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Inside the Oldwolf Workshop
|Tom on the right and me on the left. Paul Nyborg is a good friend in the middle.|
He's demonstrated with us in years past but won't make it this time around.
But next week Sunday Sept. 24th. I get to do something I've come to like even more. For the past few years Tom Latane and I have partnered up in ap presentation called "Forest To Furniture" We show the process of taking logs and producing furniture from the rough parts. In the past we've tackled, general techniques, joined stools (to varying degrees of success), and a small corner shelf, (the two produced are used in the museum)
This year I'm extra excited, we are working on a three legged staked stool based on patterns found in numerous Viking Age archaeological digs. Here's a LINK to google images. It's a simple stool in a staked furniture fashion but I rarely like the reproductions I see done. Last spring I revisited the form myself using Chris Schwarz's work on staked furniture as a guide and I was able to create a prototype I felt better about.
This coming Sunday Tom and I will go about improving on my prototype as anyone who wants to come can sit and watch us sweat and talk sawdust and anything else. The show does cost a nominal fee for the museum but the bad jokes are all free.
Please consider joining us!
Ratione et Passionis
The thing that really hooked me on "The Anarchist Tool Chest" when I first opened the book was the title to the prologue.
Those two words, impossible to follow one way or the other, distilled most of my attitude for this world. I was fortunate I traversed my public school education when the term Attention Deficit was only beginning to gain traction and understanding. If then were today I'd probably carry the boat anchor labels of Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or Rage Disorder, and most certainly ADHD. To be clear I don't believe I'm any of these things, I'm simply more willful, emotional, and free thinking than your average bear.
Whatever you tell me might be right, but I pathologically refuse to accept things without taking my own punches and learning for myself. If I'm wrong I'm happy to admit it, but I have to find out I'm wrong first. Sometimes it takes me a long time to figure it out.
When I went to install the hinges on my version of The ATC I was mindful about the hardware I was using. I knew Chris advocates slotted screws in furniture and the best argument I've heard from him for it is "because they look right." I debated in my mind for a little bit and came to a thought that went something like this:
"F U Chris, this is a modern take on a traditional tool chest. Slotted screws are the right thing for replacing or replicating an older or period piece, but this is my take built today and I'm gonna use the phillips screws that came with the hinges"
I've been working out of this chest nearly everyday since 2011 and at first my decision didn't bother me, but in the last six years I've changed. Maybe it was the impetus of building the chest itself, maybe it's just the natural progression of the way my mind works, but soon after I started really studying furniture and woodworking on a deeper level than what the magazines were feeding me. I started finding books recommended by woodworkers I admired and then combing the bibliographies of those books to find that source material. The size of my personal library grew, now somewhere in the range of 250 books.
And the more I've read, and the more I've paged through volumes of furniture, the more I've realized that god dammit Chris you're right, alongside the nail head, the clocked slotted screw just looks like it belongs and the rest, phillips, square, torx, or hex, they stand out like a red devil in a crowd of nuns.
A few days ago I picked up some replacement slot headed wood screws, and I replaced the crappy phillips screws, and now my obsessiveness can move on to a different victim. Oh until I have a chance to redo to redo the compartments in the bottom level of my chest. turns out over time I was wrong about them too. . .
Ratione et Passionis
A couple years ago, when I first sat back down at the drawing board after a nearly two decade hiatus, I was worried about myself. In my teens I immersed myself in art of all variety, something barely offered in high schools any longer. I have since found out with formal classes, weekend workshops, and independent study programs I actually received more "Art" training than many college level Art Majors. (The discussion of the disappearance of art and shop classes from high schools is shelved for another day.)
I finished high school believing I would take a year or so off, then attend a "real" art school (whatever that means, we all suffer through the pig-headed-ness of teenage idealism.) Instead I did something that mattered, I married my high school sweetheart (almost 22 years and going) We started a family, and I found a job in healthcare that could provide for them and filled a life too full to add a sketchbook to the load.
My teenage art school self would say something idealistic at this point about holding your artistic resolve in the face of blah blah blah and the blah blah blah. I'd like to meet my teenage self someday. I'd poke that whinny bitch in the eye. Life is about choices and compromises and I don't regret most of them.
