Guillotine – part IV

I apologize for the lack of posts recently. The progress on the guillotine has been slow going since I found out I needed to find a new place to live. Good news: I found a place downtown!
Bad news: Based on the rate that I’m going, I won’t have the guillotine ready by the time I have to move. Stripping the paint off with a wire brush is taking awhile…


Guillotine – Part III

Last time I posted about the guillotine, it was sitting outside in my back yard. Unfortunately, this wasn’t much of an improvement from it sitting outside in my uncle’s front yard.

I briefly entertained ideas of pulleys, levers, ramps and logs for moving the fully assembled behemoth around a hill and into the workshop. A couple sketches of Ancient Egyptian-esque cranes later, and I realized the absurdity of that approach. I was stumped until one day when I was talking to Elias. He said, “You know, those things aren’t too difficult to take apart…”

And so it began.

Once the bolts were out, the top spins right out with the wheel.

There’s the blade! I need to take it to Santa Barbara Saw to be sharpened.

After day 1, a few components made it into the workshop to keep the book press company.

One significant challenge was removing the pins which were held in place by the E-rings, shown above. (Note: E-rings are also known as “Jesus rings”, for the way they inspire people to invoke the name of the Lord when they fly across the room when they snap-off the pin.)

Looks like I’m making progress!

Now the base is still sitting outside, covered by a tarp, but it’s something that can easily be rotated and moved by two people. If I wanted to move the guillotine into the workshop and begin reassembling it today, I could. There are two reasons why I don’t want to do this:

1) I think it would be awesome to repaint each piece before reassembling. My plan is to remove the old paint, clean up the rusty parts with rustoleum, and then seal it all up with a new coat of paint. If anyone has any advice, please comment!

2) My landlord sold the property and gave me my 30 days eviction notice last week. Such is life.

Table Origami

One of my uncles–who really seem to be playing a big role in this blog–was getting rid of this table and I was happy to give it a home. (I suppose I should say it was my parents who spotted it first…thanks Mom and Dad!)

I used some Murphy’s Oil Soap to get off the dirt and bring out the stain. While it wobbles a bit, it still works great for preparing food, eating food, making lemonade, or even checking out blog postings by the lovely Sara Bryant Coomes.

But wait, what happens when I tug on this wire. It slides to reveal…

…a hidden compartment containing more table!

If I ever get ambitious, I might restain it so the middle panel matches the rest. We’ll see.

Right now I’m just happy to have it as it is.



For the many years I was away at school in Providence, this bike hang neglected in a shed at my parents’ house. Upon rediscovering my bike, I decided I ought to fix it up. Lacking the tools myself, I took it to my lab. One of my favorite things about being a scientist/engineer is having access to tools and chemicals in a lab. Plus–I must be honest here–I sometimes imagine that people must think my work is more important if I do it in a lab. Pinch of salt in water in your kitchen? You’re making pasta. Do the same in a lab? You’re increasing the ionic strength of your solution by dissociating sodium chloride in deionized di-hydrogen monoxide. Where was I? My bike.

So my bike is the lab, but unfortunately it isn’t being fixed. Normally by the time I’m done with work I just want to head home and eat (or work on the guillotine). Such is the case for a few weeks, until I get an email from a labmate saying something like:

“The way we keep our bikes on the lab is a fire hazard. If your bike is blocking the exit, please move it”

Naturally, I go to investigate. Fortunately, my bike was not among those blocking the lab exit. Unfortunately, my bike was not in the lab at all.

Had someone moved it and not told me about it? Seemed unlikely, seeing as there were still 3 bikes blocking the fire exit. Had I moved it back to my house and forgotten about it? Also seemed like a big stretch. Leading hypothesis: it was stolen.

It’s bad when things stolen, in general. It’s really bad when things are stolen from a lab. Between the hazardous chemicals and expensive instruments, bikes are actually the last thing I’d worry about.

I immediately alerted all the lab members in an email outlining my investigations and the possible models needed to explain the phenomena of the missing bike.

An hour or so later I received an email from my P.I.: “I have the bike…”

The possibility that my boss had stolen my bike had not crossed my mind. As it turned out, she had lent it to her visiting father, thinking it was a bike belonging to the lab. He proceeded to tune it up, fixing the breaks, trueing a wheel, and replacing the pedals. When my P.I. returned the bike to me, she let me keep the pedals!

So it turns out taking your bike to the lab will end up with it getting fixed up, though it may get stolen along the way.