Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Me? Yet Another Example of My Mechanical Dysfunction


If there's one thing I know (And yes, I've heard the whispered comments about me knowing one thing and one thing only!) it's that stuff breaks.

Which is why I take all the stuff out once a month and check it over. Air pressure in something like 34 tires we have around here is checked and adjusted, the on-demand water heater is flushed with vinegar, (We have really hard water yet don't like water-softeners.) the front gate is lubed and adjusted, (After a few years of opening and closing the damn thing by hand we got tired of that and installed an opener on it.) the air-conditioner/heater filters and coils are cleaned, the air-compressor is drained and oil checked, and the various engines around here are run.



Including the fire-pump.  (OK, shooting a 75' stream of water is not normally an efficient way to fight fires, but with the winds today, if I tried to photograph the more usual, and effective, wide spray the camera was going to get a good soaking and I wasn't too keen on putting out it's fire!)

Only this month the fire pump refused to run. . .

I turned the key and nothing. And I mean nothing at all except a faint jingle from the tag hanging off the key.

The battery dead, according to my meter it was flat dead, as in not even a wiggle in the needle. (Which isn't actually true since the meter is digital but you get the gist of it.)

OK, not a huge deal. Batteries die, which is why I buy the $20 U1's from Walmart, although they usually give some sort of warning before turning into a $12 hunk of plastic-encased lead. ($12 is the current core-charge for the U1) But I don't need the battery to start the pump. Unlike The Wife who couldn't pull-start even the smallest engine if her life depended on it, I, with my manly bearing, wide shoulders, and superior upper-body strength, can. (Crap, even I didn't believe that one!)


Except that after 20 or more yanks on the pull-starter, (I sort of started blacked out there and lost count.) a near coronary, and a very noodley left arm that clearly needs more working out, the damn thing hadn't made the least little effort to run. It hadn't even come up with a decent burp!

While I, with deference to my mechanical ineptitude, am willing to let such behavior slide when it comes to some of the engines-of-convenience around here (Witness the Quad which has had a dead engine for years now waiting for the fairy-godmother mechanic to show up, repair the damage I've inflicted trying to fix it myself, and breath life back into it!) some things are too important for that sort of behavior. Such as the generator, and especially the fire pump.

The nearest town is 5 miles and a county-line away with a population of 200 (On a school day, maybe!) and has a volunteer fire department that consists of 2 Bubbas and a Leroy in a pickup truck with a couple fire extinguishers and an assortment of shovels and axes in the back.

So, with reluctance, pretending I know at least a little about those tricky and vindictive little monsters we call engines, I went to work.

I know it's getting gas because I could smell it coming out the Forest Service certified flame-arrester exhaust.

No, I wasn't huffing. I know that gas fumes are a gateway drug to full-blown hard-drug addiction because the self-serving DEA told me so, (De-criminalize marijuana! Hell no!! Pot accounts for 40 percent of what we do. Legalize it and how will we justify our bloated bureaucracy and the budget that goes with it?) It just so happens that somewhere between the 15th and 25th pull I sort of collapsed on top of the engine and my nose ended up next to that little screen that's supposed to stop stray sparks from making a bad situation worse.

And it must be getting air because that's what's blowing the gas-fumes out the exhaust.

From somewhere in the dim past, probably something I'd overheard once while hanging around like a third wheel, a broken third-wheel, in my brother-the-mechanic's shop, I knew the next thing to check for is spark. For that I'm supposed to have one of those fancy spark-testers with an easy-to-view window for observing the spark safely. Yeah right (He drawls sarcastically) You really think I'm going to have one of those laying around here??



Nope - around here we do it old school!!

Well, OK, somehow I doubt my grandfather would have bothered with shutting off the fuel petcock, draining the carb-bowl and yanking the starter cord several times to ensure an explosive mix wouldn't be blown out the plug-hole right across the exposed sparkplug creating one of those Wile E Coyote plan-gone-wrong moments, but I did.

After taking a water-break, and a short nap, to recover from that last bout of cord-yanking, I attempted to see if I was getting any spark, but the bright day combined with trying to hold the plug in place and keep my eye on the tiny gap while yanking on the starter cord, all conspired against me.

After another short nap I had the brilliant inspiration to get out the jumper-cables and The Wife's side-by-side.

Now that all I had to do to spin the engine was turn the key, it took mere seconds to determine that, as I expected, there was no spark. (Remember that "as I expected" part because that's going to come back and bite me on the ass!!)


