As mentioned in a previous post, my J-O-B sent me to Casablanca, Morocco recently for a few days. I had a free afternoon the day I flew in, so I headed right to the “New” Medina Market (the Old Medina is where the locals shop for fruit, fish, scarves, socks, underwear, etc…). I picked up a few things for gifts and spent almost 4 hours with a carpet merchant bargaining for two carpets and drinking glass after glass of hot, sweet, Moroccan mint tea. I can say that after haggling with carpet sellers in Marrakesh, that the carpet soul in Casablanca seemed almost laid back. The were no histrionics and the opening price did not equal the price of my first vehicle. I was pleasantly surprised.
Things turned out really well and I got a decent price for the carpets – 1/5 of what they go for in the US and half of the European mainland retail price. In addition to bringing back a horrendous cold, I also brought back a large red leather pouf and 1 square meter of Zellige tile for my sweet wife – she danced a little when I pulled them out of my bag. I got the tile at a giant outdoor bizarre that was full of used and new plumbing fixtures, tile, lumber, tools, doors, etc… It was like 2 Home Depots , a Lowes, and 10 architectural salvage places set up all their wares under tents in a football stadium parking lot. It was vast and cramped and noisy and awesome. I wanted to spend hours there, but it was getting dark and this pale gent doesn’t plan to get caught in a dark ally in the middle of a foreign bizarre after sundown, no sir. I got my tile and zipped away on the back of a borrowed scooter, piloted by a Moroccan carpet seller with a who had a schedule to keep – which is a whole other tale in-itself!
On the day before I left town, I had had a couple of hours and I went back to the Medina and bargained for a few cushions and pillow covers for my wife. Same thing – very laid back. There was nowhere near the selection, but it was worth it not to be constantly harassed and pawed at by sellers trying to drag me into the shop for a “special price just for me…”
Prospects for Fall wood-turning are looking up! In addition to a free electric oil-filled heater for the garage that I was given, I am 98% done with the Chinese lathe build-up into a proper tool. I am waiting on the arrival (had to resort amazon.uk.co as there are not turning shops in a 100 mile radius?!) of two huge bowl gouges and I will be set up to make shavings all winter. On the raw material front: I am taking an old apricot tree out of a small orchard for some friends a few villages away and I am excited to turn some bowls and jar tops out of it. I mentioned the project to a friend of my wife’s one day this week and a couple of hours later she called and said that her husband is cutting an old ornamental cherry down and would I like the wood? Like the Pope wants Jesus, I do!! I will be going over with the chainsaw next week to help him take it down and to cut the trunk into sections. I told them I would make them a vessel or large bowl out of a hunk of the tree in trade for the lumber. Am feeling reasonably optimistic about upcoming projects
Later this month, my J-O-B is sending me to Morocco for 3 days/4-nights. I haven’t been there since Laurel and I went in 2008 for our anniversary. That was a relaxing trip: Palatial riad, going out, romantic dinners, the beach, camels, etc… This trip will be a good bit different: Budget hotel, meeting after meeting all day, e-mails/drawings/spreadsheets at night, hasty meals, and early flights. I do get a free Sunday afternoon the day I fly into Casablanca, so I am headed right to the old Medina Market and plan to do a little gift shopping for my wife and all the birthdays coming up.
We sort of have a Moroccan/Sherlock/Boho thing going for our home deco and I am going to take the opportunity to pick up a few small things for the house while there this time:
- A 3-4 meter long meter runner for the living room
- A very small rug for our entryway
- A few small tiles to make into coasters
- A leather pouf foot stool
- Some throw pillow covers – as many as I can carry back actually
- A couple of small tajines
- Slippers for my wife
I was flipping through my Instacrack feed today and I noticed that in the last couple on months that I have had some really good beer. I am such a raving wino that we can buy a 6-pack and 4 of them will sit in the fridge for a month before I finally give them away to guests one at a time. More often than not, I will buy one or two promising looking beers at the store and put them in the back of our euro-fridge (tiny) to reward myself with after a day of yard work in the hot sun, when I am finally done with some long-term shop project, or if a project goes horribly wrong – like destroying a saw blade on an unseen nail, anytime I have run a chainsaw that day, after a grueling hike, finishing a monster drawing or spreadsheet, a bowl flies apart on a spinning lathe, multiple parts cut too short…. All that stuff deserves a beer
I have been remiss in posting for the last couple of weeks – my J-O-B has been sort of nuts and I have been trying to stay on top of things and stay employed I have been putting around in the shop here and there at night before and after dinner though. Recently I have completed:
- A salt cellar for my wife made from scrap red and white oak because I was tired of seeing the IKEA glass dish on the table.
