Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nikon D70s For Sale

Well, I finally bit the bullet and ordered a new Nikon D90 with two lenses. I'm looking forward to getting it and changing cameras. With this blog, photography and writing, (and, lately, woodshed building) have become my new spare time focuses, slightly edging out the golf and tennis that I usually go for this time of year. As a result of this fact and the incredible display of birds at kit's backyard feeders that seem to require a good telephoto lens, I'm upgrading. So, I have a lovingly used Nikon D70s for sale. I bought it I think 3 years ago and it has been a remarkably durable workhorse of a camera. I have all the original stuff that came with it, packaging, manual, battery charger, a couple extra 512 compact flash cards ... There's a little visible dust when you look in the lens but it does not in any way seem to affect the photos that come out of it. It's ready to go for you right out of the box. Unbelievable battery life and incredibly fast start up and image view. Below are some cropped images I just took a minute ago. They are unretouched, compressed slightly for the web, but right out of the camera. ISO 400, hand held, available light ... Give me a call at 802 867 5541 ... Price is $450. plus $20. for insured shipping . Click the photos to enlarge them ...

Update on Design Fees

OK ... Thanks everybody ... I've gotten comments from my own blog and two other forums that I sometimes post on ... I will, (soon I hope), be writing a definitive policy that I can post on my website and link to as a warning if a design process seems to be getting out of control ... My problem with the situation below was that I KNEW it was out of control, but thought it was just one email aawy from resolution ... Been there, done that ... time for a change.

" New Design Fee Policy ... 5/31/09 "

" Over the years I have always considered the interpreting of my customers’ ideas, both potential and repeat customers, part of my job description, and, unless it was obviously going to be a major undertaking, (a library, a large entertainment center, a kitchen) a free service to them. In the past most of my customers came to me by word of mouth with some background from the person who referred them to me and this ‘free design’ policy was a fine one. With the rise of the internet as a referral tool, more and more people come to us, (thankfully), but with no introduction and no in person visit to our shop where they can plainly see the nature and scope of our business. As a result, sometimes the design process has the potential to get out of hand as it’s very easy to say, ‘I’d like an estimate on a coffee table sort of like this, but maybe like that … Nooooo.. that’s not what I had in mind …. ‘ in an email. I recently had a 34 email exchange with a potential client regarding a small project that sucked up an unbelievable amount of my time. It was a ‘rush’ job and I always thought I was just ‘one more email’ away from the resolution of it. I was so sure I even made sample inlays in abalone and mother-of-pearl before receiving a nickel from them. (WHAT WAS I THINKING?) Anyway, the process came to an ugly end and left me pondering how best to avoid this in the future. After a little more consideration, I will be probably be posting this policy to my website and will refer potential new clients to it if it seems appropriate.

Here’s what I’ll do for free :

Have a meeting or two of reasonable length, say an hour or so, at my shop or at their house close by …. No Charge …. More than ½ hour travel time from my shop, meetings MAY involve travel time reimbursement. The client will be informed in advance and the charge will be assessed at my discretion, probably depending on how the meeting seems to go.

Provide concept sketches and one CAD scale drawing … No Charge

If design is ‘close’ but not finalized, I’ll provided a non binding ESTIMATE of the project’s cost including shipping and installation. No Charge

If we move on from there without at that time, a formal agreement, I will request a non-refundable, but applied to the total cost, design fee that seems appropriate to the project at hand, most likely a two to four hour fee amount. If that is used up, we probably have a problem and we’ll have to take it from there with a new design fee agreement ….

I hope this is clear and that it will help both me and my customers to understand that design is not something that happens but is a sometimes complicated and time consuming process. And, time is really all we’ve REALLY got.. "

Here are the other comments ...
UK Workshops .. Project,Shops and Pat Mistakes Forum UK Workshops
Fine woodworking 'Knots' Forum

ORIGINAL POST starts here ...

