August 25, 2014

New Shelf, Crow Eating Habits, and Finger...

where shelf will go_420 IMG_8246.JPG

OK... That's where a chunk of this board will ultimately rest...

board 420 IMG_8247.JPG

But more of that later... On to the crows and their eating habits... Wow... Where to begin? Let's see... I've been watching crows now for a good five years, and I'm finally beginning to pick up some of their eating habits. Here are four (and a few ain't so pretty...):

  • First, crows prefer meat... Yeah, you can give them bread and popcorn, but they really get down with stuff like 'Haw Dawgs' and chicken...
  • You can tell when a crow has been sleeping and is now ready to eat because it will stand on one foot, stretch a wing, and yawn... No joke
  • Beak cleaning is a pre-dine must for the buggers... Look for beak swiping...
  • And lastly, crow defecation is extremely common immediately before I feed them. I don't know whether this is a gastrointestinal purging, a social act, or maybe it's just their way of interacting with me personally... (Hey! I've had dinner dates who upon meeting me spontaneously had to go, so...)
Now, let's get back to the shelf... I'm going to let you in one one fantastic little carpenter's secret... There will be times when you're trying to put up a level shelf, but one of the brackets mysteriously shifts up or down by an eighth. I've spent years beating myself up over this rare but curious phenomenon. I've finally discovered what is happening. Every so often the fastener being used will hit some sort of an obstacle (knot or nail) and that will divert its course... As I said, this is rare, but it does happen...

Before I go, there is the matter of that metal splinter in my finger... It's been at least six weeks since I got that splinter, and I'm still not right. (That's one reason I'm not posting as often as I used to...) My finger/hand/arm just don't "feel right". I would imagine you medical experts out there are screaming at the computer right now insisting that I see a doctor. Well, that's my call... But I will offer this word of advice -- if you get one of those splinters, see a doctor ASAP. Who knows what coatings the manufacturer puts on objects like screws and nails... Take it from someone who learned it the hard way...

Well... All for now...

By the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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August 13, 2014

Splinter...

Hi,

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably noticed I've been off line for a while... While the reasons are multiple, the photo below at least explains a part of the problem...

PUSS FINGER 420.JPG

Yup, the pic above ain't pretty... And it shouldn't be... This is what happens when you neglect a splinter (a metal splinter no less) for a week...

Making stuff for the home and backyard is just a part of this blog. (You can always Google on "eBirdseed.com blog woodworking")... So far, so good right? Well, no good deed goes unpunished, and this time I 'got punished bad'... I was simply finishing putting in some trim in the garage, when the simple act of driving a screw stuck a tiny metal sliver into my finger. At the time it was no more than an, "Ouch, you S.O.B.!" What followed has been five weeks (and few posts) of hassle... Words to the wise from one now wiser concerning things like splinters...

  1. First, don't get the splinter to begin with -- use a set of quality mechanic's gloves. (And eye safety goes without saying...)
  2. Should you get a splinter, remove it ASAP and talk with your doctor or pharmacist about the appropriate plan of action...
  3. Keep the wound clean -- once a puncture gets infected, it's a horror to bring under control...
  4. Don't be surprised if your doctor has to open the infected area... (In my case I had to remove an entire layer of skin using an approach that makes the application of leaches look civilized... As I said, see a doctor ASAP!)
So... ... ...

As for me, I think I've got the infection on the run, but still there is a bit of puffiness/redness/tenderness... The possibility of losing the finger is still out there...

Hope you heed these words...

Stay safe by the feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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August 10, 2014

Oh, Those Baby Blues!

Another first for Casa CapeCodAlan: a family of bluebirds somewhere in the neighborhood! We had been observing lots of youngsters near our feeders in the past few weeks, the "ruffled feathers open mouth begging" behavior is hard to miss, and very cute. But lots of baby birds species look very similar; most are mottled and drab colored, and all are small.

01_three bluebirds.JPG

Over the past week, however, this crew has started to take on color, and that's what clued us in to the fact that they weren't just some of our ubiquitous little brown birds.

02_four bluebirds.JPG

Once there was enough color and markings for a proper identification, zip over to the ol' Sibley's, and voila! Baby bluebirds. And they are simply charming.

03_two bluebirds.jpg

So it is to be hoped that we will see even more bluebirds this coming winter, due to our sweet neighborhood bluebird family!

Happily blue by the feeders.
Cape Cod Alan


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July 23, 2014

Making Shelf Etc... Very Tricky...

Hi,

After all our home woodworking posts about birdhouses, bird roosts, feeder mounts, and the woodworking that goes into them (Google on eBirdseed.com and woodworking), I figured it was about time to hit you with a bit of engineering and woodworking trickery. My problem was to mount a shelf (two actually, but one will suffice for explanation) in a finished garage without the help of studs using just scraps. Ready? Here's the finished shelf and window: Note that the shelf has a level on it...

shelf from afar 420 IMG_8063.JPG

And here it is in a closer look...

shelf close up 420 IMG_8062.JPG

Now, before you say "Big whoop" understand that the shelf is bedrock solid... But how can that be? Here's the tricky part... Without studs, I didn't have a lot to work with, but I did have the following:

  • EZ-Ancor drywall hardware... (Mollies will work too...)
  • The bottom of a secure rail (the horizontal piece of trim below the window)
  • Possibly well-placed shelf supports
  • Glue
  • Inclined planes
Here's the skinny... The sneaky part is to trap the shelf in three dimensions. (Can you see where this technique has wider usages???) Deep breath now for the details...

