Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Vermont Coffee Table

My man Trevor deserves a blog post for his latest efforts at home improvement. He has made himself and his girlfriend Emily a quatersawn sycamore and walnut real Vermont coffee table for his new living room. He's been working on it off an on for a while, but last week he took it home and I shot a couple quick pictures of it as it went out the door. It's clean and clever, done on the cnc router that he runs in the shop. He cut the inlay parts, the curved supports, the little keystones and the mortises and tenons for the base ... the whole deal ... Nice job Trevor ... He says he'll do other states too .... click the pictures to enlarge them ... Coming soon, Sam's Vermont Belt Buckle ...
They're hard to see, but there are little raised outlines of Vermont in the keystones at the center of the arches ...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Remodeling an English Breakfront

This Just In

All Done 10/24

We met with a client recently who asked us to remodel an antique breakfront that had been in her family for a while. It is a nice example of simple, classic, 19th century English cabinetry. Frame and panel English oak doors, with a pine case, cornice and interior. Her request was to put the paneled doors in the center where the glass was, (flat screen tv moving in) and move the glass doors to the outside. This would have been easier if all the doors were the same size, which, unfortunately, they were not, the paneled doors being 3" narrower than the glass doors ... We had at it anyway and should finish tomorrow sometime. I'll let the pictures tell the story ... Click to enlarge ....
The cabinet as we found it

Doors off .. shows early "adjustable shelf" detail

A disassembled door waiting to be cut down, re-coped and reglued

My man Jim, heating and chipping off the ROCK HARD old putty after he knocked the doors apart with a hammer and block. He was able to save all but two of the unbroken wavy glass pieces. Fortunately, we have a small stash of old sash with similar glass.

This photo, when enlarged, shows the pieces we cut off, the shaper set up for recoping the cut rails and muntins, and the contoured backup block ( a negative of the molding and rabbet shape of the muntin and rail profiles ) we made so that the coping cutter does not blow out the existing molding. When making doors like this, it's best to run the cope on the ends of the rails and crossbars before we add the molding detail so we can skip this step usually..

The clamped up doors with the newly coped muntins and rails, note the old protruding tenons ..

Where we are today ... 10/23
We should be able to recut the old glass and reglaze the 'new' doors tomorrow, polish the whole thing up and send it on its way ....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Concertina Hinge Game Table

OK ... this is going to be a long one ..... It started when one of my favorite clients asked me to make a game table. Closed it wanted to be 18 x 36, open 36" square. She wanted people to be able to sit in largish, overstuffed chairs, opposite each other, to play chess or cards or whatever. That kind of ruled out gate leg designs, the classic card table form. A long time age I had on my bulletin board some pictures of an antique card table that opened with a scissors mechanism like an accordion. Of course by the time I needed to design the table, I couldn't find the pictures ..... so, I hit the books. Checked out a bunch of them, no luck; checked my Fine Woodworking search feature and while there stumbled on a tab called "Ask The Experts". So I did. On September 6th I posted a question on Gary Rogowski's tab and within 48 hours he was back to me with a book title and page. Lo and behold, I had the book and had been oh so close to finding the entry a couple days previous. In fact, the index title was "Concertina Hinge' and the book had detailed drawings and helpful descriptions. And, we were off. Sort of. The proportions of the various folding parts and their relationships to the various pivoting, open and closed points were kind of fussy as we discovered while we were making the mdf mockup. We're set to go now, the design work is virtually complete, the leather for the checker boaard has been selected and the wood is acclimating in the shop. We'll make the top, rout a recess for the leather work, do the finishing and send it off to Heath's Restoration in Pomfret Center, CT, for Russ to inlay while we build the rest of the table. It will take a while, but I'll keep you posted ... haha ... Click the photos to enlarge them ...

The original sketch I posted with my question to Gary

My original sketch for the client ... a bit heavier than the final version which I'llpost later

The Book ... A classic, and one of my 4 or 5 main resources ... I think I should list my reference books some day . I checked Amazon and I didn't find it listed there. Check your library...

The entry, page 382

Closed ... you can't see it in this picture, but there is a little spring clip in the center of the back rail to keep side aprons tight to the legs when the table is closed.

The sliding board stiffens the folding parts when the table is open ...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Vew-Do Balance Boards Board Stands

Last year we did a run of custom retail store displays for our friends at Vew-Do Balance Boards, a local company where Will used to work. Business is good for them and we did another 20 stands last week. They ship flat, hold 4 boards, four rocks and a signboard for promotional material. The parts slide together without tools and are rigid and stable .... It took a couple prototypes and subtle adjustments to get them right the first time last year, but this run of 20 stands went off without a hitch..
Click to enlarge the pictures.

40 sides, 20 backs

A fuzzy picture of the stained, assembled stand

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New Skill ... Tin Punching

A client recently requested that we add a pair of punched tin panels to her new kitchen cabinets. Since we had already installed most of the kitchen, time was short. We took some copper scraps and a nail to make some test panels, did a little Googling and decided to have at it. After making a cad line drawing inspired by a piece in the client's house, we picked up some steel, fastened it temporarily to a thick piece of plywood, taped on the pattern and started punching, spacing the holes by eye. Before starting the real panels we sharpened a nail set to a point. Will had to take a couple of breaks, as it was a lot of hammering and punching, and I only heard a few swear words, as he moved through them in pretty short order. We found some spray primer rated for galvanized, and after letting that cure a few days, we sprayed a couple of thin coats of latex paint on both sides. They will now be brushed out by the painter on site to matched the rest of the kitchen. I'm very pleased with the way they came out and think that it was a great addtion to the design of the kitchen .... more photos of the finished kitchen later ... Click to enlarge ...

A photo of the panel from which we drew inspiration... we added outside borders ...
Raw panel before priming
The backing panel and CAD drawing

The doors with the painted panels

Monday, October 6, 2008


After a couple of years of sketching sculptures I think I'm finally going to get myself around to making a few. OK, they take a lot of time, they take a lot of space, they're hard to sell, etc, but they are fun and I have been recently inspired by a visit my son and I made to one of our local sculptor's studios. I took my son Sam, the metalworker, to visit with my old friends, Sam and Sheila Ogden. Sam has been making metal sculptures locally since before I arrived in Vermont in 1971. That recent visit reminded me of another earlier pilgrimage I made to Wharton Esherick's former home in Paoli, PA, another guy who mostly just made what he wanted to ....

My son Sam, Sheila and Sam in the Ogden studio ..... and, what a studio it is

Sam's sculptures aound the pond
So, now I'm under way with my own sculptures..... Click photos to enlarge ...

'Animal Rhythms' ... Indoor version, floor mounted ... painted mdf and steel. Originally conceived as a wall piece below, I was offered the opportunity to display it at the Woodstock Woodworking Show (see post below) and took that opportunity to create a stand for it. Actually, the floor mount was almost better. Available as is or by commission in various colors and sizes ...Please inquire ...

Also availble in painted steel for outdoor settings.

A smaller version (#2) went to a bedroom in New York City

Number Eight ... Two slices of a branch of a local silver maple tree ... This week it gets a piece of black steel behind the cracks and some soft lights behind it

'Big Spalted Maple' +/- 4" thick by 36 wide by about 57" high .... wall mounted .... I'm finished here for now, but may add some steel elements later ... The wood is spectacular in person