Saturday, January 12, 2013

Entertainment Console - Design Phase

Sometime last year, Sylvia and I were having dinner at my friend Ken's place.  He'd recently got a copy of The House That Sam Built. Sam is one of my favorite designers.  I love his simple, elegant and organic sense of design.  This hall table was the piece that most captured my eye.
At that time, I jotted a couple ideas down and  when I got home I did some really rough sketches, until I found something I really liked.  I let it stew a bit and after awhile came back to it and did this sketch.  This was something I added to the list of projects I wanted to do.  I planned to do this as a veneer piece with solid edging that I could sculpt round in a bow to Maloof.

The order of things changed recently when Sylvia got fed up with our present couch and decided to get new living room furniture, which meant I had to actually hang the TV and build a console.  I also decided to tweak the hall table design.

I sketched these two perspectives while Sylvia and I were watching something, so she could see what I was thinking and give some buy off before I started scale drawings.

Based on the single point perspective and the actual measurement of the wall and all the components of the entertainment center, I produced this first drawing.
At this point I put it out to my woodworking community on Facebook and Twitter.  I got some really good feedback.  Mark Cherry, a buddy on Facebook and @woodshaver101 on Twitter, has done a lot of cabinet style furniture and suggested, due to the length, I employ a torsion box in the design.  Earl Kelly, again a Facebook buddy, thought the piece looked a bit stretched and after stepping back, I thought so, too.  This is the final single point perspective with 5" trimmed from each side, all from the panels.
The center section will sit just back enough for each front panel to bypass.  The bottom-middle is for the surround sound's bass reflex speaker, the center speaker will be directly above and the left and right front channels on each of the respective shelves in the curves.  The choice for the material center panels is still up in the air.  I was originally thinking metal and may still go that route.  I just need to consider vibration.  I'm planning on building this as a veneer piece.  Under the right circumstance, I don't mind solid wood, but if the piece will benefit from man made materials, I'd rather go that way.  I'm thinking the shop made veneer will be ~ 1/8 inch thick.  The dark wood is Wenge and the top and panels will be Black Limba.  
I've still got some logistics to figure out, one being to find some good plywood.  I'm looking forward to the build!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Quick and Easy Upgrade to The Sharpening Center

I finally got around to making a strop.  If you haven't added this last step to your sharpening process, I definitely recommend it.  I could easily shave arm hair before.  The difference is the same as changing out your shaving blade for a new one.  Where it had started to pull hair a bit as the blade wore, a new blade glides with no resistance and leaves a baby smooth surface.  For woodworking this means a cleaner cut for longer periods and when that blade does start acting a bit dull, just strop it.  With the strop you can go much longer in between actual sharpening sessions.
The upgrade is extremely easy.  I took a piece of good quality plywood and glued two pieces from an old belt onto the surface.  In this case I used Power Grab by Loctite,
 which is a favorite "construction" adhesive of mine.  I like it because it cleans up with warm soapy water and doesn't have the horrible off gassing that many other construction adhesive create. 
I used a J - roller to makes sure the leather was solidly affixed to the plywood with no voids and as flat as possible.  A bar of jeweler's rouge and you're done.
You will be able to create a beautiful mirror surface and as you've been taught, a sharp edge is the junction between two dead flat surfaces.  So, the fewer scratches in the surface the more likely you will achieve a good edge.  This was easiest upgrade I've done yet.  If you haven't already, go do it now.  Totally worth the small amount of time.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Favorite Plane by Scott Meek Woodworks

I have had this plane for awhile, but have yet to publicly give major kudos to the man that made it.  When I first got the plane, I immediately broke it by hitting the wedge too hard to seat the blade and cracking the pin.  I was mortified and after calling Scott, so was he.  Even though it was clearly my fault, he offered to fix it or make me a new plane.  Mind you, this plane is not cheap and yes, I know many woodworkers who make their own wood body planes.  Here's where the value comes in.  I have quite a few metal bodies planes that function extremely well.  Some are vintage Bedrock, Stanley and Sargent planes, other are Veritas.  Why Veritas?  I've used Lie Nielsen planes at Woodworking in America and, while they are very sweet, I am much more impressed with the innovative approach that Lee Valley/Veritas take toward making planes.  They really just make them better than the old vintage planes.  Lie Nielsen are the cream of the crop for making beefed up replicas of the old planes, but they don't innovate, at least as far as I've seen.

