Art Frame: The Frame is the Focal Point

While exhibiting my work at Port Moody’s 2013 Art Walk I had some interesting discussions with other artists. One of them got me thinking about flatwork (2D art), and the frames in which it is sometimes shown. These pieces of art are the focus of attention and sometimes, a frame that compliments without detracting, is used to display the art.

But why? Why does the piece of art in the centre have to be the main attraction? Why can’t the frame be the primary piece of artwork and the picture be secondary? I built this piece, titled Art Frame, to explore that concept.

Art Frame is a carefully designed and executed design made of ash. I chose the materials based on the grain and colours exhibited.

Ash Frame

I joined the four pieces of ash with bold half-lap joints and added diminishing bevels on the inside and outside edges.

Ash Frame Detail

This is part of a series of art pieces that I have been thinking about for the past months. The idea is to make items that coexist and shift the focus from one to the other, and I have at least another half-dozen ideas. So far, this is the only one that I’ve created.

Art Frame is available for purchase. Learn more on the product page.


Insanity 2

Insanity 2 is the working name for my latest speculative project.  As with most, I’m designing it as I go and using the materials as my primary inspiration.

Every project starts with an inspiration

This piece of ash was the inspiration.  It’s been sitting in my shop for years waiting for me to do something with it.  Honestly, the shape wasn’t conducive to use as a whole slab and I never had a need to process it.


Tired of having it in my way, last week I decided to do something with it.  I studied the grain, colouring and defects and started drawing potential cut lines with chalk.

IMG3090I cut the slab into a smaller, more manageable size.  I also made sure to cut it narrow enough that I could resaw it into thinner pieces with my bandsaw.  Before resawing it, I flattened the surface.


A design emerges

I resawed two 3/8″ panels from the ash crotch and experimented with different orientations.

I didn’t like the colour and pattern variance where the two panels met.


I liked this orientation, but felt that it didn’t make the best use of the tight, dark figure.


This layout didn’t really strike me.

IMG3103Ultimately, I decided to go with this orientation.  They looked like doors (and that’s what they are until I see them as something else, if I do).  To emphasize the book match, I wanted to keep the top edges as close as possible.


Making frames for the panels

To deal with potential warpage and issues with expansion, I decided to create frames for the panels.  I examined the grain of several slabs, looking for grain that followed the curves of the edges of the panels.  I found the best material in this 2-1/4″-thick slab.


I cut out the stiles, then resawed them to create mirror-image parts for each door.


Then, I cut out, resawed and trimmed the rails to fit between the stiles.  Notice how the middle stiles are half-dark and half-light, and that the light area is used to transition into the light-coloured rails.


I masked off the parts of the frame that I intended to remove and taped the panels to the fronts of the frames to get an idea of what the doors would look like.


I routed grooves along the inside of the frame components.


To feature the book match, I did some drastic modifications to the frame.  I cut away much of the front of the inside stile.  This design was a first for me, and possibly a first in the woodworking world.


It took me more than a day to select and cut out all the components for the doors and I spent all of Sunday fitting the panels into the frame.


So what’s next?

I think that my next step is to glue up the doors.  Because of my modified design, I intend to glue the panels to the inside stiles and let them expand outwards.  After that, I’m not sure what to do, but I’ll figure out the rest in time.  One big obstacle is figuring out how to hinge the doors, but what’s the fun of woodworking without a challenge?


Lennart Van Uffelen – Tafel.01

Tafel.01 by Lennart Van Uffelen

Artist Name:  Lennart Van Uffelen
Title:  Tafel.01
Details:  circa 2011 – Ash, Stainless Steel, 120cm L x 80cm W x 75cm H

Why It’s Notable:

Somebody once asked me how to be artistic.  My suggestion was to start with something functional, then add or remove from it until you are done.  By replacing one leg with an axe, this piece remains functional, yet is transformed into a work of art!

Overflow, Part VIII

You know that I, Chris Wong, make woodwork with much flair at Flair Woodworks.  However, you may not know that I also make fine woodworking tools at Time Warp Tool Works (read more about my role at Time Warp Tool Works).

