Thursday, May 29, 2014

Leveling blocks for the van

This is another one of those simple little projects that is probably going to take longer to write up than it did to complete.

Once in a while having some means to level the van when parked in one of those slanted places the earth seems so full of can come in handy. Short of a multi-thousand dollar automatic hydraulic leveling system, you can go buy a set or two of those glow-in-the-dark neon yellow or orange nesting plastic blocks complete with carry case, blocks that have enough crush strength to hold up an office building, but why buy when you can build!!???

As with many of my small projects, this one started with left-overs, in this case a stick of treated 2x6. 2x8 lumber would have fit the tread width of the LT 245/75 R 16 tires better but there is a method to my madness thinking that will become clear later. From the board I cut one piece as long as I could and still have it fit where I am going to store these things. Then I cut a second piece 7 inches shorter. Once the two pieces are stacked this 7 inches allows the tire tread to sit completely on the long piece and take a breather before having to make the climb up on top of the short piece. Since leveling by blocking tires is pretty much always done in pairs, I cut two of each.

The cuts were made at a 45 degree angle. It might seem like that's done to ease the tire  up on top of the board like a ramp but for that to work the angle would have to be more like 20 or 25 degrees and the board would be getting pretty long by then. Instead the 45 degree angle is there so that when the tire is climbing up onto the board and the center of the axle is ahead of or directly over the top edge of the cut  the weight of the van isn't transferred directly down to the very bottom edge of the board which might cause it to flip up or loose traction and skid away, either of which would screw up the whole process! Instead the weight is transferred down 1 1/4" back from the edge (1 1/4 instead of 1 1/2 because I clipped that other 1/4" off so there's no sharp points.) and that extra little bit acts as a lever to keep the board flat on the ground, which also maintains maximum contact, therefor friction, with the ground which helps the whole thing stay in place rather than skidding off.

After careful marking, it was over to the drill press where I punched a couple of 1" holes through each of the short boards near the beveled end.

From the drill press it was over to the table saw where I cut four 2 1/2" lengths off of a 1" oak dowel I had hanging around. To make it easier to get consistent lengths I used a stop block, but never, ever, leave the stop block opposite the blade where the cutoff will be trapped between block and spinning blade! This usually results in the cutoff being launched at very high velocity right at your head! Always clamp the stop block to your rip fence making sure it a pulled back clear of the blade. Then all you do is put the material against the miter guide, slide it to the left until it touches the stop block, then push the miter gauge forward into the blade. Now the cutoff has plenty of room to hang out there between the rip fence and the spinning blade. BUT, don't reach in there to retrieve it until the blade has come to a complete stop. If you do you might have trouble playing the piano this evening!

Once the four dowels were cut this is the setup for putting a bevel on one end of each. Belt sander clamped securely in the bench vice and gloves to ensure that if I slip I'll loose a little cowhide and not any peoplehide. If I was doing any more sanding than this I'd have a hose from the vacuum system plugged into the belt sander.

A couple minutes later I have bevels on what will be the exposed end of all 4 dowels.

A bit of glue and the un-beveled end of a dowel is twisted into each of those 1" holes I drilled earlier and pushed until it's flush with what will be the top of the block.

All those other holes?  Didn't I mention those yet?  OK, so I had so much fun over at the drill press that after careful marking, I drilled 1 1/8" holes all over the place through all 4 pieces.

One pair of these holes in each of the long pieces is to accept the dowels protruding from the bottom of the short pieces so that when stacked they stay that way. The rest of the holes?

They left a whole lot of extra weight laying on the floor of my shop so that I don't have to carry it around in the van with me. Besides, the extra holes in the long boards just might increase traction if the board wants to slip as I'm driving up on it.

So why not use 2x8's for the blocks. Because the van has these tilt-open compartments in the bottom of each door that, up until now, I didn't have any other use for. But they're perfect for this! Utilizing otherwise empty space and at the same time keeping grimy, dripping, muddy things out of the van's interior. Instead all that gunk is now in a place where it will just drain into the foot-wells rather than create abstract mud-art all over my sheets or something equally important.

Blocks 5 1/2 inches wide fit in these compartments nicely, blocks 7 1/2 inches wide, not so much. One more use for all the extra holes I drilled is that when storing them I can nest the short block into the long block so that the hole thing (Get it?! Hole thing!!!) nestles neatly into the slightly curved storage compartments.

For some reason the designers of the van decided to add a little extra crap to the passenger-side storage compartment. I think maybe it's sized to hold a quart sized container of oil, but it was in my way.

