Friday, October 19, 2012

Blog for Wednesday, October 17th.

Only the Shadow Knows What Lurks
Below the Ninja Turtle Blankie !!


     The meeting started off with a mysterious looking object, front and center in Jamie's school/shop this Wednesday.  As you can see, most of the hardened woodworkers in attendance didn't seem to be overly concerned about it's presence and did what we usually do at the beginning of a meeting -- get caught up on the past month's activities.

We Ain't Askeerd!

     We started out with our traditional go around the room introductions and it was nice to see that we had 3 or 4 new faces, welcome to the group.  After the introductions Jamie mentioned that we're only a meeting away from our Christmas, end of the year event.  The third Wednesday of December is the 19th. so that probably wouldn't interfere with Christmas plans however; the third Wednesday of November is on the 21st. which is the day before Thanksgiving so that meeting will more than likely need to be changed.  Email either me or Jamie with your thoughts on that so we can re-schedule it.  On second thought, Jamie is probably the most important one to contact since she has to have her school schedule clear on whatever day we can have that meeting.
     Jamie asked Ted for a follow up to the complicated balusters for a stair job he's been working on in Sandy, Utah.  These are made of White Oak and featured a four sided taper.  You may recall he demonstrated how to do pattern sawing on the tablesaw to accomplish that.  He mentioned they're pretty much done but he's headed back to Utah mid-week to complete them.  In the meantime, he also mentioned the current job that consists of Baltic Birch countertops on three sides of a room.  Ted brought up the fact that although this is 13 ply, genuine (i.e. not Chinese Crap) the face ply is quite thin and tends to delaminate easily.  I helped him on the installation of this and he showed me how using Frog brand yellow tape does prevent a lot of chipping when we scribed the counters to the walls.

Ted Giving Us His Follow-up

     Another item Jamie asked for follow-up to was the box show that I had last month.  First off, I appreciate those of you that were able to come and support my work.  I know that several of you had other plans that evening but stopped by the Urban Ranch Store the following week to see it.   There were some sales so that was great but I also got some exposure to more local "potential clients"  which is always a good thing.  A goal I had was to establish an Etsy store with these boxes and eventually other items that are easier to ship than the furniture I'd prefer to make.
     This brought up a discussion of what the heck Etsy is.  It's a great place for gift shopping, you find all sorts of one of a kind, unique items made by genuine craftsman/artist folks.  Jamie is an Etsy Pro and has been on it for quite some time with lots of sales; me, I'm a novice and just keeping my fingers crossed!  Here are links to our shops:


     Jeez, I'm getting too much ink this time but I wanted to bring in a marking gauge I recently made for Show & Tell.  No one else brought in something to share, next month okay?  Judging by the reactions from many of you who tried it as it was passed around, it's a success.  I know I really like the way it feels and handles.  A large part of that is due to the cutting blade I found on-line.

     A number of you expressed quite a bit of interest in the marking gauge I made and asked about its construction. Here is a LINK to the construction of it from my blog.  After all of the rains we had there was one tweak needed and that was to replace the wooden friction button I had made with one from UHMW polyethylene, here is the LINK to the blog showing how that was accomplished.  Should you want to make your own version of this and have some questions feel free to email or give me a call.

     Okay, on to the main event and to find out what was lurking under that Ninja Turtle Blanket.  Before all was revealed, Eric Felder gave us a history lesson about the Shakers but more about the school he went to in Kentucky.  This school is run by Kelly Mehler and here's a LINK to it if you're interested in finding out more.  It's located in Berea, Kentucky where you'll also find Berea College which is a work/study college.  What that means is that students receive tuition there but must qualify for placement by being in the lower 40% of the national income level.  Kelly was a product from that college and decided to set up his own school near by.

All is Revealed
     Eric received the tuition needed to go there as a present from his mother-in-law.  He was duly impressed by the amount of greenery and humidity on arrival to Kentucky which plays a huge part to his presentation!  If you're unfamiliar with the furniture of the Shakers or their history they were what was referred to as a separatist community, in other words, they kept to themselves and lived by some pretty strict guidelines.  They were very practical, most of you are probably familiar with the Shaker Pegs.  These were a place to hang chairs on the wall so the entire floor could easily be swept.  Personally, I really like their style of furniture and incorporate it into my work, here is a LINK from Wikipedia to let you learn as much as you want about them on your own.
     According to Eric's talk, the shop was equipped with the most modern and up to date machinery available.  The instructor encouraged everyone to make the table using methods they were unfamiliar with rather than sticking to something you already know how to do.  The table is built using traditional joinery methods such as dovetails and mortise and tenons.  I thought it interesting that Kelly told the class he'd just as soon have an end of the class bon fire of the finished projects!  His emphasis was on them learning new skills rather than walking away with a completed project.
    Eric worked a different section of the table each day, basically, it was built from 4 pieces of wood. The problem arouse when the completed parts were shipped via UPS from humid Kentucky to arid Las Vegas.  Now we know why we design and build with humidity changes in mind!  That drawer that fit well during the dry fit in Kentucky now couldn't begin to slide into its space.  The once nicely tapered legs now splayed out and the top ----- forget about that, it turned into a nice board to hide the spot where the drawer was to go.  Eric's wife wants him to re-purpose the table into something  usable but he'd just as soon it self destructs and is hidden from view.
Construction Details
Here are some of the details found in this piece:

  • Tapered Legs (2 sides)
  • Half Blind Dovetails for Drawer Rails
  • Wooden Blocks to attach the top that are set in a groove.   This allows the top to float with seasonal changes
  • Mortised & Tenoned Legs/Aprons

Dovetail Project Pieces
     Eric brought in a few other pieces to show as well.  On the table here you see a pair of dovetailed boxes or drawers.  The one in the rear has a problem or two, I felt as if I were looking at a drawing made by one of my favorite artists M. C. Escher and I don't only like him because he's Dutch like me!  If you're interested in honing your skills, practice pieces like these are the way to go.
     Another item brought in was a School Box that Eric made while at the Marc Adams school in New York.   This is one of the projects that Christopher Schwartz encourages hand tool woodworkers to take on in one of his many books and blogs.

School Box
     It's good to see an interest in building with wood and taking account all of its properties.  The IKEA attitude and mass produced furniture prevalent today utilizes lots of sheet goods and some construction methods that are unconventional.  Unfortunately, we live in a "throw away" society so much of the mass produced stuff of today is yesterdays news.  Don't mean to get on a soap box but I like tradition and quality.
     So, next meetings date is up in the air.  Contact Jamie with any thoughts you have on that and let's see more of you bring in something for a show and tell session.

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