Friday, February 29, 2008

The Bench

So, after working for the company for 3 years, I found out that we get paid vacation. And since I had several weeks stacked up, I decided to take advantage of my new found to speak. I took a week off, and went into work.

Now, normally one would not go into work while on vacation, but I tend to defy normal convention from time to time. Mostly, I had this idea for a fireplace bench. Something big and sturdy, slab-like. I also started this fascination with hand tools. While power tools are fast and accurate, they are also noisy and dusty. Hand tools are elegant, or they can be, as well as having a longer history.....but I digress.

These two ideas collided into my desire to hand carve a solid fireplace bench. Well, mostly hand carved. I ripped, glued and planed my walnut and curly maple 8/4 into the slabs.

And I cut most of the mortise with the panel router, and shaped a tongue and groove (pinned, of course) for the arm caps, and finally cut the rough curves with the bandsaw.

From then on, I spent a week with my newly turned carver's mallet pounding away, shaping those raw slabs.

I had two gouges, a #10 30mm, and a #7 18mm, an idea of how to go about it, and the shape I wanted at the end.

It took a little getting used to the technique, but it wasn't terribly difficult. It's quite fun actually. Being able to control every aspect of the cut; depth, direction, speed, and to be able to change any and all in the middle. Satisfying too.

And Here We Go!

I have a deep need, as well as desire, to do things with my hands. And I love to learn new and exciting things. This has manifested itself over the years in various forms, from my days as a boy scout doing leatherworking or metalworking merit badges, through my chain mail making with friends for halloween costumes, all the way until I found myself working for Hardwood Artisans building custom hardwood furniture.

From time to time, I get to work on some very interesting furniture. Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I hate the piece I’m working on, but I always enjoy figuring out how it will work. And recently I’ve had quite an interest in designing my own pieces.

My newest challenge. How do I create something that I’d actually like to have in my own home? While building furniture for the company is nice, I can think of very few of their designs that I’d want to own. So I’m scouring the internet, old woodworking book and magazines, looking for elements that I like. Reading articles on techniques, both for the professional as well as the hobbyist. Studying everything that Sam Maloof has ever done. I want to know it all. I want to become a master woodworker.

All that being said, I’ve carved out this little niche on the web. Mostly to share with friends and family who don’t otherwise get to see what I’m working on, as well as the opportunity to get my ideas in some tangible form. And while I may be talking to myself, or updating friends and family, I guess I’m also hoping that the total stranger will be able to appreciate what I create and maybe even benefit from it