Saturday Tweets: Rats, DIY Plastic Recycling and Old Flatbread

122 Artist, Gardener and Activist Renee Garner

Image: Renee Garner.

There’s a struggle in cities, around the world, to make streets safer for everyone, especially our children and elders. One hundred years of car-centric planning has created cities and suburbs that are ugly and dangerous. Renee Garner is fighting a plan to turn the road in front of her home in Matthews, North Carolina into what would be, in effect, a multi-lane freeway. During our conversation we talk about her activism and what happened when a local reporter uncovered a trove of mean spirited text messages about her from the (now former) mayor. In addition to her efforts to stop the John Street widening project, Renee is an artist, illustrator and avid permaculturalist. You can find Renee’s website at renee-garner.com. Check out her amazing illustrations here.

If you’d like to leave a question for the Root Simple Podcast please call (213) 537-2591 or send an email to [email protected] You can subscribe to our podcast in the iTunes store and on Stitcher. Closing theme music by Dr. Frankenstein. A downloadable version of this podcast is here.

Random Acts of Beauty

Thank you librarians of this world for your shelves of suggested new books. The librarians of LA’s Central Library have been a big part of my effort to cut down on screen time in the evening (during the day my workshop and home restoration duties force me away from that infernal iPhone).

Librarians have a real talent for suggesting books I’d never find on my own such as Wiener Werkstätte Jewelry. Behold, the striking pendant above designed by Koloman Moser in 1905.

William Burges Cardiff Castle.

Another serendipitous find, Gothic Revival by Megan Aldrich introduced me to the work of architect William Burges. A recent Guardian article featured a tour of Burges’ Tower House in London that just happens to be owned by Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page. The ceiling of Burges’ Cardiff Castle, above, shows Burges’ extreme commitment to ornament and detail.

Lastly, when it comes to screen time, I’ve been thinking about re-watching the films of Andrei Tarkovsky, Stalker, in particular. Like all of Tarkovsky’ work the film is poetic and ambiguous. In Stalker, Tarkovsky addresses two of the issues that keep me up at night: ecological disaster and a culture that has become overly literal minded.

Saturday Tweets: Cow Appreciation Day

Make Your Own Molding With a Table Saw

Not much posting this week as we’re racing to finish the home restoration project we began in May. I spent the past week installing another wood floor and replicating 1920s era molding that is no longer easy to find. My companion in this quixotic journey has been my table saw.

I held off getting a table saw for many years thinking I could get by with a circular saw. I’ve learned, in the past year, that a table saw is capable of much more than just rip cuts. While labor intensive, you can use a table saw to make many kinds of molding.

Pacific Ready Cut houses feature a simple molding that I replicated with a series of 45º cuts followed by a pass over a dado stack and/or a router. I’ll provide specifics in a later post if requested.

You can also make cove molding by moving wood diagonally across the blade. This was easier than I thought it would be (once you figure out the right angle–the not easy part). Since you raise the blade just 1/16th of in inch at a time, it can take a long time to spit out 100 feet of molding, as I discovered. And you’ll need to sand away the blade marks.

I also took some Home Depot door casing molding and cut a groove on the back with a dado stack on the table saw to make an improvised picture rail. I’m not sure why picture rail fell out of favor (though you can still find it if you hunt around online). Who wants to make holes in the wall every time you want to hang up a picture? I’m guessing it has something to do with the use of drywall after WWII. Lath and plaster walls, like we have, don’t take well to nail holes. That said, even a house made with drywall should have picture rail just for the convenience of being able to easily hang and move around pictures without making a lot of holes.

Should you wish to join the table saw cult, I’d recommend getting a SawStop table saw. I have an inexpensive Delta table saw that works fine, but I had a chance to use a SawStop during a class and they seem well made in addition to their unique finger-saving safety feature.

If you do not have space for a table saw or other power tools, one of the best YouTubers out there, Paul Sellers, proves you can make just about anything with hand tools.