Defects Are Hints For Something Better

In all the creative work I have done with live-edge material, I have always looked at a cut section – where a limb was removed or the material cut to length – as a shortcoming.

But recently, I had an epiphany.

Like so many of my revelations, this one came while experimenting on a piece of scrap wood worth nothing to me. This particular piece of wood was about the size of a 2×4 roughly three feet long. The middle foot had the bark intact and the area to either side was cut straight.

I was carving for no reason other than to carve for enjoyment. I started removing material, trying to make the cut edge flow into the live edge. Then, as I like to do, I began forming a twist. Completely by eye, I carved a quarter twist into the first third of the board, blending it into the bark as best I could.

The result was very interesting. It was no longer an area of defect that you should divert your eyes from and politely pretend you hadn’t noticed. It was not apologetic, rather it was a bold feature that demanded equal, if not greater attention than the live edge. I think that the irregularity of the done-by-eye twist worked favourably with the organic bark edge.

Moreover, I feel that if used between two sections of live edge, this twist would not only fit in with equal authority, but it would in fact visually tie the two live edge sections together.

I am never satisfied when I have to make a compromise in a design to make up for a shortcoming. This, however, is not a compromise – it is taking a problem and fully exploiting it for what it really is: a design opportunity.

Live Edge twist

Local, Air-Dried Wood for Sale

Since 2005, I have been stockpiling local hardwoods. These are full flitches (entire logs) milled to my specifications for furniture making and stacked on pallets.

All of this material has been slowly and patiently air-dried. It’s a process that is not widely used commercially due to the time requirement, but the quality of the material is so much better than kiln-dried.

These are some of the primary benefits of air-dried wood.

  • Can be bent in tighter curves and with higher success rates.
  • The material feels less brittle and works easier.
  • Less tendency to warp as it is being worked.
  • Some say that the colours of air-dried material are more vibrant.

For the first time, I am offering the wood from my private woodshed to the general public. Cataloguing everything takes time, and I will continue to add more as time permits. Subscribe to my blog to be notified when I post more pictures of wood available.

Click here to view the wood for sale.

Black Locust sample, clear finish

Black Locust sample, clear finish (click to enlarge)

End Grain Yew Cribbage Boards, Part 1

Earlier this week, I began work on a new cribbage board. The section of Pacific yew didn’t look like much at first.

Pacific Yew Log

I wanted to include this protrusion.

Keep this Limb

And wanted to exclude this chainsaw cut.

Exclude this Chainsaw Cut

I screwed a straight piece of wood on to one end of the material and used a scrap of wood to angle it parallel to my desired cut line.

Fence

Since the screws bowed the once-straight piece of wood, I used a handplane to restraighten it.

Straightening Fence

I set my bandsaw to make the cut furthest from the screwed-on fence.

Ready to Band Saw

This was the result of the first cut.

First Cut

And this was the result of the second cut after repositioning the fence.  At least the bottom cut was flat.

Second Cut

I sanded the top side smooth with 80-grit abrasive.

Top Sanded

I mixed up some West Systems epoxy to fill some of the voids. After mixing, I set it aside for about half an hour to thicken.

IMG_20150913_123427942Although most of the bark came off quite easily, a few stubborn pieces didn’t want to let go. I carefully used a block of wood and a mallet to remove them.

Removing Bark

While waiting for the epoxy to further thicken, I decided to cut a second cribbage board from one of the off-cuts.

IMG_20150913_124839870

I then sanded the more attractive side smooth with 80-grit abrasive and placed the two pieces face side up on some brown paper to protect my bench from any drips of epoxy.

Two Cribbage Boards

Using a spatula, I carefully applied the epoxy to the areas I wanted to solidify, focusing on small checks.

Epoxy Applied

Then I waited for the epoxy to dry.

By the way, I shared my progress live on Twitter, using hashtag #FlairWW.  Follow me @FlairWoodworks.

Single-Slab Cherry Coffee Table, Part II

In Part I of this project, I cut mitred returns in the cherry crotch slab and joined the three legs to the table top with Domino floating tenons. I then cut and fit five maple dovetail keys.

Cherry Coffee Table 1

Due to the way that the wood dried, neither the top nor the legs were particularly flat, so I simply used a sander to make them fair and smooth.

Cherry Coffee Table 2This is an excellent example of how my designs are influenced by the materials I use. The overall size of the materials dictate the dimensions of the piece, and the shape of the live edge and grain patterns influence where cuts are made and where dovetail keys can be used in best effect.

Due to the height, this piece works equally well as a coffee table and a bench.

Check the product page for more details on this coffee table/bench.

Links:

Two New Cribbage Boards

I’m very excited to release two brand new cribbage boards.

