Monthly Archives: December 2014

Drip. Drip. Drip.

That the sound of progress.  A slow, nearly silent drip in a dark room with no other sound.  But it’s progress.

It’s t-minus three weeks (ish) until Christmas, and time for my son and I to get our game on if we’re going to be giving any handmade presents this year.  I have really only two presents I plan to make, but one of them depends on getting the chevy finished.

My boy, on the other hand, has eight people he needs to have gifts for.  So we jumped in the truck and headed to Watsonville to see what Jackel Enterprises had on sale.  A lot as it turns out.  All of the wood in the racks is discounted 25%, and the Claro walnut is 50% off.  It took a lot of self restraint not to grab a bunch of the 8/4 Cherry with the idea of making the Frank Lloyd Wright table I just developed plans for.

But we did get some Claro and some Maple for a present Cole is going to make a chess set on the scroll saw.  I found some plans online, and I helped him get started on it this afternoon.

The "black" pawns getting started

The “black” pawns getting started

He’s never “scrolled” before, and I think he’s doing a really great job.  He’ll be an expert by the time he’s done.

Three pawns.  We need to pick up the pace, because if we only get three pieces done each day we'll never make Christmas!

Three pawns. We need to pick up the pace, because if we only get three pieces done each day we’ll never make Christmas!

Meanwhile, I made the lever-arm-thingie for the Chevy.  It’s a simple piece and it was fun to play with the spokeshave and scraper shave again.  With this piece done I’m down to the vise clamp and the foot pedal — those should both be quick pieces.

Lever arm done!

Lever arm done!

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Dana-Thomas Plant Stand Update, with plans

Thanks for the feedback on the Frank Lloyd Wright plant stand I posted yesterday.  I made some tweaks to the design to try to closer to the reproduction photograph, and I think I’m as close as I’m going to push it.I think the design is reasonably well balanced, taken on it’s own.  If I build it or read more about FLW’s aesthetics my view could change on that.

So what’s different from yesterday’s version?  Glad you asked!  I made the legs thicker, going tom 1 9/16″ to 1 3/4″.  I also added tapers on all four faces of the legs, where previously is was only on the two inner faces.  The inner legs are nudged outward toward the outer legs.  And I rendered it in a darker wood color.  I’m not happy with the rendering – on some faces the color looks like dark stained Pine rather than Oak.  That’s a weak spot in the CAD software, it takes a crazy amount of fussing around to get calms wood projects to render in a photorealistic way — but if you can ignore the weird grain and look at the proportions I think it’s OK.  The tim might be something to reduce in scale, but I’ve left that as an exercise for whoever wants to build this project.  If you do build it, send me a pic so I can foster a sense of justifiable jealousy.  Read on to get the plans to download.

"Final" (?) Rendering

“Final” (?) Rendering

another view

another view

I spent a couple of hours preparing the plans once I had the CAD model done.  Sometimes I find errors in the model who I’m building the plans – and that’s a good thing.  Sometimes I find a way to improve the design.  All of which to say, drawing up the plans is time well spent for me.  My only concern when I post plans is reading stories about unscrupulous people who steal other people’s work and then sell it.  So, please do download the plans.  Enjoy them.  Use them to build this table, or as a tool to coerce a friend to build it (ehm, Rob?).  Of use them in the fireplace to start a nice comfy fire on a sold winter night and cuddle up with your family.  But please, don’t sell them.

(Click on the image to download the plans)

(Click on the image to download the plans)

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Frank Lloyd Wright Plant Stand

I had an interesting conversation with Rob Hanson at Evenfall Studios a couple of weeks ago.  Rob makes shooting boards and other goodies, but what he had on his mind was something called the Dana-Thomas Plant Stand.


Yeah, me either.  I know little bits about a number of things, but Frank Lloyd Wright is somewhat outside of my experience.  I’ve seen some of his work of course, both furniture and homes, but I’m pretty clueless about his history and aesthetic.  So I did some web surfing.

Susan Lawrence Dana, for who the house and of course this plant stand are named, commissioned FLW to build her a 12,000 square foot showplace in 1902.  The commission included the house and all the furnishings.

Susan Lawrence Dana's home in Springfield, IL

Susan Lawrence Dana’s home in Springfield, IL

I read somewhere online that there were eight copies of this plant stand made for the house, although I can’t verify that.  There certainly was plenty of room for potted plants and stand…  Rob had some basic dimensions, and I pinned several images thanks to Google and Pinterest (how did we ever get by without the Internet?  Thank You Al Gore!).  Generally the table looks something like the picture below — I was unable to find an image that I was confident was original.

Dana-Thomas Plant Stand Reproduction

Dana-Thomas Plant Stand Reproduction

I had Brother Cadfael whip us up a digital prototype, and we’ve been pushing the dimensions around to get something that looks about right.  As I type this, I think the inner legs need to be moved outward, closer to the main legs.  Wish I’d seen that before I did these renderings.  And the main legs look a little thinner than the reproduction — although that could be do to the darker color in the reproduction.  Well, something to tweak for the next update.

Dana-Thomas Plant Stand

Dana-Thomas Plant Stand

For a simple plant stand, this would be a little complicated to build.  The inner legs add a twist, but the one that gives me pause is the 60 little pieces of trim.  Oy!

Exploded View

Exploded View

I don’t plan to build this, at least not anytime soon.  The Chevy needs a bit more work, there is a Greene &Greene table that I have materials for, and I owe someone a bookcase apparently.  There is a funny story about the bookcase, but I’ll save that for another time.

Personally, I think Rob should build this.  Cutting and fitting all of those miters is a precision job, and a perfect opportunity for someone packing an accurate shooting board.  Rob?

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Fabrication at the speed of light…in dog years

Man, that old saw about the last 10%…

I’m down to a handful of simple parts to make before I can call it a wrap on the Marquetry Chevalet.  None are particularly hard bits to make, but I ended up tied up with errands and other chores over the weekend.  I made a start on this riser post on Sunday, and finished it up after work tonight. It needs a quick sanding, and I may round over the edges — or chamfer them.  The bolt through the seat bottom meets the hole in the tenon on the bottom of the riser, and engages with the square nut in the mortise – so it’s functional.

Completed riser

Completed Riser

Onward and upward.  Next thing you know I’ll be posting pictures of glue drying.  Stay tuned!


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The Dovetail Kid

It’s getting close to Christmas, so it’s time to start thinking about making a few presents.  It’s dicy whether I’ll have the chevy operational and the marquetry process sorted out well enough to incorporate that into any presents, but that isn’t really what I want to talk about today.

My son, now 14, usually makes presents for relatives.  I had him make a list of who he needs to shop (in either sense of the word) for, and what he might buy or make for them.  I suggested a dovetailed candle box as one possibility – but he’d need to know how to dovetail first.  So off to the shop we went for a dovetail lesson.

I had him first make a series of practice cuts with the dovetail way, following the tail layout lines I drew.  He did really well.  So we dived right in, I had him layout a pair of tails on a board and saw them out.  He used a fret saw to cut out the waste, then chopped to the baseline without bruising them.  Wow.

Short story long, we went through the entire process with him doing all the work and me coaching, and he made a sample joint that was very, very good.  It fit snugly with almost no fine tuning, and he did it all himself.  When I think back to how I struggled trying to learn how to do this — although to be fair he did have an excellent instructor (grin) and the right tools.

Kolya sawing his first set of dovetails

Kolya sawing his first set of dovetails

Nice job pal, I'm proud of you!

Nice job pal, I’m proud of you!

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