So I got out my Ridged Jobmax Multi-tool and removed the extra bits.

So there you have it. Now, instead of fighting to keep the pan from sliding off the stove or sleeping with my feet higher than my head, I can quickly adjust the level of my house. With my short 144" wheelbase, if I need more than a 3" lift maybe I should be looking for another spot to park instead! Besides, having done it before, I know that accidentally driving off the back side of a 3" stack isn't all that bad; startling, but not bad; doing the same thing off a 4 1/2 stack, even if I had room to store a stack that size, is - well - BAD!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Just sayin'; It's not free!

Rant warning!!!

 Excuse me while I throttle the next person I hear bragging about the 'free' solar electricity on their RV.

It's not free you dumb ass misinformed, gullible, non-thinker; and by spouting such ignorant drivel you're just perpetuating the myth. And clearly there are plenty out there that are willing to blindly buy in to this sort of damaging hype rather than engage brain and think for themselves. If there weren't we wouldn't have people falling into the payday loan trap, or driving around in way more car than they should be because someone told them it 'looks cool', or signing up for a mortgage they clearly can't afford just so they can brag about having a 'guest room' that actual guests might use maybe a whole two weeks out of a year.

SO STOP ADDING TO THE PROBLEM!!! (And yes, I meant to yell.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of solar on the RV, I've been using it on my RV's for at least 20 years; but it is not and never has been free.

Checking today's prices, in order to replicate the current solar system on my van it would cost:

180 watt solar panel:               $300
Charge controller:                    $260
200 ah deep cycle battery        $440

So, if I ignore wire costs and installation charges, my 'free' solar electricity has already cost me $1000 (No, I didn't plan that nice round number, it just worked out that way.) But I'm not done yet! Deep-cycle batteries don't last forever and since I opted for middle of the line rather than much pricier top of the line that might last twice as long (But cost and weigh nearly twice as much too!), I figure on replacing the batteries every 4 to 5 years. Lets be optimistic and say every 5 years. Let's also say the solar panel and charge controller will last 20 years, even though it's not at all clear the RV under them will. (That's a pretty conservative estimate for the panel but maybe a little optimistic for the complex charge controller.)

So over 20 years and 4 sets of batteries, assuming battery prices stay the same, my basic solar system costs will be $2320 for an annual cost of $116.

Now for a few more assumptions and a little math:

If I assume an average of 6 hours per day at a continuous 180 watts of electrical generation from my solar system, in one year I will produce 394200 watt-hours, or 394.2 kilowatt hours of electricity. (Kilowatt hours is what the electric company uses on your bill at the house.) Using my $116 per year costs that works out to pretty close to 29.4 cents per kilowatt hour. I don't know what it costs where you are but after adding in all the taxes and line charges and hookup charges and use charges and all the other crap, last month my electric co-op charged me 13.4 cents per kilowatt hour!

But wait! It gets worse!

I don't actually use all of those potential 394200 watt-hours my system is capable of generating, in fact not even close! Let's assume a really bad day where the fridge (3 amps) runs 75% of the time, and the lights (2amps), fan (2.5 amps), TV (2 amps) and laptop (3 amps) are all on for 12 hours of the day. That adds up to 168 amp-hours. Throw in 12 more amp-hours for the constant parasitic loads such as the carbon-monoxide detector and standby on the inverter then another 20 for running the microwave for 15 minutes and you have a total daily usage of 200 amp-hours. (Again a serendipitously easy number, I must be charmed, though I can think of better things to use up charm on than a little math!)  So now I'm consuming a fifth of a kilowatt-hour of electricity on a really bad  day. (According to the US Department of Energy the average daily household electrical consumption is more like 30 kilowatt hours!)

So now back to the calculator!:

To continue with the best case scenario theme, let's also say I live in the van 365 days a year, (Which I don't, at least not so far, but you never know when you're going to pull a bone-headed stunt that gets you thrown out of the house!!) and let's also assume I never plug into shore power and never run the van's engine, both of which will also charge the battery. So now we're assuming 100% of my van-based electrical consumption is supplied by the solar system.

In this case my true annual electrical consumption from the solar system would be on the order of 73000 watt-hours or 73 kilowatt hours.

So now, even with all those assumptions and unrealistic best-casing, a last little bit of math shows that what I'm paying for my 'free' solar electricity is a whopping $1.59 per kilowatt hour!!!!

