Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Custom Railing

6/20/08 Sam's had a busy week. He whipped up a table/island base for a local cabinetmaker, has been working with Jim on the grill parts and finished up the tapered, trapezoidal posts and bases for a custom contemporary railing that he's working on. The 'feet', (steel plates with threaded supports) will be lagged through the treads and into the stringers and and then the posts will be bolted to them giving them a clean contemporary look. After mounting them and making patterns on Monday he'll fabricate the railing sections and weld them in place on site.... The top detail will also be confirmed after the posts are in place. There's a ladder involved somewhere to get to the skylight above but I'm not sure where that's going now ...

CAD drawing

The hollow trapezoidal posts and half post bolted to their respective plates
Photo to the right shows the post mounting brackets
The finials
The half finial against the wall
Finials on the posts, anatomy of a half post and half finial

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Custom Metal and Bubinga Bench

Sam and I have been working on a collaborative project with a long time client for a month or so now. The client came with her original sketch and asked us to expand on her ideas and create a 54" bench for an entryway. We sent some sketches back and forth and I liked what was happening so much, Sam started a prototype base in the metal shop. One thing led to another and we decided on bubinga for the wood parts, added an inlay on the seat edge based on a picture of part of a sideboard she sent us, and after a couple tries, using photo printed enlarged versions of the inlay photo, we got the whole thing mocked up. We weren't totally happy with the feet we orginaly made so after consulting with Cynthia, we made a new one based on her input, which we liked a LOT better. Then, at her request we leafed the new foot sample with palladium, which is a cooler, more silvery version of gold leaf. After seeing that, we decided it conflicted color-wise with the curly maple of the inlay, so we're going to do another sample in real gold leaf, which I think will be very elegant. We're working on the parts for the real bench in the metal shop this week and we're moving the project along. It's going to be a fun one. Click the photos to enlarge....

Update 4 12 .... We're making progress. The base has been gold leafed, and it is an awesome sight ... It almost glows in the dark. Later, with the help of the the client, we'll rub it down to a slightly duller but still dramatic sheen. The frame of the seat has been inlayed and glued up ... You can see a video of our CNC router cutting of the channels for the inlay on You Tube. Next week we'll apply the bead molding and the octagonal end features. Then we'll finish it and await the fabric and the upholsterers schedule.

The seat frame inlayed and glued up

The gold leafed base in the shade and inside the finish room with the lights off

The bench base primed for the gold leaf

Sam has finished the metal work on the base and it's ready to prime

3/22/08 Meeting with the client today. Resolved some design issues ... 'dulled' down the gold leaf by burnishing it, giving it a softer and less Louis XV feel. After some discussion regarding the connector between the front and back x es , we settled on two 3/4 square solids , similar to the original prototype. All that's left now is to build the wooden bubinga bench part with it's 12 feet of ebony and curly maple inlay, finish the connector piece, gold leaf the base and antique it, make the slip seat and upholster it ....

Sunny day in the shop .... Gold leafed sample foot to the left

The bench without it's top structure in the metal shop Thursday
With a proposed (but too busy) connector ...

Our original bench mockup with the inlay photos and cushion mockup

The first version of our actual inlay bottom ... refined version top

The new foot next to the original

The new foot with the palladium leaf
The inlay photo from the client

My original sketch based on the client's original sketch

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

High Chest Repair

We fixed the loose molding and big corner chips on this worthy high chest this week. We were able to remove the end moldings and reglue them with hide glued. It appeared that it was the first time the original end moldings were off the chest since it was built. The front molding, however, was more stubborn and had some serious big nails in the face of it. We had to settle for prying, cleaning and regluing with hide glue while the molding remained in place. Seems to have worked fine and the chest is headed back to its home tomorrow .... Click the pictures to enlarge..
We attempt to remove the loose front molding
Regluing the front molding without getting it off the case
Gluing a new piece on the miter of the short molding
Routing the broken section of the long front molding for the repair piece
The completed repair

