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, September 28, 2011

Futon Repair: It's easy to fix the most common futon failures

ten-foot clamps: critical for fixing futons
Have a broken futon frame?  In this post I'll show you what kinds of problems are fixable, and I'll give you a couple of ways to figure out if your futon frame is prone to break again.  CLICK "READ MORE" (BELOW) TO SEE THE FULL POST.

Futons: they're a cheap, efficient way to furnish a tiny living space, making them ubiquitous in the apartments of twenty-somethings.  By age thirty, most of us are looking forward to the day we can afford to finally jettison this vestige of a lager-soaked youth.  But in the midst of America's lost decade, the cost of purchasing a new couch or bed (or both!) might be prohibitive.  And so, alas, many young people are hanging onto their futons, pressing them into service as the one and only couch in their living room.

For these people, bringing the futon out of the bedroom and into "prime time" means sprucing it up a bit.  After a decade of hard use, most futon covers are irreparably stained, the pad itself is lumpy and hard, and the frame is loose, or - often - cracked.  In the past few months, I've helped a few friends rehabilitate their futon frames, thereby saving them hundreds of dollars for a new couch.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Five Horses Tavern in Davis Square: A place to see my work

I'm happy to announce that an example of my work is on display in a restaurant!  Not only that, but the place - Five Horses Tavern in Davis Square on the Cambridge/Somerville/Medford line - happens to be an awesome place.  Five Horses is, at heart, a beer bar.  They have fifteen feet of taps behind the bar, cases upon cases of cold bottles, as well as a rotating cast of rare specialties. 

But Five Horses also has a big selection of nice wines, as well as a drink menu that includes the industry's favorite beverages.  The bar has been busy ever since they opened at the beginning of the month. 

A lot of people are coming in for dinner, too.  I know that the management is putting a lot of work into the menu and the kitchen, so this must be paying off. 

Right now, I have a dining table in Five Horses (see pic).  And I'm about to start a second table, for the same dining room. 

Why not head over to 400 Highland Ave. and check it out?

Friday, September 23, 2011

How to sharpen chisels and planes with sand paper

As I get better at furniture making, I am beginning to use chisels and hand planes more often.  Why?  It's not only because I'm trying to learn expert techniques (like hand-chopping mortises or flattening a panel with hand planes).  I'm also reaching for these woodworking mainstays more often because they're sharp.

One thing I've noticed about chisels and planes: almost everybody has one (or more), but few people use them.  The reason is that, unlike many other tools, chisels and planes simply do not work if they're not sharp.  Take a new hand plane out of the box and try to take a shaving, and you'll likely end up frustrated, wondering what the damn things are good for, anyway.

But if your chisels and planes are sharp, they become go-to tools that get used nearly every day.  Sharp chisels and planes have taken my furniture to another level of quality, and fitting snug joints has become a lot easier.

Monday, September 12, 2011

could hollow wood tubes be a part of the next product from Wine on Deck?

One great thing about plywood and veneer is bendability.  Veneers are easy to bend, relative to steam bending solid wood, and the finished piece can be very strong.  Another great thing about plywood?  Manufacturers are beginning to make pre-fab shapes for builders, eliminating the bending step of a project altogether.  One such shape is the hollow wood tube.  Made en masse in a plywood factory, pre-fab wood tubes are perfectly round, have strong seams, and have clean veneered surfaces. 

Since I make wine racks, and I'm looking for a good design for a counter-top wine rack, I took a special interest when I became aware of the existence of wooden tubes. 

One maker is R.J. Woodworking.  Another is Lenderink.  Both suppliers make tubes from very narrow to very wide, so you can make anything from a soda straw to a Greek column. 

Obviously, working with veneered wooden tubes will present challenges.  One challenge in particular jumps out at me: drilling through a tube at an angle, or off-center.  Once my samples arrive, I will begin exploring milling techniques, and I will report my findings here on the blog. 

180 gallon peninsula stand at Skipton's Unique Aquaria

Last month we installed a new 180 gallon peninsula stand in the middle of the showroom floor at Skipton's Unique Aquaria and Reptiles in Boston, MA.  The stand will support a 180 gallon freshwater planted tank display, smack in the middle of the store. 

This stand was my first attempt at a rubbed polyurethane finish.  It also features a custom molding I created with a couple of router profiles I have in my shop.  I am happy with the finish, which is mostly blemish-free, and has a wonderful satin sheen.  Those who have been following this blog will know that with this stand, I have achieved something I've been pursuing for a while: a good, clean black finish.

I also like the doors, which are full inset doors on soft-close hinges.  The doors are frame-and-panel, with 1/2" plywood panels rabbetted on the back edge.  The doors are still 100% flat and straight, in spite of the high humidity in Skipton's.

The stand is six feet long, two feet deep, and over three feet tall!  As of this writing, the tank hasn't been installed on the stand yet, so I don't have any pics of the complete setup.  When I do, I'll be sure to post them.  Until then, here are a couple snapshots of the stand in Skipton's.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A child's bookshelf in cherry

Recently, a friend asked me to make a bookshelf for his daughter, who turned 3 a couple of weeks ago. It's the perfect height for a child, and has space for large picture books, as well as more grown-up chapter books. The design is one I like a lot, and I plan to refine it further in the future.

In fact, you may notice that the finished piece on the left is different from the raw piece on the right.  The one on the right didn't seem quite right, so I built a second piece (with better proportions), which was definitely a step in the right direction!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Festool Domino Joiner: Long-Term Performance Review

I have owned and used the Festool Domino "biscuit" joiner for about a year now.  I've used it in dozens of projects, employing nearly all of the Domino's features, fences, and tenon sizes.  Now, a year on, it's time for a review of the product that many regard as the best biscuit joiner in the business.  My overall verdict: the Domino is indeed an excellent tool for biscuit joinery, provided you know its shortcomings and foibles.  If you aren't familiar with the Domino's quirks, however, you could be setting yourself up for some expensive disappointments.

This review looks at the individual features of the Domino, one by one.  I think this is the easiest way to organize the review, and also makes it an easy reference while using your Domino. for each feature, I list the positives first, and the negatives second. 

Click "Read More" for the rest of this post...