But I can’t get woodworking this week!!!

So today is the last day of Get Woodworking Week 2015 and I am 2500 miles from my shop.  So I haven’t got any woodworking done.

GWW15

However–one of the perks of my job is traveling and staying in fancy hotels and at the moment I am suffering through 70 Degree weather out in Hollywood (it is 10 Degrees back in NY).  So I am not complaining.  But I will be here for three weeks which means about a month with no shop time.  Bummer, but I keep my mind on the wood–I still read the blogs and as a woodworker I am always on the lookout for interesting furniture and art built from wood. I constantly snap pics with my phone of things that piqued my interest, either that I admire and think “I could build that” or pieces that I look at and think “What the ….?”

So instead of sharing what I’ve been up to in the shop I thought I would share some photos of pieces I’ve found travels.

I’ll start with some of the woodwork in my hotel in Beverly Hills.

This is a beautiful wall of wood 'plates' in the bar of the hotel

This is a beautiful wall of wood ‘plates’ in the bar of the hotel

A detail of one of the plates

A detail of one of the plates

Panel doors that close off the door.  CNC'd  but a very slick design.

Panel doors that close off the door. CNC’d but a very slick design.

A detail of the same bar panels

A detail of the same bar panels.

I call these the Into the Woods panels.  Used in the restaurant  as dividing walls.  As a lighting designer I am big fan of these.  This is  also where I get coffee every morning!!

I call these the “Into the Woods” panels. Used in the restaurant as dividing walls. As a lighting designer I am big fan of these. This is also where I get coffee every morning!!

Some wacky stick pile art in the corner.  Kinda cool though.

Some wacky stick pile art in the corner. Kinda cool though.

It’s fun to travel to different parts of the country and see what they see as art and decor. The next photos are from Miami, a place where I don’t think any woodworker lives!  Plaid wool shirts are a little hot I suppose.

This is the root of a tree cut into a table and gold leafed.  yup.....

This is the root of a tree cut into a table and gold leafed. yup…..

...and here is a gold leafed stump.

…and here is a gold leafed stump.

These slabs were standing in the lobby as art work.  I am a huge fan of live edge slabs, but felt like I was walking through the lumber yard.  Felt really out of place in South Beach.

These slabs were standing in the lobby as art work. I am a huge fan of live edge slabs, but felt like I was walking through the lumber yard. Felt really out of place in South Beach.

But who am I to judge.  Besides, some woodworker can make a lot of money selling these.... I am looking at you  Dale Osowski!!

But who am I to judge. Besides, some woodworker can make a lot of money selling these…. I am looking at you Dale Osowski!!

A different hotel in Miami had woodgrain elevators.  Again, very odd on the beach.

A different hotel in Miami had woodgrain elevators. Again, very odd on the beach.

Here is a bench made from a beam in the hallway of a hotel.  the rest of the decor was cement walls and very industrial, so this fit, but certainly goes into the category of "I can do that".

Here is a bench made from a beam in the hallway of a hotel. the rest of the decor was cement walls and very industrial, so this fit, but certainly goes into the category of “I can do that”.

This Thimble Table served as my coaster for many nights.  ;)

This Thimble Table served as my coaster for many nights. ;)

And finally: This is a Hollywood Dust Collector!!  This is from the scene shop on the Paramount lot.  Everything is big in Hollywood!

And finally:
This is a Hollywood Dust Collector!! This is from the scene shop on the Paramount lot. Everything is big in Hollywood!

So while I can’t be in the shop this week, woodworking is always on my mind.  I see it everywhere I go.  That’s what makes it such a passionate hobby.

That said:  Tomorrow I am sneaking out of work and headed to the Sam Maloof house outside of LA for a tour!!  So excited!  I’ll report back….

Wake up!! It’s Just a Dream Shop!!

Well it might be a dream, but I’ve certainly put a lot of thought into it!  I really think I am on to something.

Shop Inspiration 1

Let’s start with the exterior:

Barn Exterior 1

This is the view as you drive up the driveway. Below is a two car garage and a shed for outdoor tools

Barn Exterior 2

From the driveway you can drive up to a sliding barn door for easy unloading.

