Every now and then, the big projects get old. I really dig the project diversity that comes with custom carpentry/woodworking work, and I'll always be a person that gravitates towards big challenges, big ideas, big projects, etc., but the big jobs...sometimes it's kinda nice to step back and do something totally different, just for fun.
It seems like in the last bunch of YouTube videos I'd watched - I subscribe to a lot of woodworker/maker channels - there was always somebody beating on something with a wooden mallet. Granted, there aren't a whole lot of reclaimed wood folks on the YouTube, so a lot of the channels I subscribe to are far more traditional in terms of the woodworking projects and, as such, a lot of the techniques are far more traditional and by-the-book. Additionally, a lot of the guys whose channels I subscribe to, they've been at the YouTube thing for years and years and years, have built up quite a following, and either via sponsorship or ad revenue, have been able to acquire some pretty nice ($$$$) woodworking tools.
If a person owns a wide variety of $300 wood-handled chisels, they generally don't want to go banging on them with a $25 steel hammer. Maybe more importantly, if one needs a giant framing hammer to do chisel work, one's chisel either needs to be sharpened (substantially), or one needs to learn a little more about how to use a chisel.
On the other hand, if one's chisels are rubber/metal handled, I see absolutely nothing wrong with tapping on a chisel with a rubber mallet, or ball peen hammer, or something like that.
Regardless...back to the big projects. I've done a bunch lately, and there are some on the horizon. I had some time to kill over the weekend, and a quick, small project seemed like it might be a decent thing to tackle to get out of the big project rut. I had a couple short chunks of a reclaimed oak barn beam sitting in the shop - not big enough to really do much with - and after seeing all the YouTube vids with guys swinging their wooden mallets, I figured I'd take a stab at making one for myself.
There's a video on my YouTube channel you can check out if you want to see the build, but in the meantime...here are some pics.
Here's the video:
For a variety of reasons, a bathroom shower renovation got started, completed to the point that it was usable, and then finished up...weeks and week later. Weeks and weeks later happened to be last Thursday and Friday - my hands still have remnants of black grout and black silicon on them - and now that the shower is done...here are some pics.
Disclaimer: it's borderline impossible to get good pics in this bathroom, so the photos are what they are... :)
I've built a lot of tables. Big tables. Small tables. Wide tables. Narrow tables. Tall tables. Short tables.
I've never - ever - built anything that would allow a person to actually sit at any of these tables. I wanted to change that.
I also wanted to build something that would allow me to do some welding and get rid of some of the reclaimed wood I've been hoarding. The end result: two stools, that - in the right setting - could probably work just fine in a bar or a shop or at a kitchen island, breakfast bar or dining table.
Anyhow...the wood came from this place, a house built in 1886 in the Fox Park Neighborhood in St. Louis, MO. I've written about it before, but I definitely like being able to point out a given batch of reclaimed wood's history.
The steel is just your run-of-the-mill 1" square tube that I got from my favorite steel yard, Shapiro Metal Supply. They've got a shop dog that splits its time between keeping an eye on the operation and riding around in a golf cart, which is always kind of an entertaining side note on any trip to Shapiro.
It took me forever to get the welder dialed in - I've never welded 1/16" steel before - and for the first...I dunno...unhealthy amount of time...I pretty much either cooked holes right through the steel or couldn't get an arc. It was either or, with no middle ground. The welder's factory recommended settings led to the non-arc situation. My guesswork led to the steel-melting situation. Ultimately, I found a good setup: juice maxed out, wire feed rate about a 5 (on a 1-8 scale)...and just move **quickly**. It turned out to be a good exercise; there was a very, very fine line between getting rock solid welds and turning square steel tube into liquid.
Carving the seats was a lot of fun. I'm not going to lie to anybody, my angle grinder is a $15 Harbor Freight job, and the carbide cutting cup came from the same place (I have a HF maybe 2 miles from my house; I don't go there often, but it's not horrible for oddball tools you might only use a few times a year, or something you're not sure if you'll enjoy using/doing), so the seat-carving definitely didn't require any high-end tools. But, as something I'd never done before, I think it went pretty well.
The real challenge was in gauging how much material I was removing, 'cause that spinning carbide blade had ZERO problems cutting away pine that had last seen the light of day in the 19th century. One can normally base any angle grinder activity on resistance of the material being shaped, but when there's literally none...well, it wasn't too tough to really gouge the wood in this case so I had to be extra careful. Fortunately, I was able to accomplish my goal: carve away a decent place for one's butt - getting down to fresh lumber - while leaving the patina and character of the original wood surface on the perimeter.
I think the design can be improved upon, but given how many "firsts" for me were involved in this project, I'm pretty happy with the results. And maybe now I'll be able to use my dining room table as a place to eat things, as opposed to the mail station and shipping department.
I think there are a couple design tweaks to make on the next batch of stools, but as a first go of it...I like 'em.
Part of the bar stool builds; the seats are being made from reclaimed wood - more on this in a future post - and I wanted to carve the seats up a little bit. I don't know the technical term for what I carved, but in layman's terms...it's a place for one's butt to go, and be a little comfier than a flat piece of splintery wood. I'd never carved anything like that - or at all - before, so it was kind of a learning experience, but man...it was fun. There's a strange satisfaction that comes with literally shaping something with your own two hands.
They're not done, but they're close. A little touch-up on the steel frames tomorrow and some wood carving and they'll be ready.
Until then...here are some pics from what's taken place so far:
I've got a few days to burn, and I need to get another video up on YouTube, and I haven't done any welding in a while, and I need a couple things to sit on (I currently have a dining room table with no chairs), so...I'm going to build a couple stools. I think I'll use some 1" square tube for the frame, and give the thing the reclaimed wood treatment: reclaimed wood top and reclaimed wood feet.
I also got a carving thing for my grinder, so I'll try that out to...I don't know what the proper technical term would be...carve some butt indentations into the stool tops. I dunno how that'll go - I've never carved anything - but it doesn't seem like rocket surgery.
Anyhow...I'm going to build a couple of these, film the build, and get the video up sometime over the weekend. Stay tuned...
Sometimes, for whatever reason, uploading video to my website straight up doesn't work. I've tried different browsers, different times of day, different types of internet connections, different internet providers, pretty much different everything...and it just seems to work - when it works (which is literally 1 try out of every 25 or so) - through dumb luck. Long story short...this video is a little bit dated, but I figured I'd share it with y'all anyhow.
Since the video was shot, the window seat construction has started. I've been in and out a little bit lately on this job, a result of having to juggle a lot of other projects, clients and schedules following losing a few days of work to deal with a basement flood...twice in one week. Progress on the built-ins has been a little slow lately, but the window seats, roughed-in to this point, are going to look like this:
I think I'm going to swap out the quarter round for something with a square edge, but having already framed in the one, knocking out the second one shouldn't take a whole lot of time. Otherwise, the nails holes are filled and sanded, the crown has been caulked in and the cabinet doors have been glued up and clamped; Monday should be the day the rest of the project comes together.