Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Tale of Vise

Now that my workshop electrical outlets are installed, the refinisher shipment has arrived, and the piano is delivered, I can get back to stripping the window trim on the first floor.

Yesterday I removed the varnish from the last two long pieces from the dining room windows. And last night I pried off all the trim (barring the stool) from the first of the dining room piano windows. I had visions of getting all those pieces stripped today, before I had to dress and go sing in a choir concert this evening.

Didn't work out like that.

In the first place, I had to spend an hour or so this morning packaging up my digital camera I dropped on the floor yesterday, and taking it to the post office to send to the FujiFilm factory service center in Joisey. Maybe it can be fixed and I won't have to buy a new camera.

Or maybe not. Got it posted, anyway.

Something after 11:00 AM I got down the basement and started stripping the paint from the window trim I took down last night.

Uh, no. Ever try holding a two-foot piece of wood, aiming a heat gun at it, and stripping off the old paint, all at once? Definitely a three-handed job.

Which means a vise to supply the third hand. In my case, the clamp-on vise my dad gave me years ago, with the 1/4" plywood on each face to keep from marring the workpiece.

But I couldn't use my heirloom vise with my present set up. My workbench has no lip to clamp it to and my collapsible steel sawhorses had no wood beams on them. I'd been intending to put some on ever since I bought them nine or ten years ago, but somehow I never . . .

Until today. There comes a time when the time has come. When a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. When the annoyance of not doing an annoying job is more annoying than doing it.

I had to get those beams on my sawhorses if I wanted to make any progress with the woodwork stripping.

And I was well-fixed to take care of it. Some previous owner had left me a couple of likely-looking 2x4s to choose between, and I have a whole hardware cabinet of miscellaneous fasteners.

But I couldn't take care of it, not right away. The brick foundation wall of my workshop is the happy home to a few dozen colonies of sidewalk ants. Harmless, the exterminator tells me, but they attract spiders which festoon the wall with their webs, which catch all the frass that the ants dump out of their nests. The 2x4s were covered with it, and so was a lot of everything else.


So before my work on the sawhorses could proceed, I had to take the shop vac and clear out all the spiderwebs and their loads of eggs and ant poop.

Not what I was planning to do today.

But I did it. And got the chosen 2x4 cut to the right lengths, five inches longer than the sawhorse tops.

And considered how I'd attach them to the steel sawhorses.

Now, you'll laugh at this. This is the biggest reason why I hadn't put the wood beams on the sawhorses years ago. I had the silly, over-wrought idea that I had to attach them with bolts and nuts, with the bolt heads countersunk into the top surface of the wood.

And I don't have any countersinking drill bits.

Well, I thought, I can improvise.

So I turned over the sawhorses, the better to see and feel how big a bolt I needed for the predrilled holes.

And it hit me: "You silly idiot! All you need is four washers and screws driven up from the underside of the sawhorses into the bottom surface of the 2x4s! That'll hold just fine!

So that's what I did. Though being me, I had to make heavy weather of using the portable drill to drive the screws in. I'm not too proficient at keeping the driver head straight on with the screw, and I end up with metal shavings all over.

Still, they went in well enough to hold.

And now I have a nice wooden overhang at each end of my sawhorses, and I can clamp on my vise!

And my vise can hold my short pieces of window trim while I heat-strip them!

I got three pieces done this afternoon. Probably won't be able to do any more with it till Friday-- tomorrow, I've got other things I have to do.


Sandy said...

Whew! Glad you got your sawhorses done. Now you'll be turning out that trim in record time!

Kate H. said...

Yes, if my gloves keep up. My index finger is really fried because I keep wearing holes in the glove fingertips. Doesn't hurt, the skin's just hard and dry.