It is a well-known fact that quartersawn material (where growth rings run vertically along the end grain) is very stable and for that reason it is used extensively for Time Warp Tool Works projects, including Moulding Planes and Ash Bench Dogs.  When selecting stock for bench dogs, I always notice that some ash doesn’t look as exquisite as other ash.  The best ash is tight- and fine-grained and quartersawn.  Ash with curvy, figured grain or that is flatsawn (where growth rings run horizontally along the end grain) is not as desirable when long-term stability is a primary concern.

Fine and Purdy Flatsawn Ash

Up for grabs are a total of 14 pieces of kiln-dried, flatsawn ash, each 7/8″ square and 8′ long.  (I can cut them shorter if you prefer smaller pieces of ash for mailing; what you do with the ash once you get your hands on it is up to you!)  Each piece of ash is perfect (free of defects) and needs love and attention that I cannot provide.  I am giving it all away as one package so that I don’t end up with a stick of my ash.

If you would like for this lovely ash to be all yours, please leave a comment below indicating your interest before April 2.  I will then draw the name of a lucky ash-grabber at random.  Even if you don’t get this trunk-load of ash, remember that there is MUCH MORE that I want to give away.

I am also giving away FLATSAWN CHERRY, 1-1/2” X 1-1/2” IN VARIOUS LENGTHS in Overflow, Part VIII.5.

And if you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you can be notified as soon as I post something new!  And please tell your friends about my Overflow program.

Small Ash Side Table

At 11:45 am on Saturday, December 17, I decided that I would make a small table as a Christmas gift.  I documented my process live on Twitter and what you see below are the updates.  This was useful because each update had a time stamp so followers could see the rate at which I progressed.

(If you are not familiar with the format used on Twitter, the @ symbol indicates a username.  Every update, or “tweet” below starts with a username and they are the author of that tweet.  Sometimes, you will see two or more usernames in a tweet.  The second (and third, etc) usernames are people the author is talking to.  The other symbol you will see is #, which serves as a category.  I tried to remember to categorize all my tweets pertaining to this project under #flairww.)

Saturday, December 17:  5-1/2 hours

  • @FlairWoodworks: I’m going to try to design and build a table today, starting right now. Follow along with hash tag #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 11:48 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: The first step will be to find some cool wood. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 11:48 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: This odd piece looks to be the right height for legs. I’m thinking pedestal. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 11:51 am
  • @gvmcmillan: @FlairWoodworks Good luck cutting that safely!
    December 17, 2011, 11:54 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: Smoothing the power-carved surfaces with a hand plane.
    December 17, 2011, 12:24 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I’d like to use this piece for the base and top of the table. #flairww (I later changed my mind and used the part marked “BASE” for the top and vise-versa.)
    December 17, 2011, 12:46 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: You didn’t think this was going to be just another table, did you? #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 12:48 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I cut a clean surface on the end of the leg with my sliding tablesaw. How would you do this? #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:07 pm
  • @Tumblewood: @FlairWoodworks I’d have done something similar with my Excalibur sliding table. #Flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:15 pm
  • @BobbyHagstrom: @FlairWoodworks Probably with a sled as I don’t have a sliding T-saw :( hehe… I’ve done stuff like that freehand-lots o’ clean up #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:20 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I need to glue two pieces together to make a wide, more stable base. Note the chalk alignment lines.
    December 17, 2011, 1:32 pm
  • @Tumblewood: @FlairWoodworks Nice grain alignment. #Flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:37 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Come on, glue. Hurry up and dry! #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:48 pm
  • @MansFineFurn: @FlairWoodworks ash?
    December 17, 2011, 1:51 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @MansFineFurn Ash!
    December 17, 2011, 1:51 pm
  • @gvmcmillan: @FlairWoodworks Without a sliding table saw, I would have used my compound miter chop saw. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 1:53 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Lunchtime! The glue ought to be dry enough to continue work when I return. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 2:21 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Any questions so far? #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 2:24 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Lunch is done and the glue dry enough to flatten the table’s base.
    December 17, 2011, 3:03 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I need to cut a notch in the upright (leg) to receive the top. This is probably the most challenging part.
    December 17, 2011, 3:48 pm
  • @MansFineFurn: @FlairWoodworks are you winging it or do you have a design?
    December 17, 2011, 3:51 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: With a saw cut to establish each shoulder, I use a chisel and mallet to clear the waste.
    December 17, 2011, 3:53 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @MansFineFurn I’m designing it as I build. This is fun! #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 3:54 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I used my side rabbet plane to clean up the sawed surfaces and adjust the angle.
    December 17, 2011, 4:00 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: That’s a good fit! #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 4:12 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Here’s the other side of the joint. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 4:13 pm
  • @TheGravedigger: @FlairWoodworks That did well.
    December 17, 2011, 4:14 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The top looks too thick so I’m going to taper it out towards the edge. I tilted my bandsaw table for this cut.
    December 17, 2011, 4:22 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The bandsawn surface is pretty flat. The burn marks are from when I hesitated feeding the board.
    December 17, 2011, 4:25 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: A few minutes with a handplane removed the milling and burn marks and reestablished a flat top.
    December 17, 2011, 4:28 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The upright is secured to the upright with a pair of long lag bolts.
    December 17, 2011, 4:43 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Sorry I’ve been forgetting to add the #flairww tag.
    December 17, 2011, 4:44 pm
  • @sharpendwood: @FlairWoodworks Cool idea, enjoying watching your progress.
    December 17, 2011, 4:57 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @sharpendwood Well, sculpting is the next step. I will wait until daylight before using my angle grinder to carve the upright. #flairww
    December 17, 2011, 5:13 pm

