Thursday, June 19, 2014

Where It All Begins

So much is talked about how to make furniture, the tools, methods, design, finishing, etc.. but little is talked about the materials from the woods, yes the woods, the forest, the birthplace of all of our woodworking projects. The almighty tree. The greatest renewable resource we have. For those that make things from wood with their hands probably at some point start to notice trees along the highway, backyards, anywhere trees grow which after seeing one growing on a roof top the other day I guess anywhere. Making greenwood chairs really opens your eyes what to look for in standing timber or even at the log yard. Words come to mind such as cat eyes, twisting grain, taper, and off center pith, all things to avoid when looking for timber to work with hand tools.
What do I look for in the woods?  Look at this textbook white oak. The bark does not twist, the tree does not taper much, very little cat eyes(knot inclusions), and the tree does not lean which most likely will have a nice centered pith. Everything appears to be fantastic wood to rive, split, shave for chair making. Nothing is for sure until the log is split.
 This white oak from southern Indiana was cut this morning. I was able to get two 8' logs with very little cat eyes in the second cut. These logs had such little taper that there was not 1'' difference in diameter in 16 feet. The center was starting to rot but not too much concern since I only use the 3-4'' of heartwood beneath the sap. The smaller logs I find to be more "tender" and bend well. This one is only 15'' diameter. Tomorrow I will split the log up and see if my expectations were correct. Stay tuned.
 I finished the rocker I started in the rocker class a while back. Black over red, always a classic. This one is for sale if you are interested. I rarely have one available.
 Here is a shot of the c-arm bar stool I built for a customer. This one is Driftwood over Lexington Green. Looks sort of an army green but I like it.
 I jammed some old handles I had onto my drawknife I forged the other day. I am surprised at how nice this tool works. I am going to make more knives using thicker metal and see what the results will be. I plan to fashion a scorp as well.
 Finally for those wondering how the the little timber frame is going, well it will have to wait until I get caught up with all the chairs and classes I am teaching. I hope to resume construction later this summer.