Ok .... I'd really appreciate some comments here. I recently had a potential customer who was referred to me by a fellow woodworker and friend. She wanted to have a 'special' table made and was in kind of a hurry... 'in the next month' I believe were the words in her initial email. My friend thought I would be perfect for the job as I have several employees, try to be flexible with my scheduling and enjoy the kind of inlay work she said she was interested in. Time was short so I sent her some sketches. Then I sent her some CAD drawings. Then we went back and forth and back and forth until my inbox looked like this (click the photo to enlarge it) ...
and my sent messages had 14messages sent to her, AND, I have a different computer at work where I was also sending messages regarding this project. I thought the design concept could be cool and I was interested, but she was not interested in any wood except quilted big leaf maple and was stunned by the cost (as was I) of solid wood in that species. So, I said I would try to do an inlay in the commercial veneer she liked. Typically if we are inlaying abalone in veneer we make our own 1/8" thick veneer so we can actually sand the in lay after it's stuck in there. . Commercial veneer is only a 42nd of an inch thick so there's not much room for sanding. Then, I can't believe I actually did this without a deposit, but I made a sample inlay (above) (from her photo) to see if we could do an abalone inlay in commercial veneer and Trevor pulled it off. In the end it all went bad. She said she mailed me a check from in state on a Wednesday, and it hadn't come by the following Monday, plus, I had some 'normal' jobs com in in the meantime, (meeting, drawing, check) plus, she no longer liked my cattail design, which I copied from the photo that she sent me and the inlay was the wrong size ... By that time, I couldn't order the veneer and get the table done in time so I told her I could do it later when we had more time to work on the design, or cancel the job and send her check back minus a small design fee. Well she flipped out on me and stopped payment on the check !.... What do you all think???? Big, complicated jobs, no problem ... We do a little design work for free and then we're on the clock. Smaller jobs, (1000-5000),at what point does the designer bring up a design fee ??? After the first sketch?The second. third or 10th email? After thirty years I should have a handle on this, but, I admit, I don't. Design is the fun part of it for me and I like to think I'm pretty quick at it so normally it's not a problem on a smaller job. But, occasionally, and more often lately, with inquiries from the internet and the economy not so robust, it seems like I (we ALL) should have some kind of policy to cover instances like this .... Comments anyone? Please ....

My first email response

Her dragonfly pushplate photo and my drawing over it

My first CAD drawing

The final folder before the end ....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Cherry Queen Size Bed

We finished the queen bed a couple of weeks ago ... just posting the photos now ..

With the short rails for the studios photo

Before the final hardware ... bolt covers and mattress brackets

4/24 We're underway on a copy of Sheila's bed. Sheila's my neighbor. She called me from her rental house in town after she closed on her new house a few years ago. She liked a bed on my website and wanted to come and talk to me. I gave her directions and she said: 'Nice! I just bought the house across the street.' These clients also found me on the internet and made the trip from Northwestern Massachusetts to check out our work in person. They liked what they saw and now we're making their bed. Will's doing the turnings and Trevor has finished the bolts and joinery and will make up the headboard on Monday ... Should be good to go by the end of next week .. Nice project ... Click the photos to enlarge them ...

CAD Drawing

Will roughing out the turnings with the duplicator

Cleaned up and first coat of varnish so they can be sanded one more time on the lathe. Once we drill them to join them (the 56" posts are too long to turni in one piece) we won't be able to put them back on the lathe accurately, so we do as much to them before then as we can ... saves time in the long run

upside down posts and rails bolted together. If you've been reading my blog lately, you'll notice that the stairs are gone ...

The jig for accurately drilling the bottom posts...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Making A Partners Desk

These clients bought this desk at an antiques show a while back at a very reasonable price. It only had a drawer on one side and it was, like, 42" deep, so it seemed, wherever they put it, it was too wide/deep. They didn't pay much for it so they asked if I would mind cutting the back apron, which was totally plain, and adding a drawer to the other side and some fake moldings to dress it up. It seemed reasonable to me so we had at it ... 'came out good', as they say ... click the photos to enlarge them ....

