Bracket Update

Here’s an update on our little bracket challenge. AndyB, LoganB, JimM, and TimS are still in the running. The rest of us are down for the count.

Winner Loser Bracket King
Kentucky Michigan St AndyB
Michigan St Kentucky AndyB
Kentucky Duke LoganB
Duke Kentucky JimM
Wisconsin Michigan St TimS
Michigan St Wisconsin TimS
Wisconsin Duke TimS
Duke Wisconsin JimM


Cut List Generator

cutlistOne challenge with woodworking projects is figuring how to make the best use of the wood you have available. If you’re working with expensive wood, your decisions can have a dramatic impact on the total cost of your project. I did some quick searching around and found a few solutions, but my favorite (free) one so far is the Free Online Panel Cut Optimizer.

For the Adirondack chair project, I thought it took two 2″x6″x8′ boards and four 2″x8″x8′ boards. Using this tool, I got it down to three 2″x6″x8′ and two 2″x8″x8′. That drops the price by about 20-25%!

The downside is that the cuts aren’t as simple to make. The way I had it originally drawn, I cross cut the wood and then ripped it to the right width. This more efficient use of the wood requires more strategic cuts, but if it saves enough money, it’s worth the effort.


The final step in the back yard and front yard makeover was putting in new plants. We held off last year to spread out the bills and because I was more comfortable installing the new plants at the beginning of the growing season.

Picking plants for the entire yard would normally be a pretty daunting task, but it only took Tim a couple hours to figure out what would look good and walk me through it. He showed up with all the plants and we got them planted in less than three hours. Thank you (again) Tim!

The grass in the back yard heading down to the gate under the magnolia tree never had a chance. The constant wet weather in the winter left a steady stream of water flowing down an area that rarely got sun and it just turned to mud. I gave up on that and decided to bark it over as a walkway down to the gate. I also took the opportunity to make a planter along the fence out to the corner to add a little life to the back yard. You can see that new planter area in the last picture. We had planned ahead for this possibility and there was a drip line stubbed out in the corner.

This week I’ve been working on finishing off the drip irrigation lines and then this weekend I’ll be putting down six yards of bark over the top of all the planter areas. It will look nice and help slow down the weeds.

frontyardplants1 frontyardplants2 backyardplants

Dust Collection Update

About two months ago, I picked up a Dust Deputy and attached it to my shop vac to help control dust while woodworking. I let the 5 gallon bucket under the cyclone fill up completely before emptying it the first time and you see the results below. The bucket is mostly¬†full and the shop vac has almost no trace of dust in it! I did take the filter off anyway and blow it with compressed air to clean it anyway, but it didn’t need it. If I had sucked up this much sawdust without the Dust Deputy, I would have easily gone through two shop vac filters and those things aren’t cheap. I’m very happy with this setup!


Pedometer Phone

motiondatalumiaWith one of the latest updates to my Nokia Lumia Icon, I now have a pedometer with me at all times and I don’t even have to carry a Fitbit! Newer Lumias have a motion sensor in them and one of the features is a step counter. (The steps show up in the Health and Fitness app.) You can also get some pretty cool data about your location and motion in the motion data settings section. WPCentral has a good rundown of the new features there.

As long as this doesn’t drain my battery too much, it makes a lot of sense to have it integrated into the phone. I almost always have it in my pocket anyway so why should I carry a separate device?