Dinner Table: The (almost) never ending project

To skip the story and see the pics, scroll to the bottom

I posted previously with some teaser pictures of the Dining Room Table project that I started in the winter.

The project started after my wife and I were discussing replacing our outdated table that was passed down from her Grandmother. There was nothing functionally wrong with the table, but it just didn’t fit the otherwise modern style of our house.

The previous owner of our house had been somewhat of a wood hoarder. There was random reclaimed wood scattered around our properly, including several old barn beams. The beams had seen better days, as they had been left outside for the past ~10years underneath the roof overhand of my workshop.

This wood had seen better days. But there was still beauty underneath all the rot.

I decided that I wanted to do this project a little differently than other woodworking stuff that I had done.

I was going to do it entirely by hand…

I thought it would be a fun learning experience to build the table the old-fashioned way, by hand. I started out by cutting the beams into rough planks. Then the fun painful part began. Hand planing down six 8ft planks.

This step led to a lot of evening with the heat pack on my lower back and a TON of wood shavings.

This was AFTER I cleaned up the shavings – as they were almost up to my knees 😛

The only “good” thing about the process was that it was -20° C – and at that point, my workshop wasn’t heated or insulated, so all the manual labour helped to keep me warm 🙂

Eventually, things started to take shape and these were starting to look like usable boards!

Then came the first detour

Detour#1: A place to work

In order to continue building the table, I needed a workbench. I stopped work on the table to build a workbench.

At first, my plan was to build my workbench against the wall of my shop. That caused me to think about the (then unfinished) walls behind the future workbench. I realized that at some point I would want to insulate my shop and close it in. It didn’t make much sense to build a bench off of the wall if I was only going to have to take it down later to finish the walls of the workshop.

Detour #2: Finishing the workshop

I stopped building my workbench so that I could do whatever work I wanted to do on my workshop, at least in the area behind where the workbench would be. Originally this was just: insulate, vapour barrier, and drywall. But then I realized how much of a mess the electrical was, so I redid all the electrical as well.

You can see some pics of that process in my PROGRESS post from earlier this year.

Back on track…. sorta??

Now that my shop was partially finished, heated and I had a small workbench in the corner I was back to working on the table….

…but then it hit me

I’m gonna need a bigger workbench!

The dinner table was going to be approx 4ft x 8ft.  My mini workbench was only 3ft x 8ft. I think you can see the problem with that math. I had always planned on making another standalone workbench for the center of my shop, but much further down the line.

Detour #3: Workbench, part two

The reason that my other workbench was a ‘down the road’ plan, was that I knew it would take me some time to build. I had a particular design that I wanted to make and although I could use up the scrap 2×4’s that I had, it was still going to be a lot of work, planing and jointing all the boards – as I was gluing them together, on end, butcher block style.

Rock solid and as heavy as one too!

The new workbench turned out fantastic. Big enough for all my projects (including this table), sturdy, and a nice natural style.

The Final Stretch

With the second workbench completed, I got back to working on the table. I finished hand planing and sanding all the boards. Then it was time to work on my joinery skills. Sticking with the old-fashioned theme, there was no screws or nails used in making the tabletop. All the planks were joined with floating tenons.

Once they were secured together, it was time to start adding some colour! After hand staining and buffing until I got the desired finish, I sealed the wood.

The table was FINALLY done….. well, sorta?!  The table top was done but it had to legs. Originally I was going to make wooden legs for the table. Then I realized metal legs would better fit our modern style. As well they would match a coffee table we already had. It was time to get out the welder and make some legs. Once problem, I’m a TERRIBLE welder 😛

Since I knew if I did the welding it would not only look terrible, but likely also be structurally unsound – I asked the greatest man I know for help. My Dad. Just like most  Dad’s would, he happily signed on for the project. Then life got in the way.

I went away on vacation, got busy with work, had health emergencies with one of our dogs – etc, etc. So the tabletop sat and waited… and waited… and waited.

Until last weekend, when my dad and I finally welding up the legs for the table, as well as a coffee table and end table that I’m also working on.

With the legs done I thought I was almost done. But then I realized I would need to weld a cross brace on the dining table legs, as there would otherwise be some side to side wobble. The following weekend my dad helped once again and the legs were finished.

