Is your shop invitation open?

Good day, Today I want to talk about something I have experienced over the last week. I have been working in an inner-city high school sporadically and it has been quite eye opening. I heard things and saw things that blew my mind in a negative way. On the flip side my mind was blown by the number of kids that stopped and asked questions. The questions were anywhere from what is that tool you are using to do you enjoy your work. The previous questions led to short discussions about tools and working with your hands to create something. These situations got me thinking about getting these kids into a shop and teaching them something. I think most people have wanted to try making/creating something at some point in their life. Over the years I have invited several people into my shop that show an interest in woodworking and don’t have access to tools. So I have to ask, When was the last time you invited someone into your shop? I think it would be great if everyone was proactive about inviting others into their shops and helped them out on the journey. You never know how that could change someones direction in life.

The other thing I want to mention is that even in the sea of negativity you can find some positives in life if you open yourself up to seeing them.

The low down on joinery!

Good evening everyone, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about quality in furniture. These days it seems as though there is a trend in furniture. There are many, many people who build kitchen/dining room tables. The sad news is that a lot of the folks making these pieces are doing it in a manner that makes for lesser quality furniture. Notice I didn’t say that they were doing it wrong but I think the consumer base needs to know what options are available and what they are spending their hard earned money on. I don’t want to sound like a holier than though furniture builder but I can promise you that not all methods of joinery are equal. Every person has different levels of woodworking experience and different tools in their toolboxes. Please take a minute or two as a consumer to understand the differences. I have been watching a fellow Youtube content creator named Andy Rawls. He is a very accomplished woodworker who has studied along side some of the best in the business. If you read his about page on his website, I think you will agree. As fine furniture builders spend years and years learning and honing our skills it burns a little to see people purchasing lesser quality furniture at the same prices that finely crafted pieces bring. I have included a link to one of Andy’s videos that sums it up nicely. Take a few minutes to watch it and it will definitely open your eyes to what is out there. I have also included a test from Matthias Wandel which came up with the same results. Hope you enjoy these videos.

Here are a few common questions that you may want to ask when shopping for a piece of furniture from a craftsman.

  1. Ask the craftsman how long they have been in furniture building- Generally speaking it takes many years to hone the skills needed to produce high quality work in a production setting. Some people will build a one off high end piece right out of the gate but it’s kind of unusual.
  2. Ask about the wood used in the project- This question usually opens up a full on conversation. Make sure you understand what you are getting.
  3. Ask for references or to see some of their work- I think most respectable furniture builders remember almost every piece they do and who they did it for. I personally have a few clients that will allow my prospective clients to view my pieces.
  4. In the end if you like the piece buy it but please don’t be blindsided. A quick google search of farmhouse table issues will reveal many stories of table failure. Long story short wood needs to move and with certain types of joinery (primarily pocket hole screws in a table top) wood is not allowed to naturally move. If you see odd looking holes and screws all over the bottom of a table top I would politely shy away or else the table will probably fail eventually. Proper table tops allow for wood movement.

I know I will probably get some not so nice replies to this post but in the end I think consumers deserve to understand the differences.

Thanks for reading and I hope your day is great!

Something new- Week in review

Hello everyone. I’m starting something new this week and I will be doing it every Friday. My plan is to do a week in review post here on the website as well as include a link to a Youtube video walking through the shop progress. You will find this weeks link below. Take a look at it and feel free to comment, share, subscribe, and I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks and I hope you have a great weekend!

The chair for charity!

When I started on this project it was just a culmination of ideas running through my head. I wanted to keep a simple chair. My lovely bride accuses me of having a chair fetish. If we are walking through antique stores I always stop and inspect every chair to see if it is something that I would be interested in. I love chairs! I have always said that it is perfectly acceptable to have simple chairs sitting around for people to use. I wouldn’t want a simple shaker chair to sit in all the time but if I go to visit someone I don’t expect to have a chair like I have at home for me. Everyone has their chair.. you know the one that has formed itself perfectly to your behind, the one that has character, the one that speaks to you. Personally I have a Morris chair in the basement that is my comfy chair. That is not what I was going for here. I was going for a simple chair that could be used when all the other chairs are spoken for. I wanted something small, comfortable, and lightweight. I have always been fond of shaker furniture for the functionality of their designs. I prefer a squarer look in chairs than the traditional shaker design. There was a second thought in my mind while designing this chair. I have played guitar for years and everyone knows that a stool works well for playing guitar. I wanted a chair that would allow for changing positions and to accommodate a guitar player better than the typical chair. This is why I narrowed the front of the seat. In doing so it also made the chair more comfortable for short folks and tall folks alike. There isn’t a seat to determine where your legs should be. I have observed my sons who like to hang their legs off the sides of a chair, with this one it makes it comfortable to do so.

