Monday, September 10, 2007

An epiphany at 38,000 feet

I had a woodworking epiphany several years ago, at 38,000 feet while on my way to San Diego for a little R&R. Looking back, it was a benign moment. I was staring out the airplane window, studying the crop circles below, made from elaborate irrigation systems. Here are some table tops that came from that inspiration:

I make circular tiles to hold that "something special" that you don't want to misplace. It might be your watch, when you work out, or your keys when you walk in the door at the end of your day. There's a slight dip in the tile, perfect for holding whatever you want it to hold. These tops have morphed over the years, I started adding a little carving to some of them. But what these pictures really remind me of is how many large holes I have routed over the years.

Because the tiles shrink as they dry, their exact size is somewhat hard to determine. I like small grout lines, so even if the hole is 1/4" too big, the resulting grout line can be large and unattractive.

I needed a better way to rout circles, and I've been searching a long time.

Fast forward to this past July, when I attended the AWFS show (the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers) here in Las Vegas. I usually try to enroll in a few seminars, and then spend some time touring the exhibitor halls. I'd seen a review of a new router accessory, called the Router Buddy, and thought it might work for me. So imagine my delight when the inventor, Louis Duplessis, had a booth, and was giving demonstrations.

It's truly a simple concept, you drill a small hole in the center of your desired circle. There's a small pin on the router base, which slips into the hole you drilled. The router rotates around that pin, it's very simple and effective, and easy to micro-adjust. In fact, it's the best system I've ever seen.

I liked it so much, I had Louis autograph the package!

I'm working on a few speculative pieces right now, there's a film maker who has expressed some interest in doing short documentaries on Las Vegas artists. So I'm trying to prepare a few things to work on when she arrives with her film crew. This piece is a current one- a small ritual table, perfect for everything from mediation, to using as a bed tray. It's Walnut, with a drawer that pulls out of the side, making access easier than a drawer in front. As usual, I'm inlaying one of my tiles. Here are a few pictures in progress. I'll post more when it's finished.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in the Router Buddy, here's a link to Louis' site.

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