Friday, January 13, 2017

Out of the Hole

Back in the middle of November I fell in a hole.
Nor a physical hole.
A mental and emotional hole.
A hole so dark and so deep that no light penetrated it. No escape was possible.
Looking back on it, I can see no rational reason for it. I am prone to getting depressed in the winter anyway, but usually a little St. John's Wort gets me through it.
Some how this was different. More profound, and much deeper.
Oh there are lots of reasons. I am diabetic, have bad kidneys, am in constant pain arthritis. At the time my left shoulder was undergoing a bout of bad arthritis, limiting the use of my left arm, and that in combination with the arthritis in my neck keeps me from getting a decent nights sleep. Maybe it was a combination of all those things.
I am a creative person and suddenly the creative juices dries up.Although I had a number of projects that I had been interested in, suddenly they were sack cloth and ashes.
I have a beautiful 1977 Datsun 280Z with a color changing paint job that goes from purple to blue to green depending on the lighting and direction you are looking at it from.
It has a 160 mile an hour speedometer. I had it up over 120 miles an hour out on the track, and it was solid at that speed. I have always wondered what the top speed actually is. I figure it is around 140.
I began to  wonder if I could top 140. And what it would be like to take out a bridge stanchion at that speed.
The thought began to insinuate itself into my consciousness ore and more frequently. To the point where, when I was out driving, I would eye the approach to various overpasses to calculate whether they had the right amount of straightaway to get up to full speed.
The problem is that when you are that deep in the hole, t is very difficult to see any path out of the pit. One of the most difficult things I have ever done was make an appointment with my doctor to tell him I need help.
I have always been there for everyone else. Admitting that I needed help was a blow to what little pride I had left.
But I managed to drag myself up by the bootstraps and made it in to the doctor's. He assessed the situation and was close to having me hospitalized, but I talked him out of it, saying that I was self-aware enough to know when to ask for help, so the likelihood of me taking myself out right after that was extremely small.
He did refer me to the Whack Shack for further checkout. The Crisis Center was very understanding and professional, although they did insist I divest myself of my knives. I was carrying three. They were somewhat concerned about why I needed three knives, but I told them I was doing some wood working, and each on was for a different task. I'm nit sure they believed me, but at any rate they let me leave.
Since then it has been a long slow process to dig myself out of the hole.
I am back in the daylight, now.
Just today, I was struck by and idea for a project that has brought back the enthusiasm.
I was watching an episode of American Pickers last night, and they featured a chair with an elaborate back with a carving, that they called the "Green Man". Basically a human face with hair and mustache of leaves and branches.
When I was cutting wood last fall, I came across a section of a maple that was twisted ans scarred. About four feet long. I have been figuring I would use it as a test piece for using my Alaska Mill. slabbing it out. Now I have a plan of what I want to do with it when I cut it.
Today I made a preliminary sketch.
But I am not quite to the point where I want to take the "Z" out for a drive.

Friday, December 23, 2016

White Christmas?

December 23rd  and it is snowing!
Hope it sticks around for Christmas. I don't even remember when was the last time we had a white Christmas. Of course Mrs. A, would have me tarred and feathered for hoping it sticks around, but I can always fall back on every husbands excuse: "It's not my fault".
We did finally get out the tree and set it up and got it decorated. I took care of the lights, Mrs A took care of the decorating. That may seem to be a misleading statement, as it is a pre-lit eight foot tree with a thousand lights, but it is in three pieces and all of the different sections have to be connected correctly. It is kind of difficult finding all of the wires and hooking them up correctly. Took me a couple of tries.
Watching the snow is so hypnotic. Something about falling snow puts me in a trance-like state where I can sit there for a long time just staring out the window.
The downside is that I have to go get another wheelbarrow load of wood out of the wood shed.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Home Fires Burning

We heat with wood.
Having 3 1/2 acres of trees supports that.
Electricity is expensive and wood is free (more or less).
I love sitting in the living room with a fire in the fire place and a good book.
I currently have about 3 cords of dried aged Alder in the wood shed. That will get us through this winter. I have another 2 cords of Maple drying at the back of the garage. I want to have enough dried and aged to last a year ahead.
It has been so busy I hardly have enough turn around. Thanksgiving we had a bunch of people over. I had purchased a 20' X 20' X 12' shed from Kieth, and we put that up. Vinnie and I felled a small maple. It was fun. Vincent had never run a chain saw, so I taught him how to start and run the saw, then introduced him to splitting wood. He claims that he had never split wood before, but I found that a little bit too much to believe.
Shortly after Thanksgiving, Rick lost his job in Utah, We were planning to have him come up and paint the inside of the house next spring/summer. Although I was not ready, we (Carol) decided it would be good for everyone concerned if he came up and did it now.
So for a couple of days before he got here, we were busy getting things ready, things like taking down the drapes, pictures and nik-naks. Then a week of going from room to room moving furniture, then a couple more days of getting everything back where it belongs.
As a result, here it is Dec 17th and we do not have a single decoration up.
Tree? What tree?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Side Table

