Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Changing the cutting board at a time

It's always fun to look back at the year, remembering all the people that made this journey so memorable. I try to shoot a photo of every single student that enrolls in one of my classes, and over the past four years, I think I've only missed a handful of them.

I hope your Holidays are merry and warm. 

Thanks for a terrific year, everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Farm tables

One of the things I really miss about back east is lumber. Choices of lumber, boards with live edges, nice thick stock that makes gorgeous tables. This video made me feel so nostalgic for an old-timey mill. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dining Chair Repair

Let's be honest - most woodworkers don't enjoy doing repairs. I don't even like repairing something I've built, let alone working on someone else's stuff.

But I seem to have a soft spot for people who bring me broken down dining chairs. (I suppose a therapist could explain that to me!) This is the second chair in this set that I've repaired - and by far, it was in the worst shape. Every single joint on the chair was broken - but what's worse - 

someone stepped on the seat and broke the particle board under the padding. D'oh!

After pulling the seat off, I had to take the chair entirely apart, clean each dowel and hole, and then re-glue it back together. This usually takes a ton of clamps and a lot of patience. And tequila, if things don't go well. 

It's not hard work, but you do have to be careful, so that you don't do more damage. 

After the chair was re-assembled and the stain touched up, I turned my attention to the seat. What a mess. 

Worse than that - the cushion was upholstered with hundreds of staples. 

I am not exaggerating, it took me a half hour to dig them out. My buddy Tom helped, he had way more patience for it than I did.

When we got the material safely removed, we still had to take off the layer of padding, to get to the damaged part. Again - a bazillion staples. 

That's the way it is with most repairs - it's more irritating than difficult. Once all the staples were out, I cut a new bottom (out of MUCH stronger plywood, this time) and started re-uphostering the chair. 

First the padding,

then the fabric. Tom's actually an upholstery whiz, so he took over.

Nice to have skilled friends!

And here's the chair, all back together and looking much better than before. 

Thanks, Tom! Glad to have the help, and the company!

Speaking of chair repair - here's a nifty method for leveling out an uneven stool or chair. This is a really great tip!

(Thanks for the link, Jackie!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cowboy Christmas in Las Vegas on a sad day...

(That's the National Finals Rodeo)

(Click on any of these images to bring them up larger on your screen)

If you live in Las Vegas, you're familiar with the crowds that descend here every December for the NFR. The streets are filled with cowboys and cowgirls, hats bobbing down the street, with pointy boots clicking on the sidewalk. Even if you're not a big fan of western gear or the lifestyle, it's hard to avoid getting caught up in the excitement of everything. 

I try to go every year. Not to the rodeo, but to the Cowboy Christmas show, held in conjunction with the rodeo. It's a giant craft/clothing/gift show, where you can buy anything from jewelry to western wear, boots and spurs and hats and jeans and... well, much more. 

But my favorite thing to check out is the furniture. I actually spent quite a bit of time with each of these artists, trading stories about finding great woods, or sharing injury war stories. These artists were most gracious, and hopefully, these pictures will give you an idea about their work. 

This year's show started off with an interesting line of really high quality leather upholstered furniture made by Ernie Apodaca. He's from Tucson, and his company, NorthWest Native Designs, really does make some of the most comfortable leather furniture out there.  

The detail in this tooled leather was exquisite, 

and the leather couldn't have been softer. I could just imagine curling up in one of his chairs and taking a nap.

Another incredible booth was TreeStump Woodcrafts, where they carried a nice array of cutting boards, 

utensils (I bought two scoops) 

bread knives (do those look familiar?)

and gorgeous furniture.

Their pieces are made in mesquite, with live edges, and turquoise inlaid into the natural cracks and veins of the wood. I spent a good deal of time talking about woodworking with Christine, one of the owners, and she was nothing short of inspiring.   

They don't carry furniture, but Buckskin Outfitters of Desmet, Idaho is one of my favorite vendors. They carry a variety of western goods - leather wares, rope and hardware, and a really nice line of books. 

Everywhere you look, there are saddles, 

 and boots - this one was about three feet tall! What size is this?

I don't think I've ever seen a teepee this close. 

I walked around to the front of it, and there was  a Native American "guard" keeping people from entering it. 

There are great neon signs all over. 

Why didn't I buy this shirt? Seriously, I've been thinking about it ever since I saw it!

Back to the furniture - this aspen log bed was nicely made, with a custom metal insert cut for the headboard. Order one and you can get whatever you'd like on that panel. The corner posts were a beefy eight inches in diameter, I suspect this bed weighs a ton!

This booth featured some amazing furniture, including these massive wooden swings. 

 Notice the built in side tables, next to the seat.

 Yikes! Worth every penny!

 This isn't furniture, but these wooden jewelry displays were amazing.

 I was staring at them so long, the saleswoman thought I wanted to buy the jewelry. Umm... no, but can I buy one of the displays? 

This booth, Virtually There, raised the bar with its very well made western furniture. I don't even have a saddle, but I want to make one of these saddle stands. I'm not sure what I'll put on it (or in it?) but one of these is now on my "to do" list. Like I need more things on it!

This was the nicest bed in the house. 

This comfy looking chair and ottoman was just gorgeous, I wish you could have been there to touch the leather. 

Their pub tables featured reclaimed wood and metal bases, with a leather inlay in the center. 

This was my favorite booth - the artists were sweet and engaging, and their work was - well... to say it was amazing is understating things. This dining table,

 with its stone inlay, was my "Best in Show." 

 This modern desk featured live edges,

and a clever drawer that pivoted open. 

Here's the view from the back, where you would sit. 

Since I am about to start building a set of dining chairs, I paid particular attention to the seating. 

This chair back was stunning. 

That's one thing I really miss - not being able to get decent wood to use in my work. Oh, don't get me wrong - there are places to buy it, but it is ridiculously expensive. 

This (self-titled) Diva said she drove this bike right into the Convention Center! I don't doubt it, she seemed more than competent.  

I had a chance to talk to Dave Barkby, a wood turner from Pennsylvania. His booth featured his large scale, segmented turnings, many of them in either Buckeye or Redwood. 

That is one kick ass lathe, and hats off to him, for having the balls to turn something that size. Wow. 

I loved Rhonda's Ranch booth, but her sign was even better!

Speaking of saddles, this is about the only type of horse I ride. These were actually for sale, and most of them were sold! Can you imagine having one of those in your home?

This mechanical bull was huge, about as big as one of those Smart Cars.

Even the kitschy folk art like this cactus had a certain charm. If I were going to have a Christmas tree at the shop, I would probably make one like this cactus, and hang wooden ornaments on it. Maybe I should organize a Christmas tree party next year, as a collaborative effort.

Way cool - I picked up a couple of posters from the CowGirl Museum! 

It's easy to see why the NFR brings so many visitors to Las Vegas - it's a visual treat for all, even if you're not a "country western" kind of person. I highly recommend going to see this, if you've never been to it before. 

Fianlly, one of the funniest things are the various roping areas, where kids can try their hand "roping" a steer. These little kids are really talented!

Speaking of little kids - hugs yours tonight.