Sunday, November 04, 2012

Nick's Redneck Paradiso

Well, enlightenment has my come way: Making chairs is going to be my woodworking vocation from here forward. Most likely, for a good long time. Yes, I will do other oddities, but chairs will be the focus. I'll still be working two gigs for now, but on the side of woodworking, I've sort of landed, pretty happily, in the role of a chair-maker.

No one in our shop digs chairs the way I have come to dig them, or so I believe. Perhaps that's because the project I put together before the first most recent set of chairs was a 400-lb. kitchen island of doom. It was beautiful but monstrous, and a ginormous craftsman style bed before that. You
cannot manipulate large projects the way you can smaller ones. You move around them, they do not move around you, and that aspect can be quite time-consuming, tiring, and even irritating.

Enter the set of bar-height chairs I had to build for that island and it was a deep breath of fresh air. Small manipulable parts give way to massive ones. Assembling a chair still takes skill, but your work table is not overwhelmed with a massive project. You can focus on finesse and accuracy as opposed to fastening together a larger, complicated endeavor.

Don't get me wrong, chairs are still complicated enough that they pose their own challenges and variances, depending on style, but because chairs are regularly ordered, efficiency in production naturally becomes more streamlined and the work becomes more meditative and fun, rather than the common feeling of difficult drudgery often associated with the "oh shit, I have chairs" realization experienced by some, or the uncertainty and dread that come with a freshly-conceived custom project (which always results in mistakes, hang-ups, and/or design-issues).

So yah. What makes this more intriguing on my end is that my small shop in the back yard is capable of producing chairs regularly. At present, I can do some of the work there, but the addition of some other tools is required for start-to-finish production: a 4-inch orbital sander, disc grinder, a better (contractor grade) table saw, band saw, and eventually a Festool Domino joiner not to mention a dust collection system.

My mini-barn also requires some re-arrangement as well. New old windows will make their way to the South facing wall, under which will go the hand-tool bench that is half-complete. Next summer, I an outside canopy/overhang on the front of the building will hopefully appear, which will allow me to work outside in the shade. Other ideas include elevated lumber racks in what was the goat area and lining the interior walls with antique pine for a more woodsman feel.

Expanding out the back of the existing shop remains a long-term possibility, but it may not actually be necessary. As it is, I have enough projects to keep me busy.

Over & Out,


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