Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vacation in Moab, or Why you haven't seen any woodworking posts

In case you're wondering why I haven't been in the shop lately I'm on vacation in Moab, Utah with Pam and my brother and his family.
One of the beauties of Moab is Arches National Park, Delicate Arch that you see here is on the Utah lisence plates.

Sunday we hiked (climbed) up to Delicate Arch, its listed as a strenuous hike, no kidding. It was 100 degrees here in the valley but up on the LaSal Mountains you can still see the snow covered peaks.

My family early on in the hike when we still weren't beaten down by the sun, the nice part for us coming from the coastal south is that there is only 7% humidity here, at home its more like 100 degrees and 90% humidity.

Monday was the great Moab Jeep Adventure for my brother, his daughter and me. We rented a modified Jeep and took it through Kane Creek Canyon, a trip of 13 miles and 5 hours. You can see why here. Our journey started on a dirt road and digressed from there. We went down into the canyon and followed Kane Creek crossing it 67 times according to the guide book, I didn't count, but I'd say they were close.

This was our view from the start of the trail, we went all the way through that canyon. Following a very narrow trail that was at times well marked and at times confusing. It was sand trails, creek beds, and crossings punctuated by rocky trails strewn with boulders.
This is the view up on of the "trails" we had to climb, it was like this all the way out of the canyon.

My brother and I both used to have Jeeps and have experience off road driving, but this part of the trail tested up both. I don't think my neice was too excited about the ride after the first couple of hours but she was a good sport about it.

The guy that rented up the Jeep told us that the company sells them after a few seasons, ours was a 2006 with only 20,000 miles, thats 20,000 HARD miles. I don't think I'd buy one after the rattling they go through.

After making it out of the canyon and back to Moab for a little rest and to spray the mud off the Jeep we went to the other side of town and tried out some slickrock jeeping on sandstone fins. Here we are on a trail called "Fins and Things", this is the easiest of three descents we had to choose from on this fin. Stay tuned for another update later in the week.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Arts and Crafts Details: Corbels

This is the first in a series of posts on details of Arts and Crafts Furniture. Today I'm going to focus on the Corbel, its a curved wooden support that goes between the leg and the arm of a chair of sofa.
According to Wikipedia the word "corbel" comes from Old French and derives from the Latin corbellus, a diminutive of corvus (a raven) which refers to the beak-like appearance. Corbel is defined as a piece of stone jutting out of a wall to carry any superincumbent weight. For us, its a decorative addition that ties the arm to the leg.
Gustav Stickley used a small corbel on his morris chairs while his brother's designs used a more elongated corbel as seen here in my reproduction of their Prairie Style Sofa and also below in my L&JG Stickley Paddle arm Morris chair.
There are several ways that you could attach the corbels to your chair/sofa. You could drill through the corbel and screw it into the leg and plug the holes. You could use dowels to attach it. You could glue it directly to the leg/arm like I did on the Morris chair, since its a long grain to long grain match, careful aligning and clamping works well. My favorite method, which I used on the sofa, is to cut a dado down the leg with a router and a guide, and cut a long tongue on the back of the corbel. This method aligns the corbel correctly every time and provides for plenty of glue surfaces.
Once you decide on the size and shape of your corbel make a pattern out of plywood or MDF, trace the shape out on some nicely figured quartersawn white oak, cut on the band saw proud of the line. Attach the pattern to the stock using double sided tape and using a pattern routing bit run them on your router table. A little finish sanding and carefully glue the corbel in place. Nicely shaped and proportioned corbels will add a nice detail to your project.
"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." - Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Workshop clean up and stuff

Friday I took the Stickley #913 dresser to the shipper to be crated and shipped up to Charlottesville so I spent some time this weekend cleaning up the shop. Its amazing how things get cluttered and the shavings pile up on the floor while working on a project.

I don't have a new arts and crafts project waiting right away so I'm going to spend some time making some shop aids that I've wanted. I want to make a shop stool, resurface my assembly table and try my hand at making some wooden hand planes.

I have been talking to a friend that wants me to help him make a coffee table with an interesting modern design, its going to be made out of MDF and I'll probably break out my Brad nailer for it too, so I don't want to get any grief from you Woodwhisperer regulars. It does feel a little "HGTV" but its going to look cool when its done.