Moving on..

Ok, school is over and what a once in a lifetime experience it was. So thankful to Robert and his family and the amazing year Haley and I had. Good times! The last two weeks were spent hurrying to get our pieces done for the show, packing our house for the move, and figuring out where to even go!

 I’ll pick up on the day of the show.

I just had a couple finishing touches to do with the cabinet. I started the morning by milling the small strips of cherry which would be fitted to hold the glass in. Small holes are drilled just a bit undersized for the brass pins so they can be tapped or just pressed into place. No glue since if the glass is ever broken it can be easily replaced without damaging the frame.  Since the frame and side door are slightly curved, I hit the bandsaw first to get the rough shape. Then just moved to the spokeshave to shape the curve and get my final surface.

Not the best way to use a spokeshave but I was in a hurry and the vice just seemed like it would take too long:). And the cherry works so well that it was fine like this. Here’s the ones for the front, just three since the right side of the glass is accepted into a groove in the post.

The rest of the morning was spent installing, and here’s the finished product!

That pretty much sums up things. . The show was also super fun, it was nice to meet some of the alumni from the past years and hear how they are working now. A few of them even brought some of their work to put in the show. The following week was spent making crates for our projects, cleaning the place from top to bottom and finally flattening our benches for the next years class. It was then time to say goodbye to all our new friends.

These our my classmates that I already miss, I pray that they all find the path that allows them to use their talents.

I’ll wait to post pictures of the work until we get the good ones back from the photographer!

It was a good year.


 Once again the time in class has been getting longer and longer I have been a bit to busy to post and keep up with the progress on my project. So at this point I’m just gonna go through some pics as to what has been going on here and maybe do some explaining along the way.

I finished the stand a few day after my last post, then moved onto making the box to house the drawers behind the right hand door. After completing the box, I just didn’t like it, the Bocote wasn’t right with the rest of the piece. So I scratched that idea, took a few day set back and decided to make a smaller insert from the port orferd and only place two drawers in it.

So then I needed to decide on new drawer fronts. To me this is good fun, one of the best times to use those rare pieces of wood to really bring a lot of interest to the inside of the cabinet. I spent the day trying out different woods, then remembered before I came here a good friend of mine gave me a beautiful hunk of Italian Olive. I’ve had this piece under my bench all year hoping I would have the chance to use it, and now seemed like the right time:) So on from here I went to chopping the pins and tails and my two drawers. I went with european sycamore for the drawer sides.

Always cut on the waste side of your layout;)

Skip a few steps….mock up drawer pulls….carve them…then it was time to mortise the fronts to receive these little guys. Robert always has an abundance of just the right wood, I ended up going with black olive…it will darken up nicely over the years.

And here ya go…two drawers. done.

And fitted!

Coffee break

And Scoobie snacks for Elliot

Good day

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

After we left off, I cut the curves into the top and bottom, minus 1/16 for the 1/8 applied edge which gives me  a 1/16 final reveal.

So here the top is in clamps for the front edge, Gotta have enough cauls for the clamps to pull from to get even pressure across the entire surface.

And out of the clamps ….

Onto the edge treatment ( a little shaping to make it feel nice). I just wanted to keep it simple with only a about a 1/16 reveal and just soften the edges.  I should say, this little Lei Nelson Spokeshave is one of my favs to use, I find myself reaching for it whenever I have the chance. Worth the splurge!

Next was chopping the mortises for the L-hinges. Some final  surface prep with my smoothing plane, shellac, then glue-up… and of course, a dry run first.

There’s a cool tradition here at the school that the last birthday body has to make a cake for the next birthday body. So it’s been way too long since I made this guy. Chocolate espresso cheesecake….Happy birhtday Steve!