Then I started working on my book, and there were concepts I knew I could illustrate better than I could stage a photo, but I was intimidated to sit down and apply graphite to paper again. It's a perishable skill, (for the record, drawing is a Skill NOT a Talent, there's a difference and stop mixing them up, or I'll have to poke you in the eye!) Then Peter Galbert's book arrived on the scene and changed the meta of what a good looking woodworking book can look like. Around the same time I started following a gentleman named Roland Warzecha in his quest to faithfully rediscover medieval sword and shield combat styles. He is writing and illustrating a book on the subject and his work is just fantastic.
For the last 20 years I hadn't done much more than doodle, A gesture drawing, a cartoon face, a bunch of measured drawings. Most of my agglomeration of art supplies had been donated to my children's explorations, but they could be replaced. Mostly I was intimidated by my loss of skilled practice. My eye knows what it wants, what to look for in something satisfactory, I am a very tough and detail oriented critic, especially versus myself.
I sat my ass in a chair and started working at it again. Eventually it's the only option left. I always had a bit of a sketchy style before, but I'm working harder on cleaner lines and solid contrasts now. Finally things are really starting to fall back into a rhythm, I can ease myself into the flow state I used to be able to call at will and I'm starting to turn out work I don't absolutely hate in the end.
If you put it down, you can get it back, you might have to fight a bit, but it's possible. I would say this crosses all hard won skills, drawing, writing, woodworking . . .
If I find the time to re-learn how to play guitar I'm worried I might start to see my acne return!
Damn, then I'd have to poke myself in the eye.
Ratione et Passionis
|Top tray of my tool chest|
|Middle tray of my tool chest.|
A very satisfying little project, took about three hours sketchbook to lights off. I chose not to break down the build here for a couple reasons. My daughter asked for one of her own right away and I think I can improve on the concept with slightly different materials. Also I want to get better at video: shooting, editing, all the things, and I believe you get better by jumping in and doing it, making mistakes and doing it better. Since I have another to build I thought I'd shoot my own version of the Tested One Day Build video. That will show all the build decisions and details and should be in the works in the next week or so.
Ratione et Passionis
Talking later I told my wife it was no problem, I had made a simple pine dovetailed box with an inlaid walnut racing stripe and ended giving it to another God-Daughter several years ago. I could just spend a day in the shop and repeat the exercise. Looking through the modest wood stash I keep, I couldn't find a nice enough pine board.
I did find a reasonable board of red oak. So I made my measurements, cut the board into smaller pieces and started cutting the dovetails on those pieces. I know lots of people make a big deal out of dovetails and there are plenty of people like me who take them as just another joint to cut. Personally I find accurate mortise and tenons by hand to be more challenging. But sometimes even the simple things are a struggle.
Three out of four corners fit together like the should. Nice tight joints. The fourth . . . .I'm still not sure where I went wrong. A combination of slipping while marking out and flipping the board inside out. I was sure I checked my triangle but whatever. Off by nearly a quarter inch for the center two tails, there's no saving that respectively. Not for something that's a gift. Not for something special.
Back to the stack and I found a small 1x6 by six foot long board of box store African Mahogany I'd picked up for who knows why. It was a bit buried and I hadn't seen it the first time. I did zero documentation of the build, but it's pretty straight forward. I dovetailed four sides. attached a bottom, then rip sawed the box in two parts.
I edge glued a lid with a half inch of overhang all around and used a complex moulding plane to shoot a profile around the edge. I attached it to the top half of the box with pocket screws.
I used a second complex moulding plane to shoot some mouldings I then mitered around the base. Inset and pre installed the hinges which I then removed and finished the box in two halves.
I used a half dozen coats of garnet shellac followed with a dark colored paste wax for the outside. The interior got a good schmear of The Anarchist's Daughter brand Soft Wax. The hinges got reinstalled, and I added a chain and a small jewelry box hasp and padlock to the front.
I wasn't able to go to the graduation party and see her receive the gift, but Mrs. Wolf told me there were tears and joy. I guess we hit the mark with something special.
Ratione et Passionis