Faux aging wood with vinegar/steel wool is super unpredictable

Really frustrated how different the color on these is coming out. I wanted something deep and grey/black as shown on the bottom pieces. However the two longer beams just turn really red. I even re-created my formula to have less “rust” color , and without the Tea I normally use. But I’m getting this super red red color. Already sanded it down once, thinking a grey/brown mix would be nice.

I sanded off the bulk of the red, and figured the white /yellow wood => grey. didn’t happen. Unsure how to proceed.

Fairchild 440 Turntable Part 3

Cont from Fairchild 440 Turntable Part 1 & 2 / 3

So I was left with a few problems that need fixing.

  • Tonearm rewire
  • Get new bearing ( 3/8 inch … NOT 1/4 )
  • Adjust height of TT Platter
  • Motor not spinning up quickly

I wish I had video’d this, but it was just too complicated to get it set up. I took it apart, threatened in new wire ( which was easier than expected ).

Major challenge here was getting the bottom brown disk off. At first I tried bending back the pins, but they crshed or snapped. So I used a spanner and rotated the disk… it then slipped off easily.

Stopping here for a few days while I sort out next steps.

Fairchild 440 Turntable Part 1 & 2 / 3

I picked this up at an auction to flip, but when I got it home, it was just so luscious… I really don’t want to get rid of it. Regardless of what I decide though – it needs some fixing up and basic care. There are two major problems to start with – It needs a belt, and the tonearm needs to be rewired. These are both very minor issues, but as I dig in I realize there are additional problems. Part 1 and 2 focus on

  • Replace motor mounts
  • Treat wood
  • Replace belt
  • Don’t fucking lose the bearing, because when you do your life will suck



Unresolved problems:

  • Record speed – unsure if belt is correct size
  • Platter is tipping, I need to tighten up screws on one side
  • Tone arm: solder wires together, possibly replace tonearm wiring
  • Ensure headshell is mounted properly


Time spent: -10
Times shocked: -1
Critical Piece lost: -50
Critical Piece found: +20
Core Fixes Applied: +100
New Fixes Required: -50

Score: <blink>Frenziful</blink>

PART 3: Continued here http://heavymod.com/fairchild-440-turntable-part-3/




Straighten bass guitar neck

Nope, I don’t play the bass, but I picked one up as part of a deal. Opportunity: l2Fix bowed neck.

I started with this video, showing how to straighten the truss rod on a vintage guitar. This one has a slight up-bow ( towards the strings ). This appears to be a common problem as the strings pull on the guitar neck over time. The truss rod is designed to counter this. The more you tighten the truss rod, the more the neck will bow backwards ( down-bow ). This way you can keep the neck straight. in theory.

I followed his instructions:

  1. loosen strings and loosen truss rod nut
  2. put wood blocks on neck

    1. cut blocks to fit between frets. Tried to cut a fret line into a block and almost chopped into my finger. can’t wait to get video camera set up, so you can see all these near mangles on future projects
    2. mark blocks before cutting. this makes sure the same side is used as “up” and keeps width consistent.
  3. clamp.
  4. gently tighten truss rod nut. I’m not sure how tight it should be. so I just did it to where it felt snug without too much torque.
  5. let sit for a few hours




I’ve been looking for a set of 105.4 Grills for a while, but haven’t been able to find any. Due to recent family changes, having grills have gone from “nice to have” to “yeah let’s get that done”. I already have metal grills for the top two drivers, but do not have the grills for the bass drivers.
As you know the KEF 105.4 have an angled face which makes it a bit more of a challenge. Here is an example of how they should look:
Not only are they angled, but they are thicker at the top than at the bottom – which gives it a cool look IMO.

Here is my final!

img_4668 img_4672They aren’t perfect – The angles are a bit off on top, but overall they look pretty solid. note that I changed the design slightly to make them longer than the originals. I don’t like how many of these KEFs end up with discoloration from the grills. If that occured, I wanted it to be as uniform as possible.

I’m going to include a walk through of my steps as I build the prototype…
First I traced the outline of the speaker, then sketched in how I thought the grill should look. I measured the angles using a protractor, and used these angles for my first test cuts.


I struggled to get the angles correct, but ended up going with 81.5 for the face that touches the speaker. For simplicity I decided to not try and force the front angle… however that turned out would be fine for the prototype.


