Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Distractions are distracting

I feel that I haven't been as productive since last time. Somewhat random things have come up or needed to be done. Work (other job) has called on me a little more then "usual". Stuff and things.
Ah yes, mortise and tenons were all dry-fit, then glued into one side and checked again. Above is one of the dry-fit walnut pieces. The basic structure is done but everything needs to be cleaned up, shaped, refined, and so on...

The main thing that sent my head for a loop was a random call I got from a drum shop in the cities. This drum shop also makes custom drums. I had stopped in when I got back to the area this past May to see if they could use any help. I am experienced in drum-building and my skills in workmanship have defiantly improved since the last time I built any drums (The kit above is a big one I built, but not my own). They said that they only staff one builder which they already had of course.
One day about 2 weeks ago? I got a call from the shop saying they need a builder ASAP. I went in the next morning for a meeting with the owner of the shop to find out more about working there. Skipping the details, it seemed like a pretty attractive opportunity but there were a couple things that I felt were kind of heavy burdens.
I told him I'd get back to him a couple days and spent those days completely wracking my brains over it.
In the end I gave him a counter offer which he said he could not meet. So I haven't gone to work there.

Right. Back to furniture. Pictured above, planing those aprons almost flush with the tops of the legs... not flush yet!

I was getting a little overwhelmed with drum stuff and the workmanship of risk in the bench room. I needed to do some "rougher" work for a change. Lugged this heavy plank of air dried Maple to the horses to look for table-top veneer.

Some of that Maple and more White Oak milled ready to cut the veneers on the band saw, but first a fresh blade for the saw. Cutting veneers seemed to go better this time around now that I already had the experience on these machines from last time.

My planer only goes down to 1/8", like many, to be able to plane these veneers I just used some sheet-stock to "raise" the bed.

Here's another brain wracker for me. This talk is probably going to get difficult to follow without visuals... My intention for the Maple tops was to cross-cut across the 20" wide Maple plank which was cracked down the heart, cut off the checked/really flat-sawn material, and put it back together in veneer form so that the table top would span the flitch of Maple (minus some of the middle and off-cut sides). I figure this way I could join the veneer pieces in the same annual ring as the other hopefully maintaining a consistent color and there would be no book-matching to screw up the prismatics of the maple.
In my experience Maple has a noticeable shift in brightness or darkness due to the deflection or reflection of light caused by the orientation of wood fibers in the material. Keeping the fiber orientation in the same direction in both joined pieces of veneer was important to me. It kind of struck me as odd that my intended matches weren't turning out so well... it seemed to be prismatic clashing. The veneer pieces were in the same orientation as the came from the log but you never REALLY know that things like this will work out. I was pretty bummed. I didn't know what to do. I took a pair from the same side of the pith and looked at a book match which I didn't think was going to turn out. This is the really wracking part... it SEEMED to turn out! I couldn't see a clear distinction in light reflecting off either side. This defies all my logic! I've never seen a book-match in Maple that didn't annoy the crap out of me due to it's prismatic effect.
I wasn't about to go head with it so I took some veneer off-cuts and did some mocking as to Craig's advise ;). I glued some little joints and did some mock surface prep and I couldn't see a strong difference between the two sides even right at the seam.
In any case it looked better than what I was getting with my intended match. CRAZY!

So, I guess I'm going with it. If it really doesn't work out for some reason I guess I'll have to spend another couple days making new tops. I really hope it does and I do not want to waste this maple. Planks like these aren't seen very often.

Oh boy other things I had swimming around my head was the search for more lumber. I'm short the Oak I want for a Coffee Table. I called around 35 "local" sawyers. Three of them had anything on hand in 8/4 and none had suitable White Oak. Also I'm trying to get material ahead of time for a project after the Coffee Tables so that it can acclimate if need be and so I can acclimate to it. This "up coming" piece will be a one-off (yay!) and I would like it to be quite refined in a friendly way. Therefore I would like to have the material around long enough to contemplate. Something feminine, these Tables seem to be the most masculine things I've done in a long time which is kind of funny because they aren't super masculine... I guess they are pretty structural and have less curves.
I'm leaning toward some fruit woods, if I can find them.


johnjoiner said...

Do you have to "pop" the grain to see the prismatic? Maybe hit it with some mineral spirits? Or was that included in what you did with your "mock surface prep?"

Nicholas Nelson said...

Well Sir Jointer, I did not however I hand planed then gave it a touch of 1000 grit sand paper. This is much finer than the "average" finish sanding of course. At that level the surface almost looks like it has finish on it.
Usually one can see the prismatic effect if the material is sufficiently smooth, but sometimes finish does make it stronger.
Also I'm going to finish with Shellac. The mineral spirit wipe does well to simulate oil and perhaps a poly finish but the small amount of Shellac hardly changes the surface.
You're right though perhaps I should try it. I've already put one top in my "press" maybe I'll play around with that before doing the other.

Barb Shelton said...

Thanks for the package Nick! Had some of the Black Current tea, very good. And thanks for the veneers, makes me want some Narra.