What makes a Scott Meek Woodworks plane stand out?  Exceptional quality.  The plane arrived sharp.  While I couldn't bring myself to actually take Scott up on his offer to fix or make a new plane, I did manage to fix the break myself.  I drilled a small hole, used a very small C-clamp and dripped some epoxy in and let it set.  Luckily, when I went back to use it, the wedge still fit properly.  The ergonomics of this smoother is fantastic.  The design of the plane makes long sessions very comfortable and no matter what grain or wood I have tackled there is NO tear out.  I can barely see any gap at the mouth.  I've had the chance to use other wooden body planes, including Ron Hock's Krenov.  Not even close.  From what I've heard within the internet woodworking community, the others that have bought Scott's planes seem to feel the same.  I may make a plane at some point, but I don't really feel the pull to make any of my tools.  The money spent on this purchase was money very well spent.  Thanks, Scott!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Art Deco and Bent

At the end of my last post you can see the hot pipe bending set up I built.  My buddy, Ken, gave me some bed rails someone was getting rid of off a waterbed.  They're 1 inch plywood and are perfect for an application like this.  I built the bending rig for some upcoming light fixtures I'm planning on making for the house.  Two of the fixtures definitely will have curves.  I'm hoping to use some of my old growth Fir to make all these.  

Before I tackle a specific project I wanted to get some practice in.  I don't like to be too wasteful, so didn't want to bend just to bend.  So, I decided to see how many Christmas presents I could get out of the experience.  Ken had taken down a Russian Olive tree and noticed the ends of the logs were a deep chocolate color, so he dropped a couple firewood size logs off for me to cut up.  It's actually quite pretty.  It seems to continually darken, but is nowhere near as dark as the ends of the log were.

I quarter sawed the log to yield around 13 slats approximately 3/16th inch at the bandsaw.  I currently am running a 3/4" Laguna Resaw King on the saw.  It produced really nice resawn boards.  After cutting out a basic design from heavy craft paper, I transferred that to all the boards and started the rough shaping, again, at the bandsaw.  This time I switched to a 1/8 inch Timberwolf and changed out my regular Carter blade guides to the Carter guide for curve cutting.  It works really well and allows you to really ride the back of the blade when cutting a curve.  After soaking overnight, which I don't think is necessary, I started bending.  

I had a pattern on a piece of plywood I was trying to match.  I wasn't clamping any of the bends to help retain that specific shape, but I was trying to approximate it as close as possible by over bending to account for spring back.  I then let them dry completely.  Because of that, none of my spoons or "salad tongs" are exactly the same.  Each was finished shaped on the Rigid oscillating drum and spindle sander.  I had several of the original slats that weren't large enough for the pattern and a few more that I bent too fast or too much and split.  

Here is an example of a set.  

While I was waiting for the spoons to dry I also started up a project for my wife, Sylvia.  We have been using a Senseo coffee machine for a couple of years.  Unfortunately in the United States, Senseo has been eclipsed by the Kuerig.  It's the whole Beta-Max / VHS thing from my childhood.  Beta-Max was a superior platform, but VHS caught on first.  I personally don't like the Kuerig, because of all the plastic that ends up in land fills.  Also, it's not nearly as good a cup of coffee as the Senseo.  Anyway, to the point, we bought a little "5" cup (two of ours) cone style coffee maker.  Not as good a cup of coffee, but I'm not willing to deal with a plunger pot each day.  The following show the project from rough sketch to some full scale drawing to the finished piece.  
My tablesaw sled and the Grrripper push block were invaluable in cutting the little parts.  The faces are rabbited at angles to accept the end pieces.  Figuring out the compound angles was a challenge.  I don't have a trig calculator anymore.  I managed to find this site for a behind-the-scenes math solution.  
Although I can't say I'm a fan completely of every genre, I do like more elements of specific genres, Art Deco being one.  
I'm still debating adding little birch feet. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Facelift without the Kenny Rogers Look

As always, I underestimate everything.  I really wanted to not wait until I had a huge amount of information to report, but again find myself needing to write a rather long post.

The summer was, well, fantastic.  I got to go to my first hands on training with Seth Rolland, we entertained quite a bit, ate a lot of good barbecue, took some great hikes and I got to shoot a lot of "film".  It's still bizarre for me not to consider the medium film.  You'd think I'd be over it, since the digital age of photography has enamored me like the young Swedish maid that I've always tried to talk Sylvia into would.  Like wood working and design, photography will be a life long pursuit.  There's no way to get to a point that you've mastered the art.  You can always get better and I will continue to try.  You can check out my photography at or click on the little Flickr badge on the right of the blog. But, for now, the shop is back in focus and I'm excited to have everything mostly the way I want the shop organized to function well.  I'm what my doctor likes to call ADHD.  She says I'm not truly OCD because I fidget too much.  I have a "need" to have a place for everything and everything in its place.  I tend to come in and blankly stare at things when they get too "out of hand".  I do realize that my sense of what is out of hand varies greatly from the norm, but my little behavioral problem is actually something I embrace.  Most times our weakness is our strength and vice versa.

