Friday, June 21, 2013

Our Haul of Lumber

Yeah, we drove back from rural Cleveland with that. That's somewhere in the north of 150 board feet of lumber, a couple empty 33- gallon barrels that once contained the stuff they make marshmallows out of (seriously), and my backpack. We wrapped it up in a couple tarps because we expected rain (naturally because we tarped it there was no rain), and drove it along down the Ohio and Indiana Turnpikes, the Illinois Tollroad, and finally Wisconsin's blessedly toll-free freeways back to the Shaw.

Seriously, screw you toll roads...

Rye Barrel Aged Rye Strong Ale... and Coasters

Besides carpentry, I also dabble in home brewing. Have been since I was 13. Yep, 13. Anyway, for a few years my family and I had kicked around the idea of barrel aging a beer. The problem with barrel aging beer is that barrels tend to be big... really big... like 250 gallons big. I was at a beer and art show in Chicago with my girlfriend (everyone drank the beer, a few people looked at the art, let's just call it a beer show), and got to talking about the barrels are too damn big problem with one of the brewers there. He tipped me off to a company that distills small batch single barrel whiskeys and sells their barrels. Woodinville Whiskey Co., thank you for aging whiskey 8 glorious gallons at a time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Art Deco Floating Coffee Table and End Table Set

This is a set of two end tables and a coffee table that I just finished. The table top is Honduran mahogany and the legs and rails are made of maple. Nothing was stained. I used a gloss polyurethane finish (Pratt and Lambert's Varmor, which you can't get anymore thanks to the meddling of dirt worshiping hippies). The design features a distinctive "floating" top, and the effect is heavily influenced by the art deco style, because art deco is awesome, obviously.

The coffee table is 17 and 1/2" tall with a top that is 16" wide by 44" long. The end tables are 26" tall with tops that are 16" by 16".

Monday, June 17, 2013

Rubbing a Finish

Rubbing a finish is an optional step that "finishes" the finish. If you zoom in to a microscopic level, a finish is rough (Note: "finish" here could be shellac, varnish, polyurethane, etc..., in my case it was polyurethane). Once the finish cures, ideally a few weeks if not a month, and becomes as hard as it's going to get, you can sand it and smooth that roughness out.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Red Oak Frames

I found some really sweet prints of Miller Park and the Promised Land, Lambeau Field (thanks Huckberry). They needed frames, so I grabbed a little stray red oak and whipped 'em up.


Big machine, eh?

That's my uncle's planer. It's a big BAMF of a tool. It eats up boards in a hurry and without much struggle at all. Talk about planers generally and a comparison to the one I use after the jump...

Oh, also these suckers are loud. Loud enough that they are the only thing we bother using ear protection while using. Loud noises, power tools, pretty sweet, right?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Ludicrously Sharp Radial Arm Saw

Next on the Tour de My Uncle's Shop, is the radial arm saw. It's almost distressing how easily this cuts wood. Seriously, there's no resistance. It doesn't feel like you're cutting anything. It barely even sounds like you're cutting anything.

It's practically impossible not to be struck with a profound respect for the power, capability, and inherent danger of the tools we use when you're using this thing.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Update: Elmo the Altendorf Saw (Now With Humbling Picture of the Saw I Use)

Ever wonder what the most advanced table saw in the world looks like?

That's the Altendorf F45. Altendorf named it Elmo. No, I'm not really sure why, but I suspect it has something to do with Oscar's unwillingness to leave the trash can, Grover being weirdly lanky, and Big Bird being too tall to effectively use it.

You can balance a quarter on it's edge on the table surface with the saw running and it won't topple over. Why would you want to do this? Well, primarily to show off, usually at a trade show trying to sell them to woodworkers I'm told.

But seriously, that's my uncle's table saw. Altendorf is a German company that's been making saws for over a hundred years. The consensus among woodworkers is that they make the best saws in the world, and Elmo is their best. Their price reflects that. Nobody but professionals (or those with more money than brains) can afford Altendorf saws. Realistically, you should be running a high-volume shop to make owning one of these suckers worthwhile.

All that being said, if I'm spending a few days in my uncle's shop, you bet your ass I'm playing with this saw.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Reclaimed Tiles

To build the reclaimed tile wine rack, I first needed to reclaim some tiles. This picture was taken shortly after I cut them all down to be six inches wide.

Reclaimed Terracotta Tile Wine Rack

Josh, a friend of mine, sent me a message saying that he needed to have his terracotta roof redone, and he wanted to know if I could use some salvaged tiles to build a wine rack. Wine racks are something of my specialty, so I said of course, and we set to work designing something. He asked me because he wanted to give his wife a nice birthday present... so: Happy Birthday, Julie. I hope you enjoy the unexpected benefits of needing to replace your roof.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Misc. Exotic Woods

I was at a woodworking store the other day and just perused the lumber area to snap a few pics to put up since I recently posted about how diverse wood colors and appearances can be. I haven't worked with most of these, and most are really expensive.

After the jump are a bunch of pics....

Monday, June 3, 2013

Wine Rack 3.0

I sort of stumbled into developing wine racks as a s specialty. When I was in high school I decided to make a wine rack to give my brother and sister-in-law for their wedding. That was wine rack 1.0. This... this is wine rack 3.0, the sum of lessons learned from prior versions.

Stain vs. No Stain

I don't like stain. I don't hate it. Things that have been stained can look quite striking. However, I think that nature gifted us with a broad spectrum of natural wood colors to choose from, and those species' natural colors contribute greatly to the beauty of a piece.

I'm putting this post together to try to give you a window into my design preference. Other people's tastes may differ, which is certainly okay. I'm going to post a few pictures of stained and unstained woods. Hopefully it gives you a sense for some of the things that are out there, though I'm not really going to do the subject justice because there are literally woods of any color of the rainbow (orange, redpurple, white, and black among hundreds, if not thousands, more).

Lot's of pictures after the jump, some of which are kind of big. I'm not sure whether when google makes thumbnails of the pictures for in-text-viewing if it downloads the whole image (I'm inclined to think no), but if it does, then that would eat up 25ish MB-sized chunk of your mobile data. If you open the images separately  however, I'm sure it would load a large image. So proceed informed.