Saturday, May 31, 2014

Another Stellar Design

When Beth told me she was building a bench for her hubby, I didn't expect a gem like this! (I should have known better - she has NEVER disappointed me with the things she builds!) 

What's even more incredible - she's been saving her scrap, in order to create the gorgeous slats on the top of the bench. 

This piece reminds me of those Scandinavian designs, with slatted tops - and I just love her use of color and wood grain. 

 She used a combination of solid wood slats and laminated ones, and the effect is stunning. 

The base is mortise and tenoned together - stable, durable, and will probably outlive all of us! There aren't too many pieces that I would put in my home - I'm too picky about what I want to live with!  But this is one of the loveliest pieces I've seen in ages - and I couldn't be more proud of the woodworker that Beth is becoming. 

She's probably taking orders, should you want want of her designs - let me know and I'll put you in touch with her!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Feeling thankful, and sharing the booty

It's happened again - and I'm experiencing that familiar sensation of sad but fortunate feelings. Truly the definition of yin and yang, in my mind.

Back in 2011, I blogged about buying an entire ceramic studio from the family of a potter who had passed away. Going through all of her tools and precious half-finished pieces was hard; it's like looking through someone's sketchbook and seeing what they were thinking at the time. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel emotional. Her studio was packed with amazing equipment, and I've been using it ever since... mostly making tile for my pieces. I still get a little verklempt when I pick up one of her tools.

So the other day – when a woman called and told me she wanted to donate some of her late husband's woodshop to me, I knew it was good to be another one of those tough days. I mean, I'm thrilled to receive any thing that we can use at the shop, but it's always hard going through someone else's stuff. 

The big score was this electronic radial arm saw. It's in good condition, and when I put a new blade on - I think it's going to work well. I especially love the six drawers on the cabinet below - who doesn't need more storage space?!

But once I got the saw figured out, I had to tackle the boxes that she had given to me. It sort of reminds me of Storage Wars - 

you never know what you're going to get. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find this engraver,  

and this industrial drill.

Going through someone's tools is like reading their diary - you find little things tucked away that they must have deemed important.  Like this pen - with its stiletto top. Cool.

The screwdriver was massive, 

made for #4  screws, which I'm pretty sure I've never used in my lifetime.  Still, it's very cool to own one!

There were tons of miscellaneous screws, bolts, anchors, lag bolts, washers, nails, angle brackets - all sorts of weird hardware that you need from time to time. 

There were even a bunch of lead weights.  I'm not sure what to do with those!


 But some of the hidden gems included these dowel centers, which we use every now and then.

I may not ever need to buy cable ties again. Ever. 

Nor will I ever need to buy carbide masonry bits. Yup, I'm pretty set on those!

And while these clamps wouldn't be my first choice in the woodshop, you can't argue with free clamps. 

And as they say – you can never have enough.

My buddy Dan spotted these deep throat clamps and asked for them - and I'm happy to share my booty with him.  He's bailed me out more than once in the shop, and it's my turn to repay the favor.

There's still so much more to go through, but it's very comforting to know that this man's tools will help woodworkers for years to come. And of course– all of this gets me thinking about what happens with my tools, when I'm ready for my rocking chair on the front porch?

What about you - any plans for your precious tools down the line?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Surprises while remodeling

What's the oddest thing you've ever found when working on your home? 

I've found vintage baseball cards, coins, old letters and postcards, beveled mirrors with the date "1932"  stamped on the back of them  - even a Roman Gabriel signed ticket stub. 

But I've never seen anything like this! I'd have fallen off the roof had I uncovered these bad boys!


Monday, May 19, 2014

Never underestimate a determined woman in the woodshop!

Sometimes, it takes a village in order to make a piece of furniture. Case in point? One of my students decided to make a massive dining room table - it was the first large piece that she'd ever attempted - and gluing up the table top sections required some help. 

Luckily we have a lot of volunteers at the shop! Because our planer is only 24 inches wide (only!) - she had to glue the top up into several sections that could fit into the planer - and then do a final glue-up, joining the sections together.

 Using African Mahogany - which is dense and heavy, makes each one of these sections tough to handle. Of course, we're up to the challenge!

 The table legs were humongous 6x6 posts  - laminated separately, and then squared up on the jointer and planer. 

Good thing we have a lot of clamps!

And here's the final piece - with some iron banding added around the top edge, and around the legs. This table is massive, and weighs at least 500 pounds, probably more. It's amazing what some of the people are producing out of our humble shop! 

Congratulations to Donna; I hope her family enjoys this table for decades to come.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The end is near...

Writing a blog is an amazing thing; someone from Colorado wrote to me, asking about this coffee table I'm trying to building... and wanted to see more about the process of figuring out the angles for the base. Ummm... I'm good at geometry, but explaining this is a little tough!

This is purely seat-of-the-pants woodworking, and I am more or less winging it along the way. Armed with a bevel and some scraps of wood - it's relatively easy to establish the angles. 

In this picture, the end closest to the camera is done. 

The other one needs a few more pieces to complete its arc. The piece of tape marks the end point, 

and I use a few scraps of plywood, to establish the angles I need to cut. I decided to approach this end a little differently, since I was running low on wood.

 I used the last wide piece to create one end, and only needed to fill in the middle to complete this.

  This shows the last piece left to cut. 

With a bevel, it's easy to determine the angles for each end. Well... easy is a relative term, right? Once I determined the angles, I tilted the table saw blade and cut the last board - with different angles on each end. 

It fit in perfectly, but I'll tell you - cutting the last board gives you a knot in your stomach. 

Remember that TV commercial years ago with the diamond cutter in the back seat of a car, hoping he wouldn't make a mistake when the car hit a pothole? That was what cutting this board felt like. 

All that was left was rabbeting the bottom, and cutting some Domino slots.  Gluing was easier this time - but never completely problem free. 

Using a combination of strap clamps and bar clamps, I coaxed this piece together.  It's an understatement to say that the glue-up is a little tricky.  

The best part of my afternoon was seeing this long line of glue squeezing out along the joint - ensuring a terrific joint. The two ends are done, 

and with a little luck - this piece will be done soon. (Didn't Ellen Ripley say that in Aliens, just before all hell broke loose?) Stay tuned for the finished piece...