Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting Organized

Completed a much delayed little walnut shelf project earlier in the summer. I had received a bunch of air dried Oregon walnut from a neighbour a couple years ago, made this as a simple thank you. Inspired by a piece I saw in a book about the work of some of James Krenov's students. Finished with shellac, but it was all streaky. Very odd. Gave up on shellac, first time ever. Went to Tried and True varnish, worked like a charm. The colours on the air dried walnut are so much more alive than they are in kiln dried walnut. It's really quite an amazing difference, though the picture does not do it justice.

Casting about for a new project. Want to avoid the problems I've had in the past with trying to shoehorn a piece of wood into a project that it just won't work for. Not ready to take on a big display cabinet with legs - yet - although that remains my 'ultimate dream' project.

Started on a Wendy Maruyama inspired shelf out of arbutus. The hardest part for me is deciding on sizes and proportions, and figuring out if one wood works with another. Part of the learning process. Guess I am a slow learner . . .

My wife out of the blue wants me to build a desk for our daughter, a desk made from, get this, a slab! Yes! I have a garage full of slabs and this I can do! Watch for the worlds fastest slab desk to appear here at the Slow Woodworker!

Unfortunately the ladies chose this slab, which is magnolia. The wood is pretty much identical to poplar, with some rather unattractive mineral staining. I planed it to about 1 1/2 thick, cut it to 55" long, then beveled the underside with a router jig so that the edges appear about 1" thick. As you can see in the photo, it was time for the palm sander. Next up will be the legs, etc and finishing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Summer: Going, going . . .

I had the chance in early July to spend a week at the Inside Passage School of Fine Woodworking. It was a wonderful experience, a whole week on mortise and tenon joints! More than that it was a chance to connect with some like minded woodworkers, learn some great things from the school, and recharge my woodworking batteries.

Otherwise, I've pretty much taken the summer away from the shop. Have run a couple of loads of slabs through the kiln, so now I have plenty of dry wood for this winter's projects, as well as space in the backyard for more fresh slabs! I guess I must have cut a lot of Douglas fir, as there seems to be a lot of it running through the kiln now. Not especially desirable as a cabinet wood, but this is old growth with tight growth rings. Krenov made a cabinet out of "Oregon pine" that was featured in one of his books, this is another name for Douglas fir.

Every time I load the kiln I am reminded of the physical nature of woodworking. It never ceases to amaze/frustrate me how much work it is moving these planks around. Of course they weigh more when the are freshly cut and still wet, but I can assure you that even a nearly dry Doug fir plank that is 8' long, 10/4 thick and 2' wide is a substantial stick of wood! I must be getting smarter as I get older, now I use a cart whenever I can, rather than just when I must. My back is thanking me.

In the sun, pulling boards off the stack, cutting to length, resealing the end, carrying over to the kiln and stacking. Several boards had rat feces on them (I trapped two this week), so that had to be carefully swept off and disposed of while wearing a mask. Reorganizing and tidying the stack back up afterwards. The whole business took the better part of the afternoon, probably 4 hours, and I was perspiring like mad the whole time. It's hard work plain and simple, and the pleasure of working with the wood to build something hopefully beautiful, seems a long ways off!

My kiln is only 8' long, I don't know why I have milled some of my boards a couple inches too long. Of course I have to get out the saw (skilsaw in this case) and cut off the end, then reseal it before it goes into the kiln. Pure 100% unnecessary work. Make mental note for next time I am milling . . . 8 feet MAX!!!!!