Friday, February 26, 2010

Pedestal teaser

After waiting for Oil to dry I was finally able to finish the third of three Pedestals. From right to left: AD Cherry with AD Maple, AD Walnut with AD Maple, and KD Walnut with HD White Oak. Everything but the KD Walnut is finished with shellac and wax. The KD Walnut is oiled.
More decent photos will come after the coffee tables are done!

On that note Milling is complete and I'm getting a move on Joinery. The frames are built the same way. Clearing the rebate to make room for rail joinery.

Holy crap!! Look what happened to my chisel while working on the above Oak pieces... seriously I just needed to make an end-grain chop maybe a 1/16" deep and CRUNCH! I knew Oak was hard but this is unexpected. I've never done a whole project of Oak before. I've only recently seen the species in an aesthetically pleasing manner, Oak was usually the last I would ever use.
I guess I'm surprised with the little experience I already have and it's "workability". Most guys around hear love Oak... Oak this and Oak that, I was frankly sick of seeing and hearing about it.
Does English Brown Oak work any better? I still have a craving for some of that European beauty.
Still this Oak isn't as tough as Shedua... I'm just taken a bit off guard.

Making those all important cross cuts to finial dimension.

Trying to get some support with these long pieces. I would really like to find a "real" X-Y table. I'm getting a bit sick of this one heh though once again it is better than nothing.
Even though I've had to go out and about running errands and what have you I feel like I've been making decent progress on these Coffee Tables. Really I'm just moving on through the steps faster because there are less tables to make but moving on and not droning away for hours at every operation keeps my spirits higher. Even if I'm not working any "faster" I feel more energized and excited about moving on because I actually CAN move on as opposed to grinding away at every corner. I find that I can work later into the day, I'm willing to put in the extra time because I know I can get this or that task done... Sooo it's almost like I'm faster if you were to look at progress in terms of days vs hours (in fact I'm probably more productive in hours too).
Then again I was kind of feeling this way at this stage in the Pedestals then it took weeks to get them done. There is a lot more work to do. The refinement and hand work is really what takes time... we'll see.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Milling Frustration

Well, coming to a close with the pedestals I started to have some troubles in honing. I have been using a Norton 1000 Grit stone and a King that is about 6000 G. Well I always felt I had to put more effort into getting a nice polished edge than many of my classmates, but now I couldn't even get what I was getting before. I'm not the most patient of people to be doing this kind of work but I have VERY little patients for things that aren't working as they "should" be.
My King stone had a crack and the dumb base was flexing. Norton stones however don't have bases which is actually a good thing!
After reaching my wits end I went out and got a Norton 8000 G stone. What a difference it makes!!! I had no idea getting that final polish could be so easy! Maybe "training" on the poorer stone for a couple years helped but I do not suggest putting yourself through that mess.
Seriously spend the extra $40-$50 and get the Norton off the bat. Save yourself from suffering and make honing more enjoyable!
The King stone promptly made it's way to the garbage. heh.

In more frustrations... Oak Milling... So like I said I ended up getting White Oak from the main local hardwood seller. The mainly supply to cabinet shops and other "industrious" operations.
So this 8/4 was kiln dried and my guess would be that it was dried as fast as possible to meet with "industrial demand". I had found one great looking plank (in terms of potential yield). When I plotted the parts out before cutting into it I though I'd be able to get the whole table out of this one 8/4 plank minus 2 long pieces. Turns out I was wrong. Above was to be a frame member and a stretcher. Even though I cut with about an extra 1/8" in thickness in both pieces I could not use either for their intended purpose!
In addition to the stress the wood had I kept finding "surprises" throughout both "rift" planks I had.

This is a nasty one! I had set aside an "in case" off-cut about 40" long. After my discovery tension in the wood I went to this to get to more pieces out of. Turns out this gaping crack was hiding waiting for me to find it. It started about 3" on one side of the off-cut to about 4" from the end! I had basically cut this shooting crack out of the plank without seeing any evidence of its existence!!

Oh sweet. That's a BIG knot to be hiding inside a 2"! There was a small visible bend to the grain on the outside, I though I might find a little dot of a knot...

The cracks kept coming out to party...
There's a whole bunch more but you can get the idea.

After working a number of short days taking a little material off here and there then letting it settle, repeating the process and again. I'm getting close to final dimensions... not quite though.
Two Coffee tables. One in White Oak and one in Kwila. I wish I had more Kwila. I know there is one part I'm not overly happy with. I did the best I could with what I have though, and money is tight. Not to mention there's no way for me to color match any other material coming my way and Kwila has a pretty wide range of tone.

Speaking of lumber coming my way.... Look what I got!!! This is 44 b/f of steamed Swiss Pear coming from Gilmer Wood Co in Portland Or. The two thinner planks are a match from a flitch and the shorter wide one is a quartered flitch 15" - 16" wide, all 10/4" thick!!!
Pear isn't cheap and neither is shipping it from Portland but it should be more than enough for my next project... FINALLY I'm not calling it too close. I wish I had bigger machines though. I hate the idea of ripping and joining back together pieces! >:( Not that I can't do it or that it takes a heck of a lot of time but I feel confined and it kind of "violates" my "religion" ha.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pedestal Assembly

Assembly has been going pretty well. These are a bit more awkward to handle because of the long legs but I managed to get it done without banging anything up.

This time I decided to got with a different method of attaching the tops, doweling. A scrap piece of sheet-stock serves as a doweling template. I think from now on the side tables are going to get dowels for the table top too. The coffee tables I'm thinking will get brackets because they are much bigger; perhaps being able to take the top off would be advantageous for transportation.

