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.


Timberwerks Studio - Dale J. Osowski - Furniture Maker said...

Great post, I enjoy seeing craftsmen doing hand tool work.


Hey Nick

On those bench orders I presented a version that I did without the pillowed legs. The pillowed option was chosen, people do see it and seem to like it. But honestly it comes down to how much you like it. When doing these orders, those details literally doubled my production time. That is why no one does it anymore. It's only guys like us (and a few other craftpeople) who like shaping so much and can actually use our hands to pull it off who are crazy enough to do it.

Great post.

Nicholas Nelson said...

Ah! good to here, thanks Mr. Godfrey.

Cody said...

Nice work Nick, the little details on that piece are going to make all the difference. It's tough when the little, almost imperceptible, details take so much time. It's easy to get caught up wondering if anyone will ever notice. Anyone other than fellow woodworkers that is! I believe those details definitely play to an equally small crowd, and an even smaller crowd are willing to pay for them. If you wanted mass marketability though, I'm sure you'd be doing something different!

Nicholas Nelson said...

Hey Cody, thanks.

Sorry guys for clearing the tool talk, I just wanted focus this little dialog :)

Don't get me wrong, I love the details and really enjoy making them. I'm sure it wasn't meant as a bad thing but yeah it's at least tough on our monetary return heh.

It's true I think the details really will make (or break I suppose) these pieces. I kind of planned it that way. They are quite minimal. The less there is the more important each thing is. It's kind of fun in a not so normal way :)

I didn't mean to sound negative or down, these are just some things that come to mind.
Yeah I'm not aiming to sell thousands of products heh. On the other hand it would make me happy to see appreciation of the crafts. Perhaps part to do with my location but I'm becoming more and more aware of indifference towards objects, work, and even lives. Where's passion? Where's romance? Integrity, community? I think many crafts-people embody these things and that there is an extension within the products that they make which can be shared. By no means is craft the only way to enrich lives but I feel that in times when things of this nature are dismissed as irrelevant is when they could do a fair amount of good.
It would be nice if something that any one of us have made could cause a small chain of good reactions :)

Ha I must be in a ranting kind of mood