Friday, December 23, 2011

Chairs and Beds

Pictured below is the milled out stock which will become an eight sided tapered post for one of my Low Post Beds. The first four tapers are cut on the table saw and the next four are shaped by hand.  The top of the post shows marking for the first of four tapers.
Skipping ahead, below are the four posts with the tapers completed. The posts still need to have their mortices cleaned up and to be sanded.

Below is a closer shot showing the lambs tongue transition from the square post to the eight sided taper.

Below, a set of New Waltham chairs have two coats of oil.  They will get another one or two after the holidays.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Trestle Table with Leaves II

I have not posted in a long time as I have been busy getting caught up on work.  At my bench below is one of the trestles for a Trestle Table with leaves.  This is the second one that I am doing now. I was very happy with the first so it is great to have the opportunity to do the same piece again.  I have many pieces on my website but I find that there are a few that I make over and over again. If I was smart, I guess I could make that into a huge business.  Oh well, things are moving along nicely now after a slow summer.
I was experimenting with my camera on these shots.  They are all taken at night without flash (my flash broke)(I hardly used it anyway). 
This shot shows the through wedged tenon on the underside of the trestle before I saw and plane it flush to the base.  A very strong but time consuming joint.

This shows the untrimmed pegs that add to the strength of the  tenon joint.  Also, you can see the hand planed curved surface of the top of the "leg".  All of the edges are given this treatment on this piece.  It really is a nice surface to run your hand or foot over while sitting at the table.
 Below are a couple shots of my work area.  A finished but not "finished" set of New Waltham chairs hang to the left.  Yes, it is a mess. This is at the end of a busy day. Most surfaces are cleaned up quite often but it takes very little time for me to clutter things up again.

Winter is a good time to be in the shop. 
Enjoy the bustle before Christmas.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mariner's Raw Teak Chart Pencil

Teak is an amazing wood that is often used as the decking of all kinds of seafaring craft. It is amazingly rot resitant even when left unfinshed. Most teak decking is actually left unfinished and will weather to a grey or when oiled will be a warm brown. I have left this pen unfinished so that it can gradually take on a burnished warm brown with use. The .7mm pencil lead seems to work well for chart work. Not too thick a line and not as prone to breaking as a .5mm lead. 
While a pencil is necessary for the chart table, a pen is nice to have for more permanent writing, so I also make a pen with a Cross twist mechanism in raw teak.  I had a piece of teak around from my boat building days and thought it might be just the thing for the mariner or armchair mariner.  


Teak Chart Pencil- $30 -pictured above (includes a drawstring pouch)

Teak Chart Pen- $30. (includes a drawstring pouch)

Teak Chart Pen and Pencil Set- $50.

Pictured below is a new pen made of Wenge.  I bought a board of Wenge about 24 years ago and made a few hand plane bases with it. I still have a bit of that in the shop and decided that it might be good for a pen.  It is a very hard tropical hardwood that will polish with use. The finish is wax alone to bring out the color.  This pen would cost $30.

Happy Fall,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tiger Maple Trestle Table for My House, Finally

When we first moved into our house, we used a small - four person- kitchen table that I made.  About 8 years ago we had Thanksgiving at our house so I put together a larger table made out of saw horses and three rough pine planks that were left over siding for the house.  We are still using that table. Not for long though as I am finally making us a table.  The top is made up of three (I had to keep something from the old table) wide tiger maple planks.  It will have breadboard ends and a milk painted trestle base.  Since time is always an issue, the base will be a simplified version of my usual Trestle Table base.  It will look the same except the cross beam will be joined like a bolted bed rail instead of using a keyed through tenon.  Also, the joints in the trestles themselves will be bolted mortice and tenon joints instead of 3" long through wedged tenons.  This simplified design may be something that I will offer to those who are trying to keep price down where possible.   There are not many times where there is an opportunity to save $ when making quality furniture.  I will let you all know how this base works out.