The Surprise Ending

Now keep in mind I started this project in December 2016. It is now July. That’s 7months later! This entire time my wife has been anxiously awaiting this dining room table. With the legs now finished she asked if the table would be ready this weekend, I told her no. Despite the welding being done, I would still have to grind down all the welds and sand the steel. Then clean them, paint them, then mount them on the table. She won’t admit it, but I think she was sad when I told her that. And with that, she was off to visit friends for the day.

As soon as she left, I went to work busting my ass to make sure that I would have the table ready and waiting for her return 🙂

It was a long and backbreaking project. I learned a ton though and I’m happy that I did everything the way that I did. I’ve already used lessons that I learned from this project doing other things (like this live edge coffee table I just finished). So in the end, it was totally worth it!

What’s it like to be a Happiness Engineer?

This time last year I was working at FreshBooks, but now I’m realizing it is my 9th month working at Automattic and I can’t believe how fast it has gone. Our Grand Meetup, which happened just after my hiring, is only 3 months away.

In the past 9 months, I have grown so much professionally and I know I still have far more in front of me.

One of my colleagues recently wrote a great piece on what it’s like to work with the customer support team at Automattic. We call our crew Happiness Engineers, which despite being a trendy-cliché title, is actually quite correct. How we engineer that happiness is with a team of brilliant, motivated people that wear a lot of hats and have a deep pool of knowledge. If you are interested in reading his breakdown, I recommend reading his article here:

 

So You Want to be a Happiness Engineer, Huh?

Woodworking Monday

Talking with my co-workers this morning about what I did on the weekend, they declared that Monday’s were now “Woodworking Mondays”, as every Monday I would update them on what I did in my shop 😛

Well, I think you can guess what this post is about…

 

 

I decided that I’m going to begin selling some of my creations on the side once I finish up a couple things that are currently on my plate. With that in mind, I need to start stockpiling some inventory. This weekend I spent some time creating some blanks for various cutting & serving boards. They are still all at a rough finish, so I need still spend some time giving them a bit of TLC.

Spending time with friends

This past weekend was a long weekend (Victoria Day), so my wife and I headed out of town to meet up with my best friends. We all got together in London, Ontario for the weekend to laugh and have a good time. It was great getting some face to face time as that is now rare with some of my friends due to geographic distance.

London is also where Abbie’s foster family is, so we met up with them for lunch before we left town. They are great people, so it’s always nice to spend time with them. I was also able to give them a present that I had made them:

 

Hopefully they enjoy their new cutting board 🙂

On the holiday Monday, I spent most of the day working on opening our pool. The pool cover had fallen into the pool half way through the winter. This meant that all of the crud that built up on the cover was now in our pool. Because of this, it took about 6hours of work to get our pool from Brown/Black, back to a normal pool colour 😛  I’ll spend this week getting the water’s levels right and then we should be able to start swimming in another week (weather permitting).

New board finished and new site coming soon!

I finished up a new cutting board on the weekend. It’s a live edge piece of Hard Maple for a wedding gift.

I engraved the Bride & Grooms names into the board, as well as their wedding date on the weekend. I also made a DIY lightbox so that I can take some proper photos 😛

I also got a new site started on the weekend that I’m going to feature and sell my woodworking projects from. Stay tuned for more on that as I finish the site 🙂

Fence is up!

Back in March, the last snowstorm of the year brought down part of my fence, while I was over in Lisbon for my team meet-up (which reminds me, I never made a post about that trip). The fence was actually two fences. One that my neighbour had put up 30+ years ago and a second on my side that was simply nailed to the previously mentioned fence. It was poorly made and never maintained.

Its failure was inevitable as most of the posts were rotted out and the majority of the fence boards were completely rotten for the bottom 3-4 inches.

Its collapse meant it had to be replaced, despite how much my dogs loved exploring the newly discovered area of my neighbour’s yard 😀

This weekend was the weekend I picked to demolish the old fence and build a new one. Thankfully it just happened to coincide with a sale on structure and pressure treated wood at my local lumber yard! #winning

Workbench is done!

I’ve trailed off on posting updates lately, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have any. Quite the opposite actually, as the reason for the lack of updates is how busy I’ve been in my workshop.

First off, I finish my workbench 🙂

IMG_20170408_212750

You can also see in the background there are some new additions to the shop. I’ve cleaned up my Grandfather’s old drill press and restored that to working order. As well, I added a new dust collector.

This past weekend I actually ran all the ductwork for the dust collector, so it’s in full swing now.

Next on the update list, is that I stepped up my Cutting Board creation game. I experimented with using a laser cutter to etch the board on this one (which was a birthday gift for a friend). It turned out better than I thought and I’ll definitely be using the laser cutter on future projects.

Stepped up my cutting board game 😎 Make Epic Meals! #woodworking #makeshit

A post shared by Phil Thompson (@phil.blog) on

 

My last update, is my long awaited Dinning Room Table. This is the project that started my back into woodworking, but it has been horrible delayed 😛 I’m going to do a full post on the table, so that you can see before and after. For now though, you can have a sneak peak at what the tabletop will look like once it’s peiced together:

Logan – Go see it. ‘Nuff said

I went and saw Logan last night.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m about as big of a Marvel fanboy as you can be – so it’s no surprise that I was anxiously awaiting this movies release.

There were a couple reasons I was excited for this movie though, aside from just the “OMG MARVEL MOVIE” factor:

Rated R:

Like Deadpool, Logan is rated R. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is. The “Old Man Logan” story line wasn’t made for children. It’s dark, violent and gritty. It deals with death, depression, suicide, rage, and more. Making this movie PG-13 would have meant gutting the story and it’s dark undertones.

Disney has already put a firm “No Never” message out that they will not be making any rated R comic movies. Thankfully this franchise is still under the rights of Fox and even though they were reluctant, after Hugh Jackman agreed to take a pay cut – they made it happen

Retirement:

This movie marks the end of the Wolverine franchise. Fox will not be making additional Wolverine movies (though I’m sure X-23 will get her own story line) and Hugh Jackman said he wouldn’t do another.

Hugh Jackman has always been perfect for the Wolverine role. He does a great job bringing the character to life, and if he felt this movie did the character’s retirment justice… I needed to see it

The Story:

Just like any book, Comic Movies never truly follow the comic book story lines. They can’t. Sometimes it’s because in the comics they can kill everyone off and simply “reboot” the whole universe like it never happened. Othertimes, it’s because the Marvel character rights are split among several studios, meaning that even if they wanted to follow the comics they might not have the rights to feature certain characters. So going into Logan, I knew it was only going to very loosely follow the comic story line.

That was good enough for me

I knew if the movie was 1/4 as good as the comics, it would be amazing.

After now seeing it, I can thankfully report that I was right. Logan is an incredible masterpeice. It goes beyond the Comic genre and holds it’s own with great mainstream movies. Hugh Jackman was incredible and brought feeling to a character whom viewers could never connect in previous films. Patrick Stewart was finally given the opportunity to show how brilliant an actor he is. Lastly, Dafne Keen is an excellent new addition and welcomed new face to the story.

Logan is now one of my favourite movies of all time

Thank you Hugh Jackman, Patrick Steward, and James Mangold. I couldn’t have asked for a better send off for this character.

Progress

Earlier this year, I started making a new dining room table from some old barn beams that were left on my property by the previous owners. I’ve planned to do a post about the (backbreaking) process, but that will have to come at a later point.

Here’s a little teaser. These are the beams that I am using to build the table. They have a lot of rot on the outside, but the inside of them is a nice hard Maple.

Last weekend I hit a roadblock on that project. I am now at the point where I need to join and finish all my planks to create the table top. In order to do that, I needed a nice workbench with a large, flat, and level top. My workshop is great and it’s one of my favourite things about our new house – however it’s also 60 years old and very basic. Inside is a slowly rotting wood floor, raw studs, no insulation, and shoddy electrical wiring. Another thing that is missing, is a workbench!

My workshop still has a sound frame after 60 years, but that’s about all you can say for it.

When I starting designing my workbench, it quickly became apparent that once in place – I wouldn’t want to move it again. This meant that if I ever wanted to finish the inside of my shop, I’d have to do it now. So I paused making my workbench (which I had paused building the dining room table for), in order to finish the inside of the shed.

I spent the entire weekend working at it, and I’m happy to report there has been progress 🙂

This weekend I accomplished the following:

  • Insulated all but 1 wall (need to buy more insulation to finish)
  • Half of the shop is strapped and drywalled (need to get more straping before continuing)
  • New subfloor is in
  • Electrical work is cleaned up with new lines run
  • New 250v electrical run, which now powers my….
  • Heater! I installed a 4500BTU electric forced air heater, which does a wonderful job of heating the shop

Even though the shops not totally finished, I’ve completed enough that it is now a workable space. In an effort to get back to my dining room project, I’m stopping here for now and beginning the work on my new Workbench 🙂

Let the laminating begin! My workbench will be a butcher block style top, made from 2×4 pine that I had left from other projects.

