New Design Resource for Woodworkers

 

IMG_0297I’m excited to announce the launching of a new website, http://www.byhandandeye.com.

Jim Tolpin and I have teamed up again to create an on-line resource for woodworkers to improve their design skills. The new website will be the home of an on-line design workshop series (slated for release in early May 2016) as well as plenty of practical layout and design related articles and video clips about design. We also have plans to use the site as a platform for gathering a woodworking design community and we look forward to rolling that out in coming months.

I’ll continue writing here on this blog, but I am delighted to be working closely with Jim again to create something long overdue. Go check it out at http://www.byhandandeye.com.

George R. Walker

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Hot Rod in wood

IMG_0108

Tucked away in an alcove in the Springfield Museum of Art this 19th century desk begs more questions than answers. The form itself is typical of furniture built in a rural setting by a cabinetmaker who sparingly added a few touches of ornament in arches above the doorways and a few curves on the base apron.

Then something wild happened. Another artisan, possibly 50 – 100 years later carved the existing desk lid and chest facade with a riot of poppy flowers and vines.

IMG_0105

If that was not enough, they put an exclamation point on this oddity and ebonized the carved panels. The museum attendant had no idea of the story behind it and one can only guess. The carving is expertly done, so much so that it makes one wonder why the carver went to so much trouble to mis-match it with this vernacular piece. It’s hard to imagine someone with so much talent choosing this chest for a canvas. Did they do this at gunpoint? Perhaps they were making a statement or making a joke. Any ideas why this might have came about?

George R. Walker

Posted in Design Basics | 5 Comments

Preserving the Fire

Seth with an old nail apron. What a combination - Star wars and Mule Hide Roofing

Seth with an old nail apron. What a combination – Star wars and Mule Hide Roofing

It’s 6AM and five year old Seth, sitting beside me on the couch wrapped in his favorite blanket, looks up and says,

“Poppy, can we go downstairs?”

“Downstairs” is Seth’s word for my basement workshop. It’s a place where he can play with toys unlike anything from the McGiant toy store. “Downstairs” contains cigar boxes with string, old pulleys, hinges, and rubber bands. There are bins filled with cut offs, and the joy of double stick tape, and nails and hammers, and Poppy never tells him to stop making noise. He’s always dusting off some box of treasures I forgot about. Seth’s job is to point out the wonder in the everyday, and mine is to preserve that fire in his imagination. He’s much better with a mallet than he was last summer and just now getting the hang of drawing circles with a compass.

boy-coaxing-a-flame-626x740

Jim Tolpin and I have been thinking a lot about preserving the fire lately, and we have some fun and exciting plans in the works. I’ll have more to share about it in coming days but I promise it will be more fun than a cigar box full of string!

George R. Walker

 

Posted in Design Basics, design workshops | 3 Comments

Quote to Ponder

_MG_0333

” One basic quality unites all the works of mankind that speak to us in human, recognizable voices across the barriers of time, culture, and space: the simple quality of being well made.” – Bill Reid

Posted in Quotes to Ponder | 3 Comments

Design Critique follow up

Finished table

Finished table

A few weeks ago I posted a design critique from Petri in Sweden who built a table and then took on the task of designing chairs to go with it. After several versions, here’s a rough mockup of a chair design with some elements echoing his table undercarriage. Here is Petri explaining his latest iteration:

petri

“As I wrote earlier, too much thinking always makes for more choices and revisions.
Alas, I think this is pretty close now.
So, a quick description .. the fanback will now have two equally tall centers, 120 cm, with three descending pairs to either side. The four in the middle will have zero splay but some splay to the outer pairs. Approx ten degrees rake for all.
As to the undercarriage, the frontpair will be square to the seat with the backpair raking back 25 degrees.
The dowel from the table will be mirrored with a rusty iron hexagonal rod in the front  …
As always, all input is valuable!
All the best from Sweden!
/petri

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

That most improbable thing……and yet….

Peace, oil on canvas by Barb Walker

“Peace” by Barb Walker

Barb and I wish you the best blessings of Christmas.

George R. Walker

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Design Critique, need some chair help

Finished table

Finished table

It’s a common problem for a chair builder to get requests to design and build a table to compliment some chairs. Furniture builder Petri Nojonen has this dilemma flipped around. After building a contemporary table of his own design he’d like to design and build some chairs to compliment the table. We had a bit of early discussion about how to capture something that echoed the table design and avoid seating that looked like and afterthought. His first thought was to build some Welsh stick chairs inspired by Chris Schwarz. That may be a perfectly good idea but I encouraged him to think about details in the table that he could use to link them. This actually brings up a bigger question about how to link furniture pieces together. Is it enough to simply use similar wood and finish? Or should he just grab a small detail like a curve, or perhaps think about sinking a contrasting strip of wood in the seat like is used in the table top? In his first attempt he wondered if the structure under the table could be somehow built into the chair undercarriage.

Below are some details on the unique design of the table and then a look at his concept sketch for the chair design. Your thoughtful comments are welcome. Hopefully we can help him find that chair design he’s searching for.

Table has a wood and metal undercarriage

Table has a wood and metal undercarriage

 

Detail of his connection between metal rail and legs

Detail of his connection between metal rail and legs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His jumping off inspiration for the chairs is from this Chris Schwarz Welsh Stick Chair

His jumping off inspiration for the chairs is from this Chris Schwarz Welsh Stick Chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Petri’s the concept sketch for the chair design.

critique5

 

Posted in design critique | 6 Comments