So outside of custom work that's been floating through the shop there is a small summer collection that I'm looking forward to sharing in the coming months. As some of you may know, Haley and I grew up on the gulf coast and lived in Hawaii for a short time at the beginning of my furniture life. This small collection hopes to bring a little bit of those summer beach day memories into the home with light colors and mixed media, combining both solid wood and textile fibers. Below is a little taste of the process and clips of whats to come.
Last week some really sweet white oak slabs, actually an entire matching log set including 9 slabs, was delivered at the studio.
I really enjoy and think it's important to know where my materials are coming from and how they are sourced. Over the past couple years I've traveled out to Pennsylvania to visit and select timber from Horizon Hardwoods. After the first visit and meeting with the man who started this business over 40 years ago, I could tell it was their passion to source not only the best timber, but to mill it in a way that creates a superior product.
Off-loading and numbering. Some slabs are all ready spoken for but there is plenty wood left and up for grabs!
Below is a sweet walnut slab from the same folks getting it's first coat of oil and getting prepped for its base and delivery.
March has been a good month and has seen a good pace. All the larger projects wrapped up at the end of February and thus far March has seen a simple and sweet coffee table build (posting soon), as well as closing in on the new floor lamp release... and, lets throw in some travels to the Hawaiian Islands for Haley and I's twelfth anniversary.
The pics below are from the last credenza that wrapped up before March. This one was once again solid walnut, though this time un-steamed, hence the more reds in the wood and greater differentiation between the sapwood and heartwood. Roughly %90 of the walnut on the market has been steamed to create a more uniform color, this slab however had not been steamed, leaving that sharp contrast between the lighter sapwood and darker heartwood. I thought it would be nice to highlight this by book-matching the boards and turning the sapwood toward the center, creating a continuous streak around the entire piece.
Below are some pics of the process and final piece, hope you enjoy!
Things have been busy in the shop this new year, living and working in the same town has been a great experience. Along with commission work, I will also be devoting this year to a small collection of furniture. These pieces will be available for purchase and made to order. The premise is putting high quality, solid wood furniture in peoples homes with a more affordable approach. One of the most costly parts of a one-off piece is the design and engineering time, I want to give the client an option for heirloom goods that have already been thoughtfully designed.
Solid walnut case, sliding doors | Wenge base | Shop made brass hardware
Last shippment of slabs that came in there were a few "scraps" strapped on top of the load to make weight on the pallet. Turns out, they made a couple fun little coffee tables.
Figured it was a good chance to practice turning some legs and join the cool club. Sometimes "cool" turns out to be less time consuming, but more expensive, sad but true.
Had a little accident with the forstner bit when drilling the holes for the legs in the top. Instead of planing it down I thought I'd make it a circle/square (patch) combo.
Good day folks;)
Finally posting some shots of a piece I completed a few months back. Definitely the most technical piece to date, shop sawn walnut veneer exterior with alaskan yellow cedar interior, hand cut dovetailed drawers and shop made brass hardware.
The most time consuming part of the build was this joint below. After a few practice joints in poplar I was good to go. The difficulty in this joint was that it's mirrored on the other side of the leg and also a compound curve and taper in the leg.
Below is a better look at the compound curve, subtle but time consuming...
Another degree of difficulty I wanted to have was brining the leg through to the top, worth the time and a fun detail in this piece.
I had been saving the walnut log for me time, waiting for an opportunity to make a piece like this. I wanted to incorporate the sapwood from the outside and create a center line from book matching the to veneer cuts, running them continuously around the piece.
I know its been a while, but I wanted to catch everyone up on whats been going on since the new studio move in this past Spring. Looking for not just a space, but the right space took a lot of patience and waiting....and waiting. I know now that even my friends were growing tired of the "you find a space yet...NO, still looking". I was also at the point where I was ready to throw in the towel and resort to a work environment that promised myself I wouldn't do.
