Wednesday, 30 November 2011

It's Showtime!

Isn't that a quote from a film too?  Am I all filmed out?

No....actually, it is showtime.

I am at the East London Design Show that starts tomorrow 1st December, and runs till Sunday. It is my third years doing it now.

Come along if you happen to be in town and in Shoreditch to be precise.

Here's Jonny.......... know he never actually said that in the book.

So I have been told, it was a bit of improvisation during filming.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Doing it backwards

A few years ago when I worked for NatWest (now part of RBS), I was on a project team that was called 'Re-engineering' for about two years.

It was a very unusual sort of project for a Bank to have, as it was an R&D project that was making programming tools that could be used to analyse code, with the aim to re-engineer or reverse engineer it.

Lots of old code has been hacked over the years and is lacking in any serious documentation, causes all sort of problems when changes have to be made. Our tools would be able to help.

Another reason that this project came about was because of the approaching year 2000, and all the problems that were promised would happen when the date flipped from 1999 to 2000. So the media said, aircraft would fall from the sky, computer equipment wouldn't work, video recorders would spit the tapes out, and nuclear power stations would go into meltdown. The media hype was so good, that one of my friends asked me if his washing machine would still work in the year 2000. I did quiz him to see if he knew why the washing machine needed to know what time it was before doing the washing, and he couldn't think of any. So I told him it was safe to assume it would still work.

On the Re-engineering team there were some pretty smart people who had been working in the field of code and language analysis for many years. They had great knowledge of the structure of language, how to analyse code and producing a model onto which various forms of data manipulation could be applied. I was most lucky to work with them.

We had two types of manipulation that could be applied, static and dynamic analysis.

The static analysis was simply looking at the code itself and producing a model from it. You could then for example track how data was moved through the program, passed from field to field.

Dynamic analysis built on top of the static analysis as it added information from an actual run of the program. Then you could see the logical paths of execution in the program. This information added much more depth to the analysis.

They were very interesting tools. They were used in some Bank projects in the UK and in South Africa. Some of the tools were even sold to third party companies. I believe IBM got a pretty neat bit of code that run on the mainframe for next to nothing.

So what has this all to do with woodwork?

Well, about a year and half or so ago I was making some presentation Champagne boxes. Once these were complete, I made another using a different technique.  Now, a year and a half later I am making some more, but I can't remember that different technique I used. I still have the prototype in the workshop, and I have reverse engineered it and produced a set of diagrams, and the new batch has been started.

So there is the connection. No documentation

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Note to self

Note to self: "Don't left heavy objects when you have a bad back."

Second note to self: "Should have written the previous note at the beginning of the year."

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

This is London calling...

....London calling all you people in 'social media' land.


Is is really that long since I posted my last blog update? It must be, as computers don't lie.

In the last blog I posted I was making my drinks cabinet. I am glad to say that I finished that ages ago. I am not one of these people who spends eight months making a table and has nothing to show at the end of that time!

If you haven't seen the pictures of my finished cabinet, well here it is.

After finishing the drinks cabinet, I made a cabinet for a couple I met at a show I was exhibiting at just before last Christmas. They wanted a cabinet to hold A4 folders, but didn't just wanted a set of shelves. They liked an existing cabinet of mine, and wanted one built but bigger.  Well that is just what I did. I do have some pictures of it, but for some reason they are not here on my workshop laptop. But you get the idea.

I have also made a few smaller items that I will sell off my stand at some show I have over the next few months. I have made five jewelley boxes and nineteen picture frames. It is good to have small pieces people can take away with them.

And at the moment I am making a couple more extending coffee tables similar to one I have made before. This time I am making one from American walnut and the other from English ash.

Anyway, if you are a social media type of person, then you might get excited by this.  I now have two dedicated accounts for my furniture.

I have a Twitter account that you can 'follow' me on (@JPFineFurniture) and a FaceBook account (JonathanPearceFineFurniture) you can 'friend' me.

Right, my glue has dried so back to real work.

Friday, 25 February 2011

As I was saying....

....the sides of the cabinet are made by laminating pieces together and putting them in a veneer bag.  I'll show you.

