Thursday, February 27, 2014

Back to the Woods

This week I find myself in Dickson, Tennessee on Johnny Watson's farm. We had this monster cherry to cut down due to signs of dying. Woodpeckers had started taking the bark and the base was hollow about 3 feet up. The rest of this beauty is solid and in about 2 weeks I will mill her up into some nice boards. We think the 2007 drought in middle Tennessee took its toll on a lot of timber up here. The red oaks were hit really hard. The majority of Johnny's farm is oak and I bet 20% is standing dead or falling trees. Lots of good firewood. The key is to get all the dead timber out before it catches fire. 

I finished a simple live edge stool this week for a client. These are fun to make. The finish is simple too using a shellac seal coat to brighten the wood then an oil/ varnish mix on top.
The shop has been rather quite lately but that is fixing to change. I have had lots of visitors but all the work has been "around the shop".Lots of chair orders to fill before the next block of classes begin so its back inside.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Big Shop

Warm sunny weather has a way of keeping me out of the shop and in the great outdoors or what I like to call "the big shop". This break from freezing temps allows me to stock up on some raw materials that I have been thinking about for some time. 
 First ,I have been patiently waiting to saw this eastern red cedar cut from my childhood home last fall. To my surprise they had some nice figure and very red centers with few knots. The tops became the front porch post on the timber shed.
 These boards may become some family heirlooms. I cut all this 5/4 since society wants me to make cedar chests. What else could be made from these boards? I'll have to wait a year to know. Check out that curl.
 Today I called upon my good friends at Woodstock Mills log yard in Scottsville, Ky. to look at some maple and poplar.
 The thawing frost has turned the log yard into a muddy mess. These two sugar maples look like they were pulled from the bottom of the river. These will become another Roubo bench for the timber frame shop along with those awesome Benchcrafted vises.
 Tyler pulled a couple of good poplar logs that I can use for all sorts of odd and ends, dovetailed drawers, seat blanks, etc..
 I unloaded and washed the mud from the logs to allow the blades to last longer. I spent the rest of the day cutting lumber which I was too tired to get a picture. I will stack and sticker all this in the morning. I will say the logs proved to be very good material.
 Here is a shot of the last day of class with Pete and Skipper. The tool cabinets came out sublime.
 Check out those two old crotches (on the doors). Can't wait to see those oiled up. These guys will finish them up at home but I am very impressed with what we accomplished in 6 days.
Next week it's back to chair making!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tool Cabinet Class Day 3 and 4

A lot of progress has been made on the tool cabinet class. Day 3 we finished up the main frame of the upper and lower case. 

 Pete was excited to see the side panels glued up! We get a little goofy at the end of the day.
 Day 4 started with a "Dadofest" The carcass that houses all the little drawers is assembled using Baltic birch ply.
 Skip and Pete work late tonight making all the drawers for the upper cabinet.
 A good day of work. Tomorrow we will start with the drawer fronts and then doors.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tool Cabinet Class Day 1

Today we hit the ground running. Most everything I make starts from the tree and this was not far from it. Rough cut lumber that I had milled about 2 years ago. We started with 8/4 walnut and milled into the stiles and rails for the sides of the cabinet. These new machines from Jet are fantastic.
 Pete and Skipper, both retired airline pilots and long time friends, are my students this week. Two of the  nicest guys to work with and both very talented and accomplished wood turners.
 Here we are breaking in the new mortising machine from Powermatic. We have lots of mortise and tenons to make and machine cut is the only way to do this project in a week.
 After cutting all the mortises we finished day 1 cutting all the tenons on the table saw using a Forrest dado blade.
 Here are enough rails for 2 cabinets. Tomorrow we will be fitting and finishing the joinery for the case sides. I like this process but I remember why I love chair making and hand tools. Stick around for the progress...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Before and After


And they said it couldn't be done.
I found my table saw!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Updating the Machine Shop

 I'll be teaching a tool cabinet class next week and I don't think I have ever had to do so much prep work for a class before. Making chairs and using hand tools in the timber frame shop is another world that I have spent a lot of time in the last few years. Therefore I have neglected my machine area which is the garage shop. I have a 6'' jointer on the verge of locking up. My old Jet 15'' planer is screaming in pain. The shop is a mess, tools are lost, clamps are awry, and life is just sad in this shop, so.........

I picked up some new tools from my good friends at Jet. It's nice to live near the Jet main headquarters.
My good friend Doug who owns and operates Lynn's Patio Shop here in Hendersonville offered his truck and driving skills to pick up these tools, all 1500 pounds of them. If you live local you should check out Doug's store full of high end patio furniture and Kamado Joe grills. He has low overhead which allows him to offer awesome deals. How'd you like that free plug ,Doug?

After hours of un- crating and some assembly required I have the new tools up and running, ready for class.

 I replaced the worn out 6'' jointer with this 12'' version that doubles as a planer. Also has the helical cutters.

 Then I moved up to the 20'' 5 HP planer with helical cutters. These things are so much quieter and smooth. I ran some walnut crotches through with no tear-out. I had to power them with 2 new circuits but I have another 60 amp sub panel to pull from. I also plumbed them to a new dust collector. My wife likes how the jointer dust hose feeds under the stairs going into the house.
Well, I still have lots more cleaning, replacing lots of bulbs and saw blades and I'll be ready for class on Monday. More to come.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Welker Guitars

Fred Welker lived a quiet life here in Nashville. He was a true artist in wood and made some of Nashville's best guitars. Fred actually could not play guitar but loved when people would come by the shop that could. I loved visiting and talking with him. He always had such interesting stories of places he had been during his 80 years of life. 
I had the privilege of meeting Fred about 8 years ago. I made it a regular thing visiting his shop to see what he had going on. He once told me he had 100 more years of work lined up. He had so much talent. On one visit he was making arched top church windows that were 15 feet tall. Another visit he was making bamboo fly rods, sometimes model planes, and of coarse guitars. I loved playing those guitars. I'll miss afternoon coffee with Fred and his great stories.
He passed away last month but his work will live forever here in music city.