Tuesday, 31 May 2011

One Bench Complete and other Bits.

  Today I finished placing the seat slats on one of the benches along with some other things. Here's some pics of the bench, gleaming varnish finish, taken in the afternoon sunshine.
  I like to put a person's name with my furniture usually as tribute. I'll call this Freddie's Bench, in memory of a great friend that we lost last week. It was tough to varnish this piece with all those tears in my eyes this weekend.

Left foot out.

Right foot out.

Reeds and Cattails chip carving on the centre panel in the backrest

I will post the other that I stained before varnishing in the days to come.

  The other things that went on today were the trip to the sawmill. Jeff's phone call came as I was getting into the stripping the broken church pew seat. When Jeff calls ya gotta go, never know how many days he will be out in the fields, sun up to sun down.

This is part of what used to be a 10 ft long curved pew.
White oak ends for this pew will match the originals and will be built as we go.

Frankenvise proves his worth today holding 5 feet of oak seat.
   And now for my next trick. I will attempt to clamp this pew seat together.


  As I was saying it was busy today. Once Shannon arrived home she helped with planing boards for the siding and shed floor. Cedar is so nice and light to lift.

Boards for the garage siding. Not much needed as most of the front wall is windows and doors.

The lovely Shannon laying down the floor for the shed. Gonna be sweet.
  This blog is mostly about what I have been doing but I must tell you the shed is all Shannon so far. I've just been helping with some layout. Her pipes are going to be bigger than mine. We will keep you up to date on her progress with the shed.  A little covered porch with a potting stand will go on the side, should look beauty.

All the best to our brother Don, keep on fighting, see ya soon.


A Trip to Jeff's Family Sawmill

  For the cedar benches I required, you guessed it, cedar. Also it was high time to side the front of the garage as I hadn't finished it since the renovation. Good quality eastern white cedar is sometimes hard to find. Then I found Jeff Waite and his family sawmill.
  The mill is a relaxing 20 minute ride from my house including the stop at Tim Hortons. He and his other family members farm together on the homestead and operate a sawmill during late fall and into the winter.

  Jeff called on the phone this morning and let me know he'd be at the mill doing some planing for another customer before he headed out to the fields for some weed spraying. I was in the truck and on my way.

Clarke band saw mill. Just got a sharpened blade for her today.

   You can make special requests in the summer and they will try to fell and cut to order. Jeff's cedar is pretty nice, he cuts off the sapwood and takes out the defects, "It's firewood " he says. "They end up in the slab piles for burning.

  Jeff is a nice guy, farming all his life. I don't think he'd have it any other way. Also he is a wood turner. He picked up a large lathe a while ago and he's moving up to turning the big stuff.

This is Jeff, nice fella, always happy to talk with you a while.

  On an earlier visit this spring I was the lucky beneficiary of the leftovers from a flooring order, nice cherry, pink and almost clear of knots. Awesome! I felt like I'd just found a free case of beer. I took some home as well as some sugar maple he had.

 So I'll show you around a bit.

Cedar logs waiting for sawing. I think they ran out of room in the barns this winter.

Field of dreams. They saw the cedar into piles of planks.

Gang saw cuts the wane off each side leaving the useful board in the middle.

Which leaves you with some of this

And a little of that

Today's haul for a shed floor and longer planks for siding the front of the garage. He loads it all in for ya.

Jeff working out my bill for today.

Jeff's dog stuck with me until I paid my bill. I think he's the muscle. Next time I'll bring him a treat.
  It was a hot one today in the 30's (90's) with lots of humidity. But that didn't bother me cause any day at the mill is a good one. I almost forgot, Jeff told me the cattle don't like the humidity either.

Thanks for coming along.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Cedar Benches Nearing Completion

  The two benches are coming along. They are made with eastern cedar that I purchase from an area farmer who cuts huge amounts of the stuff through the late fall early winter. His name is Jeff. I'll introduce him to you in another blog. The benches are four feet in length and they can fit easily into most any spot in the garden or house. Nice and roomy for one person or two affectionate people.

Dry assembled for fitting. A panel with a chip carving will go in the centre of the backrest.
 Just running through dry assembly to check the fit of my mortise and tenon joinery. I even sat on this one while it was still on the floor. I felt like a trapeze artist working without a net. There was a time when my projects would only stand with the aid of copious amounts of glue, nails or screws. Makes you feel really good when your joinery reaches this point. It gives you confidence to try more difficult projects.

  I have made a bench similar to this in the past from soft maple (also called red maple or swamp maple) but I found soft maple to be best suited for a secondary wood used for drawer sides or inside case work.