- A jar lid or two for the kitchen.
- There have been a couple of honey dippers for turned gifts.
- Specifically for my wife, I made rolling pins for fettuccine and ravioli pasta (or pie crust if my sweet bride happened to want to bake me a lattice top apple pie…) We had a friend who is a food blogger come over that LOVED them and I think that I am going to do one or two for her as well.
- I added some wood-bling to a plunger handle – Why have mass-produced stuff sitting around like everyone else when 8 minutes of lathe time and a little oil/wax turns the mundane into the custom.
- A glass bottle cutter so I can take the pile of bottles we generate and make candle covers, tumblers, and glass funnels for my wife and for Christmas gifts. It was a non-specific request from her that has won me brownie-points.
- A book shelf made from a small 1931 cast-iron lathe and a hunk of reclaimed barn/house beam from here in France. I cleaned both the beam and lathe up a little, added a little stain to the wood, light sanding, and a coat of poly. I mortised in a couple of reclaimed oak runners to serve as feet and the keep the ends of the beam from splitting. The lathe was then bolted down and I added one of my bowls to give the books a proper purchase. The tool rest is turned and mounted on the other side to keep the books upright. I think it looks awesome and everyone who have come over in the last month has either asked where I got it of how I thought of it. Make my ego swell a bit….
For my Birthday – the 12th anniversary of my 29th year – my sweet wife and I went on a long weekend to Porto. I almost ruined our trip before it began by leaving my passport in my work briefcase – I flew in late from London the night before and that is my only thread of an excuse. A friend’s wife raced to our place and the made the hour and 20 minute drive to the airport in an hour and five. I was the last one on the plane after busting through the closing security gate like I was in a movie. Trip rescued.
It poured on us the first couple of days, so there was lots of sightseeing in churches and port wine tasting rooms. We managed seven in total including the vineyards… When the sun did come out, we found the city to be stunning: Lots of tile, amazing old buildings, picturesque river, etc…
Speaking of churches, we visited the Baroque masterpiece of Sao Francisco Church. Holy Jiminy-Jesus! The gilded wood carving is breathtaking. We could have sat there for hours. Stunning.
Concerning the tastings, we visited 4 of the Porto houses in the Gaia part of the City: Taylor’s, Ramos Pinto, Ferreira, and a local gallery/small scale producer – where Stamps-With-Foot MADE me buy a port wine related board game. She made me. We liked the port at Ramos Pinto the best for everyday consumption and we bought our friend’s wife/passport logistician a fine bottle of 20 year old that was silky smooth. At Taylor’s we/I splurged on a single glass of their 40 year old. Delicious!
For our last full day and on my actual birthday, we took a tour of the Douro Valley and stopped by two vineyards and a local mom and pop shop that made their own that was delectable. Our favorite vineyard and tour was the one at the Quinta do Tedo. Nice place, great tour, good port at a great price. In between the guzzling of the wine, we found the scenery to be breathtaking and Stamps-With-Foot and I decided we could live in a place like the Douro.
Being a child of the 1980′s, my early tool and joinery education from my own father was augmented by two TV craftsman – Norm and Roy. I have a foot in each of their worlds: My table saw, miter saw, and lathe get the lion’s share of work done in my shop, but I am giddy whenever I can whip out a chisel, Japanese saw, or molding plane. My lathe gets a lot of press as it is my only power tool here in France and I recently realized that I am not highlighting hand tools enough in my shop work posts. Additionally, I see a lot of very cool old tools here in France that need to be shared. I will be posting pictures, videos, details, openions, thoughts, etc… here.
