Monday, September 26, 2011

A Ray of Hope

Yesterday, I just needed to whallup something. As I mentioned, we are in a crazy transition place and the tension has finally gotten to me, "Where's my sledge hammer!" So I went to JB Sawmill and got a white oak log for the rocker that I'll be making with Glen from Australia in a few weeks.

It's not the best log that I've gotten, but, white oak is a bit tougher to come by here and you know what they say about beggars and choosers. But when I split it open and stood over it, soaked with sweat and somewhat relieved of my anxiety, I saw this.

I've never seen a ray so large and perfect. To give more perspective than the wedge supplies, it's larger than an slice of rye bread. Very cool. So hopefully this is an omen, and will forever put to rest the question as to why the ray plane is easier to split and shave.

As promised, here are some detail shots of the Birdcage armchairs. I worked out a new scraping routine for the seats that yielded very nice results.

First I rough scraped the seat, trying of course to make it as even and fluid as possible. Then, I sanded with 180 grit sandpaper. Usually, this is coarser than I like, fearing that the sandpaper will eat through the compressed fibers from the scraping and make the grain "pop" look uneven or leave large scratches in the endgrain areas. But the 180 does a such a great job leveling the surface, so I simply scraped lightly afterwards. I know that this breaks the "no edge tools after sandpaper" rule, but I cleaned the surface with a microfiber cloth and a brush, besides, scrapers sharpen easily.

Then I sanded lightly with 220 grit and painted the first coat. As usual, I sanded the seat again very lightly after the paint hardened thoroughly. It seems like a lot of work, but the grain shining through looks great.

Besides the pine seat, I made all of the other parts out of oak. I really like the way that the texture of the grain shows through the paint.

On a sad note, my favorite chicken was killed by a neighbors dog the other day. Most of my chickens are, as you might expect, pretty dopey and lacking in personality, but Doris (the only chicken with a name) was a smart bird. Each day she would escape her enclosure (the only one with the Steve McQeen gene) and come over to the shop to be pet and lay an egg. At the end of the day, she'd just walk over and lay down so that I could put her back with the others. She had a great life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back in the Saddle

As usual, summertime has been a tough time to sit down and keep up with all that's happening in the shop. But what's unusual is all the peripheral activity that has taken up my time. House selling and buying is one long stomach ache inducing activity! But enough of that, I'm taking refuge in building a settee.

I've never bothered to build a long steambox, so I simply bend the long arm one half at a time. I let the first side sit for about a week before bending the other. I am very pleased with the quality of this red oak.

Recently, I finished these two Birdcage armchairs. I'll take some detail shots next.

For a simple break after these two complex chairs, I built this walnut stool. I am hoping to start producing more of these.

They have just the right balance of fun to make, quick, and a satisfying conclusion.

It seems that Lily is having a tougher summer than usual, she broke a blood vessel in her ear and is stuck in the "space dog" mode. I've never seen her so bummed.

But Sue is thriving here in Massachusetts, we've been enjoying all the trails and scenic beauty of our new region, not to mention the raspberry patch!