Progress on the Console Table

April 5th, 2013

OK.  I am making progress on the latest project in the shop.  I have been working for John quite a bit lately and haven’t been in the shop as much as I would like, but things are getting done.  I got the frame dry fit last week.  Here is a shot of it.

Dry Fit

This is before any shaping was done to the legs.  Just to make sure everything fit like it was supposed to.  It did.  Always nice when that happens.  From there, I shaped the legs.  Just a subtle inward curve on the outside plane of them.  Remember, it’s supposed to be like that end table.  I like the way it looked and got the frame done and assembled.  After that I started on the cabinet part.  This was going to be all veneer.  I could have done it in solid wood, but I wanted it to all be cohesive and I was not able to find any nice curly red birch.  The veneer I got has a nice subtle curl to it and it all matches.  I am really happy with it.  I got the cabinet carcase put together and fit to the table frame  and here is a shot of it.

coming together

This is still a dry fit at this point.  I have since finished it and attached it permanently.  In this shot, you can see the shape of the legs too.  Subtle without making the legs too small.  Today, I am going to get started on the drawers.  They will be  birch with bird’s-ye maple drawer fronts.  The two center doors will be bird’s-eye too.  The outer doors will be curly red birch.  All of them will be slab doors.  I found some curly red birch veneer at www.woodveneers.com  They have some amazing veneers.  I had a nice chat with the owner.  They are in Golden Colorado.  As you know, I have an affection for Colorado too.

Anyway, all for now.  I will post more pictures as I get more done.  Right now I have to get my truck from the garage and get to work.  Having an issue with the airbag.  Hopefully it won’t be too expensive.

See you next time.

 

Grizzly 0694 Lathe review and new project

March 3rd, 2013

For starters, here is my review of my new lathe.  In a nutshell, I really like it.  That’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s issues.  I have a few criticisms but all in all, I am very happy with it.  I have been using it for several weeks mostly for bowls and it is very smooth running, good speed control and very quiet.  I had read on another review about it making a whining noise but I did not find this to be true.  The electronics work flawlessly.  My first issue is with the off switch.  It is one of those that when you hit the button, you have to twist it to re-set it.  This is not a real problem, but I would like a simple push button like the on button.  My second issue is hard to describe but I will give it my best shot.  On the shaft there is a sort of collar that is attached with four set screws.  The collar expands over the shaft to cover either the hand wheel, the face plate or the chuck installed and holds it in place with four set screws.   Here is a shot of it.The set screw on the left is holding the hand wheel on.  Kind of a belt and suspenders approach.  Probably there to keep the lawyers happy.  My problem came when I put a four jaw chuck on.  The chuck is removed by inserting a shaft into a hole on the threaded insert for leverage and using it to remove the chuck.  With the collar in place, it covers the hole for the shaft.  Not a problem you say?  You can remove the chuck by using the wrench used to tighten it.  True, but if you happen to loosen the chuck from the threaded insert and the insert stays on the shaft, you have to destroy the insert to get it off.  I brought this up to the engineers at Grizzly and they admitted they never thought of this potential problem.  You can’t operate the machine without the collar as it also covers the bearings.  Without it, the bearings would get dirty and fail.  My solution was to turn the collar down to get rid of the part that covers the shaft.  Grizzly offered to do this and send me the modified one which they did and it works great.  Here is a shot of it.Yo can see it no longer covers the shaft but it still protects the bearings under it.  Problem solved.  I hope the Grizzly people fix this on future versions of this lathe.  I can’t compare this to a Powermatic or some other big ticket lathe because I have never used them, but I can’t see them being enough of a machine to justify double the price.  This is a very nice machine.

