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Sister Hog, Brother Tree, and the Voice of Copper: a Celebration of Long Labor and Process

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Wood Vessels

etsy bowls12.jpgetsy bowls17.jpgetsy bowls04.jpgetsy bowls23.jpgetsy bowls11.jpgetsy bowls21.jpgetsy bowls03.jpgetsy bowls16.jpgetsy-bowls01etsy bowls13.jpgetsy-bowls07etsy-bowls09These bowls are all for sale in our Etsy Store if you are interested.  Thanks for looking.

“JACK’S STORY” BY ISAIAH ELDRIDGE

Wood Turning – Jack’s Story from Isaiah Eldridge on Vimeo.

Isaiah Eldridge, a local film-maker and journalist, spent some time with me last week as I we both plied our trades.

Fumed White Oak

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The above are eight turned pieces from a single 24″ section of a 24″ diameter white oak from Boaz, Kansas. The tree fell over and across the Van Horn Branch Creek about 10 years ago- We finally pulled the log out 2 years ago, and it has laid in my log pile since then, although I did mill a portion of it. The heart wood is still green, so these bowls were turned green and allowed to warp as they dried. Ultimately all the pieces were exposed to ammonia vapors (fumed) which reacted to the tannins in the wood, darkening the surfaces.

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.

Der Aufbau des Champion-Tisches, Teil 2: Rand

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surface preparation with a Stanley #80 scraper

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the swirly walnut grain is difficult to plane but the scraper is able to deal with it efficiently

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beginning to fit the side rails and bread-board ends

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marking the end cuts with a sharp knife

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then creating a shoulder along that line with a chisel assures a clean cut without tearing the grain

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cutting along the shoulder with a sharp crosscut saw

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a small array of saws to do this job

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cutting the central breadboard tenon

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coming up to the other side with a pull-saw

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both ends of the table are now cut

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cutting the base of the tenon “cheeks”

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really no other position to accurately make this cut

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cutting away the “cheeks”

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the finished tenon, and a groove has been cut to receive a floating tongue to align the breadboard

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laying out the positions of the mortise and tenons on the side rails and breadboards

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cutting the tenon on the side rails

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checking for a tight fit. the side rails are attached with glued tongue and groove joints, while the breadboards are “floating”, held in place by a tongue and groove joint and two “draw-bored” mortise and tenon joints, which will allow for expansion and contraction where the grain intersects perpendicular rather than parallel, yet holding the boards tight to the edge of the table. Two opposing corners are pinned miters and the other two are mortised.  imagine the table being able to expand in width along the length of the two boards left long to see the allowance for seasonal cross grain movement.

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treating the edges before the final assembly

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drilling for the dowels for the pinned miter joints where the live edges come together

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a brad point drill marks the center of the tenon inside

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re-marking the tenon with an offset so that the dowel pin will “draw” it tight to the edge of the table.  the holes will be elongated laterally to allow for joint movement.

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altering geometry with violence

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shaping the dowel pins by pounding the straight oak through a succession of smaller holes drilled in a steel plate until they are round and the size I need

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nearly there

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a batch of pins

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planing a taper

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the taper will allow the pin to engage the offset hole in the tenon and slowly pull it tight

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pounding the pins home for the final assembly

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a little help form a ratchet strap to pull the center tight

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cutting away the exposed ends with a saw

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a tightly pinned joint

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the top all joined. there will be a considerable amount of detail work on the top yet, but first the base