Long story short, Haley and I were hours from signing an overpriced lease on an industrial space tucked back among the square box, next to another square box, with a drop ceiling office in the front. We've all seen these spaces and there is nothing wrong with them, but for me and the vision I have for the business, it was the last place I could see myself being. I woke up the morning of the signing and told Haley, I didn't know what we were going to do, but I wasn't signing that lease. It felt good to turn it down but it was immediately replaced with the burden of "what next" a continuation of the past three years. That same morning, I opened the Craigslist pages and saw an aerial view of a property down the street from our apartment which read, "creative space for rent, manufacturing allowed". This space was the old cabinet shop, surf shop and glass shop on State St. in Carlsbad. Side note, the main problem with all these little pocket beach communities is that the city is rezoning all the properties as they sell, for restaurants and boutiques, which is great, but this eliminates all the creatives, and in my opinion takes part of the community out of the community. So, this property, with the original family owning it since the 50's, is still zoned commercial...Hurray. The landlords are great and run a small store in the front of the building while the rest is divided into three spaces which accommodate a potter, a coffee roaster, and myself. The building needed some work, mainly a good cleaning. I'll leave you with some pics of the progress thus far.
Move in day
Four weeks later
Hope all is well going well for everyone, I wanted to take some time and catch you up on what has been going on from the shop. After the last coffee table build I went in the direction of fulfilling Autumn floor lamp orders and other small projects for individual clients. Also, I have finally decided to move onward from the shared work space I have been in over the past couple years and search for a studio of my own. It has been a fun and challenging couple years in starting my own business and I am excited about moving forward, learning from my mistakes and expanding my successes. Below is a collection of shots taken over the past few months, nothing crazy, just keeping busy.
I have really enjoyed creating the lighting, such as the Autumn Floor Lamp, and maintaining a pace of work I enjoy...slowing down, using hand tools and creating a product that I am proud of. Once things are back up and running, I plan on launching a small line of handmade furniture based on a new floor lamp design that was completed before I moved out of my old space. These pieces will still be made to order, using hand selected materials and an acute attention to detail. My intention is not to move in the direction of a production furniture shop but to maintain a pace of work and attention to detail I prefer.
Needless to say, I am anxious to get back in the shop but I do have a small window in which I can be patient and find the right space. During this time Haley and I have some travels coming up as well, so although not wood related, there will still be a post or two to look forward to.
Here is to finding my new work space and moving on.
This past month I had the privileged of making a coffee table for an amazing family that Haley and I are blessed to have in our lives.
It was large coffee table, 52" 32" 17". I tried our local lumber yard but couldn't find large enough pieces of Walnut. Since I didn't want to piece the top together I ended up ordering a slab (and maybe a couple extra?... for a rainy day), this way I could get a nice book match for the top. As far as design goes everything, was pretty straight forward, no curves, mortise and tenon joinery, a single hand cut dovetailed drawer, shop made brass hold downs and an oil finish.
Thank you for your patience in following along with this build. It was a more than a pleasure over the weekend to deliver this jewelry cabinet to its new owners, they will always hold a special place in Haley and I's heart. During the past year the cabinet was not the only piece of furniture that passed through the doors of my shop, but as far as a single piece, it gladly took most of my time and thought. The exterior is constructed of instrument grade Koa sitting on a Wenge base, while the interior consists of Boxwood drawer fronts, Sycamore drawer sides, Port Orford Cedar drawer bottoms and a Mediterranean Olive hidden box.
I spent some time deciding a method to lock the cabinet. Ordering multiple mechanisms and not being satisfied, I decided on making my own. It was very simple, a steel rod enclosed in brass, that will drop down when not being held up with the below pictured, magnetic wooden key.
Once again, what a joy it was to make this cabinet and thanks for following along.
Good morning, we are finally getting some good rain here in southern California so I figured it would be a great morning for coffee and some blogging. Since the last post I have moved on to the design and build of the stand. We deiced on Wenge, a dark, almost black tropical wood that is not so friendly to work with hand tools, but with a little time the end product is stunning. When it came time for the shaping and faring of the curves the only tools that work well are scrapers (basically piece of steel with a bur turned over on an edge) properly tuned it can create a shaving like a hand plane and leave a beautiful surface. To start, I milled the rough stock, prepped for the joinery placement and began cutting the mortises.