Now, on to my new project.  I have to say right here that I have done a couple of project that I have not written about.  I will be keeping you all posted about this one.  I have a customer that bought a  table like these a few years ago.They approached me last fall and wanted a console table to go with it.  After a lot of back and forth and brainstorming, we came up with this design.It’s kind of ambitious but I think it will work fine.  The center doors and drawer fronts will be bird’s-eye maple and the rest of it will be red birch.  I got the lumber last week and was able to get some nice stuff.  The cabinet part will be red birch veneer.  This will not only keep the weight down but it should eliminate any cross grain issues and allow me to make a more solid piece.  The design is such that the cabinet is structural to the table and using veneer will allow me to make it more solid.  I am going to get started by gluing up the leg blanks tomorrow.  I need to use glue ups because I wanted the legs about          2 1/4″ square and red birch doesn’t come that big.

Ok,  That’s all for now.  I’m sick of typing.  I promise to keep you all updated on progress.

Things are picking up.

November 16th, 2012

Despite my long silence,(sorry again) things are starting to happen slowly.  For most of this year, I have been working for John.  He has been busy and has been able to give me some hours during my downtime.  That’s partly the reason it’s been so long.  There hasn’t been much to write about.  Labor day weekend, we rented a vacant storefront in downtown Fair Haven and had a sale.  We put in all our spec furniture, sent out post cards, added a link on the website and opened the doors.  I wasn’t expecting a line out the door or anything, but i was expecting a bit more than we got.  It wasn’t a total failure, I did get one small job for a past customer, but it was dismally slow.  We didn’t sell anything in stock, but there were people in the door and we got some exposure.  After that, was the Woodstock show.  It’s the big annual woodworking show in Woodstock VT every fall.  This year was actually pretty good.  First of all, I got talked into entering the design competition and to my great surprise, I won second place with this table.

Curly birch coffee table

It’s part of a set that includes a Morris Chair, and two end tables.  All the vertical elements are curly red birch and all the horizontal elements are curly yellow birch.  They really came out nice.  I just wish I had been able to sell them.

I did get some business from the show though.  I met a woman from Boston who needed a coffee table for her new condo.  She was hosting her book club and wanted it for then.  We settled on a design and price and i got to work.  It is made from re-claimed butternut.  The top is wormy wood and the rest is what they call character grade.  I has knots, some worm holes and other character.  Here is a shot of it before It got finished.  It ended up with a walnut stain and lacquer finish.  It came out very nice if I do say so myself.

Butternut table

I also took an order for a small display table I make.  I’ll keep you posted.  I’m going to be starting that one this weekend.  I also got re-acquainted with a past customer who wants a credenza type piece which should be very interesting.  I think that one is going to happen over the winter.  They are spending the winter in Florida and don’t need it until they get back in the spring.

My last bit of news is that I finally bought a new lathe.  I am getting more into turning bowls and my old Delta just doesn’t have enough power.  It is great for spindles and small bowls, just not for bigger ones.  I did a lot of research and settled on a Grizzly.  I got the big one.  I haven’t used it much yet since I just got it going last week so I’ll hold off on a review until later.  So far though, I like it.

That’s going to be all for now.  I’ll try not to be so long next time.

Thanks.

Colorado, Woodstock and a whole lot of water

January 18th, 2012

First of all,  Wow, I didn’t realize it had been so long since my last posting.   I can’t seem to get into the habit of writing this.   Can’t promise to do better, but i can promise to try.  That being said, there is a lot to catch up on so here is some of it.

First, I love my new bench.  It works better than I had hoped.  The vises are great, the size is perfect and the mass of it makes a big difference.  It is really heavy!!!  If anyone wants more detail or dimensions, I’d be happy to share.

You’ll see in the title of this post Colorado.  Michele and I took a trip there for the US pro cycling challenge.  AKA the tour of Colorado.  Wow what a place.  If we had done that trip 20 years ago, we might have stayed there.  What an amazing place.  The whole reason for the trip tho was the bike race.  Easily the best week of my life.  I brought a leaders jersey from the Killington Stage Race I had and got it autographed.  I felt like the quintessential tourist but I got some great autographs and even better pictures.  Here a few.  I know these don’t mean anything if you’re not a cycling fan, but enjoy anyway.

