Monday, March 30, 2009

Arne Jacobsen

Arne Jacobsen was a Danish architect and designer in the tradition of the “Danish Modern” style. Jacobsen got his degree in 1927 from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Many of his furniture designs have become classics. He is also credited for designing flatware some of which, his right and left spoons, were used in Stanley Kubrick's film 2001:A Space Odyssey.

The Ant chair and the very recognizable Egg chair are just two examples of his furniture work.

He is also known for his bent plywood design the Model 3107 chair (or “Number 7” chair), which is purported to have sold over 5 million copies.

Perhaps the most famous use of the Number 7 chair was in the photograph taken by Lewis Morley in 1963 of Christine Keeler. Christine Keeler, for those of you who were not around in the 1960’s, was involved in bringing down the British government of Harold Macmillion in what is now known as the Profumo Affair. You can look up the details at your leisure. Lewis used the Number 7 chair, in this now famous photograph, to hide some of the assets Keeler used to entice Profumo. The photograph propelled the Jacobsen Model 3107 chair to stardom and use as a prop in similar photographs.

This image is © Lewis Morley Archive / National Portrait Gallery, London.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pavel Janak

Pavel Janak was a pioneer of the Czech cubist movement who studied under Otto Wagner from 1906 and 1908. While he dealt mostly with architectural designs he was also well regarded among woodworking circles for his well crafted and interesting angular furniture. He is also known for his scathing articles on modernist architecture claiming that "only through the violence and disruption of an angled plane cutting through horizontal and vertical lines could you animate lifeless matter and create structures bursting with dynamic energy." Pavel was influenced by his teacher Otto Wagner as well as Picasso and the cubist painters. Aside from making furniture for private collectors and architectural design, Janak also created many famous designs for Artel a company that was founded in Prague in 1908. Artel was comprised of several prominent figures of the Czech art scene who came together to design and manufacture “minor art for everyday use” — decorative items for everyday use such as coffee sets and furniture. Janak's coffee sets were famous for their modernist use of the "zigzag" pattern, and his white geometric "diamond" box is often brought up as a perfect example of Czech cubist movement.

I found the chairs to be very interesting and dynamic. While i appreciate the sharp diagonals i would never incorporate a similar design into a table because i don't feel that i have the technical expertise available to do so just yet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

wood trip

Are there any wood groups who have aligned yet? I am going this weekend, and I don't care what kind of wood my table will be made out of (just as long as it is not too expensive). Anyone who would like to purchase wood with me can leave a comment. I have a truck for easy transport.


Friday, March 20, 2009

eyeballing game

test your ability to eyeball angles, points and distances.

I found this via Core77 and gave the game a shot, its actually pretty fun. My score was a 3.68, gonna give it another shot in a bit (with a real mouse). Let me know how you guys do?

Also check out the rest of this guys site, apparently he's a big woodworking buff and he has soome great tutorials on joints and fun woodworking projects available.

Dell Search Results

Dell Search Results: "design : cosmology: September 2008
Olbrich was a student of Otto Wagner, a famous Austrian architect. In May of
1897, Olbrich, Wagner, and others founded the Vienna Sucession, an independent
... - 282k - Cached"

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Hello Folks.
I just sent an email to the whole class with a bunch of PDF attachments of table plans (thanks for finding them, Ann.)
George: your email came back saying your mailbox is full.
Happy Spring Break.

Arts and Crafts Furniture Materials and Craftsmanship

Arts and Craft was a movement that grew in reaction to industrialization of manufacturing over craft and quality of the product and the machine over the worker. They promote skilled handwork as the ideal and the majority of designs put on display the hand of the crafts person. Joinery and handwork became the centerpiece and signature of the design and style. This was expressed from exposed joinery typically associated with American A&C to the European A&C that usually high the workmanship though still used mortise and tenon construction. To give some detail ideas for our tables I have included some examples here that show the range of expression of the prominent furniture designers that came out of this movement.

The founders believed in style that supported the local community and their traditions. That meant most designers worked with local woods and custom made hardware. In Europe and the US that often meant oak or ash as the preferred choice.

