Friday, 28 March 2014

Is that a FARTT?

  Maybe it's because they did not have room for it when they moved. Maybe they just get tired of it and no longer want it. Maybe they haven't the means to take the piece to the landfill. Maybe they couldn't sell it during the garage sale. Whatever the reason you will sometimes find a piece of furniture just sitting at the end of a driveway. Sometimes with a sign on it spelling FREE or JUNK or TAKE ME. Sometimes there is no sign at all.

  These are what I call FARTT's. Yup, Found Along Roadside to Take.

 A while back, I was shocked by one heck of a FARTT. A big brown FARTT. Someone had left an old 1920's era china cabinet at the roadside.

  This FARTT was built by Shower Brothers a large firm in the US that was in the thick of it during the furniture boom at the beginning of the 20th century.

  Now sometimes you get these FARTT's back to the shop to find that the best thing to do is dismantle it and save a few parts for future projects or repairs. Sometimes they are really just stinkers and go right into the fire pit. This recent one was different though. I scraped of a little finish to find some nice end matched burl veneer. Looks promising. Some day I will get to it.

 Well one year later. Wish I had a before picture but it was similar to this one below, but brown and much dirtier. The glass and muntins were broken as well.

Below is what my FARTT  looks like today.

The veneer is walnut, the sides were in great condition.

Stripped clean and refinished with nice top coat of shellac. 

Nice working drawer and all the original hardware.

Still need to make some shelves and get some glass for the door and remake the muntin design that was behind the glass.
So here it is. The colour in the burl wood is lovely.

Finally, a fartt that needs no apology.

As always thanks for reading


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

I Broke her Leg

  Since my neck surgery a few years back my left foot still has a habit of not lifting as high as I think it is. Nerve damage baby, never comes back all the way. But I manage OK. It is a little embarrassing when you do it coming into the grocery store. I just make the drinky drinky sign with my right hand to my lips. People would never believe the truth anyway, too boring.

  Anyway, immediately after taking the photo outside of the finished night stand I headed up the back stairs with it. Well wouldn't you know that is the time my foot does it's thing. Ya, that's right.
I fell up the stairs and tried using the table to brace myself. Oh it almost made it. When the foot of the rear leg wedged into the space between the deck boards the strain was too much to ask of the delicate joint I showed you in the earlier post.


  Like a leg breaking into a green stick fracture.
The leg was dangling by a thread. The table top was all skewed at a sickening angle. I froze staring in disbelief. What rotten luck. This table is to young.
 Shannon came out the back door to see what all the commotion was about. She felt truly sorry for me. All that work seemingly ruined.

  As the initial shock wore off I sprang up into action. I think I can save it. It may not be pretty but I think I can pull it off. Shannon helped me bring the parts into the shop and up onto the bench. I began working silently and swiftly. Like a surgeon determined to save a limb.

  First off came the top. Have to reach those damaged areas..........Oh the horror...... I can see right inside the joint. Loose splinters, jagged edges.... Ewwww.
Mustn't loose control. I don't mind seeing a few cracks when I am done as I am not about to amputate and build another one for the sake of that leg.
  The drawer by the way came out unscathed. It may have helped mitigate the damage. Thank goodness for those venerable dovetail joints.

Here are some pictures of the nightstand resting in traction. Those with a weak stomach may want to look away. Sit down if you feel the need.

The agony
 Oh this looks painful. Give it some meds or me for that matter.
Scary wasn't it. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

  We won't know for sure if things are square enough for the drawer to go back in until the swelling goes down and we put the table top back in place. I am confident it will work but it may have a limp.

As always thanks for reading.

Dr. Ken and Shannon RN
PS. the drawer works fine and you can hardly see that anything had happened.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Nightstands are Finished and a Possible history of the Dovetail Joint.

  The Thos Moser matching cherry nightstands for our new bed are finished.

I've been waiting for the delivery of the drawer pulls to get the last shots. They arrived today so here is one of the pair.

The joinery was kind of tricky.
The aprons are flush with the inside of the legs which led to this tenon setup to keep the strength in the joint.

 The rest was pretty straight forward. Tapered legs and some curved stretchers between the legs.

 The drawers were my first foray into making dove tail joints. Purportedly the most difficult joint in woodworking. These were cut by handsaw and the waste areas removed by chisel and mallet. Just like the old timers. It is tricky but patience will get you through.

I give lessons if you are interested.
 The rear of the drawer is a through dovetail joint.
 The half blind dovetail joint is used at the drawer front.

  In the world of wood working the dovetail joint is the most loved, hated and argued about subject in all the forums out there. Everyone has a preference, but it seems two camps have evolved over the ages. One camp says you must cut the pin first. That would be the dark colored triangular part in the photo above. The other camp (which I belong to) says that the tail must be cut first. That would be the lighter colored part shaped like a birds fanned tail.

  If by chance you ever happen to be in the vicinity when these two camps meet there will surely be some heated discussion. It is all really wasted time in my opinion. The joint can be made successfully regardless of which way you start. The thing that really matters is how to get the joint so it fits tightly with little or no gaps. Being as the joint is not only renowned for it's great strength and longevity it is also a showcase of the makers skill. This is agreed on by both camps. So why do we still try to enforce our will on each other.

 I began to slip deep into thought. Has this argument been settled before. Has it been eons since there took place a great battle. The battle of the Dovetail. If it has been forgotten we may be doomed to repeat it. 

  Follow me to a time long ago. A very long time ago, where the two camps each assembled a great army of woodworkers. Their weapons could only be those used in the making of dovetail joints. Each army stood on a hillside with a great flat treeless plain between them. The Pins on one side and the Tails on the other. The cloudless sky providing ample light for all to witness this great battle.