 

 

The first one is me with Cadel Evans.  The winner of the Tour de France!!!  Second is George Hincapie heading out for a warm-up.  Third is Ivan Basso, two time winner of the Giro d’Italia and finally, Levi Leipheimer warming up for the time trial.  He got the leaders jersey on this stage and ended up winning the race.  So you can see, it was an amazing trip.  The only downside was a bitch named Irene.  This storm was due to hit here on Sunday afternoon and we were flying out early Saturday morning.  We were just about to get on the plane to Cleveland and I asked the ticket lady if there was a problem at the other end.  She said the flight was already cancelled!!  We opted to stay in Denver since there would be a lot of people stranded in Cleveland and worst case scenario was we would catch the last stages of the race.  Then we found out that despite what they said, they brought our suitcase to Cleveland.  Now we have a problem.  The only option we cold see was renting a car and driving home.  Yeah.  1900 miles.  I’ll spare the details but it was a long trip.  We didn’t even have a chance to enjoy it either because we wanted to beat the storm.  It was about 30 hours non-stop.  We got home about when the storm was winding down.  Right here there was minimal damage.  You didn’t have to go far to see some real devastation tho.  My friend Bill had his house washed away.  Gone!!!  He is re-building even though he didn’t have flood insurance.  Vermonters are a tough breed.  I think all roads are done and life is getting back to normal but it was a time not soon forgotten.

Now for a Woodstock update. (this a woodworking blog after all)  For those of you who don’t know, Woodstock is the site of the annual Vermont Woodworking Festival.  It is a big showing of woodworkers of all kinds.  Professionals, hobbyists suppliers, cabinets, furniture, crafts, carvings….. you get the idea.  There are displays, demonstrations, guests etc. etc.  I have had a display for the last few years.  It is one of the only shows I do anymore.  Some years it is great other years not so much. This was a not so much year.   I’m not really surprised by that though.  This hasn’t been a great year all around.  A lot of people are slow or out of business.  I’m no exception.  I am really fortunate in that John is real busy right now.  They are working on a huge house and he has work for the foreseeable future.  I am working three or four days a week there.  Because of this, I have to admit, I’ve gotten a little lazy about marketing.  I have to get on track with that.

I know this was a quick update for a big space but like I said.  I can try to do better and I will.

 

My New Bench

March 25th, 2011

As promised, here is my new bench.  First of all, I am building this one to replace the one I have been swearing at for years.  I built it many years ago.  I started it with good intentions but not a lot of thought.  By the time I got the top made, I had a lot of work to do and hurried up and finished it.  Consequently, the base did not come out very good, but it worked.  I always figure I would fix it someday but you know how that goes.  This new version has been in my head for a long time and I finally had the time and money to get it out.

My first thoughts were to the vises.  I had bought a used Veritas twin screw vise some years ago and put it aside for someday.  For the front vise I decided I wanted a patternmakers vise.  I looked up the Emmert vise but you can’t touch one of those for less than $1,000 unless you get real lucky.  There is a Chinese clone available for a decent price so I took a chance on it.  I got it from Woodcraft.  So, now I have my vises and need to think about the bench.  I know I wanted heavy, solid, maple and have a recessed tool well.  I did a lot of research on line.  I looked at pictures, read reviews and blogs.  I got the basic design and drew it up with Google sketchup.  I wanted to find any problems before I got into it.  I measured a lot because I wanted it to be as big as I could get without being too big.  Finally I have all the details figured out and I can start cutting.

I bought a pile of 8/4 soft maple and started making sawdust.  The top is laminated strips 1 7/8 thick x 3 1/8 wide and about 7 feet long.  I glued them up in two batches,planed them and glued them together.  I ran the whole slab through the sander and had my top.  Next, I got into mounting the vises.  For the patternmakers vise, there is a lot of excavating to do.  You have to route out the underside of the top for all the hardware to fit.  It looks like this:  (click on the images for a bigger view)

For the other vise it’s a little simpler.  After the skirting is on the top, you simply drill a couple of holes and install the hardware.  Here’s a shot of the finished vise.