Barn Exterior 3

The side facing our house. These double doors would be the main entrance.

Barn Exterior 4

Shop Inspiration 2

Now let’s go inside……

Barn Shop 1

The overall space

The Breakdown

The Breakdown

The Breakdown:

  1. The Office Space–Complete with drafting table and a roll top oak desk.
  2. The Finishing Room–I really wanted to create a separate dust free room for finishing, complete with slop sink
  3. Stairs to Loft–over the office and finishing space I put a storage loft with easy access
  4. Floor Access to basement–This floor board would be pulled up a pully and allow access to the lower level.  I did not want to wast space with a door and full stairwell.
  5. Router Table
  6. Woodstove– I would most likely add another form of heat, just to keep the temperature above freezing, but, much like our house I would primarily use a woodstove while working in the winter, when we tend to be in the teens.
  7. Clamp Storage– I show a rolling clamp rack, but the space under the stairs seems like the perfect place to store clamps.
  8. Drill Press –I would definitely like to someday graduate to PM2800.
  9. Sharpening Station
  10. Hand Tool Area– I designed a dormer into the roof line of the saltbox style room in order to accommodate a window in front of which my bench could sit.  There is not as much natural light as I would like, but this is a place I would find it quite important and well, just a pleasing place to work.  These windows face the road, but given the height and the slope, the view will only be trees and the morning sun.  I also really like the idea of having a nook exclusively for hand tools.
  11. Hand Tool Cabinet
  12. Saw Stop 3HP-- On the other side of the spectrum and in the center of the work area would be my Saw Stop cabinet saw.
  13. Outfield table–no more flimsy Rigid stand!
  14. Assembly Table
  15. 16-32 Drum Sander — would be a nice addition
  16. Oscillating Spindal Sander– I own the rigid orange one now, perhaps an upgrade.
  17. Lathe– I own a Jet 12-36
  18. Jointer–  I own a Powermatic 8″ Jointer, 2HP with helical head
  19. Planer–  I own a Dewalt 735 Lunch box.  It would be nice to upgrade to a Powermatic.
  20. Chop Saw– Definitely an upgrade.  Still use one of the 1st tools I bought: a Ryobi Chop saw–Chop being the operable word (but it works!).  I’d love a Festool Kapex Compound Miter Saw.
  21. Antique Band Saw–   On a surprise visit to a neighbor (who had found our cat) we were invited in to see their shop, complete with the most amazing and interesting collection of power tools.  The stand out in their shop was a beautiful antique band saw.  My wife was kind enough to say “you’ll own that some day”.
  22. Powermatic 13″ Band Saw– Which I presently own.
  23. Mortiser–I own a Delta which has served me well.  If I used it more I’d be inclined to move up to a Powermatic.
  24. Large overhead factory lamps–always a favorite of mine.  We installed 12 in our cheese shop and the provide plenty of light.  I would never use fluorescent lamps.  To me woodworking is the the most romantic activities I can think of and this lighting designer loves the warm glow of an incandescent bulb.
  25. Sliding Barn Doors– on the driveway side for loading and unloading.
  26. Double Doors–Main Entrance.
  27. Basement–Storage and large cyclone dust collector system.
  28. Two Car Garage
  29. Wood Storage under eaves–  Not shown in the ground plan or model is the large amount of storage space under the eaves–I planned this for wood storage.
  30. and of course–ME

Barn Shop 1

Barn Shop 2 Barn Shop 3 Barn Shop 4 Barn Shop 5 Barn Shop 6

Finishing Rooom

Finishing Rooom

 

Barn Shop 8 Barn Shop 9 Barn Shop 10

 

The one thing I guess I’ve left out of the dream is that I really want to build it myself.  I was scheduled to take a timber framing course this fall, but schedule wise that just wasn’t in the cards.  No worries.  I have years before I will need those skills.  In the meantime I can perfect my timber framing, sketchup skills.

The Return of the Lighthearted Woodworker

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted!  It’s been a pretty intensely busy year filled with lots of adventures. So forgive me if I haven’t taken a breath to blog about them.

