Pro tip: don’t cut off your thumb!

Posted in DIY, Misc

Ahhhh! It’s been too long! When I decided I wanted to start a blog, I promised myself I wouldn’t let it rust in the garden shed of my priorities. And here it is, rusting like a handplane left in the rain.


Time to refurbish this baby!

It all started on December 30th….before then, I was doing pretty good, eh? Then tragedy struck!

It all started when I bought this beauty:

Grizzly 6 inch jointer

6 inch capacity, 1 horse motor, with a cutterhead that spins at 4800 RPM (*insert Tim Allen-style bark*). With this baby, I get straight edges and flat faces, making it a whole lot easier to get square pieces.

But, she’s a dangerous beast, as you’ll come to find out.

So, I unpacked the thing, polished it, waxed it, sang lullabies to it, and prepared to tuck it into bed. As I was moving the thing from one place to another, the side wheel caught on something. B’fore I knew it, this beast was rocketing toward the concrete floor of my garage.


I couldn’t save her. She crashed.

Now, one thing about jointers–they’ve gotta be perfect, perfect! If the infeed and outfeed aren’t exactly parallel, it’s totally useless.

So….after my mishap, I had to figure out if I knocked it out of alignment. So, I pull a couple pieces of oak out of my pile and start surfacing the thing….


The more I pass the relatively straight boards through, the more they bow.


I knocked it out of alignment.

Or perhaps…..

I began wondering whether I was holding it right. Maybe if I just press down harder, then I can straighten this thing out.

So I press harder.

But then the push sticks start getting in the way.

Oh, I’ve got an idea, I thought. I’ll stop using the push sticks.

Bad move, dude.

So, I remove the push sticks and put all my weight into the board, not even thinking about where my thumb was placed…

Then this happened:

And this:

And this….(warning! Graphic!):

Yup….chopped off the tip of my thumb. Grazed the tip of the bone and severed an artery.

The thing wouldn’t stop bleeding.


**** graphic description to follow ****

The most horrific thing about it was not the pain. It wasn’t the sight. Nor the metallic stench of blood. When the dude was stitching the artery, what I hated the most was feeling the paper towel rattle as the blood drip, drip, dripped onto its surface.

**** end graphic description ****

And I also learned that they’ve found a way to bottle hot lava. Before he performed the haphazard surgery, he injected me with it.

“This might hurt,” he says. “Only a little prickle and maybe a slight burning sensation,” he says.

Oh no. The dude injected the sun’s molten core into me.

Then came the surgery:

I begged the nurses to sprint down the halls screaming, “We need a doctor, stat!”

They were kind enough to grant my request 🙂

And of course, the obligatory cast and countless episodes of Thomas the Train with the lil’ one:

After a successful surgery and skin graft, my thumb looked only slightly better:

And here’s how it looks now:

Not bad, eh?

So…lesson learned. Always use push sticks when using a jointer. Otherwise, it may cost you a thumb.

$1 DIY Marble Dispenser (kinda)

Posted in DIY, Misc

As an undergraduate psych student, I remember sitting in Dr. Paul Robinson’s class. The man had a full head of dark black wavy hair with streaks of gray and gesticulated wildly with his hands when he spoke, pushing his thick-rimmed glasses higher on his nose while concentrating on the floor before him. I loved the guy. In his career, had written about seventy thousand parenting books (okay…that’s an exaggeration), and had fostered over 350 children! (That’s not an exaggeration…like, seriously. He really did that.). And that jolly old man was quite a story-teller and had an anecdote for every principal in behaviorism. (He even taught a fish to read once…seriously).

The man insisted that raising obedient children was easy–all that was required was a little know-how about how to manipulate rewards and punishments–reward the good, punish the bad, simple as that!

Ten years later…ha! I couldn’t get my kids to eat ice cream if I commanded it! One day, after a seventy-seven hour whine-athon, I decided I’d had it. A spark of memory came from the time I’d listened to “Doc” (as we called him)–a clever way to implement rewards and punishments–a token economy.

So here was my idea–we’d have marbles that the kids could cash in for TV, games, desert, costume time, whatever. They’d earn marbles for chores (and other good behavior), but they’d “lose their marbles” (ha!) if they whined about it.

The only problem…how to dispense the marbles? I wanted a system that was easy and would require little maintenance on my part (I’m kinda lazy, ya know). So here’s what I built.

I started with my first ever box joint. Aren’t your proud of me?! 100% solid walnut with a tung oil finish that’d make yer grandfather proud.

I made four slots (future expandability, you see). The idea is that when the kids earn a marble, they push a spring-loaded button in the front and out comes the marble.

The problem–they get stuck!

If you look at the pic below, you see the problem. Like my two boys, this pair of marbles is fighting! They’s trying to get inta the same slot at the same time! So, I thought I might try building a funnel. (And since I don’t have a lathe, that required a bit of voodoo with the router table).

Nope! Same problem–stuck marble. I even posted a question on

After some experimentation, I thought that a smaller “marble” would fix it. So I bought a bunch of beads at the dollar store. Alas! They didn’t have enough weight to work consistently (though they did better than the bigger marbles).

But, I found a solution! The perfect solution. One that rarely fails!





Are you excited yet?




(putting blank space so you can’t peek)








Here it goes!

Yeah. Lame. While searching the dollar store for heavier beads, I found this. So, my 15+ hours of labor, with my sophisticated joinery, expensive hardwood, and checking/rechecking of squareness resulted in a $1 bubblegum dispenser.

Now what in the world will I use that old one for? Any ideas?

Murphy’s Law Has Struck!!!

Posted in Misc

You should be shocked that I’m saying this. As a psychologist, I know better than to participate in confirmation bias (only paying attention to details that confirm a hypothesis).  As a statistician, I should recognize that crap happens, and sometimes simultaneously. But this??

So my youngest boy is up all night vomiting (probability ~ 1/500). My wife has already signed up to chaperone a field-trip (p ~ 2/365). I’ve got a paper draft due to the boss today (p ~ 1/30). AND the internet stops working. Seriously!?!?!?! (p ~ 1/100…stupid COX). So as I’m bathing a vomit-covered toddler, the stench is making me gag, and I’ve gotta get the other kiddos ready for their fieldtrip while the misses fetches pedialyte popsicles from the store, and fix the internet, and clean up the mess before the entire household starts barfing.

And then my carpet vacuum stops working (p~1/1095). So now the stench will linger until Amazon can deliver a new one.

So let’s compute the probabilities, shall we?

p(not murphy) = 1/500 x 2/365 x 1/30 x 1/100 = 3.65e-09

For the mathematically disinclined, that’s a 3 preceded by nine zeroes!

Yup, Murphy wins this one.

So here’s the email I sent to my boss:

So my wife is scheduled to go with the kids on a field trip. Last night my youngest started vomiting. So while the misses is fieldtripping, I’m home with the barf faucet. Between potent splatters, I’m working on getting the paper draft to you. THEN THE INTERNET GOES OUT!!!! Seriously??? I need a new modem (apparently) for the third time in as many years (stupid cox) and that won’t happen til tomorrow.

So, until the misses gets home with the non-barfers, I’m staying connected via cellular. (And typing typos with my fat thumbs). When they get back, I’ll find me a McDonald’s or a Starbucks to get that draft to you. Does that work?

Okay. Rant over 🙂


Ps–my shampoo vac also gave up the ghost this morning, so my house will smell like this until Cox’s competitors come (att) so I can get internet so I can research vacuums so I can clean up the stench.

PPS–now my rant is over. 🙂


And to top it off, I now have a cold. Blah.