I cut the opening for the drawer in the apron with a fine toothed handsaw. The runners for the main original drawer ran all the way to the back apron so it was easy to determine where to cut it, (the drawer was half the desk deep, coincidentally). Then we scanned half the face of the front drawer (10") and Trevor was able to draw the shape and cut the piece that I cut out of the apron to shape on the CNC. Next he offset that cut and cut a new molding from another piece of stock and we glued that on and colored it to match. Then we added a stained drawer box, detailed as the nailed together original drawer, and we were half way there. The front of the desk had a center drawer and two side drawers with little cockbead moldings, so we copied the moldings using a couple different cutters on the shaper, sanded them, and tacked them on. It looked better than I expected when we were through and the clients were thrilled. There is probably something to discuss here about maiming antiques. I've watched enough 'Roadshow' to know the risks and we did discuss carefully what we were doing. These folks are professional designers and collectors, not dealers; it was their piece and their decision to make the piece more functional for their own use, and I was sure what we did couldn't be passed off in the future as orginal so I agreed to do it. ... click the photos to enlarge them ...

The piece I cut out, Trevor's cut, and the cnc made molding

With the new drawer box, but before the extra applied moldings

The completed project .... I thought I took a photo of the original desk front, (the other side) but I can't find it.

Music Stand Hardware

Sam recently made some hardware for a music stand that his friend Josh made. It allows the height and the angle of the music both to be adjusted. The ball on the bottom of the height rod adds some weight and stability to the tripod base as a bonus feature. Nice design and execution I thought. The stand itself is made from yellow pine and purpleheart; also a nice design and execution.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Open Studio Weekend This Weekend

Come by and set a spell ...
It's Memorial Day Weekend again. Open Studio Weekend in Vermont, this coming Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 both days. Across Vermont hundreds of artists and craftspeople will be cleaning up and then opening their studios to their neighbors and visitors from out of state. It's the 17th year for this event and Kit will be here with her handmade jewelry and Penny Viscusi will be showing her landscape pastels, and I will be here at my shop with my stuff, old and new, both days. Sam will also be in and out and you may catch him and he can show you his metalwork. I plan to have a small number of pieces that have been on hand for a while offered at negotiable prices as I've got a ton of new ideas I want to explore, both furniture and in the sculptural mode I've been fooling with for the last year or so ... So come on by ... We're friendly ...

New Artisans of Southern Vermont Website
That's my shop door on the rack card ... Photo by George Bouret Lots of info about the event on this new site ... Click to enlarge the photos ...

Kit's Jewelry

Penny's Pastels

Sam's Belt Buckles

Dan's Sculptures and Furniture

Drawing a Greene & Greene Cloud Lift with a CAD Program ...

Since I work many styles besides Greene and Greene I sometimes have to fool around for a minute til I remember how exactly to do this when I have to do it. I'm putting it here for myself and anybody else who wants it ... Enjoy ! Click to enlarge ...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This One's Got Legs

I was looking in my big template drawer for a 36" radius pattern the other day and couldn't find it. I ended up emptying the whole drawer including the 1/2" of dust on the bottom of it. I did find the 36" radius and this stack of leg patterns for our 'Egyptian' leg. I think I made the first one back around 1988 and have done, (it seems), many, many variations on it since. More 'Egypt' leg pieces here ....

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A New Coffee Table (Update)

We finished the coffee table today and our shipper will pick it up Friday for delivery next week. A great collaboration with the clients who added the burl apron element to our vocabulary. We like it ....

The finished table ... click to enlarge it ...

Showing the structure ...
Update on the square coffee table

Got the first coat of finish on the top at the end of the day today. The base is finished and it'll be ready to ship off the Connecticutt next week.

Will, installing the edge inlay ... For more details on this process see this previous post..
5/7/09 below

We're coming along on the coffee table I mentioned in an earlier post called Spring Fever. Glued up the top and shelf last week, veneered the aprons and did some joinery yesterday and glued up the base today. Tomorrow we'll start on the edge inlay and I hope we'll have it ready for finish by the end of the week .... Updates later ...

gluin' up

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Finishing a Sailboat Mast

I was going to add the pictures I took today to the sailboat mast post below, but I thought it would make it just too long. Here they are as a separate entry. The whole mastmaking process was great, and took me back to my Windsor chairmaking woodworking roots of handtools, spokeshaving and carving. In the day to day rush to make a living, we sometime forget the pleasure to be had from a sharp handtool and the eye/hand work that goes with using it .... And, sometimes it takes some weekend work to appreciate differently the work you do during the week ....

