The marriage of dreams and craftsmanship. Cragland Originals brings a dream, an image, a memory into present reality. Your inspiration takes form, sketched and re-sketched to match your vision, then painstakingly crafted from your choice of hardwoods. You may visit Cragland Originals to learn more and to view my portfolio. Here I maintain log of current projects and ideas.
All right, for any readers of this blog, I am back at it. Updating the blog that is--I've been working even though I have not been on here much. And the evidence is in the pictures. Chairs and chairs and chairs, and also a few Christmas odds and ends--sculptural mantel piece and lamp, and kitchen implements of destruction--spoons and bowls to give instead of wine to party hosts. Now the Chrsitmas social season is ended (up here in the woods, we have two social seasons, summer and Christmas time, periods during which you see the same people everynight but at different people's houses, have the same conversations, eat roughly the same food... Not to be cynical or anything.
Anyway, a couple of photos. I think the clients have decided on leather upholstered seats instead of the hewed wooden seat. I agree that it looks better and feels better on the old backside. You decide:
and one of the mantel supports (yes, those are "human" legs...):
SPent the last two days starting over, from scratch, on the chair. And, I think I have arrived at pretty close to the final edition. It's late and I am tired, so I won't write too much, but I will present a photo or two of the roughed out chair.
A couple of points of interest: 1. I figured the bendy back slats would need to be about 3/8 inch thick to maintain enough strength. In the end they are just less than a quarter inch, and seem still a little stronger even than they need to be. 2. The proportions, 40 inches high, 11 inches wide in the back, 18 inches across front of seat, 20 inches all told front to back, have produced an elegant but angular chair. I will fart around with the shape of the seat some more, but am plesased with the way it sits up talland yet graceful. Anyway, I should duly not the thanks I owe to Doug Green's chair designs. I've borrowed his lumbar adjusting slide mechaism behind the slats. Look for it in the picture.
I know, a boring, poorly written submission. More tomorrow.
Fun stuff, designing, devising, ad hoc-ing, ad libbing, all with left over odds and ends of cherry. Took most of the day today changing sizes and angles of things, and have what I think is near the chair that I will build. I steam bent the back and have pegged all the parts together (it's easier to change piece, shorten and lengthen, than cutting new mortises and tenons all the time. Final chair will, of course, depend on more durable and secured joints than the pegs.) In the end, I think the chair will be a little deeper, front to back, than the model I have now. And I will also curve the cantilever under the seat just a bit more, so that it joins the back legs a little more smoothly. The front legs are still a litle up in the air, though I am tempted to have them mimic the rear leg, as I talked about in my last post. Right now I have a tapered leg that seems a little out of place on the chair. Ah, the fun of it will be trying and trying and trying again.
Off tomorrow to NH to pick up a mother load of cherry--enough for eight chairs, seats and all. Ought to cost a pretty penny--most of it will be 8 and 6 quarter stock. Yup, 6 and 7 dollars a board foot. Urgh. May stop in at a couple of places, a gallery in Manchester and another in Concord, to look at chairs while I go, maybe even trek to portland to have a look at the Green Design chairs.
Spent the day yesterday fiddling with the dining chair design and building a true prototype. I am working from a couple of ideas. As I mentioned yesterday, the chair will borrow structurally from a Green Designs chair, though it will not be a copy. I have worked out an hourglass bent cherry form for the chair back, am shaping the seats of 6/4 cherry, and the front legs will take on a different shape. The problems that still need work have to do mianly with the front legs and with the width of the back. So, I will finish a prototype today on which I can continue to change those two features while leaving the rest intact. THe chair has not been glued together anywhere, but fits together with mortise and tenon and peg joints, and I can take apart and repalace any part of the construction at any time. A couple of features I like already--the height and shape of the back when it is quite narrow. I have made one option of the prototype a 13 inch wide back, but that is nearly 40 inches high. Adds to the artistic austerity of the chair, making it at once slim and modern while connecting to a sort of prairie/mission aesthetic of lightness. It also accentuates the shape of the hourglass insert. THe front legs I have not been so lucky with, and it is entirely possible that they will pretty much mimic the shape of the rear legs. About 2 inches wide, untapered when viewed from the front, but with a slight curved taper when viewed from the side. I want the ligns on this chair as clean as poissible without losing any of the strength necessary to a durable chair. Pictures to come, no doubt this afternoon or tomorrow.
Yes, it's true. I have not yet adjusted to the daily commitment of a blog... But, I have excuses. Much travel, Thanksgiving (hoisting small cousins on my shoulders to confound the teeming crowds at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade,) many hours of listening to French language CD's in the car, and ultimately a belly scouring flu when I returned to Rock Harbor. So, I don't feel too, too bad about the lapse in posts.
