Tuesday, December 22, 2009

in the workshop

I am extremely impatient. I hate traffic. I hate waiting in line. I hate not having what I want now, RIGHT NOW. It has always been in my nature to try something once, then dismiss it as "stupid", when it didn't work. When I became a carpenter a few years ago (officially the "cabinet guy" at our remodeling company), I really had no idea that I'd frequently be putting myself into a world of hurt. This is a craft that requires a level of patience that I simply don't naturally have. But our nature, bad habits, and excuses must be worked on when the alternative is even worse. I pushed past my urges to give up over and over, and found that the satisfaction in the end makes up for the sometimes challenging points along the way. Somehow things always seem to work out.

In my posts I will share with you what's going on in the shop: inspiration, design ideas and drawings, prototypes, and hopefully a few finished pieces.

The latest, is a media center made of walnut. I love walnut, that rich gray/brown color right out of the box just makes me happy. I have a sheet of plywood sitting around that was going to be used for this, but I stopped by Builders Surplus in Santa Ana the other day and found some 10' long walnut stair treads for about $3 a linear foot. Perfect! Reclaimed and CHEAP. This works out great because they are substantially thicker than 3/4" plywood and will give the piece a nice chunky look. Stair treads are normally about 12" deep, so I cut one of them in down the middle, and glued it to another whole one, making the media center nearly 18" deep. Being an impatient fellow, I just started building this thing with no specific vision in mind for the base. I've changed my mind about ten times so far, but I think it's getting narrowed down. Sometimes I just have to sit and stare at things for a while before a solution becomes clear.

Here it is so far:

The frame is built and has been stained. I made lots of samples with water based stains from General Finishes, but wasn't happy with the 'muddy' look and the fact the pretty grain was obscured too much. Dark Briwax gave a nice look, but had a little more yellow than I wanted. Ultimately an old can of Minwax-Dark Walnut gave me the look I wanted after being thinned 50%. The sealer will really bring out the colors, but I'm off to the store for something different, because the stuff we normally spray looks a little too "factory perfect", if you follow. I want this to look slightly rustic. You'll really see what I mean next week, when we experiment with forced patinas on the metal sheets that will become the doors of the cabinet.

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