Saturday, August 23, 2008

I met NORM!!!, oh yeah Marc and Kaleo too.

I wasn't going to do it, really I wasn't, but Nicole convinced me, "Look its not that long a line" she said.

I took a couple of days off from work this week and cashed in some hotel award points to go to the IWF this week in Atlanta. Seeing all the really cool machinery and tools was awesome, but the reason I went was to meet and hang out with two great friends that I've talked to and watched just about every weekday since I first met them a year and a half ago. Not growing up in the internet era its strange to have people in your life that you have never shaken hands with or hugged but still you feel close to. Of course many of you will know I'm talking about Marc and Nicole Spagnuolo, the creative team behind The Woodwhisperer. Two nicer people you will never encounter, I caught up with Nicole and Marc on Thursday at the Festool booth where Marc was demonstrating tools to a rapt crowd and Nicole was making sure the live webcam was up and running and chatting with the regulars in The Woodwhisperer chat room. Nicole greated me with a warm hug and almost right away turned to the mic on her laptop to announce my arrival to the chat room "Tree's here" she says, my screen name of course is TreefrogFurniture, better known in chat room shorthand as Tree. We stood around and talked, yes not chatted, but actuallly spoke to each other, while Marc answered questions to all the Festool lusters. Once the last straggler leaves Marc steps over from his little stage to shake my hand and say hi but then is almost immediately pulled away to answer another question. Those Festool guys keep him busy.

I kind of felt like they were busy at the Festool booth so I wondered around the exhibit hall the rest of the afternoon seeing what kind of cool free stuff I could pick up and stopping back in every so often to talk with Nicole and chat with my friends in the chatroom, I even tried to get into the webcam shot so they could see what I looked like finally. We were hoping to be able to catch dinner but the corporate guys had other plans and, after all, it is a work week for Marc. To tell the truth, I wasn't feeling my best and it all worked out for the best, I hit the couch in my hotel room, got some much needed rest and ordered Chinese. Friday morning we met at the Powermatic booth, well booth is too small a word for these things, think, football field. This seemed a much more layed back event for Marc and Nicole, kind of a meet and great instead of a product demo, giving us a better chance to hang out and talk. Many of you will recognize Kaleo Kala who got a chance to come at the last minute talking with Marc and Nicole.
We got the chance to walk over to the CNN center for lunch with a really cool rep from Jet Tools. After walking back over to the hall, did I mention how huge this place was, I again went on walk about and picked up a few more free shirts and at the Delta booth I won a precision router edge guide, luckily I have the router it goes on. I lucked out by walking up to the Delta product demo area just as Scott Phillips from The American Woodshop, was starting a demo of the all new Unisaw, it was me and a few other guys standing there while Scott gave a very in depth hands on demo of the saw. I won't try to describe all the things I saw at the show, I'll leave that to Marc, I'll just tell you that I walked about 20 miles around the show, new cool things are coming out in woodworking machinery, there are HUGE machines out there for production shops, and if you want to fill out your woodworking swag wardrobe, this is the place to do it.
Friday night Marc and Nicole hosted a meetup at a local sports bar and I met some of the nicest people all brought together from The Woodwhisperer site. I had a great time talking with two young couples that lived a few blocks from each other in Atlanta but didn't know it, we talked woodworking, tools, Olympics, and many other things. The food was good, the beer was cold, and the people were fantastic, thank you Marc and Nicole for hosting this event.
I have to say that Marc and Nicole are two of the nicest, most geniune, people that you'll ever want to meet. Nicole is just as cute and sweet as she seems in Marc's videos and on the chats. I can imagine that spending four days at a huge woodworking show isn't on many women's list of things they'd enjoy but she seemed to be having a great time everytime I saw her. She made sure that all the tech was up and running and took the webcam on walk about just so the viewers could get a look at the hall, all the while keeping up a running commentary. She's like your best friends hot little sister that was really smart, but could hang with the guys and probably kick your butt at any video game. Marc is just Marc, he's got the same sense of humor that you see on his videos but when its time, he puts on his game face and is all business about explaining the tools. Honestly, I'm not sure this guys owns a pair of long pants, at the Festool booth, all the corporate guys were in uniform, long dark pants, longsleeve matching Festool shirts, Marc, shorts, The WoodWhisperer t-shirt, five o'clock shadow at noon, its him, take of leave it. You meet him and you know you can hang out with this guy, and you can tell by talking with him for a few minutes that he know's his stuff and you'd like to spend some shop time with him too.
I had great time, I saw some machines I wanted, I got some great new t-shirts, I met some really cool people, and I got to spend some time with two very good friends. Oh yeah I met NORM!!!
"The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."
— Tony Konovaloff

