Monday, January 17, 2011

January Commission

What's the perfect thing to make for an old Navy Chief Petty Officer...other than a cup of coffee?

This custom bench will provide a perch for that retired CPO come this Fathers Day, thanks to his devoted wife (and my valued customer).

She requested a custom design drawn on the seat as well as a shelf below for incidentals, 
and I was happy to oblige.

The "fouled anchor" is the hat and collar insignia of the Navy Chief, I rendered it in color pencil.

The shelf is a variation that's both utilitarian and pleasing to the eye.

Three coats of spar-varnish has it shipshape and ready for any weather, though I do recommend that folks bring their benches inside during the winter time.

Delivery was today, with all hands quite delighted with the result.
Anchors aweigh!

Maple + Cherry = flaky crust

Here's a humbling reminder from the shop that wood does, in fact, grow on trees.

Early this spring my brother gave me an assortment of two-inch limbs he'd trimmed from a maple tree.  I cut them into usable lengths, waxed the ends (to prevent checking), stored them in a dry place to wait until the moisture  left them.

Along comes my friend Alann who asked me to make a rolling pin for his mother's birthday, and out came the maple, off came the wax, and into the lathe went this nice 18-incher.

This piece locked up really nicely.  It was a really clean piece that turned like a dream.

Maple has a distinctively sweet smell as you turn it.

Starting at a 60 grit and ending up at a 220 grit, it sanded up nicely.

Dowels await the turning of a pair of cherry handles.

Finished, with an "old school" tattoo design, this rolling pin is destined for a collection rather than a kitchen drawer.  I'm still hoping though, for a slice of apple pie.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The five-board bench.
Here's a project that I've been wanting to get to, and once I got to it I was surprised at how fast it all went together.  This five-board bench design is a classic and was used extensively by both sides during the American Civil War.

Using some 11 1/2 inch pine planks that I recently salvaged from a friend's barn I sawed, shaped, and sanded the five pieces in no time.  Glued, clamped, nailed (minimally), stained, this project took just under two hours at a very relaxed ("where'd I leave my diet Pepsi?") pace.

This is the bench with the first coat of stain, as yet not rubbed down with steel wool, which I'll do in a couple of days.  I chose to stain this rather than paint it only because the pine is beat-up in a way that gives it quite a bit of character, its also riddled with powder-post beetle holes which would have been filled in with paint.  I'll be making more of these, I'm sure.  Subsequent numbers will be pegged rather than nailed and painted in a variety of colors, depending on what I have lying around.

Whether used to accommodate behinds, flowerpots, drinks, or even books this handsome little table was a delight to make and a joy to behold.  I'll be making a few more of these, I'm sure.


Traditional benches and designs

The bench-building continues at a brisk pace.  I'm taking advantage of my last free week before returning to taking classes to knock out some knockout projects.

After recently seeing a delightful documentary on old-school tattoo artist Norman Collins, better known as "Sailor Jerry" I was inspired to bring a little more color to my bench project.

I've already made five of these classic American benches, the first batch finished very plainly and the second (gifts for my sweetie) were decorated with routing, woodburning, and color.

I wanted to bring a little more design to the five-board benches I'd been making.  

On this latest batch of four the relief cuts on the legs are valentine hearts rather than simple holes.  I used a hole saw on my drill press followed by a band saw operation to make these little hearts.

The second variation was the brace between the legs, what I'm calling the 1/2 board in my "five and a half board benches".  These are the fully assembled benches awaiting staining, decoration, and varnishing.

This bench is a gift for two very good friends who raise chickens - as pets, so I thought I'd start with a very generic hen outline and then spruce it up a little.

Using a wide range of Prismacolor pencils I came up with this fanciful creation which I call...

the Chilean Goldenback.  Needless to say, It was very well received by my friends this afternoon.

Then next one was for me, very much a tattoo and very much a nod to my time (tattooless time) in the U.S. Navy.   

This is a faithful copy of a classic Sailor Jerry design.
The Prismacolors are remarkably vivid on wood and I'm really pleased with the result.

The next bench, or "tattoo bench" as I'm calling them, is also based upon a Sailor Jerry design though with my own variations.  That's my little mountain home in the center of the valentine with the Cumberland Valley in the background.  Sunset around these parts looks remarkably like the drawing.

I think the bench reflects the happiness of the couple who live in that little house.

After two coats of spar varnish the image is locked in and smudge proof.  Again, I'm really pleased with the effect of the colored pencils on stained wood.

What a satisfying way to close out the summer.  Now I have all winter to plan new projects for the springtime.

Check in again,


Library Step

This one with a Civil War motif for a friend's library:

This "Arts and Crafts" movement design is really well-suited to a shop like mine.  The pieces tend to be elegant (in their simplicity), very straight forward with  evident joinery.  I was influenced by this style of design as it was the spell my father was under in his high school vocational arts classes of the 1930s.

I love the whole Roycrofter thing.

I wonder,  what will be next?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Another fine day in the shop

A Portmanteau in pine poplar and plywood.

Yesterday was not such a good day, but today...

I was up and out in the shop by 8:00 a.m. as I had a project that I wanted to do.  For some time I've wanted a shop trolley, a cart, to move production pieces from one machine to another.  There's nice carts out there but generally they're made of some sort of petroleum product and cost a lot of money.  Also they're just carts.  I wanted something with some versatility.  So with some poplar and particle board I got busy on what began as a very chilly morning at Victory Wood Working.

This is the frame for the top portion, glued, clamped, and screwed and cut to exactly the space between the arms of my table saw.  hmmmm...

The table saw is the most often used machine in my shop, however when cutting really long or wide pieces of dimensional lumber or big panels there's often not enough table surface to support the stock that I'm trying to cut.

The second rule of woodworking is that you can't have too many clamps.  This is the top portion of the trolley with the lower surface in place and the supports glued and clamped that will accommodate the flush top panel.  I have a plan in my head.

A counter-sink is a handy tool to use with your drill.  Drilling and countersinking screwsholes will look much nicer and a drilled and countersunk hole, even so near the end of the work, won't split on you.

As the glued-up top portion dried I built the bottom portion.  I mounted the casters into two-by-sixes, both for the bulk of wood to support the caster screws as well as for the added weight at the very bottom of the trolley, which will make it very stable.

Looking very gnome-like, Im connecting the top and bottom portions of the trolley by clamping, glueing, and screwing the legs into place.

And viola! as my beloved French people say.  Rolled into place quite snugly between the rip-fence arms of my table saw this trolley surface, perfectly flush, provides a mobile but very stable two-by-two foot extension for my saw.  It can be used on either side and also to the rear of the saw to support stock being sawed (sawn?).  Note the grasping handles milled into the sides.  That top lifts off to reveal...

The parts trolley.  A clean spacious, and lipped surface, handy for transporting production pieces to various machine stations throughout the shop.

Another satisfying, safe, fun, and productive day at Victory Wood Working.  Have I mentioned how glad I am to have built this wonderful shop?

Making the chips fly,