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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers! (But we do need to contain screws and nails)

During Caryl's recent unplanned lawn-mowing,1 she discovered a fresh burrow in the ditch.  A quick visit to Google to compare burrow features tells us it was most likely dug by a badger.  We set up the game camera to observe the burrow and to confirm the identity of the owner (we'd have been perfectly happy to discover it was dug by a groundhog) for a few nights.  In the time the camera observed the hole, it captured only one video:  a fox investigating the hole for a few seconds.  On the last night we went so far as to leave some food just outside the burrow, and still nothing.  Our conclusion is that a badger dug the hole to get to a ground squirrel or some other prey, and it hasn't set up residence.  So I moved the dirt back into the hole, and so far nothing has dug back out.  So that's that.

Meanwhile, I decided to try to contain the various screws and nails we have in the barn.  They have a proper "home:"
But owing to the necessity of reaching that ledge over the workbench to put them away, they often end up like this:
So Caryl came across a storage unit that consists of jars attached to an octagonal cylinder (I subsequently found some that use a hexagonal cylinder or even a simple 4x4).
If you look closely, the sides of the cylinder appear to be from wood
stock that's thinner than a standard 1x4. Not relevant, just interesting.
Rather than duplicating that storage unit, I decided to be inspired by it.  As with the original, mine is octagonal, but I used 2x4s instead of the thin stuff used in the original, or even 1x4s. Yes, it made it heavier, but I figured all those jars of steel nails & screws would contribute more to the weight than the wood would (I briefly considered the possibility that I might not have been right), and I wanted to give the screws that held the jar lids to the boards something to really grab on to.

So, an octagon. Each corner of an octagon is 45°, so I needed to rip the sides of the 2x4s to make 22.5° angles. I traced a 45° angle from a square onto a scrap piece of 2x4, and then I bisected the angle. (Back in high school drafting class I learned how to bisect a line
segment with a perpendicular line. To bisect the angle, I drew an arc across the angle and then bisected the arc using the same technique to bisect a line segment.) I cut the scrap 2x4 along the bisecting line, and used the resulting 22.5° angle to set the table angle on the Shopsmith. I then ripped 2x4s that'll be the sides of the cylinder so they had beveled edges.  I decided to attach the sides together using a tongue-and-groove joint. The dado blade made quick work of this. (My dad later suggested a spline joint might've been easier. Something to consider if you decide to do this yourself.)

I glued together pairs of those 2x4s, and then two of those pairs made a half of the cylinder, and then two halves glued together made the cylinder.  I clamped it all together with a couple of straps and let it set overnight.

You'll notice that the original had the cylinder sides circumscribing the end caps; I decided to have the end caps fully cover the ends.  So I traced each end of the cylinder onto a 1x10 (yes, one of those 1x10s) to make the end caps,  I marked both the cylinder and the end caps so I knew which edge of each cap's octagon corresponded to which face of the cylinder, which cap went with which end of the cylinder, and which face of each in was inward facing and which was outward facing.  All this was to account for any imperfections that made the cylinder less than a regular octagon (which are unnoticeable on their own but stand out when the end caps are misaligned).

I could have simply screwed the end caps into the sides' end grain (and you'll notice in the original, the sides were screwed into the end caps' end & edge grain), but I decided to try a new (to me) technique.  Pocket joinery.  Someone described a pocket joint as an "engineered toe nail," and I'd say that's a fair description (though I wonder if "toe screw" might be more apt).  It involves drilling a pilot hole for a screw's shaft at an angle from the face to the end of the wood and also a larger diameter hole coaxial with the pilot hole that serves as a countersink for the screw's head.  You can buy a drill bit that does both holes at the same time and a jig to control the motion of a hand-drill.  As for me, I angled the Shopsmith's table, affixed the drill bit chuck, and used it as a horizontal borer, first with the pilot holes and then with the countersink holes.  I've decided that if I do more pocket joinery then I'm at least going to invest in that drill bit.

A couple of steps before painting.  I found the centers of each end cap and drilled holes for the axle with a Forstner bit.  Since my original alignment marks would be covered by the paint, I made some blue paint splotches on the ends of the cylinder and on the inside face of each end cap, let them dry, and then masked them with painter's tape.  Now I painted the whole thing red (with the end caps off) and let it set overnight.  When I removed the painter's tape, I had my alignment marks.

The axle is a portion of an old closet rod.  Using the Shopsmith's belt sander, I made the ends a little thinner than they originally were, so they slipped through the holes I drilled in the end caps.  Just a little further inward, I drilled pilot holes and drove in a couple of nails to act as stops so the cylinder couldn't slide up & down the axle by more than about an eighth of an inch.

Now, there are two reasons I used an old closet rod for the axle.  The foremost reason is because it was available.  The other reason is because rather than being a tabletop design like the original, my storage unit will be attached to the wall and supported by a couple of closet rod brackets that we had laying around (hand, meet glove).  To keep the axle from sliding up and down on the brackets, I needed stops on the ends.  The nail solution from the previous paragraph wouldn't work because the nails might catch on the brackets and not allow rotation.  So instead I used a hole saw to make a couple of discs and drilled a hole for the axle into each.

For the jars, I used 1-pint canning jars (the extras to be used for food canning).  I pre-punched holes in the lids and drove screws through the lids into the cylinder, using washers for a little extra purchase on the lids.  I hung it up, and it works like a charm.

And, yes, the screws add considerably more to the weight than the wood does, even after filling only a few jars.

1unplanned lawn-mowing: She was only going to mow around the Oodelally Egghouse until she ran out of gas.  I drove to the general store and returned with full jerry cans, so she never ran out of gas.

1 comment:

  1. Now that is way cool. Love it and of course the colour :D