Last Tuesday I set out for West Chester, PA, the Blazer packed full of the table base and wings, the roof rack bearing the table top. I wrapped the table top in thick plastic and even canvas, and tied it and tied and tied it again to the rack. I must have stopped ten times on the way down to duct tape noisily flapping loose ends, tighten ropes, and just soothe my own nerves. I had visions of the hundred pound cherry table top flying off the roof at 70 miles an hour and smashing into a thousand pieces behind me.
Other than some disastrous misadventures and wrong turns in PA (I had intended to swing around Philly to the West, a sensible decision during rush hour, I thought. I ended up, mysteriously, driving right through the middle of the Temple University campus and into Philly, there joining I-95 to swing EAST of the city of brotherly love...) I did arrive in West Chester with all intact. After nearly nine hours of driving my nylon knots were beyond untying; I knifed the table free and we carried the plastic-swaddled table top inside. Then the base, then the wings. And put it all together, my clients' daughter's leaps and cries a fitting accompaniment to my own anxiety--man, did I want them to like the fruit of all my labor.
The result? It seems the clients liked the table; I now have eight chairs to build, following some of the themes of the table. The back will mimic the hourglass shape of the tables' legs, and the rest will maintain some of the geometric but organic nature of the table--highly molded seat, fewer curves than angles to legs and back... It will borrow structurally from the work of Douglas Green at Green Designs..
Here is a picture of the table before it left here, finished and ready for packing. I will append some pictures of the table on site in West Chester as soon as I receive them from the table's owners. And, I will stroke myself a little--it came out well, a most striking and unique piece. I think the proportions of the top, the wings, and the base work out quite well. The butterflies are some of the most precisely cut and joined that I have done. I have really only a couple worries--one: the wings did not finish to the same color as the rest of the table top, and though they will darken, I worry that they will not match perfectly. Perhaps this is not such a problem--as breadboard style table ends, they do add to the design of the table, and the different colors of table-top and wings compliment the contrast of their opposing grains. But I wouldn't have planned it this way. The other problem is less a worry than what I see as a design flaw. I admit that with my own work I always find something I wish I could change after the fact. In this table it's the size and placement of the table top's frame. The cross members can be seen through the large knot holes in the table top. I knew this when I decided on the size of the frame, and I tried to change it, but avoiding this meant making the frame much narrower and set closer to the middle of the table top. Concerned as I was with the stability of the table and with creating a void between the legs, I decided this was a decision I could not make. In the end, the table is nice and stable, the legs soar out of the ground in a dynamic, powerful way, made more interesting by the large empty space swelling between them. But, you make the decision. Here it before finishing:
And here finished. (Remember the drawings posted below? Looks about the same, yes?)
Another day another bit of progress on the dining table. Have today finished building the base, except for final sanding and gluing. Also cleaned up the top some more, finishing one of the edges that will take an extension--I have begun calling them wings, not leaves. Finished the day with two of three butterflies joining the bookmatched flitches down the middle.
A little lesson in butterfly joints--make sure your band saw, or jig saw, whichever you use, is cutting completely vertically. I had to do a bit of work with sander and chisel to make sure my butterflies would have the same dimensions on top and bottom. I had measured very carefully, 4 inches long, two inches to the middle from the ends. Then I measured 3/8 inches in from each side at the middle and drew the angles in from the endedges to my marks at the middle. I prepared three pieces of bubinga in this way before turning on the band saw. I had just fusse with the bandsaw table and blade guides a couple days ago, and assumed the blade was running perpendicular to the table. Ah, it was close, but must have been a degree or so out of true. All this meant was that after cutting from the ends toward the middle on both ends, the cuts were a tiny bit less than perfect where they met in the middle. So, I fised the saw and did the last two, working with chisel and sander to make them all perfect matches.
Then to the table top where I measured out the distances I wanted separating them. I then took the a square and made lines perpendicular to the bookmatching joint. I then traced one butterfly, perpendicular to the center joint and along my new line, and made sure half lay on each side of the center joint. I traced the buttterfly and then took a chisel to the tracing, making slight cuts all the way along my pencil marks. By cutting about 1/16 of an inch into the surface like this, you avoid tearout when drilling. I then equipped a power hand drill with a forstner bit. I drilled holes 3/4 of an inch deep (my butterflies are 7/8 inch thick) and about 1/16 inch inside the traced butterfly. I then returned to the hammer and chisel and carefully dug my hole--following the lind of my tracing. At the corners, always take a chisel and cut a bisecting angle cut deeply into the corner. This will allow you to make clean chisel cuts right up to the corner, without tearing out wood on the other side of the corenr from the one you are working on. It also helps the chisel drive straight down in the corner.
After mucking around like this, trying and re-trying the butterfly for fit and finally getting a nice snug fit, I drilled two holes through the bottom of the mortise to let glue run out. And it was time to glue and gently tap the butterfly into th mortise. After letting the glue dry some, I sanded the top of the butterfly off and smooth it to the table top. Here are some pictures: