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Vacation - Shop Class Style

My son's ranch in southern New Mexico is remote, or as he puts it,"45 minutes from nowhere." The 1905 ranch house sits 3.5 miles south of US-70 between Alamogordo, NM and Las Cruces, NM. It's quiet except for the sonic booms from F16's stationed at nearby Holloman AFB.

It's pretty much old-style ranching with a few modern enhancements. Ranch life includes stretches of minimal activity and a lonely lifestyle, to rather intense social work periods.

When extra hands are needed for roundups, ranchers have a labor sharing arrangement in southern New Mexico. Good food, a comfortable bed, and beer are enhancements to ensure return labor. A pool table in the living room also can't hurt..

As built drawing.

After some back and forth design, measuring, and ordering we were ready to go.

Our goal for my two week vacation (including travel time) was to replace the counter tops with edge laminated maple and fill the area on either side of the stove with pullouts.

I loaded up the trusty van with a few tools pilfered from the shop and headed west (for a three day drive).

Like with most jobs, demolition was the first step.

One challenge was working around the cast iron sink we wanted to retain. This monster is 6' long with the two drainboards and about 350 lbs. by our estimates. Extra support in the cabinets and three bottle jacks solved the problem.

After over a 100 years and 1,000's of sonic booms, we figured that nothing was square. So we templated all of the slaps we needed to cut.

With our templates and the trusty Festool Track Saw, we were able to produce some impressive mitered corners. The breadboard ends and all the joints were secured using the Festool Domino machine (really, this isn't a advertisement for Festool).

Once all of the countertops were in place, they were sanded progressively to 220 grit. Food safe and installer safe Odie's Oil was used for the finish. First we sealed the slabs with Odie's Super Penetrating Oil. Twenty-four hours later, they were buffed out and a coat of Odie's Oil was rubbed in with applicator pads. Twenty-four hours later, they were buffed out again and Odie's Wood Butter was applied with a Harbor Freight car buffer. The buffer was also used to buff out the Wood Butter. The surface will be ready to put in service after a 72 hour cure time.

Next we used this to move a commercial cutting block from the decommissioned slaughter house to the front porch/workshop.

It is an end grain cutting block dating back to the 50's. Setting on stainless steel legs it measured 30" square and is 18'' of solid maple. After flattening the top some, and a lot of sanding it started to come back alive.

The recycled cutting block and the Rev-a-shelf pull-outs look at home. We were able to recycle some matching salvaged plywood for the facing on the pull-outs.

Of course Odie's Oil was used to refinish the cutting block. Because end grain has a tendency to suck up oil and the cutting block was rather dry, I was informed it took several coats before it stopped absorbing the oil.

Now there is plenty of space for serving a roundup crew.

To complete the project, cutting boards with the ranch brands were made out of the end cuts back at Shop Class. The larger one will slide in to a pocket under the counter (original feature).


20" Powermatic Planer

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