So now



I started the inevitable process of taking the damn pump apart until I could get down to the ignition coil where said spark was supposed to be coming from.

Because of my general ineptitude, each sub-assembly was carefully laid out in order on the bench as it was removed, along with all its associated hardware.

Because the loss of spark and the suddenly flat battery happened simultaneously, and being more comfortable with electrics than mechanics, I had this working theory that something had gone wrong with the wiring that a) drained the battery and b) was affecting the ignition circuit.




But I was willing to be flexible so you can imagine my delight when I ran across one of those cheap in-line fuse-holders tucked away behind the switch!!

But that delight lasted all of the 3 seconds it took me to open the holder and take a gander at the un-broken link inside the fuse. . .

Just in case this was one of those fuses that looks good but isn't (Hey! I've seen it happen!!) I slapped the meter on it.

Crap! Good fuse. . . No easy fix this time.



OK, admitting to the polyanic wistfulness of my original theory, time for a new one that doesn't involve a dead ignition coil, there at the green arrow, because a) I don't have a proper ignition coil tester (You didn't honestly think I would did you?) to know with 100% certainty that I had tracked down the culprit, b) I really don't want to have to pull the flywheel to get at the coil to remove the damn thing, and c) according to on-line parts stores that coil is around $100 bucks!!

So my new theory involves the shorting wire, that little black wire at the red arrow, that's used to stop the coil from doing it's thing (Otherwise it might be kind-a hard to stop the engine once it was running. Ahhh those were the good-ol' days when the engine actually ran. . .dammit greg! Focus!!)

So when I got this far in the disassembly process, I pried the little black wire off the terminal on the ignition coil,



kludged up a support for the key-switch, (so I could turn it with one hand while holding the sparkplug with the other, all without getting something caught up in the now exposed starter bendix.)



and added a couple jumper wires after I figured out that the key-switch needs to be grounded to do it's thing,



then checked for spark.

Fantastic!! I have spark! Who's the Man?!!

That little black wire must be shorted out somewhere.

Just to double check my brilliant troubleshooting I plugged the black wire back onto the ignition coil and tried again, knowing that now I wouldn't have spark anymore.

Oh Crap! I still have spark!!!

After another break for water and a short nap, I spent the next half hour tracing, inspecting and fiddling with wires looking for an intermittent short or break or anything, something!! But no luck. No matter what I did, I still had spark.

I started to suspect that because I was expecting no spark that first time I checked, I didn't see any spark. Friggin' expectations!!

The only sensible conclusion now was that my magical touch (Yeah, I've got one, at least according to The Wife. But then again she's easily impressed. . .) cleared up the problem and I was just going to have to live with the uneasy knowledge that it, whatever it was, could come back again at any time, but that's just the curse of living with a magical touch.

As long as I was at it, just to prove how good a mechanic I am, I went ahead and installed a new sparkplug then got some wild hair about putting fresh gas in the tank, even though the crude but nearly bullet-proof carb on this 9 horse Vanguard can suck the 1.5 gallon tank dry in just three of the monthly 30 minute test-runs so it's always somewhat fresh anyway.

I fished the only un-crushed plastic water bottle I could find out of the recycling trailer, removed the tank-line from the fuel shutoff valve and left the tank to drain into the bottle.


The results were, well, stunning!!! (Not to mention humiliating.)

But come to think of it, back when I was first attempting to pull-start the engine and inadvertently huffed the fumes emanating from the Forest Service certified flame-arrester exhaust, they did smell a little strange. Not as gassy as I would have expected, but I attributed that to the stabilizer I add to the fuel cans.

Which was probably right, just not right in the way I was thinking. Some of those chemicals in the stabilizer might be more, or at least just as, dense as water and had separated out from the gas right along with the water and thats probably what I had smelled.

I suppose if I had only been man enough I could have yanked the pull-starter long enough to pump the water right out of the tank and get down to the good gas, but that would have been one hell of a lot of pulling!!



The stunning part of seeing water in the bottle wasn't that there was water in the gas, not even that there was a lot of water in the gas, that happens sometimes. But not to the fire pump!!  For 12 years this pump has sat out in the weather there beside the main barn, next to the dedicated 250 gallon mobile water tank, ready for action, and this has never happened before!

Which is why I next suspected that the watered gas came that way right from the gas-station, so I marched down to the tractor barn, where we keep all the fuel, picked up the can I had last filled the fire pump with, shook it up well, and dumped a sample into a rinsed and dried glass container.(According to the label it used to have olives in it, though I don't know why that is of any importance whatsoever.)

