Ruminations, Philosophy, and Workshop Antics.......... #31: Function, only Function

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Blog entry by Jim Bertelson posted 02-08-2013 10:03 PM 2397 reads 0 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 30: Woodworking Vise – Upside Down Mount, Shrouded Mechanics – What’s with that? Part 31 of Ruminations, Philosophy, and Workshop Antics.......... series no next part

. Function, only Function…..another episode of….Sherie and Bubba Jim. Pounding sense into your man, one nail at a time.

Now you are thinking that picture is a gag. Sheer fantasy….”How silly could anyone be?”, you say.

Well, believe it or not, that comical looking construct (using the term loosely) has been working for over a year. OVER A YEAR, MIND YOU.

This is actually the working internet connectivity cabinet, up until today. Yup, something to be proud of.

No, that is not a pizza box, what do you take me for? That is the box for a pizza STONE…... pizza not included. No, not a stoned pizza.

So the next thing that rolls from your tongue, oiled with the arrogance of a true woodworker…...
.....on a woodworking forum no less…or perhaps greased by a french fry or two as you watch all too serious adults brutalize each other over a misshapen ball of pigskin (talk about being silly), whilst multitasking with your iPad during the commercials….....

What’s this bawdy piece of junk got to do with woodworking? Don’t you have respect for the forum rules?”, as you glance to see if the commercial is done.

But, I retort, “Everything there is a wood product, probably much of it made from recycled stuff!” (I know what you are thinking, let’s not go there, recycled toilet paper….really?”)

A little explanation, perhaps…..........

This is our vacation house, thousands of miles from home…...
...a place we bought about 2 years ago, and there was no shop, no tools, no junk box, no cutoffs here. You ever moved into a place, bringing nothing with you except a couple of suitcases of clothes? Just starting from scratch?

That’s what happened here. There was nothing but my voice echoing from the walls of empty rooms, and the fearsome posturing of the current inhabitants, a large colony of spiders, who valiantly fought, and they succeeded, to maintain their claim of possession.

I have since named this home the Spider House in honor of their heroism and tenacity…..they live here, we just visit from time to time.

So with the materials at hand, my trusty portable computer and Sketchup, I go to work, and carefully design this intricate…...and might I say, very functional…...electronics cabinet.

Truly original and, well, talk about using reclaimed materials! And this was no 10 minute project. This was a two minute project!

First of all, note the construction materials, partially prefabricated…...

The cylindrical columns are…hmmm…circular torsion boxes with concentric internal bracing in a continuous sheet, perforated for expansion and contraction at regular intervals, which also allows some customization as to diameter of the column.

I was a little distressed in having one of the columns last year’s model, but that’s what was available. The shelves, particularly light weight structures, were intended to be more normal torsion boxes, but I never got around to installing the internal bracing. Got distracted by more immediate problems, and oh well, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Right?

OK, OK, OK…..”What’s this all about?”, you say, “are you really bragging about this abomination snatched from the jaws of the nearest dumpster?”

At this point, I get rescued….. ... once again, by my lovely bride Sherie, who starts eyeing this truly ingenious edifice…and smartly observes…..”the toilet paper in that thing is going to fall apart from dry rot soon….....and if you made a real cabinet (and since we are running low on toilet paper) it would avoid a shopping trip!”

Now we are talking real money.

So, I get’s the point, finally…...and besides, now you will learn why we vacation here.

I get to once again, make a 30 mile trip to the Corporate Headquarters of Grizzly in Bellingham, WA, to buy some inexpensive and useless piece of gear for the project, while stroking the gleaming big green machines….dreaming I might own another one someday. They have a zillion wood and metal working machines on display. And lurking in their warehouse, are most of the items in their vast catalog of stuff, including thousands of things not bearing the Grizzly brand name.

The average LJ could spend his whole family inheritance here in just about 15 minutes. I hope to demonstrate that someday, in a suicidal act of indulgence. Suicidal, because remember, the big hammer in this family, is Sherie.

