Hey, hey, we're here. Oh, and we made a thing!

Where have you been? Oh wait... that's us. Where have we been? You've probably been there, waiting for us to get it together enough to update you on our shop happenings. Oops!

Well, to answer your question, we've been busy. Busy with the JD Lohr School of Woodworking. Busy with furniture-making. Busy with show room construction. Busy with brainstorming for 2018. Busy, busy. Being busy is the luckiest and most wonderful situation for a team of woodworkers to find themselves in. In the spirit of the holiday this week, we are constantly grateful to be busy doing what we love every day and managing to survive by doing so.

So, I'll use this blog entry to highlight our most recently [nearly] completed project: The Kayal Stereo Cabinet.

This project was born from the detailed plans of the customer fused with some design contributions from Rob and me. The scale model above was made as both a chance to bring his plans to life and an opportunity to show off a few base designs to choose from (he chose the one in front, in case you wondered).

The project called for mitered corners. Miters are an operation we have frequently avoided around here because, let's face it, they can be a real pain in the... well, everything. It's a joint that requires a lot of measurements to be very straight and accurate. All that said, it was a chance for me to whip up a brand new crosscut sled! We have a few different sled around the shop but we decided that having one specifically designated for 45 degree cuts would be the best option. Because we were cutting wide panels (often plagued with a slight and unavoidable cup across the width), I mounted a board between the sled's fences to provide a means to wedge the panels flat down to ensure an even cut. It works like a dream. Phew. 

Then, I had my first go with a Festool Domino Joiner (we had to borrow it, calm down). What a machine, holy cow. It was fairly easy to set up and use because it's so similar to a biscuit joiner. It's similar to a biscuit joiner BUT, the adjustments you can dial in are infinitely more versatile  and the joint in the end is much tighter, stronger, and properly aligned. It truly was the ideal way to join these miters. I don't think we'll be abandoning our mortise-and-tenons to sub in dominos any time soon but, I can definitely understand the hype. I'm sure we'll be borrowing it again.

We then routed some slots into the inside faces of the cabinet to accept the shelves and some rabbets for the back panels. Next was the glue up, and what a glue up it was. We had six hands on deck and lucky for us, the dominos did most of the work. We did need to fashion some custom clamping cauls made from some ripped 45-degree walnut strips screwed to plywood. We were then able to clamp between the angled cauls to pull the corners together nice and tight. For a large glue up, it did go rather smoothly. (See our Instagram @jdlohrwoodworking for a timelapse of the glue up.)

Rob whipped together a base in what seemed like no time at all. We had the approved design (inspired by George Nakashima) from our scale model to work with, and with some fun angled table saw cuts, it all suddenly became life-size. I wish I could provide more detail for you but, I turned around for a minute and it was done so I missed a lot of the action. Notched trestle connecting the bottom of the wide angled end bits, two notched strips connecting the top of the wide angled end bits, top strips serve as mounting pieces for cabinet carcase itself... you get the idea.

Rob then threw together this rad spline-cutting sled. I suggested using a router and router jig but Rob was confident in his ability to support this entire cabinet suspended above the table saw at just the right place (over and over again for 12 cuts) to saw three nice straight 1/8" relief cuts through each mitered corner of the cabinet. I shouldn't be surprised that it worked perfectly. I then milled up some walnut strips to fit and then glued them in to each spline slot to make a nice end-grain walnut accent. This spline adds a little more strength to the miter joint as well as adding a subtle and interesting detail to the piece.

We made some solid wood shelving for the inside and a plywood panel for the front that will house the speakers. This part was made incredibly easy by the specs provided by Brad. Turns out, a proper speaker/sub system requires some accurate cubic footage of space. Who knew? Mm, probably a lot of people but certainly not me.

When all the shelves were fit, everything was sanded, and the plywood speaker panel was routed, it was time for oilin'. We love when boiled linseed oil day falls on the Friday before a class week because we get the fun of seeing the whole piece come alive with color while also knowing that it can sit and dry for 5-7 days while we are busy teaching.

Right now, it sits in the rough mill right now getting it's first coat of film finish so, it's nearly done. We will ship her to San Fransisco where Brad will have a natural colored fabric screen fitted to sit in front of the speakers. I can't wait to see it all together! Thanks for trusting us with such a fun project, Brad. It was an adventure outside of our normal furniture style and the second journey in a developing love between me and mitered cabinet construction.

No worries, we've got plans for your Labor Day weekend!

We were lucky enough to be selected by the jury to be exhibitors in the Longs Park Art Festival again this year. It's always an honor to be accepted because it's a show made up of over 200 artists and makers (of all mediums, making all types of things) from across the nation that come to Lancaster, PA to fill the beautifully serene Longs Park!

Over the past several months, we have been hustling to make new pieces for both commissions and to debut at the show. As Rob bragged about in the last post, we have managed to churn out three Morris chairs, two ottomans, two brand new stools, [almost] three brand new chairs, and an all-walnut version of our bent leg and veneer coffee table. Phew! After all this work, we are sure ready to take them out of our show room, load 'em up and tote 'em down to the park in hopes that they find a new home.

Now, when I say "load 'em up and tote 'em down to the park", it sounds like that's an easy thing to do. Let me paint you a little picture, kids:

Here I sit, on Wednesday, looking up at the big chalkboard note reminding me that there are 9 days until Longs Park Art Festival begins (which means we have 8 days until move-in) and I am surrounded by our finished furniture. It's taken two days to bring it all down from the showroom but it's finally placed in a cleared 20'x20' space in the shop. Here, we can arrange and rearrange everything 25 times until we land out the layout we want to duplicate under our tent when we arrive at our booth. The mock-up has been mostly decided on by this morning but there are still some question marks about where things will look best.

After we're happy with the arrangement, we have to clean and detail each piece of furniture (which, I must note, is now coated in a nice fine dust from being in our workshop). As we clean everything, we dismantle it and wrap each part separately for easy packing. Meanwhile, we have to print price tags, gather our boring paperwork, find all of our posters and photos, and do all the little stuff we always forget about.

Oh jeez, then comes the packing! We have a horse trailer that will be loaded up with the big stuff, then the pickup gets capped and loaded up with the smaller, flatter stuff. Whatever is left over gets crammed into our personal cars. And, with that, we are ready hit the road for Lancaster. So, in theory, we get all of this done in the next 5 days. HA. The good news is that when we get our booth all set up, we get settled in to enjoy three days of fun!

Booth mock-up.JPG

All that said, you should come by Longs Park Art Festival over Labor Day weekend to visit us and all of the other wonderfully talented exhibitors. We'll be in booth 189-190 while the show is open Sept 1st-3rd, Friday & Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 10am-5pm. If you live too far away to make the show, we understand (kind of) but, I updated our Lohr Woodworking Studio website a bit in time for the show so feel free to scope out some new photos and furniture pieces there too.

Festival Map (Lohr label).jpg

We hope to see some of you there! As for the rest, look out for updates via blog post after we get back home from the festival!

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

It's been way too long since we've last seen you.  Our commission schedule and class schedule got very busy and we've neglected our blog.  Dear readers...  Please accept our humble apology.  We'll do our best to get back in the swing of things.

So here's a little of what we've been up to:

We started a small run of the ever popular Morris chairs and ottomans in the spring.  Three in walnut and one in cherry. 

Also, look out for the October issue of Woodcraft Magazine, where Larissa and I have an article about working with live edge material.  There will also be plans for a great new jig to level slabs.

Most recently, we've been working on a set of stools and chairs.  These guys have been exciting, infuriating, and intensely satisfying throughout the process.  The stools came out wonderfully.  Some tricky angled joinery on the lower rungs primed us for the seriously tricky joinery on the chairs.

Larissa is putting the final touches on one chair as we speak, and we're going to end Friday with an oiled up, finished chair.  We're pumped to get one of these done for the Longs Park Art Festival coming up on Labor Day Weekend. 

Packing Up!

We get in the trucks and drive down to Philadelphia tomorrow for a weekend of showing and (hopefully) selling our wares.  It's always fun to get all of our pieces together in one place.  They're usually scattered about our showroom and homes.

The show runs Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday.

I figured we'd give those of you that can't make it a little preview of what we're showing.

Dining Chairs

You can check out the chair I've been working on over the last few months and also see Jeff's standard chairs.  It's a pretty successful first iteration, but there are improvements to come.

