Thursday, August 27, 2015

Keep Better Records

Do you remember a while back, when I wrote about a military flag display box that I built?  It started like this, 

and progressed like this. 

I always love it when customers get back in touch with me, and send me photos of a piece I built, after it is gifted to someone. Here's what came via email today. 

It's filled with patches, medals, coins, mission flags - a great way to commemorate a long career.

It's also really interesting to see how all the awards and memorabilia fit into this case, and awesome to think that this will be around to pass down to another generation. 

You know what I wish? I had kept better records. At one point, I was probably built 30-40 pieces of furniture a year, but over time - I've just lost track of what I've done. I couldn't even venture a guess as to the number of things I've built. 

So - to all new woodworkers out there - keep better records. It'll help you when giving future bids to customers, and it's just nice to be able to look back on your body of work and see the progress you've made. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Summer of ChairMaking

So I saw this headline today - 

July was hottest month on record globally

And I couldn't agree more. 

While most of the summer was gorgeous, the last couple of weeks have simply been brutal. So when I think back on this summer, I will remember two things - 

1) building chairs
2) building chairs in this #$%ing heat. 

Like I said  - it's been brutal. 

I just finished a set of six Walnut dining chairs - how stupid of me to not get some decent pictures of them!  My client asked me to design something that would go with their amazing table. 

Here are a few progress pics, but like I said - I took no decent pictures. I hate it when that happens.  I made two wide arm chairs, and four side chairs - all with sculpted backs and amazing inlay details. 

If I'm lucky, I'll get a few shots of them when they come back from the upholsterer. 

With those six chairs finished and out of the shop, I turned my attention to more chairs!

I'm finishing up the final two chairs for my dining room set - and if you know anything about me, you know I get bored building the same thing, over and over. So I decided to build six chairs in Ash, but using three different designs for the chairs. I can handle building two of anything, but six or eight?.... it's a challenge for me to stay that focused. 

Here are the previous two designs... these low back chairs, with curved back rails.  

They feature a multi-sided legs, to match the dining table legs. 


And these slat-back chairs, which are taller, and a bit more formal. 

So these are the final two chairs, and frankly - I'll be happy when I can take a break from chairs for a while. This was the original design I had in mind - drawn with my simple sketching program.

I scooped the seats, using the jig that Lupe made for the shop. It's a terrific way to get perfect results. Here are some progress pics, 

and the two perfectly matched seats. 

 I decided to use a joint that I've been admiring - a dovetailed leg joint. Easy to cut on the tablesaw  - just tilt the blade to the desired angle,

 and cut both sides. 

Then clean out the middle. To clean out that last little center part, 

you'll have to either tilt the blade back to 90, or it has to be done with a chisel.

This is gorgeous and strong, and I like the contrast of grains on the seat. 

The leg was made with that same blade setup - just rip the piece to create the dovetail, and then re-glue the leg back together. 

 Since the blade creates 1/8" of waste with each cut, I had to glue in 1/8" spacers to compensate for the wood. Sounds complicated, but it isn't. Unfortunately, I didn't take pictures of this step. 

 So the seat is notched, legs made - time to step back and admire everything so far.

 I love the fine grain of the Ash, but notice - I sliced the boards and turned the edge grain up. I like the finer grain of this, rather than face grain, FYI.  

This board has been saved for legs, and it's finally time to cut it up and create! 

The chair is finally starting to take shape! But there are a few details that need attention. 

The back uprights need to be tapered - they look heavy and clunky to my eyes. 

I cut the backs and clamped them in place, to see how they looked. 

Sweet. Just what I envisioned. 

They need to be shaped, so I drew a curve and headed to the bandsaw.  

This is easy work on the Laguna, with a fat ripping blade in it. 

Perfectly sanded to the line I drew.

I added stretchers to the legs; I know how hard I can be on chairs, often tipping them up on two legs, or sliding them across my uneven tiled floors.

 I don't want any of these joints breaking. And finally - everything is cut and shaped and ready for final sanding. 

Well, except for one thing... I plan on inlaying a design in the back rails, and that's going to take a bit more work. I have some cool designs in mind, and with the new CNC that we're getting at the shop, it should be easy to accommodate anything I can envision.

Stay tuned....