Checkmate – step 4 – it all comes together

This is it, we are in the home stretch now… After the holes are drilled then you just need to shape the bodies and tops.  This is where your initial sketch and the realities of the project meet, and sometimes don’t match.  You need to be aware of the inner diameters of the holes that you just drilled so that you don’t cut areas too thin and destroy all your hard work.  I couldn’t thin the body as much as my sketch showed because of this.

While you are shaping the mills refer to your sketch for reference, it is easy to lose your place while turning.  Looking at the drawing will remind of your ultimate end design.  Once you get the mills shaped how you like them, sand them to remove all the tool marks and smooth them out.

The top of the queen had to be cut with a hand saw off the lathe, that added a bit of complexity, but I’m happy with how that turned out.  On the head of the king I left the cross round so that whatever angle you look it the cross will look the same.  I actually ended up making 2 heads for the king and having the buyer pick the one that she liked the best… just another advantage of buying custom!

 

At this point I would apply a finish, but since these are going to be painted I need to skip that step so that the paint will stick to the wood.  After the sanding I move on to the installation of the mechanisms.  Each mill manufacture has their own instructions for this, so follow those.  If you have made it this far then you should be able to figure that out!

Now you’re done!  Pull off the top and load it with your salt or pepper corn, push the top back on and give it a twist!   This still has an adjustable knob on the bottom (most have it on the top) for adjusting between a fine or a coarse grind.

-Derek

http://handmadewoodgifts.com

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Checkmate – step 3

The third step in making a pepper mill sounds like a simple one… just drill the holes.   People drill holes all the time and it just takes a few seconds right?  These holes, however, take a little more care and attention.   These specific peppermill styles require 4 different drill sizes, they need each to be drilled to specific depths, and you want them to be dead centered.

In order to drill the holes I opt for a rig that involves a tool called a steady rest (see picture).  This allows me to support the far end of the pepper mill while drilling.   Some may consider this over kill, but I find that the additional support helps to keep the drill bit centered by eliminating wobble at the far end.  A shorter peppermill (4-6″ tall) is usually not a problem, but a taller one (they go as high as 24″!) will generate more wobble.  The steady rest also keeps things from becoming air borne if an accident should happen.  Once drilling begins, care needs to be taken so that the bit doesn’t over heat and burn the wood or wander off-center and drill crooked.  The only way to do this is with time – slow and steady wins the race here.  Drill slowly and clear out the wood chips as you go.

Soon you will be all done and you’ll be on to shaping the outside.  That is where all the fun is and it won’t be long now!

Thanks for following along!

-Derek

http://handmadewoodgifts.com

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See it before you get it

I have had dozen of requests for custom work for all sorts of things.  Many of these request have been initiated, sight unseen, without any real knowledge of what the final project will be.  Granted some of the items are simple in nature, and others are not very big or expensive projects, but some of them can be.  It is an honor that people put that much faith in my work based on other items that they have seen, but not everyone is that brave.

So say you are looking for a custom piece of furniture made for your exact needs and are investing hundreds (or thousands) of dollars into a high quality piece of work made from exotic woods.  Wouldn’t you like to have an idea of  what you can expect the end product to look like, especially if the item is different than any of the other previous works done by the craftsman (hopefully that craftsman is me…).

I have a solution for you!   Working closely with you I can generate a scale 3D model of what you are looking for so that you can have a better idea of what you will be receiving.   I can even apply wood color for the specific woods that you are looking to use to give you an even more representative image of the end product.  Now this certainly isn’t exact because wood can vary from piece to piece, but at least is in the ball park.  An additional advantage of going through this step is that we can see if something just doesn’t look right, maybe parts are out of proportion with the rest of the piece, or something is too small to really make a difference.  We can make that adjustment before any piece of wood is cut and produce a better product in the end.

I also like to do this for my benefit because it helps me think through the joinery for the project and determine the length of parts, especially when working with mortise and tenon joinery, it is easy to forget to add the length of the tenons to the overall length of the piece that needs to be cut.

Here is an example of a custom table that I built, starting with the 3D model and ending with the complete table:

On this project the cross was too detailed to fully capture it in the 3D, so a more basic cross of the approximate size was used as a place holder.  Also, you can see how the wood grain generated on the front of the table doesn’t match the grain of the actual piece.

This works even for less complex projects like this 5 picture frame that I make.  See the before and after in mahogany:

So fear not!  If you would like to commission me to build you a custom piece I will work with you from start to finish to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for.

-Derek

http://handmadewoodgifts.com

http://www.etsy.com/shop/HandMadeWoodGifts

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Checkmate – Step 2

Well is was super cold outside this weekend, so I didn’t get as much done as I was hoping for.  When my feet start to ache from the cold I tend not work as much.  The important part is that I was able to get to the next step on these mills.

