IIII Instead of IV on Clocks

About a week ago I noticed the clock on my wall didn’t use the usual Roman numeral IV to represent 4. It used IIII.

Did a mistake make it to production?

Nope. It turns out this is extremely common and I never noticed. Nobody seems to know the real reason, but there are several possible explanations why IIII was and/or is preferred over IV. My favorite…

One hypothesis we came up with is that of the “lazy clockmaker”… One that we don’t really take seriously. While this doesn’t apply to clocks with cut-out or painted numerals if the numerals were cast in metal having IIII instead of IV and VIIII instead of IX could have made the clockmaker’s life slightly easier.

If you rely on the additive notation, you’ll end up with these numerals: I, II, III, IIII, V, VI, VII, VIII, VIIII, X, XI, XII. This means that you can create fewer moulds, as you’ll use the same basic mould for the four first numerals and the same basic mould for the numbers from VI to VIIII. Only three moulds would be required: a first one shaped like IIII that was partially filled to create the numbers I, II, III and IIII, a second one shaped like VIIII used to create the numbers V, VI, VII, VIII and VIIII and a last one shaped like XII, used to cast the number X, XI and XII.

Bathroom Shelves with Towel Hooks

Several weeks ago Brandi repainted her bathroom. When we were searching online for new towel racks these shelves caught her eye.

I offered to make a version of those and we had the idea to do a whitewash to match some of the other new decor around the house. We both thought the white would look really good with the deep blue color she had painted. On a shopping trip at Menards we saw this toiler paper holder, which I said could be sanded down and whitewashed to go with the shelves.

Since it was a smaller piece it would be a good test for the whitewashing techniques. I helped her out, but Brandi did most of the work and we both liked the result, especially for our first attempt. It was done by scuffing up the wood with a wire brush and then applying thinned out paint with a small chip brush. We took it back to her house and hung it up.

In the mean time, I had started on the shelves. Since we were going for a weathered whitewash look, I milled some reclaimed lumber to 1″ thick, cut everything to size, did a rough sanding, glued, and screwed.

Some of the pieces had cool characteristics to them that would look good with the whitewash. I did some testing of paint and stain to roughly apply to the wood before whitewashing. I wanted to be able to create more of a dirty/weathered look than what we ended up with for the toilet paper holder.

Going in, I thought a gray or one of the blackish stains would be the winner. We both preferred this dark walnut.

Next, we tested with a different whitewash technique, which involved pouring thinned out paint on the wood and spreading it with a scraper. The results looked really cool.

You can see the scraper at the top of the picture below. I gave the shelves a quick coat stain, since it was going to be painted over.

When Brandi saw the stained shelves in person, she loved how the grain and imperfections of the wood were highlighted, thinking it would be a nice contrast to have some wood grain in the bathroom. So she redid the toilet paper holder and we gave it two coats of spray lacquer.

We also finished the shelves with two coats of spray lacquer. Since the plan was a weathered and whitewashed look I had only done a sanding with 40 grit and you could feel the roughness of the wood. So I did 6 coats of a wipe-on poly as well, which gave things a much better feel. Then I attached the hooks for towels and we hung them up.

Notice the mini crate I posted about the other day? Not sure what she’s going to fill it with. The stained look was definitely the right decision and looks great with the towels and decorations.

Mini Decorative Crate

Doesn’t take much to make something cool out of some scrap oak. I used a mitre saw, super glue, 1/2″ pin nails, sandpaper, and spray paint.

Watch for another post this weekend to see why I made the crate.

Shop Blow Dryer

My newest tool isn’t one you’d usually think of for a workshop. When B was getting a new blow dryer for her bathroom I asked if I could have her old one. It was dark pink and caked with makeup, but I saw potential. After a simple disassembly, some cleaning, and a new paint job it’s new again.

A blow dryer is useful in a shop when you want to speed dry spray paint, make glue cure quicker, or even create an oven.

A Fireplace Insert

I hadn’t started a fire in my living room in over a decade.

It wasn’t an ordinary wood burning fireplace though. My house has a boiler and the previous homeowners had installed a heat recovery system, called Hydro Fyre, which fed the heat from the fireplace back through the boiler and out to the rest of the house. It sounds good in theory, but with the number of pipes running over the top of the fire, it seems like it was a chimney fire waiting to happen. Look at how loaded with soot everything was!

After they removed the old system and cleaned things out, a direct vent gas fireplace insert was installed. I got the Escape model with the black Firescreen front, made by Heat & Glo. The interior panels are a patented FireBrick technology, which produce up to 25% more radiant heat than a metal interior. Even on the lowest fan speed it really throws out the heat! A remote control makes it easy to change five flame heights, four fan speeds, and three levels of ember illumination. It’s a slick unit.

I love how it transformed the look of the entire room. Why did I wait so long to get this?

I’ll call this phase two of a living room remodel after getting Mitsubishi mini-splits last summer. Several more projects are planned whenever an item arrives, which is supposed to ship near the end of April.

A Mountain Dew Sign and Some History

Last week a Mountain Dew sign caught my eye while browsing. It had an odd character and a slogan that sounded familiar. I knew I had to get something like it for the walls in my shop. After some searching through FB Marketplace, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, and Google it didn’t take long to decide I wasn’t going to spend the kind of money it takes to get an original rusty Mountain Dew sign. I went back to the sign that sparked my interest and ordered it.

The colors, artwork, and being embossed are all quality. It’s a really fun sign that now lives on my shop wall.

This journey doesn’t stop there though. I thought the style of the art was familiar and it was. Back in 2015 I saw a different Mountain Dew sign while I was in Park City, Utah. I was pretty sure I’d heard/seen the slogan “It’ll tickle yore innards” as well and sure enough, it was used on a bottle of DEWshine I drank back in 2016. The same hillbilly character was appearing everywhere! His name is Willy, which makes a lot of sense when you learn Mountain Dew is actually slang for “moonshine.” (source) Here’s an early (original?) commercial.

Mountain Dew was invented in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1946 when Barney and Ally Hartman, of the Hartman Beverage Corporation, first debuted their new soft drink at a Gatlinburg convention. The drink’s trademark became official in 1953. Originally, Mountain Dew’s flavor was lemon-lime similar to 7-Up or Sprite and it was created by the Hartman brothers primarily as a mixer for hard liquor. In fact, the name “Mountain Dew” came about because the brothers joked that when mixed with liquor, the drink resembled a fine Tennessee moonshine.

…it was not until 1960 when Tri-City’s manager, Bill Bridgforth, changed the flavor to the citrus-lemonade flavor we know today, that the drink began to soar. As Bridgforth put it, “it took off like a cat hit on the tail with a hammer.”

source: “It’ll Tickle Yore Innards!”: A (Hillbilly) History of Mountain Dew

I’m so glad they changed the flavor.

Ya-hooo! Mountain Dew!