That sounds really bad but to put it into perspective, in New Mexico State Parks it costs $4 more for an electric site than it does for a dry site. That works out to $1460 for 365 days of electric, quite a bit more than my $116 for a year's worth of solar.

By staying away from air-conditioner weather and too many microwave meals, my solar system can meet 100% of my electrical needs with complete freedom from the power grid, and let's face it, many of the best camping places are miles from the nearest electric company.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Remembering on Memorial Day

This week I received a package in the mail from Mom. Even though she hadn't said anything ahead of time, before I had the wrappings off, I knew what it was by feel alone.

When Dad died several years ago I didn't feel any real connection with the photo chosen for his memorial. My theory is that having left home at the age of 17 and never really living back there since, my memories of Dad, my image of him, didn't evolve over his later years at a rate that would keep pace with reality. We saw each other once or twice a year or so after I struck off for distant places on my own, and some of those visits were extended camping trips where we got to spend some real time together, but still, my memories, my internal, mind's eye picture of him, was stalled.

Now he has a marker in the ground over his urn at the cemetery and a memorial brick in the patio at the Multi-Lakes Sportsman's Club commemorating his military service, (Officially it's now the Multi-Lakes  Conservation Association, but the old name sticks better.) yet I still don't think of him as gone. Setting aside the metaphysical and spiritual, even setting aside his genes that are carried on by his children, I think of him as still around, and in very tangible ways.

He still attends family gatherings in the form of a memory candle burning on a table where we're all gathered.

He rides along on my camping trips in the form of the work gloves that were left behind on his bench out in the garage.

Dad's last pair of work gloves riding along on the dash in my van as I go camping.

And he's sitting over on the far side of my own work bench in the form of hand-carved replicas of that last pair of work gloves he wore.

The hand-carved replicas of his work gloves that live on my workbench in the shop

Oh, and the package from my Mom?

At some point this past year the two of us had been talking about her extensive stack of photo albums down in the sewing room and what was to become of them once she was gone and I mentioned my feelings regarding the memorial photo of Dad, so as soon as I felt the form of a picture frame in that package she sent I knew she had been trolling old photos of him and had selected a different one for me.

She found one taken in 1982, a good one, one I can connect with, taken at a time when the prime of our lives, father and son, overlapped. Within a day I found a spot for it high up on the wall where he can overlook my shop.

And that folks, is my Dad! Still with me.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Whacked. . . or not. . .

We don't have a 'lawn' in the traditional sense, instead we have several acres of meadow. Depending on the rainfall for the year we'll shred (With a brush-hog behind the tractor.) anywhere from 0 to 2 times per year with late spring, after the wildflowers are done, and mid winter, before the spring growth starts, being the target dates.

But in between we sometimes have to do a little cleanup around the barns if, for nothing else, so we can walk around and take care of things without fighting some of the pricklier stuff that grows around here. For that we have a weed whacker. Well - we have two of them.

There's this one, which nobody wants to see let alone use but you have one hanging on the wall anyway, if for nothing else, because your grandfather had one.

And then we have this one. The kind any sane person reaches for first, and last.

Which is exactly what I did recently when the growth between the back door of the barn and the front door (The only door but it sounds better to say it that way.) of the greenhouse got to be about waist high. Some of that growth was wild blackberries and walking full speed into those suckers hurts!

Because of the drought around here I hadn't had need to use the weed whacker for quite some time, like more than a year's worth of quite some time, so I expected I'd have to push the little squeeze-bulb primer more than the prescribed 8 times before attempting to start the thing, but by about the 80th time I began to suspect something wasn't quite right.

 A little investigation and some disassembly and this is what I was left with. Little bits and pieces of trash that used to be the fuel delivery system. I'm told, by people that know about these things, that this is what the alcohol now being mixed into our gasoline does to fuel lines.

Never mind the highly suspect Eco-advantage of mixing alcohol into our fuel, what with the high net carbon cost of growing, transporting, processing and delivering grain in flammable liquid form, not to mention (But of course I'm going to.) the reduced stored energy in alcohol relative to just about any other fuel and the subsequent lower fuel mileage obtained from a gas-alcohol mix even though the transportation costs of a gallon of each, pure gasoline and pure alcohol, are the same by the time they end up in your tank. And don't get me started on the devastating ecological impact of so many acres of diversified ecosystem being withdrawn from the CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) to be tilled under for fuel-bound grain production.

But anyway. . . The fix was fairly easy

 Using a couple dollars worth of new fuel line, and the original in-tank filter and on-tank grommet, I just re-plumbed the thing.

