Thursday, June 06, 2013

Beyond Dinocalpyse by Chuck Wendig: Book review

Beyond Dinocalypse (Dinocalypse Trilogy, #2)Beyond Dinocalypse by Chuck Wendig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beyond Dinocalypse is a surprisingly engrossing tale. Surprising because for a pulp book, it spends so much time with its main characters in despair. For readers of the first book, the beginning is surprisingly dark. And it makes the characters grow over the course of the book leading me to be genuinely cheering for them at the end.

The key of pulp is hope and confidence. The heroes of pulp are expected to be competent characters, able to apply their will and abilities to whatever the world throws at them. So it is a surprise to see the book start of a world of defeat, with one of our main characters cynical and on the verge of defeat, both personally and the world our heroes fight for.

This gulf between what is expected and how Beyond Dinocalypse begins leads to a lot of room for character development. We have heroes and villians interacting with each other and their relationships evolve as each has their own goals and vision for what is best for themselves and the future they want to see.

This is a great second book of the series. The many facets of each of the characters, even the secondary characters, that comes out as they interact with each of the others was surprising for something that I thought would just be fun, mindless reading (not that there is anything wrong with that). Highly recommended.

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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Building the Handyman Club tool-tote

The first real project was the tool-tote found at the Handyman club.  It was supposed to be a combination tool-tote and workbench/stool/sawhorse.  I figured it would be something S could use for gardening (since we don't have any organization for gardening stuff).  And a toolbox is high up on the list of early wood working projects (along with a sawhorse and workbench)

I got the plywood and the wooden dowel from Lowes.  (the rest of the plywood became the workbench top discussed in an earlier post.)  They cut it into rectangular pieces (which accounted for most of them.  I have to do any shaping, such as for the sides and rounding the handle brackets (and putting in holes for the handle to fit into later.

Cut and shaped plywood for the tool tote. The paint bottles were to size the box later.  One compartment was to be sized to fit those cans.

First, was the box part of the tool tote.  In addition to the base, there were two sides and a divider to put in. Using the vise part of the Workmate workbench, this was pretty straight forward.  Only complication was adding in the divider.  Because the divider was sized to be the attachment of a lid made up of plywood, I used two scrap pieces of plywood to brace the sides and the divider was just the right height.

Next was adding the box to the sides.  This is where it helped that my earlier project was to build a workbench.  One side of the workbench became an assembly area and the other half became a tool storage and part layout area.  The Workmate was for sawing and power sanding.  One problem here was putting everything together.  The plans called for 1 5/8" Deck screws.  But when they had to go in a piece of plywood on a 3/4" edge, sometimes the plywood would split.  Especially when countersinking the screws.

The main part of the tool tote. You can see the Workmate in the back set up for cutting a wood dowel handle.

The other difficult part was the handle.  First, the 1" dowel was just a little too large for the whole that I made using a 1" spade bit.  Not much of a problem, I took a file and filed down about an inch of each end.  The other mistake I made was where I located the brace.  It was offset from the center because I needed to make room for the handle.  But because this deck screw was going into the narrow part of the plywood, it did not want to countersink in.  So I had to move the brace to be far enough from the handle that it would not interfere with the handle rotating.

Completed tool tote / sawhorse

This tool tote was very solid.  I got up and stood on it and it did not even think of moving.  The result of building something using screws and plywood instead of tacks and particle board.  And it was designed to double as a sawhorse style workstool, so it turns out it is pretty big (18" long, 16" high).  So it may not be my wife's garden tool caddy after all.  We'll find a use for it. It may go to my in-laws when they move.

The point of starting out by making things like sawhorses, workbenches, and tool caddies is to practice skills.  I've never done stuff like this before, other than the occasional kit. And I've never really used power tools before.  Now in addition to the cordless screwdriver/drill, we have the oscillating multi-tool and a jigsaw.  And we added a number of new bits for the drill and I'll be looking at more blades for the multi-tool and jigsaw so we can handle 2x lumber in addition to plywood.  Skills are another area of growth.  I got a lot of practice with the combination square and speed square, and use some tips and techniques that were part of YouTube videos.  Also learned some of the limitations of the jigsaw and multi-tool (part of it was that I only have a limited number of blades) and my jigsaw skills in particular have improved over the three projects.

Next steps, inventory the scrap lumber and plywood to see what else I can make :-)