Harry Dresden

Each year for Halloween, I try to come up with a costume that depicts a piece of me. This year, I chose Harry Dredesn. I'm a big fan of the books, and this past summer I had done some.. uh.. aggressive tree trimming, with a chain saw, and ended up with a few nice straight branches, which I thought might be good for use as a staff. I think it turned out pretty well. What makes Harry Dresden stand out from just some guy in a duster is the accessories. See, Harry is a wizard, in modern day Chicago. What makes this costume so easy to do on your own, is the type of accessories Harry carries. He has a number of tools, that are all hand crafted, by him, and enchanted to do various things. I had three major items to create. Harry's staff, his blasting rod, and his Shield bracelet. All of which are depicted in the gallery.


The staff is a pretty simple concept. In the books, Harry tells us that the staff was carved out of a branch of a tree from his old teachers property. So, the branches I cut seemed perfect. Others have used dowel rods to create Harry's staff, which look nice in the end, but I never thought looked authentic. I started by shaving all of the bark off of the branch. Then I took a hatchet, and used that to chop the end off at the length I thought was about right for me. I thought it would look more authentic than cutting it with a saw.

Then I took a propane torch, and scorched the whole staff, to give it a darkened look. Then I went over the whole thing with some rough sandpaper. I did this to clean up the burned char, because every time I touched it, my hand came away black. Once i sanded it, and wiped it down, it came out nice. It even left some of the high-spots and grain in the wood clear again, adding a really nice finish to the staff.

I had intended to carve runes into the staff, but ran out of time before the party I was going to.

Blasting Rod

Harry's blasting rod is his focus. Harry favor's fire magic, and as he says in the books, he uses the blasting rod to focus that raw power into something more control-able. When he describes his blasting rod, all I can picture is a stick, similar to his staff, but shorter, scorched to charcoal on the business end. So, I treated the blasting rod the same as the staff, except that I chopped both ends of it, at about 18". Then I went heavy on the propane torch at the business end, and then tried to taper it as I got to the handle end. Where I hold it, its almost clear. Then i tied a leather boot lace around the haft, and put a loop in it, which is something else Harry describes in the books.

Shield bracelet

The shield bracelet is, as its named, a bracelet, which Harry uses to put up a magical force field around himself. He describes it as a bracelet, with medieval shields hanging off of it. So, I found some shield charms on Etsy. I had originally planned to tie up something like a survival strap, out of Paracord, and then attach the shields to it somehow. The more I thought about it, the more I thought nylon cord wasn't Harry's style. So instead, I used one of my leather boot laces, and tied a cobra weave. I took a piece of wire and looped it into the weave to attach the shields to. You cant really see it unless you're looking for it. Then I tied a knot in one end, and had a loop in the other (as happens with a cobra weave), and boom! Shield bracelet!

Business cards

I figured most people were going to have no idea who I was dressed up as. So I took one more element of the character and made it real. Harry's business cards. He's a private investigator, so of course he has business cards! That I could recall, he never outright tells you what's on his cards, so I took his yellow pages ad, and put that on the card. Then I gave the author, Jim Butcher, credit on the reverse. I think they came out really well. I printed them on card stock, and cut them apart on my own. They worked out perfect, they were the final touch that tied things together. Whenever someone said, "What are you supposed to be?" I just reached into my inside pocket and flipped them out a business card, "Harry Dresden, Wizard".

General assembly

Harry wears a duster. I own a trench coat, so I wore that. He also wears a Pentacle amulet, which I couldn't find in time, so I settled for a celtic weave. It was still a circular pendant, which was good enough. He also doesn't have facial hair most of the time, and I have a goatee, so to mask that i just let my beard grow some stubble, and then trimmed it all to a relatively uniform length. Harry's usually pretty unkempt, so this worked well. It also gave me a more rugged look. Harry also has these kinetic rings. That he says, store up energy just from walking around, and then he's able to release them at will, like, when he's punching someone in the face. So I dug around and found a few simple band rings we'd collected over the years, and threw them on my right hand, my wedding band remaining on my left. Harry's not married, but I am, and I generally don't take off my ring. Even when impersonating a bachelor. In the end, I think I really pulled it off well. A friend of mine got to see the costume. He's also into the series, and in fact, got me into the series. He thought it was pretty spot-on. He also loved the business card. ;)

Repairing Kiddo's bedroom door.

This one's more of a fix than a make, but it took some handywork, so I thought it was worthy.

Some time ago, we remodeled kiddo's nursery. Before she was born. When we did, one of the last things we did was re-hang the door. Because of the work we did, we had to move things around a bit, and the age of the door frame along with how we moved things, well, it was never quite right, and soon became loose and difficult to open/close.

So, today i set about the seemingly easy task of fixing up the door. Essentially, there were two things to repair. First, the catch on the door frame. The screw which attached the plate to the frame landed right in the seam of two boards. One being the door frame, the other being a piece of 1" pine that we used as a spacer between the door frame and the moulding. This worked well enough at first, but within weeks, the spacer board started to separate from the door frame, and the screws loosened up. This caused friction with the door itself. The other issue was with the hinges. Similar to the plate, the screws on the hinges were horribly loose. The screws we used were way too long, and because of it had about a 1" shoulder on them. I think the real problem here was the shoulder. The door frame was only a little over an inch thick, so the screws didnt actually bite anything once they were driven all the way in. Whoops. Simply replacing the screws didnt work out, since the screws we used we so large, the holes were too bored out to accept a more reasonable screw.