I gave the contents plenty of time to settle but they were as clean and innocent as a freshly bathed baby. Nothing but gasoline. Not even a hint of other contaminants.

Welllll Crap! This is going to call for a change in strategy here. Even though that pump has sat out in the weather for years, through deluges of a foot of rain in half a day, and this past month is naturally one of our dryer months with less than 2" of rain (The pump started normally last month so the water wasn't there then.) I can't risk a repeat of this, not with something as critical as this fire pump may be one day. So now I'm going to have to find a place for it inside the already crowed barn along with the workshop, storage, laundry room, computer area, generator, ladders, etc.

Oh yeah, but first I had to put the damn pump back together. Not just back together but back together properly, which in my experience is not a foregone conclusion!



And after draining all the offending fluid out of the tank that I could, I needed to swab up the leftovers until the tank was dry because this crap has already cost me a whole bunch of time I could have been doing something more productive. (Mmmm, a nap sound real good about now!)



Somehow I manged to get things right and, with a fresh load of water-free gas, the pump started up, (But not until after I scared the crap out of myself by cranking on it for 10 seconds before remembering to pull the choke!!!)



for it's monthly 30 minute run at 125 lbs of pressure.

Finally! That's done. Now where was I??


Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Cat Couch Cover Gets a Roof


Corrugated PVC panels are about a third the cost of the polycarbonate panels, are reasonably durable as long as you don't try to throw someone through them (In which case they will shatter and leave a big hole in your roof!!) but they are still a pain in the ass to cut!



When cutting a single sheet I like to use tin-snips because they cut clean, (Never squeeze them all the way closed or you will get a little crack right at the tips that will go shooting off in some random direction!) but I had 4 panels to cut to the same length for the roof of the cat-couch-cover and for that I resort to my battery-powered circular saw and cut the stacked panels in one pass, even though that produces PVC dust which must be carefully swept up and thrown in the trash as it is not bio-degradable.

In order to keep chipping to a minimum I install a plywood blade backwards in the saw and solidly support the stacked panels on a scrap of plywood with more scraps clamped over the top to keep everything in place during the cut.

The base of my circular saw extends one inch beyond the blade and here I've clamped a level (Unlike scraps of wood, I know the level is straight.) one inch to the side of where I want the cut and will guide the saw against the level.



I adjust the blade so it extends below the guide-plate far enough to just kiss the scrap wood below the panels



Then make the cut. The edges of PVC panels will chip easily during cutting if the saw is not kept tight to the guide. I managed to make this cut with one small chip on one of the 4 panels. I think that might be a personal best!



Before attaching the roof panels, which extend beyond the arches a little bit for added weather protection, I needed to fit the side panels that will be put in place during cold weather.

To do this I temporarily screwed a panel to the side of the arch then marked where to cut.



It's  little hard to see my marks here, (On the panel to the right.) but back at the bench all I had to do was connect the dots with my tin-snips and refit the panel to make sure I got it right. Happy with the fit I used that panel to mark the one for the other side and cut it too.



I've got a bag of these gasketed fasteners (Upper left) left over from building the well-house and even though they are designed for drilling into metal they work just fine on wood and these are the fastners that will hold the side pieces in place. But they are too long for fastening the roof panels to the arches so I removed the gaskets from a bunch of the fasteners so I could slip them onto shorter screws for the roof.



The trick with these fasteners, whether using the original or the shorter screws, is to carefully snug them down just until the gasket starts to bulge. This is the sweet-spot where the fastener is holding well and the gasket is sealing things up.



From here it was just a matter of screwing the panels down, then, in the case of the side panels, clearly marking them as left and right so I can get them back on this winter using the same screw-holes. For now I'll take them off and store them away.



All that was left now was to drop the cover over the cat's couch and call it done! The hinged panel across the front will be left open during warm weather and when accessing the sleeping boxes inside, yet can easily be closed up for protection from those wet, chilly winds we sometimes get during the winter.



So that's it. How to go from redneck shabby-chic (OK, trashy)




to less trashy. . .

OK, my tools are all warmed up, what other trouble can I get up to around here???






Monday, September 11, 2017

Giving the Modestly Interesting Project Some Structure




OK, last time I managed to make up the two arches for the Cat Couch Cover. The next step is to put some structure under those arches to hold them up.

