I’ve always been a fan of pizza and I’ve made pizza at home since I was a teenage (okay, Chef Boyardee kits count, right?). I’ve made my own dough and even tried my hand at my own sauce before. Angela and I upgraded to a pizza stone years ago and they do help a lot. During the pandemic, we started making even more pizza at home and my daughter really upped her baking in general.
So one of the things we all agreed would be really awesome would be to have our very own pizza oven. After seeing just how involved a “real” pizza oven would be, we figured we could scale that back to a “portable” pizza oven. They’re on par with the expense and use of a meat smoker and generally are “countertop” sized; though of course you use them outside as they do produce smoke.
The particular model we got is an Ooni Koda 16. It’s portable in the sense that it’s not bolted down; but at about 75 pounds (34 kg), we’re not likely to take it on many camping trips or anything. It’s a multi-fuel in that it uses a mix of charcoal and hardwood. It’s pretty much the same principal as a Kamado-type grill, in that it uses natural drafting to pull in fresh air over coals to get them really hot. Onto which you then add some hardwood to make flames and get the oven even hotter. Like 700°F (340°C) and more hot. Further, like a Kamado, floor of the oven is ceramic tile which retains that heat. This cooks the dough while the flame licking over the inside roof of the oven cooks the toppings. And it does this in about 90 seconds (this is Neapolitan style; if you have “thicker” crust you reduce the temp some and cook for longer).
I’ve had pizza in New York, Chicago, and yes, even Naples, Italy. Was my very first pizza the best I’ve ever had? No, but it was up there for me. And I got to make it! In my backyard! The pictures here just don’t do the chewy, warm crust justice. Yeah, I was seconds away from burning it but it was still so good. I started with just a simple cheese pizza, and then made a pepperoni pizza and another white pizza (well, pretty much cheese-bread as I didn’t use enough olive oil).
Oh, yeah: recipes: I know that there are purists who spend a lot more time on ingredients than I ever will, but I just use a super-simple dough recipe, my favorite brand of sauce, some store-brand shredded mozzarella, and Italian seasoning. Chefs and cooks can hate on that all they want, but I can make this any time I want now. ;)
I didn’t add this on Instagram, but it may be worth explaining a bit more detail. The birch was leftover from some hardwood edge banding I used elsewhere in my daughter’s room (more on that once that project is complete). The board was far from flat, but this was a pretty good way to make use of the less twisted sections of the board. I used a biscuit joiner for the first time in the panel glue-up. I managed to come up with some flat shelves after some planing & sanding. I made the wall mounts from some of the cut-off scraps, so there ended up being very little waste here.
The circle cutting jig was based on Colin Knecht’s design (though did a plunge cut on the router table instead of on my table saw; that just looked way too risky). I drilled a hole at the circle center, since I knew I’d have to have a notch for the drywall corner, anyway.
We moved to our new home back in late June. The irony of having so many projects to do at a new house is that there’s not quite as much time to write about them afterwards. And there have been a lot of projects. Mostly around storage and organizing. That means a lot of shelves need to be built.
We have non-insulated attic space off of one of the bedroom closets. While it’s not awesome having to carry loads and loads through our son’s bedroom, it’s certainly a lot more convenient than the attic over our old separate garage space.
Since part of this area has no flooring (and those portions of the roof trusses aren’t designed for storage loads), I wanted to add some drywall. This would prevent us from pushing anything off the back of the shelves and into this space where it could get lost or, worse, fall through the garage ceiling onto our vehicles! I did a reasonable job of hanging the drywall and mudding the joints and screw heads. I didn’t really do much in the way of sanding, as it’s going to all be covered by the shelves (you have to pick your battles, folks). I also replaced the terrible lighting with four LED strip lights, which is more than enough for this 24′ by 6′ space.
The design of the shelves is pretty simple and modular. The shelves are 15″ deep, supported by the truss members (you can think of these as wall studs really) along the back and then some 2x3 posts in the front. Those are spaced at 4′ on center. The shelves themselves consist of 2x2 frames and 1/2″ OSB. The 2x2s are ripped down from 2x4s and screwed together. The OSB was ripped into 4′ long by 15″ wide strips using a track saw.