For today, enjoy Roy and Norm
Disclosure Note: The choice of the Roy video was solely due to the heady mix of Jefferson and Roubo. In the future, I will include more videos of people actually using the tools
I may have mentioned before that I have a certain unnatural attraction to desks – a lust if you will. We have five desks in our house in France home, three in our Seattle house, and I still NEED more. I love me a Victorian Wooten, a Danish cabinet-desk will cause me to pant, fire screen panel desks start me to sweat, roll-tops make me smile, and the smooth curves of an Art Nouveau model will make me twitch.
Whenever I travel or go to a museum or furniture shop, I have a wandering eye for desk-like furniture – I almost feel like I am cheating on my desks at home. It happened again recently, when I went to Revel, France on a road trip with my son and Father-in-law. When we got home and started looking at the pictures, I realized that more then half were of desks, desk drawers, the corner joint of a desk, image after image of drop leafs… I with we had more rooms…
Here are a few pictures from that trip:
I love me some old tools. I love looking at them, touching their surfaces, using them… Most of my hand planes, some of my chisels, and all of my molding planes are older them my grandfather. I will push people down in a junk/antique shoppe to get to a wooden plane or socket chisel peeping out from behind a Paint-By-Numbers masterpiece.
Occasionally, I find a beautiful tool that is beyond repair and cannot be brought back to life. I lament its loss. There have been a couple of pieces lately that I just couldn’t let go into the burn pile or let sit to languish as food for wood-worms. The molding plane pictured below was/is a 1860s-ish Gleave #8 round and was split and has warped at the split to the point that there was no bringing it back from the dead. So I cleaned it up, applied a little walnut oil, and added a VERY pitted iron to make a key holder for our living room. It subtly tells first-time visitors that a carpenter/Ébéniste lives here.
The 23″ walnut joiner plane, also below, was the property of a C. Wanger, and used just outside the village of Cornebarrieu, France. It bears the marks of his hand on the foreend and his thumb and index fingers have left deep indentions on the tote. It has been repaired a couple of times, the wedge has been cut off and worms got to it years ago. The poor thing is now held together with hope, spit, and a little epoxy. I loved the size and color, so I turned it into a desk organizer for my office.
Before you all start collecting scrap so you can roast me alive for desecrating beautiful tools, know that I rescued them from a fiery fate and have given these tools a useful and meaningful after-life.
Truffle has some cat DNA in there somewhere:
1. If you want to sleep and she doesn’t want you to there is a slobber attack. Don’t try to hide your head under the pillow – it won’t help you.
2. She will chase the laser pointer up the concrete column in the living room and go back to look for it an hour later.
3. Why would she eat her food, sleep in her bed, play with her toys? Brodie’s are so much better.
4. Apparently, her assigned spot in the bed is between my wife and me at shoulder level.
5. Oh, you want to write an email or get some work done? Nope, not on her watch. She will sit in your lap, lick the keyboard and grunt until you pet her full-time.
6. Yoga Mat? Wrong. Puppy play space. Move over.
7. You want to watch “your show”? Not during designated playtime you don’t. When is designated play time? What time does your show start?
8. Why would my wife want to put make-up on by herself when Truffle can help?
9. A relaxing bath for the Mrs…. Sure if she doesn’t mind Truffle standing at the side of the tub whimpering or lying beside it passing gas.
10. “What do you mean there is a no dogs on the table rule?!” We have learned that chairs and benches have to be pushed in so that we do have to share our meals.
11. She CAN get in the bed by herself, but why would she do that? Standing beside the bed with her nose and front paws on the mattress and whining until the bald pink monkeys put her up there is a winning strategy, so why should she expand the energy?
Just finished a curio cabinet rework/repair for my next-door neighbor. It was the husband’s parents and as best as I can tell/find it is from 1910ish. It was really well made and a fine piece of small furniture to display dolls, tea cups, and such. At some point, 2 shelves were added and the corner trim blocks were lost. I turned some 7/8″ X 7/8″ X 3/8″ blocks down, and added rosettes with a skew chisel point. As my neighbor was handing me the cabinet to install the blocks, he also asked that I put in a third shelf. OK… I used an old fruit crate bottom for the shelf material and planed it down a touch to match the thickness of the other two. I then cleaned up the front edge of one of the “original: shelves so it matched the other and the new.