Image information:
The illustration at the top is a Corbel (or bracket used as decoration often by Stickley and Mission style designer) acting as a tusk for a through tenon.
The black cabinet could work as a table style without its top. This an example of the Glasgow Style designed by Mackintosh.
The big table is an example of the work done by Liberty and Company in London.
The side table is designed by Limbert Company which used machinery and mass production more heavily than the ideal but the owner Charles Limbert was well known for his designs. I thought this table might work as a knock down design like someone wanted to make in class.
The first image is done in the Mackintosh style Greene and Greene images: 2008from Popular Wood Working Online Extra October 2008 - They also have free access to Google’s Sketchup CAD online program and numerous designs
The main resource here and the rest of the images came from "Arts and Crafts Furniture, from Classic to Contemporary" by Rodel and Binzen

Reversible Glue

The primary glue that comes up for reversible glue is “Old Brown Glue” made by Antique Refinishers in San Diego. I can remember the name of the glue in the video but I think this the same one. It is a modern formulation of traditional glues made from animal protein and urea. The original had to be kept hot to have the proper viscosity. Old Brown Glue is touted as having the same properties but can be used a room temperature. It is a protein glue (hide and bone) and not a synthetic, but they do not say whether bunnies or cows were used. The link to W. Patrick Edwards’ (maker of Old Brown Glue) article on period glues or protein glue is below.
Period Glue Article

As to the issue of reversibility…
Edwards writes synthetic glues form a bond through a chemical reaction, changing from one chemical to another and therefore are not easily reversible. But protein glues do not change their chemical to bond just change from liquid to solid.

To break a bond he suggests drilling a small hole into the joint and then use a syringe to inject hot water. Alcohol or vinegar can also be used since it will make the glue brittle allow the bond to break apart. To remove veneers, steam is suggested.

The characteristics of Old Brown Glue per the manufacturer:

Liquid at room temperature
Can be thinned by heating or thickened by cooling
Dries by loss of moisture
It takes about 1 hour to set up
Cleans up with cold water
Sets within 24-48 hours under normal conditions
“Truly reversible”
The bottles are dated and shelf life is approximately 1year
5oz bottle is $8/ 16oz is $20 plus shipping and handling
Old Brown Glue home page

Table Ideas

Here are copies of the plans and photos tables I had in class yesterday in case anyone wants to use them as a starting point. The 3rd one, the piano bench plan, is great for indicating all of the basic measurements needed. They are from a book I found at my local library, "Mission Furniture, How to Make It" by H.H. Windsor. If anyone wants a larger file let me know and I can email it to you, (

Also I found this great site for more ideas in the arts and crafts style. There are several pages of ideas with multiple views, but only images since this the catalog of Mission Guild Studio. The company as they put is: “ a "Quaint" dual artisan studio specializing in a revival and renewal of Arts & Crafts era ideals.” There are some great designs here including the keyhole table that is similar to the one we were talking about whether to make in plywood in class and this one in solid wood and M&T joinery. Too bad there aren’t any plans available….
And below is one of their more traditional tables that has a variation on the shelf idea and close up of through tenon ideas.

Here’s their description of the keyhole table”:
Quartersawn Oak Tables
Mortise & Tenon, Pegged Joinery
Coffee Table Measures 34 3/4" w x 19 3/4" d, 20 1/2" height
End Tables Measure 18" square tops, 24 3/4" height

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Regarding Shaker Stuff...

See this post from my own blog, from last summer, about my visit to a Shaker village in Massachusetts.

something old, something glue

I was gathering some stuff for a posting about glue, but then came the injunction against further tool posts, so I let it go... but then it came up today so maybe I can throw this in as yet another tool-related post.

Our Kentucky furniture maker mentioned that he used hide glue - in fact, this is the original glue, used in woodworking for thousands of years and made from the collagen in animal tissues such as hides, hoofs, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and even bone. Animal carcasses used to go to the "glue factory" (also known as the "knacker") where these leftover remnants were boiled for days to reduce the tissue to gelatin, which is then dried and ground into powder, flakes or granules.

Animal glue in granules

Note: re the cow's head on Elmer's glue, Borden dairies' chemical division is in fact one of the world's largest glue producers. "Elmer" the Borden bull is (or was) "Elsie" the Borden cow's "husband". (strictly for PR purposes)

The word “collagen” is derived from kolla, the Greek word for glue. Collagen is the primary protein in the body. There are many types of collagen throughout the body. Types I & III are the major components of skin, hair, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, gums, teeth, eyes, and blood vessels. Type II is the major component of joint cartilage.

Anyway hide glue was the only glue available to furniture makers until around World War I. All the great cabinetmakers from the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries used hide glue in furniture construction, including Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Duncan Phyfe, the Adams brothers, and Sheraton. To make hide glue, the dried powder or flakes are remixed with water and heated gently in a glue pot. The resulting glue is brown, brittle, hard, and not waterproof.

Today, hide glues are mainly used for making musical instruments like violins, and in antique furniture restoration. They are useful because heat and humidity can be used to release the bond, for example to remove top of a violin without damaging the wood. Water at 140 degrees will quickly dissolve hide glues.

Hide glue can produce a brittle joint - unlike resin glues, a joint will break along the joint, rather than breaking the surrounding material.

