Thursday, November 21, 2013

New Old Digs

Time marches on. Don't waste it assuming you'll always have more.

Dr. Z

Some of you may have known but for the last 15 years I have been running dry kilns and a solid fuel low pressure boiler.  Above you can see the boiler house.

Here's one way to bend wood. This birch board fell out of a pack and was placed under the third pack.  As the wood dried it of course shrank and in doing so the board was bent.  Gives you an idea how much wood moves when it dries.

Above you can see the moisture meter I use to check the progress of the drying.  

Above you can see the control panel for one of the kilns.  Below is the write up of the schedule I run to dry birch and maple.  The air temp. is called the dry bulb and the humidity level is called the wet bulb.  These two values are relatively close initially and pull apart as the wood dries. Otherwise the wood would dry too quickly at first and the wood would split and develop stresses. 

Below a better look at the controller.  This one is a Partlow two pen ( top value is the dry bulb and the bottom one is the wet bulb) circle chart.  It tracks the progress of the wood as it dries.  While I never really wanted to run dry kilns per se, it has allowed me to learn how wood dries and how to use that  to my advantage when building chairs.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Student Chair

"Ishmael gave himself to the writing of it, and as he did so he understood this, too-that accident ruled every corner of the universe exceptt he chambers of the human heart."

David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Iv'e recently been building some rod back side chairs. I like the fact that the lower and upper turnings are basically the same...thin pieces that stylistically are very similar. But thin is the rub. Because they are very whippy and frankly and a pain in the ass to turn.  I guess part company with some builders in that I have no problem using a steady rest.  Guess I'm not a purist, or a Protestant.  One thing that does help a lot  is having two tool rests.  Before I would turn the left portion and then I'd have to disassemble the whole thing (tail stock, steady rest etc ) in order to move the rest to the left part.

After a big bench order I said enough of that and ordered an additional rest base.  I want to call it a banjo but I'm not sure that's right.  I like rodback spindles turned.  I built a big bench years ago and I shaved the spindles and I still don't like it. That's me.  I also like Tabasco and ketchup on my scrambled eggs.

Above you can see a rust eraser ( I think I got this from Lie-Nielsen ) and I use this thing all the time to buff up the tool rest.  I also use it to buff the part of the tool that contacts the rest.  I seem to get this weird black stuff that makes the tool sticky.

Below you can see Mark my latest student.  He picked a difficult chair, a Philly Comb Back Rocker and pulled it off swimmingly. He picked up the turning right off the bat and we had a great week.  One thing Mark allowed me to do was see how random I can sometimes be.  That is to say I know what the various processes and sizes need to be, but seeing the whole process thru a students eyes allowed me to see where confusion lies.  So after the class I spent better part of two days just organizing and labeling.  This has in turn helped me so thanks Mark.

And here's Mark and his chair. As I said he picked a very difficult chair and did a great job.