Thursday, February 26, 2009

500 Chairs

I picked up this book today for inspiration and eye candy. The book, 500 Chairs, Celebrating Traditional &innovative Designs is a collection of chairs, some functional, some merely "art" pieces collected by the editors at Lark Books. This volume is a part of a series of "500" books it is basically a picture book with one or two views of each chair and a listing of the artists.
While this book only contains contemporary makers there are three entries done by Sam Maloof. You will recognize some or the names from the Woodworking magazines and gallery pages. There are finely executed Philadelphia chairs and classic Windsor chairs along with "chairs" that look like they would be more at home in a collection of "500 Torture devices of the Spanish Inquisition". There are beautiful, highly figured wooden chairs and ones made out of the strangest materials imaginable, think latex gloves and industrial foam.
I've found this book to be very inspirational and gotten quite a few interesting ideas from it. Bendable plywood and marine grade plywood seem to be used by many of the artists, I think that I would like to try some forming with bendable plywood for a chair back and seat for a recliner. I also picked up a few ideas for a really nice shop stool that will be made from solid wood, perhaps in a free form design.
Next time you are in your local Barnes and Noble walk over to the Art section and look for an 8 inch square book that is 1 1/2 inches thick and browse through it, you might just want to take it home, I did.
What's another word for Thesaurus? Steven Wright

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Mistakes made

When I first embarked on this wonderful hobby I was so very excited to start making pieces of furniture for my home. I checked out every book on furniture plans I could find at our library, I obsessively poured over all the magazines for articles on projects that I liked. I started to buy books of plans as I purchased tools. I immediately began building furniture, I couldn't wait to finish projects and have them to use.

That was the big problem and it took me a few years to realize it. I was rushing through the process. I was making things, but something was lacking in my understanding of what it meant to be a woodworker. I had some decent power tools, I had alot of books and magazines. I had a nice selection of wood to use, and plans to use it on. I didn't have alot of hand tools, and now that I look back, I didn't have alot of skills.
In the picture above you can see scratches in the door panel left from the planer that I failed to remove. And in the picture to the left you can see where I relied too much on my power planer and since I didn't know how, and didn't have a scraper or a low angle plane I ended up with tearout on the curly maple that I wouldn't tolerate today.
If you look closely in this picture you'll notice saw marks from trimming the door down with my tablesaw, now, I'd take a sharp, well tuned plane and with a few nice swipes I would have had the door with an exact fit and no ugly saw marks. You will also notice that the bridle joint is offset to the front instead of being centered even though the rails were inset by 1/8th of an inch, what I had done was cut the joint before I planed down the stiles to 5/8ths and the rails to 1/2, I don't even know why I did this.

This picture makes me cringe, yes, this cabinet is dovetailed, and pretty well too, but it is done wrong. The pins should be on the vertical surfaces and the tails should be on the horizontal surfaces.
Lack of understanding, but a really nice Leigh D1600 dovetail jig, gave me nice tight dovetails that were completely wrong. All in all its a nice little cabinet that lives by my back door and holds keys, a coupe of flashlights and bug spray, people see it and love it, but I see it and hang my head in shame. Granted, now I do have a shop, and I have alot of really nice tools, heck, I have handplanes that cost more than the tablesaw I had when I made this cabinet. I also have the knowledge and skills to use those handtools and to not only make a piece, but to make it right. I've learned a great deal from my online friends, I've taken a few courses and I've focused on technique, not just the final object. I've watched others and I've learned a great deal, but the most important thing I've learned is that it is the process that makes the final product something of value.

"The quieter you become, the more you can hear." ~Baba Ram Dass

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Carter Magnetic Bandsaw Fence

I saw this product online the other day and I wanted to see if it was the answer to one of my problems. When I installed a 3/4 inch woodslicer blade on my Rikon 14 inch bandsaw I had quite a bit more drift than I have been used to. I talked to a few of the guys on The Woodwhisperer chat room and Marc AKA The Woodwhisperer and found that I had probably overtensioned the blade so I started over and tensioned it by "feel" instead of using the gauge. This helped quite abit but there was still more drift in the blade than my fence could compensate for, I was in the process of planning a shop made fence when I came across this one and ordered it right away.
The fence is made by Carter, the same people that make bearing guides and aftermarket tension springs for most bandsaws. I ordered mine from Woodcraft who seemed to be the only company carrying it at the time I ordered. It's made from extruded aluminum with a cam lever on either side to remove the fence once its locked to the table. Even using the levers its not easy to move this fence, there are 7, 1 inch rare earth magnets that hold the fence to any ferrous surface, do NOT get your finger between this fence and the table.
Once the fence is in place it will not move, its a very stable, completely square fence. It is simple to use but maybe not the easiest to adjust. I would suggest that you determine your drift angle, and using bevel gauge transfer a pencil line and the correct angle and correct distance from the blade, align and set the fence on this line, you can make fine adjustments by using one of the cam levers to raise one side and pushing that side into place.
The instruction sheet says that you can also use the fence as a small extension table, I don't know if I'll ever use it like this but I wanted to show you that it was possible. One thing for sure is that you will never lack for a good place to store this fence, just stick it to the bottom of the table or to the frame of your bandsaw.
Now drift angle compensation is not a problem and I'll be able to cut fine slices for inlays or veneer with no more issues.
"There is no need for temples...My brain and my heart are my temples; my philosophy is kindness." ~Dalai Lama