If you're ever in the wild and need glue, and don't have time or animal carcasses, you can also make it from pitch, the resinous sap that flows from pine trees.

However you also need to add some organic material. Here's a recipe that uses pitch, charcoal, and moose droppings.

there is a season...

all this talk of the glories of shaker furrniture has almost made a luddite out of me...

check out these eschwers of electricity:

>> <<

seems a lot harder right? but:


Tuesday, March 17, 2009


It seems a bit odd to choose "plywood," as my subject but it is actually quite interesting. It was first introduced in the 1700s and became rather popular beginning in the 1850s. 
Plywood consists of three layers or veneers of wood which have been plied together with the grain running crosswise and was found to be very strong. It was also cheaper than using aluminum or steel.
Michael Thonet was a pioneer of industrial furniture production who experimented with bentwood furniture. Many 20th century designers used plywood as their main material, designers such as; Rietveld, Marcel Breuer, Alvar Aalto and Charles and Ray Eames, to name a few.
During World War I, the advancement of plywood technology took off. The quality, flexibility and durability were improved by research for the aviation industry. "When avant-garde architects and designers of the 1920s searched for ways of making cheap mass-producible furniture, plywood looked like an attractive solution." 
The top photograph is a table by the Hungarian born architect,  Marcel Breuer. Bruer actually liked working in aluminum but reluctantly agreed to work in plywood. He came to influence Charles Eames and his wife, Ray,  whose lounge chair and ottoman is seen in the bottom photo.
The Eames' worked in Los Angeles, keeping their makeshift studio in their apartment a secret from their landlord. As they continued to experiment using plywood, Charles smuggled woods and glues into their apartment. Charles had a one man furniture exhibition in 1946 at the Museum of Modern Art. They later added another dimension to plywood by molding it into their 1956 Lounge Chair (above). 
In the 60s and 70s plywood fell from favor as plastic became popular. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

George Nakashima

George Nakashima is a mid 20th century modernist that works primarily in black walnut. His table tops consist of very smooth slabs of wood, connected by butterfly joints, with rough natural edges. During his stay in a Japanese internment camp in World War II, he learned traditional Japanese wood working from Gentaro Hikogawa, becoming proficient in the use of traditional woodworking tools and joinery.

Nakashima placed emphasis on the natural qualities of the wood being used and the best way to preserve the spirit of the tree from which the wood came from. Because of this he was often involved in many aspects of fabrication. According to the Nakashima website, a website run by a company that still churns out his designs as well as custom designs modeled after his style after his death, he was often present during the milling process as well as the assembly process. Now his daughter Mira Nakashima has taken up the family business and supervises the milling, fabrication, and design of new pieces. She also has recently started making her own designs dedicated to her mother, which differ slightly from the look of her father’s furniture.

While Nakashima held a degree in Architecture, he did not directly design any buildings but rather worked on a construction consultant for Antonin Raymond who was instrumental in getting him released from the internment camp.

I liked the use of the raw wood but i felt it was too unaturally glossy.

wood car

And if you could maybe go over the funtamentals of this:

Ursula von Rydingsvard

Ursula Von Rydingsvard typically utilizes 4x4 cedar beams carved with a circular saw and to form abstract natural forms resembling scars on the skin and crude vessels. Her work is influenced by her childhood in polish refugee camps throughout Germany. She mills out the wood to 4x4 or in some cases 2x4 and stacks them adding copious amounts of shims where needed. after the underlying structure is in place she takes the circular saw and proceeds to carve out the surface texture. She then adds a coat of graphite or urethane depending on what she wants the texture to look like. Although she typically uses cedar Ursula has recently incorporated plastics, cast metals such as bronze, and plaster in her work.

She claims not to make models or any measured drawings before executing a piece and instead relies on "intuition within limit of the materials."
Her structures appear to have the topography of a mountain pass or valley. The influences that she sites are primarily her own childhood and not other artists or movements. This often is corresponding to childhood memories of the clothing, and especially the raw wooden floors and ceilings from the barracks in the various refugee camps that she lived in as a child. She also sites utilitarian objects and architecture as here sources of inspiration.

Aside from her very complex organic forms i found the use of an angle grinder with a metal cutting blade on wood very interesting.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tim Holton Frames

Please take a look at this blog:
I've been talking about the aniline dyes that I approve of in lieu of "stain". I learned about them from Tim Holton at Tim Holton Frames in Emeryville. Please take a look at some of the nice quarter-sawn white oak frames with various dye stains on them.

List of popular woods to avoid

Also found at the same location as my last post this list.