I knew how I wanted to finish the mast transition from square to round, and I knew the detail was called a 'Lamb's Tongue'. Googled it up, and the video was great. Hats off to Woodsmith magazine ....

square to round point

step one

quickly rough carved with chisels and finished with a rasp and sandpaper ... about 20 minutes per tongue ...

Pete and the boat co-owner, Chris with Pete doing the final spokeshaving

The finished transition

Off to the garage where Pete will paint it this week ... We'll mount it to the tabernacle that Sam is building and hang the rigging in due time ... hopefully in the next couple of weekends ... click the photos to enlarge them

Making a Sailboat Mast (Update)

The Boat ... An original Barnegat Bay Sneakbox, built in New Jersey in 1922 ..... It's 87 YEARS OLD ! Older than me... Looks better too ...

In the previous post, A Walk in the Yard, I talked about Pete's, (of Pete's Pizza Oven's) boat, a Barnegat Bay Sneakbox. The original mast is shown below and while it's in perfectly fine and original condition, it's not that handy a set up if you want to trailer the boat to the next small lake or out to the ocean from southwestern Vermont. So, as I mentioned, Sam's building a tabernacle for the new mast which will requare that the mast be shorter by the amount that the original mast goes through the deck to the mortise below (I'm sure there's a nautical term for that place but I don't know what it is ... step hole maybe?) Anyway, we air dried some spruce 2 x 6 's for a couple of weeks, milled them down to 1.35" and glued them up with West System epoxy ... Sometime soon, we'll joint the 15 foot long piece and square it up to begin the layout and tapering of the finished product.

The original mast

Gluing it up with the epoxy

Long view showing support and set up

Jointing and planing it straight ... long thing

5/10/09 Making a Mast update ..

Well, I learned something new yesterday. I made my first 15' long 3.5" diameter, curved and tapered chair spindle. Remarkably, now that I look at my pictures and review the process, it is EXACTLY the same as the process I used to make windsor chair spindles from scratch, back in the 80's when I was making Windsor chair spindles from scratch. Made a lot of them. Hundreds of em. Pick some wood with nice straight grain; make a long, straight square; taper it; make it into an octagon; whittle it round and fit it to the chair. Same exact process, except this spindle weighs about 40 pounds, more than a whole set of windsor chairs. It's not rocket science, but there is a logic to the steps and we have to honor the process. Pete had a book, 'How to Build a Shellback Dinghy', by Eric Dow that had some good pictures and tips on mastmaking and we read that part and had at it. Great book ... if you're not a boater though there are some amazingly obscure words they use to describe different parts of the vessel and sailing processes and some of the paragraphs and descriptions we're stunning when ripped from their context and read aloud to amuse my wife.

After transfering the diameters of the existing mast to our blank, we bandsawed the curved tapers at 90 degrees and planed the cuts to our line, first roughly with a power planer and then with a Stanley #4 handplane

Once it was tapered and square we had to make an 'octagon' jig which was detailed in Eric's book and is essentially made from a drawing like the one above. I started with a square about a half inch larger than the largest section of the mast and then to use the jig, you angle it and drag it along. Once you get the hang of it, it makes proportional lines that are appropriate to the curve as you move it along. Pete's using it below to layout the octagoning lines .. (octagoning ... made that one up)

Click to enlarge the picture and you can see the jig pretty good.

The top curved parts we roughed to the line with a 45 degree bit in the router, the bottom untapered part of the mast we cut the bevels on the table saw.

After we fared the octagon, we sketched on lines with a magic marker to make a sixteen sided object,

Planed to those lines mostly by hand, and then switched to a number 3 Stanley for the final rough smoothing and then to a spokeshave until beer time. The photos above cover about 3 hours work for me and about 2 for Pete, just to give you some perspective on what's involved. Later today, we'll cut the "Lamb's Tongues" (great short video at that link) at the points where the mast goes from round to octagon and then to square .. more on that later.

There is something extremely satisfying about a spokeshaved 15' spruce mast. ...