Monday, 19 August 2013

Silky stuff

A few posts ago I mentioned that I had used some very green Silky Oak for a Continuous Arm crest rail. It was lovely stuff to work with, almost reminiscent of the White Oak I used with Curtis Buchanan to make my first Windsor Chair. Just as it's name suggests though, it has a distinct 'waxiness' to it, which I'm sure will be interesting when it comes time to apply the finish to it. Here's a few pic's of it coming apart from the log and in the chair. Nice ray fleck, don't know about the pink colour yet! Perhaps another opportunity to seal it with shellac first....

Whilst on the Continuous Arm subject I've just spent a very enjoyable week with Peter and Kathy who came up to make a pair of chairs with me. In a new twist to the Continuous Arm Course, I'm trialling offering a choice of making either the rocker or chair version during the course. As both are exactly the same from the seat upwards, there's really not much divergence in the process. So this week Peter made a chair and Kathy and I made the rocker. It was a great week in good company. Thanks guys.

Happy to say it worked out just fine making both rocker and chair at the same time. Given the good company, I even used a piece of my coveted Treasury Gardens English Oak for Kathy's rocker blades. The new jig I made for routing the rocker legs worked a treat too. I'm crediting a small part of it's ease of use to a new router bit I tried for the first time.

This little beauty is a 1/2"  tri-fluted spiral up-cut bit. The fine notches in the edges of the flutes ensure that shavings are severed into minor shavings, rather than long continuous, thick ones. This in turn lessens the drag on the bit. It was very noticeable just how smoothly this new bit cut compared with others I've used. Lets face it, when your routing the ends of Hard Maple, any advantage is a bonus.

It's been rainy few weeks of late, so I'm looking forward to Spring being just around the corner. With it will come a new chapter for us and a good deal of hard work also. I can't wait.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Two steps forward, one back.

Sometimes when your busy, something has to give. You're making progress on most things but then there always seems to be an element that suffers a little. Unfortunately for me that has been the blog of late. Sorry about that.

Since the last post midway through last month, there's been a couple of double Perch classes and a few days where I've been teaching a few things on a furniture making front. In between that I've been trying to squeeze in finishing off a Continuous Arm Rocking Chair, making a matched pair of Crested Rocking Chairs, a couple of Perches for the shop and keeping up with supplying our shop with the usual products, bentwood oval Boxes, chopping boards, etc etc.

I run the bar too on Friday and Saturday nights and at the moment in Kyneton the night time temp is usually hovering just above zero. That means one more thing, firewood, firewood and more firewood. 

                         The bar runs two open fires at night and they both chew through the wood. 

Father and Son team, Michael and Julian, who both sailed through the Perch Class and made a couple of very fine Perches.

Mates Carl and Jim, who bought their own figured Blackwood, figured Myrtle, spalted Black Heart Sassafras and Crotch Macrocarpa to make two custom Perches. Nice work guys. Jim is the owner of Carrolls Woodcraft Supplies, a one stop shop for wood turners and a professional wood turner too. It was great to have him in the workshop and pick up a few tips from a great wood turner.

Stiles mortised, crests roughed in and legs and arms reamed. Tomorrow I carve the seats before I rout the rocker slots with my "Chandley Special" Rocking Chair Routing Jig. 

Based on the jig that Pete Galbert first made when we bought him out here a few years ago, Bern Chandley made a double sided version which I've used successfully on a few of my chairs and on the class we taught in July. I've made a few subtle changes on this new version to suit my Porter & Cable router and to allow for a slightly larger seat base.

 It works well, is accurate and allows the slots to be cut in the legs with supreme accuracy. To me that means being able to get back to other parts of making a chair that I enjoy, like carving seats, shaving spindles, steam bending and the like.

I've also been experimenting with finishes on some of my chairs, including milk paint colours and also ( shock horror! ) staining and distressing them. Not my preferred finish, but when the customer wants it to look old, then that's what you do. In creating an aged patina I've been using shellac more and I have to say I'm a bit of a new devotee. It's quick, effective and very versatile.

                               I even like the look of it after one quick coat as a sanding sealer.

On top of that we've also been thinking about our future, new courses, where we run them, what we can offer and some variety. What we have come up with I think will be pretty interesting. Not to say that I'm not content, but I'm a firm believer in continuous improvement. More to come on that soon.