Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It Takes a Village

One of the best things about being a fine arts major in college was the critique process. For anyone that doesn't know what that means, I'll explain.

When you're in art school and you finish a project, you're often invited to discuss the piece with your instructor as well as your classmates. It's a no-holds barred dissection of your work - and while it can be brutal at times, the constructive criticism can often help you break through to create much better work the next time. You have to be able to handle frank opinions, and sure - sometimes it feels like people are picking on you.

Well, put on your big girl pants, suck it up, and do it better the next time. Art is not for sissies!

I was reminded of this while working on a recent order. Yes - it was another Air Force piece, and there were a lot of design consideration to be made. Sometimes a commission requires a formal sketch for the buyer - they want to see exactly what they're ordering.

But in this case, this table was sketched on a piece of cardboard, with just a few dimensions to go by. I love it when clients give me a wide berth with which to create!

Full disclosure here - I bought these table legs from one of my suppliers. They're very well made, and come ready for bolting onto a center column. When assembled to the column, they remind me of a rocket, which was a theme for this table. In short - they were perfect!

I designed the column as a hexagon; here are the parts - cut, drilled for the legs, and ready for assembly.

One thing you don't want to be is chintzy with the glue. And since it was hotHotHOT in my shop, I had to work really fast. I'm so anal - I timed myself. It took eleven minutes to glue and clamp this column. Of course, my glue had a ten-minute open time, so by the end - I was slapping it in place, who-gives-a damn about the mess I was making?

I look calm, but this was crunch time. By the end of this glue-up, there was a frantic air in the shop.

And - most people know I'm a pretty neat glue-er. Not this time!

Every woodworker knows it's better to clean the glue off while it's still gummy, than to let it completely harden. When it has the consistency of toothpaste, it slices away quite nicely with just a chisel. I love that little stubby chisel shown above, and keep it just for glue clean up. It's practically an extension of my hand.

Oh, you're probably wondering about the "it takes a village" comment, right? That'll make more sense in the next post, when I discuss building the top for this table. I was lucky to have some input from several people at my shop, and their opinions and assistance really made a difference in the progress of this piece.

Stay tuned!

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