List of popular woods to avoid, to minimize the risk of adverse effects.
Most of this information is taken from: Botanical Dermatology: Plants and Plant Products Injurious to the Skin.4
Dalbergia spp: (Rosewoods) 
Dalbergia cearensis: (Kingwood, de Violette, Violet Wood, Violetta) contains a dalbergione, described as a very severe skin irritant, often leading to persistent ulceration.4
Dalbergia cochinchinensis: (Laos Rosewood, Thai Rosewood, Cochin Rosewood) contain R-4-methoxydalbergione and other quinones.4
Dalbergia congestiflora: (Mexican Kingwood) contains a dalbergione.4
Dalbergia cultrate: (Burmese Rosewood) contains a dalbergione.4
Dalbergia decipularis and Dalbergia frutescens: (Tulipwood) contains a dalbergione.4
Dalbergia latifolia: (East Indian Rosewood, Sonokoling) contain R-4-methoxydalbergione and other quinones.4
Dalbergia maritime: (Madagascar Rosewood, Bois de Rose) contains a dalbergione.4
Dalbergia melanoxylon: (African Blackwood) contains several quinones including S-4'-hydroxy-4-methoxydalbergione and S-4-methoxydalbergione.4
Dalbergia nigra: (Brazilian Rosewood) contains R-4-methoxydalbergione and other quinones.4 Also endangered.
Dalbergia retusa: (Cocobolo) contains S-4'-hydroxy-4-methoxydalbergione, R-4-methoxydalbergione, obtusaquinone, and other quinones and phenols.4
Dalbergia stevensonii: (Honduran Rosewood, Nagaed Wood, Palissandre Honduras) contains a dalbergione.4
Acer saccharum: (Sugar Maple) "This species has been found to contain 2,6-dimethoxy-1,4-benzoquinone which is a known contact allergen."7
Betula spp: (Birch) contains salicylates such as methyl salicylate, cross-sensitivities could occur in those with aspirin allergies. Birch also listed as sensitizer.5
Cinnamomum camphora: (Camphorwood) The wood contains camphor and borneol. Following cases of serious toxicity and even death in children, products containing more than trace quantities of camphor have now largely been withdrawn from the market (Reynolds 1996). "Can cause dermatitis and shortness of breath" and camphor causes mild heart stimulant activity. Topically applied, it can penetrate the skin.4
Cordia dodecandra: (Zericote, Ziricote) Cross reactions are possible with this species once sensitivity to R-3,4-dimethoxydalbergione (found in pao ferro and Dalbergia species), obtusaquinone (found in cocobolo), and macassar quinone (found in macassar ebony) have developed.4
Cordia elaeagnoides: (Bocote, Becote) Cross reactions are possible with this species once sensitivity to R-3,4-dimethoxydalbergione (found in pao ferro and Dalbergia species), obtusaquinone (found in cocobolo), and macassar quinone (found in macassar ebony) have developed.4
Diospyros celebica: (Macassar Ebony) contains macassar II, a ß-naphthol "derivative that may become oxidised in vivo to macassar quinone. This compound has been shown to have sensitizing properties... Cross-sensitivity to other naphthoquinones" (three found in zericote, pao ferro, cocobolo, becote, and padauk) are possible.
"Later testing confirmed sensitivity to R-3,4-dimethoxydalbergione (found in pao ferro), obtusaquinone (found in cocobolo), and macassar quinone (found in macassar ebony)."
Wood of this species is one of the only ones that these substances have been proven to be found in.
"The yellow naphthoquinone pigment, plumbagin (methyl juglone) occurs in a colourless combined form and is liberated from root tissue by acid treatment. (Harborne 1966)... Plumbagin is also found in some species of the families Droseraceae, Ebenaceae, and Euphorbiaceae (Thomson 1971).... Plumbagin has an irritating odor and causes sneezing; it stains the skin to a purple color and has a vesicant action."4
Guibourtia tessmannii: (Bubinga) "Dermatitis, possibly caused by sensitizing quinones."6
Machaerium scleroxylon: (Pau Ferro) has R-3,4-dimethoxydalbergione7, a strong sensitizer and irritant. It can cause dermatitis, itching, swelling, redness of face, scrotum, and hands.4
Milletia laurentii: (Wenge) can have central nervous system effects, give dermatitis, irritate skin, is listed as a sensitizer, and is oily.5 Wenge contains 2.6-dimethoxybenzoquinone.7
Peltogyne densiflora: (Purpleheart) "Dalbergiones have been isolated from the wood."4
Pterocarpus soyauxii: (Padauk) can cause irritation of the skin, dermatitis, and sensitization. It can have naphthoquinones. Cross-sensitivity may occur with use of bocote when sensitivity has been developed to related quinones.5
Salix spp: (Willow) contains salicin, a phenolic glucoside, and is a precursor of aspirin; also has saligenin, a known contact allergen. Willow is also listed as a sensitizer.5
Tectona grandis: (Teak) The "dermatic compounds" (sensitizers) lapachol (aka tecomin, a quinone), desoxylapachol, and lapachonole (aka lapachonone) where found in Tectona wood.
Lapachol has been called "a known elicitor of contact dermatitis" and a "sensitizing agent."
"Deoxylapachol and lapachenole...are potent contact allergens."
"Local races of teak and even individual trees vary greatly in desoxylapachol content."
"Lapachenole has been shown to be both irritant and sensitizing" by Sandermann & Barghoorn (1955). "Indonesian natives have long distinguished three grades of the wood, the poorest (Djati sempoerna) being liable to cause skin irritation."4
Tetraclinis articulata: (Thuya Burl) The heartwood of this species is known to contain several dermatologically active compounds including thymoquinone, carvacrol, and ß- and ?-thujaplicins.4