I suppose that might seem like a simplification, a lot like saying "We have the roof-rafters, now we just need to put a house under them." but really, the structure to go under the arches was fairly straightforward. Not as straightforward as simple vertical studs would have been but - well - here, see for yourself!



The first step was to rip my 2X6 lumber down to narrower widths and this is so simple I didn't even bother with a photo. Just set up the rip-fence, a feather-board or two and feed the lumber. Easy-Peasy.

Except!: See the little green doohickey there right behind the saw-blade? That's my reeving-knife and has no purpose when crosscutting as in the photo, but is a very important safety device when ripping lumber. The knife is exactly the same width as the cut the blade makes and keeps the freshly cut lumber from pinching in on the back of the blade which will then lift the lumber, violently, and pitch it right back in the face of the operator. Reeving-knives come in various forms but whichever form you find on the saw you are using, make sure you use it!

 I could have stared with 2X4's, and even left them 2X4, but 1) 2X4's are milled from the leftovers, in other words, the worst wood from the tree, so 2X6 or larger is generally better wood; straighter, cleaner and less twisty, and 2) As you will see in a moment, I have a thing about blindly using dimensional lumber as is.

Even if I had bought twice as much 2X4 lumber instead of the 2X6's I did, I still would have ripped them down to get sticks that are proportional to the project. I have this thing about using full-dimension lumber where it isn't necessary. It drives me nuts to see 'professional' builders using full 2X4 lumber to build closets, vanities, cabinets, and couches, especially when they are going into tiny-houses!! The resulting structure is cheap and clunky-looking, way over-engineered, weighs more than it needs to, and sucks up valuable space that could be better used for storage.

Anyway - point is, ripping dimensional lumber down to proportional sizes is far more professional looking and dead-easy to do.

For this project most of the sticks are finished out to 1 1/2" X 2 3/4". Even this is chunkier than strictly necessary but since this project will live outdoors, exposed to the merciless weather, and even more merciless cat-claws, the extra heft will help it last just that much longer.

The next step, since all my verticals are wonky and have no right-angles, was to trim one end of the slightly over-length sticks to the proper angles. (Finally, text that is relevant to the photo above!) I took the angles directly off my SketchUp drawing and transferred them to the sticks with my cross-cut guide on the tablesaw.



I also have one half-lap joint under each of the two arches where two of the sticks cross each other.

After setting the proper angle on the cross-cut guide, cranking the blade to the proper height, (One half the thickness of the stick) and marking the position and limits of the half-lap on the relevant sticks, I carefully nibble away the excess wood by making multiple passes over the blade shifting the wood about a blade's width for each pass.

Note that my first cut is not quite to the limit that I marked. Once I get the rest of the wood nibbled away I'll try to fit the notch over the other stick. It won't go because I cut short of the mark, but I will make additional passes across the blade, each one taking off a very thin slice, and test fitting again until I have a snug fit that goes together with a gentle wack from the heel of my hand. (Any tighter and there's no room for glue and I risk spitting the wood. Any looser and the long-term integrity of the joint won't be as good as it might be.)



Once both sticks are notched



they slip together with a good wack, forming a nice tight, strong joint,



especially once glue and a single screw are added.

This all might sound complicated but the reality is that in the time it took you to read about it (That's assuming you're still reading. . .) you could have had the joint half completed.



With all the angles cut where the vertical(ish) sticks meet the base I clamped everything down in it's proper position then laid the arch across the overly-long ends of the sticks so I could mark and cut them to their final lengths.



After that is was just a matter of gluing and screwing everything into place then repeating the whole operation for the second arch.

In reality, since both the right and left arch assemblies are identical, to save tool setup time, I cut everything in pairs. i.e. When cutting the bottom angle on the front vertical support for the left-hand arch assembly I grabbed the front vertical support for the right-hand arch assembly and cut it too.



After that it was a simple process to connect the two arches together with a total of three straight cross-members, make up the simple hinged access panel with more straight sticks,



then add the hardware to hing and latch the access panel.

By now the temps were bouncing up against the 100 mark and the sun was pretty-much straight overhead which meant The Wife's side-by-side, which had been kicked out of the shop to give me some assembly space, was sunburned to the point where I could smell the vinyl seat cooking, so I tossed the assembly out beside the driveway and rolled the side-by-side back into the shade of the shop.

Tomorrow I'll finish the project up by putting the PVC roof-panels on.




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Cat Couch Cover: A Modestly Interesting Project



One thing we have around here is cats!