 81.5 degrees is a pretty close match. I used a mitre saw for these test cuts. The mitre saw however can’t cut longer pieces… so for this first piece I cut just the top / bottom, and used my other saw to connect the lines as best I could.
The crossbar ( top and bottom of grill ) had to also be cut at an angle. I couldn’t be as precise with this, and used the bevel feature on my handsaw.
You can see here how one face is cut at about 10 degrees and the other 5 degrees. Better to have it a bit too steep than not steep enough. If it is too steep the top of the crossbar will remain flush, and the rest of it won’t have good contact… but all that will be visible is the top edge, so that is ok. You can see this comes together ok:
I should point out before going further: I made one modification to the usual design – I want my grills to go the full length. I often see older KEF’s with discoloration from the part of the speaker face that was not covered. I want to avoid that.
My next step is to glue the pieces together. This was a bit of a challenge since I need right angles like a picture frame… but the grill frame is right angles only in one dimension. I’m probably not explaining this well…
Here is the whole unit “clamped”…
I’ll explain the weights in a moment. So while the grill has 90 degree angles on the x/y axis, it is not 90 degrees on the z axis like a picture frame or shelving might be. when I would fully clamp down, this would happen:
img_4197img_4201You can see how at the bottom the two pieces don’t meet up
And what I needed was this:
So in the clamped photo above, I have loosened clamps on the top/bottom pieces so they can angle correctly against the concrete. This means the clamps no longer pull the left/right pieces together, so I use the weights to apply that pressure.
I then add on the extensions that will house the clips/pins and again glue.
My next step is to drill the holes for the grill pegs. I ordered some pegs from ebay with these dimensions. They are not an exact fit, but the best I could find. They are maybe .5 MM too small in diameter. I contacted KEF a few times, but was not able to get any info about the original speaker pegs. By wrapping a bit of electrical tape around the peg, It becomes a snug fit. Since I don’t intend to remove these often ( for a few years at least ) this is an ok solution for now.

img_4254I used these screws to test my placement before drilling larger holes.

img_4261 img_4263 img_4264

 Accurate drilling was an issue – being off even by a MM means the frame will be angled slightly. The fact that the pegs had some looseness in the holes helped a bit and gave me some leeway, but I will need to address this for the finals.
img_4265 img_4267

I’m embarrassed to show the grill cloth wrapping – I did a really poor job, but just wanted to get something on to see how it looked :)

You can see a few problems I will need to address …
  • The grill isn’t sitting flush – two of the pegs snapped off – I drilled the pilot hole too small and really had to jam them in there. I think also my drilling being off by a MM or so in different directions put stress on them.
  • There is extra fabric mashed everywhere… This is the first time I’ve done this, so no worries – watched a tutorial on how to do it better. I had been hoping cream would look good.. I wanted to use a vintage grill texture … but I think I will go with black.
  • Better wood – the plywood veneer stripped heavily as I worked it. I will use solid pieces of wood for the finals.
  • Increased precision needed. For the wood pieces, I will re-measure each step… error on the side of too much wood, and sand down the extra MM or so needed for precise alignment. I am unsure how to handle the drill holes. A drill press would be ideal, but I do not have access to one. There are a number of hacks I will try on some scrap wood to see if I can get a good fit. Once I do, I will use that as a jig for the finals.
  • Glue + screws for final assembly.
  • Paint wood to hide it better behind the grill cloth
  • I would like to have curved edges to the peg mounts, but as long as they are hidden well, I won’t worry about it.

Garden Shade… preliminary scrimmage pt 1: The Square


Well, it’s Sunday night, and I should either be working or sleeping. So instead I’m fucking off in the garage.

I need to put together some garden shade over some very lovely raised garden beds. In the past we just hammered in some poles, and strung wire between them. But this year, I thought, lets do something classy.


  • must fit dimensions of garden bed ( 4×8 ft )
  • must be taller than tomatoe plants ( ~5 feet )
  • Only to be used on some of the beds at any given time, due to crop rotation
  • Be nice to move / stack / take it down on off season. Failing that, be nice to have it look good without the Shade cloth on it

Internet searching shows a number of options.. most of them look pretty ghetto. The pic above seemed cool. Most of them look like this:

P1000343 ef478d586b4475ae1b8770bad59b00d0 tomato-trellis-3They use PVC pipe with electrical fittings. I don’t know why, but I fucking hate how these looks. The PVC just seems cheap, and I’m sure it will crack and break in the sun – looking like shit down the road. Also not a lot of options in terms of mobility.

