My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #233: An Unexpected Adventure

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-22-2011 02:57 PM 4058 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 232: Cutting on New Trays Completed Part 233 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 234: A Rocky Start - But It Will Get Better, Right? »

Life is full of adventure. Sometimes adventure comes into our lives uninvited. Other times we set out to find it. And then there are the times when we stumble upon it unintentionally and it takes us by surprise. Yesterday was one of those times for me.

The day began normal enough. I got up and did my mail and wrote my blog here and did all of my regular morning routine. I had planned on finishing the two new candle trays and photographing them and moving on with other projects.

My partner and I were talking about stuff and work in general and then it happened – we had an idea.

The adventure began.

I am unable to claim credit for this ‘brilliant’ idea, nor do I bear the full responsibility for it. All I knew was that between us and our conversation it was decided that we would take the day and drive to Halifax to go to Home Depot and purchase a Rigid Oscillating Spindle Sander and also a Rigid 6.0 hp shop vac. We had our sights on both of these things since Christmas and had received some money toward them and it seemed like a good time to jump in and take the plunge and buy them. After all, we had recently acquired some extra storage space due to the organization project last week. My partner had just finished building another beautiful basket which required several hours of hand sanding and the sander would have come in mighty handy, as would the shop vac. I am sure you all as fellow workers know how it is. All of a sudden, the ‘want’ turns into the ‘need’ and depending how good you are at justifying yourself, you find yourself in the car and heading out to acquire your new tool(s).

Now of course, we called HD first. Not the one in Halifax, as that was a three plus hour drive away, but the one in New Minus, which was under two hours on the road. We were saddened to hear that although they had the Vac in stock, they did not have (nor did they carry) the Oscillating Spindle Sander. Excitement turned to bitter disappointment as I listened as my partner relayed the information.

“Oh, well” I thought to myself. “I will be better off finishing up these trays anyway.”

But then I heard a note of hope in his voice, and he said to the clerk “Really?” My ears perked up.

After he hung up, he informed me that in both the Halifax and Dartmouth stores, they had no less than five (yes, FIVE) of the sanders in stock.

With my hope rekindled, before I knew what I was saying, I blurted out “Let’s go!” That was all it took.

Like two children heading off to an amusement park we fed the cats some extra food, packed up our necessities and headed off. The sky was overcast but calm and snow was lightly falling. It was going to be a fun day!

We drove for about an hour and a half, stopping for a quick bite to eat in Digby, as we were so excited that we left the house without eating and it was already after noon by the time we got there. We continued on our adventure perhaps another 45 minutes or so and the snow began coming down a bit harder. I believe it was at this time that we were fist aware of the weather, as the windshield began getting icy, to the point where we had to stop the car and clean off the wipers. The roads were getting nasty also and we slowed our speed to well under the limit.

I mentioned the obvious change in weather to my partner (sometimes he refers to me as “Captain Obvious”) and it seemed we both had checked the weather forecast for the day. After all, we live in Nova Scotia and don’t want to really be on the roads during a storm.

“Light Flurries”, the forecast said. Surely it would clear up soon. We forged on.

As we approached Windsor and began the turn to cross the province, we were barely able to see. The “Light Flurries” turned into a full-fledged white-out and we were lucky to see 100 yards in front of us. We crawled on, and both agreed to share the blame equally for our stupidity.

We were fortunate enough to follow the plows most of the time and by the time we reached the city our nerves were a bit frazzled but we decided that it would probably be best to stay overnight and come home in the daylight the next day.

It was nearly 5pm when we arrived in Dartmouth, and the snow had turned to a steady rain. We were starving again and stopped at a place for a bit to eat. We had our supper and planned our route to Home Depot and pondered as to what to do about getting home (“Beam me up, Scottie” was somehow stuck in my head at the time.)

We got a map and figured out how to get to HD, which was no easy task. Halifax/Dartmouth area is a nightmare of tangled streets. It seems that no matter how many times I have been there I still am unable to figure out where I am. Everything always looks familiar because I am sure that I have been driving down each street at one time or another in my quest to get to another destination. I grew up in the Chicago area, where everything is set up in a grid. You can go from 100 North Cicero Avenue to 250 South Cicero avenue and the route is a straight shot. As long as you don’t turn, you will be fine.

Not so in Halifax. It is a tangled mess of streets that lead in circles and it is further complicated by the fact that Bedford Basin and Halifax Harbor divide the two areas and the only way across is via one of two bridges, unless you go around.

In any case, we finally made it to Home Depot and I have to tell you that being there was the most positive part of our day. (That alone should put it in perspective!) There was even two helpful clerks that came up to us to help us out and beside the fact that the one nice man told us that they didn’t sell the 4” x 24” extra sanding belts for the sander and we found no less than 16 (yes, sixteen) boxes of them among the sanding belts, everything went fine. We were even able to (barely) fit the two large boxes in the back seat of the my partner’s Sunfire.

While we were in the store, another miracle happened – it warmed up and actually stopped raining. The pavement was actually clear, albeit wet, and the roads were much better. We decided to try to get home after all. We made a pact that if the weather changed again, we would stop along the way and wait it out. We also agreed that time was not an issue and even if it took several hours extra, we would go slow.

We arrived home close to midnight. The conditions went from average to somewhat poor in the valley, where snow was still falling, but from Digby on it was just normal wet. When we finally pulled into the driveway around midnight, I wanted to kiss the ground like the pope does. I was really, really glad to be here.

It was a LONG day, but now it is behind us and today I plan to get some serious work done. I have some pictures of the new additions to our tools.

