Saturday, December 14, 2013

little bench in progress

Today before the snow got too thick I drove over to the hardware/lumber store near by.  The man in the basement section of the store is a woodworker.  I asked him for a 1x2 that was about 28 inches long, and he found a scrap for me.  You can see it behind the bench assembly on the table.  

I'm still working on putting the pieces of the bench together, but I asked him about a device that would enable me to drill a hole at a precise angle, say about 85 degrees instead of 90, in this case.  I'm pretty sure the stability of this little bench will be enhanced by having the legs angle out slightly instead of forming a perfect rectangle.

So he loaned me the tool you see in the back ground.  He wasn't sure what it was called, but when I explained what I was trying to do, he knew right away what I was talking about.  I promised I'd get the tool back to him in a week--which will be a stretch given that this is finals week and I'm supposed to write and grade tests this week.  We'll see.

Below you can see some of my sketches for this project.

When I was making furniture in the past I worked with found wood.  My designs were dictated by the dimensions of the lumber I'd collected.  I was pretty fast & loose with the way I put things together.  During my time away from woodworking I've looked at a lot of pictures (some of which you can see here).  I've read about design, thought about the golden ratio (about 1.61:1), or about 2:1 rectangles, which other designers have preferred.  I think I'm ready to embark on a slightly different approach to woodworking.  I'm drawing and planning more.

The dimensions of the width to the height of my bench are closer to the golden ratio.  I'm using an old piece of wood for the main portion of the bench.  The gentleman at the hardware store identified it as old growth douglas fir.  By looking at the grain, he said it was probably from a tree that was 100-150 years old.  The cross brace is newer douglas fir, and the grain is pretty different (more curved, with lines farther apart).  The color is significantly lighter.  

close-up of the older wood--you can see how straight the grain is
I'm planning to finish this bench with either a walnut oil/beeswax blend I put together some time ago, or maybe just going with pure oil of some sort.  I've read some about how certain japanese woodworkers leave their wood unfinished.  I have pieces that I've left unfinished and liked them, but others got ugly stains.  I'm not sure if different varieties of wood age differently when left unfinished.  I like letting wood age, darken, get banged up, and generally show signs of age (kind of like an old person with gray hair & wrinkles can look so beautiful).  

Even with a project this small and simple, there are so many design decisions.  I just love analyzing something to death (some have identified this as an annoying trait of mine).  In this case it's just a delight to decide on the most beautiful angle for the legs, the ideal finish, the positioning of the cross-brace.