Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Days Worth of Dovetails

Okay people so there is hope out there. A couple of weeks ago I couldn't cut a dovetail to save my life. Today I got a rough carcass and 3/4 of a drawer done. They are super rough, but I was doing that so I could practice filling in the gaps during glue up...ha

This piece will eventually sit on cabriole legs and will have some sort of asymmetrical form carved into the top and bottom... Stay tuned, I am experimenting on paper right now with some asymmetrical forms that are inspired by the very symmetrical forms found in shaker furniture.

So keep practicing dovetails there is hope, they get better every time you do it... you just gotta do it. Oh yeah and get a good saw. I have the Lie-Nielsen progressive pitch, and a couple other boutique ones... If you gently guide this saw it dives down to your layout line with almost no effort. The brass back is a really good indicator for plumb, it's weight makes it my favorite of the bunch, and I'm sure you know the bunch that I am talking about. I too surf all the woodworking websites too much as well...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Back Bevels Saved My Ass Today...

So I have been putting off the final surfacing of the Claro Slab that will be the table top for a while now. I kept trying to plane the top, but I was getting nasty tear out. The kind of tear out that makes you want to quit the project altogether! I really wanted to deliver the client their table this week so it was time to dive in head first and git 'er done.

I had the pleasure and privilege of studying with two hand tool masters this weekend, Chris Schwarz of Popular Woodworking Magazine and Thomas Lie-Nielsen of Lie-Nielsen Toolworks (probably the best tools know to man).

It just so happens that I was taught about back bevels this weekend. Back bevels what the fuck are those?

If you hone a 25 degree bevel on the back of your plane iron, you can trick your plane into thinking that the blade is set at somewhere like 75 degrees (if I remember correctly). This enables you to plane crazy grain like the claro walnut without heart-breaking tear out!! Man back bevels saved my ass today! And it looks like the client will get their table this week.

I will post pictures of the finished table in its new home hopefully this week. I am also hoping to get my friend Naomi to help me do a bit of set design to make that shit look tight!

THANKS CHRIS + TOM!!!! you guys rock!!!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

As promised, construction pics of the cupboard

Here are some pictures that were taken during the process of building this hanging cupboard.

This was my first project really incorporating hand tools.

My inspiration for this piece was a Richard Wright catalog that featured work by George Nakashima, Philip Lloyd Powell, Paul Evans, and Wendel Castle. These are some of my absolute favorite designers. Their work just emanates this vibe that is un-describable. I recently got the chance to see some of George Nakashima's own work (by his hand) at the chicago museum of art. Now, I've seen a ton of his production work in galleries and stores etc. But I had never seen anything really of his hand. So anyway, I see one of the original conoid chairs that was made by his hand. This piece almost brought me to tears in the museum. It was like I was experiencing a moving classical music concert performed by a killer orchestra, you know where you get all emotional in your gut. Anyway, so I see this chair and get all emotional, it was crazy. I can't really explain if you have never gotten this feeling before, but if you have you certainly know what I am talking about.

So when I got home to the shop needless to say I was pumped to get to work. This piece was finished right after seeing this Nakashima chair (and hand tools boot camp with Kelly Mehler) so you can see where my influence is coming from.

The top of this piece came together in this ah ha moment when I stacked the off-cuts that I didn't have the heart to trash on top of the rough carcass. In Nakashima's biography he talks about returning from India, from a pilgrimage of sorts. George makes a conscious effort upon arrival back to the states to let nature guide his path. His natural edge furniture was born somewhat from his pilgrimage to India. If I had never read that I probably would not have had it in my mind to let a natural form like the one that appears in this cupboard into a piece of work. So thanks George for the inspiration....

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sneak peak...The Shape of Things to Come

Curves... I love them. On cars, girls, furniture....

So I decided to do a project with lots of them.

I had the pleasure of studying with Chris Gochnour for a week, and this is what happened!
90 degree angles just seem so easy now. I will post some pics of the construction process so you can see just how crazy it is building with curves.

More pics to come...just a little, sneak peak

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just Finished...

Here is a project that I just finished. The Design is an Homage to Philip Lloyd Powell, George Nakashima, and of course the Shakers.

The cupboard is made from American Black Walnut. The top and bottom of the cupboard are made from scrap wood that almost got thrown away.

I was looking for a really nice cathedral in the grain for the door, so I found a really nice one, centered the board and cut the ends off. I felt really guilty, as I always do with walnut lumber, throwing away the off-cuts. So one day, just by chance, when I was stacking up the wood at the end of the day in the shop I placed the off-cuts on the top and bottom. Bingo! use the off-cuts as the top and bottom. It just came together, as things usually do. Here is the finished product. I will post pictures of the building process in the next couple days.

This project was a lot of fun to build. It was constructed mostly with hand tools. The door knob was turned by hand on the lathe, and the catch was carved by hand. Making the knob and the catch was actually the hardest part of the whole project.

Where I am going...

I placed the Claro Slab on the trestle to see how it balances, just right. Sometimes you have to show yourself where you are going to inspire yourself to finish a project. It was nice to see the top on the base, and get a glimpse of where I am going...

Weekend Progress...

The trestle table is coming together nicely.

Here the trestle base construction is finished and ready for final sanding.

I thought all the parts came together nicely.

This was my first time cutting through tenons. I was a bit nervous about the process but I think

they came out nicely. They still clearly look "handmade" but that is the look I am going for, right?