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designing and building with wood channels my creativity and challenges my mind.
This blog is a record of my life in my studio.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bamboo Chest: Finished Pics

Here are some pics of the completed four-drawer chest (see my recent blog posts for history on this project).  It is made from 3/4" 3-ply bamboo plywood and MDF.  The tall drawers slide out from their flush-mounted resting places, revealing shelves for DVDs and CDs.  Click "more" to see whole post and more pics (below)

Finshing Techniques: Oil ON TOP OF urethane?

A project that began last week is almost finished.  The four-drawer chest, made of bamboo plywood, was commissioned by a friend.  As of this writing - the night before the chest is due to be picked up from my Allston studio - the chest is curing after being brushed one last time with super-fine, 00000 steel wool.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

4-Drawer Chest, Day 2

My last post was about a project brought to me by a friend, who wanted to salvage a neat 4-drawer chest from her lab.  The unique drawers of this piece - which was custom-made to hold VHS tapes in the 1980s - were saved intact, while the case was destroyed in the move.  My task is to re-build the case, re-fit the drawers, and re-face the drawers with the same attractive bamboo plywood I'm to using build the case.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reverse-engineering a 4-drawer chest

A friend of mine brought me this challenging job: re-building the case of a 4-drawer chest, which had been destroyed during a move.  Since the drawers were intact, and complicated to build, my friend wanted to keep them, and only wanted the case rebuilt.  This is backwards: usually drawers are made to fit the case.  Nevertheless, I welcomed the challenge, the $$, and the chance to work with a new product I've been dying to try: bamboo plywood. 

I purchased 3/4" bamboo plywood from Cali Bamboo.  In spite of the hefty freight fee, it was still cheaper than buying locally.  Bamboo plywood isn't cheap, though: at just over $200/sheet, including shipping, mistakes with this material are expensive!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Decimal inches to fractional inches calculator

Need to convert decimal inches to fractional inches, rounded to your choice of any denominator from 2 to 1000? Go here: http://www2.whidbey.net/ohmsmath/webwork/javascript/decin2fr.html

When designing wooden furniture, most people in the U.S. use fractional inches as their metric.  There are plenty of reasons: we're used to the Imperial system, most of our tools use Imperial, fractional graduations, and much of the lumber we buy - most of all sheet goods - is measured in fractions of an inch.

This causes a problem for designers who like to adhere to certain ratios - such as the Golden Ratio - in their work.  I'm among those who often

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Rubbing out a satin finish

Right: sanded flat to 220; Left: rubbed with pumice & oil
Thank god I purchased Michael Dresdner's "The New Wood Finishing Book"!  As a self-taught woodworker, I rely on books and practice to learn the ropes of this ancient and expansive art.  My first finishing book, called simply "Finishes", was a collection of articles from a woodworking magazine.  It covered the basics, but in a haphazard way, and it was filled with conflicting information between the different chapters, which were written by different authors. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Compound You, Angles!

It was bound to happen.  Sure, most furniture is made exclusively with right-angles.  But I knew that some day I would have to face compound angles.  I thought it might be while fitting crown molding, or cutting raised-panel frames.  Turns out, my first experience with compound angles was tougher and more complicated than either of these two brain-busting tasks.  What's a compound angle, you ask?  Take a look at this image:

Notice how the piece of purple heart on the left has slanted edges, AND is shaped roughly like a trapezoid?  Those are compound angles. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Kris V: The Casemaster

My friend Kris is a seasoned carpenter who has also been joining me on my joinery journey.  I'm sure he won't be embarrassed or angry if I publish some pictures of him here.... ;-)

In these photos, Kris is putting glue into a groove, as we go through the tense and time-sensitive process of "gluing-up" a cabinet case.   This particular case was a seven-foot long terrarium stand for a mutual friend of ours.

Although many furniture makers work alone, there are some cases where an extra pair of hands is helpful or even absolutely necessary.  With Kris, I benefit from the extra eyes and brain as well.  Sure, I have to split the money, but I make half the mistakes, so it works out well in the end.

90 Gallon Aquarium Stand Doing its Thing!

Supporting nearly 1400 pounds of rock and water, one of my aquarium stands is home to a 90-gallon reef aquarium that's just getting started.  It's a snug fit in a small room, but the owner of the tank is moving in a couple of months, where the 90 gallon tank will be in an appropriately-sized viewing room.