Back by popular demand

Hey Folks,

Same dog (Peggy Tzu) , new chair.  Or rather, a new iteration of the same chair.  I’ve just completed the wood parts for four Roorkhee chairs*, and I’ve assembled one with black English bridle leather from Wickett and Craig.  I’ll hold off finishing the other three in the event that someone wants a leather color other than black.

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This one is available now, and if you get your order in before the end of November, I can have a matching one finished just in time for Christmas. 🙂

Cheers,
Tom

*BTW- The modern renaissance of the Roorkhee chair is entirely due to the efforts of Chris Schwarz who has taught hundreds to make them (including myself), and has freely shared his design and expertise.

 

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Christmas is coming…

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…and the goose is getting fat.  I know, I’ve used this once before, but the image of these little geese ornaments has been on my mind every year since I first saw them.  So this year, I’ve tried to reproduce them from some scrap pine that I’ve had lying around, seemingly forever.

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The woodworking is dead simple, but the painting is something that I still need practice with.  Hopefully they’ll pass muster, as each of my friends and loved ones will be getting ‘goosed’ for Christmas.

Cheers,
Tom

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Heh heh, goose droppings.  😆

Happiness is…

A warm puppy, or a warm sweatshirt on a cold day (or so said Peanuts creator Charles Shultz).  But I wonder if he ever felt the happiness created by a new chainsaw chain (particularly if the old one was really dull). Probably not, but it’s on the same order as a full wood box, or a fire in the wood stove; things that I’m starting to appreciate more and more as the days grow shorter and colder.

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Cheers,
Tom

“Yule Logs”

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Well, not exactly.  They aren’t Jül logs or Buche Nöel in the classic sense.  What they are is an homage to an award winning design, from the son of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and a beloved toy from many a childhood, …and I made them in time for Christmas.

The original patent for what would become Lincoln Logs™ was filed in 1920 after about four years of development.  They were originally made of redwood, at one time misguidedly made of (ugh) plastic, and eventually made of other North American softwoods.

These logs are made of lumber scraps leftover from the construction of the picnic shelter/pavilion at the shop, plus whatever other softwood scraps I had around.  Mostly, they are hemlock, but there is also some Douglas fir and some pine.  They required hours of work to break down and rough out to 3/4″ square, and then to round and notch all the pieces, so although there is no (wood) material cost, the labor can never be fully covered.  Ah well, that’s what seems to happen when I make Christmas stuff.

The colors are all certified kid safe and the pieces are all hand sanded to eliminate splinters.  They should also be compatible with original sets of logs, in case anyone has a set they’ve been saving.

By the way, if you should buy a set from me, and you do have an original set, I would appreciate hearing of how well my logs work with your originals.  In any case, consider giving a kid an analog gift this year, no batteries needed.

Cheers,
Tom

 

They say,…

…that when properly used, the bandsaw is the safest machine in the wood shop.  Mostly, this is because the blade is almost completely encased in steel.  Only as much blade is exposed as needed for cutting the stock on the table.  But I wonder how many heart attacks they have caused?

When the blade on a bandsaw fails, it breaks under tension, catastrophically.  It really sounds like a rifle shot, right in front of you.  Oddly enough, it’s the narrower blades that startle me the most.  The larger ones tend to give some notice that things aren’t right, they start tick, tick, ticking as they propagate a crack in anticipation of failure.  The narrow ones, BANG! without warning.  I swear my heart needs to restart itself after each time one of those things breaks.

I think it may be time to pour a drink and call it a day.

Cheers,
Tom

Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It

Okay, apologies to Will Smith, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity for the pun.

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Even with handmade furniture there are times when a jig becomes an indispensable tool. In this case, assembly of the dock chair that I posted about earlier.  It’s an inherent characteristic of this design that minute errors at the intersection of the two sub assemblies translate into large errors in the eventual positioning of the seat and back.

Making the prototype chair was an exercise in trial and error.   But the second chair was pretty much the same problem, despite having a correct model to follow.  No matter how carefully I scribed and fit the parts, small errors amplified into major problems in seat to back angle, overall angle of recline, and seat height.

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So I decided to make an assembly jig that would ensure accurate and precise placement of the critical parts that determined how the chair would sit.  I used the prototype chair (partially disassembled) to align the jig.  In a couple of days, I’ll have parts ready to assemble and we’ll know how well it works.

Cheers,
Tom

Ps.  Oh, and yes, before anyone mentions it, I do occasionally work in clutter.  I tend to work, and clean, in binges.

PPs.  Well, the jig worked, but there were some errors that required final adjustments as before.  Only this time instead of making adjustments to a chair, I was making adjustments to the jig that makes the chair.

In the above photos, the prototype chair is on the left, and the production chair is on the right.

So after a full day of futzing around, I’m now ready to make production chairs.  The only problem is that Summer is nearly over, and I need to start thinking about Christmas stuff.

Letter to a young customer

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Dear Michael,

Congratulations, and Happy Birthday!  I am honored that your parents have chosen to give you one of my Roorkhee chairs as your 21st birthday gift.  I believe that you will have many years of comfortable and enjoyable use from it.  In fact, with a modest measure of stewardship, I believe that your heirs will enjoy it for many years as well.

A piece of hand made furniture, constructed of quality materials, is a rare luxury these days.  Most folks purchase their first piece of factory made furniture with no thought as to its future once they are done with it.  In fact, most furniture goes to a landfill after its first owner.  By contrast, your Roorkhee chair is made by myself as one of no more than a pair, with the finest material available.  The quality of materials, and construction practices using copper rivets and hand stitching will ensure that your chair will last for generations to come.

The wood for your chair is sustainably harvested African sapele, imported by Edensaw Hardwoods of Port Townsend, Washington.  The finish is two pound cut garnet shellac, polished with dark wax.  The leather is heavy English bridle leather from Wickett and Craig of Curwensville, Pennsylvania.  They have been tanning hides since shortly after the Civil War, and produce what I believe to be the best quality leathers in North America.

The vegetable tanned leather, although comfortable, will initially be very stiff.  You will find however, that with time and use the leather will become even more comfortable, much like a new pair of shoes or a quality baseball glove.  Given that the chair will change with use, two chairs that are identical when sold, will start to become unique within minutes of use.  In time, your chair will fit you so well that you will come to think if it as a welcome friend at the end of your day.

A very small amount of leather conditioner, once a year, should be sufficient to keep your chair in good form until you pass it on to its next owner, who will probably be asking about it shortly after they hear of your passing.

Enjoy with best regards,
Tom Scott