Here is my latest creation, a burl maple live edge side table. The grain is incredible. The stand is a branch fork from the same tree. The finish is spar varnish. Just enough to bring out the grain. It was a fun project. I tried several different finishes, but after applying and sanding off several different types, settled on this.
I have another slab from the same stump ready to go, but need to figure out a stand for it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Alaska Mill

Well. my Alaska mill came in. I have put it together and mounted it to the chain saw.
For those of you unaware, and Alaska Mill is a framework you attacch to your chainsaw that turns the chain saw into a lumber mill.
In other words you can turn a tree into dimensional lumber.
The primary reason I got it is that I have this maple stump that is this beautiful burl wood. The mill allows you to turn it into slabs suitable for furniture (after you finish it)
I cut a slab our of the stump, and the grain is incredible. The slab is about 4" thick. With the mill I can turn it into two beautiful slabs/
Or firewood.........
I am flying by the seat of my pants here, so I am being very deliberate and taking it one step at a time.
Today I will mount the guide rails on the slab (to make it so I can cut an even slab.).
Then I have to figure out where to take the slab to cut it. Some place with enough room to work. Not inside. I will need to brace the slab so it doesn't slide as I push the saw foreward.
Oh, but the way, the mill will only cut something 18 inches wide, so I need to trim the slab in order to cut it.
Once I have done the first piece, the sky's the limit.
There is the rest of the stump to think about. I can make a bunch of two inch thick slabs for furniture.
After that the next (long term) project is to make enough maple boards to build a deck off of the front of the house. I really like the idea of building a deck out of wood that started out as tree, and I personally cut it down and turned it into lumber, and then built the deck out of it.
It will be a lot of work, but if it ever gets done in will be unique.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Project Pictures

The three projects I am working on.
The Birds Eye Maple Burl Bowl is coming along nicely. I have pretty much finished carving it out and am ready to start with the tedious part of finishing it. Lots of sanding to remove the imperfections.
The burl table top, I have polished out the chain saw marks and given it a couple of coats of Tung Oil. The grain is amazing. I still have to figure out how I am going to mount it. and whether I want to remove the bark. Oh well, no hurry, no worry.
The platter I have not done much work on, but you can see the nice grain in the wood.
Yesterday I was in town so I stopped by the Stihl dealer and ordered an Alaska Mill. That is an attachment to your chain saw that lets you turn trees into lumber, and seeing as I have about three acres of trees, I think it will come in handy.
One thought I have is that there is this puny little deck out front made out of Trex decking. It would look pretty terrific if I rebuilt it in Maple. Who do you know that has a deck made out of Maple?

Monday, October 10, 2016


My work on the fancy Burl bowl is progressing slowly. It takes a long time to remoe the excess material. How do you make a burl bowl? Take a burl and remove all the stuff that isn't bowl.
I have the bowl in reasoable shape now and have begun to do the finishing work. I am always looking at it and wondering: "Should I thin it more?" Then get distracted by some imperfection that needs to be worked out. There are a lot of imperfections that need to be worked out yet. I guess the question of how much I need to pare the walls will be worked out as I clean up the gouges and scratches.
The 14" platter I have not worked on very much. I McGivered it a bit. I took my palm random orbital sander and clamped the electrical cord in the vise, then positioned the platter just so, then turned it on and when I was sure it woud remain in one place, left it running and unattended while I worked on the butl bowl. It worked pretty good, havind sanded down the middle of the platter about a quarter inch., then I repositioned the sander a little and set it off again. SLowly working to sand dowm the middle of the platter.
The big piece of burl I have given a couple of soats of tung oil to bring out the grain. It looks incredible. The grain is fascinating and varied. Curly here, flame there and bird's eye in other places. I am wracking my brains on how to mount it to make it a useable table. I have set aside some twisty roots and limbs that I can maybe make a stand out of, but haven't gotten any further in design than "I sorta want to build a tripod table support out of natural stuff" that will copliment and show off the table. I also might geet a piece of glass cut to place over it to protect and display it. Guess I'll just have to wait for the inspiration to hit,