Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Black Cherry


The next wood I decided to research was black cherry. It's also known as american cherry. I picked this one because it seems to be very popular among furniture makers. Black cherry is the largest of all the cherry trees in north america and can take up to 100 years to be fully grown. The tree is very popular for its beautiful blossoms. After it is cut and milled the heartwood can range from a light yellowish color to a reddish brown. I tend like the red color. This wood is used for cabinets, musical instruments, flooring, furniture and many other things. It has a tight fine grain. Thw ood ahs many beatiful natural imperfections which are sometimes preffered. It can also have different textures such as bird's eye, waves, or cat paws. It is considered a hard wood but has a soft to medium density and can be found in just about every place you can buy wood. It has a tendency to burn and recommends that you don't do passes under 1/16" when planning. When finishing black cherry it is best to just sand to a hi grit and leave it natural. Over time the wood will darken in the sunlight. It is very durable but will scratch easily. If you would like to see an example of how it darkens over time there is a peice on the wall of the shop. This wood would make a great choice for a bookcase or a table.


Forests of Wood

Noticed these also via Swiss Miss. A forest of wood made from scraps of wood. There's a biting humor to this I think. Stood out to me because of our imminent foray into lathing.

A New Perspective

Saw this project on Design Milk on a project from Batch Design a group based out of the UK, in which they develop furniture with a bit of superficial transparency to highlight how things are made. The project is called A New Perspective by designer James Tooze. (Read more here)

Checking out Batch Design's flickr pool I found this set of photos from the JoINT Project, a sculptural festival in woodworking in Sweden, or at least thats what I think. Interesting to look at for simply the peek into the process of working with wood in such a raw manner.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Roman de Salvo


Guest lecturer from San Diego, CA,  Roman de Salvo shared his interesting body of work at SJSU today.  De Salvo enjoys playing with ideas as well as the visual. In a piece titled, "Firewood," he uses firewood as a depiction of its own device. It is evident  he enjoys what he does. He said he feels a little more alive when he is smiling or laughing.  De Salvo is a conceptual artist  who uses systems of energy, nature or electricity to engage the viewer. He often incorporates  the element of surprise as well as irony. 
When we come upon a large scale outdoor sculpture titled, "Liquid Ballistic," we see it as a beautifully crafted cannon made of mahogany. It is when we notice there are handle bars on the cannon and we find that we can sit upon the interactive piece. . It acts as a see-saw and as we move up and down, we are surprised  by the shooting out of water that we have had a part in.
From couches made of duct tape and filled with polyurethane to a hundred foot long flowing eucalyptus that hangs above Cal Trans in San Diego, De Salvo plays with our minds, gives us new and delightful perspectives of things we've never before imagined and turns wood and the mundane into conceptual craziness that will make anyone smile. Please visit his website at  

Gaboon Ebony

Gaboon Ebony
Since we are all going to be buying our own wood at some point for at least one of our projects I thought it might be useful to some people in the class to do some research on exotic woods that they might be interested in. The picture above is a turning stick of gaboon ebony. This particular piece of wood is pre-cut so that it may be turned on a lathe. You can buy pieces like this in all types of wood. I found a website that has information on a very wide variety of different wood, most of which I have never heard of ( I chose gaboon ebony because I have some experience working with it. This is the blackest wood in existence, it is so dark that you can hardly see the grain. It is actually just the inside of the ebony tree.
It comes from Africa and can be very expensive. I bought a small amount last semester at Southern Lumber for $70 per board foot, which was on sale at the time. Since it is so expensive it is mainly used in small amounts for details such as piano keys or knife handles. It is very dense and can be fragile if dropped on a hard floor. It's extremely hard to work with because of the density, but if you are persistent you will definitely be happy with the outcome. When gaboon ebony is finished just by sanding it is extremely smooth to the touch and very beautiful. It has a natural shine and can be finished to a higher polish than most wood. If you absolutely have to have a finish on it recommends using a sanding sealer before applying any oil or lacquer.
When you are working with ebony it is important to not be exposed to the dust for long periods of time. A dust mask is recommended when handling this wood because it can be toxic. I would not advise you to make an entire table of ebony, but if you want to add some small black details this wood can be that extra elegance you need.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joinery Shootout

Fine Woodworking Magazine from January/February 2009 had a feature article on joinery that caught my eye. From page 36 to 41 there are many photographic examples of joints with helpful information for each. Specific applications are covered for 18 different joints, and each joint sample was tested for strength. The article "Joinery Shootout" was written by Douglas Moore and Thomas McKenna. Videos of the joints being crushed are available for online viewing at

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Itay Ohaly

I found this series of work by an Israeli artist named Itay Ohaly. The series is called Fracture and explores the natural of various materials under pressure. We are so used to seeing materials in their processed form that we forget about their natural properties. This is also a great example of what happens when you don't watch Shannon's demos.

