Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Favorite Day

The phrase, my favorite day, could be taken a few different ways. Some might think that it's a reference to the "best" day of my life, like one would think of the birth of a child, or a game winning catch etc...but I mean something else.

Since I started trying to work for myself many years ago, it's been a constant struggle, not just to pay bills, but to make sure that the business that I was nurturing, was making me as happy as I had intended. Sure, with being my own boss, there is always the privilege of deciding my priorities and how to spend my time, but as anyone who has tried knows, it can be a huge burden. Just because you know your craft, doesn't mean you can manage your self with ease.

In the past few years, I've become aware of all the components that go into making a great day at work, and home, so that my favorite day can be revisited over and over.

 The other day, I had an especially good one. It started in the shop, doing some finishing work on a couple of walnut chairs.
 When I took a break to feed my animals, I realized that my little goat Silky was in season. Sue and I have gone back and forth about the logistics and priority of whether to breed her this year, and with the opportunity presented, we both firmly came down on the side of Do IT! So this summer, we'll have kids, milk, cheese and yogurt.

When we returned from the farm where her suitor lived, my brother set up my sap boiler to make some syrup, while I got back to work in the shop.
I don't have to tell you how much I love syrup season. I just ordered a new larger pan and will be building a new rig when I return from a seminar in Rochester this weekend. This rig was built by my friend Ray Duffy.  It works great, but if I'm going to make syrup for all my friends in the neighborhood, I need more capacity.

One of the easiest components to "my favorite day" and most readily accessible, is right here. I love working in the shop, having an idea and sitting down at the end of the day and sharing it. It's the perfect end to my work day. With that in mind, I am working on ideas for expanding this part of my day.

As for sharing ideas, here is one that I haven't directly featured, probably because I use it so constantly that I don't even notice it. Those who have taken classes with me will recognize this.

I use this to measure the angle of the center spindle in relation to the seat once the crest or arm is in place, amongst other things. This critical measurement has everything to do with the comfort and consistency of my chairs. Most of these protractors have two fins that stick down below the flat bottom. I simply grind them off and level them to the bottom with some sand paper on plate glasss.

Then, I make a small notch at he point where all of the angles originate and tape a piece of kite string to the back.
 Here is the protractor in use. Just place it over the center hole and position the string on the crest where the center spindle will hit. Then read the angle.

Of course the angle is different for different chairs. Most of my straight, round spindle armchairs sit at 12 degrees, side chairs at 8 to 10 degrees and curved spindle chairs vary with the curve, and the intended use.

Today is a sunny day, the sap is flowing, I have work in the shop to do and I've already posted, looks like it's going to be a good one!


Andrew Jack said...

"Cat String."

Anonymous said...

Ooh yeah, love the cat string.

Steve Kirincich said...

Family planning the central Massachusetts way!!

Anonymous said...

Pete - Excellent summary. I was once told by someone, (Curtis B) that everyone should have their own personal mission statement with the goal being to provide for ones family and also to make sure you are happy.Everyday is an opportunity and once you have your priorities in line everyday should and will be a great day. Thanks again for the sharing of information

Robert - Stow Oh

Tee said...

As I was reading this post I thought about Curtis.

Isn't Silky one of the babies from last year? Keep us posted on her "progress."