four legs

Alright, I know I’m skipping processes along the way, but things in the shop are getting nice and busy. Ten hour days have turned into even longer days, turning into long nights at the bench. There is a good feeling around the shop with only two weeks til the show and everyone trying to bring their projects to an end. At the same time, relationships are growing closer as we know we only have a few weeks left together and we will all be heading back to our own parts of the world.

I’ve been working on the stand the past week, which is about to be done. Making something with four legs and aprons doesn’t seem like it would take long, but it has. I mentioned before about grain graphics and reading the grain throughout the plank to know what it’s going to look like before you even cut into it; how to get the wood to frown or smile or even if you just want to straighten the grain. That has been one of the more challenging aspects for me, but very rewarding when you make the right move. Oh … and some might say this is wasting wood, but say you have a plank you can get six “decent”  legs out of, not considering what the grain is doing, or with that same piece, you get only two legs, but they are perfect legs, grain that moves with the curves instead of fighting against it. That’s what takes time and makes all the difference in the world, and it’s what has taken me some time to understand:

This is especially important when cutting curves into a leg. As in my case, we put a double curve in the legs, curving out on bottom front and sides.  So, by using perfect rift sawn stock with the diagonals pointing in the right direction, the grain will follow the curve after it’s cut! It’s pretty cool. It took time as well making the mock-up, and then making templates for the legs.

So, just trace the template on the side, then flip it to the front, cut on the bandsaw, double stick tape the waste back on since you just cut off your line on the other side, then cut out the other curve. Then back tho the bench for final shaping.

So not a lot of pics on my side of things… I thought I would share a peak  at Hong’s project.

Hong’s a neat guy with a good eye for design, I believe he comes from an industrial design background. Here’s a link to a piece he did last year at the school. I like it.

Good day


I guess this is what happens when our Englishman chops dovetails and sips scotch late into the night..

Ok.. anyway, nice week, didn’t feel too productive,but that’s just how some weeks are. I spent most of my time mocking up my stand for the display cabinet, figuring out height, shape of legs, apron and all that. I mocked it up in poplar, which for those of you who might not know, is cheap, abundant, and not the prettiest wood. So, it’s perfect for roughing out shapes and getting a template to go on. I’m sure as we spend more years doing this a complete mock-up might not be necessary, maybe just one leg to get the shape. But, for here in school and for the learning process, seeing full-scale really helps to visualize the final outcome. Yup, being that poplar is a light color wood when I came to a dimension that I thought looked good Robert told me to spray paint it the color of the wood I wanted to use. See, a darker wood on a leg for instance will look thinner than the same dimension on a lighter wood…Don’t believe me…then go try it! So I painted it and it then looked too skinny, back to the beginning. I finally decided on the stand and got the wood roughed out to a bit larger than the final D and let it set over the weekend to settle.  I’m going with the afrimosia for the stand, kinda almost caramelly in color after the oil is applied, and a small hunk of bocote for the bank of drawer fronts.

Afrimosia is on the right, bocote left.

This was the plank of afrimosia, it took three of us and Robert (who has the combined strength of two Russian powerlifters) to rip this guy in the bandsaw. It was 11 feet by ….however wide it looks in the pic?

Enter the wood room, (this ones for you Scott Aspelin)

All kinds of primo stuff in here, narra, kwilla, black limba, claro walnut, port orford, deodar and lebanon cedar, becote’, boxwood, english sycamore, wenge, olive, afrimosia, shedua, monterey cyprus, swiss pear….. you get the idea…all in large 8/4 plus planks. Which brings me to something I haven’t mentioned, but was one of the first things we learned here at IP, “grain graphics”. Being able to cut into a plank and get the grain to do what you want, to flow with the piece and have your eye not be disrupted by swirly or crazy grain. (ie- those old oak kitchen cabinets). With thin stock you just don’t have the option to do that.