Veritas twin screw

It works great.  Much better than the old vises I had on my other bench.  For the skirting, I wanted it to wrap around, but i didn’t want any problems with cross grain.  The top is quarter sawn, so I know there wouldn’t be much movement but it still needed room.  I ended up doing something like a breadboard for the ends.  I made a toungue on the end and a groove in the skite board.  I glued the front third and put a bolt in a slotted hole for the back.  I just screwed and glued the corners.  I saw no need for fancy joinery there.  I though a lot about the recess in the back.  I wanted it deep enough to hold things, but not so big I lose things in it.  It could have been a little smaller, but I think it’s fine.

Recess

The bottom is some left over white oak I had.

So now I turn my attention to the base.  For a top this heavy, I need a solid base.  I glued up four legs to make 4″ x 4″ posts.  The feet are 4″ x 3″ thick.  Simple mortise and tenon joinery for the whole thing.  I did bolt the legs to the feet in addition to the joinery.  This thing is solid.  I made the feet a little long and offset the legs because the tool recess hangs out in the back.  I put a piece of MDF on the bottom stretchers for a shelf and put some things there.  Eventually, I plan to add a cabinet with drawers.  I’ll get some pictures when I get to that.  The whole thing is finished with my usual oil finish.  About a half gallon in all.  Here are a couple of shots of the finished bench.

Finished Bench

Another Shot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems like I finished it just in time because I have a bunch of work coming in and I am looking forward to seeing how it works out.  I’ll let you know.

That’s it for now.  Please feel free to ask any questions you might have.  Visit my website too.  I have some work to do there too.

Til next time let’s all wish for sunny days and dry roads.

 

More on the chair

March 8th, 2011

First of all,  As I write this, the chair is done and being picked up this weekend.    Second, here is a shot of the arms in the forms as promised.

Bending Arms

As you can see, it’s pretty simple.  It takes some work to get them bent and some trial and error to get the bend just right.  There is some spring back and it’s a guess as to how much.  It took a few tries for me to get it right and now I feel the are just right.  I didn’t get any more shots of the work so i will have to describe it without any images.  Sorry bout that.  While the arms sit in the forms, I start on the legs.  They are 2 1/4″ square.  I try to cut them all out of the same piece and this time was able to get them all out of a 25″ long piece.  Square them up, sand them and cut the tenons at the top.  The back legs are angled to accommodate the bend in the arms.  I put facets on the top of the tenons.  It’s little details like this that make the difference.  The rest of the chair is as simple as it looks.  It’s just a matter of getting the design you like and figuring out the dimensions.  I’m not going to give you the dimensions for my chair.  You have to figure out your own details.  E-mail me if you have any questions.  I am happy to share.  As for the back.  You can’t see it, but there are five slats across that hold the back cushion.  They are curved also.  I don’t steam these.  I cut them out of 8/4 pieces.  You have to cut the tenons on them before you cut them out.  It’s a lot easier that way.  You could cut them out first, but it’s a lot harder that way.  Glue them up and pin the tenons and you’re done.  The way the back attaches to the chair is with pins.  They are made out of cherry dowels.  This allows the back to pivot.  At the back of the arms are four holes for pins to hold the back at set angles.  This adds a built in recline feature which adds a lot of comfort to the chair.  Probably the hardest part of the whole process is putting on the arms.  You have to cut four mortises that align with the tenons at the top of the arms.  The way I do it, is mark them out carefully and drill them on the drill press.  Then I use my hand held jig saw to cut the square.  I fine tune the fit with sharp chisels.  It takes a while and is a little fussy, but if you take your time, you’ll get the fit just right.  Don’t try to get them too tight, or the arms can split with seasonal movement.

Now I realize this is greatly compressed and i didn’t get enough pictures to show all the steps.  I hope I inspired some of you to give it a try anyway.  If you break it down into steps, it’s really not that difficult.  By the way, here’s a shot of the finished chair.