As I was finishing up the little unique chair I decided to do something different with it. I talked to my bride and the family and we decided to auction the chair off and all proceeds would go to the Wichita Childrens Home. The boys loved the idea of shopping for kids that could use a lift me up. I think these kinds of actions are what will help create character in my sons for the future.

I was very pleased with the outcome of the project even though I know it is funky and different than most chairs. At any rate if you would like to help out the Children’s home you can bid on the chair on our Facebook page. The link is below.

Thanks for reading and I hope you like “Steves silly strung shaker inspired stool seat”..

Bid on the chair by clicking below.

https://www.facebook.com/dovetailsanddadoesAndoverKS/posts/386576704867818

The funky chair on the porch

The gang got busy..

A couple of days ago I had my youngest son (4 years old) in the shop with me. He pretty much walked around asking questions about this and that and making observations about my tools. He is a very sharp 4 year old and he seems to be a building type of personality. He goes crazy with the lego sets we have purchased. The other day we bought him a box of jigsaw puzzles that we figured would keep him busy for awhile. He blasted through them very quickly and Liz and I were amazed at how fast he put 4 puzzles together that had 48 pieces each. Anyways after I had got done building the sign blanks for Liz to paint he wanted to start building a birdhouse. I mentioned to him that we would need a floor for the birdhouse. We got busy and glued up a couple of pallet pieces for a birdhouse floor. We left it in a clamp overnight for the glue to dry. A couple days later I was leaving work and I saw a pallet down the alley that caught my eye. It was a simple pine pallet but it was sitting in a way that I could see a bunch of live edge wood on it and that it was in good shape. My mind quickly envisioned the outside of the birdhouse. I skidded to a halt and threw the pallet onboard for the commute home. Last night My oldest son and I spent some time in the shop figuring out how to cut 45 degree angles for the peaked roof and figuring out how to make the live edge lumber sturdy enough for the birdhouse while keeping the live edge. We got all of those issues figured out and it came time to cut the entry hole. I was stoked about this because the day before my lovely bride had presented me with a Porter Cable jigsaw for my birthday. It worked well and I wasn’t too careful because I didn’t want the hole to be perfect. After I drilled and sawed out the hole Kolton used the Dremel to clean it up and remove some splinters. We assembled the pieces and then called it a night. I have to say that I have know idea if the business will ever take off and be a success but it doesn’t matter. I am totally happy having my wife involved and being able to introduce the boys to the joy that can come from woodworking. As for the birdhouse pictures are below. I think with the efforts made by the boys on this one we will have to keep it around the house. I have enough of that pallet left to maybe make one or two more. I am really enjoying the fact that if you grab a pallet and then build something out of it you are not 100% sure what to expect. I have several pallets that are mixed species and have different levels of character. I have seen many pallets in dumpsters headed for landfills and I guess that bugs me a bit. Why throw it out if you can make something useful out of it while spending time with the people you love and doing mother earth well.

The live edge just adds a little something to it.

The live edge just adds a little something to it.

All we need is a twig perch and a way to hang it. It reminds me of a tiki hut.

All we need is a twig perch and a way to hang it. It reminds me of a tiki hut.

The silver lining

As our morning routine progressed today our youngest son got sick. As the morning progressed I became bored and proceeded to the shop to work on a couple projects. I decided to build a project that my bride wanted to help on. It is a reclaimed welcome sign hand painted by her. It was very nice having her in the shop with me. I guess that is finding the silver lining out of a sick kiddo!

Hope you like it. Thanks for reading!

The beginnings

As I take this adventure I have no idea where it is going. The only thing that I am certain about is that I truly enjoy working with wood. I find wood amazing as it is a natural product that seems to have almost eternal life. While a tree is in full life it is constantly changing, growing, providing shade, fruit, and a place for tire swings. Once a trees life is deemed over this fine medium still has life. It changes according to it’s surroundings and amazingly finds a place in our hearts by being used for building homes, furniture, treasure boxes, or a table that the family sits at to eat dinner. Like humans wood changes with age, it grows character, and as it ages it tells stories of days past.

I’m not sure where we are headed but I hope to keep my woodworking as alive as the wood I enjoy working with. When I get older I promise to tell good stories as well.