Of course it would have been even easier if I didn't make assumptions along the way; in this case my assumption was that the primer bulb pushed fuel into the carburetor when in fact it pulls it through the calibrator.  But after a second round of re-plumbing all was functioning properly again.

And instead of generating blisters on the wrong end of this:   

I was able to flirt with permanent nerve damage in my hands due to vibration from this! How great is that!!

OK, note to self: From now on drain the weed-whacker fuel tank after every use.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The growing season

The other day I stepped out the back doors of the barn and thought I had a problem. There was a cat nestled down in the meadow about 10 feet away. Not hunkered in a stalking pose, but not sprawled for a nap in the sun either. It was on it's belly but perched alertly. That made me alertly alert.

You have to understand that the cats around here usually don't let me get within 30 feet of them without taking off like a shot let alone letting me approach to nearly within touching distance without even giving me an ear-flick. (You'd think being constantly snubbed like that might give me a complex or something, but really, I'm alright with it.)

Checking more closely I spotted an extra set of ears sticking up through the meadow grasses only about 5 feet from the cat's twitching nose. At first I thought it was a rabbit because we have a few that visit the bird feeder to chow down on the discards from above, but quickly realized this was something different and bad things were about to ensue!

Being the undisputed alpha male around here (In my own eyes anyway) I took it upon myself to put things right. But at the very instant I stepped out to put my own kind of predatory fear into the predatory cat, a tiny spotted fawn exploded up from its bed under the nose of said drooling cat and gangled rapidly off towards the pond a hundred yards away with its legs flying in all directions, some of which I'm pretty sure were impossible! It was gangling so rapidly its rear half threatened to pass the front half several times and there were a couple points along the way when the whole ungainly mass went more up than forward! But even so, it was only a few short seconds before the fawn disappeared over the bank of the pond.

The cat streaked off too, much more coordinately, and fortunately in a different direction, so I was left standing there, my loins all girded for battle but no battle in sight.  I still wonder what the doe had been thinking leaving its fawn bedded down so close to the barn like that.

A few days later I spotted the doe/fawn pair down by the pond. The fawn, as fawns do, had grown significantly in the mean time and had found its legs well enough to leap and splash along the water's edge. Of course by the time I got the camera up and aimed mom wasn't quite so amused anymore and she cut playtime short. If she had fingers I'm sure she would have been pointing two of them at her eyes then turning them around to point at me in the universal sign for 'I'm watching you buster'. Makes me wonder if I'm coming off as one of the bad guys in the version of events the fawn is telling everyone. . .

In other nature news:

As usual, two or three Cardinal pairs have set up housekeeping in the vicinity and this year it looks like we have a nesting pair of Painted Buntings joining us as well. As I type this I'm standing just inside the rear doors of the barn about 20 feet from the feeder and Doves are picking seeds from the ground and a Black Cap Chickadee is throwing more down. At least the male Cardinals do it as part of their courting ritual, throwing seeds down one at a time to the waiting females below then looking over the edge to make sure the object of his affection knows just who the gift is coming from, but I'm pretty sure the Chickadees and especially the Tufted Titmouse's (Titmice?) just throw seeds because they think it's fun!  At any rate, I expect that by early fall I will have refilled the bird feeder numerous times and it will be swarming with feathered adolescents.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Travel trailer repairs

If anyone out there is keeping track (Hello??  Anybody??  Is this microphone on???) it's been a while since I ordered a few new parts for the travel trailer.

Well they did arrive and have been installed.

Fact is they were installed a while ago but I didn't get around to mentioning it until now because I had to go camping. No, seriously! These two big guys in baklavas broke in and forced me to pack my gear, climb in the van and . . . OK, I can see no one's buying that. . . but I did have to go. The weather was too good to ignore.

Anyway. . .

All the bits and pieces arrived on the big brown truck and were laying there on the workbench nagging me to get off my ass and do something with them.

So the first thing I tackled was the water-port because - well - the waste valves are going to be nasty and who wants nasty! (OK, OK, I know there's plenty out there that want nasty but that's not the kind of nasty I'm talking about and you know it!!)

Part of the wall behind the original port was pretty much just mush so I started by drilling a 3 1/2 hole in a piece of treated lumber.

And after digging out the mush and cutting my hole down to fit the space left behind, I flooded the area with calk and jammed the new blocking into place.

