Sunday, May 3, 2015

Crown molding install

I spent quite a bit of time last month installing crown molding for my wife, and I thought I'd show some of the kludges I've come up with.

One of the problems is attaching the crown molding to brick.  My nailgun isn't going to blow nails through brick.  So I cut triangles (sorta) out of a 2x4 and used Liquid Nails to attach it to the brick.  The picture to the left is the first backing block I put up.  I traced the angle from the back of the molding and then cut down that line.  I let the Liquid Nails set overnight, and then nailed the molding to that.

Our crown molding is actually 3 pieces.  The picture above is just the actual crown.  Below that, I put a row of dental molding, and shoe molding above.  I needed to attach the dental to the brick directly, but it and/or the brick wasn't straight and it wouldn't hold by itself long enough for the Liquid Nails to set.  The picture to the right is the first way I tried to hold it in place overnight.  I have a 1x4 clamped to the top of the ladder's feet, and that is pressing against the dental molding, so the feet aren't quite touching the brick.  It only worked well enough to hold one side, though.  When I took the ladder off the next day, the left side came loose again.  So I found another way.
There was just enough brick ledge to get a clamp on, and then I clamped the 1x4 to the first clamp.  This way I could put pressure right where I wanted it, and put more controlled pressure than the leaning ladder anyway.

The first problem I had though, was just trying to get the crown molding up to the ceiling.  16 foot segments are just too long, and our ceiling isn't straight, either.  Somehow, I've lost all of the photos, but the first thing I tried was standing the ladder next to the wall and clamping the 1x4 at an angle.  The notch you see in the last held the bottom of the crown, and let me put it at the right height.  But it never quite worked right (which turned out to be mostly the crooked ceiling) so I found another way. 
First, I bought these hooks from Lee Valley.  There are other hooks, but these are adjustable.  I didn't actually use the adjustment much, but it helped a couple of times.  But they are a LOT more expensive than the others, so you'd probably do fine buying the others.  Or just making your own; I saw one made out of a coat hanger.  Anyway, I bought 4 of these, and that let me get the molding much straighter and closer to correct. 
Then, I found the image to the right.  Once I made one for the molding I was installing, I was able to get the molding as close to the correct angle as possible.  With my ceilings, it still didn't make it perfect, but it was much better than just going by feel against the wall.

Monday, April 20, 2015

New Crank for the Tablesaw

I have a 9 inch Craftsman tablesaw and broke the crank off that adjusts the height of the blade.  It broke apart where the shaft goes into the center, so there wasn't much hope of repairing it.  So I decided to build a new one.
The shaft is basically half an inch, so I took a half-inch nut and drilled out the threads with a half-inch drill.  It's too small to clamp, so I just held the nut in place with a pair of locking pliers.  My drill press isn't that powerful, so I had plenty of leverage to stop the drill and wasn't worried about it yanking the pliers out of my hand.  And it did lock up several times, as the drill bit would catch on the threads.  Then I took a 5/32 drill and drilled through one flat side of the nut.  The shaft has a flat side, and the original handle had a flat spot in the hole.  Then I threaded that hole for 10-32 for a set screw.

I used the same half-inch drill bit to drill through the center of a quarter-inch steel plate.  The plate is 5 inches across, which is about the same diameter as the original crank body.  I picked up the steel plate out of a shapes bin at  If it was a "shape", it would have cost more, but it has a notch on the edge.  The employee said that made it a scrap piece.  I don't know if the notch was made to mark it as scrap, or was a mistake while cutting a circle, so it ended up as scrap.  Either way, I got it at the scrap price.  I put a half-inch steel rod through the plate and the nut (it's one of the ones I used to wind my garage door spring when I had to install a new one) and then welded the nut to the plate.  I welded every side except the one drilled for the set screw, because I didn't want to risk fouling the threads. 

I pulled the original handle off the crank and drilled a hole for it near the outer edge.  I put the original lock washer (I don't know that that is what it is officially called.  It's shaped like an internal tooth lock washer, but the teeth are smaller than the shaft.  So when you push it on, the teeth bend and lock against the shaft, making it difficult to take back apart)back on.  The handle shaft is too long, since my plate is thinner than the original crank body, so I put an oversize nut on the shaft to use as a spacer.

Overall, it works pretty well.  The handle is a bit loose, probably because I messed up the lock washer taking it off, so I'll probably replace it with a true bolt.  And I really need to cut a hole through the plate large enough to fit an allen wrench or something through for the set screw.  There isn't much clearance between the plate and the saw, so getting a screwdriver back there is a pain.  But it does it's job, and that's what counts.

Bee Update

Last week, we brought home a package of bees and a "nuc".  The package mostly disappeared, and I tore up a swarm I didn't even know we had, thinking it was the rest of the package.

Well, the swarm stuck around despite my disruption, and is now bringing in pollen.  That means they have larvae to feed, and can be moved into an official hive.  The brood makes them less likely to abandon a hive, so some people suggest waiting until they are bringing in pollen before moving them, or they may decide to find another home.

The package is really small, with very little outside activity, but is at least alive.  Tomorrow, I'll open it up and make sure the queen is free and see if she is laying.

The nuc is doing fine and gaining strength.

And I think I caught another swarm in my other bait hive yesterday.  I didn't get a chance to get a good look, but it looked like hive activity, not just scouts.

I built the bait hives, but didn't REALLY expect to get any swarms, so I don't currently have enough equipment or stands for 4 full hives.  I guess I've got to get to Lowe's and buy some wood.