Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A memorable repair...

There isn't a day that passes that I don't get a call about repairing a broken piece of furniture. I would guess that I turn down 75% of those requests. It's just not what I specialize in, nor do I make "house calls" to even take a look at some of the repairs. It's not that I don't enjoy that type of work, it's just that many of the pieces aren't worth what it would cost to repair them. Simple Economics 101.

True story - I once repaired a rocking chair what was in 40+ pieces - someone had thrown it off a roof. And they wanted it repaired and put back together, sort of like Humpty Dumpty.

Not quite this bad, but close...

 Let's face it - I'm a furniture maker, not a miracle worker!

Most of the time - I turn down the work, because frankly - when you start pulling apart some pieces of furniture, you end up discovering so many flaws, defects and problems that it's often a rabbit hole of woodworking hell. It's hard to give someone a quote on what it would cost, when you have no idea how significant the damage is...

So when someone contacted me recently about repairing a rocker, my first reaction was to turn it down. But - after a little explanation that there was a really good reason to repair it - I agreed. As the story went - this rocker was part of a beloved relative's passing -  so it held great sentimental value. 

How could I turn that one down?

Much to my surprise - this piece turned out really well on so many levels. Relatively easy to repair, and I even earned some karmic points for it!

This chair had these two broken legs, which required making some new components on the lathe. 

These two pieces snapped right off at the tenon!

 I couldn't figure out the type of wood these original pieces were made of, but I had some nice thick Cherry in the shop, so that pretty much made the decision for me. 

 I wouldn't say I'm a great wood turner, 

but I can get by...

Here's the old piece next to the new one. 

I had to find a gold Sharpie to do a little highlighting. 

The hardest part was drilling four angled holes, but tilting the drill press table solved that dilemma.  

After the new parts were made, I re-assembled the base to ensure that everything fit together. 


Time to put it all together.

There were a few cracks in the seat that required some creative glue strategies. With a syringe and some Titebond... I managed to squeeze some glue in the cracks and pull everything back together. 

It might not hold, but for now, the cracks were mended. 

Notice these two custom cauls - with a little sandpaper on them, 

so they don't slip out of place when I tightened the clamps. 

Here's the best part - after the owner picked up the chair and delivered it back to his mom (it was her chair) - he sent me this lovely note:


 I can't thank you enough for the wonderful job you did on the rocking chair. I just dropped it off to my mother and tears just keep coming. It was a priceless moment I'll never forget thanks to your hard and professional work. You have a customer for life. And thank you for taking on the task. :) I wish I could share the joy you created. My mother still in tears shares her thanks with a warm heart. 

I can't thank you enough, 


 It's corny to say this, but getting messages like this is what keeps me doing repairs! 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"The main thing is that you... JUST DO IT !" - John Heisz 2016

This is ridiculously cool - but I'm not sure I'd have the patience to tackle it!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Krenov's Sawhorses

It's about to get a little crazy here in the shop,  but after two weeks off, I'm champing at the bit to get back at it. Usually this time off is spent on maintenance, and catching up on commissioned work. 

Knowing that we had a couple of table making courses coming up, I knew we'd be in need of some sawhorses in the shop, to go along with this new bad boy: The bad-ass Festool TS 75... which will make cutting through thick slabs of lumber seem like we're cutting buttah! 

A buddy of mine called to say that he'd found a stack of lumber for sale, so Denny and headed over with a trailer, and loaded up this load. 


Most of the pile was Cherry, and even though there were some wonky boards, like this one,

I knew we'd be able to flatten some in order to make some badly needed sawhorses. 

But not just ANY sawhorse - a James Krenov sawhorse. 

After flattening the boards on the jointer, I squared up the stock and cut a few dados, thus creating the simplest of mortises. The dados were cut,

 the boards ripped in half,

 and then folded together - and - voila! 

A perfect simple mortise. 

I finished the day by gluing everything together. 

In the morning, I cut the uprights and machined the tenon on the ends. Here's a down and dirty method for machining tenons. 

It's a little hard on the blade, but they were already dull since it was the end of the session, so they were ready to be sent out for sharpening anyway.  

The fit was tight and perfect, and everything was glued and assembled. 

Krenov scalloped the bottom of his sawhorses, so I marked out the cuts, made the first cut on the tablesaw,

and then removed most of the waste on the bandsaw. 

Cutting the top board (with notches) was a breeze, and you know what - these sawhorses lived up to their reputation of being super strong and super lightweight. 

They nestle together very nicely.

 I added this top deck, 

to keep the boards from sagging under long spans.  

