Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tick Tock

I know that time has slowly been ticking away and I have sorely been missing my time in the shop. I wish I had a fabulous excuse like I was studying abroad or out on a creative sabbatical but that's just not true. The plain and simple truth is that when we moved into our new location someone failed to review the electrical box and that someone was me. So the tools and unfinished projects have been languishing in the cold while we sorted out the electrical situation and frittered away the winter with the excuse that it's too cold to work. heard me...too cold...

Anyway, life is returning to normal, the sun is shining and more importantly those little projects that have kept me away from the having electricity to run a few pieces of equipment are all nearing completion and I should happily be back to making piles of saw dust in the next few weeks. The first project to finish work on is actually one I discussed in an earlier post "curvey lurvey" I honestly don't have any clue what I'm going to do with them after they're finished up, but I'm sure I'll come up with something. The biggest issue is that once they're done, I don't have any plans for something new yet. I have a few projects that I've been kicking around for a few weeks/months but nothing that has really jumped out and said AH-HA. The closest is an adaption to a Gatling rubber band gun I made a few years back as Christmas presents for my brothers. I've thought about producing them for sale but they proved to be so time consuming that I'm not sure that I could produce one cheap enough that someone would be interested in buying it. I think I'll post up a few pictures and maybe a youtube video to see if there's any interest.
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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Are we there yet?

It seems that work on my latest pieces has come to a screeching halt...and I mean a teeth rattling, spine jerking, rib cracking kind of halt. It's for the best though as it means we finally able to locate a home, process the purchase of said home and commence the movement of our lives that have been in a holding patter for the past few years into that home. The tough part is now getting all of the little onesy projects completed around the house so that I can spend some time in the garage aka shop getting it up and running again. So please sit tight, we should be back on the air in no time at all...or so I hope.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Curvey Lurvey

I've had an idea in my head for a number of years that was inspired by the furniture and buildings of my youth. I have great memories of the Western furniture and designs of the lodges from West Yellowstone through Jackson Hole. The figures left under the bark as insects chewed away the wood were always fascinating to me.

Fast forward a number of years to a "New Yankee Workshop" where Norm builds a cowboy side board in the Molesworth style and the memories of my youth came flooding back. Summers spent sitting in chairs and rockers at the Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone with my grandparents as I munched away on mint chocolate chip ice cream cones and traced the insect trails on the furniture with my finger.

After seeing that episode I knew I had to incorporate some Molesworth into some of my pieces. Thomas Molesworth was a Western designer who lived in and was inspired by the Wild West in the early to mid 1900's. His designs reflect those of the local Native American tribes as well as the natural features of wood and insects. He was also inspired by the arts and crafts movement that was going on at the time and incorporated his flare for the West with the simplicity and clean lines of the Arts and Crafts movement. He often used bold colors and materials to add focal points and add life to a piece.

So with that in mind I've added a new series of boxes to my collection. Our Molesworth inspired boxes will use darker woods with rich texture and grain structures that will be at home in the summer cabin or to add a touch of Western flair to any modern home.

Here's a peek at the first go round. It's a his and hers set with matching tops. Hers is quartersawn Bubinga and his is figured Rosewood. They've received the initial coats of finish and will be buttoned up shortly,so stay tuned.

And a close up of the quintessential Molesworth design feature.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

State Of The Union

It's a sad day locally for me. Southern Utah has been primarily over looked as being hugely impacted by the credit crunch and housing bubble burst. For a number of years St. George has been ranked in the top 5 places to retire in the US and as a result the housing market was booming. Then the credit cards came due and the contractors went out of business and with them several of the cabinet shops with them. Our local supply shop was holding on and doing the best it could to weather the storm, but I've just learned that it too has fallen victim to the economy. It's a loss to the area that is going to be tough to fill as they were the nearest woodworking supply store in a 200 mile radius.

What does this mean for me? Well, simply it means I'm back to mail order or mass purchases when I travel to Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. It also means those last minute changes or short sights in planning will make or break projects.

It's a shame that another small, indipendant store has fallen victim of the economy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Houston, we have a problem!

I know this post has been too long in the making. The last time I posted up I was finishing up the final touches on my Kane Tsugi bow front table. Well that has been finished and...well, it's been refinished again.

Unfortunately after it made its debut as an outstanding Christmas gift for my client, it seems I fell victim to the enemy of every wood worker...material movement. When working over the details I really wanted to produce the top as a solid top out of two or three wide pieces. I was concerned about solidly enclosing the top into the frame that is built when using the kane tsugi but thought I had planned through it enough that any movement would be minimal. Unfortunately I still fell victim to mother natures whim.

