Thursday, 31 May 2012

Good Life Festival - Share

This Saturday the 2nd, The Good Life Festival will be held at the Daylesford Primary School Hall. There will be a fantastic, eclectic variety of stall holders demonstrating everything from hand made boot making to keeping chooks, bees and even worms! Oh and not to forget yours truly chatting about chair making and doing the odd demonstration or two. On Sunday at the Daylesford Town Hall the festival will focus on sustainable building techniques and living. Here's the link for more info.

It's sure to be a great weekend with plenty of information on healthy living and tips on enjoying what Hepburn and Macedon Ranges regions have to offer. Most importantly how to do it all whilst being mindful of our greatest asset of all, our environment.

So if you have a spare day on Saturday or Sunday, why not take the drive to Daylesford and spend some time in the country doing what a lot of us up here are doing most days. Living the good life.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A brush with fame

Amongst the pace of the previous week I had a visit from a friend with a very interesting piece of cargo on board. We both agreed that given the objects value, we would not advertise who owns it. You know, like the dentist, who's face they couldn't show on T.V....... ( it's an Australian thing, to my overseas friends! )

A James Krenov hand plane, made by Mr. Krenov himself some thirty odd years ago. In conjunction with the hand plane was a signed letter and copy of a Krenov book and a photo of Krenov signing the very same book! The closest I had previously ever come to anything 'Krenov' was at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina a few years back, watching Krenov protege, David Finck making a Krenov style hand plane during a workshop on the subject. Finck signed a copy of his book for me, but the plane he made was whisked away and not for sale. Bummer.

It was amazing to hold and inspect a hand tool made by a true woodworking icon. The plane was superb in its earthy simplicity and felt like it was an extension of my arm when holding it. But turning it over to inspect the sole, it was apparent just how finely made an instrument I was holding.

The mouth was as crisp and fine as I've ever seen ( The original Swedish blade is retracted in this photo ) and the insert fitted in front of the mouth was seamless.
It was a real treat to see and hold a real piece of woodworking history.  Thank you very much for the experience.

Monday, 28 May 2012

The busy season

There is a distinct feeling in the air around the town at the moment. The days are getting shorter as we race towards winter solstice. The sun no longer streams through the workshop roller door as it sits lower in the sky to the North. The smell of open fires is heavy in the evening air and the smoke can be seen quietly rising from chimneys up and down Piper Street. Every one seems to be moving with a bit more pace and deliberation, preparing for the winter ahead. Sort of like squirrels running around preparing for hibernation.

And similarly the pace has not slowed for our household. We are now in our own space and rental properties are again a thing of the past. But the special part about own new home is that it also has our new business attached to the front.

And here it is. What was until recently a lovely little restaurant, will be the future shop front for our business, Rundell & Rundell. I loved the way this late night shot of the shop looked like an old sepia photo, not withstanding my ute in front!

I actually met a fella today who told me the building was once a meeting place for the local town militia / regiment, who used to gather on the front verandah. I'm looking forward to finding out more about that in the future. The interior, although full of tables and chairs from the restaurant at the moment, is thankfully just the right blend of blank canvas and period building that we were looking for. It also has three open fireplaces in the shop, great for all those chair offcuts and rivings! 

In fact the last few nights we have enjoyed dinner around the table, right here with the open fire roaring in the background. Magic. One of those nights we shared the table and a few local ciders with friends Erin and Tim who were in town to start their chair making odyssey.  

Both chose vastly different but equally special blanks for their seats. Tim, a piece of my air dried Elm, from a tree I milled which once grew in South Yarra's Fawkner Park. Erin a piece off the end of a single board of birds eye Macrocarpa I just bought from a local saw miller a few days earlier. Both will make truly eye catching stools. 

The guys only had a limited time in the workshop and so will come back to assemble and add the finishing touches to their perches. I'll be sure to post some pics of the finished pieces as they will have another pretty special component to them which should set them apart from the crowd. Fitting material indeed, as it was a pleasure to have them both here for the weekend. Cheers guys.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Going with the grain

There has been a lack of posting here as the past few weeks have been busy around the workshop.
Bec a Kyneton local, came to make a birthday present for her husband Simon's birthday. A birthday which has not come around yet so I can't show too much of what she made ( or say too much ) but suffice to say part of it was the most spectacular piece of Huon Pine I've seen in a long time. I've had the Huon sitting around for a long while now, and this was the ideal project for a slice off the end.

On average Huon Pine trees grow 1mm per year, but as you can see with this pic of the end grain, there are areas where there must be two or three ( or more ) growth rings per mm. Yep, that's one old tree.

And here is Bec putting the finishing touches to that piece of Huon, with 'said item' seriously cropped from the image! The finished product was brilliant and it was great couple of days. When the birthday boy gets his present I'll post some more pics.

Then this week I had Soren from Melbourne come up to make a Perch. I met Soren while demonstrating at the Wood Steam and Steel Festival in Wandin a few months back and it was good to see him arrive with his tools ready to go. With a good few years of turning experience behind him, short work was made of the Pin Oak legs and stretchers and they came up a treat.

After lunch we started with the seat, and had the whole lot drilled reamed and ready for carving the next morning.

And that's when another beautiful grain pattern showed itself. No, they aren't a quarter of a millimetre thick but what a great symmetrical seat. You couldn't have drawn it better!

And here is Soren paring the wedges and legs flush. Given Soren's height, we added a good 34mm
( 1 1/4" ) to the legs to put the seat at exactly the right height. That's another very enjoyable aspect of making chairs by hand, being able to truly make a bespoke piece of furniture, tailored to the individual.

I was pleased that he also decided to take my advice and paint his perch with milk paint. Originally we were going to do the whole thing, but with that grain in the seat, Soren decided to oil that and paint the Pin Oak legs with Barn Red.

Here's Soren's Perch with the first coat of oil on the seat and milk paint on the legs. I'm looking forward to seeing the legs with a few more coats of barn red and a top coat of oil or two. Great result Soren.

But that's not where the grain runs out, as this weekend I have Erin and Tim arriving to make two more perches, again with different timbers and maybe different finishes too. Looking forward to seeing what that grain has in stall for us too.

Friday, 11 May 2012

A step closer

As the cold weather begins to set in, up here in the central highlands I can see what the locals ( I was told recently that I won't be a local until my Grandmother is buried here- that may be a little hard now ) mean when they say "the weather is turning." And with that onset of cold wind and colder nights it's obvious just how important keeping warm is.


For this reason Lisa and I have been stuffing every last square inch of the cottage with insulation. When we first stripped back the old layers of this house, there was not a single batt, piece of sisalation or anything else for that matter,  between the outside wall layer and the internal plaster. I don't know how anyone kept warm in there. 

It's Autumn and we have already had several frosts, so winter should be a doozy. So with every part of the frame jammed with insulation we have hung the plaster ( with Dad's help too ) and will finish off the wall linings with solid lining boards in the main living area. This has really put some definition back into what was the skeleton of the frame.

And today a little more progress was had with a past chair making student and friend Peter Page coming up with his brickies tools and re-facing the chimney in the living area. Peter did a great job and the fireplace now looks a treat. I forgot the camera today though so there will be some photos to come. Another step closer to the little place being finished. Thanks Pete!