Thursday, September 25, 2008

The State of my Soul

Most people would say that I'm easygoing, with a neat limitless supply of patience. I'm also somewhat environmentally conscious/aware.

Most of the time I can square this with being a woodworker; we aren't wiping out entire species of trees, most places have a renewal program that include planting and not over harvesting, and we are creating pieces that last more than just a lifetime.

Some days however, my soul dies a little inside. Today was one of those days.

I got to work on the drawers for the chest and dresser today. The ones with the curved faces to match the curved case front. Mark decided that we'd be served best by making the faces from 8/4, giving us enough room to keep the drawer structurally sound while being able to curve the front. We could also keep the interior flat, giving us easy machining of the dovetails as well as not having to bother with curved drawer bottoms.

The other option would be a bent lamination, which above all else, would be very time consuming.

After giving the heads up to the rest of the company, and getting permission we dove into the brand new, very nice bundle of 8/4 walnut. I found great lumber very quickly, made my drawers, and everybody was good with it.

But then our fears that the drawers would be too heavy with that much wood came true. Mark sent me off to curve out the inside of the drawer as well. I had already cut a fair amount off the face, and now I was carving out the rest.

This is where that little bit of my soul screamed and died. AA walnut, 8/4, 4 chest drawers and 6 dresser drawers, and all we are left with is curves 3/4" thick all the way down.

The drawers do look beautiful, and definitely the correct weight now, but so much great wood went into the trash. And we didn't avoid most of the problems with the lamination process.

The only other time I remember my soul dying at work is when I saw a 8' slab of 8/4 mahogany ~20" wide, and thinking 'that was a great big beautiful tree, and someone hacked it to bits'.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Case Goods

We have a sideboard. Complete. The photo was taken just prior to installing the filler strips (to hide where the tambour turns the corner) and before the handles arrived.

As with all firsts, we found a few things that we'd like to change. The pedestal skirts are hidden by the mass of the case, so it just looks like spindly legs coming out of nowhere. So round two will see a slightly enlarged pedestal with a curving front skirt to match the curve on the case front.

The tambours open to reveal on one side a set of three habadasher drawers, and on the other an adjustable shelf.

Then we have the dresser and the chest to work on. The cases have already been assembled, blades installed, and the chest even has had the sliding doors and jewelry drawer made and fitted.

The sliding doors on the top level of the chest, each hide the outer sections when closed, revealing a pullout jewelry drawer, and they slide together to cover the center section.

Today I was revamping the pedestals for these two, while tomorrow will bring the start of making the 8/4 panels for the drawer faces. Then we'll have to decide to best way to shape them.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

CNC delivery

The company got a new CNC router, and it showed up today. If you've ever wondered how these 2k+ lb machines get delivered and installed in a shop here is a little show and tell.

Delivery is easy, you stick it on a flat bed truck and ship it off.

From there, you have a couple of options. Just pick it up with a really big forklift and plop it down where you need it, but you need a lot of room to maneuver when you do that (which we do not).

Or, you get a crane to lift it off the truck, and stick it on these little rollers, and tow it into place with a lesser rated forklift.

Kind of fun, if you've never seen it before.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Commuting bike

Now, while its not exactly woodwork, building myself a new commuting bike is one of my many hands on hobbies.

For several years, I commuted the 3 miles to The Common Grounds on my bike. I took many rides around the trails available to DC and northern VA residents. I've even biked out the W&OD trail for a overnight hammock camping trip.

Then came car ownership, and convenience. Then a 25 mile commute to Woodbridge. Then moving to Woodbridge where cars rule the roads. All adding up to the neglect of my nice bicycle.

I have tried on occasion to ride over to work. Things have always cropped up to keep it from becoming a habit; weather and road safety being forefront, but not having a safe place to park it to keep out the dust and away from potential theft are not far behind in my concerns.

Since I am so close to the shop these days (3/4 of a mile) I decided that I should have a commuting bike that doesn't need to be keep in pristine condition, while saving the nice road bike for weekend, or further excursions.

To that end, I have started building a fixed gear bike. I was able to locate a 1974 fuji road frame at a great south Arlington local bike shop Phoenix Bikes.

Since it's an old steel frame I would have to do an incredible amount of damage before it started to show, and a fixed gear has no gear shifting, or even freewheel moving parts to get dust clogged in them.

I hacked down the traditional road bars, and re-wrapped them with nice bright red handlebar tape. I decided not to build myself a set of wheels (maybe in the future) but ordered a set with a fixed rear hub.

The only thing left to get it rolling is a set of tires, which are hopefully on their way. And the only thing left to get it road worthy is the correct size brake caliper, which is being order by a local bike shop.

More on Turning

This weekend's post hurricane weather was beautiful. Since I have been neglecting my lathe for months now, I decided to get out and turn.

I started by finishing the "water glass" I still had in the chuck. It turned out nice, but only with about 5.5 oz capacity.

And while I was at it, and in an effort to hone my skills with the hollow master, I turned a very tall goblet.

And with most things I turn, I realize only after its finished and off the lathe, that it didn't turn out exactly as I envisioned it. I was aiming for a sort of long tapered look, kind of like a champagne flute, with a bead in the center of the stem, and a much narrower stem.

Don't get me wrong, I still like it. It's just my mind and my hand aren't exactly in sync yet. I am having fun sculpting by my whims, and not repeating cup designs, as of yet.

And finally, I've had a chance to make the handle for the mug I was asked for. It's been a while, but I'm still way ahead of my deadline for it. A nice big mahogany mug (haven't spec'd out the capacity yet) with a maple hand carved handle. Even carving out the handle's mount points on the side of the mug turned out to be less daunting than I imagined.

Now I just need to get it covered and delivered in the next 5 weeks.

Linnaea Update

So, it's been a while since I've had the energy to sit down and blog something out. Not because things haven't been happening...just because.

On the work front, we are coming to a close on the 8 week project that has been the Linnaea seating. We are down to a coffee table, a pair of end tables, and one sofa. And they are getting pushed into another portion of the shop for the finishing I'm free.

Free to fix the sideboard/credenza. Last week, while I still had an assistant working on the couches, I commenced working on the sideboard. Unfortunately, as I found out while assembling all the parts, the AutoCAD drawing had 2 different top views. One showing the relationship of the case, top, and pedestal, and one showing the interior parts of the case, tambour door track and dividers.

The one I based my CNC program off of (the one showing the interior parts locations) was 1" less deep. The other was correct. So now the tambour doors will not cover and/or pocket correctly.

Fortunately the top and pedestal are correct and can be used, as well as not having the tambour yet so no waste there. But I do have to make a new case, with the updated measurements.

While I am at it, I'm also working on the chest of drawers, and the 6 drawer dresser. Those cases are going to be pretty straightforward; it's the drawers that are going to get us. Especially on the 6 drawer dresser, with bow front, and matching curved drawers. We'll have to figure out how to cut the curved face out of 8/4 lumber, plus how the 1 3/4" thickness on one side of the drawer but not the other affects the operation of the drawer. Exciting new engineering prospects.