Custom Mantle

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During one of my shows I had a couple come visit me and ask if I did any custom built in work.  They were interested in a live edge mantle for their home.  During a visit to their home we talked about the scale this mantle should be and about material selection.  We decided that a red oak mantle would tie in perfectly with the existing wood work.  Now came the fun part, finding a slab that we could build the mantle from.  Slabs are not as common in the wood working world as square edge boards so the hunt begins.  Our local lumber supplier had a few slabs that we looked at, but at 2″ thick they were not big enough to proportion well as a mantle, so a visit to my local saw mill was in order.

imageedit_1_6280578646  As a woodworker this place is hard to visit without buying everything in sight, so I stare at the ground and ask about 3″ thick red oak slabs.  After sending some pictures to my clients we select a nice 3″ thick white oak slab that was dry and ready to be worked.  Pieces of wood this big are not in my day to day routine so finding a tool to be able to cut this down to size took me back to the tools of my grandfather, literally.  I used my maternal grandfather’s Disston hand saw to get this job done and a nice workout too.imageedit_2_6080143172

 

Now at a manageable size the build begins. All pieces are rough cut oversized and are allowed to acclimate to their new size.  Wood this large can contain internal stresses from drying that cause twisting and bowing when you start to cut them apart.  The design of the mantle was left to my creativity, and this evolved once I started working with our selected slab.  Working with a slab is as close to working with the tree as I can get. The individual character of that tree comes through begging to be shown off.  This particular slab has spalting on the edge, creating some distinct colors and patterns.imageedit_4_8950269877

The biggest challenge with this installation was dealing with the returns on both sides and how to hide the method of fastening.  First problem to tackle, how to mount this around the fireplace.  This was solved with a cleat that is rabbeted into the back of the mantle itself.  Second problem, how to attach the returns to the live edge face of the mantle.  With a little help from Festool, floating tenons make for a very strong joint.  Here are two more photos showing some of the behind the scenes work of the milling and installation.  If you have an idea of something you would like built I would love to help bring them to lifeimageedit_5_5066686522imageedit_6_4118336770

 

Material, close to home

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Our house is an little brick rancher that we have added our own to. One of our favorite things about the house was the Enormous maple trees that shaded most of the yard.  As the years have moved on the trees have started to become a liability, our house has been hit multiple times by falling limbs.  So two of the trees have been completely removed.  Today is the day the big log truck comes to remove what remains of the trees.  These logs will be taken to a sawmill and cut into lumber.  I hope to create some furniture for our house from these trees as they were a part of why we bought this house in the first place.  I look forward to seeing what these giants have hidden inside of them, mother nature can be full of suprises

Daniel Rudy

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What have I been working on…

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I have been playing stay at home dad allot this year and it has eaten into my time for my business, but time well spent.  I have been working on allot of designs in the interim and have come up with a wine rack design that I would like to put into production.  I am searching for a cnc shop to do some of the profile work for me and am having such a hard time finding someone who can do the job.  Allot of people would love to sit down and hear about my idea but getting them to give me a price on manufacturing my pieces is almost impossible.  Until my next rant

White Oak Slab Bench

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I am working on a slab table built from a white oak tree that I had taken to the sawmill two years ago, future post.  While looking for material for the legs and apron I came across a slab that was more live edge than solid 8/4 material.  I have always wanted to build something solid wood with mitre joints that allow the grain to make the 90 degree turn.  Wanting to make the most from my 9 foot long slab I decided to build a 6 foot long bench.  The project turned out better than I could have imagined for my first time trying to build with this method.  For additional support the legs are screwed to the bench and covered with plugs.  This bench is looking for a good home if you find yourself in need of a rustic bench

Detail of mitre joint

A project for my house

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There are times when woodworking gets, for lack of better words, boring.  Don’t get me wrong I love woodworking, that is why I chose to do this for a living.  Sometimes I need to step away from all of the projects with time frames and budgets and just build something.  I just completed a small project for my kitchen that filled this criteria.  We have had a wire wine rack on top of our fridge that was impossible to clean and my wife would have to get a chair anytime she wanted a bottle.  I decided to use the side of one of our wall cabinets and attach the wine rack to that.  I did some research to find the average size of a wine bottle and searched out a router bit with a radius slightly bigger.  I used this bit to cut coves into platforms that would be attached to the side of the cabinet.  Fearing that the wine bottles would need more support I added a back against the wall to help support the weight.  I look forward to filling this project up and then emptying it out.

 

 

Design and Commishions

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I had a customer reach out to me at the end of last year wanting a bath fitter desk makeover.  After 20 years of cold Formica and cubical walls he decided he wanted a wood skin to put on top of his existing desk.  With this he wanted a shelf attached to the back of the desk, with these few instructions I started my designs.  Every time I go through this process I still fear the customer will not like my design.  As the drawing progresses I question the details and how they meet the customers tastes.  I keep telling myself to just be true to who I am and true to my designs and if this customer does not like it I will wait for the next.

Fortunately this customer liked my design and the desk is currently under construction

Warm weather I beg of you

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I am working on a project that requires me to glue up some wide panels.  After spending hours trying to warm up the shop I glue up may panel, wait two hours in clamps only to find the glue joint failed.  I love the snow but this cold is making my work harder than it needs to be.  Here is looking for Spring

New Tools, feel like a kid at Christmas

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I received some hand tools for Christmas and am finally getting around to trying them out.  I received a full set of Narex chisels and a small brass mallet all from Lee Valley.  Today I am finally getting around to hinging the door to our vanity that I built 3 years ago.  I spent about an hour honing the chisels until my wife informed me my arm looked sickly with all of the patches of hair missing.  I only used one of the set of 10 today and it cut through the red oak like butter.  I used the brass mallet to hog out the waste and then pared to fit by hand.  Using the chisels both ways was a pleasure and they would remove paper thin shavings when paring to final depth.  My thoughts on chisels, it is more about sharpening and keeping sharp that what type of chisel you have.  I can say that the small brass mallet gave me so much control when used with the chisel, I would recommend it to anyone who uses chisels regularly.

 

 

 

 

 

Have to love it when I get to play with my new tools and make my wife happy finishing a three year old project.

Ash Coffee Table

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Where has the time gone?  It has been too long since I have been here to say anything.  The kids are growing up too fast and finding time for everything gets harder and harder.  The good news is that I still am finding time to get in the wood shop and make sawdust.  Here is my latest completed project, an Ash coffee table with through tenon and ebony wedges securing the legs.  This table will be one of my pieces at the Valley Craft Network Studio Tour if you would like to see it.  Here are some pictures you can feast your eyes on.

Drying Lumber with a Kiln

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To any and all woodworkers out there.  If you use wood to build anything I would suggest that you go and see Dr Brian Bond at Virginia Tech and take his class Drying Lumber with a Solar Dry Kiln.  I am getting logs sawn to my specifications and waiting and waiting for them to air dry.  I started to do some research on solar kiln designs and kept running across the Virginia Tech design.  With a little more research I found that they offered a class about building and operating their design of kiln, I signed up and attended the class this spring.  Not only do they teach you about the construction and operation of their kiln, they look at other designs and the possible defects that occur when drying and how to prevent them.

The biggest part of the class that I am taking to my workshop is how to test your wood for stability and defects before you start your project.  Dr Bond takes allot of time explaining the science behind wood defects and how to minimize them while drying lumber, that includes air drying lumber as well.  The information that is presented is not just solar kiln specific but covers all aspects of drying lumber.

If you have ever thought about drying wood I would take the time to get to Virginia Tech and  take this class