Cutting the mortises is done while all the stock is still square, leaving the pieces a shade over sized to allow for the cutting and faring of the curves.
After all the joinery was complete it was time to lay out the curves, first cut free hand on the band saw then fared with scrapers and rasps. The insides of the legs have a concave surface while the outsides have a slight convex. Once shaped and surface prepped, it was on to glue up, one more final surface prep and placing a small bevel around the top.
With all the large tasks completed it's time to sit at the bench and work some of the smaller details. There are still a handful of things to complete, small trays for the drawers, installing the lock, milling brass mounting hardware for the stand, and designing drawer pulls.
After a few different mock ups for pulls I decided to keep with the boxwood, matching the drawer fronts.
Gluing in the drawer pulls is always a satisfying feeling, being able to open the drawers without pulling on a piece of blue tape... great.
Until the one last post...cheers
Ok, switching over to black and white from here on out with this build. I hope this post finds everyone doing well. I last left off cutting the dovetails on the drawers. One of the most important things in dovetailing is to have clean, straight lines throughout the pins and tails, this is easily achieved with the help of a squared up chopping block seen below. I was taught this method and really believe it's a good way to go for hand cut dovetails.
After the drawers are glued up and before the bottoms are fit, I moved onto fitting each drawer in their pocket. Each drawer is made about a 1/32" too wide and then planed down to fit. This way, you can sneak up that piston fit.
It's always important to have a design and a plan on how the piece will come together, but equally important for myself in this process is allowing the piece to direct itself. The middle section I purposefully "built around", leaving a negative space that could be utilized to add something of thought. Keeping the client in mind during this composing process, is to me, what makes crafted objects come alive to the individuals who use them on a daily basis. With that said, it is not often enough that the craftsmen/women of today get a chance to exercise this gift, so... I am very thankful for this opportunity.
On to this negative space, I wanted to have some sort of tray to place jewelry on once pulled from it's drawer, maybe to set one earring on while pinning the other. I thought through a small pull-out tray and decided using a door that flips down would be best. This Idea posed a problem with the hinge mortising since that is something that would usually be done before the final glue up of the partitions. I tried a couple different hinge styles and ended up using the smallest set of knife hinges I could find, mortising them into the tray the depth of both sides of the hinge. Doing it this way allowed the other side of the hinge to not need mortised, since that would be almost impossible without introducing a degree a difficulty that might allow a mistake that couldn't be undone.
Below you can see the tray in place utilizing the inside shelf as a stop for the tray itself.
With the interior completed and back panel glued in, I was able to move on to the setting the doors, first by placing the hinges. After the hinges are placed, a final fitting of the doors and can be dialed in. Leaving the doors a shade large, they are easily fit by taking a few plane strokes off here and there.
I left off needing to find a lock that would work for this cabinet. After a lot of searching the web and inquiring about custom locks I decided to order a couple. I was not impressed...at all, even the nicer locks were just too bulky and designed more for a box style install, and frankly still had a cheap look and feel. I am happy though that I went through this process, in the end I decided to design and build a lock myself. I wanted something simple and if I could get away with it, something clever that would not have a key hole. So, when the build comes to an end I'll post on how the lock works but it is basically a stainless steel rod that drops down from the top inclosed in a brass sleeve....and no key holes!!
With that decided, I set up a couple jigs on the drill press and got to work milling the brass sleeve to house the stainless steel piston.
After all the door stop mortises were chiseled and the lock mounted, I was able to finally start the glue up. But first it was time see this Kao come to life and apply some tung oil!
The first step in the glue up was to put the boxwood panels inside the top and bottom to allow for clearance from the door stops when the drawers are opened and closed.
After gluing the carcass was complete, I was able to begin each one of glue ups for the partitions.
As for the drawers they started off with the fitting of each side to each individual pocket. I chose clean, straight grain curly maple. When choosing drawer sides I like to pick a wood that I know will hand plane easily, this helps when fitting each completed drawer to their pocket.