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Limbert Fern Stand

This is a nice little fern table that is based on the Limbert #244 fern stand. I've seen a lot of pictures of reproductions but I haven't been able to track down a picture of the original. I do have a couple of Limbert catalogs but they are all drawn, no photos. So while the dimensions are correct I can't call this an accurate reproduction. I've made five of these before and its one of my favorite forms. I like the long sweeping legs and the subtle in curve at the bottom of the leg. The top and middle shelf are both 12 inches in diameter, the picture on the left has a top at 14 inches by request of the customer.

This is a nice quick little project it can be completed in a weekend, but of course, the finishing takes a few days due to drying times. You need some nicely figured Quartersawn White Oak that is at least 7 inches wide. I had previously made a template for this form that you see here. I cut 4 pieces of QSWO 28 inches long and traced the pattern making sure to line it up on a square side.

Before I cut the outlines on the bandsaw I had to run a 3/8 x3/8 inch rabbet along the straight edge, more on that later. With all the legs rough cut I used double sided turner's tape to hold the pattern to the leg. I learned the hard way not to try to cheap out and save tape by trying to tape it to the pattern and reuse it. The pattern shifted and I lost one leg on a previous build. I used a pattern routing bit on the router table to finish the shape on the legs.

This is why you run the rabbet on the legs, I call this joint the "crazy rabbet" its an elegant way to join all 4 legs. Popular Woodworking used this joint building a version of a Limbert #238 table.

Here are the legs dry fitted for the first time if the stock is straight and square and your cuts are true, you can put it together like this using the "crazy rabbet" without any clamps for a dry fit. I used the off cuts from the legs to glue up 2 blanks for the tops.

Once the glue has dried on the blanks I used a trammel to mark a 12 inch diameter circle then took them to the bandsaw and cut just proud of the line.

Placing a shop made circle cutting jig on my tablesaw and installing a 1/2 inch spiral cutting bit I adjusted the jig to 6 inches from the bit. I drilled a 1/4 inch hole into the center mark of the top and the shelf careful not to drill all the way through, and careful not to drill in from the best face. I placed the circle blank onto a 1/4 inch bolt that protrudes through the circle cutting jig, and adjusted the jig so that the bit was clear from the wood. I usually remember to cut a little closer to the line of the circle in one spot while at the bandsaw so that the bit can spin clear. I then carefully rotated the blank slowly around until complete, I then move the jig slightly closer and repeat until the circle it complete. This operation is tricky and if the bit catches the grain it can tear off a chunk or even more scary it can grab the blank and spin it. When I'm rotating the blank I keep my right hand pressing down to control it and carefully move it around with my left hand. I use the back of the table for this operation so I have a lot of table between me and the bit.
The final dry fit after sanding showing the rabbets, no pressure or clamps used here.

Another view of the bottom showing the shelf inserted. One thing I didn't show is that shelf has 4 cutouts to match the cutouts on the legs.

The final dry fit with the top placed on. A little glue is all it takes to complete the table, at which time I'll clamp it till it dries. The top is held on with a few figure 8 table irons, or if you want you can drill a 1/4 inch hole in the center of the top of the legs and use a dowel and a little glue, the top is small enough that wood movement shouldn't be a problem. This little table is great for a corner to hold a vase and flowers, or a fern if you really want....

"I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate." - Elbert Hubbard

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sometimes a River.

