Month: March 2011

Ladder Back Chairs

I was always interested in building things then woodworking came along due in part to the accessibility of materials, kind of like metal without the need for heavy involved tools to do simple tasks. A hand saw compared to a cutting torch.Then in the early nineties I discovered green woodworking and was hooked. I think its safe to say most green wood enthusiast make a ladder back for the first riven furniture project, it encompasses all aspects of working wood from the live tree to finished usable piece and those techniques can then easily be tweaked to make other things using green woodworking techniques and the knowledge and understanding is there to experiment with other joinery techniques creating endless images in the brain. Having the time to put the image to wood and tool can be the hardest part.

I tried a new back post bend, the chair in the middle on the bench and the frame on the floor don’t have the traditional bending relief  and that adds a level of difficulty and guess-work. There is no flat surface to reference for rung and slat mortise. I penciled in where it would be and used grain orientation to get the post flare I wanted, another advantage to riven wood, grain orientation  is easy to read, not here one minute gone the next. I like it, it’s not as sweeping as I thought it would be, keep playing with the bend.

 Now for seating , Hickory bast is my favorite the picture at the top of my page, the header, is a close up of a woven hickory bark seat. But having some trouble finding a dealer. I was getting it from Brian Boggs but he doesn’t seem to be selling it like he used to and the other place I found runs about a hundred bucks a seat! ouch! I put the word out to my wood friends that I want a good Hickory to harvest bast in a couple of months too. This is a tough time of year, suppliers are usually out by now, at least the good stuff is gone. The time to get it is when the sap is really running like in the spring , early June seems to be about right for this area. I harvested it once before a long time ago.

Two more sets that have been steam bent since this pic .

I, like many here in the north county have been thinking a lot lately about warm water, blue skies and tight lines, well I can dream! with a little help from the internet.

This record braking Tuna was caught earlier this month. 805 lbs! Man how long that must have taken to get to the boat and what the angler must have thought when first laid eyes on it.Tru watermen down there it’s always risky running off shore from the outer banks but this time of year seems more unpredictable if that’s possible. I know I have cabin fever when I start checking the Red Drum forums when im not even close to going there, and found this video of a pod of Orca off Hatteras, I didnt know they visit this area.

It’s tough to watch. Full report can be found here.

This one is better quality 

Tight Lines!

Rustic Benches

I’ve been working at a job where the home owner has a tree service and a good eye for what gets saved and what goes in the chipper. The yard at his shop is made up of many piles of different size logs, limbs,giant burl’s and logs that have so many burl’s they are basically one big burly log, all waiting their next incarnation. In the house there are whole Cedar trees bark removed rich woody color with a satin finish holding up the second and third floor Oak beams. Salvaged lumber? in a way yes and when he said he wanted to use some of those stock piles for rustic benches and asked me to help well I couldn’t turn that down. The benches in the top pic are bolted together using Timberlocks and they are impressive, I’ve seen them on a few job sites lately, their popularity is understandable. This is a step removed from the way I work in my shop, more like a long walk away, I almost never use metal fasteners to build furniture, but to make money in this economy we need to keep labor cost down. I’m tenonning the legs into the seat on the next couple, experimenting to find the fastest but strongest mix of sound joinery. Were all familiar with that scenario,I don’t want to under cut the cost of someone else in a given market then have the product fail structurally or in comfort. I feel like a bodger I still use my draw knife and axe, splitting wedges, a lot of the hand tools used here in the shop. I dint have my shaving horse and he has this metal substitute it works pretty good took some getting use to as did the shaving horse at first, its nice in that you stand to use it too but I think I’ll stick to the shaving horse. This terrifying little gem has been dubbed the man-eater and used it to fit the stretchers real nice to the legs. It worked surprisingly well and wasnt as sketchy as I thought it would be. It’s good for removing and rounding branch stubs and on end grain. A lot of this is aromatic Cedar so you get the bonus of smelling like a Cedar chest when you go home. It can be hard at times to tell someone who lives there life around heavy equipment where everything has a motor, (he even has a drill with a motor you start by pulling a cord, it’s a chain saw with a Jacobs Chuck, and yea, it’s really nice it has a friction clutch so you don’t twist your arms into a pretzel shape when the bit binds. We used it to run the timberlok’s on the bell tower.) that a hand plane is faster. His approach was to go in first with a belt sander to smooth the tops then sand again with the disc sander, two more times. Neither of us are super skilled with the belt at least I know I’m not. Some of the guys I’ve worked with in cabinet shops are, they could flatten the roughest work or touch up a paper-thin scribe line with one. In short order I had the mill marks hand planed out of both White Pine tops and ready for a light pass with the sander. I would have stopped there but having never used the Festool before I had to check it out. Man that’s not how I remember sanding, that’s a nice machine. There is a bell that needs to be hung, It was on his Grandfathers farm and that land was where the local outdoor YMCA swim club we went to as kids was,there’s a stream we played in and trampolines too. So we forked out some Locust from the “saved” pile with the Bobcat I needed a way to work them without being hunched over on the ground.I took one that we decided not to use and chain sawed it to 30″ and made one end as square as I could so they’d stand flat, then sawed a “V” in the top for the pole to rest without rolling. Used the man-eater first to remove the top layer and get below any dirt or gravel so my edge tools don’t get quickly dulled or damaged then draw knifed those marks out, it went pretty fast. These Locust trees have been down for a long time. the bark was gone and what little sap wood there is was spalting a bit and decayed to the heart wood. I also used these bunks to make the tenons on the cross-piece and drill and chop the mortises on the posts.They were a great hight and very sturdy. Kinda looks like a hitching post in front of the saloon. I really wanted to get a pic of the finished cross-piece with tenons drilled but didn’t. It was pretty slick looking. I made the pins from some streight grained locust firewood which there is a lot of, he heats with wood, nothing but locust. Split them out and since I didn’t have my shaving horse, used the tools in the picture,squared them up with the axe and hand plane penciled a 1″ line on two sides, axed to line and cleaned up with the plane then made into an octagon with the big 2″ chisel. Same methods I’d use in the shop to make any thing round just different tools. Working on site creates lots of issues with holding stock and creating something with just the tools at hand, safley. Then Tom and his crew showed up so we pounded the pins in dug the holes and put in the ground and got her streight, as streight as a wayny log can be. I poured a couple of bags of concrete, leveled and flattened the tops of the posts and made some plates for the bell brackets to sit on with what I thought was locust but actually Osage Orange gorgeous stuff. When Tom came back I asked him to make the cuts to widen the swing area, he’s a master with a chain saw. This makes me want to do more timber frame projects. On another note……Artisans, self-employed any one selling, there is a scam going around ( I know…. one of many, there always are and will be) I received the second one down on the linked page, I knew it was bad by the way it was written but wanted to believe so I emailed back to it and they responded and kept following up. A quick google search came up with all kinds of red flags.