Thursday, October 22, 2015

The evolution of a dresser

It's been so long since I started this dresser, I can't even remember the actual date. But I remember these two things - I wanted it to match this headboard that I made a few years ago. I carved this headboard during one of Dennis Patchett's carving classes, and used milk paint to highlight the carved area. It might be the most favorite thing I've ever built.

I saw this piece a few years ago in Asheville, North Carolina at the Grove Park Inn, and fell in love with it. I knew I had to build something based on its design. 

In fact, one of my students did the exact same thing. Ned built a version of this sideboard in Cherry, inlaying the top with two small areas of tile. 

He does amazing work!

So I started off with a few sketches, which is how I normally begin my design process. I usually just draw the overall size of the piece, 

and then play with small details about it, until I get something that I'd like.

This was pretty much seat-of-the-pants designing. It didn't really know where it was going, and I just kept playing with different versions of it in the shop, until I was satisfied.

Here it is before the drawers and doors.

 And now, a year later, the drawers and doors are complete. This was not a rapid project, trust me. Notice on the top, there is a small backsplash between the two posts... I knew I wanted to do some carving there, to match the headboard.  

So I started playing with some designs. 

I'm a big fan of Hawaiian petroglyphs, so I finally came up with this banner that I was going to carve on the backsplash. 

This area needed something long and narrow, and I just love the running men.

I was worried that the back might be too busy with the carving on it. So I made it reversible; it can be switched to the plain side, or the carved side, depending on my mood. 

Right about the time, my shop mate Denny bought a CNC machine, and we thought it might be a perfect opportunity to carve the petroglyphs with the new toy. 

The hardest part about CNC machines is the programming - and damn, we went through an awful lot of test pieces before we came up with the final sizing.


 But at least we have some cool things for the walls in the shop! 

Here is the backsplash, finally carved and ready for sanding.

The sanding sort of turned into a group project, as everyone around me started pitching in and sanding small areas. It was done in no time. 

Time for the milk paint. I used brown paint to match the headboard, and even though I was a little sloppy, it was no big deal. A little touch up sanding and it was ready for oil.

 Here's the back of it -  there's a beautiful knot with some swirly grain and even a few worm holes - it's just stunning.

And now the front - notice how the oil it really brings out the richness of the milk paint.

 I used a Scotch-Brite pad to lightly sand the raised grain. 

And finally – three years in the making - I finally have a dresser! It's a little hard to tell that the wooden knobs are painted that same brown color. 

The nice part is that if I ever get sick of looking at the little running men and the two paddlers, I can flip the backsplash around have a gorgeous plain backsplash. But after all the hard work that Denny put into carving that piece, I can't imagine that I'll ever tire of it. It's pretty damn amazing.

I've been asked by Wood Magazine to write a short article about using a CNC in my work, and this dresser is a perfect example of how a CNC is particularly helpful. It will never replace hand carved work, but for someone like me - for whom carving is quite labor-intensive, it allows me to add components to my pieces that really make them special. 

I don't feel guilty about using a Festool Domino to help me with floating tenon joinery,  so why should I feel guilty about using a CNC to do some carving? It's just another tool in my arsenal.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It's almost time....

Lie-Nielsen Toolworks Coming to Las Vegas, NV 
Warren, ME - October 12, 2015 -- Lie-Nielsen Toolworks(R), the premier US manufacturer of heirloom quality woodworking tools, is bringing its popular Hand Tool Event(R) to Las Vegas, NV on October 16-17, 2015 at Wood It Is! This event is part of the company’s ongoing international program to expose woodworkers of all ages and skill levels to the benefits of traditional hand tools and techniques, and is a rare opportunity for the public to receive first-hand instruction directly from the toolmakers. 
Hand Tool Event Details 
Dates: October 16-17, 2015 
Times: Friday, 10am - 6pm, and Saturday, 10am - 5pm 
Venue: Wood It Is! 
Address: 2267 West Gowan Road, Suite 106,  North Las Vegas, NV 89032 
“We started these events to expose more woodworkers to the improvements in quality, environment, and enjoyment that handtool work can offer,” says Lie-Nielsen founder and president Thomas Lie- Nielsen, “and over the past decade we’ve seen their popularity explode with new and experienced woodworkers alike. Incorporating traditional tools and methods can offer even die-hard machinery users ways to bring their work to the next level. The fact that our tools don’t require earplugs or respira- tors just adds to the appeal.” 
Lie-Nielsen staff will help demystify the world of hand tool woodworking and cover topics like sharpen- ing, tool setup and use, and joinery. Visitors are encouraged to get hands on and ask questions. 
Lie-Nielsen also invites guest demonstrators to showcase their work at these events. Guests include independent toolmakers, woodworkers, and educators who share their values for quality craftsmanship. The guests for this event will be posted on
About Lie-Nielsen Toolworks 
Lie-Nielsen Toolworks makes heirloom quality, woodworking hand tools in Warren, Maine, and takes pride in providing exceptional support to their customers. Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Events travel to cities around the country to promote woodworking education in the use of hand tools. Lie-Nielsen also offers weekend workshops, instructional videos, and encourages visitors to tour their showroom and shop in Maine. 
For more information about this event, please contact the woodworking school at 702-631-1870.
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You're receiving this email because you either love woodworking, or want to meet and share tips and techniques with other woodworkers in Las Vegas.

Our mailing address is:
Wood It Is!
2267 W. Gowan Units 106/107
North Las VegasNevada  89032

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Check out this bonus issue of American Craft Magazine; you're going to love it...

For obvious reasons, American Craft magazine is one of my favorites. 

Their articles are always fascinating and on the cutting edge of what's hot in the world of makers. 

Here's a REAL treat - they have published a bonus 2015 issue and - great news! - it's ALL ABOUT FURNITURE. 

Here's a link - ENJOY!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Welcoming a new beast to the tool arsenal...

Be it ever so humble (and confusing!) - we have finally acquired a CNC at the shop! Well, Denny has... he made the plunge during the AWFS show, and has been working diligently to learn the ins and outs of it. 

CNC is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control tools. In our case, we have a router hooked up to a computer, and we can tell it to cut a variety of design or profiles. Honestly, it allows for perfection a (woodworking) world where perfection is iffy, at best. 

Denny's CNC choice? A Legacy Explorer, with a table that will hold about a 4' piece of wood. It's a good start for dipping your toes into the pool of CNC mania, since learning the software is much of the battle. 

Actually, most of the battle. 

Our first project was a Photo Booth, in which an iPad and SLR camera were linked together. The iPad sits in the rectangular window, and you can press a button and have your picture taken, just like an old time photo booth. 

 The photo will then be displayed on the iPad screen. This booth is used for parties, where your guests can fool around and shoot photos of themselves. It's great for capturing fun shots at parties, weddings, etc. 

We've also been working with a few clients, doing some logo work with them. This logo, cut into small "coins" of wood, will become pendants down the line. Here are our practice cuts,

 and the the final pieces. 

 As we get better with software, the ability to produce some amazing carvings gets easier. 

 This urn came out exceptionally well, and opened up a huge arena of possibilities for us. 

 So what does the future hold? Well, we have a ton of irons in the fire, both with clients and with some of our own projects. I made this mahogany bog chair (sometimes called a plank chair) a few weeks ago, and I hope to carve something in the back of it soon. The hardest part is deciding what to carve! 

And don't faint...  but I'm almost done with the Sassafras dresser I started a while back.

 I think I'll try to carve something cool on the back rail of it, to match the headboard I carved a while back. 

Damn, having the CNC opens up all sorts of possibilities!
 Stay tuned!