I was finishing up a set of kitchen drawers this past week for a client. While they aren’t a style I would design myself, they were a big improvement structurally on what they had and it would match the rest of their cabinets in both grain and colour. This is no easy feat as the red oak in their kitchen had darkened with age, so while the rest of the cabinets have a clear varnish, these drawers needed staining to match the rest. The drawer boxes were made from baltic birch and I was using some heavy duty glides. I was proud of what I had made and couldn’t help but think how much of an improvement over their old drawers this would be.
Then my mind wandered to our own kitchen. Some drawers are had to open, some don’t open at all. The construction is pretty horrible and they get worse every week. You see, while I make furniture, good furniture, for all sorts of people, the one person I don’t make it for is myself. While I’ve made several beds, our mattress sits on the floor. Do I make tables? You bet! But we use one my parents got rid of 30 years ago. Desks? We have a door propped up on a book case. The problem is at the end of the day, clients pay me to make furniture, I don’t pay myself to make it. So I’m far better off building furniture for other people than I am for myself, at least financially. The one exception is my daughter. I’ll build her anything, it might take a bit longer to do, but she has some of the nicest furniture in our house.
Now while this is good financial sense, it does lead to an unattractive living space (some would say college dorm style). And some days you walk into your room, see the mattress on the floor, and think, why don’t I have a nice bed?
So my new goals are to own furniture as nice as I make. This means I don’t have to make all of it, but if I buy, it needs to be as good if not better than I can make it. I think this will give me great practice in trying out new designs on myself, and it will help pad my portfolio to show others what I am capable of.
What’s the first piece? Either desk or bed, I’m on the fence. Desk would be faster, but bed would be nicer. Stay tuned… (although it might take a while)
The CNC arrived this week, and am I ever glad I had it shipped. It was very heavy, very awkward to lift, and the drive alone would have taken 8 hours each way. After unpacking there was a bit of damage as it hadn’t been crated so a few little issues, most likely due to us loading it off the truck. Luckily two switches were easily reattached and a new drag train is on order for minimal cost. Honestly I didn’t see the machine in person so maybe these were issues before, who knows.
After a day of set up, I was pretty surprised how fast it was up and running. The drive computer has Cut 2D on it, so I’ve been using that for now, although I plan to get Vectric Pro when funds allow. I now need to build a table for it to get it up off the floor. I’ll make something with casters on it so I can move it around if need be since it’s currently blocking the loading door of my shop. The door isn’t used that much but it may in the future so having the ability to move a 330+ lb. machine would be nice.
Lots of future plans now as I begin to learn all the potential of this machine.
Whenever I make something, I always try to incorporate some new skill so that I can learn while creating. This time I went a little over board. My daughter was in need of a lap desk to replace the dollar store plastic one that had an untimely death when she used it for steeple chase practice in the living room… My father made my brother and I two such desks when we were kids, except that he simply used three pieces of plywood and some piano hinges (in hindsight, not a bad idea to be honest…). I decided I was going to go much more upscale!
My mid century modern inspired lap desk started out as a way to practice bending plywood. I made the apron of it from several layers of 1/8″ baltic birch plywood that I bent around a form. Then I attached it to the top which I decided to veneer with some walnut I had lying around. I was using the white glue and iron technique which unfortunately led to a few large cracks. This meant I needed to do some inlay to cover up these cracks. The legs were made using angled bridle joints, and finally the top was coated with an epoxy finish. Did I mention I had never done any of these skills before?
The final piece is not something I am truly proud of, there are many “first time” mistakes which I have learnt from and will be better able to handle next time. It’s only failing if you aren’t learning after all right? I do like the design, and some of the techniques I’ll try again (bridal joints), and some I won’t use (vacuum press veneering would lead to a much better finish). There should be more furniture pieces showing up on the blog throughout the spring, so stay tuned!
Things have been busy in the studio lately, getting ready for One of a Kind Spring show in Toronto. It’s a big step up from any show I’ve done so far in terms of costs and length, so I’m hoping I’ve prepared enough product to last throughout the show, but selling out the last day around 5pm would be just perfect…
Production has been very smooth, with only a couple of machines breaking down, both easy but pricey fixes, and both involving motors wearing out. Thankfully I was only down a day or two with repairs so nothing to delay me too much. I still desperately need to do a massive re-org on my studio, but between moving the machines, rerunning the dust collection and electrical, and just general clean up, I really need a week to get it all done. So far the orders have been quite consistent and I simply haven’t been able to shut the shop down for so many days in a row.
I’m excited to announce a few new products that I’ll be showcasing at One of a Kind. First is a German inspired Breakfast Board. It’s a walnut board with a slight dish to it and a colour block edge. Often used to serve breakfast on, it can double as a serving tray or just look nice on display.
Next product is a happy accident. I had a failed glue up and the only part of the larger board salvageable was a tear dropped shape. I played around with the size and came away with a new walnut serving and chopping board. It’s got a rounded edge and a hole for easy hanging.
These products won’t be on Craftcollective.ca or on my Etsy shop till April, so if you you’re keen to have them, be sure to come down to One of a Kind, you’ll find me at booth P44F in the Etsy section.
Just before Christmas I had an email from an Executive Chef down in Florida. He was opening up a new restaurant and was searching for flatbread boards. He liked some of my other products and we worked together to come up with these 10×14″ walnut boards. The chartreuse edge was requested in order to match some of the same colour accents in the restaurant. They’ll be adding some rubber feet to the boards to keep them secure on the tables.
If you’re in Delray Beach, Florida, head over to Apeiro and grab a bite to eat on one of these boards! Remember that we’re always keen to work on custom orders no matter how big or small.
Was playing around with some scraps the other day. I’ve had an idea for how to cut the inside of a spoon for a while, but tried a few different designs for the outside shape. They are more work … Continue reading →
This cheese board was meant to be put up on my Etsy Store, but it sold at a Farmer’s market before I could upload the pictures. The board is actually a reclaimed cutting board, made from an old maple cutting … Continue reading →
My wife and I teamed up on this one… It’s an outdoor sandbox made from scrap wood, painted white. But in order to keep the sun off, and to add some fun, we added a removable Tipi that slots into … Continue reading →
Surprisingly, I don’t actually have a push stick. All these years I’ve usually just grabbed whatever scrap was lying around. For awhile I had part of an old hockey stick that did a pretty good job… but today I figured why not make one, probably safer than what I’ve been using!
Pretty simple design made out of scrap 3/4″ plywood with about a 3/8″ lip at the back to grip the wood. How does it work? Well I had nothing that really needed cutting so I didn’t try it out, but I’m sure it’s just dandy…
52 Create – my weekly creative output for 2011. It’s been ridiculously busy, which might be evident in my post being a day late, forgot it was Tuesday, honest. As I said before, I’ve got several orders for biathlon stocks due to my past career. The latest bunch are for my old team that wants sturdier stocks to replace the old cracked and broken ones they currently use. This design is a bit of a compromise between being the right size and shape, being simpler to make, and being indestructible.
So it’s a simpler design, made of maple, and a bit thicker than usual. In the end it adds less than 100 grams onto a rifle/stock combination that weighs close to 4kg, so not much of a difference overall. Stock is varnished and should last longer than the originals… Stay tuned for next week, should be really awesome…