 For example, on any kind of leg it would be ideal to have the grain going straight down or compliment the curve on all sides, or on a concave front cabinet you want the grain on the top edge to smile, and the grain on the bottom edge to frown. There are exceptions to these rules, and for the most part these separate details might go unoticed, but as a whole the observer should see continuity and possibly say, “I don’t know why, but that just looks good.” Probably because the maker took time to work with or make the grain do what he needed.

It might be hard to see here, but the top of the frame, which is slightly concave, has a smile in the grain lines and the bottom piece has a frown.  Maybe just click on the pic,  it will get bigger and you can see what I’m talking about…

So I’m learning, it’s the subtle things that go into this craft that allows the piece to sit in a room quietly and be a joy to look at.

four weeks to go…

As the year is coming to an end we’re starting to see the classes second pieces completed and made ready for the year-end show. I’ve had a bench next to and good man named Christian who brought his family over from Denmark so he could study here at Inside Passage. He decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps who was a furniture maker as well. Christian said that one thing he remembers about his grandfather was that he always genuinely enjoyed his work and found satisfaction in what he did. That will be something different for us all, but is a good lesson to learn and apply no matter where we are in life. He said he wanted his kids to see what he saw in his grandfather…satisfaction in a good days work at something you enjoy to do.

His project is simple and clean, very danish. All of our projects are built on the skills we have learned up to this point. He designed a box to house his wooden planes, but as the project progressed it turned into a box for his chisels, it just seemed a bit more practical. Something to use in his shop or take on the road if the opportunity comes up. It is made of boxwood, eastern maple and brass. He used the same method as in my cabinet with the shop sawn veneers and shop made substrate, which again allows for tight tolerances while avoiding most of the seasonal wood movement.

A brass pin was made so that when the lid shuts it ensures the seam will forever be flush the entire length of the lid.



It’s one of those peaceful lazy days here in Roberts Creek, my lady is back in our hometown for a visit so it’s just Elliot and myself. And it’s Sunday, our day off, it’s a little gray and there is still a bit of cool crispness in the air, although I’m excited all the trees and shrubs are showing their signs that warmer days are soon to come.

The last week has been good to me, I have been able to see my pile of meticulously gone over parts assembled, to form the bones of my cabinet.

I was happy to see the contrast in the Euro cherry and the port orford cedar, I think  they compliment each other quite nice.

So next I was finally able to pull those doors out that have been waiting patiently under my bench for a little attention. Onto to fitting the doors. It is so nice to work with a veneered piece and not have to worry as much about the future movement in the wood, as the seasons will affect how tightly I can fit my doors now. Just a few plane strokes off a time and I was able to get the doors to slide in with only a papers thickness between the carcass and the doors. It just looks clean that way… I feel, and I like that;)

Now that I have the two front doors and the side frame and panel fit to about 99% I moved on to getting my back panel ready. Again, it was the some process here as with the doors. Poplar substrate, crossbanding, then final veneers. You can also get a good Idea at how thick the veneers are we work with in the pic below, it leaves us with an ample amount of room to hand plane the surfaces…Don’t even think about that with commercial veneer!   Oh that back post is a bit darker because it’s the onlypart that got waxed before the glue-up.

Fitting the back panel takes a bit of time, a light shaving with the block plane here and there to get a seemless fit all around. You can see above that it’s just starting to go in. We plane just a tiny bit of bevel in towards the cabinet so as it slides in it gets tighter and tighter…but not too tight!

You know, it makes me feel ok inside when I know the same level of care is put into the parts of the piece that are rarely seen as in the parts that are seen daily. So whenever you wanna splurge and buy that fine piece of heirloom  furniture, check the back and places like the hinges to see if they were installed with care, or maybe the bottom of a drawer. Chances are if the maker spent as much time on those pieces as he did the rest, you got yourself something the different, something the maker was really proud of.

Now it’s onto the stand, I’ll start a mock up on Monday. After I finish the stand, I saved my favorite thing for last( which it would be the last thing done anyway) which are the bank of drawers behind the right door. 

Good day