More calk, a few screws and the new port is in place and functioning. For those RV savvy people out there, no that's not a potable water hose. The original hose had been pretty much trashed trying to get it free of the old port and the green hose is just for testing purposes until I can get my hands on a new white one.

For those keeping track, now that I didn't have the excuse of the water-port anymore, it was time to get nasty. I collected all my parts, tracked down the handful of tools necessary, took a deep breath, and headed out to do battle.

The scene of the crime! One very stiff and handle-less grey-water valve and one leaking black-water valve; with handle. . .

The black-water valve came out pretty easy, a little gunky with - well - crap, but easy. On the other hand, the grey-water valve - well it wasn't easy. Three of the four bolts snapped off as I tried to loosen their rust-enhanced grip and the fourth I actually had to cut in two separate places and the drill out the remains. Not a pretty job while laying down there under the trailer dodging stray drips of nastiness oozing from the tanks.

Remember that handful of carefully chosen tools I girded myself with prior to going into battle?? As usual, by the time I was done it seemed like I had drug half my shop out to the scene of the crime job!

But now, if you lift her skirt, you will find that the trailer is sporting shiny new, leak-less valves held in place with shiny new bolts that I'm sure will be rusted solid by the time the next valve replacement is necessary.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

7.42" of the good stuff!

That's right, between sundown and sunup 7.42" of rain landed on our heads!

Our poor old rain gauge is - well, old, and the plastic is crazed with age but if you look close you can see the central tube filled with one inch of rain and the overflow tube holding a whole bunch more, 6.42" more to be exact. (You dump the central tube then file it up, one inch at a time, from the overflow tube to get an accurate measurement.)

Last time we had a single rainfall of this magnitude was April of 2009 when we had 12" in a single day and 16" for the month!

Now you might not think a good rainfall is blog-worthy but for the last 3 out of 4 years we have been behind in rainfall; almost a whole year's worth of rain behind. The April long term average is 3 inches, we got less than 1 for the month this year.

There hasn't been this much water in the pond in years. In fact I was photographing a dried up mud-hole here a couple years ago. Today, another 18 inches and it would be running over the spillway!

And there's more headed for the pond. It's been 6 hours since the rain stopped and this is supposed to be a walkway, not a stream. . .

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In the shop: Painting the lady

If you've read previous entries, (And have a memory that works maybe a little better than mine!) you will remember that I added a little bling to the van recently in the form of some shiny new window covers.

I guess that got me on a roll because now I've painted the lady. But only a little bit. Not enough that anyone's going to label her a hussy just yet. Just enough to give her a little color, a touch of an accent, a temporary focal point to catch and hold the wandering eye for a moment. Not that I mind a little hussy now and then mind you, but - well - that's one of those things you want to enjoy but don't want to be seen enjoying, a lot like that second donut you snuck off the plate in the break room and snarfed down while hiding behind the monitor in your office.

Anyway, ever since I brought the van home there's been this blank spot at the aft end of the kitchen counter that I've been threatening to do something with, and now I've finally gone and done it.

We have an artist here in Texas - OK, we have tons of artists here in Texas, but in the context of what I'm up to here I'm referring to one in particular, George Boutwell - who, in addition to being a prolific painter of things Texan and named Texas State artist of the year in 2006, has a background in printing and is a master marketer. All of which means poor smucks, average joes, can afford to own some of his works in the form of the many prints he produces from his pricy originals. And I'm one of those smucks.

In fact I have a half dozen, roughly 8x10, prints of his that I bought years ago with a project like this in mind. So, while in the throes of roldom following the bling project, I jumped right into this 'paint the lady' project.

So the idea here is to make a simple frame in such a way that I can rotate through my prints as the mood strikes. I initially thought of using some of the same Bird's Eye Maple that I used for the cabinet doors but decided it would be alright to use something else instead, something that made it's own statement. I poked around the shop and found a couple rough-sawn boards I had cut from one of the Red Heart Cedars we had taken down on the property years ago when clearing space for the barn.

A couple of passes over the jointer followed by several more passes through the planer took most, but not all of the rough out of the boards. I didn't want the frame to be too refined so made sure to leave just a hint of a couple chainsaw scars showing.

By now the boards were getting a little thin to be making rabbets in them to set the prints into so I ran them through the table saw and came up with two wide boards which will be the main part of the frame and two narrow ones which will glue to the back of the wide boards forming the rabbet as well as a bit of edge detail.

I struck a line on the back of the wide boards marking where the edge of the narrow board would sit. The x's are to make sure I put the narrow board on the proper side of the line! Seems like that would be an easy thing to keep straight but in the heat of a glue-up things can get away from you. I speak from experience!

