Tuesday, 5 August 2014

It takes time

When making something, I track the time taken to perform each task. I use an online product called Toggl. It works well and is simple to use.

Why I find it useful to track time, is that is shows which tasks and processes take the most time, and how long it actually takes to make something.

For the chest of drawers I have recently made, I was tracking how long it took me to make the five drawers. I was told a good while back to allow three days to make a drawer. That is starting from raw timber and ending up with the finished drawer.

And guess what? I did take me three days to make each drawers, and hence fifteen days to make all five.

That is why handmade bespoke furniture costs more.

To see more of my furniture, have a look at my website and the pictures in the gallery section.

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The final stages

"Previously on Jonathan Pearce Fine Furniture....

.....I had glued the drawer frames to the carcass sides. Stay tuned for this weeks episode."

Once the sides had been glued together, it only seems logical that the top and bottom are attached. Yep, that is what happened. Here you can see the completed carcass, minus the back panel and foot assembly.

Carcass all glued up
The carcass is standing on a white platform the is square, flat and level. If it was standing on something that was out of true, then the carcass could also be pushed out of true. Something you don't want when fitting drawers. You see this out of true effect on flat packed furniture. When it is screwed together and doors fitted, often it is impossible to get good alignment. This is often because the floor is not level and is influencing the carcass.

Once the carcass is complete, the next stage is making the drawer boxes. It is a long process with many individual steps, most of which go unnoticed. But the thing that people do notice is the dovetails.

Each drawer has twenty dovetail joints, and with five drawers gives a total of one hundred dovetails!

I do my joints by cutting the tails first, and then marking up and cutting the pins. Some people do the reverse process. Neither is incorrect, just personal preference.

Marking up the 'pins' from the dovetails.

Finished - one hundred dovetail joints!
These drawers will have 'slips' and two central runners. A drawer slip is a small piece of wood that is glued to the inside bottom edges of the drawer sides. It gives the drawer more wood to run on, and also has a groove cut into it for the drawer bottom.

Drawer runners have three grooves - two for the drawer bottoms and one for a piece of wood that exactly fits into the runners (used to guide the drawer in and out of the carcass).

Drawer slips (on the left) and runners (on the right).

In this picture I am fitting the drawer fronts to the drawer boxes. Using yellow shims and masking tape to hold the drawer fronts, I can ensure that the gaps between the fronts are even.

Almost finished....just a need to fix the drawer fronts with screws, a final sanding and a final oiling.

To see more of my furniture, have a look at my website and the pictures in the gallery section.

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Monday, 23 June 2014

For the Gold Cup?

Mid summer has gone....the nights are now drawing in (of sorts, I am sure for a time the sun sets later than it did on the solstice)...soon be Xmas! 

But before then, there are a couple of shows I will be attending, so that means I am making a couple of new items.

One thing I am making is a chest of drawers. I know this as I have started it. If there is time, I may also make a coffee table. We shall see.

Five drawers in this one. Made of oak. Curved drawers fronts.  Fumed oak detail on the drawer fronts. Got the idea?  No?? Here are a couple of simple SketchUp images.

Made from oak. Curved drawer fronts, that curve alternate right-left.

A close-up showing how the curving drawer fronts will look.

So these images give an idea what I am making. Wanna see some 'work in progress' pictures? If you do, then scroll down. If you don't, then you are done for now.

A big pile of wood, rough cut to size, ready to machine.
I have another two piles as well. Takes a fair bit of timber
to make a chest of drawers.

The drawer boxes are made from smaller pieces of wood that have been
glue together. It makes the construction of the drawers more stable, which
is very important to stop them sticking and binding in the carcass.
The gadget being used is a special clamping system that helps keep the
pieces of wood flat while the glue dries.

Here I am doing a test fit of the components that make up the carcass - two sides,
a top, a bottom and five drawer frames. The test fit ensure all the joinery is correct.

Here is the final phase of carcass to drawer frame glue-up. It is a multi phase
process. First of all the frames are individually glued to one carcass side. Once this
is done, and in one big hit, the frames are then glues to the other side.

That is it for now.....check back later to see how I am getting on.

To see more of my furniture, have a look at my website and the pictures in the gallery section.

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Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Lights and glass

Apart from hand tools, there are loads of other tools that are useful for a cabinet maker.

I suppose a pencil, a pencil sharpener, a straight edge and paper could be classed as a collection of tools, as these are traditionally used to design work.