Below, the three tiger maple planks sit together, surface planed but not edge jointed.
 The glue-up below.
The table had a few very pretty sap pockets that I filled with clear epoxy so that they will be smooth.  I like these character marks.  They give the table some landscape.  
 This table is for me, so I do not have to worry about little things that I would otherwise worry about.  There were two damaged spots on one board so I inlayed shapes of cherry to add a bit more landscape to the surface.   When you sit at the same table for three meals a day you really get to know it.  A tiger maple table with these character elements will be nice to sit at I think.  I know our kids will enjoy finding them.

The video below shows the breadboard end being test fitted to the table.

More on this table at a later date as it progresses.
Have a good one,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Furniture Show in Woodstock, Vermont

By the time Hurricane Irene hit Vermont, it was considered to be a tropical storm but it dropped so much rain that it had a huge impact on parts of our state.  On my way to Woodstock by way of Route 4, I passed these signs of the destruction.  These pics were taken today. 9/25/11
upended building near Bridgewater Corners

smashed house a further down the road

a wooden deck steel bridge that was torn right off of the banks

Add caption
Just down the road,  this last shot is my booth the the two day Woodstock Fine Furnishings Show.  I sold a couple of chairs which makes for a successful show and may have chair set orders coming from this.  It was a smaller crowd than last year but they were people who were very interested.  Time to get back to work now.
We were very lucky to have not had any damage from the storm.  I am glad that I was finally able to see what the storm actually did.  You can hear it and see it on the news but until you see it , it is hard to really understand the impact of it all.  I am amazed that more people were not killed.  The water carved such huge swaths through the valleys.  A lot of road crews etc are still hard at work trying to repair the damage.  I think the impacts will be seen for quite a while.
Have a good one,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tiger Maple Trestle Table

      Maple wood, while usually thought of as the vanilla of furniture woods can also have variations in the grain that turn it from milk toast to down right exotic.   Here in the north east, we find hard and soft figured maple. Soft maple seems to be the most consistent when looking for great figure.  Usage varies, but in my experience, curly maple refers to figured maple and the terms tiger, birds-eye or quilted, refer to specific patterns of figure.  The wood for this table is soft tiger maple.  The top is the white color that we usually think of being  "maple" color.  The base is also soft tiger maple but it has some spalting and brown color going though it.
Wood of this character and even figure is not easy to find.  It is generally hit or miss.  You pick through piles and you may get lucky.  The yard where I get this wood from is a small yard. The owner separates the special woods such as curly maple, cherry and others so that we don't have to pick through the piles to find them.  And he gets to charge a hefty premium for them.  The wood for this table cost me 3 times what I had expected.  The board foot price was $15./bf.    Cherry is usually around $5.- $5.50/bf.  Plain old maple is usually around $2. something/bf.
     Luckily, I do not often make this mistake when pricing a piece.   When I put this table on my website, it will list a price that is about $1000. more than what I sold this one for.   Part of that is the actual price of the wood and part of it is that it is due to the difficulty in finding enough of this type of wood that will work together for a specific project.   For this table, I pretty much cleaned out my supplier of his stash of great soft curly tiger maple.   That means that I would need to do some searching to find enough for another table such as this one.

This table has a few "scars" from its days as a tree.
Often, these are quite beautiful and can be worked with.
The two or three on this table are filled with epoxy to make them smooth.
This adds a great amount of character without sacrificing on functionality.
The preliminary design for this table came about very quickly but after living with it for a bit, I made some small changes that really made it work.  For instance, I moved the posts in toward the center a bit to create a bit of a flat on the trestle base just inboard of the beginning of the tapered foot.  Also, at the cut-out bottom, the foot begins with an angled cut from the foot to the horizontal cut-out.  This little angle created an arrow like quality to the tapered feet.  The base of the table is a double posted trestle because of its great width.  With two posts and two cross beams, this table is rock solid.
This table measures 76" by 50".  It is 10" wider than any other table that I have made in the past.  It was very challenging in a few different ways.  Glueing up a flat surface made up of several boards is not a simple task so adding to the width adds to the hair pulling.  Wood expands and contracts across the grain, so the breadboard end needs to accommodate this seasonal movement.  This is more difficult, the wider the table. last of all, the top is so large that turning it over again and again, in order to work on it, is a challenge at best. The saw horses that the table top laid on, had to be screwed to the floor so that they would not tip over when flipping the top.  As I do not have any helpers these days, this had to be done by myself.  During the finishing process, the top must be finished equally on each side or it will warp. This means that it gets flipped at least daily.   
The price of the exact table would be $4600.   It could also be made in other woods and at a narrower width for $3600.  I think it is a good design that can be adapted to different sizes.  Feel free to suggest a size that works for you. All of my tables are custom.
Have a good one,

