Thursday, February 27, 2014

Magic Stick

A lot of our box type joinery is made using a doweling jig. Because we make the jig out of a piece of hardwood lying in our scrap piles, it seems like they're nothing special. But they really are.  In my coffee table, I have a row of five drawers that need six dividers, square and parallel.  Since the drawers will be running through both sides of the drawer box, I can't slip the dividers in from the back using splines.  Dowels are my only choice.  Thanks Jim Budlong for that idea!

When I first made the necessary 208 holes and they lined up perfectly top to bottom, along with being square, I couldn't help but be amazed at how easily that little stick can do the job.  As a former teacher, I could never get my students to line up so perfectly!  And my apologies to boring every person who passed my bench that day.  I was so ecstatic, I kept telling anyone I could snag "I got square!"

The next day my bubble was burst, as it naturally is in this work, when I had to put all the dowels in and check for square and parallel.  Not so square anymore and the sides were definitely not parallel.  That was a very quiet day.  Most of my time was spent sliding a piece of plywood back and forth through the bottom of the drawer box, checking for wobble and tightness, planing carefully where it needed.

Toward the end of the day, it was looking futile and I was back to my whiny old self thinking of ways to get around this parallel business, wanting to change up the design.  But then Daniel Zenefski came by, a second year student.  His offering:  stick to the plan of parallel drawers because "we do Bad Ass work here".

Daniel Zenefski

Daniel's 1st year projects: side board and box

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When Worlds Collide

At the beginning my project, I asked if I could ebonize the legs of my coffee table.  Jim Budlong said "it's never been done before" and David Welter followed with "some people believe the color of the wood is enough".  That took me back to thinking about the purpose of this school and what it is we are here to learn.  One of the most difficult yet most beautiful aspects of CR Fine Wood program is choosing the wood for each project.  The grain and color of the wood play such important roles in the look of a piece.

Note how Russell Gale, a former CR student, used straight grain in the linear parts of his chair but for the back splats, he chose a grain to compliment the curves.

Awhile back,  Laura Mays, made 10 boxes using a variety of woods of different colors. When I first saw these, I thought "she's using color so I get to ebonize my legs!"

A couple of weeks ago, some of us took a marquetry class taught by Greg Zall, another former CR student. His work is a perfect example of how one can use wood to paint a canvas.  And again, note how he wraps the grain around his piece.

And here is my attempt at marquetry.

On day two of the class, we had a visit from Michael Cullen.  Prior to starting school at CR, I took a class of his where we learned how to use milk paint and carving tools  to create a different style in wood...texture and color.

Michael's chest. 

So many different styles of work and, thus, so many paths to go down in this wonderful world of wood. 

Greg Zall, David Welter, Michael Cullen

Two more web pages by current students:  

and Tim Lundholm 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

My Favorite Day of the Year--March 1

Whine Cabinet
The mid-winter show is about to end and our First Friday in February was another successful turn-out of friends, family, neighbors, and former students.  I've been coming to these shows for too many years to count and to finally be on the other side of this wood world is an experience I never could have imagined for myself five years ago.  That's when I took my first class in the summer school workshopTools and Techniques.  And March 1 is when applications are first accepted.  There are only twenty-three benches available and every year when I would send my application in for another class, I impatiently waited for the email from David Welter saying "there's a bench here for you."

This year's line-up of classes is an interesting mix of the traditional classes:  Tools and Techniques and Plane Making and those taught by two former students:  David JohnsonDanish Cord Stool and Caning; Wheeler MunroeUpholstery for Furniture.  I'll be hanging around Fort Bragg for quite awhile so I'm looking forward to learning some more tricks of the trade this summer.

Congratulations to Garrett Grantham for selling his first piece!

Some students are getting their personal websites up and running so here is a list of a few so far:

Jess Osserman                                                                                          Max Macsai-Kaplan


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Color Me Natural

I love color so I'm back to choosing a wood with vibrant orange colors mixed in with stripes.  Padauk.  Initially, I was a bit hesitant in using this for my coffee table but as I now work with it on a daily basis, I really enjoy coming to my bench and seeing something so bright.  It makes me smile.  Where my small Acacia cabinet became my Inner Storm, this is going to be my Sunshine...or as I named it today, Georgia O'Keefe.

Speaking of benches....when I got back from winter break, I was asked if I could switch benches with another student.  No hesitation on my part and although I miss my former bench buddies, I've now joined the more rambunctious side.  And I can't seem to keep my mouth shut.  "You can call me" Al and "Mad" Max are the major instigators.  Talented youngsters who answer all my questions whether it's about wood, bikes, or....anything really.

Max and his quilt

Max and Al team working

Then there's the new instructor, Ejler Hjorth Westh.  I first met him at the Winter party and when I saw what he was wearing, a fuschia colored shirt and bright blue tie, I knew he was going to be an entertaining instructor.  Turned out, he is.  And the first day of his lecture, he brought his wife's award winning nut pies.

Ejler's sideboard


Last, are the photos of our work at Town Hall.

Ben Cooper

Daniel Zenefski

Justin Swent

Andy Johnson

Tim Lundholm

Tobyn McCormick

David Welter

Tim Lundholm

Jake Hockel

Garrett Grantham

Tobyn McCormick

Al Martini

Jeff Noblet

James Meinders

Jess Osserman

Max Kaplan

Chen Lekach

Henry Hewitt

Jim Creger

Chris Moore

Casey Moffit
Kari Logwood

Dan Cerreta

Doug Mackay

Josh Smith