Thursday, October 29, 2009

jumping around

More shaping! Yes this time the aprons and stretchers.

Here's one of the stretchers. They're getting a concave curve at the bottom and convex on the top. The bottom on the long side has about a 1/8 - 3/16" amplitude... maybe 5/32" heh and the top curve about 1/16". People should be able to see the bottom curve. From that and the grain graphics the top one is sort of inferred or exaggerated but there is a little curve there to be found upon a closer look.

This is one of the aprons that go above the stretcher and directly below the top. The bottom has a slliiight concave curve. This is the one that I'm really interested if anyone will pick up. I can just pick it out when it's not against a straight object... maybe because I know it's there? eh.

I'm kind of playing around here having a bit of fun with it. It's a little odd in that normally when I think of playful things they are more exaggerated, bold, or dynamic. In the past I've done a couple "bold" pieces; now I'm doing almost the opposite and quite enjoy it. How subtle can one get? Where are the lines between sight, presence, perception, and something being unacknowledgable? Maybe I'll learn something, maybe not. Whatever, I like it.

Moved on to clean up the rebates of the frames. Oh, I meant to share the shoulder plane(s) earlier. Hmm Well this is the 2.0 version. The first one I made I figured that the wedging force was too far from the Point of Operation (PO for some POO for others). So, I just made the shaving hole so that there would be more body material over the blade on the new one.
I got workable results with the Shedua and satisfactory results with the Kwila. Perhaps I'm not adjusted to this plane 100% or perhaps there's some room for improvement or maybe there's a reason there are mostly brass bodied shoulder planes out there. Whatever the case may be I couldn't find much useful information on the web. If you're interested in making one of these don't be afraid to ask about it though I wouldn't consider myself an expert just yet.

Well now over to the veneer I cut a little while ago. In both narrow planks I cut there was a slight color gradation to slightly lighter in the Oak and from a slightly darker, redder in the Nara. This is kind of annoying as I don't have both sides of the tree because flitch cutting isn't very popular. Book matching gives you fighting prismatic effects. I have become kind of paranoid of this because I start noticing it everywhere and it's bothersome to me. Maybe I'll get over it some day but for now I'm making things more difficult. After a quick call to my classmate Craig I decided I wanted to place the darker parts at the outsides of the top where it meets the frame. On one side I can use a wider piece and utilize the natural gradation the other side is the tricky part. It's mainly luck to find a darker streak on one of the light portions (or other way around) that's thick and straight enough to make a joint with. I got one with one of the oak pieces but I'm even harder pressed with the Nara due to it's irregular grain.
I only needed two joints with the width of the veneer but now I have 4 in the one Nara panel I got to and six in the one Oak I got to! I hope it turns out well! I'm not biggest fan of the idea of cutting up bigger pieces to re-assemble them, I kind of have a little Nakashima "syndrome". In this case I don't really have the "luxury"... even if I did my machines are on the small side.

Enough yakkin for now, till next time.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

quiet time pillowing

After getting all 16 legs refined in shape on all four sides I started on "pillowing" the faces. This is the first shaping detail I've gotten to on these pieces and I'm happy to be here.
Some might ask me why I have "so many" spoke shaves. If you count all of them I have 9 with space for more. Some have rounded bottoms, then there's low angle and spoke scrape, and some of different sizes for scale of work. Basically I would like to have the right tool for the job... and for some reason I just really like spoke shaves. So I can have multiple tools set for different stages of the same job. When I was working on the Cherry legs of a cabinet I had 3 tools set for rougher to finer shaping. Because these woods aren't the friendliest cut-depths need to be kept quite light so I'm using "just" two :)

The spoke-scrape in action. Different material calls for different tools. This is the first time I've really put this tool to work. It needs to be sharpened more often than the spoke shave but it's a simple process and quite easy to set up once you get a hang of it. I'm so glad I have this tool around I have a feeling there would be some headaches and more time sanding with out it.

The legs are getting just a subtle pillowing. One can hardly see it but put one of these legs next to a flat one and you know something is different. I have just finished the two outside faces of each leg. The backs will be pillowed too but with a tapering increase of pillowing towards the bottom of the leg which will likely end up even less pillowed than the outside faces.

It is a simple process but it takes a long time to do, just to get that little curve of just about 1/16". That's ok, I enjoy this time. Turn on some good music, put on a pot of tea, get comfortable as consciousness fades into a light rock and sway.
Perhaps one of my problems is that my brain wonders and ponders during these times. Those that might know me may agree that I think too much. Sorry? heh

As I sway back and forth feeling the tools getting warm from running across these legs I start to think about the work I'm doing. Taking so much time to add these little details. Beyond a sophisticated CNC machine I don't think there's any machine that can do this. The legs are curved with varying intensity, the front and back with different curves, and the thickness of the legs vary through their flow. A seemingly simple task that only the hand can accomplish.
Is this the way it was done before me? Was it important to the craftsmen gone by or was it done just because? Why have these details been all but lost? What kind of things have been lost? Has the majorety of people lost sensitivity to these kinds of things? Will this be appreciated? Is anyone willing or wanting to see or touch this? How many people have never seen a thing being made let alone understand it?
Why am I feeling a sense of hopelessness combined with the affirmation of process and meaning in craft? Am I going nuts? Hey, was I nuts before?

Like I said, it could be a problem.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

So far so good

Ahhhh I've been waiting for this for a while. No, they aren't done. Still plenty of work to do. After all that joint fitting this is the first time the tables have been dry-assembled and already they are quite solid! Most the "rough work" has been done, from here on out it's mainly cleaning, refining, and fine tuning.

After gluing the tenons into the all the rails I felt I should turn my attention... or maybe avoiding some final commitments heh. Anywho I started a shoulder plane which I will use to clean adjust the frame rebates and got to re-sawing veneer for the table tops.
It takes a while to learn the behavior of your machines often not really getting to know them until you test there limits or needing to make very critical cuts. This re-sawning was a bit of both. This band saw has an 8" re-saw capasity but the planks I cut were both about 6". For a pretty entry level saw 6" of Oak heart-wood aiming to cut at a conistsant 3/32" "slice" I think is asking more than most of the users in mind for this product. It performed fairly well. Not perfect but I don't think I could have expected better.
The plank pictured above is actually Narra, which went easier as it is not nearly as dense.

The Oak one the right is going to the Shedua tables and the Narra to the Kwila tables. Oh man this Narra is beautiful! It is so chatoyant. Glimering tones of honey and gold. It's difficult to capture with my camera but in person it shines! I originally only had one plank of it coming from Gilmer Wood Co, but when I decided one of the coffee tables was going to be Kwila like the side tables I knew I needed more. I called Jim up and ask about more Narra and he said he already had a plank set aside ha! He said he set his #2 pick for the first plank aside incase I called looking for more. Awesome! Thanks Jim.
The first plank had a little more red than the second. The new one is a more even golden tone which would be good for a needing to do a couple edge joints. So the new one is becoming veneer and the first one is on deck for the next tables.

The legs are finally getting some attenion to shaping. I chose to do include subtle curves in these table components. The amplitude of the "arc" of the outside faces is only about 1/4" and the relief at the bottom inside of the legs only about 1/8". I find that it's more difficult to fare a slight curve than a radical one. In a slight curve you have less referance for a curve and slight deveations are more pronounced due to the curve's "porportions" if you will.