So I’, going to use the initial image as inspiration – basically build something with a light wood frame, that can encircle each bed. It can have either a loose fitting garden shade over the top, or even have the shade stapled to the frame, if we want to keep out birds. Those little fuckers like our tomatoes.

Section A: Shit I can’t do right

coop-internal-frameAs you know, precision is not really my thing. And it seems to me, if I want to do this right, and not have it look like total shit, I’m going to need to build some frames that are actually square. My plan is to make 2 squares per box, for the endcaps, and then link them with 4 longer pieces. I might even have those 4 longer pieces bolt on, so if necessary, I can break these down in the off season. Looking at the picture above, it seems like i can use glue and nails, to create a decent square.

Section B: A Jig

I know from experience if I just try and glue and hammer some wood together, its going to be a failure. What I need is a guide.. a jig that I can just jam the wood into place, slap on glue, and have it be held there sturdy enough to drill the screws in.

The type of joint I’m making is a butt joint. It’s easy and pretty ghetto as far as joints go. It isn’t strong, but I’m hoping my structure will be ok. If needed I can add in some metal l-brackets.

There are a number of tutorials online about butt joints. I don’t remember any of them. What I remember is that I needed to make a jig. Something to make those right angles easy and accurate.

Section C: There’s a hole in the bucket

I’m tired from doing it, and don’t want to sit here writing about it. but basically, to make a jig that makes right angles, you need something that lets you cut at right angles. So I used my square to cobble this together:


This acts as a guide for my hand held saw. See, here I mark what I want to cut, slide this against the wood, and then use it as a guide.

cut cut cut


I’m surprised that it works so well.

IMG_0859-800Don’t worry, that feeling wont last.

Now that I have some small wood sticks, I can start constructing my jig. My goal is to creating something like this.. where the green pieces are my garden shade frame. So I’m going to line the other pieces up, drill them into some MDF, and then whenever I need a right angle, I will just push the wood into here. easy.peasy.

IMG_0861-800Stuff happens. I measure and clamp and drill. The wood keeps moving and I need more clamps, which I dont have, and its sunday at like 2 am, but eventually it sort of happens. I get this:

IMG_0866-800 IMG_0867-800 IMG_0868-800 IMG_0870-800Not too bad! I think. I don’t know, its hard to tell if it works or not. So lets give it a run. I made these 2 inches thick, but my wood is only an inch thick. so I stack two of them for positioning.


Drive in some screws


Which sucks

IMG_0876-800I get new pieces of wood, and this time I drill pilot holes first. I was hoping to avoid that, just because of the additional time needed to swap out bits ever 2 screws.

But my angle looks good. I decide to try and build a mini frame right now. One problem I have is the jig is too large… I trim it down.



And keep working my way around. it works ok, but I run into some issues. For example, all my boards weren’t the same size, and my jig is still too large for the last butt joint.

So I trim it down, square it, clamp it, and drill.IMG_0884-800

Final product.. is well, it’s a rectangle. sort of? IMG_0885-800 I’m not sure how I feel about this. I spent a lot of hours to do this, and the more I think about it, I could probably just buy the fucking jig I needed. I’m afraid to google, because I can probably buy it at home depot.

But at least I know I can make a roughly square frame, which is probably good enough for the project.

And there is no such thing as “wasted time” when procrastinating on a Sunday night!


Cost: low.. $20?: 2 points
Time: shit. 2+ hours: -20
Made a square?: Sort of? +0
R&D: Can probably make a square: +20

OVERALL SCORE: +2!!! Things were made!







After the BATTLE: BIKE BRAKES debacle, I need to focus on something positive, so here is my wrap up of the dresser.


Continued from BATTLE: DRESSER (PART 2)

The last image I posted had the shellac leaving some weird patches on top. I tried resanding/shellacing, but it didnt seem to make much of a difference. So I said fuck it and started putting on the water based poly.

I applied the poly using a foam brush, which I’ve read is not the ideal method. It worked pretty well for the most part, but having since used a brush, I think I like the brush better…

Bubbles are the enemy – here you can see some that formed/hardened. I then had to sand em down, and went a bit too deep. Not a big deal – just adds to the texture.