Jared A

an in depth look at wood contact dermatitis

            After the field trip on Wednesday cuasious about dangerous wood I did some reaserch and this is what I found. Only 2% to 5% of the population will develop an allergic sensitivity to one or more compounds found in wood. Contact dermatitis (allergic reaction from skin contact) from timbers is usually attributable to contamination of the skin during machining. Handling of solid wood rarely induces dermatitis, however any species that contains quinones, especially Dalbergia species, may do so. "The main effect is irritation." (An irritant is "something that can cause inflammation" or irritation.) ..."This can be caused by skin contact with the wood, its dust, its bark, its sap, or even lichens growing on the bark. Irritation can, in some species of wood, lead to nettle rashes or irritant dermatitis. These effects tend to appear on the forearm, backs of the hands, the face (particularly eyelids) neck, scalp and the genitals. On average, they take 15 days to develop."  Latency periods can range from a few hours to several months. "Symptoms usually only persist as long as the affected skin site remains in contact with the source of irritation... Symptoms subside when contact with the irritant is removed. Sensitization dermatitis is more problematic and is usually caused by skin exposure to fine wood dust of certain species." (Sensitization is "an allergic reaction to a substance which is usually irreversible" resulting in hypersensitivity and susceptibility to being overly responsive.) ..."This is also referred to as allergic contact dermatitis and results in similar skin effects to those produced by skin irritants. Once sensitized, the body sets up an allergic reaction, and the skin may react severely if subsequently exposed to very small amounts of the wood dust. Cross-sensitization may develop where other woods or even non-wood materials produce a similar response." The culprit behind these allergies is a group of chemicals called quinones, often used to make dyes. These naturally occurring chemicals are produced as defensive agents against fungal and predator attacks (including woodworkers and jewelry collectors). Though they also have potential medicinal uses in non-allergic humans, quinones play a major role in allergic contact dermatitis caused by plants. The primary "allergens are benzoquinones or naphthoquinones but also compounds, such as catechols, coumarins, and other phenolic or flavonoid compounds, which are bioconverted [metabolized] into ortho-quinones or para-quinones." These derivatives can covalently bond to skin proteins. Since they are not recognized by the immune system, they are attacked. Catechol is a main constituent of urushiol, which is the allergen in poison ivy. It is possible that once sensitized to one of these quinones that cross reactions to similar quinones and/or structures can develop.  There are other hardwoods that are notorious for causing dangerous reactions (which may include surprisingly strong reactions such as cardiac and nervous system effects, cancer, and genotoxicity), such as: afromosia (Periocopsis elata), Australian blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), greenheart (Chlorocardium rodiei), mansonia (Mansonia altissima), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and satinwood (Chloroxylon swietenia), as well as various softwoods such as: cedar (Thuja spp.), hemlock(Tsuga spp.), pine (Pinus spp.), and yew (Taxus spp)

This information was found

Jared A

Frank Lloyd Wright

Since my woodturning experiment came out looking somewhat like the Guggenheim museum turned sideways, I thought I'd post something related to "America's most famous architect", Frank Lloyd Wright.

