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A Little Geometry

Here’s a small commission for another artist, who needs a 36″ table surface. She’ll be learning lots of new skills, including how to apply edges and pour epoxy. She doesn’t need to learn to cut plywood. She had the retailer make the first cuts so that I could start with a 38″ square. I had to mark the circle. So… I used a board to strike lines corner to corner, to find the center. Didn’t we do something like this in tenth grade? Those of you who were good in math did this in 9th grade: opposite angles are equal, two lines can only intersect at one point… Once I had an approximate center, I used the state-of-the-art String Method. This is, by the way, the fussiest part of the operation, to get the loop to be exactly 36″ around and thus 18″ long. I put a thumbtack where X marks the spot.

A piece that size weighs over 15 pounds and it’s awkward to get through the saw even though the blade has no difficulty cutting the material. I did a rough cut, staying outside the lines, to decrease the bulk. Was I going to be able to get those corners through the saw throat? Well, I could have subtracted “r” (18″) from the full distance from the center to the point, that being 1/2, of course, of the square root of A squared plus B squared… I measured it.

Some woodworkers build extension tables for their bandsaws, and some of those also install a sliding pin so that they can put a small hole in a board and then spin the board on the pin for a perfect circle. I am not one of those woodworkers. But I have a rolling table, as you well know if you’ve read my entries about putting wheels on everything. I have a former drawer which, on top of the table, gives me a surface as tall as the bandsaw table. Thus I can put the weight of the plywood up on the table and move it easily.

Only one splinter.

Now I’ll wait until I know more about the legs for this table. I’ve put the cut corners aside to create pads where the legs will attach, to allow for better connection. So far, so good.

More Mystery Commission

Part II

Back to the block of cherry, I cut across one surface, and part of it shattered. I don’t mind showing the round depression where the outer wood had let go of the inner layers, but I didn’t want to see that missing chip, so I re-cut. This piece is about as big as I can put through the saw. I tidied up the top and bottom surfaces.

You can see how wet the wood still is in the center of the block, where it’s darker than at the edges.

Next I cut the block into five parts: two sides that will coordinate the piece, a top and a bottom, and a center which will be a drawer! I drilled a hole in the drawer where I want a finger-hole; I won’t be able to drill it later, once I’ve built the drawer. I used a Forstner bit to make a smooth broad hole.

Then I had to cut off the front and back of the drawer. I cut the front perpendicular to the back, but I had that big scoop in the back, where the wood had parted. I couldn’t cut straight down, so I tipped the saw table, and cut off a rather chunky angled piece. Not elegant, but expressive of the growth of the tree and the random work of the tree removal service. Once I’d done it, I was glad that I erred on the side of chunkiness; that wood is fragile. You can see the fractures.

I drew the scoop for the drawer. The block was an awful shape. I couldn’t get it to lay evenly on the saw table without propping it up with a wedge of wood. NOT best practice. The tight turn was difficult for the blade, but I got in and back out in one sweep.

Time to take a break and let the wood dry a bit. Later, I’ll glue up the drawer, and I’ll start sanding the top and sides, and shaping the edges where the parts will meet. Stay tuned!

Mystery Commission

Part 1

A neighbor asked if I could make a keepsake out of a beloved tree. Sure… I’ll make something, as yet unknown.

Black cherry, with size w9.5 shoe for reference

This is the smallest of several sections, and the only one I could lift. Certainly, it was too heavy to handle on the band saw. I needed to chop it in half. By following a crack from the bark towards the center, I could knock it apart along it’s own weaknesses with an axe.

The neighborhood houses are about 100 years old, so the original trees are failing.

If I had the nerve to cut a log with a chainsaw, I would have gone right across, next to the rotten hole. But that weak attachment of the outer and inner wood would have remained to give me trouble.

Much more manageable.

I could carry each piece down the stairs, and I’ll be able to life either one onto the saw table. I think I’ll work with the piece on the right.

Stay tuned for the evolution of this log.

Silliest Thing I Did in January

It’s not a mistake; it’s a style decision! Sure it is. I placed the central coordinating blocks on a piece of scrap wood when I drilled them, to prevent tear-out at the bottom, but that scrap was warped, so the blocks stood a little off-vertical, so the holes were skewed. Well, now I know.

See the problem? But it does stand up.

Here it is with its top.

Done.

Stick To It.

Did I mention that I had kept some branches and trunks to make walking sticks? Here are a few.

Need a shillelagh?

So I carved some.

This sycamore fell into my yard. I carved the leaf of the tree into the stick.

I felt that the sticks could use some color, so I painted the hats. And pupils. People need pupils.

I needed a simple color that would not completely obscure the figure of the wood, and which wouldn’t smear when I applied oil or polyurethane. It’s just what it looks like: children’s watercolor.

The Apple is cut from an apple tree (guess how I know?), and I cut another showing the apple leaf. When all is said and done – 6 walking sticks.

These pieces are on display at Papillon, on Main Street, Metuchen.