 But before we get to the injuries lets take a look at the finished product. It definitely turned out better than my expectations and was well worth the effort at cold pressing the drawer fronts. The book matching of the drawer fronts also added a spectacular touch.

I had debated long and hard about splitting the top drawer into two, but I think it gave the piece a bit of life. The drawers also presented a bit of a challenge in cutting the compound half blind dove tails. Cutting through the Wenge banding was fairly nerve racking as it proved to be extremely fragile and extremely tempermental requiring a very sharp set of chisels and taking very light cuts. Not having cut dove tails in a  number of years it was refreshing to get back at it and interestingly very relaxing.

Cutting through and half blind tails in the Hard Maple was a good test of skill. It allowed for a very true and even cut, but was not forgiving at all. In the end it was definitely worth the effort as the contrast between the buttery maple against the chocolates of the Wenge are absolutely stunning.

The small banding around the legs also added some character and helped the piece feel lighter. As I had mentioned earlier, I was not so happily reminded that although the piece is no longer growing and producing leaves, it is absolutely still very much a living thing.

I thought I had given the top plenty of room to expand and contract with the seasons, but as they say...the best laid plans...The expansion was not too devastating and in all honesty the client was more than willing to allow it to swell in the winter and close up in the summer, I however was not. So back to the shop it came and a new top was produced. This go around I used 1 wide piece which I then sliced into a book matched 3/16" veneer that I attached to a piece of Baltic Birch ply. After it was all said and done the veneer finished down to an approximate thickness of 1/8" which should keep things nice and stable.

So with that all said and done we're off to the next project.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nearing Completion

I've taken far longer that I had originally planned to post up the latest progress of the Kane Tsugi bow front table. When I finally got back into the shop I had the table case finished up and assembled in no time. Once that was done I could focus my attention on top and just how was I going to address the bow in the front edge and still accomplish the Kane Tsugi?
After several hours of deliberation it turned out to be just as straight forward as the other joints in the top. Ultimately I did have to change up the flow of the joint; moving from a side to side flow as in the original side tables into a front to back. This was forced mainly out of the limitations of being able to machine the joint cleanly on the wider plank that was necessary to accommodate the bow in the front. Overall this is of minimal impact to the piece but definitely gives it a different flow.
I also side stepped tradition a little as I completed the case of the table before completing the drawers. Historically on curved pieces such as this, where the bowed and banded drawer front becomes a fixed size from the get go, the drawers were completed and the case built around them. In my case I knew I had the drawer fronts sized and set, there was no changing this without starting over. I was able to take the width of the drawer fronts and use this to size the table case openings and ultimately size the table. Not a huge deviation from tradition but more of my reflection of Bill McDowell and his going "gonzo" way of working from time to time. I find myself following this style of wood working more and more as of late. It seems to leave things open for interpretation and allow who knows what to occur...and usually it results in a far better piece than a true structured paper design to product.

You can see in the pics above that I continued with the Asian theme arched rails just as in the earlier side tables. I also added a little something extra to the legs and banded them with some wenge and quartersawn bubinga. It should give some nice flow to the piece and draw the eyes through out it.

The top is a bit oversized as I wanted this to be a true table, so there is about 2" in overhang.

The project is proceeding fairly smoothly now. The drawers have been built and the top is finished. The drawer supports did give me some trouble, requiring two different versions to be produced but it all worked out in the end. Just a part of working gonzo I guess. The piece is now in finishing and should be completed sometime in the next week or so. I think it's going to turn out better than expected. It is a bit larger than I had anticipated or even planned, but I think it's going to be good.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


It seems that the day job has kept me out of the shop more than I like in the past month. Having just returned from a conference in Florida for the past 10 days and then battling a cold on top of it I'm just not sure when I'm going to see more progress on the Kane Tsugi bow front.

Just before I left for the conference I did get my new toys from the man in brown. After ripping into the box I was extremely happy with my purchase. The Lie Nielsen saw is everything I have ever heard it to be. I was able to cut a few kerfs in some scrap and the saw tracks absolutely true.

I couldn't wait for the real thing so I promptly threw a quick 5 minute dovetail together just to see the new saw in action. Not the cleanest joint, but this was after all a test run of the saw...not my chisel action.

Even with the rough chisel work the joint fit very nicely, snug, square and true. I'm hoping to have the table casing assembled sometime this weekend giving me time to focus on the top and the drawers. Can't wait.