I built all the 2x2 frames in my shop and then carried them up to the attic space. There I could use the laser level to set the bottom shelf height (at 18″ above the floor) and use 3″ screws to secure it to there truss members/studs. I then leveled the shelves front-to-back and secured them with the 2x3 front posts. Lastly, I placed the OSB (smooth side up, which is really upside-down for OSB) down. I screwed it down to the frames every 24″ or so using some 1–1/4″ deck screws.
The modularity of these 2x2 frames made it very easy to vary the lengths to form the “galley” like design I had for this small area.
Lastly, my dad was visiting when we were working on some of our storage projects. He jumped right in an helped out with some of the attic shelves and it was really great getting to do this project with him!
Suffice it to say, we have a lot of stuff. We’ve gone through and gotten rid of loads and still have a lot of stuff. So, while the attic shelves were great we knew they’d be no where near enough. So I also had planned on making some “loft” style shelves for the our garage. We wanted to have everything supported from the ceiling to maximize floor (aka, car) space.
While there are some metal frame kits available, I really liked the method that Jay Bates and Johnny Brooke used for their garages. So I adapted it to our garage. Basically, these are 2x2 ledges along a wall and ceiling, with 2x4 hangers to support plywood shelves. These shelves are about 30″ deep, again with supports (in this case, the hangers) every 4′. The hangers are glued and screwed in place for added stiffness. The shelves themselves are 1/2″ sanded poplar plywood from the home center.
These go up relatively fast once all the dimensioning is in place. Locating the wall studs and ceiling joists is critical here, though. Our garage ceiling actually has a framing change so I had to accommodate for that. Basically, this amounted to switching the 2x2 ceiling ledge to the opposite side of the hanger. I ended up still missing the ceiling joist so I swapped it out for a 2x4 to make up the extra inch or so. It’s not very pretty, but what is is solid. I made the hangers and ledge at a height so that I could easily stack two large bins. With 32 linear feet of 30″ shelves so far, we have a ton of storage out here now.
Still More to Go
The reality is that we’re still not done. Most of what we have left to sort through are boxes of books. Some we’ll keep and put on bookshelves inside but a lot of them are out-of-date reference books or even technical books from college that we just no longer need.
I also want to add some of the garage loft storage over the shop area garage door. This will be for storing painting, tiling, drywall, etc. supplies and tools that we need less often. It’s easy to pull them down with a ladder but there’s just no need for these to take up floor or shelf space in the shop or garage area.
Some additional details on this little project: the shelf was a piece of scrap 3/4″ maple plywood my little brother gave me. I didn’t want to take the time to edge band the entire thing and I figured a small lip on the front would serve as a pull handle. So I cut down some 3/8″ solid maple I had. I used my new pin nailer to attach the hardwood while the glue dried (yes, that works just as well as every YouTuber indicates it does!). This isn’t the prescribed method for using these undercount drawer slides, but they work great anyway. Normally, this sort of drawer should (in addition to being an actual drawer) have sides and a front.
Angela & I updating our bathroom with new lights, sinks, faucets, and custom mirrors.
After having completed some updates to the other two bathrooms in our house, I have to confess I was somewhat disappointed every time I stepped into our “owner’s” bath, as it was the same old builder-grade stuff. We didn’t want to break the bank in updating it, so we set out with a budget-friendly set of updates we could accomplish ourselves.
You’ll notice that a lot of the images here are out of order, as the work isn’t really done one trade at a time. But I broke this up into the sections of work to better highlight the parts of each.
The overall lighting level in the bathroom wasn’t terrible, but I really didn’t care for the look of the single light above the large mirror. I really wanted to put in some wall sconces. In order to do so, we first had to take out the old light. This was mostly a straight-forward process. I wouldn’t be using the existing location (like I did in the other two bathrooms, more-or-less), so I cut out the wall box and then patched over the opening. I ended up having to cut the wiring, as it was (correctly, per code) sealed into the top plate with some fireproofing foam.