Back to storage

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Custom Vanity Project

Like so many of our projects, this one started with an 'inspiration photo' of an existing piece of furniture. Inspiration photos are often clipped from magazines or books or collected from the internet. In one case last fall, I made a table for a woman who claimed she had had the photo on her bulletin board for TEN YEARS ! Anyway, this particualr piece is destined to be a vanity in a formal powder room so we had to make some design modifications. The vanity will have a stone top and the sink is about 8" deep, but is glazed on the bottom so any part that shows will appear finished. The original appeared to have elements that were gold leafed so we made some samples and decided on a palladium leaf. We first made a template to rough turn the delicate bobbin style legs which were then cleaned up by hand, turning with a center steady rest. We then tried a couple of diffferent detail ideas but in the end, settled for a plain apron and leafed appliques as on the original.

6/18/08 Well, we picked up the legs with the Palladium leafing today and they are something! We'll be gluing up the rest of the vanity tomorrow and after a quick couple of topcoats, itwill be on it's way south ...Can't wait to see the whole thing finished ..
Here it is 6/26

Finished means like, in New York, with the real stone top and the sink and faucets installed ... Next week

The inspiration photo

Ready for paint and leafing. The 'top' in this photo is painted mdf.

The original turning sample

Showing the duplicator template and the steady rest.
The Vega duplicator attaches the to lathe ways between the drive center and the tailstock.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The "Lotus" Bed

5/16/08 I've been talking with a client about a queen size bed for the last couple of months and we finally got underway this week . We went back and forth for a while ... I got too fancy with the design and she sent me a simple headboard shape sketch and a sample "lotus" flower which we put together into the drawing and inlay sample below. I'm working on a finish sample that will lend the ash a "pinkish whitish tone" and we'll also be calming down the inlay either by tinting it whiter or by making the background outline and petals in say cherry and curly maple so they stand out less from the light color of the bed .... I think it's going to be very peaceful. Click the pictures to enlarge them ...

With short rails for photograph

6/13/08 ... All finished now ... story below ...

The client's guidance sketches

Working drawing, except for change to side view at footboard

Gluing in the inlay background

'Petals' glued in .... Ready to clamp

Second step on the finish samples ... The wood has been sanded lightly and oiled
... we're looking for something like the 'pinkish-whitish' tone on the left

Test cut of headboard in mdf to guage proortions and overall feel
It's hard to get all the information that you need from a drawing and this process doesn't take a lot of time and lets us see if we know where we are going. In this case, we're going to rotate the flower inlay slightly, move it so the bottom interesection is on the centerline and move it up closer to the top of the headboard....
Close up of sample cut

The top of the headoard to be cut, sanded and inlaid before gluing to the rest of it shown assembled below

The first rough assembly and dimension check

Several hours of jointing and planing rough lumber

Our first sample inlay The bubinga wouldn't lighten up with the white stain so we changed to ash

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fix the Pix

I had two friends who are professional photographers here today interrupting my lunch, checking out the shop, looking at my work, my photos, etc. We got to talking about photography and discussing Photoshop and to my surprise neither one of them were very familiar with the 'warp' or 'distort' feature found in Photoshop. Well, actually, they'd heard of them but had never used them much. We use them ALL THE TIME to correct our digital photos both for printing and for email. I send a LOT of email pictures, mostly via this blog, to keep my clients posted on the progress of their pieces. These simple fixes can change your photos from looking like this

With everything pointing toward the floor.
To eventually looking like this
Better, but the drwers are still sagging in the middle
To finally this edition .... straightened right up.

Here's how it goes in basic photoshop, including the relatively inexpensive version, Elements.
Start with your picture ... First hit the maximize box and "View .. Fit on screen" ....
Select All
Edit .. Transform .. Distort ... Little boxes/handles appear at the corners of your photo
Drag the boxes around until you get it the way you want it and hit enter. You may have to crop and fill various parts of the results after you do this, but eventually you'll be able to use this feature in almost no time, and you'll never email a crooked picture again. "Practice makes perfect. " I'm sure other photo editing programs have this feature though I have not had experience with them .....I'll cover the cutting out of photos and the 'Warp' feature (to correct spherical distortion) found in more advanced versions of Photoshop later .... Click the photos to enlarge .... leave a comment if you want ....