Challenges

Some progress over the weekend.  Stringing and bellflowers.

Inlaying more stringing.

Sand shading in hot sand.  I bought an old fifth burner so now I’m not doing these on the cooktop (not good for marital bliss) or the side burner on the grill (not good heat).  This was much easier.

And the resultant petals for the bellflower motif.

One of my favorite parts of woodworking and making furniture is the challenge.  I don’t build the same pieces over and over again.  Every project has a new challenge and usually a new technique for me to try.  I don’t think I could work in a production shop building the same pieces day in and day out.  I like to engage my mind, contemplating how I am going to pull something off.  This is why my wife thinks I’m spacey sometimes.  I’m just building furniture in my head.

This piece has had a number of challenges.  Some were mundane like hand planing the top pieces flat and to thickness from rough 4/4 stock.  Some people would use a machine.  Since I don’t own any machines that large my choices were to ask for help or tune up the jack and jointer planes.  I chose the latter and I’m happier for it.  And it was good exercise.

This weekend I got into the leg embellishments.  I’ve done the bellflowers in a class I took a number of years ago.  But I got it into my head that I wanted them to hang from a ring which is hanging from the stringing border.  I saw the design on a dining table at MESDA and really liked it.  I’ve never seen anyone talk or write about how to do this so I had to figure it out on my own.  The leg on the right is my class piece from two years ago.

Laying in that ring was a PITA but I think it looks ok or at least not a disaster.  Once I figured out the order to lay it all in I was ok.  I did have to use the Dremel and a pattern to rout the ring recess.  Would you believe the other key was a screwdriver and the thinnest feeler gauge I have?  (Here’s a hint: I moistened the stringing, wrapped it around the shaft of the screwdriver with the feeler gauge as a backer to keep it from splitting).  I have a lot more bellflower petals to inlay (24 of 96 are in so far), but the tricky part is in and looks ok.

I was watching a Steve Latta video on federal era table legs.  He gets into how to do all the embellishments and it was a good refresher.  The most valuable thing he said though was not to worry too much and make everything perfect.  Sometimes when you are working what you see seems like the whole universe – and a small slip or imperfect joint can seem like a disaster.  I’m paraphrasing liberally.  But if you stand back and look at the piece as a whole it will look fine.  His version of don’t sweat the small stuff.  When you are doing this work you are down to coaxing little fibers of wood – it’s crazy – it’s easy to become obsessed in little errors that in the end won’t make a bit of difference.  If it looks perfect it will look like it was made by machine using lasers.  I can assure you mine will look like its hand-made.

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