Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Night of Log Furniture ...

With around 28 members in attendance for our February meeting, we rolled into our EIGHTH! year of holding our monthly meetings - congrats to all of us for our passion for woodworking.

As usual, Jamie brought up some business related topics, like the upcoming AWFS show, which will be held July 19-22 at the Convention Center. It's truly an experience not to be missed, especially if you're a woodworker!

Next month, we'll again be collecting dues for our group, which are $20 for the year. While the dues are completely voluntary,  these monthly dues pay for various operational costs, like our Meet-Up membership, occasional guest speakers and associated costs with running the group. Even better - at the end of the year - after we award prizes for our end-of-the-year woodworking contest and pay for our Christmas party - everything that is left over is simply given back to our members. It's a win-win, so please consider joining us this year - it's the best $20 you'll spend on woodworking this year!

Jamie explained that she's been in need of a heavy duty wood bleach for a current project, and that commerical wood bleaches has not been very effective. She decided to conduct some research, and was able to find a recipe online, utilizing lye  (scary stuff!)

and a potent version of hydrogen peroxide, commonly found at pool stores. 

Having found a variety of recipes and suggestions, she tried three of them and experimented on a few pieces of African Mahogany. The best results came from mixing the two solutions together (the lye has to be dissolved in water first!) and then soaking the wood in the mixture for about 20 minutes. After a good rinsing, the boards continued to dry and lighten. The middle sample below shows just how light the wood became with the bleaching... pretty amazing!

Richard continues his quest of turning for relaxation - sharing some recent projects including these gorgeous Koa pens, and two Alumilite pens that he had started at our last meeting. 

He also brought along a cool wine bottle stopped he cast and turned, lamenting about the one that got away - he had one of these castings blow up while he was turning it. Yikes, good thing he wears a face shield! 

Next up, Len brought more fine examples of his work. 

With about twenty-four years experience carving, he recommends slow wood chip carving for therapy, and shared that anyone interested only needs two knifes; a basic knife and curved knife. 

His work is so intricate and thoughtful, it's a joy just to inspect his clean cuts and designs. 

 Len shared that he feels chip carving uses light and shadows, therefore less color is best. 

He also shared his method for using freezer parchment paper and a cheap ink-jet printer for transferring an image  to wood with a credit card, like he did fro this hummingbird design below. 

 Finally he shared that he often uses a compass and ruler to lay out the design.

Len is a member of the Woodcarvers of Las Vegas, who meet at Woodworkers’ Emporium on the 4th Saturday of each month. 

Check out their Facebook page here

Their meetings usually run from 8:30 - 11:30 AM.

As usual, Beth brought in another amazing piece that she built - a small (and very lightweight!) stool with mostly turned components and a woven seat. 

She completely nailed the joinery (not literally!!!) and experimented with the weaving materials, settling on macrame cord for the final product. 

In her spare time, she started turning apples on the lathe, and shared her progression of apples as her skill level grew. She envisions a whole bowl full of apples in her house someday, and there's no reason to doubt that she will accomplish that! 

Finally, on to the featured speaker - Neal Grossman and his cool rustic log furniture.  He brought in some great examples of his work, 

and explained that his process starts with stripping the bark from the logs. 

He usually has a rough idea of what he'll be building, with some dimensions and a sketch of the finished product. 

With a drawknife, he'll reduce the diameter of the ends, so that his tenon cutter will fit over the end of the logs. 

These tenon cutters are pricey, but allow him to quickly machine tenons on the ends of his components. 

A heavy-duty drill is pretty much a given, this is hard work! 

Once the logs are cut to length and tenoned, he'll start assembling the piece, using a variety of adhesives. LocTite's PL375 is his go-to adhesive, as it has an extremely slow set time, allowing him to rotate logs and get everything adjusted properly. 

Remember - this is a whole new ballgame, as far as furniture building, and there aren't are strict rules about it. 

Logs can be crooked, there are no straight edges, so flexibility in building is a must. 

Luckily, Neal is very adept at working with these imperfect materials, and his work shows a gracefulness and is the picture of throughtful design. 

These dog beds are a fabulous use of smaller logs! His best advice if you want to get started is to start hoarding logs, so that when you have a design in mind, you'll have enough of the log components to choose whatever you want to work with - it's not like you can bring a cut list to Mother Nature and order the materials!

 A big THANK YOU to Neal for lugging all of this gear and furniture to the shop, and sharing his building philosophy - it was a very enlightening night of woodworking talk!

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