The Sacred Process

The Sacred Process

Is labor a sacrament?  The invitation of the Eighth Day?  A sacred collaboration with the living God?  I can’t help but to note that the call to labor in the garden came before the curse of toil.  I am certain that labor is about more than just earning my bread.  There is something deeper there, not just for the artist, but for the ditch digger and the roofer, the farmer and the nurse.  “Whatever you think, it’s more than that…”  ISB.

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Walnut Timber Mantelpiece

The six and a half inch thick, 13 foot long walnut slab filled the shop as it came from the chainsaw mill.
Beam cutter on the old worm-drive
“rough-sawn” to the max
Using the “beam-cutter” to rip the slab into a six inch square timber
Pulling the saw at the end of the cut to save the last bit of slab for the corbels
Aluminum C-channel as a guide
start of the smoothing
a jack plane with a radius set to take heavy shavings
Now the joiner
pretty obvious
chopping out for a patch over a rotten knot
the same, fitted
filing the edges of a little copper butterfly template
bench-top with tools for making butterfly templates
variety of butterfly templates
Scribing the timber for butterflies to bind the main check
Routing out the waste
chopping the rest
right up to the knife line
ready for the joining
carving the corbels (my documentation fell off for most of this process)
mating the various natural edges of the corbels to the mantel
a little further back
fitting the opposite corbel
rough-cut cove on the left corbel
both corbels with coves-cut and awaiting final shaping
apply the final touches on the ends of the timber
“C” for the covenant
installed over the fire box, and the home-owner’s sandstone work.
I look forward to seeing it with the stone work done

The Champion Table

After about five months the Champion Table is finished and in its new home outside of Chicago.  The woods in this table are Kansas Black Walnut and White Oak (the base uses oak from Kansas, the top uses oak of lesser known origin, beyond my friend, the lumber man), the top features also a small amount of Ebony and sulfur.  The design is original, and evolved throughout the building process.  Central, is a crucifixion theme and the arc.  There are other symbolic elements as well, throughout.  I am deeply grateful to the Champion family for the opportunity to build a significant piece of furniture for their home and living.  I am also humbled and thankful for all the encouragement I have received throughout the building process.  Ultimately I am glad in my heart, laboring to make something that celebrates the goodness of God.

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The Champion Table Build, Part 5: Carving and Inlay

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sanding and refining the shape of the legs
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carving some details into the lower horizontal member of the leg assemblies
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“C” for Champion
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the lower leg joints, reinforced with screws, concealed by pegs
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cut flush and sanded
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the legs are finished, awaiting only final sanding immediately prior to finishing
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refining the shape of the arc, the brace between the leg assemblies
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one of many facet transitions and chamfers across the arc
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another of those transitions, in this case, the arcs contribution to the connecting joint
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adjusting the shoulder of the arc where it meets the walnut of the leg assembly
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a lot of enjoyment watching the play of light and shadow
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lets of test fitting of the base
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my son roughing out a billet of walnut for some stubby spindles. The spindles will connect the arc to the top-central horizontal rail connecting the leg assemblies, preventing any propensity to rack along the length of the table
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here are the spindles in place as well as a bit of carving on the side of the arc
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another view of the arc, upside down, an enjoyable shape- part moon, part smile, part rainbow, part horns, it is one of my favorite parts of this table
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beginning work on the table-top again- softening the edges with a block plane
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after making paper versions, laying out some walnut shapes that will be inlayed into the table-top
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re-sawing bits of highly figured walnut for all of the special details
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along with the decorative inlays, being positioned here are some butterfly-keys, which help to stabilize the splits and inclusions in the walnut making up the table-top
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after determining the composition and placement, all the parts get some double-sided carpet tape…
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…and are then stuck in place so that they don’t shift when their outlines are being scribed into the top with a knife
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after everything has been scribed, the majority of the cavity is established with a small spiral carbide bit in the electric router
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the rest of the inlay cavity is cut out with sharp chisels. The scribe-line is particularly nice at this stage, giving a positive registration for the tip of the chisel
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there was a place on one of the walnut planks that had a corner that couldn’t get reconciled in the flattening stages without making it too thin- the remedy was a patch of really pretty walnut
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clamps were used on the top, where they could reach whatever was being inlayed
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cleaning the floor and corners of one of the recesses for those butterfly keys
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glue and clamp…
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a little congregation of butterflies ready to be made flush with the top, the crack itself, will get filled with epoxy, after the bark has been removed
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cutting out some of the inlay cavities for the central design
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lots of chopping up to the line
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there are a lot of pictures of me hunched over the top of this table, because I was hunched over the top of this table a lot
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piece by piece, being tapped into place with my indispensable two-sided rubber mallet
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planing the first round of inlays fush to the surface
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glueing up some ebony for the next round of inlay work
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the elements of the central design positioned and ready
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a few more ebony details being cut out at the scroll saw
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the slow process of accurately scribing every edge with an “Exacto” knife
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clearing out as much as possible with the router, carefully to stay just shy of my lines
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my life for a good portion of October
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ofter hours of knife, chisel, and dental tool work, the inlay cavity for the crown of thorns is about ready for the ebony
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a modified dental tool in action clearing out the acute corners of the cavities, somewhat appropriate
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…still hunched over…
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some of the inlay uses molten sulphur… being melted here in a spoon
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molten sulphur is an eerie and beautiful thing, if not pungent to the point of being toxic
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poured into carved voids it marks a lovely luminous contrast to black walnut
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also very porous- not so good for a table top- an improved sulfur inlay was devised. First grinding some sulphur crystals with mortar and pestle…
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the sulphur pigment is then introduced to some two-part epoxy
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the resultant paste is pressed into the top layer of the earlier sulphur inlay, filling the pores and yielding a slightly tougher surface
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the inlay work done and all the other voids being filled with epoxy, final sanding has begun
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as the process goes, there are many flaws in my inlay work that need to be addressed. Out come the pigments and filler
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it is an enjoyable process that takes me into the realms of another of my lines of work
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then more sanding
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this marks the end of this second to last post in the building of the Champion Table, I won’t reveal the finished piece until it’s new owners have had a chance to see it in person. Thank you all for offering your support and comments, or just following along silently. I remain immensely grateful for the kind encouragement which each represents, and I look forward to sharing the finished piece with you all as well.