It all started, pretty much out of our control, back when we lived in the city in the 90’s. Back when we had friends, lots of them. But that was also back when AIDS was decimating a whole generation of artists, designers, florists, secretaries, stylists, lawyers, teachers, accountants, professional drag-queens, engineers - and that was just our little group of friends. As they died, gay and straight alike, picked off by a disease not fully understood at the time they contracted it, a disease nobody wanted to talk about let alone do something significant about to stem the tide, we started ‘inheriting’ their cats.

Then, disheartened by what had become of our friends as well as the once eclectic and interesting enclave we lived in, (Now squashed under towering town-homes and endless boutique shops and boutique restaurants as the boutique loving, beemer-driving, tie-wearing, briefcase carrying yuppies moved in.) we moved a few hours away to an old house on the edge of a small town where nobody knew us.

This house was on an acre between town and pastures and for some reason was a magnet for feral cats, so even as some of the older cats we inherited finished out their natural lives, more cats kept turning up to join the party. Thankfully there was an organization in the area that helped with neutering and spaying costs!!! (Oh come on!! We’re talking about a couple that live-traps mice and captures insects in a bug-cup rather than squishing them. What did you expect us to do?)


The incoming flow of cats trickled to a stop four years later when we moved another 30 miles farther out into the boonies, but even though the remainder are aging and the numbers slowly diminishing, there are still quite a few of them hanging on.

Not the one we have but similar.

They have their own building (Think one of those portable things you see for sale alongside the road.) but a few of the cats are still feral enough that they won’t go inside, even though it’s cooled and heated in there for their comfort. (Yeah, I know, sick, but what can I do?)

The Wife, who does the care and feeding, is constantly adjusting things inside the building which creates a number of little projects for me. In fact, at the moment I have a list of nine to-do items hanging here above the laptop waiting for the weather to cool so the cats can hang around outside while I work on the projects. (Frankly some of the cats hate me, probably because I won’t let them into my shop or The Van, and me walking into their building freaks them out so they have to be evacuated before I can go in.)

For those of you that may not be cat people and don't know this, cats think they own everything, that's why, unlike dogs that jump up and down and get all excited when you come home, cats actually huff and groan, because now they have to share their stuff with you! So my refusing to let them into their shop or van to pee and spray and shed and shit really pisses them off.

But I have one project that isn’t inside their building so I can work on it now. Usually the cat projects are simple and not worth making much note of, but this one might be a little interesting.

A couple of the cats are still wild enough that they will not go into any building, and because they are aging even our mild winters here in central Texas can be tough on them so they need some sort of shelter to keep them at least somewhat comfortable.


For last winter we slapped together this mess for them.

The old wicker couch has been around forever and the cats seem to like it, so after lining a couple plastic boxes with Reflectix and old rugs to go on the seat, (None of the cats are friendly enough, even among themselves, to share the same bed!) we cobbled together a crude cover out of some adjustable extension poles, PVC pipe, tie-wraps and a couple shower-curtain liners we fastened over the whole thing with most the spring clamps in my collection. During cold weather the plastic is pulled down to create a sheltered space out of the wind and rain.

Now this whole thing sits tucked under some trees; for shelter; but right at the edge of the driveway; for ease of access; where it is easily seen, and frankly it just isn’t very pretty. Besides, it’s tying up most of my spring-clamps and I want them back!


So we came up with this idea instead.

It still uses the wicker couch and insulated boxes that the cats have proven they will use on those chilly nights, but the shelter over the whole contraption is just a little more refined, you know, a little less banjo-twangin' redneck. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!)

We wanted something that wasn’t going to cost too much, looked halfway decent, could provide decent winter shelter yet still make the boxes accessible for regular changing out of the old rugs. (Our poor washing machine!)

Oh, and it needs to have a modicum of visual appeal, or at least a minimum of visual un-appeal.

Yah, OK, so maybe this slightly fanciful design is more my fault than anything else since I’ve never been one to be shy about complicating a project in the name of aesthetics. I mean when you get right down to it, pretty much nobody but us are going to see it and a simple shed-roof supported by a couple vertical studs would do the job, but where’s the interest in a straight roof-line? And vertical studs along the sides would be – well – boring, both in looks and the building there-of. Hence the gracefully arched roof, created with a Bezier Curve tool in SketchUp, and the side-structure utilizing a series of incredibly strong and stable; and interesting; triangles.

Besides, the arched roof provides better shelter by curving down front and back, plus slightly curving the clear PVC panels that will go over the top makes them more stable too.

