Archive for April, 2008

Starting the bench

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Hi faithful reader.

So, I finally heard about the other project I had in the works.  It’s a bedroom set.  King sized bed and two end tables.  It’s on hold for now.  The price was a bit more than they thought and they had some unexpected expenses. (do’t we all?)  With the price of fuel driving up the price of everything else, it’s a wonde anybody has any money.  Anyway, I got started on the bench today.  I got the patterns for the back and ends done yesterday.  Here they are.Bench Templates

The big one is obviously the back and the small one is for the two ends.  I think you can see what it’s going to look like from this picture.  The seat is going to be a cubby unit that fits between the arms.  If you can’t picture it, it wil make more sense later.  The actual pieces are going to be 1 1/2 inches thick and veneered in walnut.  The seat will be leather.  It should look nice when it’s done.  To make these templates, I would normally swing them with a router.  By that I mean I would make a compass with a router instead of a pencil and cut the arcs that way.  These are elipses, which means the radius changes in the arc.  The only thing I could do was draw them on the computer and print them out full size on multiple sheets, tape the together and cut them out.  I then trace them on the work piece and cut that out.  A bit of sanding and iI have my templates. 

Today, I get started by making the blanks that will be veneered.  Heres one of them in the the bag

This is going to be the back.  It’s two pieces of plywood glued together and pressed in the vacuum bag.  Next I’ll be edging them in solid walnut and veneering them.  I’ll have pictures of that process too, don’t worry.  It’s nice veneer too.  So anyway, that’s where I’m at and what’s going on in the shop.  Hopefully some more work will come in in the next few weeks.  This bench won’t take that long.

I almost forgot.  The guild will be having a show at  Vermont Artisan Design.  This is a beautiful gallery in Brattleboro Vermont.  The show will run for the month of August.  I have a few pieces there already and a few other pieces I could put in the show.  I don’t know if I will be making any new things for the show.  I’ll let you know. 

That’s all for now.  Thanks for hanging in there.

New Ramblings

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Hi all.

I finally got approval for one of my new projects.  The entry bench going to Manhattan.  It’d going to be walnut (mostly veneer) with a lot of storage underneath in the form of both cubby units and a drawer in the middle.  I can’t put a picture of it here.  I drew it in Sketchup, but I can’t seem to save it as anything other than a Sketchup file or a PDF file, neither of which will reproduce here.  I’ll keep working on it.  Anyway, I ordered my veneer yesterday.  I got about 120 square feet.  This should be too much, but it gives me some wiggle room.  If I get a panel wrong (which I have done) then I can re-do it and I know the veneer will match.  If I need to get more later, it may be a different log and it won’t match at all.  It’s a bit of insurance and walnut still is not too expensive, so it doesn’t hurt too bad. 

I won’t be getting under way until Thursday.  I’m part of the Guild of Vermont Furnituremakers, (check us out.  There are some really talented people here) and we are having our quarterly meeting Wednesday at my shop.  Know what that means?  CLEANING!!!  Yeah, it needed it.  I have been in John’s shop for much of the last few weeks so I have been neglecting my own place.  I am really looking forward to this bench project if only to work in my own place again. 

This last week has been a school vacation, (I did mention that I drive school bus, didn’t I?) so I was able to get in some serious miles on my bike.  I got in about 300 miles.  It’s been a good week.  That puts me over 1000 road miles so far this year and it’s only April.  The weather has been spectacular.  Sunny and warm every day and it’s about time.  Seems like it was a looooooong winter, wasn’t it? 

OK, I’m going to go now and get back to my meeting preparations.  Still a lot to do.  Next time I will have pictures and updates on the bench.  I’ll try to get a picture of the drawing too.

Thanks for reading.

Just an update

Sunday, April 13th, 2008

Hey faithful reader,

Not much to report this time.  Sorry it’s been a while but I had to send in my laptop for repairs and just got it back.  Good thing it’s still under warantee.  I can rarely get michele away from the desktop when she’s home.  Between e-mailing, homework and working from home, she spends a lot of time with it.  How did we ever get along without these things?? 

Anyway, I have been spending a lot of time in John’s shop lately.  I think I mentioned him.  He’s a friend of mine who has a shop where he does cabinets and mill work for million dollar plus homes.  He has a ton of work and I help him out when I’m slow.  I’ve been getting a lot of miles on my bike too.  About 200 this week.  It’s nice to finally get some decent weather and not be bundled up like an eskimo.  The two projects I have in the works are still waiting for the final go-ahead.  The bench I think will happen, the wheels just turn slowly.  The other project, the bedroom set, I’m not so sure about.  I think the price is a bit higher than they expected.  I’ll let you know as soon as I do. 

That’s all for now.  Thanks for taking the time.


Greene and Greene Sideboard

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

Hi all.

I said one of the things I was going to do with this blog is tell you the stories behind some of the furniture I have done.  The first one I am going to write about is this sideboard.

Greene and Greene Sideboard

It started with some leftover white oak from another project.  I had a brain fart and ordered way too much lumber.  (math was never my forte)  Anyway, white oak is very traditional in Arts and Crafts furniture and I wanted to do a sideboard.  I have made a few sideboards and they usually do well at shows.  I knew I wanted to do this top.  It is a classic Greene and Greene design.  I just didn’t have a design for the rest of the piece.  I don’t ordinarily do a faithful reproduction of a piece but prefer to do my own interpretation.  I drew this sideboard up on the computer and then drew it full sized on paper.  Seeing it full sized, I quickly realized it was too big.  I adjusted the size and started cutting.  As Iwas cutting and roughing out the carcase, I spent a lot of time standing back and looking at it and bugging my wife, Michele, to come down to the shop and look.  She has a good eye for design and always has good ideas.  We bounced around a bunch of ideas and the piece started taking shape.  I got thinking about the details I wanted and came up with this inlay.


It’s real ebony wood.  The square pegs are ebonized walnut.  This is a cool process.  To ebonize wood, you soak rusty steel in some vinegar for a couple of weeks.  Strain it through some cheese cloth and paint the vinegar on the wood and it turns black.  Try it, it’s cool!! 

Anyway, I was real happy with the inlay and got the rest of the piece put together.  Then it came to the handles.  I couldn’t find anything I liked.  I went through every catalog I had.  Michele went through them twice.  She picked out some maybes but nothing that rocked me.  That’s when I decided to make something.  I thought about it, studied it, thought some more and studied it some more.  Finally I came up with these handles.


They are real simple, but work well.  They are square with faceted ends set into two square pyramids and wrapped with copper wire and ebonized with the vinegar process.  I really liked them and showed them to Michele.  She really didn’t like them and tried real hard to talk me out of using them.  This is one time I didn’t listen to her.   I get more good comments about them than anything else on it.  She still doesn’t like them.

So, that’s how this piece came to be.  Unfortunately, it’s still looking for a home, but eventually, the right person will see it.  I did make a second one for a woman in California though.  She saw this one on my website and wanted one in cherry.  We put some outrageous bird’s-eye maple in the door panels and drawer fronts.  She loved it!!.  Here’s a picture.

Cherry Version

Some of the details are a bit different but you definitely get the resemblance.

That’s it for now.  Hope you’re still with me.