Thursday, April 18, 2013

Coming Up For Air

It's been nearly three weeks since my last post. Time can fly by when you're completely absorbed in a project. I'm making some pieces for an artist in New York and after 11 months of inactivity following a prototype I built last year they decided to proceed with 'phase 2'. And of course, it needed to be done right away. I worked the last 30 days straight, and completed the piece within a day of the deadline, and delivery went very well. They are totally happy with the piece, and I can proceed with the next phase of the project, however (for now) with a much more relaxed deadline. Suits me fine!

After a work blitz like that my shop ended up in shambles, so I spent a few hours yesterday cleaning up, putting things back where they belong, restoring some semblance of order.

I've got some ideas about constructing a floor-to-ceiling lumber storage rack, in an effort to condense my pile of material, and improve its accessibility. Like a lot of woodworkers, dealing with off cuts is a major source of vexation. I'm already long past the phase where I saved nearly every off-cut, thinking such noble thoughts as, "oh, I could make some pegs out of that", and such. Follow that strategy for a while and you will bury yourself in a pile of the stuff, and as an added bonus won't be able to readily find specific pieces when you needs them, which often seems to be at moments of time pressure. Right now my challenge is in dealing with sticks that are about 2' long. I can readily toss out stuff that is 1' or less in length, but 2' is a sticking point. Seems too valuable to toss on the firewood pile, but they do accumulate quite rapidly, so eventually a solution needs to be found that doesn't involve renting a storage locker or warehouse space. So, I'm going to be researching storage ideas for dealing effectively with little pieces like that, and if any readers have good ideas in that regard I'd be all ears.

I feel most fortunate to have a good spell of work lined up, and anticipate that I will be able to afford another large machine this year. It will probably be a sliding table saw. I've been looking for a while and it will be a matter of the right saw coming on the market at a time when I have the funds set aside. Most sliders are used for processing sheet goods and have 8' or longer sliding tables on them. I don't use plywood or the like too often - and certainly not for furniture - and thus the long slider, with its large footprint and need for operating space is not what I'm after at all. Also, most sliders have a 12" max. main blade and come with a scoring saw.. I have no need of a scoring saw, and would prefer at least a 14" blade. At least. So, I guess what I'm after is a slider with a 6' stroke, a 14"~18" blade capacity, no scoring, and a well thought out miter fence system. That's the main reason I'm after a sliding saw - precision cross-cutting and compound joinery work. The search continues.

Blog-wise, I will be continuing on with the 'tools of the Trade' series, on at least an intermittent basis, and anticipate moving the Mizuya build along in the next while, which I intend to photo-document and post in a build-thread fashion. I've got to obtain a spot of quartersawn bubinga for that project, and plan to visit a hardwood dealer up in Maine later this month  to see what they have. The other projects I have on the go right now are all subject to non-disclosure agreements, so I can't share any details. There is a large potential project looming for later this year which will not be likely subject to non-disclosure, but I'll count those chickens after they have hatched, so to speak.

The tow online study groups are still rolling along. The fundamentals group and I are working on the andon project, while the drawing study group is working on a Japanese regular hip rafter study. I have had to put that on the back burner for the past month and look forward to moving those projects forward in coming days.

All for now, over and out. Thanks for your visit!


  1. Life sure seems to be keeping you busy. Good luck at keeping many the juggling at going, I don't think i could do it.

    Here's a though about the 2' scrap storage. How about storing them on a 2' deep shelf (well multiple for you maybe) so that you can see their end-grain. That way you can see species, size and overall grain pattern. Maybe going so far as to have zones of non figured/ little figure/ heavily figured. As long as you don't allow the stacks to get too tall, it won't be too hard to pull a single piece out from the middle or bottom. Maybe 12"-16" tall, 18" feels like that could be too much.

    1. Hi Adam,

      thanks for your message and suggestion about storing the 2-footers. The only issue I see with storing short pieces like that in a horizontal manner is that you tend to end up with a bit of a stack, and when you slide out a piece here and there it doesn't take long for the stack to partially collapse, and become a bit unmanageable. I was thinking, like you, that being able to see the end grain of the sticks would be helpful, but that a vertical stacking might work better. if I had a series of 15"~18" 'wells' I could stack the pieces and be easily able to see what was what and fish out what I needed. Thoughts?


    2. if you have the floor space, wells work great. I'm just used to keeping as much floor space open as possible, so i was thinking of getting it on a wall. if you're worried of a stack collapsing, don't let the stack get that huge. How about 9" or so? But you're well don't have that problem, lol.

      So I'd say if you want the scraps off the floor, do several deep shelves. If you want to keep them on the floor, do the wells. At least you'll have better control of them either way.

  2. Hi Chris,
    I once worked in a shop that had the saw you seek. 14" blade capacity, and a medium length slide (something near 8'). It also had the best adjustable fence fence I have ever seen. It cut flawless miters. The fence sat behind the stock rather than leading as in most sliders. I wish I could recall the brand but all I can recall is that it was green, cast iron, made in Germany and wasn't a Martin. The owner said he bought it from a chair maker.
    Harlan Barnhart

    1. Harlan,

      hmm, green saw, made in Germany, cuts flawless miters - could be almost any saw made there! i came across some curious German saws the other day that I think I'll post about shortly.

      Good to hear from you.


  3. Hi Chris,
    Non-disclosure shoji job?

    1. Craig,

      no, the job you refer to is something I disconnected from a month or so back and I am not sure what is happening with it at this point. I don't believe the client there was planning to go with authentic shoji or other detailing in any case and I certainly wasn't likely to be fabricating anything for him.



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