Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Workshop To-Do List

While tinkering in the shop today I began to take inventory of several projects in various stages of completion.  Much of my time in the last ten months has been devoted to several cabinetry and storage projects.  Now that most of the heavy lifting is done in setting up shop, it’s time to focus on some of the smaller details and on doing some actual woodworking.  I’m sure my lovely bride would add to this list, but here are some of the To-Do’s I’d like to knock off the list as quickly as possible.
Workshop Organization – Most of the big stuff is done, however there are quite a few details to work and adjustments to be made.  Recently I’ve added a workbench for Danger Boy and have started planning for colder weather to move in.  Both incidents call for an efficient space plan and a flexible layout.

Yard Tool Organization – Basically an extension of the workshop organization project.  Getting these tools onto the far wall and out of way means more space for woodworking and for parking the truck in the garage when it gets Minnesota cold.

Zebrawood Boxes – These were started back in Albuquerque just before we had to pack up for our move to Minnesota.  They’ve been boxed up for a while now, but are sitting on the project shelf waiting for completion.  I’ll build a jig to cut corner grooves for walnut splines using a new saw blade that my Dad sent for my last birthday.

The “Lego” Experiment – I’ve pulled this piece of poplar and these few slabs of cherry out from the woodpile for the “Lego” inspired design experiment.  I’ll mill these pieces and cut the “blocks” sometime this week.  I’ll need to build a few jigs for the manufacturing of the pieces and for building with them.

Fireplace Mantle – The TV is mounted over our gas fireplace and will be in danger of high heat exposure without a mantle to block/divert the heat.  I was fortunate to find a stash of this reclaimed Douglas Fir that was used to build the staircase in our house.   I’ll build a mantle with an inset heat shield and some accompanying shelving out of this discovered treasure.  It should complement the room well as the staircase runs alongside the family room.

Purpleheart Clock – Somewhere in a box is a small Purpleheart clock that I started for my sister.  It’s a design that I developed many years ago.  I think I’ve built at least 20 of them over the years.  Once I find it and select a secondary wood for the foot, I’ll get this one knocked out quickly.
Project 146 Table – This is a table that I built a few years back.  It’s waiting for some fine tuning of the top, some sanding and a finish.  There are a couple “learning opportunities” that need a little attention as well.  Now that my wood collection is organized, I have access to the Ash and Sapelle needed to address those little issues.

Table Saw Sleds – Another project that began back in Albuquerque.  I had plans to build four different sleds and was able to complete two of them before our move north.

“Structure 1” Sculpture Re-Do – This is a portion of a failed plaster and wood sculpture that I made last year.  I wasn’t happy with the plaster form so I dismantled it and salvaged the Wenge structure.  I’ve got a few ideas for how I’d like to improve on the design.

Boy, that’s a lot to work on!  There’s plenty here to keep me busy and out of trouble for a while.  If you had it in mind to ask me to build something for you…I’m taking orders to be filled in 2012!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Lego and Find Inspiration

One of our favorite things to do, for my son and I, is to play with Legos.  Over the years many trucks, planes, spaceships and forts have been built.  From time to time we’ll build tall towers for the express purpose of knocking them down…hey, no judging…that’s just how we roll. 
During a recent, rainy Saturday afternoon build session we were working on our towers and I began to experiment with a shape that the boy had left on the floor.  I played with several variations in building some spiraling towers (that could be easily crushed in dramatic fashion!)  While mini-Godzilla was crushing buildings I started building towers using a repetition of various piece combinations.  The results are documented in the photo and inspired me to capture a few ideas in my sketchbook.  I’m picturing using small blocks of wood in some of these same repetitive patterns to build boxes, lighting or even some more sculptural art pieces. 
As it gets colder here I could see this type of work making a great winter-time project when the shop collapses and it gets tougher to work on bigger pieces.  This weekend I’ll take some time in the shop to look through the woodpile and select some stock to experiment with.  There will be some challenges to solve for…how to build/join the pieces, how to form the pieces so that they’re in-line and square, wood type and grain matching…however, the biggest challenge could be keeping Godzilla from breaking out into a berserker’s rampage.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Workshops

I’ve slowly, but surely, been putting together and organizing my workshop here at our home in Minnesota.  The new space shares a key similarity to the old place back in the Land of Enchantment…they’re both three car garages.  Technically I can only claim them as two car garages as one space is always, yes always, reserved for parking my lovely bride’s vehicle.  I’ve told her time and again how inefficient a use of space that is.  Parking a car in the garage?  Silly, if you ask me…but then she didn’t ask.
At first blush, this new shop here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes seemed like a windfall.  It’s deeper with a higher ceiling than the New Mexican shop.  Ah…nothing like some extra space to stretch out in, and fill with more tools.  I began to dream about the layout, moving tools around, installing shelves and cabinets, spreading out all over this vast expanse of luxurious real estate.
Enter one tiny, little snafu.
It gets cold here…really cold.
It gets nostril hair freezing to the inside of your nose cold here.
Back in New Mexico my truck could be parked out front year-round, leaving me with two full, and warm, garage stalls in which to set up shop.  As we move deeper into October the mercury creeps lower each day, and I am reminded that we’re not in New Mexico anymore.  Here in the Great White North you could leave your truck outside, but then there’s that whole nostril freezing thing I mentioned.  So much for that vast expanse…
I now find myself in a world of transition and in need of a workshop that can accommodate the changing seasons.  The last couple weeks have been spent designing a shop layout that allows me to spread out in warmer weather, yet retreat to a single stall space when the hair in my nose starts stiffening…and as silly as it seems, park the truck in the garage. 
Let’s just not mention the whole parking inside thing to my wife.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Welcome to the Workshop!

Step inside the Second Wind Workshop.  This marks my first foray into blogging.  I'm hoping to take my experiences in woodworking and share the process, the results and to build a consolidated network of woodworking information and education.  I must admit that I selfishly want to organize my favorite online resources into a format that allows me to follow them and comment with my own take on the topics.  Hopefully this will become a place for folks to follow my woodworking adventures and/or to share in those resources and even contribute their own viewpoints. 

Why "Second Wind" as a title?  I've always enjoyed woodworking and design, however it's been a very "up and down" ride.  Even as my passion has grown over the years, a busy job and other interests (too many perhaps) have really kept me from pursuing woodworking and design as a passion.  Thanks to such a wide access to content on the net, I see how many others are living a full life and following this desire we share to create with wood.  So why don't I?  I enjoy every minute I spend in my shop, so why not me too?  I've spent quite a bit of time thinking on this over the past few weeks and have come to the conclusion that this passion is one I truly want to pursue, even at the expense of saying "No" to some other things.  I feel like I've been given my second wind for woodworking.

I've also felt like I'm coming "back into the game" a little late.  I turned 41 a couple months ago, and while I know that age isn't or shouldn't be a barrier for anyone, it does feel like I've let some significant years of learning and skill building slip through my fingers.  I've yet to find plans for a time machine in any of the woodworking magazines I subscribe to, so dwelling on lost time is just a waste of time.  It's time to move forward again with this new start (a second wind) in woodworking.  One final note on my title selection...Over the past several years I've become more conscious of the need to respect and appreciate God's gift of this planet and the resources we've been blessed with.  I won't launch into a sermon on good stewardship or a lecture on recycling, however I do find a sense of challenge and intrigue in designing and building in a way that is thoughtful of the value our precious resources have.  When possible I'll try to accept the challenge of re-using materials in my them the same second wind that I have.

So welcome again, to my first blog and to The Second Wind Workshop.  Stay tuned!