After the repair and rework, I mixed and fiddled with 3 different stains I had to color match the original finish; I didn’t want the rosettes looking out of place. After touching-up all the dings and scrapes, I added an oil finish and 2 coats of wax. It only took 10 minutes or so to buff it up to a high shine.
I took it over to his wife Monday morning and she was thrilled at the transformation. The Talley motto (at least my house-hold) is “Be Helpful when you can” and I feel this qualifies. I am glad I could do this little thing for them and hope they continue to use it and pass it to their kids.
We have a Art Deco flower pot in the guest bathroom that is used as a trash can. is about 9″ high and 8″ in diameter, so it doesn’t hold a lot. However, our new puppy is VERY interested in the contents of that vessel. To stem any possible and eventual messes, I took some pine scrap, chucked it up in the lathe and made a heavy wooden lid. I stained and finished to match the pot. Simple fast jobs like this make it so I can buy new tools without my sweet wife flipping out.
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I have been on a 5-board bench kick this year. I have built five so far and two more are in the works. I am also putting together at least three 6-board benches in the next 6-8 months, which share similar design and construction. Both items are classified as “Furniture of Necessity” or “Early Rustic” if you go shopping for one or the other. The patterns for them are roughly the same now are they were 2000 years ago and they lend themselves to hand-tool only construction.
I am not a Luddite that eschews a table saw, not in the least. I just don’t have one in France and am not buying one (If someone dropped off a new 10” cabinet saw and a compound sliding miter saw at my door, I guarantee that I could shoe-horn them nicely into the GROP). It has taken me almost 10 months to decide that I need a plug-in circle saw, but only to speed up the breakdown of thick planks and beams – I will be shopping at a pawnshop in the city though. I am just not spending the money to set up a new cabinet shop when we are leaving in a couple of years. Tools here are CRAZY expensive and most of the stuff available to non-professionals is crap. A Ridged-type contractors saw (bottom rung of what I consider acceptable for cabinet work) here with a real fence and a solid top will set you back the equivalent of $1100.00. Same saw at any Home Depot in the USA is about $500.00. A 7.25” Makita circle saw is the equivalent of $230.00 and an 18vt Ryobi drill with two batteries? $195.00!
Anyway, back to benches and chests… While in Paris last month we visited a plethora of museums and I kept finding little nuggets in the paintings, tapestries, and stained glass: top edge profiles, proportions, leg cutouts, etc… I am going to incorporate a couple of the details into my planed remaining work this year and next – just because I can. Below are a few of those details. They were for sure more to see, but not all museums allow pictures in their halls.
In about 3 weeks I will celebrate the 13th anniversary of my 29th birthday and the current plan is to spend the weekend in Porto, Portugal. While there, I want cake (moist yellow cake with chocolate butter-cream frosting), snuggling, a nice glass or 6 of Port, laughter, and a few well thought out gifts. I will NOT work that day – just not going to happen – and I plan to pamper myself with a haircut and a strait-razor shave if it can be found. I might buy some new wingtips, just ’cause they make me happy. Cookies will be eaten and beef will be consumed in quantity.
Below is my birthday wish list – mostly for my wife and children, but feel free to peruse and suggest.
I already have a bunch of crap, so my first request is that you give to a worthy cause.
If you DO want to get me a little token of your love and appreciation:
Anything from my Amazon wish list
A signed hardbound copy of Campaign Furniture
Theodore Roosevelt: a Strenous Life
I would like a signed copy of Chris Schwartz’s The Anarchist’s Tool Chest
A volume on handplanes or a tome on traditional woodworking
Twilight at Monticello
A Lost Art Press volume of The Essential Woodworker
James Krenov’s Cabinet Maker’s Notebook
Two Classic books on Shaker Furniture: here and here.
Don Julio Anejo Tequila
F3 Architect’s Wallet
Porsche Design TecFlex Fountain Pen (F Nib)
New bad-ass cufflinks or these or these…
A Global Chef’s knife, bread knife, and ceramic sharpener
Classic Cartoon DVDs (Bugs, Tom&Jerry, Loony Toons, Road Runner, etc…)
Stainless Omega Seamaster 007 or Planet Ocean with inscription
A fantastic sport coat
In addition to a fine long weekend in Porto, my wife gave me a cute desert cookbook, awesome mustache cuff-links, and a watch that I have been asking for. My Father-in-law sent me the funds to buy a nice bottle of port. My Mom hooked me up with an apron for BBQing and the thoughtful gift of Heifer bees. Bottles of good wine and great beer from friends here in France and I got cards and online wishes galore. It all made me very happy. Thank you everyone very, very much!