If you have been following my blogs, you may notice that this post is more wordy than others.  This is part of my Notes series that will flesh out some of the process and thoughts that goes into a design.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Getting Caught Up

I am finally getting some of my work done that was delayed by my illness with Lyme Disease.  That set me back a few weeks.  Below are some shots of low pencil posts that I am working on and one shot of the trestle table that I am finishing.  I will post more shots of that table when I am all done next week. Enjoy the rest of the summer,
Here I am planing the facets on the eight sided tapering posts for my Low Post beds.  I am working on two right now.  I am always a bit sad when this part is done.  It is a lot of fun. 

Here, are some posts before and after planing the last four facets out of eight.  Before, planing the last facets, the lamb's tongue must be chiseled. That can be seen on the posts to the right.  

This shows a finished facet and lamb's tongue.  The roughed out lamb's tongue is  carefully shaved to shape with a very sharp chisel and then the rest of the facet is planed to blend into it.
This is a detail shot of a curly maple trestle table that I am finishing up.  The wood has fantastic figure.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Cherry Trestle Table with Leaves

I just finished this table yesterday and am now sitting and waiting for the shippers to get here to take it to California. Ok, I am working on the computer. You caught me.

Below is a shot of the table with the end leaves attached. It is 6' long without leaves and 8' long with the leaves. The challenge of this project was to make the method of attaching the slides work well, be strong, and look great.  I think I succeeded on this one.  My feeling is that, I hate to cut a table in two in order to have it extend. I like the main table to be rock solid on its own. That is why I like the idea of end leaves.

The darker strip of wood is the breadboard end that is part of the table itself.  The leaf is shaped to mate to the convex surface of the breadboard end.
The hollowed edge of the leaf is designed to mate to the convex edge of the end of the main table. 

Here, you can see the keyed saddle joint that holds the leaf firmly in place.

This shows the leaf support slides in their resting position, with the leaves off.

Here is the table without the leaves with one of my New Waltham side chairs.
You can see more about this table at my website.
Have a good one,

New Waltham Side Chairs in a New Home

Here is a set of my New Waltham side chairs around a clients modern dining table.  I think the light has washed out the red of the cherry a bit in this photo.  I do like seeing these chairs with very minimal tables. They seem to work well like this.  The warm wood is a nice contract to the glass and stone.
Below is one of these chairs as photographed in my shop. You can see that they actually have a bit more color even when new.  With time, the cherry will darken quite a bit more.

You can find more on this chair here on my website.
Have a good one.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finishing the 5' Waltham Bench

This windsor bench is one of my favorites.  In my mind, it embodies the best characteristics of the first American windsor chairs.   Compared to other furniture of the day (mid to late 1700's) American windsors were very lean and streamlined.  My version takes it another step in the lean direction due to the Shaker influence that much of my work has.
Getting the shape right before final sanding of the seat.
Doing some of the detail painting work on the second coat of milk paint.

This shot shows the long lean lines of this bench. Also, you can see the chalkiness of the milk paint before it is oiled and varnished.

I designed my Waltham line of chairs and benches to be something that could have been made by a farmer.  All of the spindles and legs are shaved on the shaving horse rather than turned on a lathe. Fancy furniture would have intricate turnings for legs, stretchers and some spindles. Any farmer would have had the tools to make this bench.

Enjoy the dry weather,

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trestle Table Base with Through Mortice and Tenons, Wedged and Pegged

A trestle table in my opinion is the most sturdy of table base designs.  It also does not have an apron which leaves the sitter with more knee room.  Below are a few shots as one of the trestles goes together. The fitting of the tenon is a time consuming process to get it just right. The assembly is uncomfortably quick and it often feels as if I am forgetting something.  This table will be a custom version of the table on my website.
The trestle parts, top, post and base are laid out.