  1. I needed to cut the shelf snug between the vertical stiles of the window trim...
  2. Next, the shelf supports had to be carefully milled such that their grain was 90 degrees to the EZ-Ancor attachment screws that go into the wall...
  3. Once you have the supports, you need to bore them for those attachment screws by drawing the appropriate alignment reference lines across the grain and drilling using a bit just slightly larger than your screw diameter (Here is where exceptional caution comes in... A drill press and sufficient clamps must be used to stop movement of the support...)
  4. Alrighty then... All that being done, temporarily place the shelf and supports into position (complete with a level) and use a small Phillips head screwdriver to slightly dimple the wall where the screw diameter hole emerges...
  5. Remove the shelf et al and use an awl to mark for the pilot hole for the EZ-Ancor about 1/64" -- 1/32" above the dimple... Now set the EZ-Ancors...
  6. Go back to your drill press, and clamp and drill a hole big enough to allow passage of the EZ-Ancor screw but leave about 3/8" for screw shank only...
  7. Test fit... If you've done everything just right, the shelf will be level and will start to snug when you tighten the screws into the EZ-Ancor
  8. Lastly, put glue onto the back shelf edge, the back face of the shelf, and onto the tops of the supports, and assemble... Now drive the screws...
The ploy is simple: use the inclined plane of the screws into the EZ-Ancor and the rail and stiles to 'trap' the shelf. Add to that a quality glue, and you have created a three-dimensional monolithic structure... And that is one strong puppy... Told you it was tricky...

Something to think about by the feeders,

CapeCodAlan


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July 19, 2014

The Jelly Eaters

I knew it! I knew we had something different this year visiting our jelly feeder. I only caught glimpses of him at first, and thought he was simply a juvenile Baltimore Oriole whose coloring hadn't fully come in yet. But when I noticed a few other oriole-type birds in a lemon/lime color hanging around the feeder as well, I knew something was up.

400_orchard female photo 2.jpg

Having lived so long in New England, one gets used to the brilliant neon orange of our regular visitors; so when I realized we had some new kids on the block, I hit the trusty Internet in search of more oriole information. And lo and behold, a life list first for me: Orchard Orioles.

They look different: a bit smaller, and more of a rusty robin-breast orange. They sound different: none of the cackling chatter or clear "Peter! Peter!" call, but more of a whistling song. They behave differently, too -- much shier and more prone to flitting away at the merest breeze lifting a curtain edge. Made it incredibly difficult to get photos, let me tell you.

resized_oriole comparison.jpg

But I did get some!

And apparently just in time. It seems that they head back to their Central American wintering locales by mid- to late July.

So allow me to introduce our new temporary neighbor, the lovely Orchard Oriole.

400_orchard photo 1.jpg

Eating jelly by the feeders,

Mrs. CapeCodAlan


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Comments

Really nice pics Mrs. CCA. Thanks for posting them.

Mrs. CCA replies:

" It was quite a trick to both get the photos of the two birds, and then merge them into one shot. Somehow, PowerPoint messed up the .jpg format... But we made it happen...

Best, Mr. and Mrs CCA

July 11, 2014

More on Finishing the Garage...

Hi,

Sorry I'm late on yet another post -- finishing the garage is turning into quite the bear. (You can read more about the project by Googling on "eBirdseed.com, blog".) Take a look at the shot below... I wanted a wall-length Shaker peg board for shovels, rakes, and whatnot, and that's what we made...

420 SHAKER PEGS.JPG

Next, we finally had to decide on the ultimate use of the space would be... Here's a rough drawing of the footprint...

420 plan view 2014-07-11_113358.jpg

It just so happens that if you were sitting with your back to the garage door, the 9.5' half wall (circled in red below) would be roughly 160" away -- the ideal distance for a 50" or 55" HDTV... Hmmm... Can you say "home theater?"

420 small wall IMG_7941.JPG

But how to mount the TV? Well, we could secure to the top of the half wall, or we could suspend it from the ceiling using a hinged system such as the one below...

420 swinging tv 2014-07-11_111131.jpg

A release/tug on the rope (indicated by the up/down arrow) would, via pulleys, raise/lower the TV for viewing and storage purposes. Beyond that, Mrs. CCA's Microsoft Surface could be connected to the TV turning it into a mega-monitor for the home office.

Now do you see why I've been so busy???

By those bustling feeders...

CapeCodAlan


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July 3, 2014

Shaker/Artisan Garage

Well, finishing the garage goes on (and hence my infrequent entries into this blog!)

In no particular order here are some thoughts accompanied by following pics...

Mrs. CCA wanted the 'Artisan' feel, and you can see it here in this window treatment...

420 artisan window treatment IMG_7886.JPG

One of the corner shaker peg boards temporarily in place for measurement purposes...

420 corner shaker peg board IMG_7926.JPG

How a longer Shaker peg board will look, but for now just on the floor... Note the 45 degree joinery to lengthen the board...

420 shaker peg board on floor IMG_7925.JPG

Love the simplicity of a simple shelf and an old-fashioned general store grabber...

420 shelf and grabber_IMG_7927.JPG

In general, we're shooting for the esthetics or Arts & Crafts, combined with the clean lines and functionality of Shaker...

If there is one lesson I've learned along the way (including this project), is that you design first, and then engineer a solution afterwards. Stinks to be an engineer...

Knee deep in sawdust...

CapeCodAlan


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