Monday, December 20, 2010

More "learning"

New England = Christmas
At the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship we decorated the workshop for a pot luck dinner and hilarious Yankee Swap Thursday night. There was one more day of class when everyone was frantic about their project and then, poof... the teachers disappeared for a well-deserved rest until after the holiday. Many of us have hung around to work the secret extra bonus week.
Here is the frame and panel back to my piece, being glued up. Tomorrow, on my way out of town I will stop by and unclamp it, plane it a bit to fit properly and sit back and sigh with relief if all goes as planned. Am proud that I cut the grooves on the table saw with a dado blade and made the tongues in the panels by rabbetting them on the router table. The stiles and rails were joined with dominoes (floating tenons) because I wanted to try using the fancy pants German Festool but it was kinda a "learning" situation for me (read:frustrating/infuriating/throw the thing across the room/hate self/hate the Germans/coulda done it by hand faster&better/spend a day [another day, the first was drilling the mortises] hand-filing the dominoes so everything would line up). It might have been fine if I hadn't tried to line up 5 mortises per side the first time I used it. But honestly, I'm over it, really! Last week when I was going on and on about learning by making mistakes...well, I have sure been learning a lot. Below is me on the lathe. Yep, I finally "got" it, so family, if you're out there, definitely expect a Christmas tree ornament.

I had to include this shot of Cappy's Chowder House in Camden
and me donned in my gaye apparel while planing the dovetails on my casepiece.
Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

s-l-o-w-l-y I turn...

Snow this week. Winter is officially arrived. I am slowly working through my project. It seems like such an easy concept, a simple cupboard with a door, shelves and a drawer, (maybe 2). I am a little discouraged because it really is the simplest one in the class and I feel like a dolt. I am trying to learn as much as I can from it, and I have so much to learn, but I worry that others seem to be learning more because their projects are more complicated, ...even though I am maxed out.

Here it is after I finished the joinery. The shelves each have 3 sadistic little vertical through-tenons called Alan Peters on each side holding them in the case. I could probably drop this tiny box off the Empire State Building and it wouldn't break apart. What I learned on this phase? Overkill. Everything I try has an
enormous learning curve. Tim demo-ed a sliding dovetail on the router and router-table so, never having made one before and not having any experience with the machines I decided to put a sliding dovetail in where i have a divider in the bottom of my case where my drawers will be. It took Tim 10 minutes to show us how to do it but it took me ALL day and then...I did something wrong.

Ellie and I signed up to take a ornament-making class this week-end where we are learning about the lathe. Pretty exciting, except I couldn't quite get it right. By the end of this 1st day I was really wondering what is the matter with me. The teacher was talking about a book he is reading called The Talent Code, and that we learn a lot more when we make mistakes. I came home and hugged my dog, did some laundry, went to the grocery store and made some chocolate petit-fours:
Yeah, I guess I just needed to know that I can do something sorta okay. But just now, I looked up the book and sure enough, it is about how much more we remember and learn when something doesn't go perfectly, and also, that if we keep practicing and go very slowly and actually make errors but keep at it, there is a possibility of getting really really good.
I am taking that idea to sleep with me tonight ...along with Betty.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


On Thursday we went as a class on a trip to 3 professional woodworker's shops. Here is a picture of us listening to Kevin Rodel in Brunswick. The men were all extremely generous with information and time.

I went to Liberty Tool on Saturday, a famous local source for wood workers looking to rummage through 8 tons/8 million possibilities. I scored a few simple treasures, then perused their museum across the street.
On my way home I passed through Lincolnville, a town right on the beach, just as they were lighting their tree. There was a small crowd and large bonfire and the sun was just setting, quite a sight.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

over the moon

It is week 5 and we are in the middle of our case piece project with Austin Matheson co-teaching/assisting Tim. Mine is a rather simple wall cabinet but I didn't want to be stung not finishing it or learning everything thoroughly. I have finished the joinery for the case construction (the 4 walls) and today made dados (grooves in the inner walls for the shelves to sit in) which took me all day. When it is laying on my bench it looks like a baby coffin or a cat coffin. That is what I, and now others, refer to it as.
Everyday we learn another way to make a dado or whatnot on a different machine: the router, the table saw with a dado set, a horrifying old German saw referred to as "the green monster" or other scary instrument of terror. Usually the demos panic me cause they all seem to be in Greek. But my teacher assures me that I will be making dados, rabbets, grooves, mortises and finger joints on all the machines and become proficient ...yeah, like I am in Greek. Others in the class are, of course, more experienced than moi and are making QueenAnn Secretaries and such for their casepiece projects. For our last project we will learn veneering and steaming and I have definitely decided that I want to make something with legs, like a demi-lune table or a simple, one drawer desk. I finished my 1st project bench right on time, but of course the sides were already done from my 2 week class last June. I don't care, it felt good to finish it and to be the first in the class. Some people are still working on their bench projects when they can squeeze in the time, and mine is finished, in the bag, yea me. Today I glued and clamped quarter sawn boards together to make my door. It was fun and I got to use my schmancy Lie Nielson plane for the edges. Tomorrow we have an all day field trip to famous furniture makers Kevin Rodel's, Alex Hamilton's and Howard Hatch's workshops.

Peter announced that there is arsenic in the water and there always has been but the rules and regs changed and now we can't drink it till they put a filtration system on. Also, we found out some good dirt about last winter's 9 month class: there was a fellow so cantankerous and irritable that he had to leave and Peter had to get a restraining order cause, I guess, they were afraid he might have gone postal! Another time there were 2 guys who just could not get along and the school brought in a mediator! I can't imagine jeopardizing the time one has at this amazing place! And I loved hearing the smut.

I came home early tonight and made dinner with Amy. We had a piece of halibut, which I finished before taking this picture, some salad with pomegranate seeds and fried oysters which we ate with these fab quail-claw grabbers from her silver set!

Here is a bunch of seagulls sitting on top of a house which looks out over the water. The bird at the far left is a fake owl which is probably suppose to scare gulls from landing on the roof.
It has become warm and foggy out tonight so the Rockport foghorn is eerily om-ing away. Before I left home I reminded people that I was only going away for 3 months and just to Maine, not the moon. Sometimes though... I feel like I am on the moon.