  At the sound of a giant mallet blow both sides rushed down the slopes out onto the great plain wearing only full length cow hide carpenter aprons brandishing the weapons of their choice. Men with beards and back hair aplenty. Faces and hair painted with various colors of wood stain. Yelling and screaming as they rushed headlong into the fray.

 Some raised their western style dove tail saws that cut on the push stroke, while others swung the eastern style dozuki that cuts on the pull stroke. With great vigor, they flailed at one another with them.

  The western style is short and good for close in action. It is stiff and will not yield to hard blows. 
The eastern style is long like a samurai sword with it's wrapped handle and has good reach and a slice that will open up anything it comes in contact with.

  In the other hand was a wooden mallet. Some chose the cylindrical carvers mallet whilst others brandished the menacing square mallet which resembles the hammer of the viking god Thor.

 There aprons of hide did not provide much protection but the pouches on the front allowed them to carry weapons for in close fighting. The most likely would be a 1 inch wide bevel chisel to stab and eviscerate with and maybe a marking knife just big enough to dislodge an opponents eyeball.

As the two sides converged the blood letting began. The barren plain turning red with the blood of those mad warriors. During the height of this insane battle witnesses say you could see the Devil dancing amidst the crimson spray. Bodies and tools lay scattered and bloody upon the land.

In the end the last few dropped there weapons and agreed to never let this come between craftsmen again. They formed the guild of Carpenters and Joiners to support each other and recognize their differences. To educate and produce a higher standard of work. The Carpenters and Joiners exists to this day and I am one of them.

Thanks for reading

Friday, 21 March 2014

Smoke House Beer Cabinets

 As I mentioned in an earlier post High Table for Two , the old tables Bob was going to burn in the fire pit would be converted to cabinets to hold the beer order.

 Well I didn't make much of a photo documentation of the process because it went so quickly the next thing I knew I was done.

Here are some photos of the tables. Do they think the Allen key the mightiest tool in the world.

 The table looks fine until you actually lean on them then its like doing the slow waltz.

  I feel like Dr. Frankenstein when I do these cut and paste builds. "Egor get the switch", I hollered.

 I quickly had the first table on the bench in the inverted position. Next I reached for my finely tuned instrument for this procedure, a mallet. We will begin the dissection of the apron between the rear legs, loosen some screws and with a resounding whack from the instrument we had begun. A sheet of plywood will replace the apron in the space between the legs. Simple blocks between the legs and plywood will help fasten them together. I worked my way around the sides in this fashion too. "Egor, wipe my brow sweat". Don't worry folks Egor never answers me. I'm alright.
  Then a plywood bottom was added and reinforced underneath. Hardwood beams would carry the weight exerted by the golden nectar in those brown bottles.
I moved on to the removal of the old finish, stained everything one color and painted the insides with a hardy alkyd paint to keep things looking good in there.

  The original plan called for solid plywood panel doors.
   "I don't need anything fancy...", Bob's voice echoed in my head.

 "I can't bring myself to do it Egor". I can't make junk. So much of it out there already and so many willing to pay for it. It's a shame really. We buy furniture knowing full well we will be buying a new set within 5 years and tossing the old set out because it has fallen to pieces. Why do we accept that?
 They have made us into Consumer Zombis. Fight the urge next time and talk to a furniture maker. You will get what you want. The price is not always so far from cost of that crap.

 Allow me to pause a moment to collect myself. Breath in 1, 2 ,3 ,4 , breath out 1, 2, 3, 4.

Ahh, much better .

  I will follow my heart and make some paneled doors instead. Add some old wood knobs I had hanging around and presto. Nice looking cabinets to fit into the atmosphere of the restaurant.
Fine furniture? No. Utilitarian and able to stand up to the abuse over time, yes.
"Egor clean up this messy shop. I am going for dinner". It would be useful if he were real.
 It turns out that each cabinet can hold nine cases of domestic beer with some room on each side.
  If you haven't been to the Smoke House Eatery and Pub you must try them out. The food is wonderful. The staff warm and friendly. The beer cold. My work, lovely.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, 20 March 2014

New High Tables for the Smokehouse Restaurant

  One day at the restaurant Bob and I were having a beverage and he asked if I could make a cabinet for storing the beer cases in. They get a delivery every week and a wall of beer cases stands behind the bar. I think I can help with that.

  Sue walked by while we were talking and she suggested that it may be more important to do something about the tables along the wall. The tables are too short for the tall chairs and the patrons legs don't fit underneath them. They are also wobbly as all get out.

 They had decided on three tables for two patrons that could be hung on the wall and maybe have a pedestal under them. Hmm I see an opportunity to make something a little special here.

 "How about a table with a sweeping arch underneath and the whole works is connected to the wall," I said with some excitement.

  Bob looked at me and said "I don't need anything fancy." Bob has a way of deflating things.

  I was determined to make something stylish. "Just leave it too me, you will like it."
Bob was about to try and tell me again but I deflected with, "What are you doing with the wobbly tables."

 "They are going in the fire pit. They are junk." he spat out.

  Still trying to keep him off balance I said, "I can take the tables and put sides and backs and doors on them and presto, beer cabinets".

The look on his face of why didn't I think of that was unmistakable. Ha Ha a knockout for Ken.

 Table for two. Right this way.

  A section between the bar and the booth seating area was able to hold a little more seating. In goes three high table for two persons. A screen was set up on top of the dividing wall and frosted glass installed to block the view of the patrons in the booths directly beside them. We left some openings so the staff could see the patrons in the booth area without having to walk all the way around.

  Braced from the wall using a built up arch to add a little pizzaz to the area.

I'll post the new beer cabinets later.

thanks for reading