As a result, I had to install a junction box in our attic. I would have to drill laterally through too many studs to use the approach I used to add a second light over the kids’ vanity, so I instead drilled two additional holes in the top plate (I re-used the old, center hole once I freed the cut wiring). I then ran “U” shaped sections of wire to set up the three lights in series from the junction box, which connected back to the wall switch. I put in the old-work boxes and had the lights up in no time. Lastly, I used some expanding fire-proofing foam on the holes in the top plate (no one is ever gonna check, but we’ll know it would pass a code inspection!).
I had ordered some nice-looking wall sconces from Home Depot and used some “Edison” style LED bulbs that I already had. They put out a very “warm” light, but as they’re just above eye level, anything brighter would be too much.
The good news was that since this was already a double vanity, there was no changes needed to the water or drain lines. The bad news was that since this was a double vanity, getting a new top with square bowls was the single most expensive item (by far) of the entire project. Even though it raised the final counter height a bit, we really wanted a slightly thicker top. We found a pretty good deal on an acrylic VersaStone top with integrated sink bowls at Home Depot (it’s out of stock at the time I’m writing this, but Amazon carries a smaller size). Other than the sheer weight of pulling off the old top and then putting the new top in place, this was probably the easiest part of the whole project. The cabinet is a “standard” size, so it fit perfectly.
We also managed to get Moen Genta faucets on sale at the Home Depot, too. They were very straight-forward to install except that I had to cut-down the rod connecting the sink stopper to the pull lever, as it jammed in the drain! I did also have to get some water line extensions (why do plumbers install the water lines so low!). So that was a considerable amount of money (nearly $50) for 2″ of line. But the faucets look great with the lines of the vanity top.
Angela also put in a short backsplash with some marble tiles. We ended up having to cut just a few, and I was able to use a grindstone to bevel the edge of a half-piece so it fit in the end. I think Angela has definitely decided that tiling is her DIY job of choice!
If you’ve never lived in a spec-built home, let me explain something to you: the mirrors are glued to the wall with construction adhesive or mastic. It’s fast and easy to do them this way, but it is a huge pain to remove them. We lucked out in getting the smaller ones off the walls years ago. But the mirror in our bathroom was 6 feet by 3–1/2 feet. We knew it had to go, but we were more-or-less terrified about splitting it into a million pieces all over our bathroom. I watched a number of YouTube videos about the process and it seemed that prying it off all along the top by driving in wooden shims was considered the best approach. So, I got a very large pack of 14″ shims and then proceeded to tape up the mirror. You may think this was overkill for the tape, but I seriously considered just covering the entire thing! Angela was there for support, both figuratively and literally (do not try something like this on your own!). We went through the entire pack of shims, even going so far as to re-using some that fell down and we could reach. In the end, we had them stacked about four thick. But with a final, satisfying pop, the mirror came free in one piece. It weighed 70 lbs (I did the math), which isn’t a lot for the two of us to carry, but when it’s that large and fragile, it’s pretty scary.
We had to patch up the walls where the adhesive pulled off the outer layer of drywall paper. I’ve learned the hard way that this stuff is nearly impossible to patch right, even with drywall compound because the inner, brown paper isn’t water proof. It just sucks up the moisture and then bubbles up when painted. Using a repair primer first seals off that paper. We used Zinsser Gardz, because it’s available in a quart (however, I understand Roman Rx-35 Pro-999 is just as good; it just only comes in a gallon and this stuff goes a long way). Just make sure you cut back to sound outer paper and paint it on with a foam brush (it’s like milk). Then you can patch up the drywall with compound, sand, and paint.
I used some mineral spirits to soften up the adhesive on the back of the mirror once I got it out to the garage floor on some cardboard. A rubber headed hammer and a wide putty knife made short work of scraping it off. I then used a cheap‑o glass cutter and a drywall square to score the front surface along the first cut. I was planning to lower it back over a broom handle as a pivot, but it ended up just splitting as I lowered it! One quick change over underpants later, I repeated to split the smaller side into two final sections.
I ordered a couple of 6′ long, maple 1x4’s to mill up into some frames. I wanted a narrow, yet deep frame for each. So they were essentially cut into 1x2’s, framed in the “skinny” direction. The boards were pretty rough, with lots of chatter marks and sniping. I don’t have a planar, but I was able to smooth them down with my belt sander. Ripping the pieces into narrow boards certainly relieved a lot of strain, to the point I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough straight sections to make decent frames! But the hockey stick end aside, I was able to measure and miter each board to fit the mirrors. I cut the dados on the table saw. The glue-up for the frames was pretty easy, though having only one band clamp and limited work space meant I had to make one at a time.