Brilliant red color in the fall, my favorite.
  That said, I have had some soft maple with great quilting and dark brown streaking in it. Makes great panels for a show case.

Soft Maple panel
 Final glue ups should be done during the next two days. Can't wait to get a finish on them and have a seat.

Affixing the armrest to the bench end assembly

I'll soften the edges for a nice hand hold

Lots of edges to ease on this project.

The bench awaits my return tomorrow.

I'm really enjoying writing this blog. Thanks for reading.


The Canucks are playing for the Cup EH!

  Maybe May is looking better. The Vancouver Canucks advanced to the final for a chance to win the beloved Stanley Cup. Man ! , what a game eh. Last night saw double overtimes. The players were running on fumes, neither team willing to take defeat. At one point late in the second overtime it looked like San Jose's net minder was going to take a seat on the ice and crack a cold one and call her a night.

  The winning goal came after the puck to the craziest bounce ever from one of the  stanchions holding the plexiglass that surrounds the rink. Try and catch the video if you can, sure it's on the net somewhere.

  In case you aren't a hockey fan (sounds crazy when you say it) the Stanley Cup is the holy grail of hockey in North America.

We stand on guard for thee
   Any man (including this one) that ever slipped on a pair of skates to play competitive hockey would give all he has to win it just once.

That's Mini Me with the cup gives you an idea of the cups size

The champs from 1965 the year of my birth. Yes I'm a Habs fan.

The cup enjoying the off season. It travels extensively.

It likes to have fun too.

Some women adore it. Lucky cup.

 Here's to hoping the Canucks can take the cup. Wish I could be in Vancouver right now, must be quite a party. Good luck Vancouver all of Canada is counting on ya. No pressure though, EH.

thanks for reading my post

It's May and Misery loves Company

  While recovering from my neck surgery that took place in March of this year, I have been passing as much time in the shop as my body will allow. Not working, just whittling as I like to call it. It's much better than melting into the couch in front of the TV. During the day the news telecasts spew forth disaster, tragedy after tragedy, followed by more tragedy and disaster. The 4 weeks following surgery I was quite restricted in my activity. If not sleeping I sat mostly in a recliner looking at the tube. I never before have had time to watch television so much.

  Our family has had it's share of tragedy and I am sure many others have as well. For some inexplicable reason ours seem to come during the month of May. We lost our son Eric on May 14, 1997, he was 7 years of age. On May 16th, 2008 we lost our daughter Robyn and her two close friends Erin and Kandas in a vehicle accident, Robyn was 20.
As every May comes and goes we remember the loses and hope that the month will pass without event.

  This year was looking to be uneventful but... a phone call Saturday from my wife's brother with the terrible news that he has leukemia. This type of leukemia can be treated by chemotherapy with good results. He started treatment immediately and is currently fighting the good fight. I am positive he will come through as Don has always been able to conquer his objectives. He is a winner. Don is a man of great will and strength, much like his father, the strongest man I have ever known. We're all pulling for you Don.

  I received news today about someone, a fella I became friends with over the past 12 years. I've worked along side of him, played pickup hockey with him, had long discussions over a few pops after hockey with him. The kind of guy you enjoy being around, always makes you feel better. Always has a way of taking life's crap and making it go away.

  Well, he must have lost his way. They found him on Sunday. He is no longer with us. I will attend the celebration of his life this Friday.

  To all those dealing with tragedy, you need not feel alone, there are many of us who understand.

Month of May, may you go away.

  This blog is about wood working after all so I will go into my shop, take wood and give it a new life, work it into something that wasn't there before. Something with purpose, character, beauty and built for the test of time. It feels good to have some control over the outcome and wood working offers this. Wood working calms me and helps me deal with those things that I cannot change.

For Eric and Robyn.

thanks for listening


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Whitling Away

  It's been a while but I have been busy working on a couple of small benches for the outdoors. They are much like the one I made for our family doctor (see bench here) except these are made from cedar and the seat will be made from slats to allow the rain to pass through. I haven't decided on a finish as of yet, maybe a semi transparent stain covered with varnish or just marine varnish alone, or possibly one of each.

My bench has looked this way for a couple of weeks. Some busy days

I have also been mucking around with an idea my daughter Alex gave me. She was wondering if I could make a stand for her to hold her numerous pairs of sunglasses. I made a rough, really rough prototype to see how the glasses would hang on her design.

This way or......

