Jun 30

Wood Project Finishing Steps

Someone recently asked me how I finish my woodworking projects.  I wrote down the steps to share with all!  This isn’t the best process for every piece, but it works for an awful lot of them.

1) Sand your piece.  A lot.  No, more than that.  Sand it
again.  Down to at least 220 by hand, or even finer with a random orbit sander
(I have a DeWalt one that was like $80 at Home Depot).
2) Dust off your piece with the compressor’s air gun – blow
open all the pores.
3) Move your piece to a dust-free area. (This is key – my friend tried to finish her piece while her husband was using the router 10′ away).
4) Go over the surface with a tack cloth to remove any
remaining dust.
5) Apply a coat of Seal-A-Cell to seal the grain, or a
stain if you are staining.  If it’s pourous wood like pine or poplar, then apply
a pre-stain-conditioner first.  Apply with an old white t-shirt or sock.  The
chemicals can leach the colors out of colored rags.
6) Let dry fully (read product directions for
7) Sand surface lightly with synthetic steel wool pads to
knock the shine off and add some tooth to the finish, so the next layer will
8) Apply 2-3 coats of Arm-R-Seal Topcoat, letting dry
completely and sanding lightly with the artificial wool pads between each coat.
What I do is put the rag into a zip-lock between coats so I don’t have to use a
new rag every time.  Obviously, don’t mix rags between
9) If you want a gloss finish in the end, do the first 2-3
coats with satin (since it sands easier) and only the final coat with
Good luck!

Jun 24

Review of an old d20 (3.x) Module – Blood Royal

I originally wrote this back in 2004.  I just need to make sure that the world knows about this, so I’m reposting it here.

My group just finished attempting to play this scenario.

Let’s just say that it was so bad that not only did our entire party
die do to nothing but random die rolls, but the arbitrary nature of
this scenario so enraged all of the players that it took hours of
feather-smoothing to avoid having our gaming group break up over how
bad it was.

Encounter after encounter was a cliche’ filled
doens’t-matter-what-the-PC’s-do-they-will-get-screwed-by-the-dice crap.
Only halfway through this adventure, we just wanted to be DONE.

If there is anything to be learned from this scenario, it’s that you
after encounter of 50/50 choices that lead to player death makes no one
happy, except a pureblood Gygaxian DM. Anyone who actually likes to
play this game, as opposed to ‘trying to win’ will not like this
scenario AT ALL.

It was nicely produced, and the maps we OK. It did feel fairly
disorganized, and it was difficult to find bits and pieces of info.

The style of event was in a word, juvenile. Over and over, our group
said ‘huh?’ and ‘you have to be kidding, right?’, and ‘why in the world
would my PC ever do this?’.

I can’t de-recommend this heartily enough.

To go into detail:

1) There is no connection for the PCs to this kingdom, other than
relying on the PCs good nature. The PCs never get a chance to really
become sympathetic to the situation, nor do they gain any trust of
their employers.

2) The ‘fairy-tale’ motif is cute, but quickly grows achingly cliche.

3) The ‘random dungeon’ in the middle is just a tossed-together
collection of fairy-tale-ripoff puns that are pooly balanced, and seem
designed to punish the players for just being there.

4) Many encounters require hours of endless skill checks, with failures that quickly kill PCs.

5) Very few encounters allow the PCs to use any strategy, or their
abilities to solve them, instead relying on very special abilities, or
very lucky rolls. Arbitrary.

6) There is no way for the PCs to leave and rest, to just plain quit.

On my top 10 worst scenarios of all time list.