OK, so I gather what plywood I have in the garage shop, (unfortunately, too late, I find the 1/2” piece is distinctly inferior and has invisible strange markings, only coming to light after a coat of Watco) and buy some edge banding. I then proceed to make the first presentable project using the slowly growing vacation home shop. Not much room in the garage, so it will always be small.

Ta da….....the new internet cabinet… is just about a 12 inch cube in size.

Finished with medium walnut Watco to match some nearby furniture.

It is built of mostly 3/4” birch ply, butt joints, nails, and glue. It is designed to be heavy, because some of the cables and wires are rigid and would tend to pull the cabinet askew. No dadoes or rabbets, partly because I don’t have a table saw here, and no router table yet as well. But it is more than strong enough, and has the weight to do its job.

Thanks for viewing, and hopefully I will have another post in the next week or two, when I get home….. OK, off to find Sherie, for another piece of her sharp witted wisdom, and another honey-do of course.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

28 comments so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3049 days

#1 posted 02-08-2013 10:15 PM

I have some interesting pieces like that also.

Most were built hurriedly, some from repurposed wood, some from new wood, some it was repurposed from repurposed, repurposed, repurposed wood and has since been repurposed.

The toilet paper rollers come in handy for many things.

My wife has a vacuum cleaner accessory called a “Lint Lizard” (No, NOT Lot Lizard), that’s a different kind of vacuum.
The attachment point to the vacuum hose broke so I glued a toilet paper roller on it and it’s been working for a year without (t)issue.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View lew's profile


12899 posts in 4318 days

#2 posted 02-08-2013 10:20 PM

Here’s the thing..
We know the rounded corners of the columns will suppress the spurious oscillations for the 802.11 wireless RF signals as well as provide shock mounting to avoid vibrations that interfere with transmission continuity.
Well placed cabling is a myth perpetuated by the zip tie company and only contribute to the electromagnetic cross talk inherent in parallel runs.
The coating on the prefabricated shelves, contributed to the reflective characteristics of the antenna on the AP. Thus increasing the effective range of the circular reception pattern.
All in all, Jim, the new one looks nice but does it really improve the operation of your networK? I think not ;^)

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View stefang's profile


16862 posts in 3896 days

#3 posted 02-08-2013 10:41 PM

I’m at a loss for words (almost). Jim, I just can’t understand you replacing a work of art, that could have been created by Andy Warhol himself, with such a standard woodworking solution. It seems to me that you have forgotten that the world has been turned upside down since our youth. The wooden shelves do look well constructed, nicely finished and a lot neater, I’ll give you that, but don’t expect a visit from Home & Gardens anytime soon!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3677 days

#4 posted 02-08-2013 11:05 PM

the first shelf unit was more beautyfull looking than that sh…brown dingything
you have used valueble time on instead of relaxing on the porch with a beer in one hand
and turning steaks on the BBQ with the other
good to see you still can get out of control when tools jumping into your hands though we prefure
you consult L J before making any projects ….. you very well know we love to confuse and delay you
in the dession stage …. a project like this have to take atleast three month and minimum one new tool
brought to the shop
I can only say goood luck with trying to make the impossiple mission of shorten the neverending honey to do list

take care


View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3866 days

#5 posted 02-08-2013 11:29 PM

well i have several comments here, one is i understood everything lew said…..the other is one of the rolls is upside down, and three, im glad to see your using double ply and not single, you being a dr and all…using your hands on others quite often…butt, now with this new wood working have added 4 rolls to your inventory, now the guy who does the charmin commercial would not be happy with your choice of TP and not the kind that people sleep in…...butt, im glad to see some wood working coming from your sector of the world, and the mention of your home away from home being lacking of tools, is not a lumberjock approved shop, so, spend some time while your there, and purchase a table saw….a nice saw stop would be required for a dr who relies on his hands so he can continue to put the bacon on the table…which the mention of has made me hungry and i must go…..glad your on vacation…relax, and have a cold one, cause you have earned it my friend.