I sometimes still use the above, but more often than not, I use drawing applications on my computer.  There are a couple I use.

To produce engineering type drawings, I use a package called Visio. I first used this package sometime in the mid 90's while working for NatWest.  I was on a project and we were reverse engineering some code, and needed a tool that allowed us to produce flows that could be used to explain how the reverse engineered code worked - nobody actually knew.  Visio allowed flow diagrams to be made, which were the ideal pictorial representation of what we had found.  Basically Visio is a simple drawing package.  You drag shapes around, set their sizes etc. It is not technical type drawing package. It just uses shapes, but I have used it so much I find it easy and quick to produce plan/elevation type drawings.

This is an example of the type of drawing that I produce with Visio.  It give me all the information that I require for making a piece of furniture.

An engineering style diagram, giving dimensions etc.

Another good software package is Sketch-Up, which you can download for free from Google. Sketch-up is designed for producing 3D type drawings. These types of drawings are great to help people visualise something, as looking at a 3D render is a bit easier than looking at an engineering type drawing. Using Sketch-up is a bit strange at first, but there are plenty of on-line help type videos around, plus there is a useful book from Taunton Press which is aimed solely at woodworkers using Sketch-Up.

Here are a couple of images of the piece of furniture shown about in the Visio drawing.

A 3D image that gives a totally different view compared to the engineering drawing.

The cabinet placed in-situ in an alcove.

This display cabinet is the piece of furniture I am making at the moment.  It is designed to hold a collection of pottery and ceramics. It will be made from oak and sycamore (this wood being inside the cabinet to help keep the inside bright). The doors will be of glass, and there are two glass shelves.  In addition, there will be LED lights inside the cabinet to add even more illumination.

Real pictures will appear when I have finished, then a comparison can be made with my drawings. I hope they match, but I expect the real piece of furniture to be better.

To see more of my furniture, have a look at my website and the pictures in the gallery section.

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Monday, 6 January 2014

Follow the winding path.

There is nothing like making something extra tricky for yourself.

For example, take a hall table.  Better still, take a hall table I made. Better even still, take a hall table that I made from oak.

Now I wanted to make the table top more interesting than just a slab of wood. Don't get me wrong, a slab of wood can look very good, nice grain, nice timber, nice edge detail. But that wasn't what I was looking for.

I read something a while back about making a chopping board with solid wooden inlays. The result looked good, and the technique could be extended to other items. I gave the method a go and made myself a chopping board.  It worked out fine, and I already had in the back of my mind something to make on a larger scale...a hall console table.

I wanted the table itself to be simple with clean lines, but adding the inlays to the top would really add an eye catching detail.

"So what does the technique involve?", I hear you say.

Well before I spill the beans, let us first discuss inlays.

Most inlays are made by cutting a small groove in a surface, normally a couple of mm deep (if inlaying a veneer string, the groove could be only 0.6mm deep) and then sticking in the item to be inlayed. So the inlay is only just in the top surface.

What is different about the technique I used on this table, is that the inlay goes right through the table top.  So when viewed from the ends, the inlay can be seen 'wrapping' round the ends and continuing onto the under surface.

How is it done? Roughly like this. First of all, make your table top. Sand it nice and flat.  Cut it in half and stick it back together with the first inlay. When dry, flush that inlay back.  Cut the table top in half again and glue back together with the next inlay. When dry, flush back. Repeat until complete.

This table top has three inlays, so including the initial making of the top, that makes a total of four glue-ups for the top.  Oh, and did I say that because the inlays follow a curved path, when you stick the top back together, it slips and slides around like a bar of soap?

And did I say the inlays I used are different widths? 

And did I also say that making a table top is much harder than a chopping board because it is so much larger?

See, tricky. 

Anyway, enough words. On with the pictures.

It looks small, but it really is a full size table!

The three drawers have a hidden finger pull detail on the bottom edge. Saves having handles sticking out and getting caught on things as you walk by.

Here you can see how the inlays go completely through the table top. 

Overhead shot of the table showing the inlays - the 'Winding Paths'.

I like the effect you get doing this technique.  I have loads of other ideas in mind too.............

To see more of my furniture, have a look at my website and the pictures in the gallery section.

Follow me on Facebook or read my tweets on Twitter.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year

First blog post of the year......

.....and all it says is 'Happy New Year!'

Well, you have to start somewhere.