Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Prototyping as part of the Design process

One of the projects that has been creeping closer to the top of my list is a pair of side tables to go with the TV stand that I finished earlier this year. I've been working on the design off and on all year.

This is as far as I had gotten before moving onto other projects. Going back to it this fall I decided that this project might be a good use  for the wide walnut board i bought on a whim this spring.

It is 13.5-14" wide and the longer piece has almost 60 inches of clear stock, perfect for two table tops.

I started with a new sketch-up model to see how the proportions would work out with the narrower top. It seems to work out pretty well and may actually fit the space better than square tables.

Next I experimented with a couple wood combinations.  We know that we want to use cherry for the base to tie in with the TV stand, I just need to decide whether there should be any more Walnut than just the table top.

This second version uses Walnut for the shelf and the drawer front.  The shelf might be a good idea but I don't think the walnut drawer front really works.

After discussing the new plan with Natalie we decided that I should build a quick prototype  so that she could better visualize the proportions and we could test out the narrow table top. Using the scraps of Doug Fir construction lumber left over from the shed door, I put together a simplified version of the table.  To expedite things I used square legs, no drawer and no shelf. Other than those changes, the prototype should be close to the final design.  All of the parts are connected with dominos and I added a handful of pocket screws to keep things tight, while allowing me to take it apart if I decide to make any changes.

Here it is in the future home of the final version.  The height, at 24" seems to be just about right and the width of the table top seems to be sufficient.

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how nice the Doug Fir looks once I cut around most of the large knots. 

So it looks like the dimensions are going to work which means I can use that walnut for my top.  I picked up some 4/4 and 8/4 cherry earlier this summer from a shop that was closing down so I think I may have all the material I need.  There are couple design details left to sort out, namely whether to use cherry or walnut for the shelf, and then I can begin laying out parts.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cherry Bookcase Part II

Along with the rest of this fall's adventures I did finally manage to complete the bookcase and get it finished.

I am quite pleased with the end result.  The client decided she liked the solid skirt so I ended up leaving it as it was.

The finish is a coat of amber shellac to give it a slightly warmer tone and then a few coats of laquer.

This was my first time spraying laquer and it went well.  Once I got the viscosity correct it went on well and I was able to get a finished surface off the gun.

I was particularly please with how the mitered corners on the skirt came together.


It's been a busy fall. After our backpacking trip I started in on building the shed. It went up in a weekend with a few nights of work to finish the trim and another afternoon for the roofing.

Getting the skids level.

Then the platform was framed in.

The walls went up quickly enough that I didn't think to stop and take a picture.

We decided that we wanted to have a door knob which could be keyed to match the house, so I built a frame and panel door. The frame is from two 16' Doug fir 2x12s.  I was able to get 5in wide, vertical grain rails and stiles from them with minimal knots.  Some left over scraps of T1-11 siding was used for the panels. The domino made throwing a big door like this together super quick and easy.

Ready for shingles and shelves.  It's amazing how quickly it filled up.

Before Natalie headed off to Greece for a few weeks with her mom and sister we headed up to St Mary's Glacier for our September ski day.

Conditions were pretty rough, but we got more than enough turns in for it to count.

The dogs had fun too.

Wicket was pretty stoked to get to play in the snow and chase sticks in the lake.

While Natalie was traveling I got out biking with Jeff.  We rode from Kenosha pass which is, for obvious reasons, a fall classic in the area.

Despite somewhat ominous weather we had a great ride and didn't see too many people until we were almost back to the car.

Not a bad view.

It's a great ride, smooth, fast and awesome views.

With Natalie back in town it's been time to get things ready for winter. 

The mtn's are beginning to get some snow, although it's been an unusually warm and dry october.

That should start to change here soon and it will be time to tune up the skis.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Lost Creek Wilderness

For our anniversary, Natalie and I decided to take a long weekend and go backpacking.  We originally planned to return to the Holy Cross wilderness, but with the forecast being a bit cold and needing to return on monday we changed plans and headed south a bit to the Lost Creek Wilderness.

One of Natalie's co-workers, who worked as the backcountry ranger for this area, suggested a ~27 mile loop from the Lost Park trailhead.

I took thursday and friday off and spent thursday hauling lumber for an upcoming shed project.

Friday morning we packed up the dogs and headed to the trailhead. This was Lady Bugs first backpacking trip with us and likely her first time backpacking/camping.

She got a pack of her own for kibble and treats.

We stopped for lunch in Lost Park before heading up and over a pass.

After 9-10 miles and getting rained on for a bit we found a decent camp site and got set up.

We had to haul water a ways, but the view from camp was worth it.

Lady Bug was tired and muddy, but loved every minute of it.

Morning came with clear skis and sun to get us dried out before we hit the trail for the day.

We started the day by descending from out campsite into Refrigerator gulch.

The rock formations in this area are intriguing and creek through it gives the area it's name.

Lost Creek is so named because it dives under and through various rocky ridges that bridge the valley.  It makes for an interesting map as the river shows up as discontinuous.

After one final creek crossing we slogged up a few miles of steep switchbacks into a beautiful valley. With one more steep climb before our intended camp we found a great site amongst the aspens and decided to call it a day.

Notice the very tired Lady Bug in the background.

Sunday we hiked across the ridge near a couple of the larger peaks in the area.  There was a large burn scar from quite some time ago which left the area open and resulted in some spectacular views.

We finally dropped back below treeline and found another lovely camp in a meadow.

Lady Bug was ready for camp.

Despite all of her fur she doesn't stay as warm as Wicket, so she got to curl up in dad's sleeping bag.

Soup and cheesecake with a view.

The next morning the girls were ready to go.

Lady Bug isn't as good as Wicket at walking right with us so we leashed them together.  This worked quite well and was pretty entertaining.

Dog train..

Back at the car we loaded up and headed home.