April 2017

What a difference one month makes.  We went from this on April 1, behind the shop…

…to this in about three weeks.  These are sweet, or English violets (Viola odorata),  the ones with that wonderful fragrance.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the coming of spring.  The smells of the violets and leaf mold, running water, and sunlight on pine needles.  And the sounds: spring peepers, kestrels, tree swallows, wood thrushes, and grouse drumming.  It’s a time of rapid transition.  Today there are still piles of dirty snow in shady areas, there are also daffodils, and trout lilies, and the red and sugar maples in full bloom.  Yes, the black flies are out too, but that’s all part of spring in Maine.

The high point of the month was the Fine Woodworking Live event in Southbury, MA.  Held at an old optical factory, with attached hotel in the back, everything took place in one location: rooms, dining, drinking, workshops, lectures, meet & greet, vendors, banquet, and all the socializing.

The usual suspects were there, Fortune, Gilpin, Pekovich, Rodel, Hack, Latta, Johnson, Hunter, Kenney, Masachi, Tesolin, Breed, van Dyke, Binzen, Follasbee, Cullen, Corum, and myself.  What a crew.  The event was sold out, and was a major success. The folks at FWW did an amazing job of planning and logistics.

Last weekend, the Maine Wood Products Association organized a field trip to the University of Maine at Orono (my Alma mater), to tour the Advanced Structures & Composites Center.  I was amazed and astounded at the scope of the research going on.  We got to see work on cross-laminated timber structural panels, wood-resin composites, oriented strand timbers, particle board made without formaldehyde,  and stress testing on a 50 m (164 ft.) wind turbine blade.  IMG_2607.JPGThis photo taken by Andy Walsh, shows Dr. Douglas Gardner explaining the testing of a single turbine blade.  Amazing stuff, and well worth the trip.

Back to small scale woodworking.  Not all of it takes place in the shop, some actually outside in the forest.  Not just by woodworkers… IMG_9083.jpgA Pileated woodpecker has been busy on this hemlock.  Once the holes are a bit larger, the cavities might be inhabited by kestrels or saw-whet owls.

Meanwhile, in my shop I’m two days away from completing another 15-drawer chest.  The front has to be sanded, knobs installed, and then a few coats of oil-varnish mix. It looks rather plain and unadorned, just the way I like it. Yet, it is a rather involved piece, consisting of almost 200 parts and just under 300 dovetails.

Figuring the wood movement for each drawer involves a fairly straight forward calculation and a dial caliper to determine the size of the gap to leave for each.

And of course, ten different size knobs have to be hand turned to be in proportion for each drawer level.  They are graduated from 5/8″ (1.6 cm) to 7/8″ (2.2 cm) in diameter and height.

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C. H. Becksvoort © 2017

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