Speaking of the Guggenheim, it was Wright's last major work. It was begun in 1943 and completed in 1959, six months after Wright's death and ten years after the death of sponsor Solomon Guggenheim. Its critical reception was mixed. Wright wanted its design to contrast with the usual boxy New York building and felt that it would make the Museum of Modern Art look like 'a Protestant barn' by comparison. (Not sure what's wrong with a Protestant barn exactly but perhaps it implies something old-fashioned and unimaginative...)
Guggenheim museum, NYC
Wright often designed interiors and furniture as part of his home and building designs. In contrast to the Modernist idea of universality, he was of a mind with the Arts and Crafts designers that furnishings should integrate organically with the particular space they were meant for. "Every chair must be designed for the building it will be in," Wright said.
Below is one of his well-known creations, the Barrel Chair. It was created for the "Wingspread" house, designed for client Herbert Johnson in 1937. It's made of cherrywood and upholstered with a leather seat.
Unlike the original Arts and Crafts practictioners, Wright was not anti-machine. His designs were meant to enable machine production methods to make them affordable to a larger audience. "The machine has liberated the beauties of nature in wood," Wright said to the Arts and Crafts Society in a 1901 lecture.
Wright was known for his strong opinions and lofty pronouncements. In a literary footnote, he was thought to have been the model for the idealistic architect Howard Roark in the Ayn Rand novel The Fountainhead, though both Rand and Wright denied it. (Rand did, however, commission Wright to build a summer cottage for her, which was never completed.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bush on wood...

Please go to the following site for a review on wood by george w (as played by Will Ferrell)
I'm not sure if this works as a link. If it doesn't just type it in. 

some tables

Hey Shannon.

You wouldn't happen to have plans for either of these tables?

Tuesday Night Lecture

Try to go to this:

Thursday, March 12, 2009


After today's field trip I was intrigued by the exotic wood that Southern Lumber had to offer.  I was specifically interested in the Leopardwood.  So I began researching.  According to Leopardwood is "Flaky, speckled figure with dark flecks, varying from a small lacelike pattern to a larger splashy figure.  Texture is fairly coarse.  Moderately har.  Works easy, except for a tendency to splinte, and takes a very lustrous finish."  Of course it is very rare.  Typical uses include boxes, inlay, accessories, fine furniture, veneer, and turnery.  It grows in South America and more specifically Chile and Brazil.  

Following with an idea of organic art, Leopardwood seems to be a very good choice mainly because of its natural beauty and intriguing detail.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

green wood part I

I thought I would take an aside from my research on wood ontology to do a little research on sustainable wood practices.

The FSC, or Forest Stewardship Council was mentioned today, and among a few other organizations, it seems to be the predominant society dealing with ethical and sustainable forestry practices, whose sole purpose is the coordination and development of forest management standards throughout the different biogeographic regions of the US.

Link to the 10 FSC Principles.

While the organization appears to be reasonable successful in providing a base for the development of sustainable forestry practices, it is designed for mass buyers of wood, like our friend Jeff. The industry really needs a stricter brand to advertise the fair practices endorsed by the FSC, like the ADA brand you find on toothpaste (I once bought a toothpaste without ADA brand, guess what the main ingredient was…Sugar), and their needs to be a stricter enforcement of these practices…

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Field Trip tomorrow

Hi Folks.
So, we are meeting at 12.40 in the Staff parking lot by the ATM machines.
We will first go down to Southern Lumber, 1402 Monterey Highway (Monterey and Alma.) Then, we'll take Monterey down to Phelan-- Aura Hardwoods is at 210 Phelan Ave. Then we'll take Phelan to 7th-- PALS lumber is at 1810 S 7th St.

Oh, I just remembered: I have to have you all sign a field trip waiver form! I'll bring them to the parking lot and have you sign them.
Here's a google map.

Purple Heart

Purple Heart

Purple heart is a very interesting and beautiful wood. There are over 20 different species that grow in Central America and the tropical South America. It is the dull brown heart wood of a white tree that turns purple after it has been cut. The color of purple can vary from dull to vibrant and is very pretty. After it has been exposed for a long period of time it can turn a brown color again. It is usually best kept out of direct sunlight. It usually has a tight grain but can rarely have an irregular grain, which usually is not ideal. The wood is hard, heavy, and dense. It does not dent very easily and you have to use sharp tools when working with it. When you work with purple heart you must work slow. When you are finishing this wood it will sand to a nice shine and it is best to use a lacquered based finish so you don't remove the purple color. Other finishing materials that work well with this wood are wax, water based finished, and oil based finishes will enhance the color dramatically.

