Canadian Woodworking

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Blog by Rob Brown
robs reno

In late April I wrote a weekly column titled “The projects I haven’t finished” about an upcoming reno we were planning and how I was hoping to get a few small projects around the house completed before starting it.

Full speed ahead, life goes on.

Our reno is well underway, but sadly I didn’t finish even one of the small tasks I was hoping to. Thankfully, none of those tasks needed to be completed in order for the reno to get going.

Two weeks in and we’re making great progress on the reno. A friend and I are toiling away on making the basement a little more livable, and I’m happy to say the project is going smoothly. We each have our strengths and weaknesses, but between us we’ve got all the skills needed to sort through all the challenges that come our way.

I’m a bit more of the finer-skills guy, with the expertise needed to be accurate and finicky when necessary. The trick for me is to not get too set on being in that mode, as it’s more of a rut when it’s time for rough, “close enough” work to be done. This is where my friend comes in. I’m sure he could be more accurate if he wanted, but he’s very knowledgeable when it comes to knowing when accuracy and extra care is needed, and when it’s just a waste of time and energy.

So far there have been no surprises. I wouldn’t call myself optimistic, though I also wouldn’t say I’m pessimistic, either. I’d call myself a realist, and I’m great with that title. (A short tangent: Optimists often call someone like me, who self-describes as a “realist,” a “pessimist,” but that’s where I jump in with my stance that the two views are very different. These discussions usually end with nobody budging, but such is life.)

Back to the basement. I almost always work alone in my shop, so it’s a whole new ballgame when I have to work shoulder-to-shoulder with someone else. Luckily, we get along well and each day has moved along nicely. It’s helpful having someone around to grab the other end of a 4′ x 8′ sheet of material when needed or hold a weirdly shaped piece of drywall in place until I get a few screws in it. Working with a partner makes some tasks fly along very quickly.

I think with a couple more weeks we’ll have the bulk of the work done and it will be up to me to start work on a wall-to-wall storage unit, make a sliding shoji screen to separate an office from the rest of the area, and make an interesting mirror and small shelving unit as a functional focal point for the bathroom. Those are the jobs I’m looking forward to the most. I just hope I can complete them in a timely manner, as my track record isn’t necessarily great. I think with a project of this scope, and a one we will surely be looking forward to using once it’s complete, I’ll likely buckle down and be able to finish things off nicely.

Think we can do it? I think so. Maybe I’m an optimist after all.

Looking Good

With the old wood panelling and the green rug gone it’s time for insulation and drywall. There’s still sanding and mudding to do, followed by more sanding, but we’re starting to look like we’re winning this reno battle.

robs reno

Out with the Waste

We had a fair number of off-cuts, as the basement ceiling is fairly low, and we had a lot of window and door cut outs. Off to the dump!

Out with the Waste

Puzzle boxes

Mark Salusbury, who writes for us and often sends me cool woodworking tidbits, sent me this short video showcasing a few extremely intricate puzzle boxes. I haven’t a clue how they’re made, or even how the maker came up with them, but they’re sure worth checking out.

I guess my mind just doesn’t work as mathematically or scientifically as the maker of these boxes. Have you seen any other puzzles similar to these in woodworking? Share a link in the comments section.

Intricate Work

Almost the opposite of what we’re doing in the basement are these boxes, which showcase some incredibly intricate and exacting craftsmanship.

intricate puzzle box
Last modified: June 22, 2022

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches

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