Cherry Console Cabinet

I made this cabinet when I shot Doors For Cabinetry and Fine Furniture for Craftsy.  It's a great online class if you haven't taken it.  Click on the link above for 50% off the sale price.  The door and drawer on this piece fit and work so beautifully.  I love figured maple on cherry.

Morris Chair

Stop by for a bit of respite on the Morris Chair.  Never to dissapoint.

Flamed Birch Extension Table

You've got to see this guy in action.  It's fitted with a very cool extension mechanism in which both halves of the table open at the same time by pulling on one end.  The description can't do it justice.  Just come and check it out.

Bentwood Coffee Table

The one we're bringing along isn't pictured here as it was at Eoin's house getting it's picture taken.  Come and see the other one!

Cosgriff Standing Desk

Jeff made this guy last year.  A very cool crotch walnut desktop with all kinds of fun stuff on the inside! 

Spirits Cabinet

This is my favorite piece I've ever made.  It's not perfect, but the combination of scale and materials really floats my boat.  It doesn't hurt that there is some nice bourbon inside.

Wall O' Goodies

I knocked together a shelving unit for all our smaller items.  Boxes, cutting boards, mirrors, and underneath a nice little side table from our Advanced Joinery Course.

We hope to see you there.  If you didn't get our e-mail, you can visit this link and get half price admission.  You have to publicly admit that you're our friend, though.  HALF PRICE ADMISSION!

The Humble Rat Coffin

As we're gearing up for the Philadelphia Furniture Show in a few weeks, we spent yesterday knocking out some small items.  These little trinkets help us cover our costs for a show and it's nice to offer some items at a lower price point.  If anything doesn't sell, we're stocked up on Christmas/Mother's Day/You Name It gifts for the year.

Some of you may have seen me in the December issue of Woodcraft Magazine.  I did an article on a dovetailed candle box.  Notice me showing the editor and photographer the best way to awkwardly hold a chisel. 

The concept of a candle box was basically just a vehicle for an exercise in hand cut dovetails.  It turned out to be a very nice little box, but there is certainly a lot of time involved.  For me, the goal of making these small items and gifts is to crank out a beautiful product with a minimum of time investment. 

Enter, The Rat Coffin.

This little box has always been a favorite of mine.  The dimensions don't really matter.  I find a 5/4 board that I can re saw for the box sides.  Whatever length I've got determines the size of the box.  For a general good proportion I make the long sides almost twice as long as the short sides. 

Instead of dovetails, I go with miters.  It's a very clean look and it simplifies the whole process by about 300%.  I make a stop block for both lengths and cut my sizes.  By resawing the sides, it's easy to get a really nice grain match around the box.   Also, please note, I am the king of Grumpy Table Saw Face.

The miters provide for a nice and easy glue up as well.  Blue tape is all that's needed to pull everything nicely together.  The bottom and the lid are made by rabbeting around each part for a snug fit.  The bottom gets glued in and the lid plops on.  Done!  I've done a bunch of different lids over the years.  This time, a little bevel was the ticket.

Some years ago, I dubbed this particular style of box "The Rat Coffin" ™

You could gussy these guys up a bit with some keys in the miters.  You can see Larissa doing that on her boxes.

Larissa is also hard at work making some beautiful little gems.  A small little teabox and and a nice box in walnut and birdseye maple.  Very cool little handle on this one.  Eoin cranked out a few simple chopping blocks and we're good to go.

Please come out and say hi at the Philadelphia Furniture Show.  We'll be there March 31-April 2.  Furniture is starting to gather in the shop to gear up for the big weekend. 

We're also working on a prototype for a scooped out seat, Windsor meets Sam Maloof chair.  So far the customer says he likes the feel of an adirondack chair and a sports car's bucket seats.  These are the challenges we love to have.  We'll be test driving Jaguar's all next week while we're on vacation in the Catskills to prime ourselves. 

When the woodshop becomes a photo studio

It's done, folks. The walnut and cherry settle has been signed, sealed, and delivered! What you are about to see will explain why we have been absent from blogging for a week. It'll be worth the wait, I assure you.

Last week, the upholstery was finished and delivered, Rob attached the very fancy curly cherry sofa arms, and finishing touches were taken care of. Then, it was time to take it to the Lewis'. A super duty pick up truck, hurricane force winds, a 600lb sofa, four people- No problemo, done in 20 minutes.

