Saturday Tweets: Bird Eyesight, Making and Marginalia

The Return of the Ceiling Bed?

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The irony of using an iPad to access 19th and early 20th century literature is not lost on me, but I’m really enjoying reading original source material from the Arts and Crafts and bungalow movement. Deep in the pages of Bungalow Magazine I found an ad for the Murphy bed’s forgotten competitor, the Sorlien ceiling bed.

US1065740-1The Sorlien company’s contraption hides the bed in the ceiling rafters. As you can see in Sorlien’s 1913 patent, you lower the bed via a crank in the wall. Weights, also hidden in the wall, counterbalance the bed. Folding legs on the bottom of the bed deploy like landing gear on a UFO so that you’re not swinging from a chain all night (although that sounds kinda fun).

Wait, they did that in the 1970s. But I digress.

Sorlien’s invention never caught on and the company diversified into tent trailers. But it appears that the tiny house folks have revived the ceiling bed idea.

Sears Modern Home blog has more information on the Sorlien bed.

I Made a Mallet


Kelly and I have done a lot of crazy how-to projects, mostly just for the sake of doing crazy how-to projects but, occasionally, in the service of this blog or our books. Lately, I’ve been thinking of paring down our disparate activities to only the most useful. And there’s no doubt in my mind that the skill I need most would be carpentry/woodworking.

We live in a small, nearly 100 year old house that needs constant work and I’m the incompetent building supervisor. Any tradesperson who knows what they are doing will not take small jobs at our house so I often have to do things myself. Why it didn’t occur to me sooner is a mystery, but I’ve realized my carpentry powerlessness and the need to seek out a higher power that can only be found in the form of a shop class.

So I build a mallet in the course of an entertaining three week class at Community Woodshop. Even their safety orientation was full of useful information and hands-on learning. The mallet class was a great way to pick up skills involving measurement, sharpening, the use of hand tools and elementary joinery (mortise and tenon). Because it was just a mallet I didn’t feel attached to the outcome. In fact, the more mistakes I made in the presence of the instructor, the more I think I learned. I’m kind of glad I broke tenon just so I could learn how it could be fixed and the mistake hidden. I also learned that much of woodwork is paradoxically about metal work: the use and maintenance of metal tools.

I’ve done a lot of carpentry over the years such as building sheds, chicken coops, laying floors, repairing joists and hanging molding. I’ve done this all with hand held power tools. But I have very limited experience with chisels and planes as well as shop machines such as table saws and bandsaws. And I’ve never paid enough attention to the details.

Kelly is thrilled with my attempt to, ever so slightly, raise the quality of work around the casa. What I learned about sharpening and hand plane use already paid off in an unexpected application: fixing a broken window.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area there are three places to take woodworking classes that I know of: Allied Woodshop, Community Woodshop and Ceritos Community College. I hear that the folks at Allied Woodshop are soon to open a business selling wood from locally felled urban trees. There are a lot of exotic trees in LA, so it will be interesting to see what people do with results of LA’s poor tree maintenance.

More on Federico Tobon


I had a great time last week interviewing the always creative and ever resourceful Federico Tobon for the podcast. Federico put up a blog post going into more detail on some of the things we talked about during the podcast, specifically the type of CNC router he uses (the ShapeOko 2 ), his social media rules, a video proving that he’s trained his cats (!), his hand sewn bike messenger bag and a shot of the LA Eco Village rooftop beehive.

We talked for hours before and after recording and could talk for many more. Topics of future conversations could include, for instance, the clever milk crate drawers below the ShapeOko 2 and the tool hanging method in the background. Federico needs to host a TV show.


Saturday Tweets: Root Simple’s Miscellanies