Wednesday, July 27, 2016

We do it because we love it...

My friend Julie Rose reminded me of something a few days ago - she posted this on her FaceBook page. 

A lot of people think that they're going to save money by making something by hand, but the (sad) truth is - you're probably going to spend more. You'll need the proper tools, which you might not already own. And you'll need the materials plus various shop supplies, like screws, glues, finishes, sandpaper, wax, etc.

Bottom line? You're going to spend more if you build it yourself. (Long-time student Lupe can attest to this!)

But the benefits of making things for yourself are multifold. In fact, I was reading an article on this website the other day and the author, Ronnie Citron-Fink, brought up
 brought up 5 key topics. I love what she wrote:

5 Benefits of DIY
1. A deeper connection to the things that keep us alive and well. The human-made world is mostly beyond our comprehension…you make your world a little less confounding by sewing your own clothes, raising chickens, growing vegetables, teaching your children, and doing other activities that put you in touch with the processes of life. In addition, the things you make reflect your personality and have a special meaning.
2. An appreciation for the things you have and the systems that make it possible. The flip side to enjoying the things you make yourself is discovering how challenging and time-consuming it can be to make them…I’ve become an active participant in the human-made world, I’m more observant of it. I care more about how things are made, paying close attention to each object for lessons in craftsmanship I can apply to my own projects.
3. An opportunity to use your hands and your brain. Human beings evolved opposable thumbs for a reason. The sense of reward you get from making something with your hands can’t be earned any other way. It’s obvious that people learn faster from “hands-on” experience than they do watching someone else do something.
4. A connection to other people. When I started making cigar box guitars, I stumbled onto a group of DIYers…They are happy to share ideas and advice about building guitars, banjos, and ukuleles with newcomers. I’ve found this same spirit of generosity at other online hangouts devoted to building electric vehicles, autonomous aerial vehicles, and raising chickens.
5. A path to freedom. In this era of economic uncertainty, DIYers have learned not to rely as much on governments and corporations to take care of them…Even if you have no desire to become a full-time maker, DIY can provide a certain degree of freedom from depending on others for everything you need.

In my mind - all you have to do is look at the faces of these makers:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A little repair, and some very cool Japanese Joinery

This is a particularly cool video - I'm in awe of this skill. 

Speaking of skill, I was BSing with a friend the other day about making "the perfect piece", where there isn't a single mishap or mental mistake in a piece that you're building. I've only made a few of those in my lifetime, and to tell you the truth, I can't even remember what they are! 

So this past week, I was working on a piece for myself (which is rare!) and got distracted. That's never a good thing! I put a few Domino mortises in the wrong place. It's funny, because just as I was cutting the last one, I thought to myself - I probably should have checked to make sure I was cutting that on the right side of the wood!

The mortises on the side are in the right place, the top ones are errors! 

I could plug it with an actual Domino, but the wood is different (Beech) and the end grain would look awful.

 So I cut a few plugs out of the same wood, and shaped them a bit. 

A few taps with a hammer and they're snug.

Here they're sanded down and ready for oil - hopefully they'll blend in nicely. 

Or not. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Deja Vu!

It's like deja vu all over again! 

Remember back in 2014 when I built this petrified wood slab table? 

It was so heavy, I not only had to enlist some friends to help me flip it over when I attached the top, but a few more to help load it into the customer's car.

 I'm delighted to say that I'm building two more - matching end tables, and these are much smaller and easier to manage. 

The worst part of this? When I was sorting through the lumber, I smashed my iPhone earbuds to bits. 

The first time I made that big frame, I was stumped. Here's a link to read about it. 

Luckily, this time around, making the outer frame, and scribing the top to fit around the slab was much easier.  

I used the Festool Domino to connect all the miters together, it works flawlessly for this!

 I think the trickiest part of making this is gluing up the top frame, since there are no 90° angles. 

Next step? Making the "legs" for these tables, which was quite difficult last time. If you think clamping the top frame was a challenge, imagine clamping four sets of odd shaped legs, like the one below.


  I have one more week without classes, so hopefully - I'll be able to finish up these two tables and start the upcoming session with a clear head!

Stay tuned!