Saturday, 1 February 2014

Photos, Counters, and Noise

Nothing exciting occurred this week at all.  Work on all my projects continues, some much slower than others.

In the shop this week students learnt about cutting all types of joinery commonly used in furniture making; half blind and sliding dovetails, through mortise and tenon joints and even dowel joinery.  Big shout out to the students at Rosewood this week for making me laugh, you guys rock and best of luck to all of you in your woodworking futures.

After this week I have concluded that the extra bench in the machine room is a nice addition (so that I always have a bench to work at), but it means I work in an environment that is very loud and full of vibration (when any of the machines are being run) and after a short while in that setting all I want to do is find a quiet place to escape to, I look forward to getting back into the bench room next week, where the natural light and quiet environment are much more comfortable to work in.

To avoid the noise and calamity of a full wood shop I worked from the office a lot this past week.  I reviewed the designs for the kitchen and found a mistake I had made.  Luckily I caught the mistake before any material or time was wasted and I am now working on a solution to fix said mistake.  Wednesday I drove around speaking with suppliers to get price estimates for granite and quartz counters.  Four stops and four seemingly identical conversations later I found a company I liked and will hope to do business with on the kitchen renovation.

I also spent a fair amount of time at my drafting table designing small wooden objects that I could possibly do in small batch productions this year.  Items such as mirror frames, book ends and boxes of various shapes and sizes.  I will begin prototyping these ideas so and hope to be selling them in the next few months.

Wooden coasters I made this week

I did get some work on the hall table done as well.  After a trip to KJP Select Hardwoods to purchase some walnut, I broke down all the stock in to rough pieces.  The pieces are now going to sit for a few days to acclimate before I begin milling them to final size.

Breaking down all the components for the table except for the top

And Finally I have spent a few hours today re shooting some of my past pieces.  The hall bench and the walnut box I have shoot on a brand new backdrop that I will use for all my portfolio shoots in the future.  A big thanks to my clients for allowing me to come back and re shoot these pieces in their home.

Re shooting the bench and walnut box

Hans Christopher

Saturday, 25 January 2014

In The Cold

Like much of North America it has been very cold here this past week, and I am sure I am not the only one wishing to crawl back under the blankets and wait for spring to roll around.

None the less work and life continues.  Rosewood has been very busy this week with the eight students learning about machinery, how to set it up correctly, use it and of course safety.  With so many people in the shop and Ron talking it has been hard to work there (no fault to anyone, just the way it goes).  I have been spending time at my computer instead (drinking lots of tea) working on the website, this blog and researching sustainable furniture and business practices, more on this to follow.

Ron explaining how to safely use a router table

My kitchen table has been reassembled, but it is not finished yet.  It is no longer at risking of falling apart if someone sneezes on it, but the top still needs to be re stained and a coat or two or three of finish still needs to be applied.

Kitchen table with one leaf folded up

Work also continues on the kitchen renovation.  The cabinets are now being constructed, I am waiting on a completion date so I can budget time for the rest of the work that needs to be done.  Next week I will be driving about to source lighting, plumbing fixtures and counter tops.

A second kitchen has come on to my plate.  I am helping some homeowners refinish their kitchen cabinets.  We began yesterday by cleaning the cabinets very well with a solution of TSP and water.  This will help to insure the new finish will adhere.

Finally I am working on a piece of furniture at this time.  My hope is that I can get this piece into a gallery so that people can see my work in person, not just on the web.  I am building a hall table out of maple and walnut, similar in design to my coffee table I built last summer.  Pictures and update will follow as I get underway with this project.

Hans Christopher

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Kitchen Table Re Build

The first week, of Rosewood's winter 12 week craftsmen program, has just ended.  Lucky for me I still had a bench space this week, only 7 students, so I began repairing my kitchen table.  When I got the table as payment for helping a friend clean out his garage (so practically free) it was in very rough shape.  The finish was faded and scratched, the table was wobbly and coming apart and the whole thing needed a good cleaning, and after living with it in this state for roughly a year I figured it was time for some fixing.

I removed the top from the base, scraped and sanded it down, to remove scratches and blemishes.  I was surprised to learn that the top is made of walnut, not surprisingly the top is made up of many thin strips and little to no care was taken to achieve good grain matches, so I will be staining the top to unify the colour of the heart and sap wood before I put a finish on.

Blue tape to keep the epoxy off the wood surrounding the joints

The base of the table was assembled with dowels and glue, and all of the joints on the stretcher had failed.  I separated the joints the best I could and glued everything back together with epoxy.  Epoxy will stick to just about anything so I did not have to remove the old glue.  A few hours later and I had a solid base again, no more fear of my table collapsing in the middle of a nice Sunday dinner.

The repaired table base

Next step will be to stain and finish the table top.  I am not going to stain and finish the base of the table.  The table is not worth the time it would take to protect it with finish and the base will not be seen much so there is no need to make it look any better than it does.  The top will be seen and abused much more so it is worth the time to add protection and improve its appearance.  This will also give me a chance to try a new finishing product.  I am constantly looking for sustainable solutions in my woodworking, so for this table top I will try using a waterborne stain and finish.  Better to practice on a piece for myself then on a client's piece if I like the result and it is easy enough to work with I will use it on other jobs.

Next week is the mastering machinery class at Rosewood, and it is fully booked, so normally I would have no space to work in.  Ron however moved a small work bench into a corner of the machine room and I will be able to work there for the next two weeks.

My other bench space.

Once the table is finished I will be posting photo's here as well as my website

Hans Christopher

Thursday, 9 January 2014

New Years Resolution, One Of Them At Least

I mean this in the most humble way, but I am constantly trying to improve myself; either as a designer, crafts person or human being, and I believe I am very successful at this.  Once I complete something I begin thinking of a way to achieve a better result the next time; maybe I can do the same thing faster, more accurately or for less money.  My father said to me "first do it right, then do it better" when I was starting in the trades, and this simple idea has become a personal motto and a big part of my business model.

New Years is a great time to take stock of one's self and look forward into the New Year.  I am writing about this here because this year one of my resolutions is work related and is as follows: To provide handmade, well designed, well-built and sustainable furniture at an affordable price and enjoy the process of building it.  I hope I can accomplish this.  I truly believe that everyone should be able to afford well made goods, while I simultaneously make a good living.  Maybe I am naive or  maybe I am simply wrong, only time can tell, but I am definitely going to try and maybe even inspire others to do the same.

Hans Christopher

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New Year Blues

Two days into the new work year and it is damn cold here.  Bummer because cold brings everyone's energy down which is not what you want when you are trying to began the new year on a high note.
I have begun the planning for a kitchen renovation, same house I replaced the siding on this past fall.  Brand new kitchen in a very old house can be a challenge, unexpected things behind the walls, floors out of level, nothing square and to say nothing of matching a new kitchen to an existing homes style.
To avoid issues in the project forethought and a certain elasticity in the plan help.  Plan for the worse hope for the best.
I've got the scope worked out, the plan is to refinish the floors, paint the walls, install new cabinets, move appliances and set a new tile back splash.  A straight forward renovation nothing outrageous nothing that pushes the boundaries.
Next step for me is to put together quotes from suppliers and other trades to finalize the budget and once that is done I can draft the plans for the work.
In other news I now have a website for my business H3 Design and Construction, check it out at h3designconstruction.  Let me know what you think of the website and the work I've done.  And keep checking back to see new work.
Hans Christopher