I have since read that thinning the poly prevents it from trying too fast, and allows the bubbles to pop on their own. Seeing as I was doing this in direct sunlight, in 100 degree summer heat, it makes sense I got bubbles.

What came as a bit of a surprise was the drawers. The previous fixtures left marks on them that the stain did not cover up. Looking closer, I wasn’t happy with the way the stain was absorbed on the front of the drawers – it seemed very patchy. So I sanded it down and re-stained the fronts. Before / After:


All my pretties in a row! You can see how I stained the front/tops/sides of the drawers, but not the insides, back or bottom.


So overall I did 1 coat of stain, and then 2 coats of water based poly. I let each coat dry for 12+ hours, and sanded lightly between coats. I watched the grain raise, and then sanded it down nicely. It was coming together pretty nicely.


Finding replacement for the southwestern style pulls and knobs was not as easy as I thought. The knobs were easy, but the pulls had drill holes that were very wide – 4.25 inches from center to center. The most common pulls are 3 or 3.5 inches. After a few days of looking for decent 4.25 pulls, and failing, I decided to go for a 3.5 inch pull that was visually wider, and would cover up the old 4.25 holes. Here you can see a template that i drilled where the pull will cover the old, wider, holes.



In order to ensure I was drilling the holes evenly, consistently and level, I built a template. First I set a piece of wood over the drawer, and used a pen to mark the existing holes. I then drilled two holes, and to ensure they were the correct size and spacing, put my new screws through BOTH the template and the drawer. This ensured my template would be an exact copy of the drawer.

IMG_5219-1000 IMG_5220-1000

I then measured and centered my new 3.5 inch holes, and drilled! You can see the results in the first template pic… what you can’t see is this mess on the back: The holes were not aligned perfectly..


Since I want to make sure they are level, and because just looking at those misaligned holes makes me angry, I am going to create another template. I Drill a new one.. Test the holes to ensure alignement…



Measure and set my lines, drill the first hole and..


Goddamn it. Off center. Well, I’m determined at this point, so one more time…

Drill, Test, Measure and this time I’ve drawn lines VERY CAREFULLY..bracketing where I should drill. No room for error.

Not sure how I could screw this up, but I did:


Shit is still not level – the drill pulls slightly up or down and once the hole is a bit drilled, I am strong enough to correct it. Clearly drawn lines aren’t gonna do it. I need something less forgiving.


Aw yeahhh. Check that out.

After putting the screws directly into the drawer, I then place two pieces of scrap on each side, bracketing the screws. The gap between the wood is the same as the screws, and the same as my drill bit. I am probably making a giant mistake by working directly on the drawer, but I’m frustrated, and am completely convinced this will work. This is normally a recipe for failure, but I get lucky. I mark the drill holes, and this time the boards force the drill bit inline…


I take off my brackets, and…



Well, almost lovely, until I see that I marred the finish with my clamp. nice one.

IMG_5241-1000 IMG_5242-1000

Remembering that I really REALLY don’t want to screw these drawers up, I go back to my template idea. Now that I have all 4 holes drilled, I can make an accurate template for the other drawers.

The rest of the holes are easy to drill, and I put on the knobs and fixtures.


The stain isn’t what I was originally looking for, but I do like how it turned out. It looks a bit patchy with more wood showing through in the front than I wanted.. but once inside the house, it ends up looking amazing. The color difference seems much more natural.


When trying to decide if/how to finish the inside, I came across that statement that “Amateurs finish the insides”. This seems to contradict what I read – that you HAVE to finish the insides to prevent warping. If you seal the outside of a piece of wood, and don’t seal the inside, the inside will absorb moisture faster. I was also concerned that it would look weird when the drawers were pulled out, if the sides of the drawers were not finished.

My solution was to not stain the inside of the dresser, but just to do a thin layer of spray shellac. I also stained and sealed areas that I thought would be easily seen during normal daily use of the dresser.

I don’t know if this was responsible for the final problem I ran into: Drawers didn’t fit! At first I thought this was because I was putting the drawers into the wrong spots. For future projects – MAKE SURE TO NUMBER THE DRAWERS… so you don’t have to go through that stupid game of trying each drawer in each slot to see where it fits best. This was complicated by the fact that hardly any of them fit perfectly anymore. I had to go back into the dresser and sand down a number of areas. This was pretty tedious work  – sand/try and fit/sand/try and fit. Probably an hour or so of irritating work at the end of the project.


