Building houses is boring!

I’ve been hoping to augment the blog with some of my recent home building work. The truth is, building houses is by-and-large boring, methodical work. Details are important, and careful work counts for a lot in contemporary construction. But two weeks of cathedral ceiling insulation? Boring.

Rustic Furniture Fair 2015, Adirondack Museum

Really an excellent opportunity to check out interesting furniture this past weekend in Blue Mountain Lake, NY at the Rustic Furniture Fair at the Adirondack Museum. I’m not typically too into the “rustic” style for my own work, but it is pervasive here in the Adirondacks. Most of what you see is pretty generic, and very boring. The folks at this show are on top of their game; mostly innovative works very well executed.

I didn’t take a huge number of photos, but here are a few of my favorites:

Shop-sawn cherry burl veneer on this bombe-influenced desk.

Shop-sawn cherry burl veneer on this bombe-influenced desk.

This amazing desk featured shop-sawn cherry-burl veneer. I thought that it was arguably the best piece in the entire show. To me the best high-end rustic work integrates excellent craftsmanship, some reference to traditional furniture style, and innovative use of typically rustic materials- in this case a yellow birch log and the sawn burl veneer. This was made by Russ Gleaves of Northville, NY, who seems to have little to no web presence.

Slab table with scribed, inset steel.

Slab table with scribed, inset steel.

Another of my favorites came from Kevin Scheimreif of Steel and Grain. This slab tabletop made significantly more interesting with the inclusion of scribed, powder-coated steel. Pretty modern-leaning work, considering the remainder of the folks showing. Sculptural and industrial with lots of steel. A fellow carpenter/builder transitioning into more fulfilling, less painfull work — maybe another reason that I liked his stuff.

The Adirondack Museum is a really beautiful anthropological display of many facets of life in the Adirondacks. Their permanent exhibits are spread through several buildings on a lovely campus. As many museums do, they also put up temporary shows, and I particularly liked their small but robust presentation of traditional Mohawk black ash baskets, “Weaving a Legacy: Mohawk Basket Traditions”. Amazingly detailed work within a vital cultural tradition.

Recently completed — Hand Carved Address Signs

Both signs mounted in their new home. Lovely clear cedar post.

Both signs mounted in their new home. Lovely clear cedar post.

I recently installed a pair of hand-carved address signs for clients in a nearby town. Their primary request was the the signs conform to their “Quaker sensibilities”: simple script, subdued paint selection, unobtrusive (read: not shiny) exterior finish. The name panel has four-inch Gothic script, and the address panel has three-inch Gothic script with the street number bookended by chip-carved rosettes. The signs are of clear Adirondack Eastern White pine, the script highlighted with General Finishes black Milk Paint, final finish with Interlux Schooner varnish rubbed out to matte with synthetic steel wool. Please check out the full slideshow of the project: initial pencil layout to finished installation.

Tools to Improve Accuracy

As Guenther Woodworking continues to grow I’ve been fortunate to be able to add new tooling to the workflow that increase capabilities, speed, and accuracy.

General 14" benchtop drill press.

General 14″ benchtop drill press.

My most recent project involved a number of tall, narrow doors. For simplicity’s sake I opted to use 35mm Euro hinges — and a small drill press allowed me to accurately and quickly drill the hinge holes. As a house carpenter I’m always walking the line between absolute accuracy and “git-‘er-done” — in this case the doors and cabinets were fine enough that hinge holes drilled hand-held just wouldn’t be good enough.

Basic dial calipers and sweet Starrett 4" double square. New favorites.

Basic dial calipers and sweet Starrett 4″ double square. New favorites.

For some reason I’ve always thought that calipers weren’t necessary for woodworkers. I’m glad that I’ve given them a chance. Excitement over the new drill press yielded a few too many (twice as many) bores for hinges. I opted to fill the extras with a square inlay and found that the combined capability for inside/outside measurement afforded by the calipers both sped up my work and allowed for improved accuracy.

The four inch double square is a sweetheart, and my new favorite layout tool; absolutely perfect size. I’ve long been aware of Starrett tools but never quite pulled the trigger. Should be a lifetime tool. I’d like to sprinkle a few of these throughout my workshop and toolboxes.

Shooting board, 4" double square, vernier calipers, and new Unication fire pager. Fancy!

Shooting board, 4″ double square, vernier calipers, and new Unication fire pager. Fancy!

Shooting board. Another in the long list of “Wish I’d done this sooner”. Simple, quick to build, elegant, and so good at doing one thing well: creating perfectly square ends on handsaw-cut boards. I’ll add miter-shooting capability as I need it. Got my fancy new digital fire pager recently too.

Piston-fit pine plug.

Piston-fit pine plug.

There’s the goal: clean, beautiful work done quickly and efficiently. Even though inattention at the drill press created wasteful extra work, I try to approach each task with care, do it well, and learn something in the process.