Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Hardy Lot

I am in Melbourne teaching some classes and have lots of good stuff to share. New woods, new tools, new techniques and new friends!

One of the main obstacles here, is the different variety of timbers that are readily available.
The woods here are absolutely unknown to me, such as gidgee, red gum, kaori, myrtle, houn pine and countless others.
Glen Rundell and Alistair Boell have worked very hard and exercised a great deal of ingenuity to make the available woods suit the windsor form. It makes me realize just how lucky I am to live where there is such an abundance of suitable chair wood.

Because the available woods don't split well, the spindle and arm stock is sawn first while green, being careful to follow the fibers. Once in billet form, it's on to the shavehorses, where the wood, a form of ash, behaved reasonably well.

Since I've been here, I've learned a lot that I look forward to sharing, and in the tradition of classroom innovation, some of the differences here have spurred on new thoughts that I'll take home to advance my own work.

One especially interesting technique that Glen and Alistair have developed, is this strap for bending the continuous arm bow. Even the most well behaved local timber won't bend without some form of strap, and these straps that they've come up with are ingenious, and work great!

Given the limitations of the wood, this class has proven itself to be a hardy lot, and quick with laugh to boot.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Warn your Family!

Lately I've been using Old Brown Glue in the shop, It's great stuff and when the shop is cold, I'd basically end up making my own liquid hide glue to combat the chill, so why not just go with it already formulated?

One problem that I've heard of folks having with the stuff losing it's quality has to do with constant cooking.  The stuff is only liquid at 70 degrees and above, so folks tend to take the bottle and heat it in a hot water bath. But just like food, heating and reheating breaks it down. So my solution is to take the bottle when it arrives and pour the entire contents into an ice tray and set it in the fridge (not the freezer). When the stuff sets up, I empty them into a ziplock.

Each cube makes a normal sized chair. I simply melt one cube in a cup that I immerse in hot water. Reheating a few times won't affect the glue, but I do discard whatever is left after each chair.

Be sure to warn your family so that they don't mistake the glue for some tasty treat!

As usual, I have been discovering new uses for felt around the shop. This time, it's some soft felt that my friend Dana gave me. When working with shaved walnut, it's a bit too easy to ding it up, but the felt on the clamps works great with no loss of gripping power.

I am heading to Australia today to teach a few classes at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking.
I'm hoping that the longer days will give me a chance to catch up on my blogging!

Below is a gift from my hosts, a real Aboriginal boomerang. I've always been fascinated by these objects and have longed to make one. They fit my definition of a perfect wooden object. The wood is perfectly suited to this use for its strength, beauty, workability and durability. I nearly choked when they presented it. I'm looking forward to the new woods that I'll experience there.

And for my friends in Atlanta, here are the kids in their new home. I was going to leave them and my brothers house until I returned, but it just didn't feel like home here without them. This is the view from the kitchen window. They are loving the new surroundings.

See you on the other side!