When coming to this kind of stage in a project it's hard for me not to look forward to the next. I do enjoy the refinement of the basic structures but this is were things slow down. Slowing down is not a bad thing at all but I guess it gives one more time to think and for me projects are always on the mind. In this case I'm also excited to work with some of the wood I have gotten a hold of :) In the photo is most of the material for the batch of Pedestals.
Two will be of Walnut, though two different Walnuts. I got material from a large scale lumber yard - kiln dried Black Walnut. The other from a small scale operation located about 40 min from me. This Walnut I believe when through a DH kiln (dehumidifying). The color is much more varied and lighter. Much more mauve with reddish highlights and purple leaning lows.
Another table will be of some lovely air-dried Black Cherry found at another small operation located just 10 min from where the Walnut came from! ha. I'm hoping I can present these pieces in a way that some out there will be able to tel the difference between "cooked wood" and its more "natural" state. Not to say that "cooked wood" is all bad. Sometimes you can only get a certain hue and consistency from it.
The fourth Pedestal will be of the Narra from Gilmer. Another reason I'm looking forward to these is becase the wood will all work "better" than what I'm using now. Except perhaps the Narra as it has reversing grain.
I haven't quite decided what to use for the panels but I think a couple of them will get some air-dried maple I got from the same place as the Walnut. Buuuuuut I'm really getting ahead of myself here but it's good to get excited :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

tenon that mortise

Ok the floating tenons were glued in the rails but there is another step before the frames will come together. I planed my joinery such that the rebate of the Rail will hit the rebate of the Style being too far inside to come together. In other words I made the mortise a little on the inside of the frame so that I would HAVE to trim some of the rebate off to assemble the frame.
It's all about allowances! I've said this before and will say again and again... I like to give myself some sensible breathing room. "Don't commit until you have to" they say. It's true, committing prematurely can be a dangerous thing heh.

It doesn't take long to shoot away that little extra material. This way you can also be paying attention to the possibility that one sides needs more material taken off than the other. Don't rush it though! This is defiantly "workmanship of risk" as Mr. David Pye Would say. One stroke too many and there's an eyesore of a hair-line gap and a heart ache. There are ways to come back from this one but I want to get it right the first time!
Now how many people will notice this little meeting of rebates? It's covered from the top with the top panel and is tucked behind the leg and aprons on the bottom. Well it's not really about that. I could talk about consistency and integrity but on a more personal level I just wouldn't be happy with the result or myself by not doing my best.

Ta Da. Now it fits, it is neat, I get a warm little feeling and maybe a little hint of a smirk touches my face. I find fitting joints like this to be kind of exciting. Not like winning the Tour De France or anything but on a small, consecrated scale. It's partly walking that thin line of not quite and too much. Put the pieces together see what needs to be removed. Take a couple plane strokes and put it back together. Maybe you know full well that it wont fit yet but you just want to see where you are. Now it's close. I check every couple plane strokes. Now I try to assemble the part after every plane stroke. Watch and feel closely. It pretty much fits, but it doesn't feel happy, one more light plane stroke. Ahhh there we go.
The procedure is really quite simple. Just a combination of simple technique and patients. I often feel something more though. Maybe there's some psychological, philosophical, metaphysical mumbo-jumbo goings on. Then again maybe it's just seeing all the work that went before this paying off. Maybe I'm just a wierdo... who's to say?

On another topic, again. More mortises... 64 more of them.

Followed by a few more hours fitting the tenon stock. The major mortising is done for this set of tables but I have more to come, almost the exact same ones but for pedestals. I admit that some of this can get to be tedious but still find it more personally rewarding than my "night job" heh. While fitting the tenon stock I turn on some music and take it relatively easy as my fingures get cramped and sore heh.
I'm not working these round from square. I used a round over bit on the router table but I do not have a "correct" bit for the tenon thickness. The last ones I did took far less "correcting" of the round over than these... I need a different round over bit.
There's a search for a balance of machine and hand work. I find that balance to change from project to project and depending on the material used. Sometimes I am tired of machining and just want to get a plane in my hand and little shavings at my feet so, if I don't have a lot of them to do, I will shape that tenon stock by hand. On the other hand if I feel inclined I have no problem with roughing it out on the router table, they will require some fine tuning by hand anyway... As a Godfrey would say "There's no art to waste removal." For me it depends on what I'm feeling at the time ha.