Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I've had a good weekend, a few afternoons after work, and a couple odd hours otherwise, after giving this thing a good lube, or two, the action is so smooth it's almost a letdown, I really thought I'd get a workout.

Once it all settled in, it's really no effort at all, just gotta keep the rhythm.

The first piece off the lathe is actually two; "matching" handles for my BIG files.

Figured I'd make a subtle change to each to mark the difference in the tools themselves.

The hard maple cut-offs from the tabletop seemed to be as good a challenge as I could muster, but the results are out of this world! I really can't believe a meat-powered machine could do work like this, total control over speed and depth of cut.

I've been transitioning over for a couple years to pure hand-work, and I love it. Every time I perform the same task without power, noise, and dust, I'm continually amazed at the speed, accuracy and fulfillment I can achieve.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I'm always up for a challenge, but this is crazy.

stand there, weight on one foot, Karate Kid crane stance, whuu

free foot bicycles in place, whuuuahh

steady rhythm

force on the push stroke, hyyya

barely disengage at the upper apex

hold a tool

light grasp near the end

the real way to hold a hammer

four fingers and the weight of the other hand

slide it home

hips and shoulders and legs and arms


yea right, I get it, but it's not there yet. I know what to do after just a few hours, but I have the sneaking suspicion that it will take many months of those hours to get it right, long enough to even sail a ribbon

oh yea, one more thing.

square stock!, you can't match the center if the end ain't square!

and when your meat is doing all the work, every little bit counts, every sliver of friction you can loose, every edge, that's why wood turners know planes! (not like I'd even know that, but I'm pretty damn sure I'm right!

You are asking yourself, wait, what the hell is he talking about.

I must have forgotten to tell you.

I finally dove.

After many months pondering, checking the finances and schedules, I bought it.

CME Handworks Inc. Treadle Lathe

It's a pretty little thing, well not so little, but you get my drift

Really beautifully made, great curves and even brand spanking new, pretty smooth.

It's me that's going to take some work.

The design is simplicity in itself, matched with an elegant grace. It really demands to be used. And there's smashing little touches like the Bubinga handles (which by the way look perfect with just a coat of paste wax!)

I will get a good finish on it as the weather warms up but for now it's quite an entertaining workout. Think about it, hand planes really do the upper body some good, now how about a little somthin somethin for the waist down.

Having never turned a thing except some handles on the drill press with a rasp and sandpaper,

this is a challenge indeed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

moving on...

So the chair is technically finished, I'm going to wait a few weeks for the tung oil to catalyze then try another coat of oil-urethane, then on the paste wax and 0000 steel wool. till then I'm just waiting on my walnut.

Until the time I can commence with the three-chair production, I still have in my possession these amazing pieces of hard maple.

They make bowling alley lanes out of this stuff.

It's supposed to be hard!

I mean, it is, don't get me wrong, but working it is like carving alabaster, but with a very definite grain, changing directions through the board (if you really want to call a two inch by thirteen inch by eight feet piece of wood a board, I like slab myself) I cut three feet off each and joined them up with a half blind, lipped box joint, which will be through pegged before jointing. sounds like a lot of work but the entire middle piece needs to be sound, then all three will be edge joined and bread boarded. I'm figuring four hours work for each side of the joint and a couple finessing it into place.

However, there is a 5/8 inch cup to each long section and a bit of wind as well, so it's off to the jack, then on to the fore and finally jointer. I never realized how much surface area there was to these guys. I can go about a half an hour then need to rest, take a walk, shake it out. I feel like Arnold in Conan, my pecs are screaming, but I feel pumped!

It'll probably take a few more days of this to even get the pieces close enough to join.

As you can see, I'm still working out the base design , I've modelled the whole thing in SketchUp, including a half-assed rendering of the chairs, and have realized the compromise yet again, design vs. aesthetics vs. functionality.

There is one lesson in both gardening and wood working:


Friday, March 5, 2010


What was I thinking?

Holy crap, what a stupid idea!

I even read about NOT doing this...


Tung Oil...


Hell, forget the first two, I've heard; never brush shellac on furniture.


he whole of last week (with the exception of the culmination and completion of a major in-house exhibit in honor of the 85th anniversary of Balto, yea, I'm sure you know, but seriously, come on down. I managed to get a ton of hand-tool work in... big 14/4 cedar, rather twisted with age, rings like a bell when you rap it, easy to plane, still moves when sawn. Lots of big lap and through tenon joints, married to miters, and a few I just made up, several (REALLY cool ones) that got covered up or otherwise wiped out. Wish I could still see them all.) was spent at work

Then I come home...








oh yea, now we got progress...

well, why not a rag soaked in alcohol?

I knew about that one, but I really like the amber of the soaked in shellac.

So it changes yet again, it actually matches the piece from Arielle's dad,

maybe I just keep going.

I really don't want to sand anymore, I hate sanding to begin with, which is why I own all those planes, um...


so back to sanding...


do you know what your limit is before sand paper is no longer a viable commercial product?

try sanding shellac over tung oil for a week...

you will know...

oh yes...

you WILL know.