Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sharpening Extravaganza !!

     It's been a while since I've added something to the blog but lots has been going on.  I'm somewhat in limbo regarding the TV lift cabinet I'm supposed to be doing.  This is the job through an interior designer and her client has accepted the bid but ..... no deposit check yet.  This one will require a lot of composition material which is made fresh once I order it with a 3-4 week turn around time.  I won't order it (or the $2100.00 lift mechanism) until I get the deposit.  In the meantime, here's what's been going on in the shop.
     The main thing I want to get accomplished before the end of summer is my sample for the pistol case that I want to take with me to the different cowboy and civil war re-enactment activities.  That work is going well but the curly maple is challenging to smooth.  I prefer the feel and appearance of a planed surface rather than a sanded one -- there is a difference.  Because of that I decided it's time to work over my planes.  As with most woodworkers, sharpening doesn't rate up there on the list of favorite things to do but once you're done it'll give you a great sense of satisfaction.  Interestingly enough, a friend of mine came over to the shop and while we were talking about wood in general he asked about joining pieces edge to edge so he could build a table.  Since I utilize a lot of hand tools I use a hand plane.  He mentioned that, although he's tried many times, he just couldn't quite seem to get the hang of it.  I suppose it boils down to practice, practice, and more practice and then having a properly sharpened and set up tool makes a huge difference.  During the 31 years of teaching, I always emphasized using hand tools because they are more affordable.  This way you can accomplish fine work without breaking the bank.  My sharpening technique has developed over the years and I've gone from using oil stones to water stones.  I remember every major vacation I'd be running the planes (about 40 or so) over the oil stones and never got the kind of edge I'm able to get with the water stones.

What I've done to contain the mess associated with sharpening and water stones especially, is to use a baking pan to contain it all.  This really keeps the mess in one, easy to clean area.  The system I use is the Veritas from Lee Valley.  This particular blade is for my smooth plane and I finally broke down and ordered their roller that helps to camber the blade.  I've attempted doing this by hand but this gives much more control.  Besides this blade, I cambered a spare blade for my jack plane, the straight for the jack, the blade for my #7 Jointer and, while I was at it, decided the rabbet plane needed it too.  Was the morning's labor worth it?

When I look at the shavings I was able to take on a piece of Canarywood and then the finish on it there's no doubt!  You can't really see how transparent the shavings are and can't feel the surface of the wood but just take my word for it -- it is well worth the effort and time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

At Your Service

Here is the latest frame that I've gilded with 22 kt. leaf.  The panel gave me lots of problems and I believe that was because now my gilding conditions were too humid!  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise though.  The painting that Diane started for this shows the doorman in his uniform.  It is pretty common for a doorman's uniform to have braided, gold epaulets.  Diane thought the coiled rope details I'd carved into the frame echoed that concept.  When the panel was all gold it seemed to overpower the painting.  Since I wasn't happy with the gold in the panel anyway we decided to paint it out and both of us think it turned out for the best.  Now the frame and painting are cohesive, the strong, vertical elements of the door are complimented by the black panel of the frame.  The gold was rubbed back to replicate age and we think the whole thing works well together.  Diane has mentioned that this may be an entry in an upcoming show!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Back from Design in Wood Awards

    Diane and I attended the awards ceremony for the Design in Wood show last Friday.  That's me after collecting my Honorable Mention certificate and ribbon.  The place was crowded (as you can see) but the way they did the awards was pretty neat.  Behind me was the announcer and his helper who gave out the actual award.  Notice that all of the people are looking the other direction?, that's because as he read off the award there were several monitors mounted near the ceiling that showed the piece that was being awarded.  There were 16 entries in my class, Contemporary Furniture.  They awarded the top four and then gave out several Honorable Mention awards.  Looking at the quality of work there, I'm very happy to have my Dovetail Chair accepted.  If anyone plans to go to the San Diego Fair it runs until July 5th. and is in Del Mar.
     On the way home we meet with my ex brother-in-law for lunch and had a great visit.  Hadn't seen each other in 30 years but got to meet each others wives and catch up on what's happened since we last saw each other.  I don't know, maybe we're now brother-out-laws!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Back to the DRY HEAT

   Here is the first picture of the frame I'm currently working on, I refer to it as my Coiled Rope design.  At this point I've applied about 7  coats of gesso and then a thin witness coat of red clay.  In this shot, most of the red has been sanded off with 400 grit paper.  I've found that the Norton 3X works well for this but have to resist the temptation of being too "Dutch" and trying to use the paper past it's prime.  I know that's false economy and as you can see by the pile of used up paper, you go through quite a bit.  I've also found that by using tadpole sanders it works better because unlike your fingers, the tadpoles stay flat and true.  Also easy to use a profile to get into the tight spots.  Your goal, at this point, is to sand off the red witness coat leaving a smooth gesso to begin to lay your clay (bole) on.  As I write this, I've applied three coats of yellow bole and will apply at least four coats of red tomorrow.
    On another note, now I know how those long distance truckers feel!  We came back from Seattle by way of Twin Falls, ID.  One long day drive to there and then a fairly long drive again to Las Vegas.  We got home on Wednesday and then Thursday saw me back on the road to deliver the chair for the Design in Wood show in Del Mar.  Did that on in one day - 652 miles.  The opening day of the show is next Friday so we plan to be there for that.  After spending two weeks in the rainy Northwest, coming back to 108+ degree Las Vegas was a change.  I was sanding in the shop and noticed that the gesso, which once was perfectly smooth, had these weird, wrinkly bumps on it.  Turns out it was the sweat on my hands and face dripping down and ruining my sanding work!  Using my upstairs bathroom turned humid gilding room for this frame to (hopefully) eliminate the static problem I had on the Ali frame.  Will probably start to gild either tomorrow afternoon or Monday.  Waiting for a reply on a job I recently bid for a TV lift cabinet.