How to Turn a Log into a Shelf

DIY Shoe-shelf in 20 Steps!

I’m pretty excited. This past week I finished what was essentially my first wood-working project ever: a shoe shelf to help clear our coat room floor of the jumble of shoes.

To imitate my process and make your own beautiful log shelf, just follow these steps:

  1. Select a log roughly as long as your shelf will be wide. Also select a thickish branch to serve as the supports on either side.
  2. Decide the log is about four inches too long, and start to saw off the end with a hack-saw. Either at this step or later, begin to de-bark the log (I preferred using a hatchet for that).
  3. Decide that this is taking too long, and that you don’t actually need the end sawn off. Measure and mark off three demarcations (in preparation for sawing the log into four boards, for four shelves).
  4. Begin sawing the first board down vertically – with a hack-saw.
  5. Decide this is taking much too long, and you need help. Get Dad to teach you to use the electric straight-saw.
  6. Start cutting out five boards instead of four – the branches as walls/supports idea wasn’t that good, so you’ll use the three internal boards as shelves, and the two outer ones (after you finish de-barking them) as the sides of the shelf. Brilliant!
  7. Decide this whole sawing thing is taking altogether too long, and convince Dad to teach you how to use the electric chain-saw.
  8. Saw your five boards with the chain-saw. This will take a few sessions; also, cut as straight as possible so one of the boards doesn’t come out with weird gouges where you had to correct your path…ahem…
  9. Once the boards are finally cut, you can use the sander and sand them! This is a good step to make sure the two ends are as de-barked as you want them to be. (I didn’t bother de-barking the shelf-boards, but I did remove any loose, dirty-looking bits with the hatchet.)

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    This lumber is not from a store.

  10. After sanding, ask Dad’s help holding the pieces together while you pound in the nails.
  11. Find out it’s better to put the heavier ends of the support boards on the bottom. Also, please note that your log was not straight up-and-down, so all your boards have cunning curvature to them now.
  12. After Dad has pounded in some of the nails, change your mind about how you want the boards to be arranged (after you find out the one for the middle shelf isn’t a proper size, the one for the top shelf isn’t the proper size either, etc.).
  13. With the help of your charming and obliging brother, nail the rest of the boards together, with the two curved sides arranged vertically as the supports/walls/ends (so, I hope you have something else to do with that branch…ahem). Also, this step will teach you that driving nails into a raw log isn’t nearly as easy as Dad made it look. Many nails will be bent, most likely.
  14. The shelf is assembled! Time to varnish it! If you’re following my process exactly, you won’t have any varnish in the house, so will have to wait before proceeding.
  15. Coat the shelf with water-soluable, clear-drying epoxy varnish to protect it from bugs and dirt, while preserving the nature look of the wood. (Bonus points if your basement – or wherever you’re doing this project – floods with ten inches of water at around this step.)

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    At least it still matches the aesthetic.

  16. Remember the curvature we mentioned in Step 11? This has make your shelf tilt backward, meaning that if you set any shoes on the top shelf, it might fall over. Fortunately, we have a section of this very log that we sawed off in Step 2 (back when we still thought the log was three or four inches too long). Using the natural curvature of the wood, use this piece to fashion shims under the backside of the bottom shelf.
  17. Varnish the shims.
  18. Get a piece of felt big enough to cover the whole bottom of the shelf. Glue the felt (I used hot-glue) to the shims and the front part of the bottom shelf where it will touch the floor. You can then trim off any felt that would show around the edges, and some of the felt that won’t actually touch the floor because it’s above the level of the shims.
  19. Set the shelf in its place, felt-side down.
  20. Put shoes on the shelf. HOORAY!

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    The shoes are not on the floor. Mission accomplished.

Reflections on “A Christmas Carol”

Three Things to Think On This “Holiday Season”

51ycpilxgcl If you’re like me, you’re pretty familiar with the mythos of A Christmas Carol, but have never actually read the original. This year, I remedied that.

Charles Dickens’ original story of rich, cantankerous, “Bah-Humbug” Scrooge, the ghosts of Christmas, and the joy of celebration is available on Project Gutenberg and on Amazon as free ebooks (or as an audiobook!), so there’s no barrier to enjoying this classic tale.

As I read Dickens’ version of the story, three things jumped out at me. Continue reading

Trump’s Victory Illustrates Self-Publishing

What the Vote Tells Writers About Ourselves

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Image credit: ABCNews

Much has been said of Donald Trump’s recent election as president of the U.S.

I think it can be used to illustrate the self-publishing environment, with some worldview implications that are very interesting.

The ebook market of the last decade or so has been deluged in material, especially from small-scale authors. It’s no longer necessary to get an agent or sign a publishing contract; all that’s needed to get your words in front of people is a few basic tech resources and a document of text.

Authors (typically) like this, and I think one of the reasons is they can do what they want. Continue reading

Vote DESTINY 2016!

With the clock counting down to the U.S. election, many are in a tizzy over who to vote for in November.

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The post apocalypse: when most problems can be solved with a bigger gun. Or a rocket launcher.

Not me. I’ve got my ticket – right down to what cabinet assignments I’d make. So, without further ado, here’s the presidential ticket we need to put America back on track: Continue reading

Top 5 Namesakes

Five Reused Names

The Top Ten Tuesday subject for today is “Ten Characters I’d Name A Child/Dog/Cat/Car/Etc. After”. Fictional characters frequently have cool or memorable names, don’t you think? I’ve only been able to think of five examples of fictional namesakes – and yet it’s curious how many names we’ve snitched over the years.

1. On April 27, 2006, I created a ranger character for a D&D campaign my dad was game-mastering. I named this character “Elwin“, after Elwin Ransom in C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy. Continue reading

3 Reasons to Do #TopTenTuesday

This meme was started by the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish, but anyone’s welcome. They provide a book-related topic for each Tuesday, and it’s up to bloggers to come up with 10 (more or less) selections! (See the link for official procedures and the list of topics.)

Why should you take part?

  1. It gives you ideas of what to blog about.
    Some people do better at this; I need help figuring out what would interest my audience.
  2. It lets you talk about your likes and favorites without being egocentric – hey, everyone’s talking about their likes and favorites!
  3. You can share about your favorite books/TV shows, latest reads, bookish dreams, etc.! And once again, it’s not egocentric: the blogosphere asked about your favorites!

BONUS: Their topic for Tuesday, Sept. 13, is “Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre”. Carte blanche to go fan-girl about the best of the best (but only 10 of them)! Don’t worry about making a Best of the Century list — talk about your favorites right now. See you there!

First Look: “Hayes & Hayes”

IMG_7031When a struggling PI gets the case of his life from a beautiful widow, he must reconcile his growing care for her with his dedication to his wheelchair-bound little brother.

Thus reads the logline for my next release: Hayes and Hayes, by Kimia Wood. I haven’t talked about it much, because I don’t have a hard release date for it yet besides “soon, very soon”. Well, “soon” is now “sooner”, so I decided to share it with you. Continue reading