Friday, July 30, 2010

Circus in Town

One of my customers recently purchased at auction a one-of-a-kind set of circus figures. The sterling silver figures were made by Tiffany Studios early in the twentieth century. As ringleader of this circus, my task was to design a means to display the group. Well it took about a minute and a half of intense (and highly billable) design work to conclude that this menagerie needed a big top!

Our big top will be a one-ring circus that is designed to sit on a bookshelf. The display that I construct will be painted by a decorative artist, and include a delighted crowd in the background with tent poles and the flying trapeze. It is meant to be whimsical and fun, but mostly as a backdrop to highlight the figures.

On projects such as this it is very important to get the clients approval before committing wood to saw. I have found that the best way to do that is to make a quick and simple mock-up which conveys in a very realistic way what the project will look like. Drawings are fine for many , but some people have trouble visualizing a three-dimensional object from a two-dimensional drawing. The photo below shows the mock-up, which by the way, the customer loved. I'll post a photo of the finished product when its completed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Skotch Will Help

I have a place in my shop where I keep old boxes of hardware, mainly because I like the boxes. Today I needed to connect two pieces of wood lengthwise in neither a structural nor aesthetically pleasing way so I reached for these Skotch Wood Joiners. They worked perfectly. I have used them in the past and have been very judicious in my use of them, because there are so few left in the box.

Looking to see if I could bolster my supply of these vintage fasteners, I naturally turned to the internet. Low and behold, they're still being manufactured in the USA, by the same company that has been making them since 1928. I also found a bit of Skotch Wood Joiners lore.

According to an anonymous company source "the word skotch was chosen to denote thrift as you could repair many things with this item. The 3M Company wanted to call its new adhesive tape product skotch but it conflicted with our trademark so they settled for "scotch."

Well I did a little sleuthing and found that the word scotch is an adjective that denotes thrift and "Scotch" tape was invented in 1930, so maybe there is something to the story. I think I'll muse on it over a nice single malt.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Making Gains

This apparantly is a gain, which, according to "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language" is "a notch or mortise cut into a board to receive another part [origin unknown]." American woodworking texts from the turn of the twentieth century use this term. I do not find it used in English woodworking texts.

Its most common usage in the literature relates to the housing or recess made for a hinge leaf. Its made with a knife, chisel and router plane.


After spending many years passionately pursuing the craft of woodworking, I thought I might share some of that passion with like-minded individuals and anyone else, really, who is interested in wood, tools, antiques and the frequent cool objects that come into my shop for a visit. My intent is to mainly provide a visual glimpse into my world with illuminating (hopefully) words. I've never done this before, so bear with me as I navigate the blogosphere, and hopefully we'll all get something out of this adventure.

Today's image is to the right. It's my shop, which I built on my property in 1995. Its a two-story wood frame building 20' by 30'. The deal I struck with my wife to buy this property was that I "need" to build a shop before I could do any work on the house. She shrewdly agreed. We both think we got the better end of the bargain. She definitely is not the shoemakers wife! As luxurious as it appears, and it is, I often feel cramped for space, the result of lots of ongoing projects, materials, and way too many tools (did I actually write that?).