Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Curves and Chaos Theory

The popular way to describe chaos theory is that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a storm on the other side.  In the wood shop that means a small choice made at the beginning of a project can make a huge difference down the line.  That's how my initial choice of making a cabinet with a coopered door feels.  I chose it because I thought it would be pretty (it is) and fun (it was...for the first 2 hours of planing).  I had no idea what I was in for.

With a concave door, comes sides angled outword.  They can be flat or one can take an extra step and give the sides a slight curve, as Casey Moffitt did on his cabinet.  The top and bottom of the cabinet also needs to have curves to be consistent with the door while paying close attention to the grain on the front edges.  Next comes the drawer box, again curves top and bottom, sides angled just right to fit tightly into the cabinet.

Now the final challenge is those drawer fronts.  Curved and shaped to fit the portion of the drawer box they'll lie in and edges cut at an angle to fit the sides.  But.....those edges need dovetails!  And the back of the drawer fronts have to be flat where the sides meet but wait....the back is curved.  Oh, did I mention the back also has to be straight vertically?  What about the fact that this drawer front is only a little over 2 inches in height and less than 3 inches wide.  In my previous posts I mentioned that I have to do both drawers perfectly to keep the continuity of the grain.  So, if I mess up on the second one after spending a huge amount of time on the first, I get to start all over again.  And it doesn't end there but rather it continues into a chaotic world that has made my head spin continuously over countless weeks.

Throughout all these feelings of upheaval, I not only learned and developed wood skills I never thought I was capable of but I also learned more about myself than I would have liked.  At one point throughout all the lows of making the drawers, Doug Mackay asked what I was working on.  I just pointed at myself and said "me".  We both just quietly laughed, shook our heads, and shuffled back to our benches.

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