With all the drawer sides fit it was finally on to choosing a dovetail layout, milling up the drawer fronts and chopping some pins and tails! A lot of pins and tails!! Still doing that in fact.....
It was great to get back to work on the koa cabinet this past week. I left off with putting the last bit of faring on the front curve before applying the edge banding.
Gluing on the front edge banding was pretty straight forward since the curve is so subtle, just a lot clamps and some small angled calls on the back side.
With the all the edge banding done and the doors coopered (to a touch over sized) I was able to move to the interior. This is a process that I really enjoy, kinda like designing a puzzle, making the parts and then getting to put the whole thing together. After going over a few different layouts and deciding on one I liked (eleven drawers total) I was ready to get under way on all the parts.
With all these parts starting to pile up after the interiors were completed , I shifted gears to the mortises for the knife hinges. Side note...for any of you that are looking for a better alternative to the commercial knife hinges available, I would have to say these hinges that Bob Sanderson puts out from his shop in Fort Bragg Ca. are some of the best, always precise look so sharp!
With the cabinet dry fit, using a shim, I locate the placement of all four hinges, mark the layout and start chopping.
Any time to turn the machines off and sit at your bench is a good time... Just some hand tools and a little patience and these hinges went right in.
Well that wraps it up for the post...top, bottom, sides, partitions and doors! Next, final fitting of all these interior parts and slowly gluing this thing together!
I know they are a bit late, but I am finally getting around to posting some shots of a couple projects I completed at the end of last year. The first is a walnut dining table commission and the second was a spec piece made to take up to the West Cost Craft and Design show.
The dining table is to book-matched walnut slabs on a wenge base. I had fun building this piece and hate to see it go, but fortunately know that is going to a great home!
D 84" 39" 29 1/2"
This second piece was from a couple nice boards of walnut I had been saving to slice into veneers and this seemed like the perfect project.
Hope this post finds everyone doing great. I started wrapping this entry bench up by placing the mortises in the inside of the side panels. Since this is a bench that will see some traffic I loaded the panels with 15 floating tenons on each side. Better too strong than mechanical failure at some point in it's life...
From here it was on to fitting the back panel and partition for the drawer pocket...and then pre-finishing all the parts.
One of my favorite parts of any build is the dovetailing of the drawers. Time to sit down and chop away...good way to spend the afternoon.
After placing the groove for the drawer bottom, I moved on to shaping the pull. A simple whole, rounded towards the top, on the inside.
The drawer sides are from a nice hunk of European sycamore, while the drawer bottom is Port Orford cedar, that should give it a sweet scent every time it's opened! And, not that there is a problem with sipping whiskey and putting on shellack, but that is just my shellack bottle.
So that wraps this project up. Now, it's back to the jewelry cabinet full time...really excited to see this one completed too!
After the tops the bench were completed I moved to the captured side panels. Being that they are captured inside the leg frames, I once again used the lumber core with the shop sawn walnut veneer.
While these guys were in the vacuum press I started work on the side frames. Below is a short sequence of the bottom joints coming together using floating tenons with a radius shaped in after glue up and the top with through mortise and tenon, kept square, capturing the side panels
Using a shim and a plane iron to clean up the joints.
After the joint below is glued, the radius can be shaped. At this point there is also and extra 1/8" of material on the insides of all the frames.
With the two bottom joints glued and radius shaped I can begin to remove the 1/8" of waste allotted for the radius.
After the radius's were shaped in the bottom joints it was time to complete the joinery for the top. Here you can see the through mortise and tenon/captured panel assembly.
Apologies for the long post, I had some catching up to do. From here it is on to joinery, assembly and dovetailing the drawer.
While the jewelry cabinet is coming along, I started on another build this last week of a small danish-inspired bench with a drawer. After the client and I settled on a design, I felt the best construction would be shop sawing my own walnut veneer to minimize wood movement and allow for captured panels in the sides.