Sunday December 18:  3-1/2 hours

  • @FlairWoodworks: After I finish lunch, I’ll be back in the shop working on the table I started yesterday. Follow along with #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 11:55 am
  • @FlairWoodworks: I’m using my angle grinder to sculpt the table’s upright. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 12:20 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Smoothing out the rough-carved surface is going quickly with 80-grit on my Mirka CEROS random orbit sander.
    December 18, 2011, 8:44 pm
  • @ArtsConnectBC: RT @flairwoodworks: After I finish lunch, I’ll be back in the shop working on the table I started yesterday. Follow along with #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 1:02 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Preliminary sanding with 80-grit is done. Now on to fine grits. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 1:02 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: The upright has been sanded to 180-grit. I’ll finish sand the top now.
    December 18, 2011, 9:21 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Here’s the table assembled. I just need to shape the base. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 2:01 pm
  • @woodbard: @FlairWoodworks Right, Chris. I look forward to *yours*, though. I like what I see, but cannot imagine what the hole’s function is.
    December 18, 2011, 2:12 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: @woodbard hole? You mean the pencil holder? :) (It’s actually just a knot hole.)
    December 18, 2011, 2:13 pm
  • @woodbard: @FlairWoodworks I knew the hole would be a critical part of that table. Thanks!
    December 18, 2011, 2:23 pm
  • @Tumblewood: @FlairWoodworks Pretty darn cool, Chris!!
    December 18, 2011, 2:29 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: In classic Chris fashion, I carved the edges of the base to follow the grain. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 2:43 pm
  • @DyamiPlotke: @FlairWoodworks looks good, Chris.
    December 18, 2011, 10:53 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: I plugged the screw holes. Can you see them? #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:06 pm
  • @woodbard: @FlairWoodworks Juuuussssttt barely, and ONLY with image blown up,Chris. Wonderful job matching the grain with the plugs!!! #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:09 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Time for a final inspection before the application of the finish. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:11 pm
  • @JC_McGrath: @FlairWoodworks barely for sure, excellent match
    December 18, 2011, 3:12 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Here is the table with one coat of lacquer. I’ll give it a light sanding followed by a couple more coats. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:27 pm
  • @ed_elizondo: @FlairWoodworks That durn good work.
    December 18, 2011, 3:31 pm
  • @FlairWoodworks: Lacquer and shellac are my two preferences when I need a quick-drying finish. #flairww
    December 18, 2011, 3:31 pm
  • @DyamiPlotke: @FlairWoodworks just faintly. Would have missed them if I wasn’t specifically looking. Well done.
    December 18, 2011, 3:52 pm
  • @HighRockWW: @FlairWoodworks cool table Chris, I like it.
    December 19, 2011, 4:37 pm
  • @Tooltutor: @FlairWoodworks that’s a sweet table! Can’t even see the plugs.
    December 19, 2011, 6:38 pm

Some Pictures of the Completed Table

Your Feedback is Appreciated!

What did you think of this Tweet Along?  Would you like to see more?  Please leave your thoughts about the project, process, and method of documentation below in the comments section.