Sunday, January 06, 2008

workbench on the cheap

i have a couple of projects that i want to work on this year, and they both need a workbench. i didn't really care what kind of bench i made, as long as it was sturdy and cheap.

this summer my dad and i replaced the side door to my house since it was in pretty bad shape. one night while drifting to sleep i realized that an exterior door would make a perfect table top. unfortunately that door was long gone (and it wasn't an easy task. we cut it up into pieces and threw it away week by week.)

i called a couple of places to see if they had a damaged door i could buy cheaply, but no one did. one place did recommend i try habitat for humanity (which i didn't realize had a retail store in portland). so i went one saturday and found a large, extremely heavy exterior door for $15.

originally i was thinking that i could just put a door on cinder blocks and be done. but i decided i could do a little better than that. i looked around on the internet for workbench plans and soon realized i wasn't the first person to think of using a door as a table top. in fact, i found these plans for a table-top bench. they even gave a close up view. the full plans cost $6, but with close of view there was really no reason to buy them. i had no intentions of trying to add drawers. that seemed too hard. but i did want to box the whole thing in and put two doors on it.

so i went to lowes and got 9 2x4s (i had one) for a total of $18. i made the base 2 feet wide, by 5 feet long by (roughly) 3 feet high (so i could cut the 2x4 at 5' and 3'). the only tricky part was connecting the 5' lengths to the sides. i drilled a hole from the side into the 5' piece, then drilled an 1" hole in the side of the 5' piece. i feed a 6.5" bolt through the hole in the side and threaded it through a nut in the 1" hole. that probably makes no sense, which is why i have a picture.

anyhow, in the spirit of keeping this cheap, i boxed in the back of the bench with the panels from our kitchen cabinets (if you look a couple of posts below you will see i removed them all to put in glass). I had enought plywood to do one of the sides, and enough pegboard to do another. out of 1 sheet of particle board i was able to get the bottom, an extra shelf and the two doors. finally, i bolted the door down roughly the same way i bolted the sides together.

here is the final result. all in all it cost about $65 to make. i'm really happy with how sturdy it is. i've already started making the tv stand/stereo holder thingy that i've been thinking about and i don't think i could do it without a bench.

Friday, November 30, 2007

National Solo Album Month: The Get-Arounds

For those of you who may not have known (or read the updates), I decided to participate in National Solo Album Month 2007; the goal of which is to create a full length solo album in a month. The only rules are that the album must be at least 29:09 minutes long, can only contain 1 cover and has been written/recorded and performed by the solo artist.

I had already been writing songs as part of my song of the week exercise, but a 30 minute album in a month meant that I'd have to triple my current rate. What slows me down the most when I record is trying to figure out what to write songs about and my compulsive overdubbing tendencies (an old theory is that if you mask a crappy song with enough instruments it becomes good). To counter this I decided to pretend to be an oldies band with 4 members -- 2 guitarists, a bassist and a drummer. All four members could sing. This stopped too many overdubs (though I did add tambourine to almost every song and claps to a few). Also, being an oldies band meant that I could write every song about a girl.

All in all, I had a pretty good time doing this. I'm pretty happy with how the songs came out. I have to admit that in the 3rd week I got pretty sick of the routine of recording. For the most part it would take me between 30-75 minutes to write the song. Usually in the same night I'd try to record acoustic guitar and all the vocals. The next night I'd record guitar(s), bass and drums. It was pretty much always a 2-day process. This required me to come home from work, eat, record, watch a tv show, record some more, play mario galaxy and go to bed.

So anyway, without farther ado here is The Get-Arounds album: Get Around!

Get Around!

01. I can't be your friend

02. You make me feel alright

03. It's sunny again
I like 1/2 speed drums in the guitar solo on this song.

04. You know what I know
I think this may be one of my favorite songs I've ever recorded.

05. Whenever you're around
This is my least favorite on the album. If I had more time I would have replaced this one. The lyrics seemed clever before I went to bed, but seemed kind of dumb the next morning.

06. Set ourselves free
This song is (sort of) about George Michael and Maeby from Arrested Development.

07. Put your little hand in mine
Probably my second favorite on the album.

08. She doesn't see me

09. Since I met you
I actually cheated on this one. There are 5 vocal parts in the chorus. This is the only song I cheated on. Also, I did the "Get Around" part in this before deciding on a band name. The name was suggested by Curt who had not heard this song.

10. Looking out my window
This one is a little strange, but I feel like it really has an oldies sound to it.

11. What means everything
This one was inspired by black Friday....

Bonus Tracks
As I said, I got pretty sick of doing this at one point. When I got up to 10 songs, I recorded a cover just so I knew that even if I didn't try anymore I would be done. Eventually I recorded 2 mores songs which replaced the cover and the second song I wrote:
I've gotta know now
I wrote this one while I was raking leaves. This was when I expected to be a 60's garage band, not a 60's pop band. I realized my voice didn't work and was happy to keep this off the album.

Purple Toupee -- by They Might be Giants
I have no idea why I choose to cover this song. It didn't turn out very well.

So that's it. I'd be very interested to hear any comments you have on this. Which songs you like, which ones you don't. Does it sound anything like a 60's band? How are the mixes (I can't decided if the vocals are too loud/quiet)?

Thanks for listening...


Monday, November 19, 2007

solo album update #2

i got three more songs done last week, and i've just got drums/guitar left to put on a fourth. that takes the total up to 9. it looks like i'll hit the 30 minute mark with 11 songs. most of them are clocking in at closer to 3 minutes than 2.

the plan is to record through the weekend and then spend next week re-recording parts that i don't like and mixing.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

solo album update

this week i recorded 3 songs for the solo album. i haven't completely abandoned the 60's band idea, but the band is now less like the troggs and more like...i don't know...herman's hermits? the turtles? more pop less rock.

i also decided the band does not have a keyboardist.

i'm now up to 5 songs and right at 13 minutes. so it looks like 11-12 songs should do it. i've decided not to post any more until i'm done. then i'll post everything, including any songs that don't make the cut (if such songs exist).

Sunday, November 04, 2007

november is national solo album month

not only is november national novel writing month is it also national solo album month. i thought i'd give it a try. the only rule is that the album must be at least 29:09 minutes long and contain only 1 cover.

since almost nothing i write is over 2:30 minutes long, my cd will need around 14 tracks. so 3 a week for 4 weeks -- tripling my current pace.

the only way i saw this happening was if i took out all of the overdubs i do and somehow simplified the process of trying to figure out what to write a song about.

my solution was pretend to be a 60s band with 4 (possibly 5) members -- 2 guitarists, a bassist and a drummer (and maybe a keyboardist). all can sing (but they all sound the same).

this also simplifies what to write songs about, as every song will obviously be about a girl.

originally i thought that i wouldn't post any until i was done. but, after recording and re-recording parts i want input. i wrote these 2 songs (neither of which are that great), but i am really not very happy with the sound. they don't sound 60s to me...and i don't know why. i've tried to reverb out most everything...but i listen to these and then i listen to the troggs and the recordings don't sound anything like each other...the troggs sound cool and mine sound stupid...

so, please, leave feedback and give me any suggestions you have. (suggestions for songs would also be appreciated).

she doesn't see me
i gotta know now

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

glass cabinet doors

our house came with a newly remodeled home depot style kitchen. not that we were complaining, but if it were up to us we would have chosen a different style. we just moved from an apartment that had some nice built ins that miyoko used to display her glassware. we thought that adding glass doors to our kitchen might give it a little more character. on a trip to home depot we found that there indeed were glass doors to match our kitchen -- for $240 each.

i recently got a router for my birthday and finally got around to trying to replace the wooden panels with glass.

the first set up i tried was to route the panels out with the router table attachment to my table saw. this would give me a fence to make sure that the routs were straight. the down side (pun intended) was that since i had turn the doors upside down i couldn't see how far i was routing. i ended up with you can see some of the routes were a little too long.

while at work the next day i thought about how i could possibly salvage the door. the first time i routed a side it left a small strip of wood with the outside laminate on it. i decided to chisel out the part i screwed up, put wood filler in the hole and glue little strips of the laminate on the outside. it kind of looks like crap, but it was the best i could do.

after the first door i decided that the router table was a bad idea. for the remaining 5 i clamped a 2x4 to a table and used that as a fence. then i clamped the door what turned out to be 15mm away from the fence. this allowed me to not only see what i was doing, but also get a straight route.

once i had the 2x4 set up and figured out the measurements, the routing went a lot faster. putting the quarter round still took about 30 minutes a door. and mitering the pieces showed off how unsquare my routes were, but it didn't turn out too bad. since i showed you my worst door above, i'll now show you my best.

all in all i spent $62 on glass, $15 on 1/4 round, $8 on a miter box and $.99 on brads. here are some pictures of the finished doors.

Monday, October 15, 2007

song of the week

i've been thinking for awhile about how i thought it would be fun to make up a lot stories/songs about kuma and sing/tell them to my son when he is born. i thought it would be neat to create picture books with cds in the back that have the story in song form.

i'll be kind of surprised if i really go to all that trouble, but i already have 4 kuma songs i can sing him.

and this week makes #5. this is a bit of a fictitious story of how kuma ended up living with me and miyoko called "Hello, my name is Kuma":

hello, my name is kuma

i might take a bit of a break this week. i just got a router and there is a project of a different kind i want to try. plus with the world series coming up, i won't be able to spend much time playing songs.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

(cover) song(s) of the week

perhaps it was nothing more than laziness, but i decided to do cover songs this week (this was also before the short email dialogue curt, todd, and i had about covers). to counter the laziness i did two.

the first one i did was a cover of "This book is so Awesome" by Harry and the Potters. I saw them for the first time earlier this year and it actually inspired me to try my hand at a wizard rock song. that didn't work out so well, but i'm quite happy with how the cover came out:

This book is so awesome (original)

This book is so awesome (cover)

The second song I did was "Come with me, We'll win" off of Boat's new cd. I can't say enough good things about that record. The Stranger be damned -- it did change my life.

Come with me, we'll win (original)

Come with me, we'll win (cover)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

song of the week #7

i don't know...something about this song just grates on my nerves. i tried to write a song for my new neice, ena. i was pretty happy with the way the bins song from a couple of weeks ago turned out, and thought that i'd try to make a song for ena that was similar to that one -- short, upbeat and easy to dance to.

but i crossed some line. while the chorus in the bins song was simple and catchy, the chorus for this song is simple and annoying. i don't know. i might disappoint padgett after telling him last night that i made a song that annoys me. perhaps it isn't that much different than all the other songs...

i've already kind of re-written the song and planned on posting both, but i haven't had a chance to record the new one. so that might be next week's song.

welcome to the family

Friday, September 21, 2007

song of the this week (and last week)

sorry internets, i'm making this week's song span two weeks. i spent last weekend in upstate ny at a wedding and didn't quite have the drive to do two songs in a shortened week.

the inspiration for this song comes from a couple of weeks ago (sept 8th to be exact). i went to see the brunettes play as part of sub pop's night at music fest nw. they were amazing, but since it was a festival setting their set was cut devastatingly short.

the next performer was eugene mirman. i still have issues with why a band should have to cut their set so short so that a stand up comedian can set up...and also as to why a comedian was even part of music festival, but this is neither the time or the place...

so i did my best to pay attention to eugene during the parts that i wasn't fuming about only getting to see 30 minutes of the brunettes. part of his routine was making fun of a book for kids about rock n' roll. from the sounds of it the book encouraged children to imagine what it would be like to be rock stars and at one point encourage them to write songs. one of the song ideas that the book gave, and eugene used as a joke, was called "where is the cat."

that seemed like a more than reasonable song title to me, though it apparently works well as a joke as well. so without further ado:

where is the cat