Thursday, September 30, 2010

Provide Your Own Dirty Puns

Gratuitous photos of me operating the wide-belt sander. Good exercise for the shoulders, in fact!

Load the wood in . . . 

Guide the wood out . . . 
 Do you love my gloves? They're simultaneously butch and prissy.

I Lathe You

I finished turning my first table leg last night. Like several other skills and techniques I have learned in the wood shop, this one is not at all transferable to my later life. But, lathing is rather therapeutic. Unlike other stations in the shop, lathing does not permit one to help others loading their boards into and out of the planer or table saw. It requires a very near focus, specifically on the visible edge of your working piece. Slow, gentle, and repetitive movements are required to avoid introducing flaws. And, it only involves one round of sweeping (vacuuming, even!) at the end of the night.

Like the wide belt sander, it is apparently magical. It transforms one ugly, ungainly wood product into something you might actually buy, or at least bring into the house. Unlike the wide belt sander, the lathe requires a lot of participation from the operator. Oh, and it's a bit dangerous!

While experimenting with the skew chisel, I jammed it into the line where two boards are glued together, and a two-inch chunk of wood flew into my face and impaled my cheek. Now, that sounds much gorier than it really was. It did stick into my face. I did have to pull it out. But, the damage was only three tiny cuts. From the evidence that remains, you'd never guess what happened.

But without further ado: here is my first table leg, along with a reminder of its improbable origins!

16 boards, glued together in stacks of four, and clamped overnight.
Drumroll please . . .

The octagonal chunk at the bottom will be sawed off.
The octagonal chunk at the top stays in place,
and affixes the leg to the table beneath the "skirt."
It was hard to design this piece for several reasons. One reason is that the instructor had me build my legs out of four pieces of 2x6 glued together, which makes them much more massive than ordinary legs. In fact, all the other students in the class are using three pieces of 2x6 lumber glued together. Another reason it was difficult is that I didn't want to go for a lot of ornament, certainly not a lot of "country kitchen" style knobs and spools. No other table in our house has turned legs, and certainly not ornate legs.

So, in order to keep things streamlined, modern, and fine, I decided on a design inspired by my puppy's hind legs, which I find very elegant. Springy, strong, and delicate all at once, with pretty and proper little toes. See?
Not exactly illustrative, but darn cute!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The socialization level is through the roof tonight. Could this class be . . . fun???

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Clip: Bored

The past two weeks have revealed that the hundreds of half-empty boxes of nails and bottles of glue are not the extent of disorganization in the workshop. With some 19 students remaining in the class, there are numerous projects happening, all along the same approximate timeline. This has created serious bottlenecks, first for the jointer, then the planer, then the table saw, then the clamps and work benches. For the past four sessions, I have spent far more time waiting for machines - and helping others move their lumber around the crowded, cluttered room - than working on my project.

Now, this problem is more frustrating than harmful. We have until Thanksgiving to finish these projects, and once the wood is machined, the assembly should be relatively straightforward. (How long does it take you, after all, to put together an Ikea table?) Meanwhile, my Monday and Wednesday nights alternate between rushed minutes of wood handling, and long hours of tedium.

Got Legs

You are gonna be surprised when you find out how table legs are actually made. Here are your first clues:

The Desktop of the Future

Surprisingly compact, but sparing nothing in functionality and features!

From such humble origins! There is nothing* that can't be made out of construction lumber with heavy machinery and elbow grease.

A desk foreshadowed. But, that big gap proves the jointer isn't magic. There will be work. Work work work.

 Click through to see last night's progress!

Monday, September 13, 2010