Hi all. I was remembering some of the famous sculptor Brancussi's work and the fact that he sometimes used wood as a medium for bases that became as much a part of the stone and or metal sculpture as the work itself. I was searching for images, and stumbled upon this funky-fresh take in reverse. This is a bizarre use of wood as a sculptural medium. Kind of like a modified Nick- Knack shelf turned on its ear and joined to a metal dunce cap. Maybe a lightening struck sequoia tree on a silvery montain. Maybe just "Untitled." -Whatever! The artists name is Mark Houghton, currently on view at the Axis modern art website. He allegedly uses objects found in thrift shops. I am all for that. But, ya know, I think what I really like best is the black wood floor. Is that ammonia fumed? I am getting so wood knowlegeable!

Japanese Saws

Hello everyone, as promised Japanese woodworking tools. Let us begin with the basic tool: the saw. The Japanese saw differs from western saws. Western saws are either a thin blade under tension and cut on the pull stroke or they're a large, single sided blade that cuts on the push stroke. Well, the Japanese saws are double sided and are not in tension but cut on the pull stroke. The one side of the blade is a shorter toothed cross cut blade, and the other a long toothed rip blade. The saw is thin allowing for a small kerf and surprisingly accurate.
These are the saws that I used as a boy because my grandfather and father used them. I don't know if the fact that I grew up using these saws influence my decision, but I prefer these compared to the other western saws that I have used. They're just more comfortable and more effective in cutting as far as I'm concerned. It seems that I'm not alone in this thought. Recently, I have seen these saws used by many western woodworkers and they are even available at local supply stores. Many years ago, you could only find these saws in Asian supply stores.
This saw's ability to make accurate, small cuts make them very useful in fine woodworking, but they can make rather large cut as well with the same accuracy. These are somewhat reminiscent of dovetail saws and in fact that is one of the uses of this saw.
I highly recommend that you try this saw out; they have become very popular and if you try them for yourself, I'm sure you like them as well. There is even one with a depth stop.
My father is a very picky man, and when he bought a saw like this many years ago, he was very impressed by the craftsmanship of the saw. It was made in Japan, and as my father says: "Those Japanese sure know how to make good tools!" It seems like this is a thought that is shared by many that I know.
Next time, even more tools and the history behind the craftsmanship of Japanese tools.

My Visiting Artist on Tuesday: Roman de Salvo

Hi Folks
remember to come to the Tuesday Night Lecture this week. It's Roman de Salvo, an excellent and funny sculptor from San Diego. You can write about the lecture if you're missing one of your blog posts so far...

So Arts and Crafts is the movement or philosophy but what about Mission and Craftsman?

Mission is a term referring to a style of American Arts and Craft furniture. The term may have come from the fact its appearance had similarities to the uncomplicated, solid Spanish missions of California. The term is considered to have been first applied the work of Joseph McHugh but eventually most of the major American Arts and Crafts furniture manufactures used this term in their marketing. The exception is Gustav Stickley who chose Craftsman for the trade name of his line of Arts and Craft furniture. And apparently it is only in reference to Stickley furniture can the Craftsman term be properly used.

I have included three chairs here; the first is a Victorian chair of the 1800’s I found on CSU’s World Images site just to demonstrate how radically different the style was from its predecessors. The second of the lighter wood is a chair that McHugh designed in San Francisco in the mid 1890’s based on the California mission furniture. The third is the version of this chair by McHugh that became so popular that a full line of furniture was designed around it. (The source of the Mc Hugh chairs image is: Rodel, Kevin P., and Jonathan Binzen. Arts and Crafts Furniture: From Classic to Contemporary. Newtown: Taunton, 2003.)

Also, here is link to a PDF on the history of Arts and Crafts Furniture if you want to know more about the history.

Arts and Crafts, Mission and Craftsman – Are they the same thing?

This was the question that got me started wandering through a wealth of information at my local library and on the internet.