Before we bid adieu to any of our finished furniture pieces, we photograph it for portfolio, website, and show application purposes. Once a piece is gone, it's in it's forever home and we won't have the chance to brag... I mean show people what we are capable of making by showing them what we have made in the past unless we have some sweet snapshots.

For this task, we call in our resident teacher/woodworker/story-teller/photographer, the one and only Eoin O'Neill. If you've taken any of our courses, you likely know Eoin but, did you know he is a photo master too?

For those of you that follow us on Instagram (@jdlohrwoodworking), this is no surprise to you but, to the rest, here is a sneak peek into one of our secret shop treasures. Along the back wall of the shop is a cyc wall. Where the wall meets the floor is curved as to provides us with a huge seamless wall perfect for photographing our huge pieces of furniture. For all but ~4 days of each year, the white floor and curved corner is covered with a layer of black plastic, topped with brown kraft paper, followed by sheets of particle board, and finally covered with foam floor tiles. These layers serve as an effort to keep the floor and bottom portion of the wall "white" and protected while it isn't being used. Needless to say, we have to bleach and repaint the whole dang thing every time we need to use it but, I'm told that's what the big time photo studios in NYC do too so, basically we're on par with professionals (psht).

After the set up (which you can see, is quite extensive), Eoin worked his magic. It was just another day within the walls of the Lohr Woodworking Studio. Below you'll find just a sampling of a few of the images he took- wowza, am I right?

We are already on to the next projects so check back with us next week for updates on the coffee tables (which are now oiled- woo!) and the beginnings of lots of chairs. Not to mention the beginning of prep for the Philadelphia Furniture Show (which you should come to). We like to keep ourselves busy, busy!

And with that, it's Friday, I am going to leave you with these beautiful images and no more words.

Beginnings, Middles, and Ends

We have projects in all states this week.  I'm finishing up the sofa and my chair while Larissa is in the midst of coffee table construction.  We're also embarking on a new commission that's just at the proposal stage right now.

The legs have been bent...and that's really the hardest part of this whole process.  Curvy legs do add complications along the way, though.  How do you cut these guys to length.  After weighing the pros and cons of a tablesaw jig, bandsaw and disc sander, and a few other ideas, Larissa settle on using the router to get all of the legs to the same size. 

She's using a nice little multi-functional jig that rides on the fence of the table saw to cut the joint into the top of the legs.  This guy tends to be handy for a lot of things we do. 

As the mortise and tenon joints are fit and everything starts coming together these bits of wood are starting to look like something! 

 

If you've taken a class with us, you know that our finishing process takes a while.  We have bits and pieces in every state of completion.  I began this week by finishing up the shaping of the joinery on the table tops and oiled them up.  The last time we made this design, I glued up the tabletop first.  It made finishing a bit of a nightmare.  This time, I'll finish everything first, then assemble and hope everything works out better.

We had some milder weather for about two hours this week, so it was a good time to clear out the spray booth to topcoat the sofa and chair.  I'm putting the final coats on the arms over the next few days.  We should be able to photograph and deliver this guy by the end of the month.

We were contacted by a couple who is looking for a few pieces.  A dining table, two benches, and some chairs.  I'm working through the process of coming up with a design that fits their need.  We always charge a small design fee at the outset of a project so we can afford to spend the time it takes on one of the most important parts of a project.  It also helps us filter out the people that aren't serious about purchasing our work.  It's a heartbreaker to invest time and effort in something when someone isn't really considering buying it in the end.

I made a few models after some quick sketches.  As I was drawing at home, my daughter suggested I add sparkles and Moana stickers.  I wanted to run that by you all before committing.  The couple is supplying their own granite top for the dining table which does, in fact, sparkle.  The stickers, though.

 

Coffee Table Extravaganza

Two weeks ago in one of our "things in progress" post, there was mention of a coffee table that I was bending some sweet legs for. Remember that? Remember thinking to yourself, "Man, I wish I could see more about that awesome looking coffee table!" Well, folks, wish no more.

Since we completed the first ever Larissa-and-Rob collaboration in the form of a coffee table last year, we have been eager to make another. [Cue the awesome and beloved Cosgriffs] Lucky for us, we got a commission for one! And, since we're at it again, we might as well make one more for spec purposes, right? "Spec purposes" meaning of course that Rob and I just want to see what an all-walnut version of this bad boy will look like.