As I mentioned in the previous posts, I made these from a few pieces of wood glued together.   I then cut the salt/pepper mill blanks about an inch longer then I need, and mount them to the lathe.  Once on the lathe I turn them until they are a round cylinder and mark out where the top and the bottom are as well as where I expect transitions in the shape to be.

Here are some pictures showing how the pieces look right now, next time they will be fully shaped:

-Derek

http://handmadewoodgifts.com

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Tax refund time

Well it is about that time of year.. everyone takes a break from their busy lives to take some time and reflect over the previous year.  In this time of reflection we check to make sure that we have paid all of our taxes to Uncle Sam… ahhh quality time.

Now hopefully if you have to write a check, it is a small one.  After all it is depressing to see how much we pay in taxes throughout the year, to have to cut a check at the end feels like smack in the face.

But on the other hand if you did receive a refund it is like bonus money.  Yea, I know it is really MY money that over paid to the government, but it is still nice to get an extra check… so BONUS!   So since many of you may have received your tax refund (or will soon) why not consider purchasing a custom item made specifically for you.  Maybe you need a large cutting board or salt and pepper mill set for the kitchen, a new foyer table made to your specific dimensions from exotic wood, a blanket chest to be a family heirloom, a high-end pen, or any other things that we offer.  Why not consider using some of this “free” money and spoil yourself!

Let me know if there is something that you are interested in and we can make your vision a reality!

-Derek

http://handmadewoodgifts.com

http://www.etsy.com/shop/HandMadeWoodGifts

http://www.facebook.com/pages/HandmadeWoodGifts/202991473994

Checkmate – First steps

So here is a custom project that I’m excited to start for 2 reasons.  It is a set of salt and pepper grinders in the shape of a king and queen chess piece, which is something that I have on my to-do list.  Now I can say that I haven’t ever made these exact things, but there is no reason that I can’t!   The second reason is that when these are complete they will be sent to the other side of the planet… which is a pretty cool.

I plan to make several posts showing you the main steps in the process of producing a custom item.   The basic design requirements of these are that they are to be about 10″ tall and 2.5″ around.  My default woods for a project like this would be a solid piece of maple and walnut for the light and dark chess piece contrast.  However, in this case, the buyer would like to paint them herself.   So I will make them out of a less attractive wood called poplar, because no one will see it in the end, anyways.

The best thing to do when starting out is to put something on paper.  I usually start with a hand sketch like the 2 that I have below:

 

These are just guild lines to work out the basic shape and style, these aren’t to a true scale.  Also, the end product doesn’t end up lopsided (I never did do great in art class).   If I am really concerned about scale, I will sketch out ideas on graph paper.  If it is a really complex design that involves alot of thought I will draw in out in CAD ( I have a few projects in mind that might require this level of detail).

Of course the rough sketch is just a guild line.  As I get to turning the actual pieces I will often improvise and deviate from the sketch because in real life isn’t always the same as on paper.  Maybe an area looks to fat and needs to be thinned out, or a bead or detail look out of place… then it is up to me to do what I think looks best.

Check back soon to see what happens next!!

-Derek

http://handmadewoodgifts.com

http://www.etsy.com/shop/HandMadeWoodGifts

http://www.facebook.com/pages/HandmadeWoodGifts/202991473994

Personal Cross

As promised last month, here is a look at the gift I made for my wife’s birthday.  This idea has been in my head for over 2 years, and although it isn’t that complex, I’m glad I was able to finish it.

Religion is an important part of our lives and I have made a few more simple crosses in the past.   This one is a little more fancy than a traditional straight cross.  Although you have probably seen a cross of this style before, this cross was 100% designed and drawn up by me on the computer and I had some templates CNC cut from the drawing.   I had plans to try to produce these crosses in a production fashion from plywood and paint them, but that idea fell through for more than one reason.  Now I plan on sticking with my focus of using solid hardwood, in this case Jatoba, to do all the talking… no paint allowed!

I decided to add some additional detail with some old-fashioned nails, I think the heads of the nails are just the right touch.  I gave this cross several coats of a hand rubbed 100% tung oil finish.

Nail head detail

Nail detail

Now my mother-in-law wants one… A great Christmas idea for next year!!  Or maybe even Easter.

I have 2 different style crosses in 2 different sizes ready to be made.   The other style is much more round where as this one is pointed.  This one is the large one, about 18″ tall, the smaller one are about 10″

Of course you can always order one for your self in just about any wood, just ask!

-Derek

http://handmadewoodgifts.com

http://www.etsy.com/shop/HandMadeWoodGifts

http://www.facebook.com/pages/HandmadeWoodGifts/202991473994

He is risen