Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rietveld Build Beginning

I’ve started working on a project that I’ve wanted to build for some time now.  Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic Red Blue Chair (Roodblauwe Stoel) has been a favorite design of mine for years.

A couple weeks ago I took a trip out to the lumber yard to pick out stock for two of these chairs, plus another Rietveld design, his Steltman Chair.

I picked up 26 board feet of 8/4 Steamed European Beech, enough to build the frames for two of the Red Blue Chairs.
I’m planning to build and paint one chair following the original design plans and build a second chair that will receive either a clear finish or a gray-scale paint scheme.

I also purchased 16 board feet of 8/4 White Oak to build the Steltman Chair.
There are right and left oriented versions of the Steltman design and I’d eventually like to build both, however, I only have enough lumber for one right now.  My plan is to build the chair with the left armrest first and then build the right sided version later.

That same weekend that I brought the lumber home I rough cut the slabs into smaller, more manageable pieces with my circular saw out in the garage.
After breaking the slabs down I stacked and stickered them down in the shop to allow them time to acclimate.  Over the Thanksgiving weekend I ripped the smaller slabs down to sizes that will be workable on my 6” jointer, but would still accommodate all the part sizes needed for the design.

I hadn’t cut much heavy slab stock on my old Ridgid TS2424 previously.  With my Freud rip blade and a nice and steady feed rate though, it handled both the Beech and the Oak just fine.
With all of the stock ripped and re-stacked I’ll be ready to start jointing and planing this next weekend.
I’ll probably re-stack after those operations and let the wood acclimate again for another week before milling the parts to their final dimensions.   Good thing I have a few smaller projects in the works to keep me busy while I’m waiting!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Shop Art

With a premise of using as much salvaged material as possible I started this art piece almost two months ago.  I worked on it a little at a time…sometimes from a timing perspective and sometimes from a process perspective.

The salvaged materials are all from previous projects around the shop…pegboard, 2X4 scraps, plywood and even some acrylic paints.  The only purchased materials were the cans of spray paint.  Even the plastic drop cloth used to protect the bench was reused.  Of course there were some of the standard consumables that were already in the shop…tape, glue, wall anchors and screws…I did reuse a handful of old sandpaper scraps though.

The base parts of the piece are the pegboard and thin strips of 2X4 stock.  I jointed and planed the faces and edges of a couple 2X4 scraps and then ripped them down to these strips on the table saw.
After cutting the pegboard panels to size and priming the faces, I laid out the positioning of each of the four pieces and marked the backs for future reference.
Since the painted pattern and the position of the strips will rely on the placement of each piece to maintain continuity I didn’t want to take any chances on me remembering which piece went where…or which way was right-side up…or upside-down…or, well you get the picture, and some of you have been down this same road!

I had toyed with the idea of leaving the wood strips their natural color, and I may do another piece with that tact, however I opted to use some colored stain to present more energy and contrast.  A quick trip to Home Depot revealed that small cans of colored stain could be had for $12 each…what!?  A quick trip back home and a few minutes on Google revealed that I could make my own with watered down acrylic paints.  So in the interest of using materials on hand…OK, you got me, I’m cheap!  The process was actually pretty easy, and the wood took the stain quite well.
When the piece is hanging on the wall I wanted a one and a half inch gap between the panels on all sides.  I laid out my four parts, on a plastic drop cloth, with two scraps of 3/4 inch plywood between each panel to aid in placing the pieces.

Once I was happy with the placement I taped the parts down to hold their position on the bench top.

With all of the parts secured, it was time to start getting “artsy.”

One of the processes that made this project take extra time was the painting.  Because I wanted triangular forms with crisp edges only a couple of areas could be painted at any one time.

With each section I would remove the tape edges and paper about 10-15 minutes after spraying and then leave the piece to set up for a day or two.  Because I would have to tape out subsequent sections over areas that had already been painted I wanted to be sure the spray paint was cured and hardened.

Once all of the sections had been painted it was time to add the layer of the wood strips.  I wanted the strips to traverse across two, or even three, panels in some places, and I wanted to highlight as many of the knots as I could to emphasize that this was another material layer.
You can now see the critical role that taping the panels into place plays in the design.  Once I was satisfied with the location of each strip I marked their locations with some blue painters tape.  I oriented the tape to indicate the direction of each piece and marked it with each piece’s color and whether it was laid under or over any adjoining strips.
My lovely bride snapped a photo of me explaining the layout.  I have to confess I was so “into my own thing” that I didn’t even notice this was taken until she showed me.  J

Just before moving on to attaching the strips to the panels I had the thought that this spray paint is pretty slick (Duh!) and that the glue I was planning on using probably wouldn’t fare too well.  I decided to conduct a little test first…gory details here -

At the end the day there was no way around it…some sanding would be required!  Using the tape layout pieces as a guide I sanded away the top of the paint layer to create a better gluing surface.
The placement of the strips was another time consuming process as only one or two could be done at a time.  The weapons of choice…some plywood scraps and a whole lot of weight.

With all of the strips in place I could now remove the panels from the bench top and trim all of the overhanging pieces.  My little Japanese Dozuki was just the ticket.

The drop cloth actually looked a little “artsy” in its own right.

It did go on to serve another purpose though, as a layout guide for where to place the wall anchors.

I decided to hang these panels using French cleats.  I attached the cleats at the top side of each panel and added a little offset strip at the bottom.

Because the positioning of each panel, in relation to the others, is so critical I used wider cleats to allow for some side to side play, and cut these vertical slots into each one to accommodate any adjustments up or down that might be needed.

All in all, I’m pleased with the piece.  I think having it take so long (more from having a day job than anything else) had me “getting used to it” if that makes any sense.  There were many lessons learned along the way and I could point out all kinds of things I would do differently or challenges I ran into that required some kind of fix, however, in the words of woodworking great, Jim Heavey, I’m just going to “shut up.”