Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ash Double Frame

It's heavier than it looks
I've been doing a lot with frames of late, and am not done yet. This bad boy has a few unique attributes that I either haven't done before, or haven't done the same way before. Details after the jump...

As I mentioned at least once before, we did some traveling out California-way, specifically to Napa Valley. On that trip, we stuck our noses into Sonoma valley as well. As I'm sure you're aware, both valleys produce wine (shocker) and are next to each other; Sonoma is one valley closer to the Pacific coast than Napa. I found someone who made prints of maps of the two valleys with wineries marked out. I wanted to hang them near the wine rack and I wanted to create something to display both in one display, the Sonoma map to the west of the Napa map.

Shadows are artistic right?
I chose to build one larger frame subdivided by a central rail. This created a few challenges. First off, I used miter joints on the corners. As I've discussed before, miter joints are among the weakest joints. If you use only glue, you're end-grain-to-end-grain gluing, Especially on an open-grained wood like ash, that is not conducive to creating a strong joint. Combine the inherent weakness of the joint with the fact that two panes of glass would be adding weight to the unit, and I wanted a way to stiffen the joint.

They make an attractive joint, especially in frames, but they are not the strongest joint in the playbook
A little mechanical strengthening was in order:

Good thing copper is really cheap right?
Copper nails made an appearance once before on the terracotta wine rack, and there were some left over. Eight found their way into this frame. By adding mechanical strength to the joint, the inherent weakness of the joint is alleviated. The stresses placed on the joint are moved off of glue, and that significantly reduces the chances that the glue will be stressed to its breaking point.

Sticking with the "shadows are artistic" vibe here
I'm usually not a fan of visual fasteners, e.g. nails or screws, but the copper nails bring their own aesthetic flair to the party. I think they visually pop well, and really they are not particularly visible when facing the frame.

See, you can't even see the nails
As for finish, this is unstained ash with a few coats of polyurethane. Nothing here is adding much in the way of color, but it does darken and make more rich the natural colors in the ash. You can also see some worm holes in some of the pieces.

When the sawmill cuts through a bug's tunnel, you get surface-exposed holes
In some materials, when bugs tunnel into the wood they bring fungus and affect the color of the wood, e.g. Ghost Maple. Whatever crawly did this did not bring any discoloration to the party, it just ate a hole into the wood. It's very possible that this ash tree fell victim to the emerald ash borer, which is a nasty little bugger that is decimating the population of North American ash trees.

Now, given the fact that there are worm holes in the material, one might think that would reduce the value of the wood. One would think wrong.

And, after the preceeding sentence, one might think that the worm holes increase the value of the wood. One would again, think wrong.

Ghost maple, for example, increases the value of the wood. These holes are fairly value-neutral. They add a rustic look to the wood that is useful in some applications. If I were trying to make some kind of Baroque French recreation desk, I would never use a wormy piece of wood. However, frames that surround maps of a couple agricultural valleys? Perfect.

No comments:

Post a Comment