The low down: Just like the first, these will sport bent lamination legs, a long slatted lower shelf, and a top composed of framing with captured veneer panels floating in the middle.

I have been tackling the bases while Rob works his veneer magic on the tops.

First, I made two beefy plywood forms to bend the wedge-shaped thin layers of wood between. The forms have seen many stages of improvement since our last table. You can see in the video that these guys have maple guides mounted to either side to keep the layers of the lamination from shifting out of the form as the clamps are tightened. You can also see that Gorilla Glue makes one hell of a foamy mess. Although it requires a few additional steps, like dampening each bit of wood before applying the glue and dealing with a sea of foam, polyurethane glue is best for bent laminations because it doesn't allow for "creep" as the layers of wood expand and contract over time.

The legs were broken free from their forms the following day (and the process was repeated for the remaining 6 legs). After a few hours of scraping, the legs were sent through the jointer and planer to smooth them out and allow us to finally see the fruits of our labor. The problem solving really set in when we had to figure out how to cross cut these suckers to the correct length while ensuring that the top and bottom cuts were parallel. Over the length of a curve? This is some calculus level stuff.

There was talk of affixing two legs at a time to a carrying board made of plywood that would allow us to cross cut against the fence of the table saw and trim off the length we needed. Good idea- the problem came when these 2 5/8" legs were already pushing the boundaries of the height of our table saw blades, so to add plywood underneath would mean it couldn't possibly cut all the way through in one cut. The careful layout that would be required and added steps of having to flip the legs for a second pass to remove the portion that was missed had us dreaming up new solutions.

The current method under trial is using a large square of MDF cut to the proper length (mounted to one leg at a time with double face tape) that provides reliably parallel, straight edges for a router with a long pattern copying bit to ride against to cut the ends flush with the template. One leg down so far... 7 more to go.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the shop, Rob was making a mess. First, he cut bridle joints that join the corners of the framing portion of the table tops. The tenons were cut at the bandsaw while the mating ends were started at the band saw and finished with a bunch of chopping away with a mallet and chisel. (Video of said loud chopping can be found on our Instagram)

When the bridle joints were fitted, he was on to laying out and then routing out the mortises to accept the floating tenons that hold the veneered panels in place. The jig he used to cut those mortises is something we use in our Advanced Joinery course so, if you're curious about it, you should probably come take some classes with us. Just sayin'. It's a contraption we use quite often to rout into the edges of things. It carries the plunge router perfectly straight and parallel and can be adjusted to clamp and center onto any thickness. It can also be adjusted to rout slots of desired lengths. In this case, he set it for the proper length and centered on the thickness consistent for each part of the table top and then just moved the jig around to cut the same sized and placed mortise in each of the 44 locations.

It was critical that each of the mortises was perfectly placed to match up with it's opposing mortise so that the tenons fit just so into both parts. Forty-four mortises later, everything fit together just as planned. What a pro.

And, that is where we find ourselves on this Friday afternoon. With just an hour left in our work day, I will retire from typing and pick up the router to try and knock out a leg or two more before the weekend sets in. Happy Friday, readers! I wish you a safe, fun, and sawdusty weekend!

Walnut Three Drawer Desk

We finished this piece and delivered it about this time last year.  A very fun and simple piece to build, it takes it's roots from the mid-century modern work of George Nakashima.  You should check out the price that an old original Nakashima desk fetches these days.

The design started with a scale model to get the size and proportions just right.  The case work here is very simple.  Just some solid walnut boards, rabbeted together and glued and screwed.  I broke out the dovetail jig on this guy.  I generally like to cut the dovetails by hand, but since the budget was tight on this piece the router stepped up and cut all of the joinery in a couple of hours. 

I really do like the way the live edge top floats above the case work.

One of the challenges was the drawer pulls.  The customer wanted none.  But then how do you open the drawers!?!  We put our brains together and figured out a way.  Larissa made up a nice little ramped router jig to make a place for your finger to fit.  I sawed out some angled bits on the side, then routed a semi circle into the top of the drawer.  We had to add a bit of wood to the inside of the drawer face to achieve those results, but it looks and feels pretty cool in the end.

