My cats rule! My walls are not crooked. Ha. I built this chair rail for Willow. He likes to jump to the counter ledge. He can do it in one standing leap. He’s better than any human high jumper I ever saw. The only downside is that Willow likes to use his hind claws to assist. That has left a horizontal dirt mark on the wall. I could wash or repaint. But I figured that the rail would give him an assist and we all go away winners. Yes, I know it doesn’t quite match and there are no chairs here. But look, I attached it without any hardware (screws) showing. After I put it up, Willow hasn’t jumped to the ledge again.
Look what I’ve done! The concept and planning have been going on for more than a year. The base was built in one afternoon back in December 2017. Then the project sat in the garage until August 25. From then on the bookcase was slowly assembled. The biggest problem was wrestling large pieces of wood. The assembly was painstaking. It’s solid. It’s straight. It’s huge. You might ask, why hoard all of your old medical books? I am retired. It’s not like I’m going to start working again. There is still space remaining for more though I would sorely like to downsize. I read ebooks now. Otherwise, the paperback collection would be considerably more. Hey! It’s pretty. Finished. Next project? Yes, there will be a next project. Meanwhile, some might question the notion of starting with something so big. At last, after considerable time (years) I feel like I’ve moved in.
I’m happily exhausted. This has been a project in the works for a long time. It’s been a project in progress since the summer. So, for months the house has been a mess. Each step was painstaking. No mistakes!! Only perfection would do. It has to look professional. Otherwise – failure.
I’m cheap. In the past other craftsman have built bookcases in my homes and I have paid handsomely (very). This time I decided to do it myself. The wood was expensive. Sure! But the construction? I spent countless hours working on each step. I had a rough plan. And then I built it to fit the space, right down to the inch. Yes, there was some last minute adjustments in order to fit the pieces into place. Yeah, try and persuade a sheet of 4’X8′ plywood to move a millimeter or two. It’s easy to move it an inch. It’s the last few mm that determine perfection. Yes, there are errors. It ain’t brain surgery! No one dies. It’s unfinished yet. That’s the one big difference. Everyone expects you to finish brain surgery the same day. Now, that’s pressure. Think of it another way: it’s all in the finish…
We were in a shop – of course… we are always in a shop, somewhere. But this was cool! Really! The dish was made from black walnut. The actual tree had been beside or at the local jail (Beverly, West Virginia). And this was among the last pieces of wood from that tree. There! That/this is the stump of it. I think that is just cool!… from origin to end product.
I’ve been on a tear. I’ve been experimenting. I’ve been honing experience. I got better. I got more confidence. I’m still a work in progress. I haven’t/can’t sell – so I’m giving them away. Meanwhile they are original/imperfect works of art. Ha! I was persuaded to construct a jewelry box. We refined the design and I executed a couple versions each time changing and experimenting. It’s worked. I got a lot of product. And there are a lot of females in the family. I hope they don’t see the mistakes. Practical? Useful, definitely. The dowels lift out and hold rings separated and sorted. The hooks hold pairs of earrings… ditto. Forget the design and finish, this is something the ladies will be able to use. I am far from a master craftsman… more like a work in progress.
It’s called a raddle. Yup! It’s for weavers to keep bundles of fiber separated as they prepare the loom for work. I built these. I was experimenting with wood finish. There were a lot of small dowels cut on the chop saw. Oak is the easiest best wood for me to get at the big box home store. Pine and poplar don’t play well with stains. They (raddles) are kind of stunning. They are relatively simple to make. I did it for fun… a relaxing interlude where appearance was not critical. Jewelry boxes are different. Every flaw counts. Finish is key to appearance. Boy, I struggled! Like everything else, “it don’t look bad” from the outside. Indeed, it looks pretty nice! Yup! Consider it art. If they were manufactured like widgets they would all be uniformly the same. Me? I like excuses. Art is where each individual work is unique and has its own flaws which make it “one of a kind.” Ha! An excuse. I’m aiming for perfect and accepting imperfection. My partner, also the consumer and design originator, was quick to exclaim how lovely these boxes turned out. I’m more critical. She’s also gonna be steamed I called her a partner. There’s gotta (gonna) be a better term.
Built them. Me. It was another simple (learning) project. Ha ha, you can’t even see the wood (mistakes). We have a lot of cones of yarn. Projects line up. You can never have enough “stash.” Just ask any weaver. I’ve been to a few estate sales. There were tons of cones on sale for pennies on the dollar. I would have to say that the cones move from home to home circulating from weaver to weaver. Sometimes things are made… Anyway, there is a lot of stuff and an excellent color palette. And I hope some product is forthcoming. Meanwhile it’s nice to see color in the room. Oh! The cords are all up out of the reach of the cats.
Made it. Me. I made it. Them. I recall the words of Barry Schact of Schact Spindle Company. The company started by making spindles from door knobs. It’s pretty simple really. You need a dowel and a round (knob) object. The funny thing is that we visited The Woolery. They had spindles from $12 to $100. And I am sure they are even more expensive as the intricate artwork is embellished. See: “Golding” (like the Ferrari of weaving gear). Duh! So I got an old spinning wheel part (broken and discarded) and a round disc (Michael’s). The dowels are from Lowe’s. We don’t go to Home Depot anymore. They are bad politically. Hooks too. A little stain and finish, done. I guess the price was about $10 – the pair. Oh! Sorry! I got dowels in Michael’s; these were made from wood knitting needles (Michael’s). Dead simple and eminently more economical. Thank you Barry. (We actually met him in Boulder about this time a year ago.)
“Shop” was the name of a class we took, sophomore year in high school. I went to Stuyvesant, a specialized science and math high school in Manhattan. You got in by entrance exam. We also got mechanical drawing. Go figure. Shop class was taught by Mr. Eiffert. He was a garrulous man who imparted wisdom like: when walking home in the dark hold your keys with the tips out like brass knuckles – just in case. Or, a can opener will do real damage if used to slash. Our shop project for the year was to build a valet chair with a lidded box for the seat. It would be useful if completed properly. Cut to the chase: mine never worked and was eventually tossed with the trash. Meanwhile, we were not exactly privy to the project. We were told to make each part without visualizing the whole finished project. Early on in my enthusiasm and lack of attention, I managed to plane off the tip of my middle finger. Yup! It was a power planer. Gone in an instant, so long finger tip. Fortunately, it was the nail – which grew back. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the ER across the street. Nothing to do but apply a bandage. The rest of the class spent the afternoon copying all the shop rules, long hand, into their notebooks. I got the best deal; I didn’t have to copy the rules. Funny, ‘cause I’m the one who needed to do it.
Fast forward, look at me! Mr. Eiffert must be rolling in his grave. I have set up a shop. I even laid in track lighting the other day. Neat! Yup, track lighting. Installed it without shocking myself. It’s bright, like a mini OR! Ha! Power stuff – yup! Chop saw, table saw, router, router table…. So far all the fingers and toes are intact. I’m planning to build a bookcase. This will be 8 foot tall and 8 foot wide. It better look good. So, the small projects thus far have taught me basic skills. I built two drawers. I built two tool boxes. I built three basket stands. I have built two jewelry boxes.
Everything you want to know is on YouTube. The problem is that there are varying opinions, so caveat emptor. I’m learning to stain wood. It’s actually like painting. The color you chose and the color you get are options and customized. And, of course, there are mistakes to be made. In this case, I admit that I am returning to high school shop class a bit later and slightly wiser. So far all of my original parts are still my own.
I like to get up close. This door could use a dusting. Otherwise the imperfect handwork is genuinely hand done and not machine precise. The work is unique. Even the panels adjoining are not identical.