Sitting on a big rock looking down at the Colorado River as it runs past Moab, Utah, I put in my earbuds and find one of my favorite songs on my iPhone:

I was cleaning the ash from the fire
and putting the party away
helping out all of my lost friends
to see the light of day
I was feeling the wind through the windows
Sometimes it crashed through the wall
seems like it comes out of nowhere
there's no warning at all
sometimes a river
sometimes a river runs dry
sometimes a river
sometimes a river runs high
I was making my way through a movie
finding it hard to decide
sometimes it hits without warning
and turns me over inside
making a stab in the darkness
wearing a hole in the floor
suddenly everything changes
your not the same as before
sometimes a river
sometimes a river runs dry
sometimes a river
sometimes a river runs high
you danced in my dream in a white dress
I watched from the top of the stairs
I woke up looking to find you
but you were not there
17 hours of driving
but that's not a surprise
the worlds all heavy with traffic
they never were good at goodbyes
no we never were good at goodbyes
sometimes a river
sometimes a river runs dry
sometimes a river
sometimes a river runs high

By, The StringCheese Incident

Siting there taking it all in I thought about how the river is a metaphor for life, and how much I liked listening to this song while sitting next to the river watching the water flow around and over rocks. The water seems to move around and over the rocks effortlessly while to get up on this rock I had to fight gravity and the heat, but then I realized that the water wasn't fighting gravity but was being pulled along by it. While it seems like the rocks are permanent, the water wears them down grain by grain.

I wanted to create a piece of furniture that brings these concepts and memories into my home. I've seen tables with river rocks inlaid into them so that's an easy addition to the design. I've often thought that Curly Maple with the grain and the curl looks like water flowing, and I have some very nice Quartersawn White oak that's a nice mellow brown just like the terrain along the Colorado River.
The QSWO is 5/4 and the Maple is 4/4, instead of using an inlay or veneer I'm planning on cutting a wide dado on each side of the "river" and overlaying it on top of the Maple. I'll cut curves in the QSWO that will be the banks of the river and route a round over along it. I plan on carving a recess to hold the rocks so that it looks like they are sticking out of the water. The grain on the maple will represent the currents of the river and the curl the rapids. This is the concept put together in a small scale. The River will run between two banks. I can only hope that the design I have in my head can be be translated into wood.
sometimes a river,
sometimes a river runs dry.
sometimes a river,
sometimes a river runs high.
The StringCheese Incident

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wooden iPhone cases

Something else interesting I found online that I thought you'd like to see, MJ Dinsmore is making and selling wooden cases for the iPhone, iPods, and Nano's at his Etsy site .

This first picture is a case for a Nano, its made from mahogany with sliding dovetail ends.

His iPhone case in Mahogany with inlaid stripe. From his site;
"Go green by buying brown -- brown wood versus wrapping your iPod in harsh plastic. It has two coats of danish oil and three coats of hand rubbed Carnauba wax for the finish."

I think its cool and very nice looking, but if you have an iPhone, you hardly ever put it away, so who needs a case? But if you want to keep your iPod from getting scratched in your bag its a very elegant solution.
"A man is as good as he has to be, and a woman as bad as she dares. " - Elbert Hubbard

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Grain Wooden Surfboards

While surfing around on the internet I come across some very interesting things, some of which are appropriate to share with you. This is such a find,, Grain Surfboards based in Maine, builds hollow core wooden surfboards.
These babies are all wood, not a foam blank veneered with wood
and called a woodie. These boards are built with an internal structure much like an airplane wing, then covered with wood strips and then fiberglass. They make production and custom boards and they make kits. These pics are from one such adventurous person on the Grain Surfboard Flickr site. They say in the instructions that no woodworking experience is needed... yeah, right. They also list a limited number of tools that are needed.
From their FAQ page here's what comes in a kit:
Each kit comes with all the material you need to build your
own board including: board frame, cedar planks and rail strips, wood scraps
(sized for tail blocks, and minor structural blocking), fin box, leash plug,
waterproof glue, fiberglass, and more. Epoxy, squeegee, mixing buckets and
rubber gloves are sent directly from MAS Epoxy to save shipping costs. A
detailed 40-page instruction manual tells you how to assemble it all. Our kits
are put together by hand in Maine from locally grown, sustainably harvested
northern white cedar and a small amount of red cedar for color variation. You
will find planks numbered in a suggested pattern and marked “top”, “bottom”,
“nose” and “tail”. The rail strips are already milled with a nose and cove that
allows them to work around the rails (see the manual).
This idea is interesting, I really would love to make one, I'll put it on the list along with strip built Kayak and Canoe.

