The end of 2013 was a blur. I finished up a pair of curly maple desks for a client in Virginia as well as a simple blanket chest. There are several projects lined up for the new year so stay tuned for details.
Click on the images below to go to the portfolio page for each project. Thanks again to Dimitri Williams of DWP for the fine work on the photography.
There has been a lot of activity in the shop lately . The desk & credenza project is coming along well. I also had the privilege of hosting two brothers who wanted to build blanket chests. They are both expecting babies this fall, so the blanket chests will be gifts for the new arrivals. While we were at it, I decided to build one for myself too...
It's always fun to have folks come to the shop and build something. This time it was especially fun. My good friends' son Glenn came down for a day, and we built a toolbox for him from start to (almost) finish.
Glenn is 10 years old and I wasn't initially sure how we should approach the project. This was a learning experience for me too. The way my brain works, I would have spent a lot of time talking about the properties of wood, wood movement, joinery, etc. Hmmm...maybe a PowerPoint presentation? Luckily, my wife Cheryl chimed in. She suggested that the most important thing was for Glenn to see a project come together...all the way from beginning to end. Exactly!
So, with that in mind we bolted right out of the gate. We cut the 8-foot poplar board down to rough parts, jointed, thickness planed, edge jointed, ripped, made finger joints, cut grooves, etc. The pace was fast.
Glenn ably performed most all of the work. I only took over on a couple of the more difficult steps, but these were few and far between. Add in a smattering of "Safety first!" and "Measure twice, cut once..." , and we had ourselves a solid day of Woodworking 101.
I was thoroughly impressed with Glenn's enthusiasm and natural ability. He was comfortable with the tools. He was was fluent in 1/16ths, 1/8ths, adding/subtracting fractions, etc. He soaked in the procedures and techniques one after the other.
And...he had the best design insight of the day...
We had milled up all the sides of the toolbox to 3/4" thickness. Glenn picked up the pile of boards and said (paraphrasing) , "Is this how much it's going to weigh? I think it's going to be a little too heavy."
He was exactly right. After a few more passes through the thickness planer we were down to 9/16ths. The toolbox would now be more manageable, and it would have a much more refined look. Good call Glenn!
There are still a few things to finish (hinges and a small tool tray), but in a single day Glenn worked through a project from start to finish. He and I both left the shop feeling pretty good and with smiles on our faces. Down the road, I'll break out the PowerPoint and we'll get around to all of the details.
There's nothing like starting a new project. I just made a trip up to CP Johnson Lumber in Elkwood, VA where I picked up a beautiful batch of curly maple for building a desk and credenza. The bulk of the wood is from the same log which is nice when it comes to the color and figure consistency of the pieces. Chris (owner of the business) has some really nice stuff. He travels all over (PA, NY, etc.) scouting out and picking the best quality stuff he can find. His inventory shows it. Chris also has a unique product...quartersawn poplar...perfect for drawer sides and other applications where secondary wood stability is needed.
Every part of a build is important. Design and wood selection are a couple of my favorites, and now I can't wait to dive in.
Today I received the final pictures of the Arts & Crafts desk. Thanks to Dimitri Williams of DWP for the great photography work.
Click here to see all of the pictures, a detailed description, as well as a slideshow of the building process.
In between big projects it's nice to take a deep breath and make something simple. I just finished up the Arts & Crafts desk and will be getting pictures made in a couple of days. My friend Dimitri Williams (Dimitri Williams Photography) will be doing the photography. In exchange, I made some "posing boxes" for him to use in his photo shoots. See below...Each box is a cube made of 5 pieces of 3/4" plywood (open on the bottom), joined by mitered corners, and reinforced from inside. A very basic form...but satisfying nonetheless.
I had to post this scene from a recent episode of Portlandia. It cracks me up.
I'm in the final stretch of finishing up the Arts & Crafts-style desk...working on drawers and a pull-out writing surface. Today included a wintry drive home from the shop.