To start, I found out that Arts and Crafts is the name of the informal movement and that includes the Mission and Craftsman styles. This movement started in the second half of the 19th century involving artist, architects and craftspeople that produced in the spirit of anti-industrial ideals and social reform. The term Arts and Crafts was coined after the Arts and Crafts Exhibition of 1888 in London. This was just the beginning of my awareness of my ignorance – I had always associated Arts and Crafts with the US.

The movement was one based more upon philosophy than style alone. Much of the inspiration for the movement came from writing by theorist such as John Ruskin’s (1819-1900) book on social and art criticism “Stones of Venice” published in 1853. Ruskin wrote of factory work as a form of tyranny that denied the expression of the worker’s individuality. Below is a small sampling of Ruskin’s writings:

“It is only by labor that thought can be made healthy, and only by thought that labor can be made happy, and the two cannot be separated with impunity.” John Ruskin, 1856

“No one can teach you anything worth learning but through manual labor…” John Ruskin, 1877

After reading Ruskin’s book William Morris (of the Morris chair fame) left his religious studies as an Oxford undergraduate and dedicated his studies to art. And you can see the influence in the following quotes from Morris below:

“A work of utility might also be a work of art, if we cared to make it so” William Morris, 1893

“I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few or freedom for a few.” William Morris, 1988

Sorry, but I love the philosophy of this movement and I will move on to its translation into the style along with images later. And isn’t thinking about art the first step to visualizing it?

Charles and Ray Eames

2008 marked the 100th birthday of Charles Eames (1907-1978), an American designer. Married in 1941, Charles and his wife, Ray (Ray-Bernice), worked together for forty years to produce many ground breaking furniture designs, some of which are still in production today.

The most revolutionary furniture idea they conceived was that of molded plywood. This seemingly simple concept came about when Charles and Ray experimented with a homemade molding machine into which they fed scrap pieces of plywood that Charles had brought home from his set architect job at MGM. Anyone who has ever sat in comfort on a curved plywood chair probably has the Eames' to thank for the chair.

The first molded plywood product they produced was a leg splint. The U.S. Navy order 5000 of them for injured soldiers during World War II.

Perhaps the most recognizable Eames design is their 1956 Lounge Chair and Ottoman which was highly sought by corporate executives and became a classic of mid-century modernism.

They also designed children's furniture like this plywood elephant.

To commemorate Charles' birthday the United States Postal Service issue a series of postage stamps featuring Eames furniture designs.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

weapons and woodworking

While researching Japanese woodworking techniques I stumbled upon a Japanese artist by the name of Kintaro Yazawa. He was born in Tokyo and trained by a French woodworker who specializes in baroque organs. He moved to England and studied there during the British arts and crafts movement. A tool that he used intrigued me called Yariganna.
With more research I found that Yariganna is a Japanese spear plain named after the spear called yari used by soldiers in historical battles. The plane has a long, narrow, leaf-shape blade attached to the end of a handle, rather like a large chisel due to the unorthodox shape the quality of the timber finish depends entirely on the skill of the craftsman. It is used in shrines and temples.
Jared A

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lathe woodworking

The image to the right is a picture of a man using a lathe. What a lathe is, is spin a block of wood which can then be shaped into a beautiful design. This machine is used to create designs which accent the whole block of wood. This is used to create table legs with a design like the one shown below. To create these design, you must first set up a squared piece of wood and find the center of both ends of the piece of wood. after the center is found, you have to mark your wood and tightly screw your piece of wood in place. After this process, you must then mark your wood in which you would like to shave off. after your wood is in place, you must now attain the tools necessary to obtain the shape that is wanted.
Before beginning to carve, one must first know the fundamental of the machine. The image below displays the tools necessary for the design of the piece of wood. Each tool has its purpose for shape and structure of the piece that is being created. the small tool to the right that is curved is used to obtain a smooth curve within the piece. the one next to that is used to begin the detail of your piece, to get into the small areas for perfection. they tool in the middle has a sharp tip, and this is used to get an angle on your work of art. it is where you obtain the specific parts that are separated in sections as shown in the table leg above. the next tool is used for the bases or beginning of the sculpture. the last tool to the right is the main tool that is used for the shaping of every design. after this tool is used, the other tools accent this one as the other smaller tools are used for more detail.
The easy part about using the lathe machine is its ease. After one has created a design, sanding is done on the machine. sanding is fairly easy because the piece is spinning and all one has to do is place a piece of sand paper on the piece. after you sand your project to perfection, the next step is to wax your piece unless it is going to be stained first. This machine is used to make baseball bats where the baseball bats are waxed and buffed on the machine to give it its shiny finish. I personally love using this machine because its pretty simple to use if one is skills enough to do so. the hard part is creating a design on paper and creating that design to real life.

