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.
I was in my parents basement this morning when I came across the above Fisher Price Toy. It’s a Printing kit, judging by some of the paper I found inside the box, I got this when I was 4 years old, making this toy over 30 years old. I have always loved crafty things like this and I grabbed it thinking my five year old would love it as well. As I left I was thinking how I’d need to find a new ink pad likely, and hopefully my daughter would be patient while I figured out if any of it still worked.
To my surprise, the well used toy was complete, and everything still worked. The original ink pad still had ink and the refill bottle was still half full (there was even a form to mail away for extra refills). We had an awesome afternoon playing with it, but I couldn’t help but be blown away that this 30+ year old toy still worked perfectly, and would likely work for another 30 years. This sort of quality is rare these days, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about with my products.
My bird houses for instance, while they look fragile, they are very durable and weather proof. I hung up a pair of them on my back shed for an entire year before I decided to start selling the design. After a year I was satisfied that they were high enough quality. Now going on 3 years, the pair still hangs on the shed, and with no maintenance, they are a bit more grey than before, but still keeps the elements off my feathered friends.
I often get questions about care for my various chopping boards. I always tell people to wipe them with a damp/soapy cloth, reapply mineral oil if they look dry, the usual things for cutting boards. This is certainly playing it safe, and they will never come to any harm with this regimen, but is it really necessary? That’s what I plan to find out. I’m making a couple of mini boards, one maple with colour block and a second plain walnut. I’ll prepare them just as I do all my other boards, but these two are going to take a trip in the dishwasher, in fact 10 trips to be precise. Have I gone mad? Maybe, but if these boards can survive 10 trips through the dishwasher, then they can survive just about anything. Stay tuned…
My last round of paddle making got quite the reception on Facebook, so much so that I ended up teaming up with a local kids charity that was running a canoe fundraiser. I decided to make them a custom paddle with their logo on it to be auctioned off. The paddle is made from poplar with walnut strips.
I laminated the the shaft and wrapped the blade in a way that it looks like the walnut runs right down the centre of the glad and shaft. A died epoxy tip was added to protect the end of the blade.
I painted the entire paddle with a thin coat of epoxy for protection, then a coat of poly to protect from the UV rays. The paddle was a huge hit and raise them a bunch of money for their camp programs, it was a great fit for both of us!
I took a great paddle making class a few years ago, but haven’t had the time since to make another one. My 4 year old keeps growing so she was due for another paddle. She is in love with the colour purple so I grabbed a bit of purple heart along with some poplar and walnut and made her a little paddle for our adventures.
The second paddle was a present to my wife, after many years she was still using some junky old paddle lying around the garage. Her’s is also in the picture above, it’s made from walnut and butternut and is very light. Mainly used hand tools to plane down the blades and shape the shafts, worked out great. Both paddles were finished with spar varnish, wasn’t happy with the product and it smelt awful. I’ve read many people say that poly is better as it is harder, and you don’t really need the uv protection for the limited amount of time it is outside, so on the next one I’ll use some poly instead.
Up next I’m making a paddle for a local kids charity to use for their silent auction. Hopefully it brings in some big bucks for the organization, it will be auctioned off at a canoe fundraiser so hopefully it’s a good fit.
It’s been a busy week in the Studio. I’ve had many prototype ideas going through my head for ages, and I finally had some time to experiment. It’s always a bit tough for me to try out prototypes as I hate to waste the materials if it isn’t going to work out, and if they aren’t perfect, what to do with it?
First up was a production run of toy cameras. Made from Walnut for the body, and maple for the lens, these were a copy of a prototype I made (and gave away to my daughter). I love the simplicity of these, just the basics of a real camera, viewfinder-lens-shutter button. They are finished with a light coat of mineral oil, and are for sale in my Etsy Store, as well as in Patisserie La Toque in Wakefield, Quebec.
Next up, a mid-century modern inspired chair. Made from Baltic Birch plywood with padauk wedges in the through tenons. I curved the back using bent lamination and the seat is covered with an upholstery grade corduroy. I’d like to make these adult size, but for the prototype I decided to build it for a child so as to not use as much materials. It’s now my daughters favourite chair! After seeing me taking pictures of it, she yelled at me, “You’re not going to sell my chair are you???!!!”. She’s hard to please, but I clearly won her over on this one. These chairs will be custom order only as I don’t have the space to store finished chairs, and this will allow people to choose their upholstery colours.
Last up was a pyramid shaped macaron tower. Requested by Patisserie La Toque, how hard could a pyramid be to make? Turns out this was the hardest project of the week. Lots of angles made this very tricky, but with some glue, and a ton of brad nails and filler, it got completed on time and made the customer very happy. Might think twice before making another pyramid though…
Next week I’ve got some canoe paddles on the go as well as a few more prototypes to try out, stay tuned!