Pork & chicken grilled and smoked
Greg and I have talked about doing a woodworking project for some time now. Originally we landed on doing a picnic table together, since those are simple to do and relatively inexpensive.
Recently he let me know he’d rather do a bench for the front of their house, as a gift for Colleen. Searching my materials for project plans I found a couple of designs he might like. He chose a cute bench with heart-shaped cut-outs in the legs.
Upon consultation with Colleen he ditched putting the cutouts on the seat back (more comfortable that way imho).
Our first order of business was to pick out the lumber for the project. I had a bunch of 1×4 scraps in the pine that I could have planed down to look real nice. However, there were tiny nail holes we’d have to putty in a bit before staining or painting the bench. Greg decided it’d be best to use new wood for the project, never a poor choice. Ace Hardware here in town had all we needed.
Back at the workshop we went over tool safety before jumping in. This is, obviously, an important step. I have a healthy respect for the danger my tools could be and passed that impression on to Greg. We talked about safety goggles, focus when cutting, awareness of where your hands are, kickback, etc. We did a few test cuts on the table and mitre saws (our two main workhorses for the project) then took off.
Table saw use can help produce very precise cuts. I made a stop block so we could repeat the cut (14 cuts had the same length). Some of the dimensional lumber he cut on the mitre saw. Other than a couple of times where I inadvertently did so (out of easily 50+ cuts) Greg made the cut.
Next, how to cut out the heart pattern?? I didn’t have my jig saw here at Lapine, so had to use a tool I’ve only used once before: a scroll saw. Scroll saws are wonderful for intricate patterns on wood (intarsia comes to mind). However, they take a bit of practice getting the feel of the blade, the pull of the wood, and so on. After a few gaffes on my part, Greg was ready to roll and do some test cuts. He did superbly in my opinion, better than I could have truth be told.
In case you are wondering, Shop Dawg (aka McKinley) was helping the whole way like he normally does
Assembly came next. This is a simple, yet tedious, part of any woodworking project. Function, stability, precision and symmetry are key concepts. If you lay out your screw holes correctly you almost don’t need to putty them in. Note: I have several projects where I’ve done just that and they look good.
So, in phases, we put the bench together.
The intrepid craftsmen basking in the glow of victory…
It was a wonderful project, and I’m grateful Greg (and Colleen took the time to make it happen. I think the next one we do won’t have such an aggressive timetable, so we can relax and visit more in the middle of it. I’m sure they will get many years of enjoyment out of the bench…and it looks awesome!
To see all the images posted head to
As you can see, things are in a bit of disarray here. I’m pretending it’s camping indoors so that makes it actually a little fun!
http://bible.us/Ps17.15.NLT Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied. I saw this verse this morning and it really spoke to me. Waking up with Him, and being *satisfied*. Awesome.
Well, I’m finally taking the plunge and getting a “real phone”. I used to have a personal cell 3+ years ago, but I very very rarely used it. 95% of my assignments in the Army from then until whenever I retire will have a Blackberry associated with the responsibilities. The BB is okay for quick checks of email and calendar events, but absolutely bites when compared to a real smart phone. This is partially due to how the Federal Gov’t hamstrings our devices for security sake.
The trip back to the NW will be an, ahem, Grand Adventure! (couldn’t resist) so having a device with phone capabilities, GPS, music playing, and more will be essential. Here’s a pic of the model I’m picking up:
The specs are pretty impressive, with prices very comparable to an iPhone 4xyz. $199 for the base model (w/2 year plan) and $249 for the 32G storage higher end model (2 yr plan). Both models are a dual core processor, with 2G of RAM. I’m getting the 32G model…just $50 more but should last me quite a while. The GS3 also has a mini-SD expansion card slot to allow additional storage up to 32G more, for a total of 64G…yowza! Note: can’t do that with the iPhone 4 series phones btw.
I’m partial to the Android OS because it allows a geek-in-the-making like me to fundamentally tweak settings if I want. My tablet is also an Android device, so app purchases for it will be transferable to the phone.