Boys day out with Rascal

Since Abbie’s diagnosis of Heartworm, I haven’t been able to go out hiking with the dogs. Normally I would take the dogs out for a hike each day. Since Abbie is on strict bed rest though, I haven’t been doing these hikes. Today though, my wife stayed home with Abbie to keep her company while the boys went out to play 🙂

First stop was the dog park for 30 minutes. Rascal wasn’t really feeling the crowd, so we left and started hiking in the woods. After 2 hours of hiking in the woods, we made our way back to the dog park. This time there were some higher quality playmates and Rascal got a quality wrestle in before we packed up and left.

 

Don’t let anger divide you

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past year, you know there is a lot of tension regarding Donald Trump and his now confirmed seat as the President of the United States. Even here in Canada, everyone has a strong opinion on the subject and that’s ok. Truthfully, we should all have opinions on matters that will impact our country and day-to-day lives. Despite living in Canada, the President of the United States has a big impact on my life. As our largest trade partner and a huge contributor to the Canadian economy, changes in U.S-Canada relations can have a massive impact on my country.

In the US, this mentality is only further echoed on a much large and stronger scale and that’s ok.

It’s alright to be passionate about your Country. It’s alright to have opinions on your government. It’s alright to challenge your government and ask questions. But don’t let it divide you!

Now more than ever in my generation’s time, do people need to stand together. You may think that Donald Trump will be the best president ever or the worst. You may agree with his thoughts and policies, or think they are insane. What matters most now, is uniting the people of your country and working together to continue to build a better future.

Allowing yourself to dislike or dismiss someone, based simply on if they voted Democrat or Republican is not only limiting, but also dangerous to your country.

At the very core of Democracy is the idea of compromise and without compromise, democracy can never flourish.

Regardless of which party you voted for, you should challenge your government. Make them work for you, the people, in order to earn your vote. Never be complacent. If they fail to deliver, take your vote elsewhere. That is how people retain power in a democratic system. Don’t vote blindly for a party because they won your vote in the past.

The second part of this is on your government. Political parties need to work together in order to best serve the people. It does no good if neither party is willing to compromise with one another and work toward solutions. They need to work together in order to build a better country based on the blueprints that voters have created.

So next time you meet someone that voted differently from you, try to listen to them. Understand their viewpoints and why they see things differently than you. Use the lens of their mindset to understand why they think, “I am right and you are wrong“.

Don’t hate. Don’t dismiss or marginalize. Don’t lash out and don’t give up. An election isn’t the end, it’s the beginning of a new four-year journey. Your ship may have a new course, but the more each and every one of you challenges the parties that you vote for – the more control you have over that ship.

To finish, I want to leave a quote from a Canadian politician named Jack Layton. Some loved him, some hated him. Regardless of his political views and actions, his parting words to the world were that of love and unity.

 

My friends,

Love is better than anger.

Hope is better than fear.

Optimism is better than despair.

So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.

And we’ll change the world.

 

Why my 2016 didn’t suck…

I know. 2016 was a rough year for a lot of people. Some shitty things happened and a lot of celebrities passed away.

If I’m being honest though, 2016 was a great year for both myself and my family.

In 2016:

The Thompson family got a new member:

Less picture taking.. more head scratching!

If you haven’t already, meet Abbie! My wife and I rescued Abbie in February 2016. Abbie, like her brother Rascal, was a stray on a native reserve in Southern Ontario. They were both rescued by the wonderful people at ARF Ontario. Unlike her brother, Abbie spent far longer out there on her own. While Rascal was picked up when he was only a few weeks old, Abbie wasn’t picked up until she was already a year old with a litter of 10 puppies.

When Abbie joined our family, she was just like a 3month old pup. You could tell that she hadn’t received the socialization and life experiences needed to develop her mentally and emotionally. That didn’t stop her from fitting right in 🙂

Rascal and Abbie were inseparable from the moment they met. We actually had to force them to stop playing the first night otherwise, they would have been wrestling until the sun came up.

She was the perfect match for our playful and energetic Rascal, she was also the perfect match for me and my wife.

Rascal, our first dog – has never been much of a “People” dog. He cares about treats, other dogs, and toys that squeak (in that order). He’s never been a fan of getting pet, or cuddling up with you.