Jeff popped in and asked if he could help...OF COURSE!!!  He made the legs to support the other side of the top.  To make the turning blanks, he tilted the table saw to 45 and knocked out a few octagons.  This makes the turning process much nicer as you don't have to knock off all of those corners.  Nice, simple tapers are harder to execute than they look.

Eoin got a lot of great photos of this guy.  One of my favorite details in the end was the file hangers in the file drawer.  A simple bit of steel, spaced out with a metal pipe washer.  Slick!

Someday, I might make something similar for myself.  I really like the simplicity and functionality of this guy.

Works In Progress 1/25

Donald Trump cannot stop me from sharing the beautiful things we've got going in the shop over the last few weeks.

The Lewis Settle

I finished this guy up this week and put the oil on.  Whoa!!!  That's some nice cherry.  For about eight years, I pointed out this long straight cherry board in my "Sawmill Etiquette" demonstration.  The point is to save long, straight stock for when you need it.  Last week was the time.  The leather came in from our supplier, Anne will be by next week to pick up the spring deck and we'll be delivering a sofa to a proud new owner in about a month.

Coffee Tables

Larissa made up the new forms and we're gluing up.  We use polyurethane glue for bent laminations....it makes for a big mess.  We soak the laminates in hot water before bending.  This makes them a little more willing to bend without cracking.  The glue is activated by water, so it works out well. 

The veneer came in over the weekend and was there waiting for me on Monday morning.  That walnut is crazy.  As I started working with it I realized that it needed to be softened.  Too wavy and crinkly.  It makes it impossible to work with.  I sprayed it down with a veneer softening solution and it's being pressed flat now.  The paper towels go in between layers to soak up the moisture.  I remove them, let them dry out, and then put them back to press overnight.

And in other news...

I picked up some wood from under a customers back porch and loaded it into the kiln.
Larissa is making a very fancy, carved cross.
There was another beautiful sunrise.
We have sharp blades!
My chair is nearing completion.

We have our Weekend Warrior class over the next two weekends, so look out for some fun stories from class! 

 

[Real, not fake] NEWS

I am here to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog updates about our ongoing projects to tell you about our biggest ongoing project- keeping JD Lohr Woodworking (both furniture studio and woodworking school) going on into the future forever and ever.

We all know that Jeff has earned his retirement 1,000 times over through the years of building (and then teaching) this woodworking paradise from, quite literally, the ground up. He and Linda have dedicated their lives to making the Lohr Farm into a haven for animals, family, friends, students, clients, and woodworkers from around the world. Rob and I are honored to step in and take the reigns on the woodworking portion of the equation so that these two can take a load off and enjoy their retirement.

Today was one for the books as Rob and I were each given a portion of stock (Did you know that means partial ownership? Holy cow, what?!) in JD Lohr Woodworking, Inc. We will be working our dusty little behinds off over the coming years to earn more. Both of us owe our knowledge, skill, understanding, confidence, and career to Jeff and are thrilled to be able to take his legacy forward. We love the school and the making every bit as much as he does so we're hopeful that we can keep things sailing along seamlessly. The transition is sure to be made easier when things get too grand for two people by our luck of having a third hand in the wise and talented Eoin. We are honored, excited, and motivated to keep the Jeffry Lohr dream alive by making original, custom furniture and teaching the people of the world how to make furniture [safely].

P.S. Don't worry, this is still the Lohr Farm so Jeff & Linda will still be just yards away for 'hello's and 'dear god, please help us's.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and wonder to myself, "is this real life?"

Cheers to 2017 and onward, folks!

 

Works In Progress

We're quite busy on furniture commissions right now.  Here are a few projects in the works:

The Lewis Settle

Right around Christmas we jumped in on this settle.  A piece originally designed by Jeff for the Allens sometime in the 90's.

It's all very heavy mortise and tenon construction with curly cherry panels.  Pieces this big are satisfying when they all come together.  This week I'm working on the internal structure to support the upholstery frame.  Today's struggle was trying to fit that large panel in the back.  Very tough to get a tight fit and not destroy everything when fitting it in. Next week I start in on the arms.

Cosgriff Coffee Table

We're making another coffee table in the same design as the one in Larissa's last entry.  Larissa started on the legs.  The legs are made up of 13 tapered strips, so she started in on resawing a bunch of white oak and walnut.