The phone on the Verizon network isn’t available until 11 July, cutting it close for my departure to the NW but I should be okay.
I also ordered a very cool device that is highly rated on Amazon.com This device is a Bluetooth wireless speaker. It has up to a 10 hour charge, and user reviews say the sound quality is really very good. I had a hard time believing that at first because my BT headsets in the past were just awful for sound quality. But this Logitech miniboombox (google it) can crank and has an insanely small form factor (less than the length of a dollar bill, and about 3 thin smart phones high). I can’t wait for it to arrive, and pair it with my tablet’s BT for a test run.
You may have noticed a new theme for GrandAdventure.net Although I thought the old one was perfectly fine, the company that published it online sent me an email directing me to remove the link at the bottom towards their site. This is odd, because the Terms of Service for 99% of the free templates online stipulate you *must* keep their link on. Apparently Google changed its search rules.
I don’t know what they could/would have done but I tried to remove their stuff from the footer of the page template. When I did so it also erased a gray background that went 4/5 up a normal page, making Titles and others things pretty much unreadable. The cool thing about WordPress (WP) is that a goof like me can have a professional looking website. The bad thing is that I’m at the mercy of the template’s coding (without me pulling out the books…ugh, why would I do that??).
I like the outdoor theme as my heart and soul belong to Central Oregon, and it represents well my reason for having this site. Please enjoy the new theme…as long as I’m able to have it without interference!
I finished up one of my planned projects for this summer. Shell and I have branched out into using our smoker(s)…there is one at Texas, one at Lapine), with some success. We use the smoker exclusively for our briskets now, and they turn out really tasty. A brisket takes about 8 hours of time in the smoker after an overnight sitting in the rub, but its worth it when they are done. Shelley has done to perfection some smoked oysters. I’ve done pork.
One of the things I miss about our original smoker at Lapine is that I could get it cold enough to smoke cheese and hotdogs. It involves taking the box the smoker came in, cutting some holes in the cardboard, and placing it on top of the smoker. The lid for that style (Lil Chief) slides off. Just put some support slats so the rack has an open base structure and you are good to go with an enclosure that captures the smoke from the burner. It is far enough from the direct heat that cheese doesn’t immediately melt.
I decided to create something like that for my propane smoker here in TX. To get smoke to an upper chamber I’d need to cut a hole in the top of the smoker, but I’d need the ability to close off that hole when I’m not doing cheeses, jerky, or cutlets, etc. The extension chamber would need a hole in the bottom (so the smoke would flow, duh). I wanted a thermometer for the top chamber to track seepage of heat from below. And I’d need a throw-away additional base to go underneath. The more I’d use this setup the more burnt/singed the base would get. Using a separate wood base that touches the metal directly would extend the life of the upper chamber.
I did all of this with 90% of wood or hardware I had laying around in my shop here. The only things I purchased were mini-vents for the upper chamber, and the BBQ replacement thermometer.
I have a couple of modifications I will make when we get to the NW. First, it needs a simple handle for the door. I may do that if I get bored over the next few weeks. Second, I’m not totally happy with the cooking surface/grate system the cheese is on. Its a lightweight aluminum material, roughly the thickness of a soda can. To compensate I added some extra wood supports for each area. Lastly, I think it needs more mini-vents…the thing is quite air tight even with one vent open. I misjudged the smoke density for my first batch of the device (used two chip trays and should use one).
The lower chamber got pretty hot. The cheese melted a bit, and the hotdogs cooked a bit (they shouldn’t cook if the temp is right). The cheese tasted very good, albeit a little smokey. The hotdogs were a disappointment, but probably I bought *really high quality dogs* instead of cheapo ones. Yep, the premium beef dogs don’t do well in the smoke.
I can compensate for the melting of the cheese. After the first chip tray (hickory btw) the cheese looked like the cubes I cut them into. Also, and this is very exciting imho, the cheese/smoker extension setup can be effectively used *simultaneously* with brisket operations. This is awesome.