The new Vac (or the “Mega-Monster” as Pancakes calls it):

From Shop Pictures

And the new Oscillating Belt/Spindle Sander:

From Shop Pictures

These both have good reviews and will be wonderful additions to our work. I can’t wait to play with them! I am very happy that yesterday is behind us though and we are safe and sound in our little place.

“There’s no place like home!”

Have a great Saturday. :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

12 comments so far

View brunob's profile


2277 posts in 4198 days

#1 posted 01-22-2011 03:14 PM

Sounds like a horrible trip but great end results. Always good to get home.

-- Bruce from Central New, if you'll pardon me, I have some sawdust to make.

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3065 days

#2 posted 01-22-2011 03:21 PM

I’ve seen oscillating spindle sanders before but not a belt version. That looks useful. Takes the chore of oscillating the workpiece on an ordinary belt sander out of the equation.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#3 posted 01-22-2011 03:29 PM

This is an awesome one Martyn. I will get more pics of it later when we set it up. Bernie has one at his shop and I used to use it all the time. We are going to make a rolling base of sorts so we can easily transport it outside and also hook it up to the new monster vac. I can’t wait to make something and use it. :)


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3332 days

#4 posted 01-22-2011 03:30 PM

well i lived in alaska for a long time and weather while on the road is no surprise to me and ive driven many white fact my job while in the army up there was a transport driver…going from one base to fairbanks was 375 miles…and sometimes it was smack tab in the middle of winter and you drove regardless of weather…so fun fun fun…lol…i love adventure myself and would have loved this trip…i am glad that your all safe and sound and home with your new treasures…yippie…now more fun with new tools…..have a great day today and dont suck up any cats …they would not like the experience…lol…someone might be interested in that talking cat …does pancakes have a new york accent…lol…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#5 posted 01-22-2011 03:36 PM

Actually, my daughter got him from a farm in Michigan. She then brought him to Chicago and then moved in with me here in Nova Scotia (all before he was 3 mos old!) That is one worldly cat! He used to cower at the regular vacuum, while Richard (our other red tabby) would follow you around while you used it. Eventually Pancakes has come to know (and trust) the ‘regular monster’ to the point of just having a slightly annoyed look on his face when I vacuumed – no more running for cover.

This, however, is something else. ;)

They are adaptable however and they do trust me. I am sure with some gentle talking (as gently as I can over the roar of the monster) I will be able to convince him “It’s OK”


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View KnotCurser's profile


2025 posts in 3097 days

#6 posted 01-22-2011 04:43 PM

Wow, quite the full day, eh? Looks like everything ended well!

You have the exact model of spindle sander I have and absolutely LOVE! It does everything you expect and then some. The suction attachment at the back works wonderfully – In a place like yours it will be extra nice!

Now all you need to do is get yourself some wooden spindles, some hook-n-loop tape and convert that thing to accept rolled sandpaper – works really well and is far easier storing flat pieces of sandpaper instead of a bunch of rolled four inch spindles! :-)

Check out my posting on this very topic:

Good luck with all!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View KnotCurser's profile


2025 posts in 3097 days

#7 posted 01-22-2011 04:45 PM


One thing I forgot to mention – the ONLY problem I ever had with the sander is ensuring the lift up front is perfectly flush when you lock it down. It has a habit of being a degree or so off at times. This is adjustable however and once you get it locked in all is wonderful!


-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3144 days

#8 posted 01-23-2011 12:42 AM

thank´s for a blog with well told story :-)
always nice with a little freindly talk to a snowstorm …lol
glad you are home safely

congrat´s with your new toy´s
if you make a cart to the sander then make place down under with a insulated room
for the wac to stay in with a hole in the bottom tolet the air come out
and make the hose go thrugh the side of it (maybee even make it as a connection point for the hose)
I´m sure both you and pancake will like it to bee more silent :-)

take care

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6859 posts in 4008 days

#9 posted 01-23-2011 01:29 AM

Hi Sheila;

I just love happy endings!

Have fun with the new toys.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3099 days

#10 posted 01-23-2011 03:53 AM

That sander looks a great tool I wish we could get them in the UK . We have oscillating belt sanders available but about 3 feet wide x 6” the belt is 2.5 metres long. Martyn Axminster tools ( just down the road from you) do them for £509.99p They’re great but big

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#11 posted 01-23-2011 04:34 AM

You’re going to love the sander. Since I’ve gotten that exact same sander, I’ve wondered how I ever lived without it. When I made my wife’s unicorn for Chirstmas it really shined. To think, I’ve build several detailed horses similar to that and sanded all the little tiny overlay pieces by hand.


View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18293 posts in 3705 days

#12 posted 01-23-2011 11:54 AM

Shelia, seems like we have had the same experiences at different times and different places. I am in that adventure of preparing to do more woodworking and getting set up for it. I too was raised on the flat land with a grid system. Took me a while to get used to hills with twisted streets and dead ends when I came to WA ;-)

Looks like you are set up to do some real production and fill that web site to over flowing!! Now, for a CNC scroll saw with auto thread for the blade ;-))

Grizz mention of driving white outs reminds me of a time or two I had that in fog. No fun, just watch the side of the road. Logging road, not highway. One night a friend and I were going hunting in Eastern WA. We were traveling about 60 mph on a road that looked to be bare and dry. We saw a car wrecked off to the side of the road. John was an EMT and we thought we had better make sure everything was OK because we were miles from nowhere in the winter.

When I started to brake, the truck started to slide. I took my foot off the brake and it took a mile to get stopped. We finally got back to the car. When I stepped out onto the pavement, I literally could not stand on it. It was the slickest dry ice I have ever seen in my life. The fellow in the car was OK. He said he was just going to walk home as his ranch was near by. There was enough moon light to walk across the fields which was a lot safer than driving. We proceeded, but at a substantially slower pace!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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