The veneer bag is a heavy weight plastic bag which is connected to a vacuum pump which sucks all the air out. Anything that is in the bag will then get squashed by the atmosphere around us. In theory you should be able to get 1 atmosphere of pressure, but in real life you only get about 0.8 atmospheres which is enough.

The picture shows one of the curved cabinet sides being made.  Inside the bag goes a large flat piece of material, in this case a piece of white faced chipboard.  On this sit the former which has the shape I want to produce - in this case a simple curve. On top of the former sits the pieces I am laminating. Shove it all in the bag, switch on, leave for a few hours for the glue to set and the result is a panel that has the shape of the former. Easy.

As the curved panels are only 8mm thick, by themselves they would not be strong enough. To beef up the cabinet sides, the curved panels are glued to curved ribs that are in turn glued to a flat panel. This then gives the cabinet side the strength required. The flat side becomes the inside of the cabinet, while the curved side is the outside of the cabinet.  I must remember this during the glue-up and make sure I don't get it the wrong way round!

Before the cabinet is glue together, I have to drill evenly spaced holes on the inside faces for the shelf supports.  These need to be drilled accurately otherwise the shelf will not sit right and wobble.  To do this I use a jig and a router.  The jig is simply a piece of ply wood that has holes drilled into it at a regular spacing.  On the base of the router a guide bush is screwed. This is a circular collar of metal that has an outside diameter the same as the diameter of the holes I drilled in the ply.  You see where this is going?  The jig is clamped to the cabinet side, the guide bush sits in the hole and the router is then used to drill the hole.

This picture shows me doing a dry fit of the cabinet components before I do the glue up.  It is always good practice to do a dry fit, as once glue up starts it is too late to fix any problems!

You can see how the curve of the cabinet sides is mirrored  by the curve of the legs. Another reason for this dry fit is that I need to have the four legs completely sanded to their finished state.  The reason for this is I am going to fume the oak to make them go a dark chocolate brown.  Once fumed, I can't start sanding down the legs otherwise I could sand all the colour away.

To fume wood, you need to expose it to ammonia vapours.  Ammonia is horrid smelly stuff and not nice at all - the fumes need to be contained to get the best effect on the wood.  Hence, you can either fume in a sealed plastic box or make a fuming tent. I did the latter.

The tent I made is a simple MDF frame that is covered in heavy weight plastic.  A plastic flap is pulled over the top and seal with brown packing tape. It reminds me in some way of the first fish tank I had when I was much younger.  It was one of the glass-and-frame types that existed before the all-glass versions you see now days. My Dad got if for me. He found it in a friends garden. It was in a right state. All the iron rusty, glass broken.  He did a repair job on it, got the rust off, painted it, replaced the glass.  It looked good as new once finished!

Anyway, back to the oak and fuming.  Here is the method. Place the wood to be fumed in the tent. Get some ammonia. Wear lots of personal protection equipment. Pour some ammonia into plastic trays. Place trays in tent. Seal tent up. Wait 24 hours or until you have the desired colour (which maybe before 24 hours if only a light fuming is required). Remove oak.

Once the wood comes out of the tent, it really wiffs of ammonia.  I left the legs for a few days to air off before I coated them with oil. After that it was the carcass glue up!

So this is the state of play.  Carcass glued together. Doors on, but not finished as I have to make the handles.

Ah the am I going to do that......

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

A late Happy New Year

Yes, it is a bit late to wish you all Happy New Year. But hey, I am sure you got more than enough at the correct time, a one now will keep that happiness rolling on.

Last week was the Society of Designer Craftmen's show at the Mall Galleries in London.  I had four pieces of work on show:
On Wednesday and Thursday last week I was a steward at the show, which basically involved making sure items never got damaged and answering any questions asked - and that might not only be about my pieces!

Doing a show is hard work, the hardest being break-down as everybody is there packing up and trying to get out as quick as possible!  It didn't take too long, and it didn't rain too much as my furniture was loaded into the van, but it was all wrappped up to protect it from the elements and knocks.

So I am back in the workshop now, and am working away on the Drinks cabinet I talked about in an earlier post. Currently I am making the sides of the cabinet.  They are curved and are made from laminating 1.4mm thick veneer into the curved shape............