A place for me to display some of the varied projects that come out of my shop, as well as to "talk" about some of my experiences working with wood.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Rocker #2 - a most Special Build

I knew when I built my first rocker it would not be my last, its just a question of how long my attention span lasts before I need to move onto some other type of woodworking challenge - me thinks the next stage will involve carving - but that's another day.

This story starts with a challenge to my Dad to find me some nice hardwood from his childhood homeland, I told him I wanted to build a piece of furniture from it - not a lie, but misleading nonetheless - but for a good purpose!!

If you want to know where this is click here

Well between his brother Paul and himself he talked to a family friend who had a mill nearby and he thought he had "some of that birdeye maple", so the adventure began. Dad tracked him down and the visit was booked, we drove down and into the mill located in the middle of the woods. Sure enough it was there stuffed in the rafters of an outdoor mill for what I found out later was 20 years. As was typical for this part of the world, we spent an hour at the mill figuring out what I would take, all without the owner being around. Once I decided what I wanted, we drove out of the woods and over to the farm were he was working some cattle to negotiate the deal - he was very happy to take $2/bf for the wood which was a smoking deal, but I was not sure of the quality considering how long the wood has sat around and also how tough it was to grade the Birdseye in the rough - I would not be disappointed.

Dad organized his other brother's (not Darrell) truck and brought it down to the house. Thew wood was only air dried so it needed some time to dry out. This gave me time to build a couple of pieces from the Oak we got from the same brother into a couple of pieces of furniture, one for Brendan and one for Dad.

OK - back to this story....

All along my plan was to build a rocker for my Dad from the wood that was grown near his homestead - I could not have dreamed in my wildest fantasy this would be the result. While the pictures are very good quality, they cannot begin to do justice to how awesome this piece looks in the flesh. The creamy whiteness of the maple and the eyes just seem to pop off the chair and the mineral streaking only adds character, as much as I tried to avoid it. Here's the money shots: (as always click on the picture for the high-res close-up look)

Overall View, all Maple from this angle
Side View. The plugs and the accent strips
are Cherry which will darken up

Back View, the back braces are Cherry backed, not the grain
progression across the pieces. also see where the wood's figure
was not everywhere so i had to be strategic where I put the mineral

Back Brace Detail

Seat and arms in all their Birdseye glory

Another detail shot

There was not quite enough of the good stuff to build a complete rocker, so I had to add a couple of pieces to beef out the legs so I could makes them from the narrow boards. Also the material was not quite 2" thick which makes it tough to get the thickness one needs for certain parts. All in all, I am more than pleased, and so its its happy new owner...

The happy Recipient!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Couple of small projects

Needed to fit a few small jobs between the big Christmas present build which will be revealed in a couple of days when it it presented to its unsuspecting recipient.

I needed a place to store my new Harold & Saxon chisels as these will be used for only special tasks and stored in the drawer for the rest of the time. I threw these two boxes together in an afternoon which I hope does justice to the fineness of these tools.

Couple of boxes from Walnut, Birdseye Maple and Cherry veneer over the BB plywood base.
 Keeps them where they belong.

Heather also asked me to turn a few Christmas ornaments for her staff so I used the popular birdhouse ornament look to turn a few of these out on Saturday morning.

Birdseye Maple birdhouses with Cherry and Walnut caps, kind of went for the acorn shape.


Friday, 14 December 2012

Bench Vise Upgrade

I built my workbench over 20 years ago as one of my first real woodworking projects. It is what is known as a European style with a face vise and end vise with sliding dog block.There is lots of talk today about different types of benches, but this is the original and still my all-time favourite design.
I have never been one to jump on the trend bandwagon just because everyone is talking about it.

heavily cropped shot of original end vise handle

I had been tossing back and forth a few ideas with my machinist buddy and wanted a better solution for the end vise than the old style wooden handle I had replaced 3 or 4 times over the years. When the vise was being used the handle was constantly in the way with the wooden part in the wrong place, if you know what I'm saying.

We were talking about wheel design for a Moxon vise (more on that in another post), and I thought a wheel would be great for the end vise, the challenge was the apron is only 3 1/2" high and the post is centred which means a wheel of any size would protrude above the bench and interfere with its use. To solve this problem we flattened one of the edges and when the vise is not in use it hangs out of the way.
View showing relief cut in handle to clear material on bench top when
not in use.

Vise wheel with cocobolo knob from an old plane.

I also added a knob to the metal sleeve on the new wheel to make it easier to turn, this was a knob I had lying around for years, I think it was an extra sent to me by Lie-Nielsen to upgrade a plane. Glad to finally put it to good use.

This makes the vise much easier to use now, don't know why I did not do this 10 years ago.

The new sliding dog to replace the one that had split.
Needs a few battle scars - maybe I better rub a little stain on it!

At the same time as this was disassembled for the handle upgrade I built a new dog block, the old one had split along one of the joint lines as it was built from a glueup. This time around I used a solid piece of ash which should be stronger than the last piece and will likely be usable for the next user of this bench when I am done with it.

The other thing that I laugh at with the whole bench craze nowadays is the guys who need to keep their bench looking like new, and re-surface (plane) it regularly to keep it so. Hey guys its a WORK-bench, what's wrong with it showing that it has been used for the intended purpose?  My bench has remnants from almost every project ever built on it and that's what makes it a treasure.

I was visiting the kitchens at Chateau Chenonceau on the river Cher in France last year and the chef's bench had a big "swayback" depression in the middle from hundreds of years of butchering. Now that bench had a story to tell...that's what I'm after.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Archtop Guitar gets new attention

This archtop was built a few years ago, but a recent run-in at WIA with Chuck Brock of Rocking Chair fame and the Highland Woodworker show. Chuck interviewed me and it made the show, this was cool. I was wearing my Benedetto golf shirt and Chuck asked me about Bob Benedetto regarding an interview for the show. I felt Bob would be a great interview so I contacted him on Chuck's behalf. While Bob is not a friend, we did exchange a few emails when I was looking for help when building my archtop from his book. Bob was keen and it seems like we should be seeing him in the future episode of The Highland Woodworker.

My proudest build ever.
I retrieved the archtop and had my son shoot a current picture for submission to Chuck and he used it in this same episode of the show - very cool.

 This guitar is built from Bob Benedetto's plans and book, however the front styling is inspired by his 35th Anniversary Guitar and Bob helped with some of the execution.

Detail Shot of Archtop

The guitar is made from the best of materials from LMI, Carpathian spruce and German Flamed maple, the same materials, from the region that Stradavari used 300 years ago.

Click on the picture for closer look.

Hope you enjoy it.