Then carefully glued and clamped the two boards together and repeated with the other set so I ended up with two long rabbeted boards from which to cut the four sides of the frame.

Once the glue had set up, (Just barely! Usually I let glue-ups like this sit for 24 hours to make sure they've reached full strength. I was impatient today and I think I gave the glue all of 2 hours to do it's thing.) I cut one end of each glue-up at a 45 so I could measure the length down to the next cut. Whenever possible I avoid using tape measures and rulers for measuring as it's more accurate to use the actual part/item. In this case the matted print, but that was painful. It meant I had to cut the shrink wrap they've been protected in for more years than I can remember!

And now I have to be careful and keep track of the card that is glued to a separate piece of mat-board and gives a little explanation of each print. It wouldn't be cool to get them all mixed up now!

But back to the business at hand. Using the print I marked where I needed to make the next cut then transferred that mark with my speed square

Closed one eye and carefully lined mine mark up with the blade on the table saw, held my breath and cut.

One last check to make sure I haven't screwed up. (OK you can breathe again.)

Then I use the first piece to measure and cut the second.

Repeat for the short sides and a dry fit seems to show everything is good. This is a view of the front of the frame and you can see how the pieces in the back that form the rabbet also have about a 1/4 inch reveal around the outside edges to give the simple frame a touch of architecture, simple but classy.

   The frame is designed to pull off the wall in order to change out the prints, this way the prints have no way of getting loose on rough roads. For that I'm going to use that wonderful invention, the Command Strip. But. . . These things do have some thickness to them and I don't want the frame standing out from the wall that far. That would be especially obvious with a smallish frame like this.

When the two halves of the strip are mated together they are just over 1/8th inch thick

So the plan is to recess the frame side of the strip right at 1/8th inch. That way there's enough left over to ensure the two halves mate when pressed together but the frame will also be pretty tight against the wall. To do this I marked off the area for the recess on each of the short, or vertical parts of the frame, and gently scored on the lines with a chisel.

Normally my first instinct would be to use some sort of power tool to cut the recess because - well - I've got a lot of them and what good are they if you don't use them? But for such small recesses, especially in a fairly soft wood such as Cedar, the setup time for power tools would make the process longer than just doing it by hand. So I grabbed my trusty 1/2 inch chisel, a very sharp chisel never used for rough work, put a freshly honed edge on it and got down to work.

It only took a few minutes of careful shaving, checking with a 1/8th inch brass setup bar as I went, to finish the recesses.

And finally it was time for glue-up. First a dry fit, shown in the photo above, then some wax paper, to keep things that aren't supposed to stick to the workbench from sticking to the workbench, some glue and my strap clamp. No fasteners needed. I don't use this strap clamp very often but when I do it's pretty much the only thing that's going to work short of building a gluing jig.

After the glue set up, again only about 2 hours as I was on a roll and intended to get this finished in a day, a little hand sanding down to 220 and a quick finish of mineral oil. Mineral oil is a non-hardening oil that you wipe generously into the grain, let sit a half hour or so, then give the whole thing one last swipe with a clean, soft rag and you're done. The oil brings out the color and grain and leaves a nice soft satin sheen. To refresh the finish grab the rag that's draped over the bottle of mineral oil over there on the shelf and give the piece another swipe. Because mineral oil is non-hardening the rag will still be wet even months later. (But if you ever decide you want a different finish on a piece done with mineral oil you will have to use a solvent and float all the mineral oil out of the grain before any other finish will stick and not go cloudy.)

I was careful not to oil the back of the frame so that the Command strips would stick and the frame wouldn't leave oily marks on the wall.

While waiting for the oil to soak in I went out to the van and gauged how high up off the counter I wanted the frame to sit then cut a couple of scraps to that length for gauge blocks. With one half of the adhesive Command Strip stuck firmly into the recesses in the back of the frame and the 'wall' half 'click locked' to those, I pulled off the paper protecting the adhesive then, carefully holding the frame tilted slightly away from the wall, I rested the bottom of it on my gauge blocks then tipped it into the wall and pressed. Following directions (Yes, even I can manage to do that once in a while!) I held it tightly in place for about 30 seconds, then another 30 just to make sure, before prying the frame away from the wall just to make sure everything was functioning as planned.

And there you have it. The lady's been gussied up a little. Like adding just a hint of eye shadow with a few flecks of glitter in it.