That way
Maple, walnut, cherry or oak. If I can't decide there may be four different version by the time I'm done. The stand should be able to hold about 4 pairs of glasses. I'll use bent lamination or take the chance to try some steam bending on the upright parts just for fun. I have a kettle ready to go and just picked up a temperature gauge for the steam box. The steam box will be made from 2" thick extruded styrofoam. We'll see how that works versus the plywood steam box.

thanks for looking

Friday, 13 May 2011

Torri Gate Trellis

  This week my better half, Shannon, asked me to make a trellis for her climbing rose. " Ok, what type of style would you like?", I asked. (In reality I did like any man and rolled my eyes and let out a big sigh). "Something with a Japanese look", she replied. She went into the shop to draw me something to look at.
  I walked in and she had my sketch book in her hands ....................

Start Soliloquy ...... I sketch my ideas in this book, I never erase anything even if I don't like it at first because all ideas can be improved on. If I erase the history I am doomed to repeat it. I am then shocked to see her tearing out a page on which to make her sketch. Have you ever seen Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo............ Once my episode ended I realized it was a blank sheet from the back of the book. I silently came over and moved the book to a safer location. End Soliloquy.

  I returned to her side and she looked up with a smile and said, "See, like this, this is what I want, kinda like that", pointing to the sketch.

This is the sketch.
 The sketch makes it obvious..........yes, she's thinking of a Torri Gate with a Tansu style symbol in the middle and something lower down to start the rose's climb to the heavens.
   I looked at the hope in her eyes, (read as , ...all the tools in this shop, You make me this Mister...). My reply, "Okay, I can do that !"

  I searched the yard. I looked like a dog on a hot scent. I was rewarded with some old spruce 2 x 4's that I could cut up to make her trellis. Guys, always keep some 2 x4's around, never know when you will need them.

 As every good woodworker says, "It is always a good idea to come up with a working plan no matter what you are making. It saves time and helps to eliminate mistakes." This is one of those times.
  I wanted an OK on the plans. "Yes, that's perfect,  just like I showed you, exactly like I wanted.", Shannon said with enthusiasm. I would start the next day.

A little planning.. feel free to borrow.

 This is not fine woodworking but it is relaxing. Anyway about 6 hours later I had this.

 We painted it up today and put it in the garden. Rose is just behind the tulip plant.

I also built an obelisk last year out of old lumber. The two in front of the house are fancier but, ...seen one obelisk, ya seen 'em all.

  This week I was working out some dimensions on a prototype for a floor lamp using old 2 x 4's to see what the size and shape would look like. It ended up making a nice hanger for the bug zapper lamp. I made some laminating forms for the floor lamp yesterday morning, can't wait to get the walnut into them.

 So the weekend arrives after a week of beautiful weather. They are calling for rain for the next six days. Good time to be in the shop. Maybe have some posts for the floor lamp this coming week.

Again, thanks for taking the time.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Scrap Pile Cutting Boards

  The scrap bin needed some lightening so I made a couple of cutting board sink covers for the motor home (or caravan if you wish). They are made of soft maple with a cherry strip down the center to fancy them up. The underside is rabbeted to allow the boards to fit on the sink edges. A beeswax salad bowl finish was used to seal the wood. Smells nice too.

The morning sunshine makes great lighting

Beeswax finish gives a nice sheen to the surface

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Shoji Lamps Finished

  My version of a Shoji Lamp with a mid century modern twist.
These little lamps work great for accent lighting or your bedside table.
They stand about 17 inches tall with 6 inch square base. I usually make them in pairs using the same species of wood for each set. A florescent bulb from 5 to 13 watts seems to be sufficient for a nice lighting effect and keeps the heat down.

Cherry Lamp with yellowish rice paper with fibers.

Cherry Lamp lit up with 5 watt florescent bulb.

Walnut lamp white paper with embedded plant leaves.

Walnut lamp with 5 watt florescent bulb.

  I am experimenting with some modern designs using twisting flowing curves, open tops and rice paper shades. I also have an idea for a real cool looking mid century modern style floor lamp which I will share with you as it comes together.

  I hope you enjoyed looking at these. I used an old bed sheet for a backdrop, I'll try some lighting next time to eliminate shadows.
As always thanks for dropping in.


Crazy week folks

  Well it's been about a week since my last post and what a week it was. The Habs are out of the playoffs, spent some time with the motocross club this weekend, Obama says Bin Ladin is gone, Omar still reins, Middle Eastern governments squash protests, Canada has elected an oppressive government, the weather here is rain with a chance of more rain. I'm going out to the workshop to clear my mind. I'll be back later with some pics of the finished lamps.

have a nice day

  Since this blog is really about wood working I will insert a photo of such here.

Clamping with rubber bands.