Sunday, October 14, 2012

Marching To A Different Drummer

"I really care about what I do; not only in the end result but also in how it gets done. In today's fast paced, almost out of control world you do not hear too many people who love what they do for a living. While I don't make a lot of money the pay back comes in other ways. And what is so bad about making less money doing something you really care about? The things I make might be for others, how I make them is for me."

"The current state of the furniture industry as a whole has certainly affected the way that I make and design furniture. With the use of so much plywood, stains, and machine techniques, the cabinetmaker is becoming lost in the shuffle. He (or she) is becoming an operator of machines and nothing more. I believe in using only hand tools, solid wood, traditional joinery, and making pieces one at a time, I am putting the maker back into a piece of furniture."

"While I have had some success with my writing, I would much rather be in my shop making a piece of furniture to keep or to sell. For now, the only way I sell my work is through word of mouth. While it has been a tough road to hoe, in the end, I believe this will pay off."

All three of these quotes came from the book "Chisel, Mallet, Plane, and Saw" written by Cabinetmaker Tony Konovaloff. I recently finished devouring this book in one long whirlwind of a day, and I completely enjoyed every word.

In this book I think Tony makes the best argument I have ever heard for making furniture primarily with hand tools. Once you boil it down to it's essence it comes to just a few words. A loud and resounding, "Because I can and because I want to." and that should be good enough.

I recently brought one of my carved boxes into my day job at the hospital. There is an employee art contest and I decided to enter the box into the fray. There were several of my coworkers who had seen my work through Facebook or other similar interactions, but almost none of them had ever seen it in person. I received many positive comments and questions.

A couple of folks asked how I got the router to make those intricate designs, and there was lots of questions that sounded like "What do you mean you used only hand tools?" It's a little baffling to me that making something by hand, really by hand, is such an oddity these days that most people don't understand it even when you explain it to them. It was just like trying to explain how to correctly align a Flux Capacitor to operate the Dilithium Crystals in your TARDIS. (Geeks of the world arise and unite)

I'm just not sure how or why hand tool woodworking became such a foreign concept to the average armchair observer, but I think I may try to stop letting that bother me like it used to. After all is said and done Tony is right, I build things the way I build them for myself. What other reason could be required.

Ratione et Passionis

P.S. If you haven't heard of Tony Konovaloff or read his book then beat feet away from here and over to his website and read what he's all about, look at some of his work. and by all means pick up his book. It's a honest and straightforward look at hand tool woodworking and how it fits into a real life in the real world. I really enjoyed reading it and I believe there's a good chance you will too.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some More Finishing

A while back I wrote on here about an antique dresser my wife and I own that was in pretty rough shape. I took the nearly the whole thing apart and put it all back together again. Then the cold weather set in and though I had the stain applied, it got too cold and I didn't get the finish applied.

I lack a lot of room in my shop so the dresser followed me home and it sat in it's place in out bedroom waiting for me to have a chance to apply the shellac and wax finish. Well with having to move from our apartment meant I had a chance to move the dresser back to the shop and five a finish to what I started.

If you want to see the train wreck that this dresser started as you can check out all the collected posts by clicking HERE. (Note: The collected posts include this post as well, you will have to scroll down past this one to see into the past of this dresser, thanks.)

Today I was able to call this one done. That's two projects that have been hanging around taken out in less than a week.

Now if I only could get my attempt at building a tall case clock back from the lady who is supposed to rosemal it.

Ratione et Passionis

Monday, October 1, 2012

Finishing A Tool Chest

To paint or not to paint, and then beyond that, what color to paint? With all the Anarchist Tool Chest builds I've seen the predominant color is the one proscribed by the author. Black.

But while I have a lot of favorite passages in the book, there are two simple words that stand out the most. They have insidiously stuck in my mind and have shaded many of my thoughts since I first paid attention to them. Both my thoughts on sawdust and elsewhere. I was compelled to scrawl them on one of the tenons for the lid of my chest before I glued them up. Sealing their delicious paradox into the wood, into the chest, and into my life.

Disobey Me! was not the only thing I wrote on the tenons, you can read about that experience HERE.
So when it comes to my choice of paint on my version of the chest. So far I am forging my way down a different path. I chose a white undercoat with a red oil based enamel over-coat.

I used the techniques Steve Shanesy demonstrated in this YouTube video to layout the ellipse on the front of the chest. After a couple coats of the red I pulled the tape off and was left with this wonderful open area. I intend to stencil in the lettering for Oldwolf Workshop Studio in that space.

I also primed the center space inside the lid. It's my intention is to paint the lid in a lettered version of the saw/sign I painted a while ago.

A million years ago in my basement shop in Northern Maine. 
I know the thought of this kind of ornamentation is an abomination to the author, but again it was his instructions to disobey.

So far I'm not unhappy with the way things are working. But if I change my mind in the future I can fall in line and repaint the whole thing black. There by disobeying the order asking me to disobey. Confused yet? What else is a paradox for? Maybe Chris explains it better HERE.

Either way I'm calling this one done for now and moving on to other matters. There's that Spice Chest I started and my oldest daughter's 16th birthday is just around the corner and I have something I really want to build for her.

Ratione et Passionis