Each board has three tracks that follow the live edges, and the signature orange/cream contrast of the Pacific Yew is evident in each. Number 11 includes a scoring field whereas Number 12 does not.

You can find more photographs and details on their respective product pages.

Cribbage Board 11b

Cribbage Board 11

Cribbage Board 12a

Cribbage Board 12

Links:

  1. Cribbage Board #11
  2. Cribbage Board #12

The Lights are Still On at Flair Woodworks

Not often does an entire week pass (let alone two!) without a new article here on my blog, but this month that happened. Let me assure that I am still here, and the lights are still on in my shop. In fact, I’m as busy as ever with a wide variety of projects.

Cribbage Boards!

There is an ever-increasing amount of demand for my live-edge cribbage boards and I am working hard to build inventory. I am waiting for the finish to cure on the latest boards so that I can rub them out for an ultra-smooth finish. (Cribbage Board #9 is currently still available at the time of publishing!)

Cribbage Boards

Kaboom!

I am part of the organizing committee for Kaboom! The Port Moody Art Explosion. It’s going to be:

“a true artists happening, an explosion of self-made fun and entertainment, a historical moment in our fair city where we bring together in one room, a Who’s Who of artists in a surprise-filled, creatively-combustible evening of art and entertainment”.

The event takes place in eight days and we’re working furiously to ensure everything is just right. (Register to attend the event here.)

KaboomSign

As part of the Kaboom Decor subcommittee, I fabricated a pair of lighted columns for the entryway and helped create two giant mobiles which will hang from the ceiling.

Lighted Column

Moulding Planes!

At Time Warp Tool Works, we are adding two new sizes of moulding planes to our lineup. Currently, we offer #6 (3/8″) and #8 (1/2″) hollow and round moulding planes. I’m working on the bodies for the new #4 (1/4″) and #10 (5/8″) hollow and round moulding planes.

Making Moulding Planes

De-Stressing!

It’s pretty insane having weeks full of days that are packed from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. Sometimes, I find myself literally running from one meeting or task to the next. As someone who finds it very difficult to take breaks – especially with an immense workload – I find it helpful to at least switch gears and do some kind of work just for fun – like taking half an hour to turn a bowl.

Black Locust Bowl Blank

Links:

Elm Table Top

A couple of months ago, a local couple approached me looking for a characterful table top for a metal base they were having made.  I invited them to visit my shop and they picked out this slab of elm.

Elm Slab

I flattened the top side of the slab and filled the voids with resin.  I inlaid a pair of dovetail keys across the void at one end of the table (seen below).

Elm Table Top 2

Elm has been one of the more unique woods I’ve used and I really enjoyed working with it.  It was even more magical than usual when I applied the first coat of finish and watched all the colours pop.  There was a wide range of colours in the elm and lots of small voids which provided a lot of interest.

Elm Table Top

Although there wasn’t much sculpting to be done, this table top was still one of my favourites.  It was just so beautiful!

Elm Table LowThe clients are really happy with the table and they tell me that it complements their home.  Hearing that always makes me happy.  I’m also happy that I have more elm slabs for future projects.

New Apple Cribbage Boards

I’m beginning to catch up on posting some recently-completed projects which are now posted in my Store.

The wood for these two cribbage boards is from a local apple tree.  While I cannot guarantee one of these spectacular boards will improve your game, it may be enough to distract your opponent so that you can call Muggins and steal their points.

Since I do not use a CNC (computer numerically controlled) machine in my work, it is up to me to precisely lay out and drill each hole.  As David Pye discusses in his book, The Nature and Art of Workmanship, these cribbage boards are an excellent example of “workmanship of risk” because the success of the final product relies on my abilities every step along the way.  One misplaced hole can literally ruin a cribbage board.

As with all my work, each of these cribbage boards is signed and dated.

This board features live edges and three tracks.  Epoxy is used to stabilize the centre area.

Click for more information and additional views.

Apple Cribbage Board II Front


The live edge of this board is removed because of damage.  I quite like vertical edge and how it contrasts with the rich tones of the top.  This cribbage board features three tracks and a scoring field.

Click for more information and additional views.

Apple Cribbage Board III End


This is the fifth slide from my PechaKucha presentation.

C.Wong-05

A Box Called “Necessessity”

Second Picture of Maple Trestle Table, Finished!

Yesterday, I moved Maple Trestle Table out of the shop into a larger room that was transformed into a photo studio.  Today, I took a number of pictures and have begun sorting through them to find the best.

One of my favourite detail shots is of an epoxy resin-filled fissure in the beautifully figured top.  Scroll up to the top of this page to see it in the header.

Do you like this shot as much as I do?