Starting off making the substrate, I milled up some flat sawn, 5/4" poplar and began gluing them up to be squared and re-sawn to 1/2" thickness, and then again surfaced to a thickness of 7/16".
Below you can see the re-sawn sections being glued up a shade wider than the finished width of the top.
This first layer of poplar then gets cross banded with a layer of 1/16" poplar veneer. This begins the process of "locking" in the grain to almost eliminate the seasonal movement. This is also what will allow the two side panels to be captured tight inside of the square base. Below, the first two layers of the substrates are glued together using the vacuum press.
With the substrates complete, I began going through the walnut and selecting the cleanest vertical grain for the top and selecting the rift sawn for legs and the drawer front. Lots of good wood to choose from!
After the veneer is cut to about 3/32" on the bandsaw, I started work on the layout and edge-jointing of the veneers. Pretty straight forward, but one of the more enjoyable tasks in the build. Anytime I can use a plane for a few hours it is always a good time, and jointing them by hand instead of gluing them up straight off the jointer is the only way to get an invisible seam...way better!
After the veneers were together I moved on to adhering them to the substrates...same process, back in the vacuum press.
To get a better look at what this type of construction looks like after it's all said and done, below is an older sample showing a corner removed. You can see the individual staves in the middle, the 1/16" cross-banding, and then the final show veneer on the outside.
So I'll wrap this post up with a shot of where things are - legs and sides milled up, the top and bottom out of the press and ready for edge-banding.
The jewelry cabinet is beginning to look more like an actual piece furniture, or maybe that is just in my head, after all it is not even glued up yet. After flattening all the panels I thought it would be a good time to finish applying the koa applied edges, first on the back, then sides and lastly the front. Done in this order so the only end grain visible is from the forward facing sides. Before applying the edges I smoothed and squared each surface.
On the front of the cabinet there will be subtle convex curve, so before applying the edge on the front I mocked up a curve out of poplar and traced it on to the cabinets top and bottom. From there it was over to the bandsaw to rough out the curve. Below you can see the curve after it was fared and smoothed with a small block plane.
After all the applied edges were complete I moved on to beginning the coopered door process. Using the same template for the convex front, I laid out the individual staves the will make up the core of the doors.
Each stave will get a bevel and then matched to the bevel marked on the template and glued one at a time. After all the staves have been glued they can begin to be coopered and readied to apply the first layer of cross-banding (1/16 poplar). Below you can see the shaping. This process just involves planing then setting the door onto the template to check the progress.
When the shaping is complete, into the vacuum press they go to get their 1/16 poplar cross-banding. Here you can see a good look at each individual stave and the 1/16 cross-branding after they have come out of the press and received a little clean up.
While the doors were in the vacuum press I moved on to arranging the koa I had previously re-sawn for the doors. From side to side the cabinet is roughly 22″. I had three, 8″ resawn pieces of koa that could have easily been jointed to make the span, but doing it this way would give and interrupted look in the grain. If you have seen commercial vertical grain plywood then you know what I am talking about. By taking a few extra cuts you can rearrange the grain pattern to give it the look of one large tree section, one uninterrupted grain pattern.
This past month has been busy in the shop getting things ready for the West Coast Craft and Design show in San Francisco and getting the ball rolling on a new commission. So, the show was amazing, met some great people and had a blast cruising around SF with Haley... but now back to work. Crummy pic quality but....
It's been a while since I've done a process blog on a build but this is special piece commissioned by someone very close to Haley and I... I'll try and give some updates along the way.
Now that design and wood selection have been settled on, before I left for SF I begun work on the building the substrates. I guess this would be a good time to mention that it is a jewelery cabinet on a stand. The outside of the cabinet will be Koa, while the inside will be Boxwood. We also decided Wenge would be a good compliment for the stand.
Below, substrates on the right made from poplar, cross-banded, and flattened. On the right, Koa veneers fresh of the bandsaw.
After the panels came out of the vacuum press it was onto flattening and applying edge banding. And to whoever cares....boxwood has to be one of the nicest woods to plane!