At least that’s the excuse I’m using. . .


So anyway . . . one day we took The Van along on one of our town-trips and came home with the supplies necessary to build this shelter.


The first step was to build the arches, and to do that with a minimum of waste I laminated them up from strips of ¼ ply.

To get started I stood the ply panel on edge, put my knee into it and bent, then turned the panel 90 degrees and bent again. The purpose of this was to find which direction the panel wants to bend easiest. And there is usually a significant difference so getting this right saves a lot of effort later!


Once I had the whole bend thing sorted out I set the fence on the table saw to 3 inches,


then proceeded to turn the whole panel into nice bendy strips.

Each arch is just about 6.5’ long so the whole laminating process would have been easier, and faster, if I started with an 8’ panel and used one full-length strip per layer, but then I would have had half a panel left over so I chose to take the more difficult and time-consuming path and used all but one narrow strip and a few short cut-offs out of a 4’x 4’ panel instead. I had to piece together each layer out of at least 2 strips but there was very little waste and, on the 103 degree day I did this (Back in August) cold weather felt like it was a long ways away, so the extra time it took didn't seem important. Besides, I’m retired so the extra time and hassle was no big deal.


Of course the complex, variable-radius arch wasn’t going to just magically appear, so I went back to SketchUp and drew up a measured grid under the arch that I could then use to build a jig for the laminating process.


To build the jig I took one of my new treated 2x6’s and laid out the base-line of the grid down the length of the board. Then I took a couple more of my new 8’ long treated 2/6’s and cut them in half and pre-drilled for some pocket screw slots in one end of each. Then I milled up 6 clamping-blocks from some scrap I had laying around. (Don't worry, this will become less confusing in a moment. – I hope!)


Now, along with some hardware, I had all the bits I needed to make the gluing jig and form the arches.


With the four 4’ 2x6’s laid out and attached perpendicular to the baseline board in positions corresponding to the measured grid, I was able to measure for and attach the clamping blocks.

I could have made the jig more manageable by cutting the perpendicular boards shorter, but once I’m done gluing up the arches the jig will be disassembled and the boards will re-milled to become parts of the structure so I couldn’t cut them any shorter without wasting wood. Instead I just rolled my work bench up to my saw table, both of which I carefully built (Many years ago now!!) to be the same height, to support the large and heavy jig.


The 4 clamping blocks forming the middle of the arch are fastened down right on their marks, but I pulled each of the two blocks on the ends in by 1 inch to account for spring-back once the lamination is unclamped.

Turns out I only needed to pull them back by a half inch, or maybe even just a quarter inch, but no big deal. That small adjustment will be taken care of by the side structure.


The next step was to tape waxed paper down on the jig so the lamination and jig don’t permanently become one solid structure during the glue-up. After all, that would kind of defeat the whole materials-planning-and-utilization scheme!

Then I pieced together 4 layers of plywood strips, (Right there at the front edge of the bench being held lightly in place by a couple clamps.) making sure that the joints are staggered from layer to layer. (Remember, my strips aren’t long enough to do each layer in one piece.)


Next I temporarily shoved the jig back out of the way to clear space on the bench and, making sure not to screw up the order, lightly misted the back-sides of each layer of strips with water to aid in achieving good glue-penetration, then laid each row of strips, misted side down, side by side in preparation


for slapping on a layer of glue.


I don’t have any in-progress  photos of what happens next because the process is time sensitive, and really messy, but the idea is to stack the rows of strips back up in the proper order, lift the whole dripping mess onto the jig, clamp one end down then start working my way around the clamping blocks (where the red clamps are.) bending and clamping the stacked strips as I go. Along the way I add additional clamps between the clamping blocks to ensure a continuous, tight glue-bond.

I let that cure overnight then removed it from the jig, put on a fresh batch of waxed paper, and clamped up the second arch.


Once I had two arches glued up and cured I disassembled the jig to get it out of the way, (returning all the hardware to the proper bins, setting aside the treated boards for later, and discarding only the 6 clamping blocks into my burn-bucket because I'll probably never need them again and if I do they are small and easy to make up from scraps laying around.) then cleaned up the sides of the arches on the jointer and table-saw, trimmed them to final length, sanded the worst of the edges off, and, since the ply is not treated for outdoor living, slapped three coats of polly on them, making sure to soak the exposed end-grains well.

Next time I’ll work on the structure that is going to hold these arches up in the air.