Finished Project: +50
Cost: -40
  Fixtures, stain, poly, brushes. Saved on money because I was gifted the unfinished dresser.
Time: -40 Definitely a few weekends of work
Stain Didn’t turn out how I wanted: -20
Frustration: -10 not too bad really.
Still like how it turned out:+10
Sense of Fulfillment: +40
‘Wife Likes it’ Bonus: +20
Hipster Woodworking Bonus: +.05

Total Score: “Would Stain Again”

Go team!



So here is how it looks after another coat of stain, and a bit of sanding. I found a vacuum attachment really handy for cleaning up the surface, not to mention my sanding blocks ( sponges? )




I applied a coat of shellac to the top, using a rattle spray can. Went back and forth 2-3 times, trying to get an even coloring/coating, but these wet spots were still there. Looking at some other people apply it with industrial tools, it looks like I should be laying down a heavier layer.


Someone suggested that sanding would resolve this issue. I sanded with 220 grit to pull out the little nibs of wood. I didn’t realize this, but sanding is necessary ( as I understand it ) because the water in the dye or stain causes the wood to swell. This pushes up the tiny cut fibers in the wood. Now that our first level of finish has locked them in place, we lightly sand to get them out.

Sanding did not appear to really remove these reflective differences, and I didn’t want to tear through my layer of shellac. If this light sanding doesnt help with the next application, I can sand through it all tomorrow.

UPDATE: I found one of the sites I spoke about yesterday – Turtle and Tails: Dresser Refinishing. I liked how this turned out – it feels more sophisticated then crafty/shabby – which is pretty damn impressive considering what they started with.

Pretty kick ass before and after:


They used a wood stain initially to take out some of the orange, and then did a paint wash on top.


I’ve had this unfinished dresser in my bedroom for several years. The time has come to turn it into something a bit less ugly. Inspiration – these wonderful grey woods:

c13 5192360899_4197855ff3_z grey_in_la_1 like mine lime mine 2 Porcelanosa-Grupo_Revival_Antic-colonial slim_Metal_Grey_1 spr13_002_vienne_nursery

Of particular note is the super sexy RH dresser.

I’m not the only one to try and imitate this finish. Amanda Carol has a little walkthrough  which didn’t tell me quite what I needed to know. Kara Paslay had some helpful info on creating a good oxidized wash  I will try this in the future. Something she pointed out was just how different this works on different wood. This comes into play later. Thrifty and Chic has some good information on using stains and paints. There was a better walkthrough, but of course I’ve lost it now. Here is what I DONT want to do. It just looks painted and gloppy.

I did not take a ” before” pic – what I have instead is a “beginning” pic:



Process so far:

  • Crappy sanding job
  • No pre-treatment
  • Oil based grey stain 1 layer


  • while not as blue as shown in this pic it is still no where close to what I wanted. It looks like I did a shitty job spray painting it primer grey. Instead of the stain looking subtle it just looks splotchy
  • You can see marks where I removed the fixures – they had diamond backplates and its marked the wood

Next step: resand those fronts and get rid of the diamond shapes. Hopefully get rid of some blotchiness as well. Here is a before/after:


I think I removed some of the blotchiness from the middle, and definitely got rid of the diamond shape. Still a far cry from what I was hoping for, but its a step in the right direction. It still feels more shabby-chic than sophisticated. I will probably have to settle for that.

I also re-sanded the top ( this time to 220 grit ) and will try a light reapplication of the stain. Some observations:

  • The color of the wood shows through far more than I thought. one DIYer got a great effect by staining their pine with a brown first, and then doing a grey paint wash on top. IT took out a lot of the orange. gotta find that walkthrough.
  • I still suck at staining. I know pine is harder, but yeah. I’m still learning the ins and outs of why / when / how much to sand, how long to leave the stain on, and just reading about finishing options … its a freaking rabbit hole of information.
  • Despite repeated failings I am still not good at “Measure twice, cut once” When I have time/inclination to work on a project – I tend to dive in and learn as I go. My test samples were done quickly, and when I didn’t get what I wanted, I just started painting.