For years my efforts have been scattered between various projects. I have too many things going on at once and it’s hard to keep it all straight and get anything meaningful done. When I stop to think about it, I want to focus on one thing at a time and make bigger, more awesome things happen, but I have a few major areas of interest with little overlap and I tend to go around in circles. Until now I’ve just dealt with it and forced my way through bouts of disinterest, but after watching Adam Savage’s speech at Maker Faire San Mateo 2011 along with a few other coinciding events I’ve been driven to re-evaluate the things I’m doing and why I’m doing them.
When people put up an encrypted text puzzle online it is frequently a simple substitution cipher whereby each letter stands for a different letter and the plaintext is revealed by discovering the correct replacements for each letter. I always wondered if it was possible to automatically decrypt these puzzles by analyzing the frequency with which each character appears and compare that to the frequency of each character in the english language. (Obviously I’m only decrypting english text, otherwise how would I know when it’s right? Regardless, this code will work equally well for any language.) Recently I decided to test the theory. The code is after the jump.
So obviously I haven’t kept up with my thing-a-day blog posts. I’ve still been doing some things but not every day, and all those knitting days during the weeks were disenchanting. I’ve decided to cover everything in one big wrap up post for the month.
I “finished” the secret cabinet project. The cabinet is an “emergency documentation box” for Pumping Station: One. It’s mounted near the soon to be new home for Electric Avenue in a fairly prominent place and contains a flip video camera graciously donated by Anne Petersen. Now there’s no excuse to not have video of the culmination of your awesome project. This camera really couldn’t be any easier to use, so I hope this box helps out the space. I said it’s “finished” because I really just got tired of working on it and moved on. There should be some lettering on the window but I’ll add it later.
I implemented the scary sharp tool sharpening system and sharpened a chisel and a hand plane. I sharpened them down to 1000 grit sandpaper and I intended to go down to 2000 but after seeing how amazing the results are with 1000 I don’t think it’s necessary.
I produced a video of a Sun Jar for Element14. They approached PS:One a while back to send someone and record some of our projects and they got a good response from the video, so they asked for more. I hope it’s the first of a long series.
I and several other members built three workbenches for the new shop in Pumping Station: One. It’s always fun to do those kind of large scale builds, but we could certainly use more tools so more people can work at once.
I still have plenty more projects on my list of stuff I could do this month and a few more cool things have popped up, so keep an eye out for weekend projects in March!
Mondays are when the PSOne knitting group meets, so I went and put some rows on my scarf. I also put the last bits of paint on my cabinet. One more day left on that project until I reveal what it’s for!
After examining the dry paint from yesterday I firmly believe the foam roller is the way to go. I think I could sand that out in no time and get a nice finish. However, I think I would need to prep the wood better than I did to make this particular piece look as nice as I want, so it’s just not going to happen this time. Oh well, another project!
I had a very productive maker day today to make up for all the knitting throughout the week. First, I installed the new bearing on the metal lathe’s lead screw. It seems to be working much better now, but the change gears have been modified since I tested it before. I’ll have to change it back to absolutely confirm that it was an issue with that bearing, but for now it’s working well.
On the left of the lathe you can see my second project of the day. We have several brushes and tools that go with the lathe and they usually just lay in the chip tray or on the workbench. I made this rack for some of the tools and brushes to get the area more organized. It’s just some 1 inch holes in a scrap of 2×4, but it does the job well enough.
Finally, I put what is hopefully the last coat of paint on the secret cabinet. Like I said in the last post, I think my sanding and use of a brush was a problem. I got a sander that could take my higher grit sandpaper and used some 400 on it to smooth out the painted faces. It worked very well, some other people commented that it feels like plastic rather than wood. I think I probably should have started even lower than 400, but 400 did the job. I also got a foam roller and did most of the painting with that. It left a nice finish and any bubbling that occurred during application had dissipated by the time I got back around to that side to examine it. I still had to use the brush on the inner corners, but it’s greatly reduced. Maybe that’s what those foam brushes are for. Anyway, this isn’t actually the last application of paint because the frame for the door is painted on both sides. I’ll have to get the other side painted tomorrow. However, this is hopefully the last time I paint over existing paint.
I put another coat of paint on the secret cabinet project. The reason this is taking so long is that I’d like to get it smoothed out to a mirror finish. I’m starting to get frustrated with that though. I keep putting on more paint and sanding but I don’t think I’m making any progress. Here are some of the problems I think I’m having:
- I’m using a paint brush. When I bought the paint I asked the Home Depot guy what the best way to get a really smooth finish was. He said either a Purdy brand brush or a foam roller. I went with the brush since the cabinet is small and the tray is more of a hassle. I think that was a mistake. A brush will always leave stroke marks in the surface, and that has to be sanded out. I’m going to switch to a foam roller tomorrow.
- I’m not sanding properly. I don’t know what grit of paper to use at which level of roughness, and committing the elbow grease to try something for it to be a failure is eating up too much time. I’m going to get a sander and try some lower grits.
Due to an explosion of work this week I was unable to do any making besides scarf knitting on the weeknights. I’ve made some nice progress on the black portion of the scarf and I’m going faster than I used to. Maybe I’ll actually be done with it in time to put it away in a box for next winter!
I’m crunched at work lately but I made time to knit for a while again. Hopefully I can finish this scarf by the end of February. I also bought some new yarn and needles to make the next project go a bit faster.
Work crushed me today and I had a lot of other stuff to do so I just did some knitting again tonight. I feel like I’m making good progress on the scarf but there’s just a ton of rows to go through. No picture today, it looks pretty much the same as last time.