I tried using some plain spar urethane at first on a sample piece to try to match the cabinetry, which while also maple is now over 12 years old. It wasn’t nearly a dark enough match, but my son helped me pick out a close color of get stain at Woodcraft to match one of the false drawer fronts. So, American Oak color wiped on very thin and then finished with spar urethane spray does a very good job of matching older maple, if you ever find yourself needing to do such a thing. Just be sure to do a better job cleaning up your glue and wood filler than I did first.
I used an 18gage nailer to reinforce the miter joints from the bottom and top, none of which are visible when hanging. I used some thin foam sheets to pad the mirror and then covered the back with a 1/4″ sheet of plywood. I used a couple of simple metal clips to hold it in place. The narrow frame means that the hanging hooks are visible from the side, but otherwise it’s a very clean and minimal look.
So that’s our final bathroom update! And making those mirrors was a really great experience.
Letâ€™s all remember the debt we owe Congressman Lewis and more importantly, that it isnâ€™t yet paid. Even ‑or, perhaps especially- white folks like me owe him a debt of gratitude. Through his leadership and nonviolent protests, he forced us to see Christ in those that do not look exactly like us. As this country pulls down monuments to those whose deeds betrayed the nationâ€™s ideals, let us consider that statues should instead be erected to those who made the nation greater than the one they were born into.
It doesn’t take itself too seriously but it believes in itself.
In the round-table discussion slash behind the scenes documentary series, Disney Gallery: The Mandolorian, Taika Waititi discusses directing the season 1 finale. I love this quote as it summaries so well the idea of be true and earnest, without a fear of ridicule or need for validation. Simply the joy of can be validation enough. It really summarizes a lot of Waititi’s work (at least the parts I’m familiar with), like Thor: Ragnarok. But it’s really true of anything worth being passionate about: your joy of the thing is enough.
This is a post that has been a very long time in the making. I started this project back in October of 2018. GuitarPCB had a sale and it looked like their Sabotage Drive would be an interesting challenge. There were six (!) transistors in this circuit. But I wanted to make this a really fun project so I designed some custom artwork as well, all themed around Black Sabbath — the inspiration of this circuit’s sound. This circuit further seems to be inspired by Catalinbread’s Sabbra Cadabra pedal, another pre-amp in a box effects that tries to capture Tony Iommi’s sound of a Dallas Rangemaster treble boost pushing a Laney Supergroup head1. Or, put it another way, the sound of doom metal!
I did some layout in an SVG file for the graphics, which you can see above. This is also largely where I did the drill hole patterns for the enclosure, as those go hand-in-hand. My graphics incorporated some of the Sabbath album covers. I was fairly proud of the design, if not the actual implementation. I then got to soldering the circuit components. Barry Steindel of GuitarPCB did a great job designing this for a relatively complex build, it is a very clean layout.
I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I am in the habit of taping out all the components to a parts sheet with labels that correspond to the PCB silk screen labels. This wouldn’t scale up to a large production, but for one-at-a-time builds, it really takes the stress out of trying to find the right component for each step.
Once the components were in place, it was time to finalize the enclosure layout. The relative placement of the pots/knobs are fixed since they are soldered directly to the PCB. But the placement of everything else is dependent on getting it all to fit. I would have loved top-mounted jacks as you can see in the original sketch below, but that wasn’t going to happen with this PCB layout (in the size of enclosure I chose, anyway). I needed to forgo that in order to squeeze everything in place. Regardless, no 9v battery in here! I don’t use ’em anyway.
When it comes to drilling the enclosure, I use a step bit in my drill press. Another thing I’ve probably mentioned: I have a small medicine syringe with machine cutting fluid. That way I can use my center punch to mark the point on my template and the put 1–2 drops of cutting fluid right at that spot.