Purple heart has a wide range of uses. Since it is a tropical wood is has a great resistance to water and can be used for various things from canoes to bridge construction in areas where it grows. In the U.S. it is mainly used as accents for various objects. Guitars, wood flooring, furniture, cabinets, jewelry, and just about anything else. It can be easily turned and used to make bowls and cups. It's price can range from inexpensive to moderate and can be found at just about any lumber store near school. I think a purple heart table would be a great idea. I think Aiden made one when he took the class.
Most of this information can be found at


Monday, March 9, 2009

Art Nouveau Links
>"" Here is some good info about Otto Wagner
I chose him because he was the architect for the Majolica House, a secessionist apartment house in Vienna whose entire facade is covered with ceramic tiles depicting red Icelandic poppies. It was considered hideous beyond words in it's day, but I like anything that has to do with flowers, ceramics or Art Nouveau buildings. Squerl SEARCH

(1841-1918)Austrian architect and urbanist
Wagner studied architecture at the School of Architecture at Vienna Academy, Austria, where he later became a teacher. Among his students were the renowned Art Nouveau architects Josef Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffmann.From 1895 he was influenced by new art styles, more suited to the needs of modern way of life and developed his theories on architecture, relating to function, material and construction, in the book "Modern Architecture" (1895). In 1898, he built his first Art Nouveau building, the Majolica House in Vienna, a functional structure with the facade covered in multicolored majolica tiles. He also designed in 1894, the Vienna metropolitan railway system.Otto Wagner was one of the founding members of the Vienna Secession, with fellow artists Klimt, Hoffmann and Olbrich, in 1899. He was one of the most influential artists of the turn of the century : architect, urnbanist, applied artist and theoretician, his writings laid the groundwork for Modernism in architecture. In his architectural works, he was receptive to the use of modern methods of building (steel frame construction) and new materials (thin marble slabs for the façades).

Amish Furniture

Early American Folk Art was "discovered" in the 1920's. It was around this time that Amish furniture, with its distinctive style, first started to gain attention with the folk art movement. Since then dealers and historians have placed great value on the beauty and quality of the pieces. The Amish, located primarily in Ohio and Shipshewana, Indiana, do not use electricity because of their beliefs. Therefore many of the woodworking tools in their shops use hydraulic and/or pneumatic power run by diesel engines. Amish craftsmen often do the detail and finish work by hand to ensure the finest quality - some craftsmen use old-fashioned hand tools.

Amish furniture comes in several different styles or schools. The Jonestown School began in the late 18th century in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania and is most widely known for its painted blanket chests decorated with hand-painted flowers on three panels.

These chests are quite beautiful and several are on display at the Smithsonian Museum and the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Soap Hollow, Pennsylvania School specializes in furniture brightly painted in red, gold, and black.

Henry Lapp, a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania furniture maker and accomplished watercolorist, is responsible for the furniture designs that we think of today as being Amish. He was the first to abandon the painted German-style and opted for an undecorated, plain style similar to the Welsh furniture of the time. His order book (like a catalog) containing hand-painted watercolor representations of his pieces is a collector's dream, and is now on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Amish furniture making is often a skill passed down through many generations. Since most Amish children rarely attend school past eighth grade, they often help out in the wood shops and later become wood makers themselves.

No piece of furniture is ever identical because of the care taken to select the wood. Only 100% wood is used. There is usually no particle board or laminates used in the construction. Each piece of wood is hand selected to match the specific piece of furniture in mind. Craftsmen pay careful attention the grain when gluing the pieces together often trying to highlight the features of each individual piece.

The Amish, because of their beliefs, are prohibited from running websites (I guess it's the electricity thing) but Amish furniture can be found online through non-Amish retailers. This makes Amish furniture available to those that might not be near an Amish woodworking shop. Online ordering makes it possible select the upholstery, stain, and wood of your choice. The furniture is directly shipped from the Amish wood shop to your home.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sorry Shannon

Sorry Shannon, I just posted my blog entry without looking at the blog first. I was planning to wind down the tool segments, but I guess I'll end them now.

Japanese Chisel

The Japanese Chisel is by far the best chisels that one can ever get. The quality and craftsmanship is unmatched. In fact these chisels are works of art themselves, and are sold by the maker's name.
The metal used in these chisels are a form of "Mokume Gane." It's a very complex and time consuming metal making process that involves at least two different metals. Instead of heating the metals to a temperature where they would melt and form an alloy, the different metals are cleaned and stacked in alternating layers, bound together under pressure and then is heated to a temperature that is close to melting, but not quite. At this temperature the individual metal layers begins to "sweat" and weld to each other. After it cools the billet is then cut and shaped to form the marbling or grain in the metal. It is also most likely to have a patina put on it, to better show the grain pattern. The mokume gane is very decorative, but also has added strength because it is a composite of two different metals. I actually have made a ring with mokume gane, I'll bring it in tomorrow. "Mokume gane" actually means wood grain in Japanese. Not all Japanese chisels are made with mokume gane, and those that are made with mokume gane are very expensive. These chisels are worth about $400, but they are also made with ebony handles, of course all hand crafted. I don't know about you, but I would hesitate to sharpen these chisels.
I would think that chisels like these would be out of most of our price range, at least right now when most of us are starving college students, but if any of you are one day wildly successful, it's something to think about. I would say out of all the tools that I have covered, the saw is probably the most affordable and useful. The Japanese Plane can be expensive unless you get a really small one, which they do make for about $50, but the body is made out of ebony. The Japanese saw comes in many varieties, but the one I would recommend would be the double sided standard saw. You can find a descent double edged Ryoba saw for about $30 to $50, of course they can get more expensive than this, but I find the saws in this price range to be more than adequate. Out all the tools that I have discussed, the saw is probably the most useful, especially for what our class might be doing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Characteristics of Arts and Crafts Furniture