What happens when you are 99.98% done turning a bowl, there is a millisecond of inattention and BAM! And the bowl explodes off the chuck?? After you check your britches and finish saying dirty words, you pick up the pieces and make lemonade from lemons.
I thought about tossing it all in a fire, but decided to use the largest intact piece to make a small parts holder that mounts on a French Cleat. I am forever looking for a jar or a can to put small parts in while I am voiding a warranty or rebuilding something small and complicated.
I have a good number of wooden stakes to drive into the ground – garden project, long story. In the early stages of planning, I realized that I didn’t have a proper maul and did nor relish driving any of them with a claw hammer. Hummm….
To remedy that tool deficit, I finished turning one from a piece of oak firewood after work the other day – instead of mowing the yard… The steel bands are cut from a 5″ iron pipe and they are held on by 15 or so long brass nails. It seemed like a good use of my time and was a nice end to a very stressful day.
Statement displayed of the MacRumors website today:
“Apple’s “iWatch” is a smart watch project that Apple is reportedly aiming to launch with a special event in October of this year. Expect a ‘fashionable’ device running iOS with biometrics and other features providing integration with other iOS devices.”
I have been waiting for FIVE years for an iWatch. I held off buying the nano with a Lunatic band/case, because the iWatch was “coming out in the Fall…” every Fall comes and goes and my hunger grows for this bit of techie opulence. I never jump on board when stuff first comes out. I always wait until the 2nd or 3rd Gen, but I NEED an iWatch. Need….. Apple, please just take my money and the damn thing to me already.
Oh Apple you sly dog… you snuck my new watch out a month early. I need the stainless bezel, the stainless & black rubber bands. I pray the things it is waterproof – that is all I need before I drink the Kool-Aid. As soon as I get my grubby hands on it I will be drafting up and machining a pocket watch bezel cover, just because I am that nerdy. Let it begin, Let it begin…
OK, I have come down from my initial Apple-Crack rush and have had time to look at the facts as they stand today…. Apple wants me to buy a watch that is not a stand alone device, I have to carry my phone for it to be “optimized.” It has a 24hr-ish battery life, is not waterproof, costs $379.00 minimum and probably $450+ for the Stainless model with Stainless band, has ANOTHER new type of plug, and is new tech… Dammit, I should have bought the Nano with the Lunatic case and beat the shit out of it for the last three years. I think that instead of becoming an “early adoptee,” I will keep my Seiko 5 for the foreseeable future. It is Stainless, Shockproof, has a Day/Date display, NEVER needs a battery, glows in the dark, has 12 and 24hr indications, and keeps time just fine with a proven 23 jewel movement. Stupid apple. Stupid me for drinking the Kool-Aid…
We had a national holiday in France on Friday and I made the most of my 3-day weekend.
Instead of the stuff I needed to do I did this:
1. Got up at 7:30 on a holiday
2. Went up into the mountains with a group of Expats for a hike and a picnic – got some great pictures and had fine food
3. Worked on a design for wooden wine box/kitchen cabinets
4. Completely filled my Leuctterm1917 design sketch notebook – took 2 years
5. Watched a girlie movie with my sweet wife
6. Started a new notebook – a Rhodia Webbie this time (I like the paper better)
7. Spent too much time on the interwebs
8. Started formal permit process for garage shop and apartment above at our place in Seattle
9. Sanded, sealed and painted the “T” supports for the workbench/buffet table
10. Rough turned 4 oak bowls from a piece of tree blown down in a storm
11. Sent some e-mails out that I had let sit too long
12. Coated the bowls in wax and will let them cure for a year.
13. Cleaned and organized GROP – oak shavings were EVERY where
14. Composted the shavings with some grass and kitchen scraps
15. Sharpened all my lathe chisels
16. Brained myself on a low hanging bike – said f-word more than once
17. Went to a run along the river
18. Called my Mom and talked for a bit
19. Checked on the kids
20. Cut first 5” top sections for Cornebarrieu Workbench
21. Need a proper circle saw… the 18v battery saw is out of it league on 1.5” beech
22. Worked on the small cabinet rosettes for our neighbor – he also asked me to install a shelf while I was at it…
23. Played with the puppies – while Stamps-With-Foot had a girls night
24. Got sucked into Pinterest
25. Updated website a little (here and Tumblr)
26. Watched a little too much TV/YouTube
27. Took puppies for a walk around neighborhood a couple of times
28. Rode my bike about 10 miles – muddy
29. Cleaned and tuned single-speed bike
30. Played with puppies
31. Did some grilling with beer in hand
32. Got up Sunday morning and worked for a few hours, – because I thought it was Monday. Damn it!
33. Closed office door and did not return for 24 hours
34. Told wife her hair was very pretty
35. Went for a walk with wife and puppies
36. Made a small parts organizer out of a broken wood bowl
37. Got glue on my favorite shorts
38. Wrote some snail-mail
39. Surfed the interwebs until I fell asleep with the iPad on my chest…
40. I did not mow the yard again. The gods of lawn maintenance are displeased with me.
Regardless of what your personal belief structure might look like, it is hard to see some things that were created by the hands of men and women and not wonder if there is something greater than ourselves out there. The Musee d’Orsay is full of those objects: from sculpture to paintings to carvings to furniture. It is not just the Orsay though – it is the entire city of Paris. Buildings, museums, subway stations, churches, stained glass, public art, gravestones in Père Lachaise, even the trash cans on the street corners.
Below are pictures from a recent visit to The Orsay, The Cluny (see previouse Carving post), St. Eustice Church, and Notre Dame, with shots from various walks through the city.
The Ruminator and I had a big time this summer! It was full of firsts for him. A truncated list of firsts for him are:
Transatlantic Flight, time to France, real Castle, walled city, a basilica, cathedral, trip to Paris, taxi ride, subway ride, renting a bike, trip to a vineyard, picnic of goat cheese, bread and saucisson, seeing fields of sunflowers, Mass, walk in a vineyard, jousting tournament…. The list goes on.
I did a full redesign of the Cornebarrieu bench… As per my normal modus operandi, I was over designing/building it. With all the tweaks and gadgets and new parts, it was going to take me 6 months to build, some serious math to layout the interlocking joint angles and cost $1900 in material – I may have priced solid 4” thick seasoned Eastern European beech and walnut for the top and legs…
Anyway, I came to my senses and decided on using the pine I had already purchased for the legs and stretchers, lap joints with bolts instead of compound dovetails, a liberal amount of hide glue here and there, and a top made from re-purposed IKEA counter tops and will install a leg vice salvaged from a junk shop near Limoux, France instead of the $300 Benchcraft scissor vise that I was eyeballin’. The top will be solid all the way across instead of the split-top design.
The pine slabs have been drying in my GROP for 5 months and were ready to be cut down into their rough size. I had a little time this last weekend and spent 4 hours making all the leg and stretcher joint cuts – hogging out the material with successive circle-saw cuts and then chiseling them out. I am waiting to cut the tenon that fits into the top on each leg until I have the top in-hand. I chiseled and planed all the joint cuts smooth and I really wished I would have had a timber framing slick. When I do another bench or some large furniture with this type of joint anytime again, I will pick one up as it will pay for itself with the labor saved, in comparison to a 1.5” bench chisel, on 4 lap joints. I did the rough math and I think that I will have made 1023 total handsaw and circle saw cuts by the time the bench is done. There will be 16 bolts, 6 sections of 7/16” all-thread, 12 large screws, one 2’ ACME thread rod, 2 large dowels, 4 lag screws, 32 nuts & washers, and some sweat, blood, and curse words that will all go into it by the end. The new dimensions of the bench will be 25.5” wide, 34” tall, and 8.2 feet long. I believe the finished weight will be around 320 pounds.
My next milestone is the dreaded IKEA run. It will be a couple of weeks before I have the enough spending money horded together from my allowance (I want to be debt free in two years and retire at 55 so yes, I have an allowance…) and get the top cut out and fitted. I will update as I go.