Monday, February 28, 2011

models and mockups

below is a post i wrote for the guild of vermont furniture makers blog back in 2009. i was waiting for photos of the actual show at the furniture society before i put it on my own blog, but i didn't attend the conference and so, never got any photos ... i wanted to have it here on my own space and low and behold select all, copy and paste, and here it is ... looks like i used my old camera ...
here are a couple of links to some other built projects .. models can be fast and extremely helpful ... click the photos to enlarge them

the big tables .. long mdf model in foreground
the claro walnut desk two mockups; one with the photo on top in cardboard and a welded steel one far right foreground
the duck bed ... and aluminum sample before the stee, copper and brass ... foreground center

5/9/09
The Furniture Society Conference is coming up again and, just every year, I think I'll go, and then I don't. I expect this year will be the same. Like some other things in life, we think we might be more interested at first, but then are distracted by more interesting things. Happens all the time. I did, however, submit an entry in the 'Designs in Miniature' event which called for photos of models as design tools. Since I have a fair collection of them and find them valuable study and sales tools, and I like to build them, I sent some in. Here are the pictures. I don't have many of the pieces, but I do have ALL the models ... Click to enlarge the photos ...

Tapered cherry cabinets from last fall 1/6th scale, 30 x 21 x 6

revised models

One of the finished cabinets

More models and some finished tables below





One of my favorites from 1990

happens to be currently in my home office

Night pictures are always a little color challenged .. the tops are natural curly maple

Friday, February 25, 2011

interior design 2

second post in a planned series ...

it's hard to believe because snow now covers the bench seats in the photo above, but we're only about two and a half months from this opening photo. at our house, it's all about the sunshine, all the time .... this side faces due southeast, which lets the morning sun come into the bedroom and bathroom below on the right end, and the afternoon light shine in the left end living room, and opposite side of the house. our previous house, from 1974-1996 was on red mountain road, about 15 miles from where we live now... that house was in a beautiful spot with a nice valley view, but was tucked up fairly tightly against a sizable bump in the landscape called, fittingly, red mountain. we were on the wrong side of the mountain .... in the winter, the sun was gone by 2:30 or so.

this time, either by luck or a dogged persistence, or both, we ended up with a house and shop that get very early morning sun and some of the last sun in town ... in designing both the house and the shop, attention was paid to maximizing that sunlight .... it is vermont, and winters are long and in general, tend to cloudiness. so, when you, have some sun, you want to get as much of it as you can .... our garage, for instance, is close, but detached, so as to get that morning light into the bedroom and bathroom below .... personal, (but imho, worthy), obsession ... click the photos to enlarge them ...
but, at all times of a sunny day, it's a delight ... lighting the spaces and the furniture ... yeah ... the cherry bureau was for our own house ... the first piece of real furniture i have made for us, intentionally, (not a prototype or mockup), in a long time. talk about a special spot ...
morning sun in all of these photos ... kitchen, dining and living room here ... like the shop, which we built and lived in first, we designed this house to be, wherever possible, 'one room deep', meaning you can look in the front window from outside in front, and out the back window on the other side ... a principal i think i picked up from a book i get from the library every once in a while, called 'a pattern language' by christopher alexander. one of my favorite quotes from that book goes like this:

"At the core... is the idea that people should design for themselves their own houses, streets and communities. This idea... comes simply from the observation that most of the wonderful places of the world were not made by architects but by the people".
—Christopher Alexander, A Pattern Language, front bookflap

he also goes on to say inside that 'the patterns are regarded by the authors not as infallible, but as hypotheses.' meaning to me ... read em, but do what you want with them as ideas ... we did ... great book, but expensive last time i looked ... and mirrors ... you can't say enough about them .... this one was born of a need to squeeze a full length mirror in somewhere handy. it's tapered, and angled, slightly, so the out of verticalness of it lends interest but yet doesn't distort the reflection.... we have another of these in a small half bath by the front door ... they infallibly make the room seem bigger ..
'amaryllis with prayer flags' ... and for a really nice interior design effect, you can't beat a good houseplant .... this one kit picked up cheap at the local shaw's grocery and this is its second four flower effort ... $5., well spent for about 3 weeks of flowering so far ...

the cylinder tables

2/26 ... the cylinder bedside tables left this week ... verrrrry funky objects ... we didn't get rich on this one, but hey, we love a challenge .... forgot to take a picture with the doors open and the shelves inside, but it all worked out and the client loved them .... we decided in the end to add hardware later if necessary. probably not as the doors open easily without it ...
there was a bench with a kilim covered cushion ( to be completed by the owner's upholsterer) that is in the same room as these. the legs are similar and the photos are at the bottom of this post ...
update 2 11 ... we spent most of this week finishing the 'big island' project ... more on that when it's really finished and delivered. in the meantime we puttered on the cylinder tables, trevor made a jig and figured out how to cut the powderjet snowboards on the cnc, and we moved along on four different custom seating projects i have yet to post ... also, we're tentatively entering the world of video ... slowly figuring out that people actually watch them ... i checked my you tube channel after i uploaded these two and found that a video i posted two years ago and mentioned once in my blog has been viewed 20,500 times. the others on my 'channel' have also had limited but surprising view counts ... i was just figuring it out .. anyway, we'll try to do more and better as time allows. above, trevor and jim veneer the tops of the glued up cylinder tables and the doors. they'll be ready to assemble and finish next week. the new videos are toward the bottom of this post ... let me know what you think ... thanks ...
well, you know what they say, 'no problems? ... might as well invent some' ... one of my longtime clients gave me the concept for a bedside table she had seen somewhere .. a cylinder with a door, and a space on top for a shelf, metal legs and a round top ... well, we love a new concept and, really, how hard can it be? a couple of forms, a little joinery? i mean, they're only 18" x 27" ... how long can they take? ... ok, we'll try it ... that was a while ago, and while i can delegate parts, i can't exactly delegate a process that i can't actually describe myself .. what's next? hmmmm, let's figure out this step and then we'll see ... techniques build on techniques and this one is a direct relative of this one, maybe like a second cousin or great uncle ... related for sure ... click the pictures to enlarge them....
we went through a couple 'pre steps' .. drawings, mockups, stuff like that until we settled more or less on the dimensions shown in the cad drawing above.
from the cad drawing, trevor made the form for laminating the wacky wood and bending birch sections of the cylinders ...
one still in the form ...
turn down your sound if you want to watch this video of the operation above. i forgot to record it with the sound off. i've made a lot of things with curved panels over the years and feel this to be a safe operation. some would protest and say i'm nuts ... so, disclaimer here: don't try this at home unless you have confidence in your wood working hand eye skills. you might want to use a higher reference fence to keep more of the panel in contact with the fence ... a foot operated off switch is helpful too ...
trevor also made the '1/3 jig' for cutting the sections to fit together into a circle ... another video clip here ... worked slick ...
we stuck them together, figured out the angles on the solid wood pieces we needed to join them together and recut them using the jig and the new lines...
we added some dominoes to hold the parts together until we get the clamps on them and we're almost ready to glue them up ... we still have to add the supports for the interior shelf and do some final sanding ... sam's got the first three legs made ... next week, we should have something to see...
this metal bench was part of the same project ... welded steel with rivets by sam


a short note : i hate typing ... particularly on a laptop. my fingers are like carrots and i spend about half the time i'm writing, correcting my mistakes ... so, those of you who know me know i long ago eliminated capital letters from my email correspondence, i am now eliminating it from my blog posts unless a howl of reader protest ensues ... what would miss shelley say? i say content and time are more important than capitalization ... (three typing corrections in the last sentence, even without the capitals) ... all for now ... packers? ... steelers? ... i'm originally from penns woods so i'm going with the steelers ...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

It's A Wrap

the big island is in its new home ... after a month or so of awaiting finish sample approvals and then actually doing the finishing, delivery and assembly, we're done ... it was nip and tuck getting it out the front door, but we got it, and, it looks great on site, perfectly proportioned to it's new room, which is, actually, quite a bit larger and at present, emptier than our shop ... it was a challenging and engaging project on a lot of levels and i look forward to seeing it with the appliances, sink and granite as well as the rest of the furnishings for the room in place ... onward ...

click the photos to enlarge them ...
from the dining room side ...
the piece is lightly distressed at the early stages of the finishing and we sanded the broken edges a little more aggressively than usual as the finishing progressed, creating highlights on the corners and a 'softness' than is often found on well used antiques.
carry it in ... set it down ... perfectly level over the entire 16', both ways ... we jacked the shop floor up to all level before we started because, having worked with this builder for almost ever, we knew it would be this way ... with the design as it was, there was no place for shimming anyway ... all good ....
here trevor is installing the steel granite overhang support. it's 1 x 3 x 1/4" rectangular tubing stiffened with the box beam cross pieces visible in the photo below.
the finish schedule was a variation of our typical finish process using lockwood dyes, minwax fast dry polys, gel stains and wiping polys. see more finishing posts here ...
we made a couple different sample boards before we got what we wanted ... i can't remember the last time we used stained quartered white oak for a piece and i'm pretty sure we haven't ever done a distressed, stained version of it before ... i'm happy with the results. on the sample we gel stained before the seal coat which, in my opinion, requires a longer dry time before the top coats and is slightly harder to manipulate on the unsealed wood ... next time i would do as we regularly do and seal the second coat of stain in before applying the gel layer. it was a big finishing project and took a long time but as in cooking, what step/ingredient would you leave out? in my 30+ years of experience and research, there are no shortcuts to a deep rich finish, only many, many steps ... ask the experts ...

there are a few earlier related posts for this project at the links below ...
turning the columns
getting it all together, attaching the columns and cornice support structure
finish process and delivery photos

Friday, February 18, 2011

Furniture Making and Interior Design

let us now talk about interior design and furniture making. they are related .... i have always thought them to be separate disciplines, but in looking through my 'on site photos' folder recently, i realized that making a piece of furniture, particularly a piece for a particular client, for a particular spot, with their design input, is more than furniture making. if you get it right, not only have you manifested their vision, but you have created for them a 'special place', a place where they too can see 'their vision'. powerful stuff, when you think about it .... so, that said, i will be adding a new category to my blog, interior design, where occasionally i will post a few photos of successful collaborations that i feel meet the criteria above. like the sideboard above, some are from my own home, where the realization began; others from my local clients' homes.

click the photos to enlarge them ...
this is one of my favorite before and after rooms ... the challenge was to take a little used guest room/fly tying spot and turn it into a husband and wife home office/fly tying spot ... lots of conversations, lots of drawings, lots of changes ...  before above ...

after







we did, in the end, receive a couple of design awards for this one ...
 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

catching up

i've been out of the writing thing for a bit here. i've been back playing some paddle tennis and pool in the evenings and things have picked up a bit in the office. aside from sending out drawings and estimates and shoveling snow, we've got a few new complex little 'new design' projects we're working on. plus, we received our approved finish sample last week and delivered the 'big island' yesterday. tomorrow trevor and i will do the final onsite assembly. it's nice to have our shop back after walking around a 16' object for a month or so ... it was a long way to the bandsaw for a long time ... click the photos to enlarge them ...
first coat of finish ...
as it says, before the seal coat
on site, but not assembled ..
i forgot the columns stuck out beyond the cornice and we had to take off the front door (twice), and a piece of weatherstripping to go straight out ... close one ..
back to normal ...
sam's latest bench project
the client has added a shelf under the seat for books, etc. it's a bedroom piece under the tv in the same room as the cylinder cabinets. (see the post below) ..
we started with a cross piece centered on every other rivet, but i'm guessing we'll fill them all in once the client checks it out tomorrow ...
and, my neighbor made an intriguing little sketch for some stools for her kitchen island ... she took one of our 'egypt' legs and added some footrests ... if you've ever tried it, you know it's not possible to go directly from a sketch to a 'real' chair or stool without a full size mockup. (see below) ... how comfortable is that drawing? is it the right size?
well, our first shot wasn't ... too big ... the second one was 'just right'
cool design and most comfortable if you sit across the seat as it makes the seat bigger without making the whole seat too big ... happy accident ..
and then, our friend mr. ruhlman sent us some inspiration from 1st dibs and france circa 1928 or so .... it looked sooooo simple in the picture ...
but wait, how do you fit that curved compound angled glued up veneered back piece to the rest of the thing ... cardboard helps,but patience and a good attitude is the sharpest tool in the box ... it's coming ... more later when we get out the Edelman 'snakeskin' leather. it's going to be something ...
some fumed spessart quartersawn oak (never heard of it) from Talarico Lumber for an upcoming fancy 'phases of the moon' bookcase project ... should be fun ..
and lastly, oh my aching back ... 2and a half feet or so of snow blown up against the house directly above the front entry ... it was easier to shovel it down than it would have been to shovel it up after it slides ... this was a once in eleven winter event ...
i only shoveled the half over the walk ... the far half slid off monday night ... one of the first days above freezing in 2011. all for now ... phew!