I have not been lucking out timing-wise these last few days. I used a $50 gift card to Rockler from my aunt from Christmas last week, but I guess I ordered too late in the week, so I haven’t yet gotten the stuff that would have helped this weekend.
Taking some advice commented to my last post (and wanting to try the heat/freeze and light sanding method combination), I actually tracked down a local bearing shop not too far away. I had looked before and found nothing but wholesalers and other places that couldn’t help. This guy had a few of the bearings with the exact measurements I needed, all ‘motor grade,’ and used in cars, so he said to come by and take a look. He said he closes at 5 to 1, which I at first thought meant he was open from 5AM to 1PM, but then realized he meant he closes sharp at 12:55PM. Curious. I’d already been working for hours in the garage, and so planned things out so I could accomplish a few more things out there while still stinky, then shower up and have a half hour to get to his place. It wasn’t that far away.
I completely neglected to factor in LA traffic, however, and hit light after light, got stuck behind 5MPH trucks, trapped for minutes in a few separate construction areas (one erecting a massive metal street light with a crane reaching over the lanes of traffic!), and even had to weave back and forth into parking spaces 5 times to let other cars by in just the final 3 blocks to his building on his street, because it was one of those narrow roads with cars parked on both sides in an industrial area with lots of business traffic. So frustrating. Long story short, I got there at 12:50PM, about 20 minutes later than I expected. He had locked up and was loading his car. He remembered me, but said “I can’t let you in. The alarm sets itself at 1PM.” Ah ha! Mystery solved. Still weird, though. As he looked at me, a loud bell went off over his building. “See? That’s the alarm. I can’t go back in.” I wondered what he did if a customer lingered too long. Sleep over in the store with them until morning? I told him I’d see him Monday, when he’s again open 8AM-12:50ishPM. Another 35 minutes to go 10 miles home again with no prize.
And finally, craigslist. I scour for things like lumber, logs, trees, wood, and so on often enough. Most things are way too far away to be worth the round trip, as here on the west side there isn’t much tree-felling. Once in awhile I’ve found some halfway decent things to play with, like a pile of like-new pine 1x lumber, and those enormous eucalyptus logs (largest 234lbs!). One thing I’ve really been wanting to get my hands on is California pepper (Schinus molle). I’ve seen some turnings online, and they’re very pretty. I recently ID’d them in my neighborhood, and now that I know them I see them everywhere.
The trunks are large, warm brown and beautiful, often full of burls. The long, hanging, opposite compound leaves smell like pepper when crushed up, and they create the pink variety of peppercorns, which are edible and used in cooking, either by themselves or mixed with regular peppercorns. I’ve been thinking it would be cool to strike when the scores of peppercorns appear, collecting and drying them out, then get myself a small branch from the same tree and turn a peppermill, fill it with its own pink peppercorns, and present it as a gift to someone (probably my gourmet parents).
Anyway, the other night, while trawling craigslist again before going to bed, I found a full, slabbed tree, all planks 5” thick, and in the 2’x10’ area. That’s 100BF, and he was just giving it away! He was also in S. Pasadena, not too far away at all – 20 minute drive, maybe. I called early the next morning, and he said someone was already hauling it away. Siiiigh… Oh, the things I could’ve made. I’ve never seen anyone giving away slabs in the year I’ve been looking, and especially not a wood I particularly wanted to try. I just hope it was a woodworker who grabbed it, and not one of the horde of people always scrounging for firewood. I’d prefer to give them a truckload of my crappy ficus logs as trade for pretty, 5” thick slabs.
Oh well. At least I’m getting good things done in the garage, and Monday I’ll be picking up a couple of bearings, and probably getting the light-sanding (to knock down the peening and remove nicks) + heat/freeze method to work (crossing my fingers). I remain hopeful. The Rockler box will probably show up on Monday, too, and then I’ll have WAY too much to do all at once :)
-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator