Thursday, 10 December 2009

Back in the day

So what does that mean then – "Back in the day"? Does it mean "I remember when..." or does it mean "When I was young..."?

Anyway, back in the day when I worked for people, December was the time of Christmas parties. Going too as many as possible was the thing to do, so you become one of the 'faces' on the Christmas party scene. You would get tickets to all the parties, "The Tech Apps party", "File Server party", "JFPIG" to names a few, but as always our party was always the best one to attend!

When I moved onto other companies, the parties were different, and that is mainly due to the excess of money spend on them. Free wine and beer all night, bar staff walking around with trays full of cocktail drinks that you help yourself to, a vodka shoot where you lay beneath a mini ski-jump made of ice and vodka is poured down into your mouth, the biggest chocolate fondue fountain you have ever seen. But at the end of the day, the simple parties where better…even if the food was some sandwiches supplied by Benjy’s.

I don’t think I will have a company Christmas party this year – I have to put up with myself all day and don’t think an evening of my own company will be swinging!

Since my last update I have done a couple of shows. The first was held in Chelsea Town Hall and was called "Handmade in Britain", and that was during November. The show I did last week, "The East London Design Show" was held in Shoreditch Town Hall (seems like lots of shows are held in town halls).

It is an experience doing a show, standing up for hours on end, talking to people about your furniture. It has to be done though, and gets my name and work out to the public.

Here is a picture of my stand at the East London Design Show.

Must get on now. I am making a pair of bedside cabinets. It seems to be taking ages to make them, but I keep getting interrupted by these shows!!!

Friday, 23 October 2009

A stones throw away

Today I went round to a veneer merchant to buy some sycamore veneer. It is for a pair of bedside cabinets I am making. The sycamore will be married up with some oak, and will give a light/dark combination.

The veneer merchant I use is on a big industrial estate in Beckton, East London. It is really funny as I grew up in East Ham which is only a couple of miles away, and even more odd as my grandfather worked on the gas works that used to Beckton before it was knocked down many years ago (Seen the film 'Full Metal Jacket'? That was filmed in some of the old gas works before it was finally pulled down. I remember them filming it, as all the building were made to look war torn).

Although I now have my veneer, I won't be able to use it for a while as we have a new veneer press in the workshop that is currently being renovated, as it is probably over 50 years old. It is hard to describe what a veneer press looks like. It is a cross between a cider press, a printing press and a medieval torture machine! When it is finished I will post a picture here.

I have added a couple of video links to the gallery section of my website...see if you can find them!

The trio of bookcase have now been installed and some pictures of them can also be seen on my website.

I have my first show coming up in a couple of weeks. It is called Handmade in Britain and is being held in Chelsea Old Town Hall. I have never done a show before so I am sure it will be an experience!

Till next time.....

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Working from home...Scooby Doo.

Today I have been working from home busy getting images sorted for some postcards - not of my recent holiday I should add! I have three shows coming up over the next few months, so I need some sort of publicity that people can take if they like my work.

I already have business cards made - I did those earlier in the year. These are the first business cards I have ever had in my life...I can't have had a job in the past important enough to warrant them I guess. I always get a smile on my face when I think about business cards, as it reminds me a story about my dad. Many many years ago, he was given some business cards to give out to clients. A few months after he got them, I happened to find them in a box in the shed. When I asked my dad what they were doing there, he said "I gave some out, and then someone phoned me up. I don't want that to happen." Hopefully people will phone me up!

The set of three bookcases I have been making are now finished and are ready for me to collect them from the workshop. I will get some pictures done of them and post them on my website.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

A lot has happened...

...since my last post! Honest.

First of all, I did a major revamp of my website. This was for two reasons. The first was I wanted to change the look and feel of it - this was not too difficult as all I had to really do was change the CSS that provided the site style. As a result, and the second reason for the changes, was because I then found it only worked with IE7 - so I had to do more little CSS tweeks to get it working on various other browsers. It now works on IE6, IE7, FireFox, Chrome and Safari. I am holding back on testing it on IE8 for a while.

I have also finished my sideboard. You can see pictures of it in my website gallery.

My nephew who is 15 had to do two weeks work experience. For his second week he came to the workshop and together we build a coffee table he designed. I don't have any proper photographs of it yet, just this one I took in the workshop.

Currently at the moment, I am making three oak bookcases. They are to replace some old shelves in a chimney breast alcove. Eventually there will be a fitted cupboard in the alcove.

Anyway, I am halfway through my summer holidays at the moment, having just spent the last five days in Shropshire, and flying tomorrow morning to Croatia for a week. I'll send a postcard!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Drawer action

I was out a couple of months ago with some chums for some after work beers and a curry.

One of them, we shall call him 'MM', says he remembers seeing something on an Antiques Roadshow type TV programme many years ago about how to spot furniture with well made and fitted drawers.

The expert said that a well made drawer can be pushed shut by the pressure of one finger at the side of the drawer. If the drawer is well made, then it will glide in. If not, then the drawer will stick and bind (it will 'rack').

I said I would post a video of the drawers in the Ash hall table I was making, to show how they open and close....have a look.


If you want to see more pictures of this table, then have a look at the gallery shots of it on my website

Thursday, 18 June 2009

I am still around...don't worry.

Bad bad bad bad. Has it really been over two months since I did my last update? Bad bad bad bad. I will do more updates - yes I know I have said it before, but I will now aim to do one at the end of each week.

Anyway, in those two months I have not just been sitting down enjoying the sun that seems to come to us late spring/early summer. I have actually been doing some work.

First of all, I have finished my hall table, but to be honest, I haven't done the mirror yet. I do have the mirror glass (it is all wrapped up in the workshop with 'danger' signs stuck to it) but have been side tracked by other things.

So what else have I been doing? Well, when I ordered the wood for my hall table, I made sure I had enough to make a small sideboard. This is made frame and panel construction, the frame being from the ash, while the panels made from something called olive ash - it just has more colour than ash and can look a bit like olive wood. I have nearly finished this project, I only have the handles to make and then I can move onto the 'finishing' of it. This will be new, as I normally use oil as a finish, but for this project I have decided to use a spray finish which will be something new for me to learn. Lots of furniture made in the workshop is spray finished, and it is a very useful skill to have.

Also since my last post, I have given my website a complete revamp. I have changed the look and feel. Go have a look, and while you are there you can have a look at the hall table too!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Website update - Tallboy pictures

I have made an update to the gallery on my website to include the pictures of the cherry tallboy.

Go have a look and you can see what it really looks like.

Friday, 27 March 2009

A couple of pints please

I came in on Monday morning and checked the kiln to see how much water had come out of the wood over the weekend. I was really surprised, as there was half a bucket, which was about a couple of pints.

I checked the moisture content of the wood, and it has dropped down to about 11%. This is a good enough level to allow me to start to machine the wood up closer to its final thickness, and then putting it back in the kiln to dry out a bit more.

The long and short of it is, that by Wednesday I was ready to take the wood to the final dimension and actually start to make the table!

For the last few days I have been doing the joints in the table that actually hold it all together. As there are thirty-six components in the table (excluding the pieces that make up there drawers, and that is another thirty-two), I guess you can see why I am still doing them today!

Friday, 20 March 2009

A delivery of wood

I had a delivery of Ash turn up today. It is for a Hall table and a matching wall mirror.

It was sent to me from the merchant who is just outside Bristol. The lorry that delivered it was big enough to move a couple of households. The wood itself was all packed up safe on a pallet.

Unfortunately, the lorry driver dumped the wood off in front of the building before I could get down to him. Sadly where he put the wood was the other side of the building to where the lift is. Guess who had to move it all round the building to the lift…..

Being English timber, the wood normally arrives waney-edged with the bark left on. I could feel that the wood was still a bit damp, as it is air-dried timber. Wet wood is no good for making furniture, so I need to dry it out a bit. Here is my plan of attack.

The first stage is work out the best way to get the components from the wood – keep wastage low, get the best grain pattern etc. I know all the dimensions of the components, so it just means looking at all the wood and making a judgement call.

Next stage is to rip off any bit of bark, sap etc, as there is no point in keeping them on the wood. There is a big bag of firewood in the workshop now up for grabs!

As the wood is still damp, about 14% moisture content, and needs ideally to be at about 10%, the final stage of my plan is to put the wood in our kiln for a couple of days. Now this isn’t the sort of kiln most people think of – the sort used by potters for firing pots. This kiln is rather less violent and doesn’t require loads of heat! Basically the kiln we use for drying wood is a big box made from chipboard. Inside the box you place the wood to be dried. Here is the clever bit. Also in the box is a dehumidifier. Nothing special, just like the ones that can be purchased at local DIY superstores.

Once the kiln is sealed up, the dehumidifier will suck all the moisture out of the air, which causes moisture in the wood to replace that lost in the air. Hence the wood gets dry.

I will leave it running over the weekend and check on Monday to see how much moisture the wood has lost.

Friday, 13 March 2009

You can hear a pin drop

You could hear a pin drop? In other words it has all been very quite here on my blog for a while.

It doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy though. Sit back and I will tell you what has been going on.

So in my last post, I was talking about making the handles for my tallboy. So by using some card, I came up with a shape that was happy with. Next I had to make the actual handles out of wood.

Cutting a long story short, I did that and put them onto the drawer fronts. But I wasn’t too happy with them. I still liked the idea, but there was something just not right with them. I have a picture here of the tallboy with the handles on the drawer fronts.

You can see what I mean…it just isn’t right for the piece.

I needed a rethink. Rather than worrying about it, I just put some blankets over the tallboy and forgot about it. Let ideas run around in the back of my mind for a while, and get on with making something else.

I have always wanted to make something that is coopered, i.e. similar to the construction of a barrel, but without actually making a barrel!

James Krenov is always making cabinets with coopered doors, and as I am a bit of a fan of his, then I thought that I will have a go.

I had some American cherry left over from making the drawers in the tallboy, so I decided I would use that. Also I wanted to cut some dovetails on my Woodrat, and that lead to the design of having the carcass sides dovetailed together.

Inside the cabinet I wanted to put a couple of drawers. I managed to get some off cuts of rippled sycamore veneer, so the drawer fronts would be made of that. The white colour of the drawer fronts would contrast the rich red colour of the cherry.

Anyway, if you want to see some picture of it, you can check out the cabinet on my gallery pages.

After making the cabinet, I knew the solution to the tallboy problem. I should have stuck with my initial idea of routing a handle into the drawer fronts rather than changing my mind half way through and wanting to make an applied handle.

What I came up with was to route an elliptical handle in the drawer fronts. The down side was that I will need to make another set of seven fronts!!

A trip to the veneer merchant and a nice bundle of cherry veneer under my arm (and somehow a new mobile phone – I am easily side tracked) and I could then get to work making the final set of fronts get getting the project finished.

Well here it is. The completed tallboy with the new drawer fronts.

At least I am now happy with it.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Cabinet handle design

I had an idea for the handles.

I wanted some sort of long handle that runs from top to bottom of my cabinet. I then came up with the idea of having two handles on each drawer front.

Then came the idea of having the handles curved running from the bottom most drawer and merging into one on the top most drawer.

I wasn't sure, so I cut out the shape that I wanted and using double sided sticky tape (in the best Blue Peter fashion) stuck the cardboard handle shapes to the drawer fronts, as you can see in the picture.

It is well worth checking something like this first, as the is lots of work involved actually making the real handles from wood!