A&C style can range from simplistic to ornate and is hard to clarify by appearance alone. Instead it is better defined by philosophy of form, materials and craftsmanship. Drawing from a great resource on the subject Arts and Crafts Furniture, from Classic to Contemporary by Rodel and Binzen I have created the following list of the styles key characteristics starting with form. To help those of us that might be building table I used tables for my examples shown in order of mention below:

The Forms of Arts and Crafts Furniture
  • Straightforward form
  • Functional with somewhat severe
  • Typically: linear motif with flat planes but can range from chunky to rectilinear to It can ornate and highly refined
  • The heavy simplistic Workaday style of Morris & Company (image from SD Woodworking)
  • The lighter rectilinear style of California’s Greene and Greene (image from Fine
  • The more refined State style designed by George Washington Jack for Morris & Company (image from Arts and Crafts Furniture, from Classic to Contemporary by Rodel and Binzen)
  • The very ornate style of William Price Rose Valley furniture which even includes Gothic like three-dimensional carvings (image from Arts and Crafts Furniture, from Classic to Contemporary by Rodel and Binzen)

Morris & Company had two lines, Workaday and State furniture. The workaday furniture was also called cottage style, as it was more simplistic and straightforward as shown in the "chunky" example above. State furniture was more elaborate and challenging in their design, but both held to Morris’ ideal of the craftsman as shown in the example designed by George Washington Jack above.

Blog Post Update

Hi Folks.
If you're wondering what to write about in your next blog post, I just want to suggest that we start veering the content back towards the "art history" end of the spectrum and away from the "tool research" end. The original intent of this assignment was to have the students educate one another, one blog entry at a time, about architects, artists and designers who have had an impact. Here, again, is the original list I gave you:

Charles and Ray Eames
Otto Wagner
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Gerrit Rietveld
Greene and Greene
Frank Lloyd Wright
Josef Frank
George Nakashima
Czech Cubists: Pavel Janak, Josef Chocol
Josef Hoffman
Charlotte Perriand
William Morris
Gustav Stickley
Michael Thonet
Arne Jacobsen
Eileen Gray
Alvar Aalto
Shaker Furniture
Martin Puryear
Richard Deacon
Ursula Von Rydingsvard

Researching any one of these folks will inevitably lead you on some new and interesting tangents, even if you're worried that someone has already written about the person you're considering. For example, now that Anne has written a couple of entries about the Arts and Crafts movement, she might want to go and read "The Seven Lamps of Architecture", by John Ruskin, and write about that. (I can help you find it if you're interested.)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Japanese Saw

Maker to Maker - Japanese Saw on Make: television from make magazine.

I think the contributors to Make.TV might read this blog. I doubt it, but it was hard not to think it when I saw the most recent episode of Make.TV which featured a segment on the Japanese Saw which Mon had written up only a few weeks ago. Anyways, here's the segment on the beautifully precise tool.


I was going back through the posts, and I began thinking that maybe it is important to step back a moment and examine woodworking in a deeper more methodical approach. I would like to question the merits of woodworking especially concerning the ontology of wood and its complex historical relationship to art in world where it is becoming apparent that resources are no longer endless. So, I guess I will start out with wood itself. Is this okay Shannon?

The use of wood is historically the starting point of civilizations worldwide, and is preceded by the age of metals given that wood was needed as a source of fire in order to melt wood down. Initially wood was used for simple machines and rudimentary tools as bows and lances. The most ancient article ever found is a 250,000 year old spear made by the Homo erectus species. The more recent civilizations such as the Egyptians and Sumerians were the first to use wood in more ornate purposes. Objects of furniture remain intact, excavated from secret tombs. Starting at this time, wood began to be used for elements of roofs of buildings and boats hulls.

Wood was very scarce in the period of the ancient Egyptian civilization but was necessary for maintaining Egyptian power, mainly to maintain Egypt’s fleet for trading and protection. The Egyptians were the first civilization to build large ship hulls enabling long distance travel across seas. Wood was often used a cheaper alternative to stone in tombs as well as furniture, chariots and other objects. Carpenters and cabinetmakers had a sophisticated array of tools and techniques that are not that dissimilar to modern practices….