Last year, it was my genius idea to use some green oak for the bending forms.  They worked great, but when we pulled them out this week the material had moved substantially.  Those pieces on the left were perfectly aligned just 6 months ago.  Now Larissa's hard at work on some new forms.  Plywood this time.

Hey...look at that Tuesday sunrise!

Rob's Chairs

The thing about doing this professionally is that it's hard to make things for yourself.  I'm not complaining as I find it much more satisfying to make pieces for others.... but every once in a while I want something fancy too!

I think I started these chairs 4 or 5 months ago and they've sat on a shelf in the finishing room since.  I woke up on Saturday thinking about them and then my son randomly inquired, "When will our new chairs be done?".  The universe sent me to work on Saturday.  In another 4 or 5 months they just might be finished. 

See you next week!

The Doctor's Boxes

Sometime this summer, I was approached by a doctor who was working on a video autobiography.  He had a very long and successful career and wanted to share his life to those that might be interested.  His plan was to compile a set of dvds and donate them to several libraries.  The catch...he wanted to do it in style.  That's where we come in.

Boxes seem simple at first glance.  The reality, though, is that if they're done well it takes just about the same time and effort that a large scale furniture piece demands.

My point of departure here was a box that I saw at the auction at this summer's Furniture Society Conference in Philadelphia.  It was a dovetailed, Walnut box with a spalted sycamore panel on the lid.  The lid fit inside the rabbeted box sides, which lent a very nice look.  This box was made by David Fleming, an Arizona woodworker who trained with James Krenov.  You can see his work at www.dfcabinetmaker.com

The details:  Dr. Porter wanted the boxes to fit 18 dvds, he wanted the box to have a lock and key, and he wanted his name carved into the boxes in two places.  Sounds simple enough, right?

We dovetailed and dovetailed, then dovetailed some more.  The dovetails were initially cut on the bandsaw, then marked to the pin boards.  After realizing the amount of work an energy involved in chopping out all of the waste, I put the router to work.  Ganging up all of the pieces made removing the waste with a router very quick.

Be sure to check out the issue 74 of Woodcraft Magazine that's on newsstands now.  I've got an article on hand cut dovetails that will walk you through my process.  I make a nice little candle box in the article.   http://www.woodcraftmagazine.com/posts.php?id=337

Once the dovetails were done, it was time to think about the internal compartments.  Each compartment has to fit a dvd and it shouldn't be too loose or too tight.  This sounds like a nightmare.  Time to make a jig, I suppose.  Once I determined the spacing, I glued up a jig that would guide the router in making eight, equally space, 1/4" dadoes.  Rather than rout the jig, I ripped and re-glued to establish the openings of the jig. 

I had to bring in my dwindling DVD collection to test the spacing of everything...  I really wish I held on to some semblance of a dvd collection so you guys can see how cool I am and how my taste in documentary films is above reproach.  Life changes.

The dividers are made from 1/4" plywood, capped with a hardwood strip that will match the boxes lid.  The caps were all glued to the edge using blue tape as a clamp.  Lots of dividers, lots of tape.

Hardware...  Endless bits of hardware.  So many tiny screws...

Larissa tackled installing the lock set.  It's not something either of us have ever done, so we weren't really sure how it would go.  She installed the full mortise lock set with aplomb!  The trickiest elements are just getting everything to line up and cutting shallow mortises that fit the hardware just right.  A lot of careful layout and that was about it.

The hinges were easy enough...just a lot of them.  The lid stays from Brusso are very cool and I look forward to using them again.  They were just the right thing for this box.

Carving... Larissa tackled the carving, as she is our in house human CNC.  She laid down the text with some spray glue and routed through the paper, leaving a beautiful carving in her wake.  I'm sure a CNC or laser engraver would do a fine job, but I have a feeling that Larissa captures something more special with her router work.  I was at a robot exhibition at the Franklin Institute a few weeks ago and about 60% of the robots were either broken, charging, or just plain disappointing.  Larissa is never a problem in this way.

I could go on and on with all of the little details that made these boxes challenging, but my son Sid is telling me that I've been doing this for a very long time and it's now time to play some Pac Man.  I'll leave you with some finished photos of these fine boxes.  The panels are curly maple, bird's eye maple, spalted sycamore, and curly cherry.

