March 23, 2011

"The Workmanship of Risk"

My current project is a table for two made out of jatoba and kwila. It's designed with urban spaces in mind, and is meant to seat two comfortably or four intimately. I chose this project to be able to practice new skills I've learned in the second semester: veneering, bent lamination and shaping legs. Below is a picture of the table top I'm working on. You can see the veneered jatoba top and the beginning of the kwila frame that will capture the jatoba. Two sides are already attached. The ends of the table will be curved.

The table was coming along splendidly, that is until the bent lamination. Bent lamination allows the woodworker to create a curve that follows the grain direction of the wood by sawing a board into thin strips and then gluing them together around a curved form. Here's a picture of my bent lamination during the glue-up.

Today begins the third time I'll attempt the curve. I don't want to get into all the details of why it hasn't come out right, but I do want to share this excerpt from David Pye's book The Nature and Art of Workmanship. I think it sums up my thoughts on the matter precisely. 

"If I must ascribe a meaning to the word craftsmanship, I shall say as a first approximation that it means simply workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus, in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judgement, dexterity and care which the maker exercises as he works. The essential idea is that the quality of the result is continually at risk during the process of making; and so I shall call this kind of workmanship 'The workmanship of risk': an uncouth phrase, but at least descriptive.

It may be mentioned in passing that in workmanship the care counts for more than the judgment and dexterity; though care may well become habitual and unconscious."

So, more care in the future...

March 20, 2011

Wood from the Hood

My benchmate, Noah, came into some manzanita. He, Lymond and Chris sawed the logs into smaller pieces to begin the drying process. The wood is notoriously difficult to cure because it cracks against the grain. Regardless, it yields a beautiful, dense, red-brown wood, even if only in small chunks. 

The berries of the tree are edible, and the bark can be used to make a tea that alleviates nausea. Hikers also sometimes chew the leaves to reduce thirst. What a useful plant!

March 15, 2011

Ice Cream and Candied Walnuts

It's been gray and drizzly for the past week or so, but that didn't stop Jonathan and a handful of classmates from hand-churning ice cream. It was delicious served with hand-cracked, home-made candied walnuts. Yum!

Photo by Nina

March 8, 2011

Wall Cabinet

One of my classmates, Tim, finished his second project--a wall cabinet made out of walnut and bay laurel. He cranked through the project after completing this complicated sideboard. Tim's intention was to work quickly and in solid wood to recuperate from the challenge of his last piece. While he enjoyed the experience and the cabinet looks great, Tim feels that there were a number of small details that got away from him in his hurry. One of the things that I like about making furniture is the intimate relationship you develop with each piece. Most of us will never see the things that Tim sees, but in the end, we can all enjoy the cabinet.

March 7, 2011

The Walk Around

In the early stages of our projects, the instructors lead a walk around throughout the classroom. Over a few day period, each student is given the opportunity to talk about their project. We learn about one another's inspiration, design, wood choice, design and technical challenges, etc. It's a great way to stay connected to the work of our fellow classmates and to learn through their experiences. 

Tim shows off Jim Budlong's chair, which is the inspiration for the chairs he's building out of cuban mahogany.
Candice shows us the tool she used to cut the circular face for her wall clock.
Brett shows off his maple leaf marquetry for his blanket chest. Well done!