So what’s been keeping me so busy? 

- Well for one my wife and I, along with our very close friends, opened a cheese shop on Labor Day. Signed a lease June 1st and I spent the summer being a carpenter and general contractor in order to transfer the space from a clothing store to a cheese shop. More on that in a future post.

-Work– just like the rest of you– I have have a day job, that often turns into a night job

-Life.

But I have managed to get some woodworking time in:

- I built most everything in our shop: reclaimed wood walls, stud walls, counters, shelving, butcher blocks, doors, etc . etc., etc

-I finished a tool box I had started in a  hand tool class

-a couple of never ending shop projects

-just last week took a field trip to the George Nakashima house with the NYC Woodworkers guild

-finally a good shop cleaning!!

In my travels for the cheese shop……

-I found an awesome old tool chest that I plan to use in our apartment

-found a Stanley #50 1/2 mitre box for $10 that I plan to restore.

- picked up a great old tool box on the streets of Brooklyn that I now use to store all my chainsaw parafanalia down in the yard.

- went dumpster diving in Brooklyn and found some great old Douglas Fir beams.

- scored some beautiful reclaimed barn wood from a friend.

I’ve decided I would like a small bench in Brooklyn, to satisfy my woodworking cravings during the week. So I’ve been designing and started building a joinery bench. So look for more on that.

So life is full, and never dull. 

Look for more here– The Lighthearted Woodworker has returned.

Incarnations of a Reoccurring Dream

As with all dreams I’ve had a lot of incarnations of my dream shop, and lots of ideas to mull over in my head.   What tools would I want to put in it? How would I use a Roubo type bench?  How much space do I really need?  With all this new space maybe I’ll take up blacksmithing as well!  I’ll need a welder!  Wow– I need more power!  Windows!  I want lots of natural light!  But most barns don’t have a lot of windows. Hmmm.  We don’t have a garage now, but we now we need a three car garage (in order to house the dream sports car and dream pickup truck)! Dust collection in the floor of course (thank you Vic).  So many things to consider.

This rarn seems about the right size and general shape

This barn seems about the right size and general shape.

I’ve spent hours over the years staring at spots in the yard- sighting and plotting out ideal locations for a barn.  I believe I’ve landed on the perfect spot:

Potential Barn Sight

Potential Barn Sight

So many things to dream about!  It can keep you up at night!  This one I can conceived one night in bed:

The Concept Shop!

The Concept Shop!

Before that I had a friend help me with some basic design ideas I had and figured that would get my juices flowing,  without my sketch-up skills slowing me down.  Here are some of the designs he helped me create:

Barn Frame 1

Barn Frame 1

Barn Frame 2

Barn Frame 2

Barn Frame 3

Barn Frame 3

These certainly gave me a model to play with and be able to consider space.  Probably the thing I gained the most from this exercise was to realize I don’t want or need a full second floor. The third garage door makes the building a littler grander than I would like. And while I like a modern spin on traditional design, I would most likely go with a more traditional design.

What do you think?  What version do you like?  Leave a comment below.

A Guy Can Dream Can’t He?

The weather in the northeast and much of the entire United States has been unreasonably cold over this winter.  I have several small electric heaters in my tiny basement shop, and finally found the motivation to finally rewire a 220 heater I had and now I can get it quite toasty in there.  But that was nearly all the work I got done in the shop the past few weeks, outside of a good cleaning and assembling some Christmas goodies.

So I decided to stay in by the wood stove, work on my sketch up skills and design my Dream Shop!

We have talked about building a barn on the property for almost as long as we’ve owned the house.  In fact, when we were looking for houses, we really were looking for barns that could be converted into a home (thank god we did not do that!).  We own 10 wooded acres, we’ve attempt mini-farming and a barn only seems natural.  Thankfully my wife has always been on board that this barn would also be my wood shop.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with barns and timber frames.  Being from New England we’ve had our fair share of amazing barns dotting the countryside. There is something so incredible about these structures.  Although built primarily to house livestock, feed and farm tools these buildings have come to represent so much more than that.  When you stop and think about went into building a barn, entirely hand built by a community, with engineering skills past on from generation to generation.  Then think about the amount of trees that needed to be forested and moved, to the milling and joinery, to the actual raising.  Each and every structure is an amazing feat.  I could go on and on about barns…..in any case what better place to create a shop than within a timber frame barn?

