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.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Bench Project Begins - This is not your Father's workbench...

The old reliable doing its job...
My main workbench in my shop was built in 1991 and has served me beyond well for every project I have built since then and has the scars to prove each one. There is nothing I would change on this bench as everything has its purpose. The plan was built from one of the early Woodsmith articles and is by most accounts it is the "traditional" European (German?) style bench.

I have however been running into some limitations with this baby, especially related to the surface area of the top. I have been building quite a few chairs and larger items and the flat working surface is limited by the well. So this project started out as possibly an assembly/outfeed table, but I really wanted to build myself a nice bench with a large working area and lots of options built in.

Of course you are building a Roubo, who isn't?

Quick sketch of the final product
Why me of course, I have not succumbed to the siren call of the avaricious modern day McGillicuddy promoting this as the only option one should consider. To me the traditional (this term is used advisedly) bench style is very flexible. This will be a wider top to serve as an assembly table with a few considerations for how it will be used.

The main field will be a 2.5" maple slab with a wider skirt on three sides. The "back" will be left open to provide an extended surface to clamp the many laminations that I do. The top will be ~28" wide x ~79" long and all Veritas hardware. There will be the quick release face vise similar to the one I have on my current bench and the end will be fitted with the Veritas twin-screw vise. The trestle base will hold a cabinet of drawers for my tools.

Flattening the top with my Sauer A1

The old bench is not going far, just down the aisle to replace the Sjobergs one I bought a few years ago, this will become the outfeed table for the saw. See where I am going with this...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Copenhagen - With a Klint in my eye...

During the 1980’s furniture in the Danish Modern style was very popular, in fact there were a few dedicated stores selling every type of furniture piece in lovely teak or rosewood depending upon your preference. 

Our first dining room table was a teak Danish set with a pull-out top for extension. This table served us well until we invested in a nice antique native oak table refinished by friend of ours. We also had a nice low Danish teak TV stand with drawers and cabinet that served us well for many years and my Dad got lots more miles out of it when we were done with it. While Danish Modern was a trend in North America that has long since passed, it remains an ongoing trend in Denmark and the Danish design aesthetic is remarkably unchanged for most of the last 100 years. The most modern of materials are employed in the execution, however the look remains distinctly Danish.
The Designmuseum Denmark, an old restored church
and a token G-wagon to boot!!

The Danes call this look or design language “slowness”, a kind of “less is more” perspective, and to me appreciating this approach makes Danish work understandable. This style has not really found its way into my woodworking over the years as my design tendencies seem to dwell on the traditional. English, and early American influences tend to drive my work; however I have always been fascinated by the cleanness of the Danish execution, not unlike the Zen-ness from traditional Japanese style and design. 

It should therefore come as no surprise that when I found myself working in Denmark that I would explore this school more. This past trip I spent the better part of a day at the Designmuseum Denmark exploring some of the most influential pieces of Danish modern furniture from the masters of this genre.

Armed with my new Hasselblad I shot a few hundred images to digest and write about in the future.

This classic chair can be bought today as new.
This shop also shows all the parts which go into
building this classic Danish piece.

Not hard to see the remblance to this original
Hans Wegner chair from 1945
Something that fascinates me with Danish furniture is that one can buy a newly made piece that still bears the name of the original designer (not inspired by) and is built using modern techniques while remaining true to the original design. It is not uncommon to see chairs attributed to Klint and Mogensen that are obviously built recently by licensed firms, but still bearing the names of the old masters. My trip to the Designmuseum Denmark on this most recent trip served to enlighten me on this perhaps unique approach these gentlemen took to design and attribution. 

Over the next few blogs I will explore some of the key things I have observed about the masters of this school and describe my impressions of them in my warped view of the world.