Abbie comes from a different school of thought 😛

Abbie, while also loving dogs and treats, absolutely LOVES getting pet and cuddles. She will sit and get pet all day and night. If you have the nerve to stop, she has no problem letting you know that your job isn’t finished. She was the perfect Ying & Yang match to Rascal and we couldn’t possibly imagine our family without her!

 

New Jobs lead to new Adventures!

10 points if you can find me!

2016 also saw some job changes for my Family. My wife received a promotion that she had been working towards for a long time. While she was busy with that, I changed companies!

After four years, I made a very difficult decision to leave FreshBooks. A year ago, if someone asked me where I’d be working in ten years – I would have said FreshBooks. I have nothing but great things to say about that company and it’s people. I looked forward to the work that I did at FreshBooks and made several best friends in the process. Being able to say that after four years with a company is an incredible feeling and speaks volumes to the company culture. FreshBooks was the greatest example I had seen, of how much an awesome company culture can impact your work.

“I looked forward to the work that I did at FreshBooks and made several best friends in the process.”

 I had the opportunity to not only pursue my passion in custom service, but to learn and develop as our team grew. When I joined FreshBooks in 2012, the company consisted of 70 people, with a 10 person customer support team. When I left FreshBooks, the customer support team alone was over 60 people and the company nearing 300! It was an amazing opportunity to see and learn from that much growth. The surprises, the problems, the creative solutions.. Every day was a new lesson in development and learning.

So why did I leave?

When I made the decision to leave FreshBooks, it was the hardest I had made in my working life. I however, felt the opportunity that I was presented with was too good to pass up. My new role at Automattic gives me room to continue my pursuit of growing a career in customer service. I have the chance to work with a large team (more than double the size), covering both; a much larger customer base, as well as several different product lines (instead of a singular offering). It also meant working in a completely remote environment of over 500 employees, which is something I had never done before.

Six months later, I’m happy to report that I’ve made the right decision. My time so far with Automattic & the WordPressWooCommerce teams has been amazing. We have the strongest company culture that I’ve seen in a remote company. I truly feel part of a team, despite being hundreds (or even thousands) of kilometers from my coworkers. As well, working for a company with multiple product offers has been a really insightful journey. Learning how to support users that have very different questions and needs, across various offerings is a great way to speed up the learning process. Every day is a challenge and that is very welcomed.

Oh the place you’ll go…

Somewhere above Banff

With my new job came the opportunity for more travelling, both for work and for pleasure (thanks to an unlimited vacation policy). A month after joining Automattic, I flew to Whistler, British Columbia for our companies yearly Grand Meetup. Each year our entire company gets together for a whole week to mingle, learn, team build, have fun, and get valuable face to face time.

During the rest of the year, individual teams have their own meet-ups. I just booked the airfare for my first team meetup, which will be in Lisbon, Portugal. Thanks to our unlimited vacation policy, after I’m done my week with the team, my wife is flying over so that we can vacation in Portugal and then Italy.

There will be no shortage of travelling in my future and that’s very exciting 🙂

Settling into our new Hometown!

This is less than 5 minutes from my house…

September of 2015 we sold our place in Toronto and moved to Newmarket, Ontario. In 2016 we spent as might time as we could outside, taking in everything our new neighbourhood has to offer!

We spend most of our free time hiking through the local York Regional forests with the dogs. Despite spending an entire year exploring, we always find a new path or trail. I’m constantly amazed at the beauty that is so close to our home.
I look forward to expanding our adventures to new areas in 2017!
There you have it, I hope your year was as good as mine. If not, then all the best from my family to yours in 2017!!!

Welcome everyone!

Welcome to my new home, phil.blog!

I’ve had a lot of websites in my life, however they have always been very specialized. This meant that it didn’t always feel right posting some of the content that I wanted to share, as it wouldn’t be relevant.

I am aiming to fix that with this site!

This site is now going to be my primary presence on the internet. I will be using it to share random thoughts and memories, articles and opinions on customer service, and of course pictures of my pets… LOTS of pictures of my pets 🙂

Eventually, I’ll migrate all my online content here (including my email). For now, the mission is to get back in the habbit of sharing on a regular basis.

In the meantime, if you’d like, please feel free to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin (the later of which, I hardly use).

Here’s to a long and healthy life to Phil.blog

 

p.s – if you want your own .blog domain, check out https://get.blog