Corner Tables

I personally was very interested in corner tables. this is because of its ways to utilize space within a given area. There are many different varieties of corner tables which can vary in size and shape. When researchin on these types of tables, i found that they have corner kitchen tables, dining tables, desks, accent tables, and rounded corner tables. These are all preferences that an individual have to choose from when designing or choosing a table.

The image on the right is a very simplistic table but constructed out of cherry and maple wood which are fairly expensive types of wood because of its texture and elasticity. This table is an accent table used to help make a room much more presentable using decor. The drawer of this table is what makes this table unique because of the way it slides sideways instead of straight out. This fundamental of the drawer consist of gifted engineering to develop, but only a skilled craftmen is able to bring an idea to reality.

The table to the left is called a metro corner table. this means that it is within a certain style. This style is another simple but decorative design that looks as if it were constructed in the past. i have also looked at other metro tables and it looks as if curve shape is reponsible for its name. by using the defining design of the wood, a craftman is able to this design to accent a room using the texture of the wood and its shape.

This corner table to the right is called a cube side table. This table have a very distinct 3 demensional appeal to the human eye. by having the holes creates a scene where an individual made place a center peice inside this table to bring out a theme which is why these tables are so versatile. i would personally place mirrors in the inside so that the it could bring out the 3 demensional shape and also whats hidden inside.

Monday, February 16, 2009

oh yea...

and his website is

Mario Philippona

This guy is all about high heels and legs, not table legs. Mario Philippona is a sculptor that I came across who is inspired by the female form. He takes the same perfectionism that is used in fashion and assembles sculptures from pre-cut layers of wood. Other works are also chiseled out of blocks of wood, like the 4-legged chair. It is then finished with Natural oil and wax to give it its smoothness. His work somewhat concentrates on legs and high heels, which is inspired by Salvador Dali. I think it is so interesting that he uses legs for real legs of a table, its ingenious. But mimicking human form and combining it with furniture is amazing. some of his work is a little too vulgar for me to put up, so you look up the rest.

What happened?

Sorry. The layout of the previous post was a lot different before I posted it. I was going to say this blogger format was pretty slick, but it kind of screwed up my cool layout. Just imagine it way cooler.

Richard Deacon

Richard Deacon is a British sculptor who works with wood and metals primarily, but also uses plastics, fiberglass, and ceramics. His work has a similar style to that of Martin Puryear. All of the images I am posting are from his website.

He works with the bent lamination technique on a typically large scale. Here is a shot that is not from his site, but just shows the process of bending the wood. The wood is bent along the grain. Typically, several rip-cut strips are laid one atop the other and clamped into a jig that forces the wood into a particular shape.

This piece on the left is made out of galvanized steel and concrete, but the style and joinery of materials is treated similarly to wood joinery. You can see the finger or dovetail-like joints around the larger opening. Although the materials differ, he seems to conform them into a similar expression.

He says his work is not about technique. It is more about the ability to form materials, seemingly contrary to their nature. It is a primal act of manipulating the materials around us. Technique is of course inherent in the extent of his manipulation, but is not what he would say is the essence of it.

But look at this crazy thing.

It is hard to look at this thing and not be overwhelmed with the question, "How the hell did he do that?" I would imagine that even to the expert who knows how he made it, the detail and complexity seems to be the emphasis of this piece. To me, it seems to be all about technique. I go back and forth on how necessary titles are. His titles vary from very sterile to sort of emotional, while the aesthetic pretty much remains constant.

It is hard to separate him from Martin Puryear. Not only in the similar methods/style of working, but they are both craftsmen and artists. There work represents them as both. Some work is craft, some work is art. They seem to strattle the two realms rather successfully. Here is another really crazy awesome piece that had some fabrication shots on the website. These are detail shots of the craziness. You can see the braces he uses to keep it together. Now for the really cool part. Check out these elaborate set ups. This guys is really prolific too. If you check out his website, it goes back to the 1980's. He has so much work.