Legs, Mortised


Here’s an above view of my four table legs, with rough half-inch mortises routed. The legs are 17 inches (43 cm) tall and 1.75 (4.75 cm) inches square. Look at that beautiful end grain! Note my steel-toed safety ballet flats! What I am proudest of is that I set up the routing machine by myself (after watching an experienced woodworker, again, and checking my setup with our instructor). Also I learned some counter-intuitive things. Wood smoking? Go faster!


Here are my table legs in casual disarray. Observe the authentic surface of the high school woodshop tabletop, my trusty Moleskine notebook, and clipboard of important shop papers! Missing only is a true carpenter’s pencil.


First thing this morning there was line upon line of big waves visible from our window, more than I think I’ve ever seen before. We quickly dressed and brought our coffees down to Esplanade Beach. Here you can see Brian partway down the trail to the (currently nonexistent) beach, with waves washing the riprap and cliff base. The sun is just clearing the houses on the cliff, illuminating a 15- or 20-foot wave. We watched for close to an hour from various vantage points, with a view from Pedro Point, to Mussel Rock, and the Marin headlands in the far distance. Recommend as a good way to start this particular day.

Woods Class


I’ve been taking a wood skills class through adult education at Westmoor High School. My neighbor Lynn got me interested. She’s been taking it for untold semesters. Basically what it gets you is access to a full wood shop, with all the giant, scary full-size machines, an accomplished instructor, and classmates of varying skills and experience.

It is awesome.

For us newbies (and others) our instructor had secured a very good price on a lot of rough lumber called Afzelia. I’d never heard of it before. Turns out it’s a very well-behaving (his words) and interesting wood. We’re all, I mean, we newbies (there are many serial takers of this class) are doing some variation of a table with four legs mortised-and tenoned into rails, and a top as yet to be determined…

Above you can see two of my 1.75-inch square table legs, after being rough cut, jointed, planed, re-sawn, and then planed to dimension. My professional woodworking friends, I beg your forbearance. Observe the color and grain diversity! My sneaking suspicion is that there is a reason this wood is not more widely know, but so far, for me it has been a revelation.


At my level, woods class involves a lot of waiting, for machine time or instructor instructing. Fortunately, there is an awesome library in the classroom.


These tips, from a book I’ll reference next time (Wednesday 6–9pm) are insight and solutions I thought directly helpful for us small-scale builders.

I approached this class with trepidation, but with a hopeful sense of cross-pollination? Miniature wood-working skills absolutely do not apply. Maybe other than artistry, attention to detail, tidiness, respect for sharp blades, and willingness to let glue dry. Anyway, I’m loving it.




For no particular reason, I’m ready to move on to November. I woke this morning directly from a dream to this view of rapidly moving clouds and shadows cast on the ocean. This (next) month’s splash screen caption is a lyric from the band Real Estate’s 2014 song “Had to Hear”. (The full line being, “I don’t need the horizon to tell me where the sky ends —
It’s a subtle landscape where I come from.”) It’s not a great photo, but totally captures my mood, as enhanced by the song. You’re welcome.


Tonight in Wood Skills adult ed class at at Westmoor High School, I noticed this display on one of the machines. We just don’t see enough graphic design as clean and untroubled as this any more. When I reached up to touch the opening between 200 and 300, the metal cleanly sliced my finger tip open. Powermatic!

Equivalents Homage


Inspired by the great 1938 poster in my wood working class, I was motivated to make my own version for picas and points. It’s the traditional measurement system of graphic design, but it also works really well (as I’ve pointed out before) for 1:12 scale building plans. Six picas to the inch, twelve points to a pica. Enjoy :)



Wonderful poster from 1938, hanging in woodshop class. In case, for instance, you needed to know at a glance the decimal equivalent of 43/64. I’m especially fond of the way numeral two is drawn, graceful as a swan.