From their website on why wood:

Wood Is Good
Wooden surfboards are not a new idea! For hundreds of years, surfboards were solid pieces of wood, hand-hewn from logs. These boards were very heavy and this weight often hindered their performance. We think of our boards as a natural blend of traditional craftsmanship with modern day, more performance oriented designs.
We craft our boards one at a time using predominantely Northern White Cedar, with some Western Red Cedar thrown in for color. The Northern White Cedar comes from sustainable forestry professionals, which means there will be plenty of wood for our boards in the future. These tree length logs are sawn using age-old proven equipment, producing the highest quality boards. The wood is then dried, planed, quality inspected and stored on site. By choosing this wood, we’re supporting small, family owned sawmills right here in Maine. White Cedar is super light, extremely rot-resistant and beautiful to look at. What else could you ask for when building a surfboard? The natural qualities of these tight-grained woods ensure durability, strength, and lightweight rideability for many years.
Many big name surfboard manufacturers are now producing foam boards with a thin veneer to replicate wooden boards. While foam boards have earned a place in the surfing world, you need to remember that foam was not introduced to the sport because of its benefits to the surfer, but because of it’s benefits to the manufacturer.
Once you try a wooden board, you may never go back to foam. You’ll discover that wooden surfboards ride with more energy and carry more momentum down the wave. And while they may seem slightly heavier on land, in water, they feel much lighter due to the inherent buoyancy of wood. A well-constructed wooden board will feel solid underfoot but also transmits a pleasing softness like nothing you’ve ever experienced on a foam board. Wave after wave you’ll find new ways to praise its qualities. Wood is just good.

If you like this and decide to build one, please share pictures with me.

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see. Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Islands coffee table, Part 2

This weekend saw a marathon session of MDF pattern routing to finish the Islands Table. I had started with the islands to work on the process, I have to say that I am very pleased with the way they turned out. I started working on the main table this weekend and the process was a little bit different. The coast line extends around one side of the table but the design calls for only part of it to go all the way to the floor. What I did was to draw out the coastline on a sheet of posterboard and when I was happy with it I transferred it to a 1/2 inch sheet of MDF. After cleaning up the saw marks and fairing some of the curves I traced the pattern onto 3 pieces of 3/4 MDF. To save some weight I cut a rectangle out of the back of the pieces when I trimmed the waste away. Since the pattern is on the bottom I switched to a hand router to cut these three pieces. I then took a smaller piece of 1/2 inch MDF and traced the corner. I cut the waste on the bandsaw and temporarily attached it to the coast line and using the handheld router I cut it to match that part of the top. Now I have a pattern that will be the bottom of the leg. I traced the pattern onto 17 pieces of 3/4 inch MDF and proceeded to pattern route them on the routertable. When they were complete I needed a way to line up the top with the leg once it gets to its destination. I drilled three 1/4 inch holes about 1 inch deep into the bottom of the top ( ok that doesn't sound right but it makes sense to me) and used a couple dowel points to transfer the center marks to the leg. Then I inserted two dowels and put a dowel point into the third hole. Now when Dan gets it all he'll have to do is spread some glue on the leg and slide it onto the dowels.
The other 3 legs are square made from 3/4 inch MDF with a tenon made from 1/2 inch MDF, these are designed to slide into a mortise built up onto the top and sides. Again, just a little glue on the tenons and shoulders and slide them into the mortises.
I ripped some 3/4 inch MDF to 2 1/4 inch to match the hieght of the coast line. These were glued and pinned to the top with brad nails. I added a glue block to give extra support to the side where it met the coast here.

Here it is ladies and gentlemen, the complete Islands coffee table, I think it turned out great considering we were working from just 2 pictures. I did some experimenting with some scrap pieces and it seems that vinyl spackle spread thinly over the edges then sanded smooth will leave a very smooth base for painting.
The blue tape is just to hold the leg into the mortise while it was on its side and I was inserting the other legs and turning it right side up.

I don't know if you can see it in the pictures but I used my small edge trimmer router and a camfering bit and gave it a 1/16th inch 45 degree camfer around the top and bottom to keep the edges from being pulled up. My work is done, its up to Dan now to make sure that it gets a good finish and a nice paint job.

'A little simplification would be the first step toward rational living, I think.'
Eleanor Roosevelt