If you need some great sawhorses, check out Fine Woodworking's December '09 issue (#208) for the plans.

 I suspect I'll be building another set soon!

Monday, February 27, 2017

The American Worker

There's an interesting article in the New York Times  weekend Magazine, and it started me thinking. It's about the American worker, and the jobs he or she does. You can click on this link to read it.

Several concepts jumped out at me - the first was that during the next decade, the top jobs will be in nursing, or some form of healthcare. Is that because of longer life expectancies, or because our overall health is that much more in need of care?  (I suspect both.)

Service worker jobs - everything from nannies to Walmart greeters - are going to be another growing sector, and that's a little scary. People with these lower paying jobs often don't make enough to support a family, let alone save for retirement. 

But even more revealing is the fact that blue collar trades have all but disappeared. You know, the kind of skills like fixing a roof, installing a door, or repairing something that is broken in your home.

Think about those statistics...only 6% of students want to pursue skilled trades. 

I'm not sure what we do to lure people into the trade fields, but I do know that not everyone is college material, not to mention the fact that not everyone can afford college in the first place. 

What it really boils down to is that the people who are doing woodworking are busy. If you're a decent craftsman, and have a reasonably sound reputation, you're probably busy with work.

  I've been absent here because I've been swamped with work, building some interesting pieces and  performing some challenging repairs. People who hire me often tell me that they've tried without much luck to find someone to do their repairs. I guess that's what keeps my phone ringing, so I can't complain. 

Anyway, that's what I've been pondering lately, as the work piles up, and so does the sawdust... 

It's never ending...

Monday, February 13, 2017

Help a brother out....

You know what sucks? Well, MEAN PEOPLE, that's for sure!

But - there must be a place in hell (or karmic hell) people who steal from others. Especially those who steal from people who can least afford to lose something. 

So when I read today that my friend Josh up in Portland was burglarized, 

and someone stole not only much of his artwork, but also - important things that he needs for his business (i.e.... business cards, stickers, shopping bags, dolly,) AND his PORTFOLIO - I thought - are you effin' kidding me? 

For an artist, that akin to stealing their lifeline. 

Josh is a great guy - as funny and talented and creative as the best people I know. Did I mention talented as hell? His Etsy store rocks, and his pop culture knowledge is second to none. 

So I have a favor to ask... he set up a Go Fund Me page to recover some of his losses. (You can click on that link to read more!)  I know that as an artist, he'll be discovering what he truly lost as time goes on... he'll be reaching for a tool, or a piece of work and realize that it was stolen, too. 

Shit like that gets into your psyche and it's unnerving - that feeling of being violated.

So please - if you can spare $10 or $20, please consider donating something to his recovery. He doesn't know it yet, but I am going to contribute to his goal whatever doesn't get covered by the end of this day.

Thanks for helping a fellow artist - you just added a few karmic points to your account!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Lions and Tigers and Bears.... Oh My!

I'm not a veterinarian, but I play one sometimes... not on TV, but in the woodshop. 

It seems like there are a lot of animals in need of help, and they've been making their way to my door, in need of repair. 

This poor giraffe needed tail surgery - someone in the TSA line at the airport broke the tail off, and the owners were heartsick. The giraffe had made the long trip to Las Vegas all the way from Africa, sent as a gift, and the tail was splintered and torn. 

A little bit of glue,

 some tricky clamping, 

and my customers were thrilled. 

Wood It is - 1
TSA - 0

Seriously, I made these two very happy;  which made me pretty happy, too.  

But when this next beast found its way into my shop, the task was a bit more complex. (Not sure why jobs like this come in pairs, but they do.)

This bison was in a world of hurt - 

a missing horn, 

a snout that was missing one whole side,

and a broken tail.


The tail was fairly easy - some epoxy, and some filler, and a few well placed 23 gauge pins, and well...

 the repair was complete, although the tail was a bit shorter than its original iteration.  

The horn was another story - this was a bit tricky, and the best way to attach it was using a small dowel. With the dowel in place, 

I shaped the horn, 

and then pulled out a small sander for some detail work. Since the sculpture was rather crude, the shaping was easy. 

 I roughed it out, and once I had the shape in place,

 a little spray paint made it match its mate.

 Drilling the hole  wasn't difficult, 

but it took a bit of blending to make the horns match. 

Finally, I pulled out some detail carving tools and cleaned up the snout a bit. I've never carved a bison nostril before, and frankly - I hope it's something I don't have to tackle again anytime soon.  

I also promptly sliced my thumb open, so a bit of first aid was necessary before staining the snout to match. 

And just like that - another animal healed!