Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Arts and Crafts Library Step

This one with a Civil War motif for a friend's library:

This "Arts and Crafts" movement design is really well-suited to a shop like mine.  The pieces tend to be elegant (in their simplicity), very straight forward with  evident joinery.  I was influenced by this style of design as it was the spell my father was under in his high school vocational arts classes of the 1930s.

I love the whole Roycrofter thing.

I wonder,  what will be next?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A good book is always within reach

When you live with a delightfully diminutive person, and have a very well stocked, floor-to-ceiling library those upper shelves can be just out of reach.

Enter the latest project from the wood shop, the two step library step.

Cut out of a pine board, seven pieces went into this simple little project.

Going for an Arts and Crafts look, I opted for pegged construction and a mortise and tenon stringer across the bottom of the lower step.

Here, I'm sanding the tenon...

and with my scroll saw,  cutting the mortise.

The fit was nice and snug.  The opening above is one of the carrying holes on each side of the bench.

Glued and clamped for a couple of hours, followed by a nice dark walnut Danish oil finish.  After a three day dry and rub-down...

the appropriate steps were being taken in the library.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My 5 (and a half) board benches

The bench-building continues at a brisk pace.  I'm taking advantage of my last free week before returning to taking classes to knock out some knockout projects.

After recently seeing a delightful documentary on old-school tattoo artist Norman Collins, better known as "Sailor Jerry" I was inspired to bring a little more color to my bench project.

I've already made five of these classic American benches, the first batch finished very plainly and the second (gifts for my sweetie) were decorated with routing, woodburning, and color.

I wanted to bring a little more design to the five-board benches I'd been making.  

On this latest batch of four the relief cuts on the legs are valentine hearts rather than simple holes.  I used a hole saw on my drill press followed by a band saw operation to make these little hearts.

The second variation was the brace between the legs, what I'm calling the 1/2 board in my "five and a half board benches".  These are the fully assembled benches awaiting staining, decoration, and varnishing.

This bench is a gift for two very good friends who raise chickens - as pets, so I thought I'd start with a very generic hen outline and then spruce it up a little.

Using a wide range of Prismacolor pencils I came up with this fanciful creation which I call...

the Chilean Goldenback.  Needless to say, It was very well received by my friends this afternoon.

Then next one was for me, very much a tattoo and very much a nod to my time (tattooless time) in the U.S. Navy.   

This is a faithful copy of a classic Sailor Jerry design.
The Prismacolors are remarkably vivid on wood and I'm really pleased with the result.

The next bench, or "tattoo bench" as I'm calling them, is also based upon a Sailor Jerry design though with my own variations.  That's my little mountain home in the center of the valentine with the Cumberland Valley in the background.  Sunset around these parts looks remarkably like the drawing.

I think the bench reflects the happiness of the couple who live in that little house.

After two coats of spar varnish the image is locked in and smudge proof.  Again, I'm really pleased with the effect of the colored pencils on stained wood.

What a satisfying way to close out the summer.  Now I have all winter to plan new projects for the springtime.

Check in again,


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cooking Night at Mannie's

Cook for two nights:

Eat for three weeks:

Wouldn't June be proud of me?

Bon Appetit from my side of South Mountain!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mommy, Daddy; where do baby spiders come from?

From this, now empty, egg case which I found in my basement...

(note the tiny exit hole)

did emerge these zillions of little spiders, ready to take their place in the food chain.

Bon App├ętit!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Took Me Out to the Ball Game

To escape the wintry weather here in Boonsboro yesterday, some friends and I headed to a ballgame in Washington DC, where we knew it would be at least five degrees hotter.

This contest between the Nationals and the Padres was my first major league game.  Fortunately, I had my posse to keep me out of harm's way.  Altogether there were seven magnificent fellows in the group.

Ike, in red, furthest down, supplied us with an enormous bag of peanuts, as snacks at the park were shamefully overpriced.

The proximity to our nation's capital provides a venue for presidential mascots; here Alann is conferring with slave-holder and third white president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.

I caught Theodore Roosevelt taking a leak in the stairwell.

When the park has more character than the team, you know something is wrong.  I haven't followed baseball since the 1968 Detroit Tigers, and I was struck by the fact that a trip to the ballpark today is as much a shopping experience as it is a sporting event.  This is not our parents' ballgame.

What made it worthwhile for this sportsfan was simply getting out on the town with my friends, six of whom occupy the  front row on the outfield wall (only one of whom is looking up at me).

I found myself more interested in the view of the old Washington Navy Yard on the Anacostia River, than in much of the action on the field.  I believe that's the retired destroyer U.S.S. Barry tied up at the pier.

Despite the heat, the shameful prices, and the joyless anonymity of the players, it was a fun outing with some really good friends.

Though I liked the hockey game way better.



Sunday, July 4, 2010

The verdict is in...

Me, sweltering on the deck...

the wasps shaded under the lawn chair...

and the toads, sheltered in the storm drain, all agree...

it's hot.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Birthday Benches

I've been in a frenzy of making benches.  I came across a nice pattern for traditional five-board benches and immediately made four of them, out of salvaged lumber, one of which I gave to a friend for his garden.

Benches, I discovered made nice gifts, and as my sweetie had a birthday coming up (yesterday) I set about to make a pair of "higher-end" five-board benches with some Arts and Crafts influence.

And they came out pretty nice

I also wanted to decorate them.  Using my soldering iron...

I burned this scene of blackbirds on a limb into the first.

Into the second one I routed a traditional Roycroft design, in this case, Dard Hunter's beautiful 
geometric roses.  

                                 The Dremel Trio (a new purchase) really expedited the process.

Side-by-side the slight variations in construction are apparent.

I colored the roses with watered down acrylic paint,

and followed that with six coats of spar-varnish...

which locked in the color and weatherproofed the benches.

The result was both pretty to look at...

and well received by the birthday girl.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Something I've been working on

The five-board bench.
Here's a project that I've been wanting to get to, and once I got to it I was surprised at how fast it all went together.  This five-board bench design is a classic and was used extensively by both sides during the American Civil War.

Using some 11 1/2 inch pine planks that I recently salvaged from a friend's barn I sawed, shaped, and sanded the five pieces in no time.  Glued, clamped, nailed (minimally), stained, this project took just under two hours at a very relaxed ("where'd I leave my diet Pepsi?") pace.

This is the bench with the first coat of stain, as yet not rubbed down with steel wool, which I'll do in a couple of days.  I chose to stain this rather than paint it only because the pine is beat-up in a way that gives it quite a bit of character, its also riddled with powder-post beetle holes which would have been filled in with paint.  I'll be making more of these, I'm sure.  Subsequent numbers will be pegged rather than nailed and painted in a variety of colors, depending on what I have lying around.

Whether used to accommodate behinds, flowerpots, drinks, or even books this handsome little table was a delight to make and a joy to behold.  I'll be making a few more of these, I'm sure.