Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Traditional Approach to Wood Finishing

The wood finishing section of any home improvement center is chock full of easy to apply combination stains and finishes which go on in just one or two coats. Unfortunately, they often contain ingredients which are quite toxic and not exactly "green," such as polyurethane or Verathane. On a recent episode of "The New Yankee Workshop" (actually a re-run of an older episode), a more traditional finishing method was demonstrated. Although it takes considerably longer and more effort, the components are of much lower toxicity (although appropriate safety precautions should still be taken with them - its not like you should drink shellac or inhale the vapors), and the result is a stunningly beautiful finish. Here are the steps:

1) Sand to 220 grit
2) Apply boiled linseed oil thinned with mineral spirits, using a cotton cloth. Wipe excess and let dry for a couple of days. This will bring out the richness of the wood color and grain.
3) Apply shellac (orange shellac, for example) as a protective topcoat. 10-12 thin coats. Dry time between coats is a couple of hours for thin shellac, overnight for thick.
4) Polish out brush marks and dust with 400 grit and 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper.
5) Polish with 0000 ("four aught") steel wool
6) Apply a thin coat of paste wax (this will temporarily dull the finish), allow it to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions, then buff out with a cotton cloth to restore the gloss. One or two additional coats can be applied if desired.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Work Blog

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any Exchange or PowerShell items on this blog lately. That's because I've taken to doing this over on my "official" UT-hosted work blog at .

Friday, June 12, 2009

Misc. Goodies

Apollo 11 Owners’ Workshop Manual coverFirst up, a must-have for any technogeek's home library: Apollo 11 Owners' Workshop Manual from Haynes Press. Now I can finally figure out why the engines on the dusty old LEM in my garage won't fire up on cold mornings. (Of course, here in central Texas, we only get cold mornings a few days out of each year. This time of year, I really start to miss those days.)

Next up, an example of what happens when technogeeks have too much time on their hands: "A Unified Quantum Theory of the Sexual Interaction." This is a truly hysterical read, at least for anyone who has ever studied quantum mechanics. The author fails, however, to cover scenarios where couplings between the |M> and |F> states potentially lead to the emission of child particles, with a probability P(t) which varies sinusoidally over a period of 28 days. Of course, this would necessitate the inclusion of creation and annihilation operators, which means that the model would have to be re-formulated as a Quantum Field Theory. The author also fails to model the field emitted by some |M> states which repulses |F> states with a strength proportional to the |M> state's comprehension of this admittedly arcane type of humor.

On a more serious note, SpringerLink has a paper by T. Ryan Gregory of the University of Guelph in Ontario entitled "Understanding Natural Selection: Essential Concepts and Common Misconceptions." This paper should be required reading for anyone engaging in the YEC/ID vs. TOE debate, especially since the vast majority of arguments put forth by YEC/ID proponents tend to be predicated upon rather outlandish misconceptions about how evolution and natural selection actually work. As someone who hasn't actually taken a biology class since high school (it wasn't required in my undergraduate physics curriculum), I found it to be an illuminating read.