For the plate, my first attempt was to work some gorilla glue in between the spacer, and the door frame. This didnt work, not because the glue didnt do the trick, but because I couldnt get the screw holes to accept a decent screw. All because of this seam problem. So, I did what any reasonable home-handyman would do. I cut it all out, and replaced it with a single board. Have a look at the pictures for more detail. I worked with a dremel and chisel to cut away the whole section of both the spacer and the door frame around where the plate mounted. Then i cut an insert, and put it in place. I cut a step into the door frame, and the insert, so i'd have somewhere to mount the insert to the door frame. I used wood glue at first, but then decided I'd drive some brads in an an angle to hold the thing in place a little more securely. It came out pretty good if I do say so myself.

For the hinges, it was easier. I took the pins out of the hinges so I could get the door out of the way, then i just took the frame side of the hinges off. Once they were off, i took a piece of 1" pine scrap, and crushed it in a bench vice. This splintered the wood nicely. I took the splinters and drove them into the old screw holes, effectively filling them in.Once they were good and filled, I took some good old dry wall screws and used them to mount the hinges. They're good and solid now. I remounted the door and now it works perfectly!

Garage upgrades.

So far, i've posted mostly home rennovations and crafts. However, i'm a gearhead too, so i thought I'd share the most recent garage upgrade. I have this old YJ sitting in my garage, with no nood, fenders, grill, transmission, transfer case, roof, seats.. hell, its barely a jeep at this point. One thing it DOES have, is a motor, and i aim to remove it, and replace it with a different one. To do so, i needed an engine stand, and engine hoist.

A few years ago, my Dad bought me both of these as birthday gifts. They've been sitting in the boxes they came in.. "Aging" ever since. Well yesterday I finally put them together. /cheer

The 70's have passed.

My grandfather, was a resourceful, thrifty, and creative man. He knew how to pinch pennies, and came up with some.... Creative... ways to keep his home looking decent, and not break the bank. Jess and I now live in that home. Through a series of events, the place came to my father, and he rents it to us. Its not a bad house, but just about every room could use some updating. This entry is about the Living room.

Hardwood floors, suspended celing, and dark panelling. Thats the current decor. Not only panelling, but mis-matched panneling. There are three, maybe four different types of panelling on the walls of this room, All of them similar to eachother, but not exact. When we moved in, we decided that we'd like to tear out the panelling, and drywall the room, but that's a lot of work, and money, so we've decided to give painting the panelling a shot first.

We're starting out by filling in all of the voids in the panelling with this spackle-like stuff called "Crack Shot", made by DEP. Then we're coating the walls in KILLZ primer, and then a nice beige paint. It should lighten the room up quite a bit. The plan is then to re-finish the hardwood floor, but that's going to come later in the summer if we can swing it.

So far, we've finished the void filling, and we have the primer up on the walls. Filling the voids was a lot of work, but i think in the end it'll be worth it. It was essentially like spackling drywall, except the voids were every few inches, instead of every few feet. It took me two of the medium sized canisters of Crack Shot, I could have used more if i really wanted to mmake it all perfect, but it's good enough.

Well, that's it! We're done! It turned out pretty good. We had a few learning moments. First, i should have hit all of those crevaces up with a second coat of Crack Shot. Some of them came through the paint. Not terribly, but enough that I know they're there. I'm guessing others may not notice. Second, we ended up with a lot of paint runs. Not sure why. All i can figure is first, the panelling base didnt absorb any paint, and that paint had to go somewhere, so it ran down the wall, and second, the air.. It was humid when we painted. Nothing we could really do about that. In the end, it looks nice, and thats all that matters.

It really opened the room up! It feels like its huge now! Much more comfortable too, i guess the color really affects the mood.

Canisters made of paper.

We're at it again. This time we're making thank-you tokens. They're canisters, similar to what you'd see holding things on your kitchen counter. They're cut out on our Cricut though, and then assembled.

I spent a big chunk of my day yesterday cutting out lots of funny shapes, that will later be assembled.

In the end, they came out pretty good. Some fitment problems cropped up, not sure what's up there, but they came out OK anyway. Getting them glued was sort of a pain, but worth it.

What is this "Make" thing?

"Make" has become a common term to describe the act of.. well.. making things. Taking raw materials, or at least materials that currently dont have much form, and turning them into things. LIke making a cake from scratch, or building a roll-cage for your Jeep out of raw steel tube, or building a toybox out of lumber.

I've started this blog because my Wife and I are creative. We've made lots of things together, and individually. Home-made recipies, curtains, a toy box, blankets, a nursery, our daughter... ;) So I thought it'd be nice to have a place to log our projects, and even show some of them off.



So, Our nephew is turning 5.

My father built us this nice toybox for Kiddo a little while ago, and after looking at it, we decided to base a toybox for our Nephew on the toybox my father built. We're making it a little smaller, and we're putting a hinged lid on it. Overall, it's roughly 36" wide, 20" tall, and 20" deep. We're painting it, and then Jess is going to paint some of Levi's favorite comic book/movie characters on it.

This is one of my first real solo building projects. I've been a part of many over the years, but they've all been lead by my father, or a friend of ours. This is the first time it's all mine, from conception, to planning, to build. We'll see how it turns out.

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