Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Life's Little Moments

There are moments in a parents life where you just wanna gush about your kids. This is one of those moments.

My oldest daughter, Casey is a Freshman in high school this year and is taking Art as one of her electives. In addition to doing a weekly sketch, one of the requirements is to turn in what they call a Master Works project once a month. This can be anything from photography to cake decorating to a metal working project to, hmmm, a woodworking project. Needless to say I was more than a little happy that she chose a woodworking project. After a little discussion we decided on a small lidded box. To practice, we went out to the shop and just for fun I had her cut a practice dovetail. With little instruction, she seemed to get the hang of it fairly quickly. So, even though I knew it was ambitious for a first woodworking project, we decided on a small, dovetailed box. Well, it was a lengthy couple of days in the shop, but enjoyable ones. Casey did almost all of the work on her own, marking, sawing, chopping out the waste. I did lend a hand paring a few of the dovetails to the line but that was about it. She struggled a little here and there with sawing, especially starting the cuts, but she stuck with it and never got discouraged or disgusted. She kept a great attitude throughout and in the end she was extremely pleased with how it turned out and I couldn't have been more proud. She put some paint on it and then painted a flowering dogwood branch on the lid with her signature sitting on the branch. It sits on her dressing table in her room now and I hope she'll treasure it for the rest of her life. I know I'll always treasure the memory of building it with her.

Laying out the tails with dividers

Sawing to the line

Inspecting her work

The happy, budding cabinetmaker

 The finished product, with her artistic touch
A closer look at her painting

Oh, I also have a daughter in sixth grade who's been wanting to get out there and learn some tricks since before I even had the shop done. Gotta make time for that real soon. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fun With Scraps

I had some cedar left over from my shutters and an ugly blue plastic dust pan that I was hiding behind the trashcan in the shop. Seemed to me like I'd found a good use for those cedar scraps.

The cedar proved to be a good choice because it kept the dust pan lighter than it looks. The paint is just some latex I had lying around, sanded down a little after drying; figured it'd make the shavings slide out easier. The handle is tenoned and pinned into the back. I have no clue what wood it is, but it's extremely dense. It's what was left after I cut the handle down of the mallet you see in the pictures. Made that Monday evening and after pounding on a mortise chisel for about a half hour there wasn't any sign that it had even been used. Tough stuff. Maybe some ambrosia maple or something? I love these quick little projects.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Some Exterior Embellishments

Time to dress up the outside of the shop a little. I wanted shutters on the two gable end windows and the lower window on the western wall. Actually, what I REALLY wanted was operational shutters with iron pintle hinges and decorative shutter dogs; but my last name isn't Rockefeller. I DID think that I could do better than the vinyl home center shutters though, so I went down to said home center and picked up some 1 X 6 cedar boards. I've never used cedar before but that stuff will make you feel like Hercules with a hand saw. The stuff rips and planes like butter; crosscuts nicely also.

There really wasn't much to making these shutters. The upper windows are narrow and two of the cedar boards butted together was within an inch of being half the width of the windows; close enough for non-functional shutters. After jointing the edges to a nice fit I edge glued the two boards together and then ripped some battens to 3 1/2", smoothed and chamfered the edges with a plane, and screwed them on from the backside so no screws show on the front. A couple coats of some black exterior latex finished the first pair off nicely. With the first window's shutters done and hung, I was satisfied with the look and made my other two sets. The larger lower window is 32" wide so three of the 1 X 6's per shutter worked out perfect. I just made the battens a little wider to keep the scale pleasingly proportionate. Hopefully I can get a few coats of paint on these and get them hung this weekend. I think they'll set things off nicely.

So far the shop is a real pleasure to work out of. :)