I’ve gone over and over in my head what the best design for a barn/shop would be.  Our property is on a hill– so a bank barn certainly seemed to make the most sense.  I knew approximately the size shop I would want and that I wanted room for a 2-3 car garage, something we do not have right now. I also want to keep the size in scale with our house and the property.  This helped dictate many things and I started pulling together research of barns that would fit the bill.

Barn Research

Barn Research

I say all of this as if I only started thinking about this idea few weeks ago, but the truth is I’ve dreamed about this for years. I love my little shop, but it is incredibly ‘cozy’.  I’d love to be able to spread out and work on larger projects someday.

I drive by barns, sometimes stopping to snap some pics, and try to imagine how that would look on our property and if that would fit our needs.  I’ve sketched out tons of ideas, but it was not until recently that I studied a barn that I drive by constantly and is about a mile and a half from my house.

BarnUndermyNoseThis barn really seems to fit the bill!……….

I’d love to hear about your Dream Shop, leave a comment below.

Stay warm and stay tuned for more on my Dream Shop!

I have to admit, I have a serious vise.

Hello, My name is Chris, and I’m….

Hold up!  Not that kinda vice!!   A fantastic 115 year old Sheldon Vise.

After hearing the Schwarz talk about his Sheldon Vise at a Northeastern Woodworking Show a few years back I decided to start trolling the interweb for this Schwartz approved devise.  After all, if it was good enough for him, it might (just might) meet up to my standards.  I didn’t have a whole lot of luck at first, so I set up an alert on ebay.  Sure enough, my patience paid off and before long I was the proud owner of a rusty old piece of iron!                                                 Wahoo!

My rusty iron boat anchor.

My rusty iron boat anchor.

I am always interested in the history of the old tools I come across. After acquiring a tool such as this, I immediately hit the google machine to see what I can find, (especially when I have to wait for a delivery!).  In the case of the Sheldon vise I did not find a ton of information, I did, however, find a lot of people asking for “what kind of vise is this???”

In any case, what I did discover was that:

E.H. Sheldon, began his career as a woodworking teacher and was always looking for ways to improve the learning experience for his students. That passion led him to invent a rapid-acting vise, which was quickly followed by benches and eventually a line of laboratory furniture and furnishings for the school market.

1898 E. H. Sheldon builds and sells a rapid-acting woodworking vise he invented while teaching manual training in Louisville, KY.

1900 – 1910 Sheldon begins building benches to accompany his vises when manual training and domestic science are added to the curriculum of many schools.

Initial production is handled by a Chicago woodworking shop, but the high-quality product soon results in more orders than the supplier can produce. Sheldon sets up his own factory in a Chicago loft.

1911  The company is moved to Muskegon, Michigan in response to an offer of larger manufacturing facilities.1

US Patent 656,793 - Woodworkers Vise

US Patent 656,793 – Woodworkers Vise

I must say I was on the fence about how to approach old tools. There are two schools of thought on old tools:  collectors and users.  Part of me wanted to be a collector, to restore the tool meticulously to its original state, but the practical side of me looked at all the rusty old tools I have sitting around and determined that I was in the user category.  My decision was certainly influenced by Derek Olson’s restoration of his mitre box.  A perfect balance of “restoring for use”.  BTW, If you have not checked out Derek’s blog, you are missing out and should stop reading this and go over there!   I had read enough about restoring tools and figured this was a perfect opportunity to give some techniques a try.

I decided electrolysis was the way to go.

I got a plastic bin and wired up some rods in order to surround the vise.

I got a plastic bin and wired up some rods in order to surround the vise.

 Leave it to me, I had just thrown out an ancient, inherited battery charger I had never used.  So I acquired a new charger.

Leave it to me, I had just thrown out an ancient, inherited battery charger I had never used. So I acquired a new charger.

Add a little Arm & Hammer to the H2O...

