Saturday, August 21, 2010

Compo & Computers

     At our last meeting on Wednesday, August the 18th., there were about 14 members attending.  We had a one new person, Ed, who makes Adirondack chairs and brought one of them to sit in during the meeting.  Pretty heavy for a portable chair but those of us who sat in it agreed it was comfortable.  I did one of the demonstrations and Jamie elected to go ahead and lead the meeting seeing how I was standing up front anyway!  What I had next to me is an electric hotplate with a pan of water and screen stretched over it.  The screen is a piece of canvas and it's all you need to work with composition ornaments.
Samples of Composition Ornaments
     I get my compo from Bomar Designs in Louisburg, KS.  I recently completed a French Provincial style cabinet and when I ordered the compo from them asked if they had any brochures I could give to the SCWW when I did my demonstration -- they were good enough to send some so that the members have some understanding of what the composition material is, how to work with it, and also be able to incorporate it into their own work.  

     The first thing I showed was how you can dress up a typical frame with the compo corners.  The frame I'm using is for one of my wife's paintings but since compo sticks to anything, an inexpensive frame from Michaels, Aaron Bros., JoAnnes, etc. can easily be modified and improved.


Corner Ornaments, can be used on any frame then finished to match

Close up of corner piece

     Another piece that I demonstrated was one that you can use to create a long line of detail.  I showed it on a picture frame but this is something that works really well to edge the bottom of a cabinet or the edges of a mirror frame.  You can imagine how much time it would take to carve a repeating detail like this!  Once the compo is steamed it becomes very flexible and you can conform it to whatever shape you need, just watch that the details don't become distorted.                                                    

Applying Fish Scale, Notice the flexibility!

Close up of the Fish Scale


     The next demonstration of the evening was given by Chris DiRossi.  Quite a contrast -- compo has been around since the 1500's and Chris's demo had to do with Google Sketch Up which is much, much further down the  time line of technology and woodworking!  Really interesting, he brought in his lap top, a large monitor, and this really unique mouse that is great to use with plans and making drawings.  It allows you to select your drawing and then rotate it in any direction to see the details of the plan.  He started out by showing us a plan from a recent magazine (Woodworkers Journal I think) for a table.  You can go to the website, download the plan, and then by using the free Google Sketch Up program completely de-construct the piece and get every detail to actually build it in your shop.  According to Chris there is a huge library of plans available on the internet as well as through most of the popular woodworking magazines.
     He also walked us through how to use the program to design your own projects.  I must admit being somewhat of a dinosaur and computer challenged but I can really see the value in using these programs.  It's very easy to make changes and visualize the work before you start to build.  I know my son has used it for building a backyard structure and he had good success.  A real advantage for making your own plans is how easy it is to change dimensions or, as Chris demonstrated, change the number of drawers in a given space to see how it looks.  To top it off, it will automatically give you the sizes.  You know how difficult it can be to divide a given space into equal divisions -- of course there are tricks to doing that but they're being replaced by the computer.  The demonstration was really informative and Chris answered many questions from the members.

Watching Chris explain Sketch Up
The large monitor made is easy to see from anywhere in the room

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