Fall/Early Winter 2017

I've been lucky to have some diverse projects going in the shop the last few months. Weird few months, though--juggling a new baby (nearly 6 months old now) and 7 year old as a part-time stay at home dad with deadlines on several projects hasn't been relaxing, but I'm overall happy with the work I've been doing. The benefit of deadlines is that it has to get done, so it does.

I'll potentially expand on some of these pieces someday, but for now I'll just go over some of the highlights.

Eastern maple computer desk with walnut accents, Oct. '17

Eastern maple computer desk with walnut accents, Oct. '17

One of the benefits of doing my local Milwaukie Farmers Market last summer was that I met a few different clients interested in custom furniture. The last market of the year introduced me to a local couple that needed a new computer desk. It took 60-70 emails back and forth to work out the details, but it also started a new trend with my work of mocking up the piece in Sketchup as best I could, and adjusting in 3-D before getting into any of the actual woodworking.

Highlights on this project are the walnut sliding dovetail splines on the hutch's miter joints, and the detached lower shelf. The overall design is simple and clean. It's incredibly solid, and in many ways overbuilt for its function. 

Walnut sliding dovetail splines, used to reinforce the miter joints.

Walnut sliding dovetail splines, used to reinforce the miter joints.

Walnut kitchen shelves, September '17

Walnut kitchen shelves, September '17

In September, as I was between projects and working on the details of upcoming builds, I went through a short shelf phase. We always intended to add shelves into our kitchen, to have some open storage for our nicer looking mugs, or things we use all of the time that we don't mind seeing everyday. These were what I came up with to fill this void. Each has a french cleat on the back to easily hang on the wall. The bottom shelf also has a recessed channel to support LED tape lighting for some extra counter light. Four months after installing the shelves, that part still hasn't happened. (Oops)

These shelves also used the sliding dovetail splines shown in the maple desk. These shelves came before than project, so they were good practice and fresh in my mind when that opportunity came up.

Small display shelf, Oregon black walnut, Western maple shelves. September '17

Small display shelf, Oregon black walnut, Western maple shelves. September '17

Figured walnut display shelf, western maple back. September '17

Figured walnut display shelf, western maple back. September '17

I also put together a few other small shelves that used the same idea as the kitchen shelves--walnut box frames with a french cleat back--but varied the joinery slightly. Instead of dovetail spline reinforcements, the taller shelf uses straight splines in the same wood.

For the small horizontal shelf, I used different type of spline--running inside the miters before assembly (perpendicular to the grain), instead of after the box was assembled. I used some resawn pieces and crosscut small sections to get short-grained strips that glue into grooves cut on the miter faces themselves. This helps with aligning the miters during assembly, and the short-grain strips acts as a floating tenon, expanding and contracting with the rest of the case, while reinforcing the joint.

Oregon Black Walnut Vanity, November '17

Oregon Black Walnut Vanity, November '17

This vanity certainly deserves more of a write up, as it was a very satisfying piece to build. I was lucky enough to work with some previous clients on a bathroom remodel they were undertaking themselves. They're both creative people, so the input I got from them, and the feedback along the way (while allowing me to go with a lot of my own instincts) was a fun process.

This piece was the second project I've used shop-sawn veneers on, with a homemade veneer press setup, and the results were mostly good again. This time, instead of using a quartersawn core as the substrate, I used 8-10 layers (fuzzy memory) of resawn veneer to make homemade plywood (minus the cross-grained structure). The panels that this produced were nearly perfectly flat, and while a pain to make they allowed me to stretch some material I had for the fronts to get the book-matched effect on each side.

The walnut for this project also came from a single tree milled about a mile from my shop. The color in the wood is incredible--as walnut often is. From that same sawyer I picked up some gorgeous quartersawn maple (very light for western maple), and some more figured western maple that made up the drawer bottoms.

There are many other details that I may expand on in a later post.

Maple vanity #1, December '17

Maple vanity #1, December '17

Completed just after the beginning of the year, these two eastern maple vanities continued an unexpected run of vanity commissions. The overall design of this pair is the same, with slight detail and dimensional variations to fit their respective spaces.

The first vanity was built to fit a large, single-piece sink top (no countertop); the second was built with a maple top with a recess cut out to fit a vessel-type sink (this sink wasn't actually intended for that use, but it works). Both vanities have flush drawers--two for the first, one for the second--that blend in seamlessly with the top front cross piece. These run on wooden runners to maximize the inside storage space without having visible metal slides. The drawer bottoms are again figured western maple, which is a nice contrast with the lighter eastern maple.

The lower shelves and sides are tongue-and-groove slats that can expand and contract in the humidity of a bathroom without splitting. They also add a bit of detail and texture with slight bevels between the pieces.

Maple vanity #2 with top and sink dry-fit in place, Dec/Jan '17-18

Maple vanity #2 with top and sink dry-fit in place, Dec/Jan '17-18

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Walnut end grain cutting boards, December '17

Walnut end grain cutting boards, December '17

Figured Western Maple Serving Board, Dec. '17

Figured Western Maple Serving Board, Dec. '17

I also fit a few smaller pieces in between the larger commissions--black walnut end grain cutting boards to have as stock for in-person shows, and a few serving boards made of some very curly western maple. Several of these pieces are still available.

Joe ThieleComment