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1590 posts in 4127 days

#6 posted 02-09-2013 12:32 AM

Oh Jim, I have missed your writings but no more! You definitely deserve a trip to Grizzly after this:) Hope you and Sherie are enjoying some time off in LaConner.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3727 days

#7 posted 02-09-2013 12:50 AM

Yup, no question but toilet paper begs for more elegant utilization than it has been purposed for. Your application is distinctly original, and I will keep it in mind for future application…...........

Thanks for viewing…...

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10809 posts in 4615 days

#8 posted 02-09-2013 01:01 AM

Insulation on a ROLL! LOL

Nice substitution…!! LOL


Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3727 days

#9 posted 02-09-2013 01:04 AM

Definite degradation of signal with the new one. I think you missed the amplification effect of the circular wave guide properties inherent in the internal spiral configuration of the columns. Your conclusions however, are sound, and I have saved your analysis for use in future designs.

The new one is pretty subdued and bland, didn’t really want to try to equal the flamboyance of the original….....

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3727 days

#10 posted 02-09-2013 01:16 AM

I was quite certain the original cabinet was going to get all the attention, alas, but dry rot was a consideration after over a year. I actually straightened things out a bit before taking the picture, it was pretty sorry looking prior to that! The replacement is quite blah, but I just needed to make it presentable and sturdy, it just sits in the corner of the bedroom, hidden by the dresser, and is ignored.

Hope your snow has melted, and spring is around the corner. Anchorage is still in the grip of winter…...

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3727 days

#11 posted 02-09-2013 01:26 AM

I actually did design the new one with Sketchup back in October, and then kind of forgot about it until we arrived back in La Conner, and there sat the printed design on the workbench. We haven’t been here for almost 4 months.

Sherie had some major surgery on both the upper and lower jaws, including joint replacements and all kinds of things. There are only about 300 of the surgeries performed world wide per year, so we had to travel down to Dallas, Texas, and that delayed our vacation time. She is doing very well, but will not fully recover for nearly a year.

But we will be back in exactly two months and will stay for over two weeks. Have another project partially done here, but it is a shop thing. Back at home, I am nearly finished with a more ambitious and unique shop project…...should blog on it in a week or two…......

Hope all is well in Aero…........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3727 days

#12 posted 02-09-2013 01:33 AM

Trying to get the shop up to LJ specifications, butt I am just not here long enough. Actually, I have a decent bandsaw and miter saw. Butt I am looking at the possibility of shoe horning in a smallish table saw….....hard to work without the dado stack. This was a short vacation, but next one which will be much longer I may be able to add more capabilities to the shop. At this time I rely on a plunge saw for ripping, it works, butt it is a little slow on the setup…........

Love all the projects you are making. Being busy with work stuff, and I wasn’t commenting much, butt that flurry of work activity is coming to an end, thankfully.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4269 posts in 3727 days

#13 posted 02-09-2013 01:39 AM

We really enjoy it here, and are looking forward to a longer vacation in April. My youngest daughter and her husband will join us for about 5 days…..we can plan on a lot laughing and general good time. They are both surgeons so the conversation does tend to run to the medical side…....but definitely humorous, so it is a good outlet for all of us.

My first serious project here will be a couple of speaker stands, so they will be definitely in view. I won’t have jointer-planer capabilities here, but I think I can get around that. The vertical piece will be a bandsaw object, which should be fun. I will make it in pine first, with the final in cherry. I will be looking for design ideas, so it should be a good LJ project. Probably won’t happen until this summer.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View patron's profile


13668 posts in 3903 days

#14 posted 02-09-2013 01:41 AM

a timely save doc

if the tp was going to rot
it may be in it’s half life now

caution using it
it may be weaker
than it looks

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View oldnovice's profile


7511 posts in 3930 days

#15 posted 02-09-2013 01:44 AM

When life gives you toilet paper make an IT closet. After all, it works in water closets too!

I think the final solution is better, functional, and more eye appealing!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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