Add a little Arm & Hammer to the H2O…

The positive is attached the rods and the negative attached to the tools.

The positive is attached the rods and the negative attached to the tools.

...and what do you know about that it actually works!!

…and what do you know about that it actually works!!

The results are pretty remarkable.

The results are pretty remarkable.

While I didn’t find a ton of information on the vise I did constantly refer back to a blog post by Megan Fitzpatrick about the installation of her Sheldon vise.  The base is angled and can be a bit tricky to install.  Thank you Megan!

vise 20

After reading Derek’s blog I did make the decision to give it a coat of black acrylic.

I added some suede to the inside of the face

I added some suede to the inside of the face

vise 21

Installed!

Grips great and can really hold a work piece.  Not bad for a 115 year old tool!

Thanks for stopping by the shop.

Source: 1 http://www.sheldonlabs.com/meetus/our-story/

My problem with Woodworking in America!!

That’s right!  You read correctly!

I attended Woodworking in America 2013 this past weekend.  This was my second WIA. It’s been a few years, but I have to say I thought perhaps things had changed since I last attended.  But no, same as before.

Allow me to explain.

I started Friday off by attending a class called Timber!  by Roy Underhill.  Roy had an 8’x 24″ log that he turned into a square beam right in front of our eyes.  While he did break a sweat, he was able to keep up his classic witty repartee.  Naturally he used nothing but hand tools: an axe, an adze, a froe and a mallet.  Who owns these tools??  Roy used his regular “camera tricks” to make it look easy and to make matters worse he make it look like sooo much fun!

Roy

Roy

Next attended Peter Follansbee‘s class on carving wooden spoons.    Boy, again  with a guy who can split a log with his froe and carve up a spectacular utensil in no time, all while telling amusing antidotes and make it look so easy that apparently even I could do it. Don’t be fooled though, Peter “cheats” and uses green wood.  Oh sure, green is easy, Peter! I’ve been struggling a lifetime with hard, dry wood, not to mention dull tools.  Oh, and if I had a hand made knife made from forged steel and made my own handles I bet I could make it look that easy too.

Peter

Peter

I needed a break and headed down to the marketplace.  They really needed to trim down the number of vendors!  Who has the time to spend with all these amazing toolmakers? Not to mention the amount of woodworkers roaming the floor? You can hardly move one booth without running into someone and spending thirty minutes in chatting about tools wood or just sharing a laugh.  Who has time for this?

I spent the end of the day at an online forum of bloggers, the people who keep me entertained with woodworking content throughout the year.  Sure it sounds great to put a face to a screen name or an avatar, but its entirely another thing to spend three nights swapping stories and sharing libations late into the night.

The gurus of the online woodworking community.

The gurus of the online woodworking community.

BeerSaturday morning I popped around to several classes, unable to make up which one I wanted to attend and then spent the afternoon with Chair Maker Peter Galbert in his class “A Windsor Chair, From Log to Living Room”.  I have to say, I feel a little sorry for Peter.  He spent the entire afternoon giving away all his secrets of how he builds his beautiful windsor chairs.  Step by step, he demonstrated how he uses his froe, splitting a log, shaping and steaming it into the arms, creating the seat and the spindles, even his tricks for alignment and assembly.  Another one who made the building process seem fun and attainable. Peter- pretty soon everybody will be building Windsor Chairs!!

Peter

Peter

So what’s my beef with Woodworking in America?  I left Sunday with a rush of enthusiasm that I could hand hewn enough logs to build a barn, carve a kitchen full of spoons and fill my house with Windsor chairs.  Of course, in order to do that I am going to need a lot of new tools!  Oye.

As if that weren’t enough I had intended to take a nap and catch up on episodes of Dexter on my plane ride home.  Instead I found myself reading “Home Building and Woodworking in Colonial America” cover to cover (I picked it up while chatting with Joel from Tools for Working Wood).

Now do you see my problem?

I guess my biggest problem with Woodworking in America is I need to wait a whole year for WIA14!

The "new" tools I picked up at a tag sale this morning for $12.

The “new” tools I picked up at a tag sale this morning for $12.