Sunday, December 28, 2008

Break Time

The Holidays are upon us and the school is on a short break. The last day before break there was a gallery showing of the student first pieces along with pieces from students past. There was a pretty good turn-out considering the weather conditions and much wine and smiles were had! I can image the year-end show in May will be much more crowded and with a number of new larger pieces to see, touch, and ... buy?

Yes, I had finished my project a little while back but I have been busy. I made a new set of irons for my little bronze spokeshaves. The "irons" that came with those don't do a whole lot of good. I went out and bought a large file and took it to the torch. It was a bit of work but now the tools can give me respectable results. Also a nice little polishing plane was made.

The main thing I had been working on was the mock-up for my next project...

Here it is. I don't really know what genre to put it in... sideboard display divider hall cabinet table? Lets just say cabinet for now.

The mock-up is about 34" tall, 36" long, and 12-13" deep. It's set on a tapered curve (...again? heh) the front being convex, and back concave. The middle space will be enclosed and the two outer will be open from 3 sides potentially with some shelving.

The curve comes from the grain of the plank that I will be using for this piece. I spotted this particular cut early on in coming to the school and got my name on it to ward off the other hunters.
Working with such "irregular" shape I knew was going to be a bit of a challenge to find spacings and proportions that felt right. I started with a cardboard mock but anticipated the need to do a more extensive one. Also in dealing with a selection of wood that I can consider precious and the fact that this form belongs to this one particular cut of lumber, I didn't want to chance that I'd find it along the way as much as I usually do. Yes, a very similar piece could be made from another plank but the specific size, proportion, weight, spacing, and shape are unique.

This is the plank that the main cabinet body will be made of. Chinese Elm, another non-commercial tree. The heart wood is a lovely mellow golden brown with some "forte" in the grain lines. The stand I have not found wood for yet though I'm leaning toward Burmese Teak. I plan on taking a trip to Gilmers lumber company before returning to class to see what I can see. We will have 2 weeks of fundimentals when class starts again. I don't know hom much work will be done on this project in that time but hope to get images from a photo-shoot of the first pieces.

Until then, happy shavings.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Arbutus Box Complete

I finished the box on Monday. It was a frustrating day followed by relief and sense of satisfaction. The project was presented at the school on Wednesday along with a little catering.
Presentations are something done at the school. It's a nice opportunity bring the class together, talk about the project, why you did what you did, trails, tragedies, triumphs and the like. I displayed some "artifacts" of the project such as the chopping block pieces, dovetail calls, curved templates, and so forth.
I shared a quote from Jim Krenov's A Cabinetmaker's Notebook that I crossed flipping through Jim's writings.
"Good cabinetmaking is usually a complex task. It is a lot of concentrated thinking and exact moving. Think wrong, and you've probably ruined something, maybe a week or a month's work. Move wrong and you can lose a finger or hand. Especially if you get impatient.
There's a lot involved - not just money, either - and you've got to be realistic about it all, and make the big choice before it is too late. You can do woodworking for a living, as just another job, probably in a production setup someplace. Then there are reproduction, carving, and woodturning: these are valid and almost painless ways to make a living. Or you may be an oddball who wants to do your own things, your own way. Then you re looking for trouble!" (Notebook p.52)