Rob's List of Mistakes:

1.  Quadrant Hinges?  No.  For some reason, I thought that I could use quadrant hinges as a lid stay.  They're called hinges for a reason.  I went through so much time devising a jig to install these little suckers and they didn't even work in this application.  I also cheaped out and bought rockler's version of these at $8 a pair.  The good ones are about $38 a pair.  The cheap ones are impossible to work with and look terrible.  A couple days wasted and a lesson learned.

2.  That's not a set up piece!  As I was setting up the rabbet on the lid panels, the phone rang.  I went to answer and then came back to resume my set up.  Made a cut...that's too deep.  AHHHHH!!!  That's not the set up piece, that's the real F*&$%* panel!  Luckily I had bits of the same material laying around.  A little glue and we're back in business.  Whenever I try to hustle things through the process to save a little time it always takes me twice as long.  I will never learn this lesson.

 

Live Edge Ghost Maple Coffee Table

Last winter I had a commission for a coffee table from a student in one of our Practical Woodworking classes.  He just wanted a really special piece of wood for his new home in the form of a coffee table.  We have one dwindling flitch of ghost maple and I had one piece that was right around the size we needed.  In it's raw state, the board looks pretty gnarly, so I thank Jerry for trusting me.  If you're looking for character, this stuff will fit the bill.

Bugs, spalting, cracks, and splits....  A word on Ghost Maple:  Most people call this Ambrosia Maple (yuck), after the Ambrosia Beetle that makes those "ghost-like" markings.  Some people go for Wormy Maple (no).  Ghost Maple sounds best, so that's what we go with.

Bugs, spalting, cracks, and splits....  A word on Ghost Maple:  Most people call this Ambrosia Maple (yuck), after the Ambrosia Beetle that makes those "ghost-like" markings.  Some people go for Wormy Maple (no).  Ghost Maple sounds best, so that's what we go with.

Jerry's point of inspiration was a photo from a Fine Woodworking magazine.  An Arts & Crafts piece by Kevin Rodel:  http://www.finewoodworking.com/issue/2015/12/february-2016

That is a beautiful piece, but I felt a natural edge just didn't quite go with that look, so I lept off the angular vibe of the base and tried to come up with something that would. 

I'm not an excellent draftsman, nor do I excel at free hand drawings.  That's a bit of a predicament when I have to present a proposal to a client.  In this case, a full scale mock up was the ticket.

With bits of scrap wood and cardboard, I could build a base, destroy it, and rebuild it in a matter of an hour or so.  In the end, you get a three dimensional look at things and actually get to experience the piece in the flesh before it's built.

I'm still not crazy about sending a client a picture of slapped together bits of wood and cardboard, so I photograph the piece, print and trace it.  This way I get a good pencil sketch and I can trick the customer into thinking that I'm a talented artist!  I've been down the road of trying sketch up and I'm sure many people could put something like this in a 3-D design program in a matter of a few minutes.  That person is not me.

The base was all put together with lap joints.  A very clean and easy way to join pieces of wood.  I marked the intersections with a knife and cut to my lines.  This is the only piece I've made that comes to mind with no mortise and tenon joints.

The table top came together with a few butterflies, installed beautifully by Larissa.  She's used to inlaying our bones, but this was her first go at the butterfly.  The angular nature of the base just called out for those sleek bowties.  Since the grain is so busy in this piece, we went with quartersawn maple butterflies.  A contrasting wood like walnut would be way over the top and call out for attention a little too much.  We do want these to pop, but not at the expense of the piece as a whole.

In the end, this piece came out very nicely.  The ghost maple used is one of the most colorful and figured examples we've ever come across.  We had retrieved this material as a log when a big mini-mall was going up.  Glad it didn't go to the firewood pile.  I've made a lot of pieces with the material from this log and there's still a few pieces tucked away. 

2016 at the Lohr Woodworking Studio

A lot of pieces have left through our doors here at the Lohr Woodworking Studio during the past year.  We always find it fun to look back over all of the work that we've created throughout the year. Big thanks go out to our wonderful customers who commission us to make the finest work that we're able.

Over the next few weeks, Larissa and I will dive deeper into each of the pieces you see pictured below and share some of the process and behind-the-scenes. Here's to a happy new year and a new collection of pieces for 2017!