Finished Chair

Like I said, feel free to comment with your questions.  I’ll help as much as i can.

Next time I’ll have info on my newest project.  I am finally building the new work bench that’s been in my head for years.  It’s coming out good.

 

 

Morris Chair

February 11th, 2011

OK  As promised, here is the story of how my Morris Chair came to be.  First, here is a picture of it.

Bow-Arm Morris Chair and Ottoman

It started out that I wanted to make one.  I had not sold one or anything, I just wanted to make it.  I Kind of had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like, but I was unsure of the dimensions.  I had worked for Bill LaBerge off and on and had worked on Morris chairs there, but I didn’t want to copy his. (A real nice chair, by the way) I had an idea of the basic dimensions, but not the details.  Since there is a lot of rather expensive wood in something like this, I wanted to keep trial and error to a minimum.  Then I found a plan for sale and took a chance.  It worked out great.  It gave me the critical dimensions I needed like where to place the pivot for the seat back and the like.  I made my first one and put it in a gallery.  The gallery owner suggested some changes and I made another.  This one was a winner.  I ended up selling quite a few of them to Scott Jordan Furniture in Manhattan for some time.  They must have gotten a cheaper source for them or started their own production because I haven’t heard from them in a long time.  Anyway, that’s how they came to be.  I have probably made 25 of them and I haven’t changed them a bit.  I have added a straight arm version though.  I like it a lot.  It’s new so I haven’t made nearly as many of them.  Here’s a shot of it  This one is Sapele wood.

Flat-Arm Morris Chair

Now, As I said in my last post, I am starting a new chair and would document the process.  I bent the arms the other day.  They are 6″ wide and about an inch thick.  I steam them for about an hour and a half in a simple steamer set-up.  It is a turkey fryer with a gas can and radiator hose.  The box is just plywood which holds up surprisingly well.  Here’s a picture of it.

Steamer Set-up

You kind of have to keep a close eye on the water in it.  There isn’t a sight glass, so I add water after an hour.  I don’t have a shot of the arms in the forms.  I will next time though.  I will also be working on the chair so check back.

Thanks.

Happy New Year

January 19th, 2011

Hi again.  Yes, I’m still here.  I was checking and saw how long it’s been since my last post.  Wow, I didn’t realize it had been that long.  Good thing I’m better at making furniture than I am at writing about building furniture.  First of all, I wasn’t able to do the MS ride.  It just didn’t work out.  I couldn’t raise the money that fast what with the economy the way it’s been.  I am going to try again this year.  Keep checking.

As to what I have been doing.  I recently completed another sleigh bed like the one in the last post.  It is the first full size bed I have made.  It looks a bit odd that size, but I am used to seeing it bigger.  I haven’t delivered it yet though.  The customer is re-modeling and work is not going as fast as first planned.  Also, he apparently had some kind of accident and got hurt pretty badly.  I haven’t heard anything recently, but I guess he is ok.

Next, I just got a deposit for a Morris chair.  I haven’t made one of those in a while.  I’m looking forward to getting going on it.  I will turn it into a kind of how-to lesson in how I make my chairs.  Next time, I’ll add a history of it too.  How it came to be etc.

Thirdly, We have signed up for the Vermont Craft Council Open Studio Weekend this year.  It is something we have done in the past but haven’t for the last few years.  It a state-wide tour of studios of all media on Memorial day Weekend.  There are wood people, ceramic people, jewelry people, glass people and lot’s of others.  Check it out.  It’s a great way to see some real talented people doing what they do best.  We will be offering deep discounts on all furniture in stock.  Not because there is anything wrong with it, but because we like to turn over inventory and keep thing fresh.  In future posts, I’ll be showing what we have and how they came to be.  Because of this, I won’t be able to participate in the Killington Stage Race this year.  I was considering riding in the citizen’s race too.  But I guess business before pleasure.

