welcome to my blog

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fish Stand

Recently, I was told my work looked cliche, and that I didn't appear to have pushed myself much in the year I've been making furniture.  So I'm trying to branch out, and try out some new techniques.  This aquarium stand, for a 20 gallon 'tall' tank, is one attempt at pushing myself.  This cabinet features cutouts I made on the band saw.  Since it's a fish tank stand, I made a fish motif for the center stile for the door, with some "leafy" accent pieces on the door corner.

The handle was also made on the band saw, with the "finger slot" cut on the band saw with the handle held at an angle with a bench clamp.

The stand is made of ash, with maple veneer plywood panels.  The door rides on Blum soft-close hinges, my first time using this style of hinge.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My next project: a pedestal stand for the Fluval Micro Tank

My next project is a special commission for Skipton Unique Aquaria & Reptiles.  Skipton's sells (among MANY other things) a cool micro setup from Fluval.  The setup consists of a 5.5 gallon acrylic tank, roughly cuboid in shape.  It includes lights, decor, and chemicals for a complete aquarium setup.  Fluval makes three variants on the system: a freshwater, reef, and a "shrimp habitat". 

Brendan from Skipton gave me one of Fluval's micro systems so I could design and build a special stand for the tanks, which are popular with a variety of customers, including those looking for a small and elegant aquarium for their home or condo. 

I am excited to start this project, as it offers me a chance to create a custom design that can be made multiple times, in a variety of finishes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mahogany and bamboo stand

I had some extra mahogany and bamboo plywood lying around the shop, so I decided to make a stand for a 40 gallon breeder tank.  This project represents a couple of firsts for me: it's the first time I re-sawed thick stock to make up thinner boards, and the first time I've used curved parts in a design. 

The curves are found on the face of the door.  They were made on the bandsaw by first cutting the curve, then re-sawing the milled part in half the long way, creating two matched pieces. 

The 3/4" frame parts (making up the legs and the door) were all re-sawn from 1 3/4" thick mahogany stock.

The size of the stand was limited by the length of mahogany stock I had available.  The lumber was purchased from my local Rockler store as shorts (4 feet and shorter), and cost a mere $2 per board foot.  I only had one 4' piece, hence the need to re-saw it into thinner boards.  This way, I had enough long boards to make all of the leg components.

Super-sized aquarium stand custom build

This stand is some 36" high, 32" deep, and 82" long.
I have been working on my biggest furniture project yet: a stand & canopy for a 320 gallon reef aquarium.  My customer's tank measures 80" long, 29" tall, and 36" front to back, and the entire setup (with the canopy on top of the tank) will measure some 82" tall.

This project presents some challenges I haven't faced before.  First, as the largest piece I've made, I had to modify my shop layout a bit before I could cut very long stock on my table saw.  Construction is a load-bearing frame built of 2x4 and 2x6 stock, faced with a cabinet frame of hard white maple, making this my first face-frame project.  Finally, the whole thing needs to be disassembled in order to fit through my client's doorway, and then re-assembled on-site.  Needless to say, it's a major undertaking for me, and so far it's taught me many lessons.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

My Custom Aquarium Furniture: Now Available at Skipton's Unique Aquaria

My custom aquarium stands, both in standard and non-standard sizes, are now available on the showroom floor at Skipton Unique Aquaria and Reptiles

I continue to refine my designs and materials when it comes to aquarium furniture.  Everything from what species of wood I use in the frames, to better looking and more durable finishes, is improved with every iteration.

I am especially excited to make the several custom jobs currently in the queue, including a couple of bow-front stands, which will be my first foray into bent-wood furniture construction.

I have to give special credit to the members of the Boston Reefers Society community, through whose forums I have gleaned lots of useful information.  Thanks BRS!  And thanks to Brendan at Skipton's.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Discoveries in Blackness

I have been searching for the "perfect" solution to putting a jet-black, satin finish on the aquarium stands I have been building for custom clients and Skipton Unique Aquaria and Reptiles, in Boston, MA. 

I have tried many different finishes and sequences over the past months, but now I have made a major breakthrough that should be helpful to anybody who wants an easy, satin black finish.

My first attempt, several months ago, began with a coat of shellac sanding sealer, then water-borne black stain, followed by a coat of high-end polycrylic.  I was dogged by bruch marks and the constant desire to touch up my work, which inevitably led to another coat of finish, just to make things "right".   The end result was alternating coats of stain and clear coat, and I was exhausted.

After I purchased a used HVLP system (3M Accuspray), I was able to spray on my finishes, which helped a lot.  My first attempt with the sprayers consisted of grey gripper primer, followed by latex interior black paint, followed by polycrylic clear coat.  The paint stayed soft for a long time, and picked up smudges easily.  Not good for salt water tank stands!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

90 gallon aquarium stand build

I am developing a basic aquarium stand design to compete price-wise with the basic factory stands, such as those from All-Glass (AGA).  This post documents one prototype I made for this project.