The Trapezoidal Screen Door
Square joints are for squares.
When Bre and I moved into this house a few years ago it didn’t have a screen door. Because it’s the desert we like to leave our doors and windows open the majority of the time. So one of my first projects after setting up the new shop was to build this screen door.
I had some salvaged Douglas Fir for the rails and stiles. It was fairly knotty lumber and had holes from bolts and nails that needed to be filled as well. I joined and planed them down to be square and to a consistent thickness and then filled all the knots and holes with epoxy. This makes the wood more stable over time. I took measurements of the height and width of door jamb. The width was relatively consistent from bottom to top but there was a difference in height from left to right. But it wasn’t much more than an inch so I figured once the door was built I would use a block plane to make the final fit in the door jamb.
To join the stiles to the rails I used a tongue and groove joint with round coping and made a little mortising jig for the hinges. After cutting the rails to length I dry fit the pieces, squared them up, chiseled all the joining round overs and then glued it up. After sanding I hand wiped a diluted polyurethane outdoor varnish on in thin coatings. It took about six applications to build up an appropriate film. The screen material is the same found in a wrought iron security door. Home Depot sells sheets for ~$20.
All the hardware is installed and a perfectly rectangular door is ready to be installed in the door jam. The first thing I noticed with the door propped up next to the jam is the concrete was sloped and slanted. So the back of the bottom stile had to be severely rounded over and the entire bottom had to be trimmed by a couple of degrees. The top was far worse. It was slanted by almost five degrees. I realized that I should have checked the jam for square when taking those original measurements. The height from left to right was only off by an inch or so but the amount needed to be trimmed from the door was more than you could do with a block plane. So I measured the two angles and set up the table saw to make the cuts. Using the miter gauge and an outfeed support positioned off the side of the table the top and bottom stiles are no longer parallel. Parallel rails and converging stiles: It’s a Trapezoidal Screen Door.
Oyster y Barnicle by Bruce Delbridge
This recording is from a fairly recent project I engineered for Francisco Gonzalez who was producing it for a fellow named Bruce Delbridge. Bruce is a character that lives half the year in Alaska and half in Tucson. He spent his youth traveling around South America singing songs and working on ranches.
Francisco helped Bruce arrange these songs and played most of the rhythm instruments. This pseudo-lullaby was by far my favorite song out of the bunch. It’s a heartfelt story that feels like a victorian emigre parable. The tale of European servants who sent their children to America for the chance of a better life. They share their desire to make the journey themselves and wonder what has become of their children in that land of opportunity. But told through dialog between an oyster and the barnacle attached to its shell.
The harp and strings are beautiful and Bruce’s vocals are perfectly vulnerable. He invokes the character’s longing, loss and hope.
The picture next to the soundcloud waveform is of the space we recorded it in. A back room in Francisco’s house. I recorded most the instruments with a Josephson C550 omni directional measurement mic. It is very accurate and reproduces the sounds around it, warts and all. There is very little processing on any track or the mix as a whole. A little reverb, a little compression and that is about it.
Madre by Francisco Gonzalez
This is another track from Francisco Gonzalez’s album El Regalo which I recorded and co-produced with Harvey Brooks at the 17th St Market studio. I was introduced to a handful of instruments for the first time recording this song. Francisco played an eight stringed instrument called the cuatro puertorriqueño. It has a buzzy shimmering quality that is addictive. The melody and solo lines he plays tell a parallel narrative running along side the vocal that creates a hypnotic droning quality in contrast to the highly rhythmic backdrop. The bass instrument is a marimbol which you could think of as a huge kalimba crossed with a cajon. It’s a rectangular box that the player sits on with a sound hole on the face positioned in between the players legs. Thick wood tines are secured in front of the sound hole and are plucked to make a woody resonant percussive sound. The face of the box can also be used as a percussion instrument. Jacob Hernandez, a musician haling from Francisco’s home of Veracruz, played it with dexterity creating a pulse everyone else rests upon. The most unexpected instrument was the quijada de burro or donkey jawbone. The teeth are played like a guiro and the jaw is struck with your elbow to make the teeth rattle and the jaw vibrate like a tuning fork. As always Francisco’s honest and emotional vocal delivery ties a bow around the entire thing.
The combination of the instrumentation gives the recording so much depth and the arrangement is so lush that it is comical to remember it was recorded in a carpeted, fluorescently lit office turned recording studio in the back of an industrial food market.
Fight Song by Francisco Gonzalez from the album El Regalo
I engineered this record and co-produced it with Harvey Brooks in a studio in the back of an Asian Market, the 17th St Market, in Tucson. I love the sparse arrangement. Just vocals, bass, mandolin and harmonica. The stark honesty of Francisco’s voice juxtaposed against the rah-rah feel of the song brings an emotional depth to intentionally generic lyrics. Harvey’s bass bobs underneath the rhythm of the mandolin, pushing and pulling at the beat. And Walbank’s harmonica is spot on.
Vocals and mandolin: Francisco Gonzalez
Bass: Harvey Brooks
Harmonica: Tom Walbank