As you can see below, I actually tested the circuit before I even completed drilling all the layout holes. I drilled the holes for the pots to get those mounted to the PCB in the correct orientation. I think wired up some leads for signal in/out, the 9v power, and ground to hook up to my testing rig.
Then it was time to finish drilling the holes and wiring up the off board switch, jacks, and LED.
It was a bit of a tight fit into the enclosure, but part of that was my desire to place the LED near the top of the pedal I really don’t like LEDs right by the footswitch, where the get covered up by your foot! Sure, they’re a lot easier to put there, but they don’t make it easy to tell you’ve properly engaged the effect.
I tried using our vinyl cutting machine to create painting a painting template from my SVG file. My first mistake was using some cheap vinyl which didn’t stick to the powder-coated surface well.
Then I used acrylic paint which bled under that template. Also, the tiny lettering details were just about beyond the scale was which the Cricut could successfully cut this vinyl. The end result looked about like I’d just hand-painted the whole thing. I wasn’t at all happy with the paint job, but knowing I wasn’t likely to improve on it, I went ahead and sealed it with some spray clear coat.
So I finished all this December of 2018. I never posted about it all last year though because I really wasn’t able to get a good sound recording of this. My iPhone demos so far have been pretty lackluster. And this effect didn’t sound as great as I’d liked anyway because it’s really meant to run into a cranked amp. Though I used my pre-amp, passive volume control I couldn’t really push the power amp section of my tube head. Well, in the past couple of months I got a power attenuator and a pretty good mic to record some audio with. My amplifier has a “cab emulation” output, as does the power attenuator but both frankly sound pretty terrible. None of the recordings with those ever had any of the low end that the amp actually produces. But using the attenuator with the head volume cranked and the mic into my recording interface, I’m finally happy with the sound I can get recorded.
So here is the full signal chain:
My Fender Telecaster with a Lace Sensor Deathbucker pickup in the bridge position2
This runs through a TC Electronic P0lytune 3 (I mention this because it has a buffer — all other effects are true bypass) and then into the Sabbath Drive pedal.
The Blackstar HT5 Metal head on the clean channel (cranked to 10) and a TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 reverb pedal in the effects loop.
The head runs through the Bugera PS1 power attenuator into the Blackstar 1x12” cabinet with a Celestion G‑12T speaker.
The cabinet is mic’d with a MXR R144 ribbon mic into the Behringer UMC22 audio interface.
I use some of the EQ setting in garage band for the guitar and the overall mix. This particular recording was used with one of the “auto” drummers in Garage Band. This video is the live recording you’re hearing; just poorly sync’d to the audio. The guitar is a single track.
On the whole, I’m really pleased with the sound of this pedal. The Range and Presence controls give a really wide tonal range. I’ve cranked the distortion here (honestly, not even sure why that knob exists! Just fix it at 10!). The volume is about at noon. I shudder to think just how loud this pedal would be with that cranked.
For the record, even though the older Sabbath records were recorded using those, it doesn’t appear Tony Iommi uses those any more. He has a signature Laney head that appears to have the treble boost “built in”. Laney also has a similar, signature pedal which claims to box all this up, but apparently Iommi doesn’t use it at all according to his site. [↩]
Yes, I need to write an entire post on my guitar and the modifications I’ve made to it. [↩]
Like most all of America (and the world), I’m staying home these days, hoping to avoid the spread of coronavirus. Of course, I’ve worked from home for over twelve years now, so what’s new? Well, fortunately, my spouse is also able to work from home. We are both gainfully employed for the foreseeable future (which admittedly, isn’t as long as was a month ago). Our kids are old enough to be responsible throughout the day to largely see to themselves. In those ways, we are exceptionally fortunate. May folks are seeing reduced ours, being furloughed, or even laid off of work all together. Many people are weathering this alone. Many more are dealing this while having to care for defendants that need far more attention.
But even for us, it can be tough. So I truly empathize with those who are dealing with far more issues than we are. So to those who read this, do try to take care of yourselves. These are tough times. It’s best to admit that we’re all having to deal with this to some degree. But it’s also good to acknowledge that everyone else is, too. Find somethings to help you keep perspective.
I’ll try to share some photos of some of the highlights of what we’ve been up to soon. I think I should be able to find some timeâ€¦