I thought I should write a bit about how I go about building the things I make. We are in the midst of a second Arts and Crafts movement (at least that’s how I see it), where the factory made is losing favor to the handmade or the craft made. People are no longer content to have throw away pieces of furniture. They want something that will last. Like that table or dresser in grandma’s house that is 100+ years old and still rock solid. They want something unique; something that won’t be found at the local big box store. That’s where people like me come in. People who make. We are the ones with the shops, the space to build that piece of furniture that one day you will hand down to your kids or grandkids. We’re building the next generation of heirloom pieces.
Onward to the how if it:
The first step in my process is to meet with my client(s) and discuss what they are thinking of for their project. We discuss the size of the piece, materials, and price. Then I get to work designing the piece. I typically do 2 or 3 slightly different designs before one is settled upon. Why do I do this? Simply to be sure that my clients are getting exactly what they are paying for. I strive to exceed expectations.
Once a design is finalized I require a 20% deposit. When the deposit has been received, I start shopping for materials. Depending on the project and the design where I shop will vary greatly. I’ve been known to frequent various local saw mills, salvage yards, and even a junk yard or two. For wood selection, I only use three “types” of wood: FSC certified, locally sawn, and/or reclaimed native hardwoods or softwoods. FSC certification means that the Forest Stewardship Council has certified that the wood has been harvested in a sustainable manner. I often purchase locally sawn wood, one because it helps out local businesses; and two because I know many of the sawyers and how they harvest wood. Reclaimed materials are just that: materials that have been used previously. At the moment, I have several hundred square feet of hard maple that was reclaimed from a mill nearby. Using these types of materials keeps them out of landfills and preserves a bit of history. Why only deal with native hardwoods? With exotic wood, you are never quite sure how the material was harvested. Was it done sustainably? Is the wood being replanted like many forests here in the United States and/or Canada are?
As work on the project progresses, my clients are updated with pictures and messages with how the project is proceeding. Once the materials are selected and the first cuts are made is when I start sending pictures. For example: If I were building a coffee table, I would start sending pictures once the materials have been cut and joined to make the table top. Then additional pictures would follow of the legs and aprons or stretchers. Then a final assembly picture would be sent. Then as finish is applied more pictures are sent.
A full size table will typically take me 4-6 weeks from start to finish. A coffee table takes 1-4 weeks. A rolling pantry may be completed in 1-2 weeks. Other custom work may take longer depending on the size, design, etc.
Yup it is. The Burns table was done and delivered, a couple of night tables were completed and delivered, and new orders have come in.
So what else is new? Well, as said above, new orders have come in. Also, a new saw made its debut in the shop last night. Well, to say new is a bit of a misnomer. New to me is more appropriate as the saw was manufactured in 1947 give or take a couple of years.
She’s not that pretty to look at yet, but she will be. I’ll be re-wiring the saw, installing a new fence, zero clearance insert, and eventually painting it. I love that Delta/Rockwell didn’t really bother to change the design all that much for 70 years.
The motor is original to the saw and runs like a champ. It’s got about twice the power of my old saw.
Here it is all bundled up due to the rain we had yesterday. The table top is perfect on this saw. Others I have seen or considered were in much worse shape and/or a ton more money. I love the details of the saw. The base with the “scalloping”, the DELTA logo, the bullet motor, the subtle curve of the bottom of the table.
Just look at that art deco style logo. That’s just cool.
Oh, did I mention, this thing is HEAVY? It’s a bit smaller than my Jet saw, but weighs twice as much. I’m looking forward to this saw hanging about the shop for many years to come.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of “news” articles, videos, etc. about the rise of the lumbersexual. What the devil is a lumbersexual? Well, Cosmo (no doubt the authority on these things), defines a lumbersexual is a bearded individual, who wears plaid, who works with wood. Great, that describes much of the woodworking community. So all those lumberjacks that you see on tv (and in your neighborhood) are lumbersexuals. That old grizzled guy at the lumber mill? Lumbersexual. That guy at Lowes? Well…..
So basically, the “world” has applied a label to those of us who work with wood. What was the matter with Woodworker? Oh, it didn’t end in –sexual? So. What. It seems like the rise and fall of popular trends has finally spilled over into the woodworking community. There’s been metrosexuals, hipsters, etc. Now the hip trend is to be a lumbersexual. So the guy who finds a pallet, looks on Pintrest for pallet ideas, finds a pallet wine rack, and builds one now calls himself a lumbersexual. The guy who grew a beard and build a wall shelf from “reclaimed” (really new lumber from Lowes stained with vinegar and steel wool) wood calls himself a lumbersexual.
I guess this is actually a good thing as it separates the fake folk from the real woodworkers. The guys who are out there every day or weekend building “stuff”. The guy who knows what a mortise and tenon joint is. The guy with a collection of hand planes who knows how to use them. The guy with more tools than brain cells. Those are the real woodworkers, not some label. That’s the kind of guy I want to be. Regardless of my beard, affinity to plaid, and my ax.
I have a problem. Not so much a problem, more a lack of proper power tools. As such, when I am making cutting boards, tables, benches, etc. I have to use my hand planes to make wood flat. Of course, I try to buy the flattest stock I can, however, as wood sits around the shop, it will sometimes warp a bit. Take this beautiful rough sawn cherry I picked up a few months ago. While most of it has been flat and very easy to work with, some of it has warped over time.
The other issue is my glue ups for cutting boards haven’t been perfect. As a result, there are highs and lows to each piece.
I know it’s hard to see in this shot, but just below my trusty #5 is a bunch of pencil marks. These indicate the high spot on this side of the board. To flatten, I use my #5, #4, and on really rough stuff, my #8 planes to flatten things out. I remove a little material at a time, checking often that things are nice and flat. Once flat and sanded smooth, each piece is hand rubbed with either mineral oil or wax.
The Burns family recently asked me to build them a new dining table and two matching benches. Their table top is ~2″ thick red oak with a ship lap construction and a live edge. The trestle legs are going to be a mixture of a 1800’s barn beam and 2″ thick walnut. The stretcher is live edge quarter sawn white oak. It will be pegged with poplar and ebony stained poplar dowels. The benches will feature the same ~2″ thick red oak top and walnut / barn beam legs. The stretcher is to be determined, though will most likely also be white oak like the table.
The table is 62″ x 42″ x 30″
The benches are 60″ x 13″ x 18″
They have also requested a cherry coffee table. Their coffee table features two pieces of live edge cherry with a third middle piece. This table will also be joined together with ship lap joinery. There may also be a white oak live edge shelf about 3″ up from the bottom of the ebony stained legs.
The coffee table is 42″ x 26″ x 18″
Feel free to contact me for a price quote for your custom table. I guarantee that you will be pleasantly surprised both at the cost and construction of your new table.