A around the house, outbuildings, feedlot/corrals, machine lot, etc. so there's so much you don't feel obliged to edge... :)
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

So yer sayin' I need to plant a few dozen more trees, and maybe make some more of those really brain damaged flower beds with the "organic" amoeba-like edges?
My landscape designer needs to be fired. Except since it's me... Sigh...
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Silvan wrote: ...

Yeah...once there's so much it's <absolutely> overwhelming, then you don't feel so bad anymore... <VBG> <TIC> :) etc., etc., etc....

:)
In actual fact, I'm not really kidding that much...w/ all the outbuildings, corrals, equipment lot, etc., there simply is so much that to trim is, in fact, a practical impossibility so I don't even attempt it. Once a year of so I do an extensive cleanup of the tumbleweeds from the cedar windbreaks, etc. That usually takes a week or so. In the fall I'll spend two or three days after harvest to clean up all the overgrown stuff around the rosebeds, etc., in the yard and around the house in the "inner" yard as we call it. I then over the winter will use the flamethrower to burn out the old weeds along the corral fences, etc. Then we're good for the following summer. During warm weather with the farm work, thre simply isn't time to do more than mow the yard w/o the trim work. SWMBO does garden and keeps her beds in check as well as most of the veggies.
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Larry Jaques wrote:

(Yeah, well, duh doofus. If you think for a minute any of those prices are actual figures, you and I need to do some dealing. I have something to sell you. I just haven't figured out what it is yet. :)

Oh, I meant to say $50. That's a much better price for a bag of mildly salty water.
And $7 an hour is well above minimum wage. :)
(Just for the record, I wasn't trying to convey a feeling of incompetent minimum wage nurses, but one of grossly underpaid professional nurses. The earning potential in this corner of the world sucks. Though not as bad as it sucks in, say, South Carolina.)
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On Sun, 16 Jan 2005 11:41:54 -0500, the inscrutable Silvan

Not here. It just went up to $7.25/hr.

Ah, gotcha, and I agree. But reducing the cost of things by reducing the level of corporate greed would be MUCH better than upping everyone's wages. The latter would result in a net loss for the poor as the greed hit the higher wages with higher retail pricing.

Wow, you're still at $5.15/hr in Vag^H^Hirginia? That IS depressing, but SC with no MW is horribly behind the times. Maybe that's why the apparel industry stays there. An interesting link follows. http://www.dol.gov/esa/minwage/america.htm#2 Kansas: $2.65/hr?
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...

Some friendly advice from a guy who's been there:
1. Keep detailed records ... all the bills, all the correspondence, all the payments. 2. Get to know your healthcare insurance policy very well. Get on a first name basis with your "service" representative at the insurance company because you will probably be spending time straightening things out with them. 3. The hospitals/docs/butcher/baker/candlestick maker will probably bill you simultaneously with the time they bill the insurance company. Don't freak out at all the zeros. The insurance guys will pay most of it, make sure you don't pay more than your deductibles and copays. 4. They have a vested interest in getting you to pay more than your fair share as early as they can. Don't. Insist on written explanations of benefits provided ... make sure they are billing it right.
It usually takes 9-18 months to get it all sorted out. Hang in there.
...

It's okay ... I've been at it for a shorter period of time than you and I've also redone my shop a couple of times. What you build will be better than what comes out. You can always keep the board with your signature on it as a souvenier :-)

Go for it. I finally made my first real workbench, a beech one with a front vise and an end vise. Once you have an end vise you will wonder how you ever got by without one.
BTW, glad to hear that the wife is recovering and that things are getting back to normal. Gotta keep the important stuff in perspective!
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Nate Perkins wrote:

Yeah, I'm hanging in there. Maybe if they dole out the stupid little intermediate bills in small increments, I can keep everything paid as I go. I'm managing to do that so far.

I think I've decided just to add some truss rods to it to try to tighten it up, and leave it be. It's not bad. It could be better, but I really don't have room to build a better bench without getting rid of the existing one first, and I need the existing bench to build a new one. There's nothing like the classic catch 22.
I'm keeping my eye out for another good face vise to throw on as a tail vise though. I've shuffled things around to where I could install one, since the DP column is no longer smack beside the right end of the bench.

I'm kinda hoping they might yank that last hose out of her belly Tuesday. She's had it clamped off since we came home from the doctor two weeks ago. No problems at all. It's probably ready to come out. Getting that out of her will make her feel a lot better. Then she can bend over and scrub my floors like a proper wimminz should.
(Yeah, right. Like she ever scrubbed a floor in 11 years of marriage. :) Or mopped for that matter. She's convinced that since a mop has moving parts, it's my bailiwick. She didn't think it was funny when I bought her one of those string mops either. :)
It's good to have SWMBO back. She's definitely getting there.
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