So, changes.  Let's see. I have a new heating and cooling system for the shop.  I put in a ductless heat pump (DHP).  Now that I have this unit for the shop and the DHP system I had installed in the house a couple years back, I'm thinking my 1000 gallon propane tank will last a good ten years once I get it filled again.  That's a lot of barbecues!! 

I took down eight feet of shelving to enable better vertical lumber storage.  For now, I have shorts on the remaining twelve feet of shelving, as well as assorted kitty litter bucket.  They're the new version of old five gallon buckets I used to collect.  Quite handy.
One thing I'd been waiting on was a proper outfeed table for the table saw.  I knew approximately what I wanted, but once I found out I was going to be able to take the bending course with Seth, I put it off until I got through that.  I couldn't easily build the table like I had studied and seen on Marc Spagnuolo's site, The Woodwhisperer because I really don't have anyone that is readily available to lift heavy objects.  To see how it is supposed to be done check out Marc's video.  This table is to be my outfeed/assembly/bending table.  Instead of the approach Marc takes, I started with a simple box as a base that was level and square.  I don't really need more storage, so did not opt for a set of base cabinets.  Once the box was in place, I put the box skins (plywood) down.  I drill pocket holes in all of the "ribs" to enable me to suck the bottom skin up to the ribs, which it seemed logical would be level, if set atop the level base.  Luckily, logic prevailed.  Here is an in progress shot of the build.  
After the ribs were set, I glued and brad nailed the sub-top to the ribs.  Through out the process I checked for flatness with a long piece of steel stock I have for just such occasions.  I have one corner that dips about 1/64", which bothers me, but not enough.  Next came the final, top layer which is only screwed down.  This layer is to be sacrificial, but I'm guessing it will be years before I need to address it.  The entire assembly sits about a 1/64" to 1/32" below the level of the table.  Oh yeah, I also replaced the off cut table for the saw with one of the exterior doors I still had.  The original was very cheap particle board.  The last things to do were to route out the miter slot extensions and install a shelf to house the veneer and bending equipment. 
I needed to run a new dust collection leg and needed some extra pipe and fittings, so now was a good time to rebuild my sliding compound miter station's dust collection, install a proper fence and finally get a table on the right of the saw.  The design for the dust hood originated from Mark Hochstein over at Gunpowder Woodworks.  He has a phenomenal shop and recently completed a very beautiful dining table.  You should definitely stop by and check it out.
This new hood is very effective and once I get the rubber/plastic strip curtain in place will work even better.  I increased the pipe diameter to 5" and being the first branch out of the cyclone, there is plenty of CFM.  The strip curtain will provide velocity and direct it wherever the saw penetrates the curtain.  Quite ingenious of Mark.
Adding another leg to my existing system was relatively easy, as I have a couple Ys I installed to facilitate expansion as I grew into the shop.  Here's a shot of the piping in the crawl space.  To all my energy and building associates: YES, I KNOW I'm supposed to have a vapor barrier down.  I'm in the desert and will get around to it one of these days.
After getting the pipe secured below, I got all my Ys, corners and blast gates install up top.  I also installed a boom arm to use on any tools that will require dust collection.

Since I'm getting ready to start designing some lamps I went out this weekend and got all the parts to make a hot pipe bending rig.  It will also come in handy to do small bends on scale models for future designs.

I told ya it was gonna be a long post!  The next thing I'll be adding is probably a proper router table.  I've been using a top and fence I made years ago that mounts on a couple saw horse.  I have the dust collection port in place for when I get around to that.  

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Icarus Landed on His Feet

A little update on the piece that was started as part of the bending class I took at The Port Townsend School of Woodworking.  I got home and found this in my email and thought I would share with all of you.  I wish I could get over to Bainbridge Island for the show!

Its finally done!  trimmed, sanded, with enough white stain to look like bone and some small walnut dowels as spacers.  If you want to see it in person, it will be part of my show at The Gallery on Bainbridge Island August 3rd to 27th.

I hope you are all having a great summer!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Tour of Tumblewood

Periodically I'm asked to do a video tour of the shop.  Today, I have it fairly clean, so here you go.  I hope you enjoy.  Feel free to ask any questions you may have on set-up, etc.