Well, that’s all the news I have time for right now.  I promise not to wait another 6 months to write again.  Thanks.

The Sleigh Bed

July 14th, 2010

Of all the pieces i have made over the years, I probably get the most comments on this sleigh bed.

I have to admit, it does have a certain elegance about it.  It all started out with a phone call from a second home-owner not far from my shop.  He had a sleigh bed in his house but didn’t like it.  It had a large footboard and blocked the view out the window.  He want me to make him one with no footboard.  We discussed it for a while and I got to designing.  I liked the lines of his and used them to influence my design.  His was factory made and not very well done.  I thought I could do a better job.  He had some other furniture in the room out of red birch and we settled on that.  It was one of those times where he asked if I could make that and I said sure.  Then when he gave me a deposit and I got to thinking about it, I thought “Holy shit, how am I going to do that??”  Really though, if you take even the most complicated piece and break it down into it’s elements, it gets a lot less complicated.  The first thing to do was draw it out full size.  Once that was done, I made a form for the slats.  The slats were designed as a lamination with four layers 1/8″ thick.  I had to rip the pieces, keep them in order, take them to John’s shop to sand, sand them, bring them back to my shop, stack them up and glue them all without changing the order they were in.  I wanted to re-glue them in the order they were cut so they wouldn’t look like a lamination.  That was a complicated process.  Now I have my own wide belt sander so the process is a lot easier.  I made patterns for the four posts and pattern cut them with a router.  Next was the top rail.  It is 3 1/2″ thick and round with a flat where the slats are mortised in.  That was all hand shaped.  I started on the table saw and got it to 12 sides and went after it with a hand plane and sandpaper.  A couple of hours later, it was round.  Everything ended up coming together fine and it ended up being a lot easier than I thought it would.  Here is the result.

You can see some of the view he wanted to preserve.  As soon as I got it done, I thought I wanted to make a version with the big footboard.  I got to work designing the foot.  It is the same as the head, just smaller.  I got to work.  The result exceeded my expectations and I couldn’t have been happier.  I made it queen size, (the original was king) and brought it to a few shows.  Turns out, If I had made it king also, I could have sold it several times.  I ended up keeping it for a while but it ended up not far from here.  I have made both versions of this bed several times since which is satisfying in that It seems to be appreciated.

Anyway, that’s the story of that bed.

On another topic, I think I am going to do the MS ride again so check here and I will put a link to where you can donate.  I only have a few weeks to raise $500.

Thanks for sticking with me.

The Show Opened

July 12th, 2010

Last night the Guild show, “collaborations and innovations” opened in Burlington at the Firehouse Gallery on Church Street.  It was a very busy night.  I have to say, our jewelry box was a hit.  I got a lot of very complimentary comments.  Dana and his family showed up and stayed for a while.  We weren’t able to get any pictures with him though.  Here are a couple of shots of the box and of the show.

The first two shots are our box.  One from the front and one from the back.  Dana really came through.  It looked great.  The mechanism was a little sticky but was loosening up as it got worked more.  My only complaint on the piece was from a mis-communication between us and I put the top on off center.  It is too far back but people either didn’t notice or didn’t care.  It glared at me, but I tend to be overly critical.  The other two shots show some of the other work at the show.  The members really came through.  There was some real nice work there.  By the way, in case you didn’t know, click on the image to see it full size.  Michele and I will be working the gallery on Monday and I will try to get some more shots.

On another note, (you knew I was going to go there) have you been watching the tour??  So far it has been the best in recent memory.  I think Lance lost it on stage three when he flatted on the cobbles, but there is a long way to go so we’ll see.  If he’s going to pull this one out, he’s got a lot of work to do.  I just watched stage 7 to Station de Rousses.  Good finish.  We’re in for a great next couple of weeks.

Any way.  if you’re in the neighborhood, check out the Guild show.  It’s running for the next week and a half.  Check out my website if you get a chance.  Thanks for sticking with me.