The Cherry and AD Walnut clamped up. The KD Walnut is taking longer because of the oil finish. it'll be another week before I get that one together. However all these to need are top panels fit, finished, and stuck into place... then a final look over. So close!
On that note... I have hopefully remedied my Oak problem. I ended up calling around a little bit and getting more frustrated. I finally said screw it and take another look at the main local hardwood yard (Youngblood for those who may around the area). New stock came in sense the last time I was in there. Randomly there were two rift-ish planks in the quartered pile and I took a couple flat sawn boards that have a bit of rift on the sides. The planks are not perfect color matches nor grain matched but here's hoping it will work out!

Upon completion of a project I like/need to take a day off and I like to invite a friend or so over to take a look and have a little drink. Some think that wine is appropriate, and they would be correct, I however like beer :). Another beverage craft. I think I just have beverage "vices" tea, coffee, and beer. I love them all though coffee and beer more sparingly than tea ;).
Winter is my favorite beer season. That's went all sorts of Porters, Stouts, and other "big" beers comes to taps, stores, and tables. One of the few things the Midwest has going on is some great beer.
I was told the other day that Minneapolis/St. Paul is the drinkingest city in the country ha! I don't drink a lot, it's more about flavor, exploration, and interest in others crafting for me. We don't actually have that many breweries here in MN though. Lucky for me there IS one award wining brew pub and a pretty new specialty beer store owned and run by an acquaintance of mine who used to run a bike shop.

This is a pic from Town Hall Brewery in Minneapolis. This pub brews there own award wining beer and are constantly changing their seasonal selection. A new one is put out probably every 2 weeks and they generally have 4 to 5 of their seasonals on hand at any time! It's a pretty mellow atmosphere with old tiled floors, brick walls, and carved wood trim. The brew site is separated by glass walls for all to see across from dinning tables, a pool table, dart boards and a small fire place.
Not a bad place to sit back and talk the talk with some friends.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

pedestal pre-frinishing

seems like it has be a while since last post hmmm. Not a lot of pictures came up either. Probably because I'm to the nitty gritty which doesn't really make for great photography... well by my self anyway.
But yes, surface prep and edge treatments where completed. I'm always surprised how many edges there are to be treated ha. Especially on these "sticky" pieces.

End grain edges are softened as well. The woods I'm using now was much quicker work for the files than the side tables.

It has been a little while since I used an oil finish. The Kiln-dried Walnut is the only to get oiled, the other two are getting the good old shellac and wax. In school we used turpentine to dilute the oil but it get me such head aches when any one used it. Perhaps it takes longer for mineral spirits to dry but at least I can still function while using it!

Here the pre-finishing is almost done on the pieces getting shellac. Orange shellac this time around. The Cherry does look a bit on the orange side (also the low yellow lighting doesn't help in the photo) but I think it will age/oxidize into it. It will be a while before this Cherry reaches it's deeper, more rich color... though I DO hope someone will like it and buy it, I would like to see it again down the road and perhaps snap a photo when it has seen some passage of time :)

Rant Warning...
With the completion of these Pedestals drawing near it will soon be time to start the 3rd tables... the coffee tables. I received two more planks of nicely rift to flat Kwila from Jason at Cormark in North Carolina. Thanks to Jason for your effort, sincerity, and timeliness! HOWEVER... I have not yet located the White Oak I have been keeping and ear and eye open for since MAY! I have pretty much giving up on finding a seasoned flitch of it (though I know a couple guys ready to cut me some green oak if I were to ask). So, some of the big suppliers out there carry SOME "rift" white oak... you'll find nice long very straight rift white oak in household hand rails, banisters, and the like. Ok well I'm quite willing to pay a "premium" price on premium material, especially considering my lack of luck otherwise.
There just so happens to be a larger hardwood dealer about 10 min from the shop... It just so happens that I cannot deal directly with them. Sweet. Well there's a lumber/cabinet shop who does have accounts with them... 40 min away from me. Well that's better than 2 hours right?
Well, I put in an "order" for "50 b/f of 8/4 rift white oak". They gave me a price to which I said that I would expect premium material for that price. They said not to worry because nice straight logs are specifically pulled for rift and quartered milling. This makes perfect sense to me.
He said he would get it in the next day or two... I waited 2 WEEKS and never got a call. I called in they said it had been there waiting... cool thanks guys. Now I have to borrow a vehicle to be able to haul 8 ft planks and it's a 40 min one way trip. I get there, no less than half the boards they got for me were quartered. Some had twisting grain, diving grain, a couple big knots, half heart half sap in one board... yeah, great I can't use any of that. I was pretty pissed. Come on guys. get your damn business together. It wasn't the shop's "fault" they didn't pick the lumber. Ok, they'll order more for me (mine you I had already put $200 down) and call me when it's in. I got a call today saying it was in 2 days ago. Really? oh good thanks again. Borrowed a truck AGAIN drove out AGAIN. This time there was ONE nice board. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! What the HELL do you guys think you're doing? is this a freaking "favor"!? I have work to do! I could be searching for other place to find PROPER material. STOP pulling me around and WASTING my damn time!
I normally tend not to name names dealing with "misfortune" but this reflects on their business. Forest Products Supply in Maplewood, MN. Don't waste your efforts on them.
Sure, I'm not making their job easy, but this is making my job impossible. If you can't GUARANTEE an order then DON'T!
I am pretty much spent looking for Oak. the worst part is that it's such a common wood!
At this point I don't know what to do... I think I might have the heart to try one more place but after that... I don't know.
This table was first based on the idea of a white oak coffee table due to the Japanese paper I want to use with it. I don't what to change that but I need to get material soon. I might have to pull the Nakashima and use Walnut. I at least know a couple place where I can get that even if it's not local.