The tenons are slotted to accept long wedges which will tighten the joint after assembly.  The mortice or hole is wider at the top to allow the wedges to lock the tenon in place.

Large pegs are added to the joint to make sure that it stays put. Belt and suspenders.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Flattening a table top with a hand plane

Here is a video clip showing how to use a hand plane to even up individual planks of a table top and also to flatten it across it's width.

This is one of the techniques that goes into a hand made table.  Working with a sharp plane like this is a lot of fun.  It is very satisfying as it hisses through the wood.  This will be one of my Trestle Tables but with have two add-on end leaves.  I will post more about this table as it comes along.
Happy Spring.
Stay dry,

Friday, May 6, 2011

Chairs, Tables, Rain

I have not posted in a while as spring is here and things are very busy with work, kid's soccer, outside clean up and projects after a long winter and the joy of warmer weather even if it has been very, very, very, wet.
I am working on a couple of dining tables at the moment as well as getting a set of eight New Waltham Side Chairs together.  
These chairs have the laminated leg brace that is morticed into the leg. The picture below shows that being fitted. I rough the fit on the jointer and finish it off to a tight friction fit with a hand plane.

Getting ready to assemble the legs and braces for a New Waltham Side Chair.  Behind me is a cherry table top for a Trestle Table that I am making.  
All of my chairs use wedged tenon joinery. This is the wedged leg tenon coming through the  top of the seat.  This will be chiseled off and then the seat will be ground to it's final shaped and sanded smooth.

Hopefully, we will have some more sunshine soon.  It has been a very wet spring here.  Flooding generally is not an issue in this area but it is getting to be a real problem for some.  The weather does seem to be changing with so much snow this winter and now all of the rain.  
Time to go grind some chair seats. 
Stay dry,

Friday, March 18, 2011

"You can't get there from here"

Yesterday I made a big delivery to an Island in Maine. (When I post information or images from a customers house, I never mention names or exact places to protect the privacy of my customers.)  It sure is fun, though, to be able to see where my work is going. And it is rare that I can actually get a decent photo of the furniture in place. 

 The caretaker for the owner of the house arranged for the mail boat to meet me at the pier where the mailboat captain and the caretaker's son helped me load 10 Waltham chairs and a painted pencil post bed into the boat (a great old wooden boat).  Robert, the captain, let me know that the, boat, Sea Queen,  was built by the the boat owner's father many years before.  I appreciate fiberglass and steel but there is nothing like a wooden boat.
We made the two mile trip out to the island under clear skies, smooth water and 50 degree temps.  We hit it just right.  If we had planned this one day ahead or behind, it would have been raining.  And moving $12,000. worth of furniture in the rain would have been more than stressful.
Waltham chairs, wrapped and ready, aboard Sea Queen.
 At the island, the captain, Robert,  and I, (the only one's aboard as things are slow this time of year) were met by the caretaker Michael with two vans and a trailer to take all of the furniture to the client's house.   These islands in Maine are great places.  I spend so much time alone that I really feel drawn to these quiet places.   Maybe being the youngest of four has something to do with that.  But that again is another story.

Waltham chairs in place around the dining table.
Pencil Post bed in place. This bed was painted with oil based enamel paint instead of my usual milk paint. We tried for a white milk paint but you have to want a real antique look especially in the white ranges.  This light cream color worked well in an enamel as the house is full of this fresh paint look and it matches the tables and chest that they already had.

view from the island

After unwrapping and setting up the chairs and bed I was returned to the mainland by the caretaker, his son and a friend of theirs who was working on one of the island's 30- 40 houses.  The four of us and four man sized bags of packing blankets loaded into the pictured skiff for that trip.  It was a safe trip in a very beamy skiff over calm water,  but highly unusual for the Vermont furniture maker making a delivery
I had intended to stay on the coast for the night but all of the hotels were closed down for the off season.  So, I hit the road again and arrived home in the wee hours of the morning after 15 hours of driving.   My new, used Dodge Grand Caravan did a great job on the country roads that connect central Vermont to central Maine (you can get there but it ain't easy).  It got 22- 24 miles per gallon and I think I could have fit 12 or 14 chairs in it as well as the pencil post bed.   We furniture makers do learn how to pack a vehicle.
Enjoy the sun,