Tuesday, May 26, 2015

floor update

Here are some pictures of my process of creating the wood floor for the van.  I cut up a yoga/camping mat and stapled little foam squares to the underside of the boards to prevent the wood from clattering on metal.  Here are the support boards laid out.

horizontal supports for the floor.
Scribing the boards to fit around the wheel wells and gas tank intake was challenging and time consuming but I figured it out, which was very satisfying.

I even made the floor in such a way that it can be removed, which is good for now since I'm doing nasty rust removal and very fumey painting after that.

After a long day of work I put up my hammock to rest and think about the next steps.  I also put my little wooden bench and some crates in there as trial furniture to get a sense of the space.

I love wood!  The floor transforms the feel of the van.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

progress report

I'm working on a van to live in while I travel.

One reason I bought it was because there was very little rust in the back.

Then I take up the floor mats in front of the drivers seat.  Behold this mess!

I'm really glad I looked.  The rest of the front area isn't this bad.  I can remove the rust with a wire brush and paint with rustoleum.  But this section?  I'll have to take it to an autobody shop for a patch job.

Ah well.  I'm working on installing wood flooring in the back of the van.  Nothing else will do for a woodworker.  I'm not sure I'll do the butterfly joints I mentioned in the last post.  Let's see what happens.  I'm scribing boards around the wheel wells and the gas tank.  The center should be easier.  More photos to come.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

butterfly joint


Nakashima made these famous.  I want to try them.  A nice alternative to gluing, or doweling.  The butterfly key joins two boards edge to edge.

I'm putting a wood floor in my van.  Do you think I can pull this off?  An advantage is that I can remove the key later to disassemble the planks.   And if I use a contrasting hardwood, it will look cool.  Even if I don't do a perfect joinery job.

I am so excited!!  Yess!! So much more elegant than purchasing a $65 doweling jig and dowels.  Of course it's a japanese concept.  And...visible joinery is more honest than hidden joinery.

I love how scratched and worn the wood is in this photo.  Using a butterfly key for a completely humble and utilitarian purpose.  Rather than on a fancy lacquered table that costs $5000.

I'm still nervous about my planks not being flat.  I will choose very carefully!  And I'll use my new Japanese plane (if I have it by then).

Saturday, May 09, 2015

moving fluff mystery

First you spot a little pile of fluff in the back yard.

Then you notice that the pile of fluff is moving.  Or to be more accurate, jumping.

What the heck?  Carefully prod, probe, lift the pile of fur...

A baby bunny nest!

Six baby bunnies in a little hole in the earth.  Squirming, jumping, jostling each other.  It's so astonishingly beautiful that we can't stop peeking under the jumping pile of fur.  Little hearts, little ears, little tails of softness, nestled together.

Oh, and they have this rattly little grunting sound.  Impossible.  How is this real?

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

KitoBito: Wooden Kitchens in Japan

All photos from Remodelista
Built to last lifetimes--all wood joinery.  And minimal style.

I'd like to do something along these lines.  Not exactly the same, but this is just breathtaking.  I like the aesthetic.  Have less, of superior quality.  The peace and serenity is what it's all about.

There is less cabinetry here than is found in most traditional (American, or Western) kitchens.  And it's of the highest quality, hand made of oak, with mortise & tenon joinery.  You can see some of the joinery in the drawer below:

The kitchen below speaks to me of mindfulness and clarity, two qualities I aspire to.

That feeling after the dishes are washed and put away.

I think these makers understand that sort of deep peace.

And I would like to make shelves like the one above.  I have several and they can alter a space.  Or be an altar.  Not a lot of furniture, but it does a lot of work, just perching on a wall.

KitoBito means "trees and people"--I love that--and is owned by Masayuki Yoneto (above, center).

I love solid wood simple cabinets and open shelves.  These guys are doing this to the very highest level of craftsmanship, and yet their designs are uncluttered.  Lots of minimal (looking) cabinetry is made from pressboard, plywood, or plastic veneer.  What these makers are doing combines minimalism with honest wood and craft.

As a result, they create peaceful spaces.  

Monday, May 04, 2015

feeling the earth

One of the cravings I have is to get a feel our planet in a very first hand way, by touch, with my feet, even by traveling in a vehicle, but in such a way that I have time to form first hand sense impressions.

When I first used google earth to "fly" over continents I was ecstatic.  It's the same experience I've had in dreams.  That's the experience I want to have in life.  To feel the earth, and to feel my place in it.  When I see a bird swooping, I see the air lifting it up.  I want the earth to lift me up.  Smells and rain and soil and leaves to lift me up, to carry me along as I walk across a continent.  To know the earth and my place in it.

Tonight I laid in our back yard, watching the tree tops sway in the evening as bright green afternoon faded to dark of night.  Twigs in the dirt poked my back.  Bugs landed on me.

What is it to be alive?  What are the limits of a human lifetime?  What is it possible to experience in 2015?  Unanswered questions--the train is leaving the station, to explore.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

japanese planes

Photo by MAFE

A Japanese plane at its simplest is a blade in a block of wood.  The planes above have a second blade (a chip breaker) and a bar to hold the chip breaker.

I'm getting a gradual introduction to Japanese woodworking.  I've had a Japanese saw for some time.  It's lightweight and has a removable handle.

Robert LaPorte of Econest (where I'm taking a class this fall) recommended I visit Yann Giguere of Mokuchi who has a shop in Brooklyn.  I went last week, and hope to return for a more in depth class on setting up and tuning a Japanese Plane (chisels too).  Finding out about how Japanese planes work is initially intimidating.  I have a book that gave me some basic information.

Fortunately I was able to follow up my reading with a visit to a gentleman nearby who showed me that it's not as scary as it all sounds.  I'm warming up to the idea of planing on the pull.


I feel like this part of my life is about learning and gathering from various disciplines and identifying what aligns with the un-excavated vision within me.  I don't really have a choice about what I do, if I listen to the voice within.  I like making simple furniture, and I like hand tools.  I'm going to chase Japanese woodworking for a while.  I'm continuing with timber framing.  I'm taking a home building course this summer too.  All are slightly different.  I'm hoping I come away with a perspective that is my own, when I put it all together.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

one room wide

A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference on historic barns in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  A bunch of traditional timber framers and I all rode buses to visit a number of beautiful timber framed barns.

As we rode, we also saw many beautiful old stone houses.  Many of the houses were one room wide.

I reflected that many of the dwellings that have moved me and remained in my memory are one room wide.  In a house that is one room wide, you feel the house sheltering you.  You can see out windows in all directions, and the slant of the roof above you also gives a special feeling.

This may be part of the reason that small houses charm us more than small ones.  It's good to be able to feel the shape of the walls that protect you.  You can see that many of the houses I've saved here are small, and possibly one room wide most of the time.

What other qualities that make our hearts sing when we see a magic cottage?